Psalms: The Hymnal Of Israel

Passage: 
Biblical Topics: 

Introduction to Hebrew Poetry

I. INTRODUCTION

A. This type of literature makes up 1/3 of the Old Testament.  It is especially common in the "Prophets" (all but Haggai and Malachi contain poetry) and "Writings" sections of the Hebrew canon.

B. It is very different from English poetry. English poetry is developed from Greek and Latin poetry, which is primarily sound-based. Hebrew poetry has much in common with Canaanite poetry. It is basically thought-based in balanced, parallel lines.

C. The archaeological discovery north of Israel at Ugarit (Ras Shamra) has helped scholars understand OT poetry. This poetry from the 15th century b.c. has obvious literary connections with biblical poetry. 

II. GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF POETRY

A. It is very compact.

B. It tries to express truth, feelings or experiences in imagery.

C. It is primarily written not oral. It is highly structured. This structure is expressed in:

1. balanced lines (parallelism)

2. word plays

3. sound plays 

III. THE STRUCTURE (R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, pp.965-975)

A. Bishop Robert Lowth in his book, Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews (1753) was the first to characterize biblical poetry as balanced lines of thought.  Most modern English translations are formatted to show the lines of poetry.

1. synonymous – the lines express the same thought in different words:

a. Psalm 3:1; 49:1; 83:14; 103:13

b. Proverbs 19:5; 20:1

c. Isaiah 1:3,10

d. Amos 5:24; 8:10

2. antithetical – the lines express opposite thoughts by means of contrast or stating the positive and the negative:

a. Psalm 1:6; 90:6

b. Proverbs 1:29; 10:1,12; 15:1; 19:4

3. synthetic – the next two or three lines develop the thought – Ps. 19:7-9

4. chiasmic – a pattern of poetry expressing the message in a descending and ascending order.  The main point is found in the middle of the pattern.

B. Charles A. Briggs in his book, General Introduction to the Study of Holy Scripture (1899) developed the next stage of analysis of Hebrew poetry:

1. emblematic – one clause literal and the second metaphorical, Ps. 42:1; 103:3

2. climatic or stair-like – the clauses reveal truth in an ascending fashion, Ps. 19:7-14; 29:1-2; 103:20-22

3. introverted – a series of clauses, usually at least four are related by the internal structure of line 1 to 4 and 2 to 3 – Ps. 30:8-10a

C. G. B. Gray in his book, The Forms of Hebrew Poetry (1915), developed the concept of balanced clauses further by:

1. complete balance – where every word in line one is repeated or balanced by a word in line two – Psalm 83:14 and Isaiah 1:3

2. incomplete balance where the clauses are not the same length - Ps. 59:16; 75:6

D. Today there is a growing recognition of literary structural pattern in Hebrew called a chiasm, which usually denotes a number of parallel lines (a.b,b,a; a,b,c,b,a) forming an hour glass shape, often the central line(s) is emphasized.

E. Type of sound patterns found in poetry in general, but not often in eastern poetry

1. play on alphabet (acrostic, cf. Ps. 9,34,37,119; Pro. 31:10ff; Lamentations 1-4)

2. play on consonants (alliteration, cf. Ps. 6:8; 27:7; 122:6; Isa. 1:18-26)

3. play on vowels (assonance, cf. Gen. 49:17; Exod. 14:14; Ezek. 27:27)

4. play on repetition of similar sounding words with different meanings (paronomasia)

5. play on words which, when pronounced, sound like the thing they name (onomatopoeia)

6. special opening and close (inclusive)

F. There are several types of poetry in the Old Testament.  Some are topic related and some are form related.

1. dedication song – Num. 21:17-18

2. work songs – (alluded to but not recorded in Jdgs. 9:27); Isa. 16:10; Jer. 25:30; 48:33

3. ballads – Num. 21:27-30; Isa. 23:16

4. drinking songs – negative, Isa. 5:11-13; Amos 6:4-7 and positive, Isa. 22:13

5. love poems – Song of Songs, wedding riddle - Jdgs. 14:10-18, wedding song - Psalm 45

