DISSERTAZIONI DI DOTTORATO OBIORAH Mary Jerome, I.H.M.“How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place”: The Desire for God’s House in Psalm 84
Mod.: Prof. Robert ALTHANN
A good number of texts in the Psalter contain the psalmists’ expressions of their desire for God’s house. These are often articulated as an ardent wish to dwell in God’s house. In some of these texts, the petitioners’ desire is explicitly formulated (cf. Pss 23,6; 27,4; 42-43; 61,5; 63,2-3; 84,3,11; 122,1) while in some others they resort to certain circumlocutions in conveying the same idea (cf. Pss 26,8; 52,10; 65,5; 84,4-5; 92,13-15). Moreover, the psalmists’ desire to be in God’s house is presented as a desire for a lifelong dwelling in the temple. These varied phrases are found solely in the Psalter because of the distinctive traits of this part of the Bible that expresses humans’ relational attitude to God more than any other book of Scripture. Psalm 84 appears to represent all the other Psalms in the Psalter that mention the psalmists’ explicit or implicit longing to dwell in God’s house, hence it is chosen for thorough study in our investigation of the significance of this theme in the Psalms.
This work is undertaken in five interrelated phases that correspond to its five constituent chapters. The method is based principally on the synchronic approach and carefully chosen according to the exigencies of the Hebrew text of Ps 84 and the theme of our investigation. In the Preliminary Chapter, the background of our study is briefly stated. We part from a presupposition that the matrix of the desire for God’s house is the petitioner’s unwavering belief in God’s presence in the temple. The preponderance of the varied terms employed for the temple in Ps 84 is the main incentive behind this concept. Chapter Two prepares for the detailed analysis of the varied strophes of our text. In this chapter, the corroborations for our translation of the Hebrew text of Ps 84 are given and the poetic techniques employed in the text are used for its strophic segmentation. Chapters Three and Four that correspond to the two major divisions of Ps 84 contain the detailed analysis of each component strophe of our text. In Chapter Five, we have a recapitulation of the salient points from our study of Ps 84 and the application of these to other related Psalms that exhibit similar features of the psalmists’ ardent desire for the sacred precinct.
The psalmists’ earnest wish to be in the temple transcends a desire to participate in the cultic celebrations. The theme of the desire for God’s house in the Psalter is an embodiment of the psalmists’ multifaceted perceptions of the temple. It is also a medium of profession of faith and a subtle hymn of praise to Yahweh. Besides being the first comprehensive study of Ps 84, this thesis is a contribution to the quest for the significance of the desire for God’s house in the Psalter .