The Bible Reading Plan for today is to read Psalm 6-8. I’ve resolved of late to read the introductions of the passages and not skip them. Also, to read the endings and read the notes, like these in the Psalms I’m about to discuss. If all scripture is profitable, then I shouldn’t skip the intros, conclusions, lists of names, genealogies, or musical directions, lol.
Often David or the other Psalmist would make notes to the musicians who were going to play the songs, like this that begins Psalm 6-
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.
Of course, once I read the note and see something like ‘Sheminith’, I got curious. Like, what is a Sheminith?
I read in Easton’s Bible Dictionary about Sheminith:
That the Hebrew of shemini is an ordinal number, eight. The Easton’s Bible Dictionary says sheminith is Eight; octave, a musical term, supposed to denote the lowest note sung by men’s voices (1 Chronicles 15:21; Psalm 6; 12, title).
Nobody really knows for sure. Other Bible dictionaries defined it slightly differently, but along the same lines. Some said, ‘we dunno, the word has passed out of use and understanding.’ I’ts still interesting to look these things up, though.
Psalm 7 is a Shiggaion. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines Shiggaion,
From the verb shagah, “to reel about through drink,” occurs in the title of Psalm 7. The plural form, shigionoth, is found in Habakkuk 3:1. The word denotes a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion; a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music; a dithyrambic ode.
Psalm 8 is “according to The Gittith: A stringed instrument of music.”
This word is found in the titles of Psalm 8, 81, 84. In these places the LXX. render the word by “on the wine-fats.” The Targum explains by “on the harp which David brought from Gath.” It is the only stringed instrument named in the titles of the Psalms. Easton’s Bible Dictionary
Well, that was about as clear as mud.
I do know that once we’re in heaven, we’ll likely be singing. (Revelation 5:9). Will we be singing these Psalms in heaven, properly as David originally wrote them, (According to sheminith, a Shiggaion, or with The Gittith?). I hope so. Wouldn’t it be nice if we did!
Meanwhile I resolve not to skip the intros, conclusions, lists, or notations. All scripture is profitable… I don’t always understand how scripture profits me, but I trust that it does.
I always enjoy Phil Johnson’s knowledge of the Psalms and his clear delivery in explaining them.
Here is a page of Phil preaching the Psalms, including one we are to read today, Psalm 8. Interestingly, Phil introduces his sermon by explaining what can be known about the mysterious term ‘according to the Gitteth’.