6. laments/dirge – (alluded to but not recorded in 2 Sam. 1:17 and 2 Chr. 35:25) 2 Sam. 3:33; Ps. 27, 28; Jer. 9:17-22; Lam.; Ezek. 19:1-14; 26:17-18; Nah. 3:15-19)

7. war songs – Gen. 4:23-24; Exod. 15:1-18,20; Num. 10:35-36; 21:14-15; Jos. 10:13; Jdgs. 5:1-31; 11:34; 1 Sam. 18:6; 2 Sam. 1:18; Isa. 47:1-15; 37:21

8. special benedictions or blessing of leader – Genesis 49; Num. 6:24-26; Deuteronomy 32; 2 Sam. 23:1-7

9. magical texts – Balaam, Num. 24:3-9

10. sacred poems – Psalms

11. acrostic poems – Ps. 9,34,37,119; Pro. 31:10ff; and Lamentations 1-4

12. curses – Num. 21:22-30

13. taunt poems – Isa. 14:1-22; 47:1-15; Ezek. 28:1-23

14. a book of war poems (Jashar) – Num. 21:14-15; Josh. 10:12-13; 2 Sam. 1:18 

IV. GUIDELINE TO INTERPRETING HEBREW POETRY

A. Look for the central truth of the stanza or strophe (this is like a paragraph in prose.)  The RSV was the first modern translation to identify poetry by stanzas. Compare modern translations for helpful insights.

B. Identify the figurative language and express it in prose.  Remember this type of literature is very compact, much is left for the reader to fill in.

C. Be sure to relate the longer issue-oriented poems to their literary context (often the whole book) and historical setting.  Try to express the central truth in your own words.

D. Judges 4 & 5 are very helpful in seeing how poetry expresses history.  Judges 4 is prose and Judges 5 is poetry of the same event (also compare Exodus 14 & 15).

E. Attempt to identify the type of parallelism involved, whether synonymous, antithetical, or synthetic. This is very important.

 

Copyright © 2012 Bible Lessons International

Biblical Topics: 

Introduction to Wisdom Literature

I. THE GENRE

A. Common Literary type in the Ancient Near East (R. J. Williams, Wisdom in the Ancient Near East, Interpreter Dictionary of the Bible, Supplement)

1. Mesopotamia (1 Kgs. 4:30-31; Isa. 47:10; Dan. 1:20; 2:2)

a. Sumeria had a developed wisdom tradition both proverbial and epic (texts from Nippur).

b. Babylon's proverbial wisdom was connected with the priest/magician.  It was not morally focused (W. G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Literature). It was not a developed genre as it was in Israel. 

c. Assyria also had a wisdom tradition; one example would be the teachings of Ahiqar. He was an advisor to Sennacherib (704-681 b.c.).

2. Egypt (1 Kgs. 4:30; Gen. 41:8; Isa. 19:11-12)

a. The Teaching for Vizier Ptah-hotep, written about 2450 b.c. His teachings were in paragraph, not proverbial, form.  They were structured as a father to his son, so too, The Teachings for King Meri-ka-re, about 2200 b.c. (LaSor, Hubbard, Bush, Old Testament Survey, p. 533).

b. The Wisdom of Amen-em-opet, written about 1200 b.c., is very similar to Pro. 22:17-24:12.

3. Phoenicia (Ezek. 27:8-9; 28:3-5)

a. The discoveries at Ugarit has shown the close connection between Phoenician and Hebrew wisdom, especially the meter.  Many of the unusual forms and rare words in biblical Wisdom Literature are now understandable from the archaeological discoveries at Ras Shamra (Ugarit).

b. Song of Songs is very much like Phoenician wedding songs called wasps written about 600 b.c.

4. Canaan (i.e., Edom, cf. Jer. 49:7; Obadiah 8) – Albright has revealed the similarity between Hebrew and Canaanite wisdom literature especially the Ras Shamra texts from Ugarit, written about the 15th century b.c.

a. often the same words appear as pairs

b. presence of chiasmus

c. have superscriptions

d. have musical notations

5. Biblical Wisdom Literature includes the writings of several non-Israelites:

a. Job from Edom

b. Agur from Massa (an Israelite kingdom in Saudi Arabia, cf. Genesis 25:14 and 1 Chronicles 1:30)

c. Lemuel from Massa

6. There are two Jewish non-canonical books that share this genre form.

a. Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom of Ben Sirach)

b. Wisdom of Solomon (wisdom)

B. Literary Characteristics

1. Primarily two distinct types

a. proverbial guidelines for a happy, successful life (originally oral, cf. Pro. 1:8; 4:1)

(1) short

(2) easily understood culturally (common experience)

(3) thought provoking – arresting statements of truth

(4) usually uses contrast

(5) generally true but not always specifically applicable

b. longer developed special topic, literary works (usually written) like Job, Ecclesiastes, and Jonah.

