Day 106: To the Chief Musician (Psalms 56, 120, 140-142)

“Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually. They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭140:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Of the one hundred and fifty Psalms, more than a third of them begin with “To the Choirmaster.” That’s how the ESV translates the Hebrew word nasach. Other translations render nasach as “choir director” (lame); “music director” (more lame); or not at all (inexcusable).

For me, the best of them is the Authorized Standard Version, which translates nasach as “The Chief Musician.”

The word itself, according to the translation notes in the Blue Letter Bible app, is used elsewhere in Scripture to mean “to excel, to be bright, be preeminent or perpetual.”

And one more: nasach could also be translated “enduring.” The superscript of this Psalm could be read, “To the Enduring,” or “To the Enduring one.”

One article I found says,

A few centuries ago, a strong argument was made for the word “choirmaster” or “chief musician” to be translated more literally as “to the end.” Many of the Greek and Latin church fathers believed that this was a reference to the Messiah, “the great end.” In other words, there is a strong belief that those Psalms addressed “to the choirmaster” are really addressed “To the Messiah.”

Gregg Hunter, Christ the Choirmaster

It’s not a stretch to see messianic themes in the fifty-five “Chief Musician” psalms. It’s actually harder not to find them. As we’ve seen day after day in this reading plan, the Messiah is everywhere in the Old Testament.

In 2022, today’s reading fell on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. Throughout church history, this day has been called by many names throughout. Holy Saturday. Great Saturday. The Great Sabbath. I especially love that one. It signifies the ultimate day of rest, when the Messiah rested from the finished work on the cross.

In 2022, this Great Sabbath was dreary and gray in Alabama. The sun didn’t come out all day. I was still reeling from my annual Good Friday viewing of The Passion of the Christ (the most gut-wrenching, horrifying portrayal of the suffering of Jesus that’s ever been put on film). And I decided to call the day Silent Saturday.

This is the day after Jesus died on the cross; the day when, despite the prayer of Psalm 140:1, the Messiah was not delivered from evil men.

He was delivered to them.

If the Messiah is the Chief Musician, Good Friday is the day the music died.

But as any musician knows, sometimes the most powerful part of a composition is the rest. When the entire symphony hall is waiting, on the edge of their seats, for the conductor to raise the baton again. To bring the orchestra to a thundering crescendo.

Today, I sit silently, in the dark of the concert hall. Eyes puffy from the emotional weight of the penultimate movement. Waiting for the chorus of ten thousand times ten thousand angel voices.

Because there’s still that tantalizing, glorious alternate translation of “To the Chief Musician.”

To the end. To the Enduring.

To The Enduring One.

So I wait for the finale of this symphony. It comes with the dawn of the morning.

One response to “Day 106: To the Chief Musician (Psalms 56, 120, 140-142)”

  1. Tara Avatar

    I really love to read your perspective. You are truly anointed by God. Thank you for sharing.

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