I’ve been interacting with Kris over at Old School Script for the last day or so about Psalm 19:4, particularly the particle בלי toward the end of the verse. Here was my last comment in my part of the exchange so far:
Okay. So, I realize I was probably too brief and unclear above, but I think what I was trying to suggest is what is suggested by the UBS Handbook on Psalms. According to how I am reading the text, the logic would be as follows:
vs. 2 creation(i.e. heaven/sky) is telling/proclaiming God’s glory/handiwork
vs. 3 day/night are doing so too (i.e. pouring forth speech and knowledge)
vs. 4 but they do so silently, or without words (reading with the NASB – There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. *with the particle being the simple negative “not” and no insertion “whose” as a smoothing over of “who their voice is not”)
vs. 5a their line (as opposed to their voice – the phonological similarity between qavam and qolam would actually be used to draw a contrast, i.e. like the familiar “don’t get mad, get glad” play on words) goes out (if qavam is being used to phonologically to draw a contrast, this would explain why it seemingly appears out of nowhere when all of these other speech words are activated)
vs. 5b is a synonymous parallel with what precedes – their message/report/testimony goes out to then ends of the earth (the UBS Handbook recommends translating as “message/report/testimony” here because they have understood verse 4 to say that the testimony is unspoken, thus translating as “speech” does not work.
Psalm 19 is a text that I’ve also been interested in for quite some time. Consider clicking over to Kris’s blog and chiming in on the discussion. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts as well, particularly about the use of the particle in verse 4 and how the surrounding text might influence how one reads the particle.