(1) monologues

(2) dialogues 

(3) essays

(4) they deal with life's major questions and mysteries

(5) the sages were willing to challenge the theological status quo!

c. personification of wisdom (always female). The term wisdom was feminine.

(1) often in Proverbs wisdom is described as a woman (cf. 1:8-9:18)

(a) positively:

i.  1:20-33

ii.  4:6-9

iii. 8:1-36

iv. 9:1-6

(b) negatively:

i.  7:1-27

ii. 9:13-18

(2) in Proverbs 8:22-31 wisdom is personified as the first born of creation by which God created all else (3:19-20; Ps. 104:24; Jer. 10:12). This may be the background of John's use of Logos in John 1:1 to refer to Jesus the Messiah.

(3) this can also be seen in Ecclesiasticus 24.

2. This literature is unique from the Law and the Prophets (cf. Jer. 18:18) in that it addresses the individual, not the nation.  There are no historical or cultic allusions.  It primarily focuses on daily, successful, joyful, moral living.

3. Biblical Wisdom Literature is similar to that of its surrounding neighbors in its structure but not content.  The One true God is the foundation on which all biblical wisdom is based (e.g., Gen. 41:38-39; Job 12:13; 28:28; Pro. 1:7; 9:10; Ps.111:10).  In Babylon it was Apsu, Ea, or Marduk.  In Egypt it was Thoth.

4. Hebrew wisdom was very practical.  It was based on experience, not special revelation.  It focused on an individual being successful in life (all of life: sacred and secular).  It is divine "horse-sense."

5. Because Wisdom Literature used human reason, experience and observation it was international, transcultural.  It was the monotheistic religious worldview which is often not stated, that made Israel's wisdom revelatory.

 II. POSSIBLE ORIGINS

A. Wisdom Literature developed in Israel as alternative or balance to the other forms of revelation. (Jer. 18:18; Ezek. 7:26)

1. priest - law – form (corporate)

2. prophet - oracle – motive (corporate)

3. sage - wisdom – practical, successful daily life (individual)

4. As there were female prophets in Israel (Miriam, Huldah), so too, there were female sages (cf. 2 Sam. 14:1-21; 20:14-22).

B. This type of literature seemed to have developed:

1. as folk stories around camp fires

2. as family traditions passed on to the male children

3. written and supported by the Royal Palace:

a. David is connected to the Psalms 

b. Solomon is connected to Proverbs (1 Kgs. 4:29-34; Ps. 72, 127; Pro. 1:1; 10:1; 25:1)

c. Hezekiah is connected to editing Wisdom Literature (Pro. 25:1)

III. PURPOSE

A. It is basically a "how to" focus on happiness and success.  It is primarily individual in its focus.  It is based on:

1. the experience of previous generations

2. cause and effect relationships in life

3. trusting in God has rewards (cf. Deuteronomy 27-29)

B. It was society's way to pass on truth and train the next generation of leaders and citizens.

C. OT wisdom, though not always expressing it, sees the Covenant God behind all of life.  For the Hebrew there was no sharp division between the sacred and secular.  All of life was sacred.

D. It was a way to challenge and balance traditional theology.  The sages were free thinkers not bound by textbook truths.  They dared to ask, "Why," "How," "What if?"

IV. KEYS TO INTERPRETATION

A. Short proverbial statements

1. look for common elements of life used to express the truth

2. express the central truth in a simple declarative sentence

3. since context will not help look for parallel passages on the same subject

B. Longer literary pieces

1. be sure to express the central truth of the whole

2. do not take verses out of context

3. check the historical occasion or reason of the writing

C. Some common misinterpretations (Fee & Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, p. 207)

1. People do not read the whole Wisdom book (like Job and Ecclesiastes) and look for its central truth, but pull parts of the book out of its context and apply it literally to modern life.

