When ancient poetic prayers endure and become part of the traditional prayer liturgy, the situations they describe take on an increasingly symbolic meaning over time, as the circumstances that prompted them grow ever more remote – allowing them to be associated with a wide range of situations. Anyone reciting a psalm from the Book of Psalms is probably not reading it as a historical document, nor even as a literary work of art, but rather as a distillation of an experience they can identify with. Thus, the various guises of the phrase “dwelling in the house of the Lord” became imbued with a variety of meanings that developed over space and time, to reflect a broad spectrum of expressions of the notion of God’s proximity and the sense of entitlement to His protection. The same can be said about the concept of sheltering under God’s wings, which evolved from a metaphorical illustration to a common turn of phrase. This process, by which a particular adjective or concept eventually takes on a multitude of meanings, allows one to identify with all that it represents, in a variety of situations. The meaning of the word “king” – either in the psalm titles associating with the life of King David, or any other, unnamed monarch – is an extreme example of this.
Literary analysis makes it possible to draw conclusions about the experience depicted in each psalm. Each of the six chapters of our investigation dealt with a different type of religious...
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