Restoration and Its Blessings: A Theological Analysis of Psalms 51 and 32 -- By: Jack Barentsen

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 05:2 (Fall 1984)
Article: Restoration and Its Blessings: A Theological Analysis of Psalms 51 and 32
Author: Jack Barentsen

Restoration and Its Blessings:
A Theological Analysis of Psalms 51 and 32

Jack Barentsen

Psalms 51 and 32 {Ps 32} arose out of the same historical circumstances but reflect a different time of composition. Both psalms, however, are highly structured, this is indicated by various features such as parallelism and chiasm, repetition of key terminology, and important structural markers. These point to a twofold division in each psalm. The second division of each psalm contains the main thrust in the flow of thought, so that renewal and praise (Psalm 51) and teaching sinners Gods ways (Psalm 32) are the prominent ideas.

This essay uses structural analysis as a tool for contextual analysis of the two psalms. John Callows A Semantic Structure Analysis of Second Thessalonians1 serves as the model for the work undertaken here. The advantage of structural analysis is its assumption that human thought is organized; thus, an analysis of the structure of biblical texts should prove very helpful as a tool for biblical theology (see appendix).

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The task of combining exegesis and theology is one of the most difficult but also one of the most fruitful challenges in biblical studies. It requires the interpreter to make the detailed observations resulting from exegesis yield theological conclusions, while avoiding the proof-texting method typical of some systematic theologies. I have therefore endeavored in this study to avoid details which would distract from the goal of contributing to a biblical theology of sin and

man, while elaborating on those details which support my reconstruction of the flow of thought in the psalms.

In order to avoid unnecessary detail, a method of contextual analysis as developed by associates of Wycliffe Bible Translators will be used.2 Accordingly, the structure of the psalms is analyzed first. The results of this analysis are presented in an overview chart which indicates the relationships between the various constituents (that is, divisions, subdivisions, etc.) of the psalms.

After the structural analysis, the flow of thought of the psalms is surveyed in order to arrive at an understanding of the meaning. However, since it exceeds the boundaries of this study to delineate all the evidence for a p...

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