2. People do not understand the uniqueness of the literary genre.  This is a highly compact and figurative Ancient Near Eastern literature.

3. Proverbs are statements of general truth.  They are broad sweeps of the pen not specifically true, in every case-every time, statements of truth.

V. BIBLICAL EXAMPLES

A. Old Testament

1. Job

2. Psalm 1, 19, 32, 34, 37 (acrostic), 49, 78, 104, 107, 110, 112-119 (acrostic), 127-128, 133, 147, 148

3. Proverbs

4. Ecclesiastes

5. Song of Songs

6. Lamentations (acrostic) 

7. Jonah

B. Extra canonical

1. Tobit

2. Wisdom of Ben Sirah (Ecclesiasticus)

3. Wisdom of Solomon (Book of Wisdom)

4. IV Maccabees

C. New Testament

1. The proverbs and parables of Jesus

2. The book of James

 

Copyright © 2012 Bible Lessons International

Biblical Topics: 

Introduction to the Psalms

*Much of this material comes from R. K. Harrison's An Introduction To the Old Testament, pp. 976-1003 and LaSor, Hubbard, and Bush, Old Testament Survey, pp 510-532.

I. NAME OF THE BOOK

 

A. In Hebrew the title is "Songs of Praise" or Praises" (Tehillim, cf. Psalm 145). This is surprising because so many of the psalms are laments or complaints.

 

B. In the Septuagint (LXX) the title is psalmos which means "to pluck." This Greek term is used of the Psalms in Luke 20:42; 24:44 and Acts 1:20. Not all the psalms were meant to be sung with musical accompaniment, but this came to be the title of the whole book in the LXX.

 

II. CANONIZATION

 

A. Psalms is part of the third division of the Hebrew canon called the "Writings" (Kethubhim, Hagiographa). This section of the Hebrew canon was made up of:

1. wisdom literature

a. Job

b. Psalms

c. Proverbs

2. festival books (Megilloth)

a. Ruth

b. Ecclesiastes

c. Song of Songs

d. Lamentations

e. Esther

3. historical books

a. Daniel

b. Ezra

c. Nehemiah

d. Chronicles

 

B. The Psalms are quoted more often in the NT than any other OT book.

 

III. GENRE

 

A. This literary form was common to the Ancient Near East. The biblical psalms share the form of hymns from Babylon, Egypt, and Canaan. Scholars have seen a close connection:

1. between Psalm 104:20-30 and the Egyptian Hymn to Aton (14th century b.c.)

2. Psalm 29 is almost identical to a Ugaritic poem to Ba'al, except for the name of the deity.

 

B. The archaeological discovery of the Ras Shamra texts from the city of Ugarit show the similarity between Canaanite poetry and the Psalms. The discovery has helped to understand the form and vocabulary of the Psalter (see The Anchor Bible, 3 volumes, by Mitchell).

 

C. The literary form was an ancient genre within Israel:

1. the song of Moses, Exod. 15:1-17

2. the song of Miriam, Exod. 15:21

3. a song of Israel, Num. 21:17-18

4. the song of Deborah, Judges 5

5. the song of Hannah, 1 Sam. 2:1-10

6. the song of the bow from the book of Jashar, 2 Sam. 1:17-27

 

D. Three principle forms:

1. praise psalms — characterized by starting with an imperative such as "praise the Lord," "sing unto the Lord," etc.

2. lament psalms — characterized by starting with a vocative such as "O Lord," followed by a complaint or petition

3. wisdom psalms — similar to categories of wisdom literature (i.e., how to live happy, successful, godly lives)

 

IV. AUTHORSHIP

 

A. The traditional authorship of many of the Psalms is given in titles or superscriptions, which are present in all but thirty-four Psalms. There are two ways to view these titles:

1. They are part of the Masoretic Hebrew text and present in the Septuagint (though often differing), therefore, canonical. However, the Psalms found in the Dead Sea Scrolls do not have these titles and superscriptions.

