Psalms of Solomon, Psalms 12-16 – Analysis

Psalm 12 – Pertaining to Salomon. Against the tongue of the transgressor of the Law.

Starting with the twelfth psalm we find a low point of despair felt by the community, both corporately and individually, until suddenly in the seventeenth psalm, hope breaks loose. The focus on this psalm should center on a new word in the Greek, ἐπαγγελίας. Here, as it is in 2nd Maccabees 2.17-18, it is seen as something secured by God but comes through the Law. The same word is found in several New Testament passages, all dealing with the promises of God. It is possible that the final verse also alludes to Isaiah 53 (among other passages in Isaiah in which Israel is seen as a Servant) which was the traditional interpretation, only later adopted by Christians to interpret the Christ-event.

Psalm 13 – Pertaining to Salomon. Comfort for the Righteous

James Dunn continuously points out the dichotomy of community in passages such as Psalm 13. Those inside are clearly righteous and will receive God’s goodness while those on the outside are sinners, deserving the all the punishment from God. For the righteous, their receive their discipline in  περιστολῇ which keeps the sinners from rejoicing. This viewpoint is not only found in the Psalms of Solomon, but in Wisdom of Solomon as well, has common enough that Paul would address it in Romans 2-4. The δεξιὰ κυρίου is seen as a shelter of the righteous, which is finds a counterpart in the New Testament where Christ is said to sit at the right hand of God. Again, as in Psalm 12, we find Israel to be personified as a υἱὸν ἀγαπήσεως and πρωτοτόκου, both terms later applied to Jesus by the writers of the New Testament.

Psalm 14 – A Hymn. Pertaining to Salomon.

Nickelsburg rightly calls this a ‘paraphrase of the canonical Psalm 1.’ Much of the same forward motion is used to describe the journey of the righteous and the slowing of the sinner. It is also replete with images of the afterlife of those who obey Leviticus 18.5 and those who do not, which find its way into later theological development. Most notable are the τὰ ξύλα τῆς ζωῆς (v3) and the inheritance of the sinners which is αὐτῶν ᾅδης καὶ σκότος καὶ ἀπώλεια καὶ οὐχ εὑρεθήσονται ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐλέους δικαίων (v9).

Psalm 15 – A Psalm. Pertaining to Salomon. With an Ode

As the author(s), or collectors, approach the seventeenth psalm, the despair of the community and the desire to see the sinners punished rises in a crescendo. This psalm is filled with several themes found in Christian eschatology, such as the φλὸξ πυρὸς (v4), the σημεῖον τοῦ θεοῦ for the Righteous (6), and the σημεῖον τῆς ἀπωλείας ἐπὶ τοῦ μετώπου αὐτῶν  (v9) for the sinners. This is reminiscent of Genesis 4.15 and Exodus 12.21-23, followed later by Christian eschatological separation of the righteous and the sinners in Revelation 14. Much as the picture presented in Revelation, there is no hope for the sinners. In this psalm, the Righteous will overtake and destroy the sinners, including the weapons of the sinners which are similar to the Four Horsemen of Revelation 6, famine, war, and death.

Psalm 16 – A Hymn. Pertaining to Salomon. Regarding help for the devout.

The final psalm in the series of self-pity, self-righteousness, and the calls for the destruction of the sinners centers on the election of the individual and community. The fifth verse is key to the psalm, stating, ἐξομολογήσομαί σοι ὁ θεός ὅτι ἀντελάβου μου εἰς σωτηρίαν καὶ οὐκ ἐλογίσω με μετὰ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν εἰς ἀπώλειαν. The author does not see what later Christian theologians would call ‘eternal security’ however, recognizing that he could fall into transgression with the aid of a γυναικὸς παρανομούσης(v8). He asks for protection with the truth against his tongue and lips (v10) ending the hymn with a plea for strength, noting that if the righteous endures until the end of the trial, then he would receive mercy from God.


Acts 7.5; Tit. 1:2; Jas. 1.12, 2.5; 1 Jn. 2:25

distinction, NETS Pss Sol 13.8; Liddell-Scott, ‘probably secret.’

See Wis. 11.9-10, 12.22, 16-910; Dunn, 219

Cf Hebrews 1.3

Nicklesburg, 246

cf Matthew 10.16-22

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