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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: October 2020

4 - Divine Aggression in Royal Psalms of Defeat


Chapter 4 tests the claim that the biblical god Yhwh is uniquely aggressive by rereading two biblical royal psalms, Psalms 89 and Psalm 132.These royal psalms share many features with the royal psalms of Chapter 3—but they differ in one crucial respect: where all the previous royal psalms exempted Yhwh’s favoured king from experiencing divine aggression, Psalms 89 and 132 reflect Yhwh’s past aggression exactly towards his own king. The chapter thus identifies these texts as psalms of defeat because in them, a past event of divinely sponsored damage to the king comes to speech: and shocked and alarmed speech at that, particularly in Psalm 89. As such, they begin to articulate a unique theological contribution with regard to divine aggression: a real departure from the unconditional loyalty of a patron god for his individual, favoured king.

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