2. They are not original with the inspired authors and should be viewed as ancient traditions, not inspired truths. It seems that at least two of them disagree with other canonical texts:

a. Psalm 34's title vs. 1 Sam. 21:10ff (the name of the Philistine king)

b. Psalm 56's title vs. 1 Sam. 21:10 (how did David get to Gath)

c. Psalm 60's superscriptions show the difficulty of relating to 2 Sam. 8:13 and 1 Chr. 18:12 in the number of enemies killed by whom.

3. Another problem is that the Hebrew preposition "of" can be understood in several ways:

a. "written by"

b. "written for"

c. "written to"

d. "belonging to the time of"

e. "under the direction of"

4. I think they are not inspired. I will not comment on them in this commentary.

 

B. The Masoretic Hebrew Text's title designation of authors:

1. David, (1 Samuel 16:16-18), (MT) author of 73 psalms; (LXX) author of 84 psalms; (Vulgate) author of 53 psalms

2. Anonymous — 50 psalms: 1,2,10,33,43,71,91, 93-97,104-107,118-119,135,137,146-150

3. Asaph, David's choir leader (1 Chr. 15:16-17; 16:5, "the sons of Asaph" are mentioned in Neh. 7:44) 12 psalms: 50, 73-83

4. Sons of Korah, a family of Levitical musicians (1 Chr. 9:19; 15:17) 11 psalms: 42-49 except 43; 84-88 except 86

5. Jeduthun, Levitical choir leader, (1 Chr. 16:41-42; 25:1-3; 2 Chr. 5:12) 3 psalms: 39; 62; 77

6. Solomon, 2 psalms: 72; 127, "written by," "written for," "written to," "belonging to," "in the time of," or "under direction of"

7. Moses, 1 psalm: 90

8. The Ezrahite (1 Chr. 6:33; 15:17)

a. Ethan, Psalm 89 (some think Abraham) 1 Chr. 15:17,19

b. Heman, Psalm 88 (also a son of Korah) 1 Kgs. 4:31; 1 Chr. 4:31; 15:19

 

C. Traditions of Authorship from Jewish Writings:

1. Baba Bathra 14b (Talmud) — "David wrote the book of Psalms with the help of ten elders, with the help of Adam, the first, and Melchizedek and Abraham and Moses and Heman and Jeduthun and Asaph and the three sons of Korah"

2. Sanhedrin 38b (Talmud) attributes Psalm 139 to Adam and Psalm 110 to Melchizedek

 

D. The Septuagint attributes Psalms to Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, and Zechariah (112; 126; 127; 137; 146-149).

 

V. DATE

 

A. The dating of the Psalms is difficult for several reasons:

1. the individual psalms have a particular occasion that caused them to be written

2. at some point the words of one psalmist became the words of the community of faith

3. the psalms were collected through an editorial process into five books

 

B. The Psalms include poems from all periods of Israel's life:

1. Jewish tradition says:

a. Adam wrote Psalm 139 

b. Melchizedek wrote Psalm 110 

c. Abraham wrote Psalm 89

d. Moses wrote Psalm 90

2. Modern scholarship has divided the Psalms into three major periods:

a. pre-exilic (books, I, II, & IV)

b. exilic (book III)

c. post-exilic (book V)

 

C. It is obvious that many of the Psalms are attributed to David:

1. David was a musical composer, player, and singer, 1 Sam. 16:16-18

2. He initiated and organized the Levitical music groups, or Temple singers, 1 Chr. 15:1-16:43, 25:1-31; 2 Chr. 29:25-30

3. The first two books of the Psalms are attributed to him, Ps. 72:20

4. His Psalms appear in all five books of the Psalter

 

VI. THE STRUCTURE OF THE Psalter

 

A. There is no general theme or pattern. There is:

1. a general introduction (characteristic of a righteous person) — Psalm 1

2. every one of the five divisions of books ends with a doxology, 41:13; 72:18-19; 89:52; 106:48

3. a general close (doxology) — Psalm 150

 

B. Characteristics of the Five Books

1. Book 1 — Psalms 1-41

a. all but 4 attributed to David (1; 2; 10; 33)

b. YHWH as title for God predominates, YHWH — 273 to Elohim — 15

c. the historical setting was possibly David's days in conflict with Saul

2. Book 2 — Psalms 42-72 (72:20 shows editor)

a. Psalms 42-49 to sons of Korah (except 43)

b. Elohim as title for God predominates, Elohim - 164 to YHWH - 30

c. the historical setting was possibly David's days as King

3. Book 3 — Psalms 73-89

a. Psalms 73-83, Asaph

b. Psalms 84-88, sons of Korah (except 86)

c. 26 psalms attributed to David

d. YHWH as title for God 44 times; Elohim 43 times

e. the historical setting was possibly Assyrian crisis

4. Book 4 — Psalms 90-106

a. Psalm 101; 103 to David

b. Psalm 90 to Moses

c. all others anonymous

d. YHWH used 104 times; Elohim - 7 times

e. the historical setting was possibly Babylonian crisis

5. Book 5 — Psalms 107-150

a. Psalm 119 is an extended acrostic on God's Word

b. YHWH is used 236 times; Elohim 7 times

c. Psalms 146-150 are praise psalms which all begin with "Praise the Lord"

d. the historical setting was possibly hope in God's future blessings

 

C. Numbering of Psalms Varies

1. Jewish tradition

a. Berachoth 9b — Psalms 1 and 2 counted as 1

b. Shabbath 16 — total number of psalms was 147 to match the years of Jacob's life

2. Greek translation

a. Psalms 9 and 10 are together making one acrostic psalm

b. Psalms 114 and 115 are together, both being Hallel Psalms

c. Psalms 116 and 147 are divided into 2 each

3. The number of Psalms may be related to the annual Scripture reading cycle of the early synagogue

 

D. A sample of ways to group the Psalms:

1. by theme or topic

a. hymns of praise

(1) to God as creator, 8; 19; 104; 139; 148

(2) to God in general, 33; 103; 113; 117; 134-136; 145-147

b. hymns of thanksgiving, 9-10; 11; 16; 30; 32; 34; 92; 116; 138

c. laments/dirges/complaints

(1) corporate, 12; 14; 44; 53; 58; 60; 74; 79; 80; 83; 85; 89; 90; 94; 106; 123; 126; 137

(2) individual, 3-7; 3; 17; 22; 25-28; 31; 35; 38-43; 69-71; 86; 88; 102; 109; 120; 130; 139-143

d. hymns of kingship

(1) God as king, 47; 93; 96-99

(2) King of Israel or Messiah, 2; 18; 20; 21; 45; 72; 89; 101; 110

e. hymns about Zion, 46; 48; 76; 84; 87; 122

f. hymns of liturgy

(1) covenant renewal, 50; 81

(2) priestly blessings, 134

(3) about Temple, 15; 24; 68

g. hymns about wisdom, 36; 37; 49; 73; 111; 112; 127; 128; 133

h. hymns about faith in YHWH's faithfulness, 11; 16; 23; 62; 63; 91; 121; 131

i. condemnation of false gods and idolatry, 82; 115

2. by author or speaker

a. hymns of David using mostly YHWH as the name of Deity, Psalms 1-41

b. hymns of David using mostly Elohim as the name of Deity, Psalms 51-72

c. hymns by David's Levitical musicians and singers

(1) Korah and sons, Psalms 42-49; 84-88

(2) Asaph and sons, Psalms 73-83

d. hymns by praisers, Psalms 111-118; 140-150

e. hymns by pilgrims coming to Jerusalem to worship at a feast day, Psalms 120-134

3. by historical events in Israel's history based on superscription or content, Psalms 14; 44; 46-48; 53; 66; 68; 74; 76; 79; 80; 83; 85; 87; 108; 122; 124-126; and 129

 

E. Related Psalms

1. Psalms 14 and 53 are the same except for the name of God

a. Psalm 14 has YHWH

b. Psalm 104 has Elohim

2. Psalms 103 and 104 are linked:

a. same opening and close

b. Psalm 103 has YHWH as Savior and Redeemer

c. Psalm 104 has Elohim as Creator and Sustainer

3. Psalms 32 and 51 both possibly relate to David's sin with Bathsheba

4. Psalms 57:7-11 and 60:5-12 are combined into Psalm 108

5. Psalm 18 is repeated from 2 Sam. 21:1-51

 

F. Why 150 Psalms in 5 books

1. possibly 150 psalms paralleled the 150 synagogue divisions of the Law for public reading on the Sabbaths

2. possibly five books paralleled the five books of Moses

 

VII. MUSICAL TERMS IN THE Psalter

 

A. Musical terms in the superscriptions used to describe different types of psalms

1. MIZMOR means "to pluck." These were psalms that were meant to be sung and accompanied by musical instruments. There are 57 of these.

2. SHIR refers to songs of all kinds. There are 30 of these.

3. MASCHIL or MASKIL which denotes songs of special skill or teaching psalms. There are 30 of these.

4. MITCHTAM or MITKHTAM — the meaning of this term is uncertain. From a possible

a. Hebrew root it could mean "golden" or "precious"

b. from an Akkadian root it could mean "hidden" or "unpublished"

c. from an Arabic root it could mean "atoning" or "forgiving"

There are 6 of these.

5. PALAL means prayer. It is used to describe the psalms of David in books I & II (cf. Psalm 72:20). It is also found in the superscription of Psalms 17; 86; 90; 102; 142; and possibly 122.

 

B. Musical terms describing the playing or singing of the psalm

1. SELAH is used 71 times in 39 psalms and Hab. 3:3, 9, 13. Its meaning is uncertain. There have been several theories:

a. from the LXX "interlude" for meditation or dramatic effect

b. from Hebrew root "to lift," therefore, an elevation or forte

c. the rabbis say it is an affirmation like "amen," which means "forever"

2. SHIGGAION or SHIGIONOTH is used in Psalm 7 and Habakkuk 3. It is a lament or dirge expressing sorrow. It has a highly emotional poetic form.

3. NEGINOTH is used 6 times in the Psalms and in Hab. 3:19. It means "on stringed instruments."

4. SHEMINITH is used twice. It may mean "on the octave" or "on the eight." It is opposite of ALAMOTH, therefore, possibly for male voices (cf. 1 Chr. 15:21).

5. ALAMOTH is used 4 times. It refers to female soprano voices (cf. 1 Chr. 15:20).

6. MECHILOTH is used once. It means "on wind instruments."

7. GITTITH is used 3 times. It means "on the harp."

8. There are several references to specifically named tunes, Psalm 9; 22; 45; 53; 56; 57-59; 60; 62; 69; 75; 77; 80; and 88

 

VIII. PURPOSE OF PSALMS

 

A. Israel believed that all of life was related to God by covenant. The Psalms are humanity's release to God of the deepest emotions of life (awe and intimacy). They functioned in corporate worship as well as individual devotions. They were a liturgical way to recount and accent Israel's history and theology.

 

B. Israel believed in one and only one personal, caring God and that they were the special object of His love. Faith was not liturgical or creedal but personal and daily. The poetic form of the Psalms helps us express our religious self to God. The chief character of the OT is God!

 

C. All of the Psalms may have begun as individual expressions of personal faith, which were later used by the community of faith (cf. Psalm 23; 139, etc).

 

D. From the NT use of quotes from the Psalms it is obvious that they were revelatory, as well as emotive. They reflect truths about God, humanity, sin, hope, Messiah, and restoration.

 

IX. INTERPRETIVE PROCEDURES

 

A. This commentary seeks to interpret the Psalms in light of

1. their historical setting (i.e., worldview)

2. their genre

3. seeing how NT authors used the Psalms (LXX) to reveal and explain the gospel of Jesus Christ

4. finally, applying these truths to our day, but this significance must follow #1, 2, 3!

 

B. I have chosen to analyze the parallelism by listing the elements. This does violate the genre, but hopefully will help modern western thinkers to see the original author's emphasis and content.

 

C. Each reader/interpreter needs to seek the original author's main points and not interject his/her own. This is difficult in an ancient, poetic book. Often moderns read the Psalms like the morning newspaper, written directly to them in their language and culture. With this interpretive method, one can make the Psalms say anything about anything!

There should be a main point to each and every strophe. The problem is, strophes are not a technical issue but a subjective issue. We must all struggle with where to divide these ancient poems and be sure we have as many truths/points as the original inspired author.

D. One final point, for me, the NT is the proper interpreter of the OT. The Psalms are not the new covenant but Mosaic covenant! They must be interpreted and applied in light of NT revelation.

 

Passage: 

Psalms: The Hymnal Of Israel, Book I (Psalms 1-41)

Study Guide Commentary Series, Old Testament, Vol. 9B. See attached PDF (373 pages)

Biblical Topics: 
Passage: 
/assets/pdf/Utley_9BPsalmsI.pdf

Psalm 1

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS*

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Righteous and the Wicked Contrasted
No MT Intro
The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly The Contrasting Fate of the Righteous and the Wicked
(A Wisdom Psalm)
True Happiness The Two Paths
1:1-3 1:1-3 1:1-3 1:1-3 1:1-2
        1:3-4a
1:4-6 1:4-6 1:4-6 1:4-6  
        1:4b-6

* Although they are not inspired, paragraph divisions are the key to understanding and following the original author's intent. Each modern translation has divided and summarized the paragraphs. Every paragraph has one central topic, truth, or thought. Each version encapsulates that topic in its own distinct way. As you read the text, ask yourself which translation fits your understanding of the subject and verse divisions.
 In every chapter we must read the Bible first and try to identify its subjects (paragraphs), then compare our understanding with the modern versions. Only when we understand the original author's intent by following his logic and presentation can we truly understand the Bible. Only the original author is inspired—readers have no right to change or modify the message. Bible readers do have the responsibility of applying the inspired truth to their day and their lives.
  Note that all technical terms and abbreviations are explained fully in the following documents: Brief Definitions of Greek Grammatical StructureTextual Criticism, and Glossary.

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This is a general introduction to the Psalter. Kyle Yates, in his wonderful book Preaching From the Psalms, pp. 115-124, says this psalm describes "the kingdom man."

1. his character

2. his influence

3. his conduct

4. his destiny

 

B. This Psalm expresses the traditional Jewish teaching that in this life the righteous will be blessed and the wicked punished (i.e., the two ways, cf. Deut. 30:1,15-20). There are types of people who are similarly described in Jer. 17:5-8.

 

C. Jesus apparently used Psalm 1 as a basic outline for His Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7.

In this context these words are not addressed to all humans, but to the covenant people, people who know YHWH's revelation but have chosen to ignore it. It seems that Matt. 7:13-14 is also based on this same crucial aspect of faith. Below are the notes from my commentary on Matthew. You can see the entire commentary at www.freebiblecommentary.org.

 

MATTHEW 7

 

Matt. 7:13 Does this verse imply (1) entering a gate and then walking on a path; or (2) walking on a path which leads to a gate; or (3) is it an example of Hebrew parallelism? The fact that the gate appears first and then a way implies that this is referring to one's coming to know God in a personal way through Jesus' teachings and then living a new kingdom life. Some of the confusion here can be attributed to the threefold aspect of biblical salvation: (1) initial faith and repentance; (2) lifestyle Christlikeness; and (3) eschatological culmination. This parable is paralleled in Luke 13:23-27. See Special Topic: Use of "Door" in the NT at Matt. 6:6.

▣ "the narrow gate" This type of proverbial truth has traditionally been known as "the two ways" (cf. Deut. 30:15, 19; Ps. 1; Pro. 4:10-19; Isa. 1:19-20 and Jer. 21:8). It is hard to identify to whom Jesus was speaking: (1) to disciples, (2) to Pharisees, or (3) to the crowd. The general context would imply that the verse relates to Matt. 5:20 and Matt. 5:48. If so, then this would imply that the restricted nature of the gate was not rules, like Pharisaic legalism, but lifestyle love flowing out of a relationship with Christ. Christ does have rules (cf. Matt. 11:29-30), but they flow from a changed heart! If we place this verse in relation to a Jewish-Gentile context (cf. Ps. 6:7, 32), then it relates to belief in Jesus as Savior (gate) and Lord (way).

Starting with Matt. 7:13-27 there is a series of contrasts related to religious people.

1.the two ways of performing religious duties (Matt. 7:13-14)

2.the two types of religious leaders (Matt. 7:15-23)

3.the two foundations of a religious life (Matt. 7:24-27)

The question is not to which group of religious people Jesus referred, but to how religious people respond to their understanding of God's will. Some use religion as a guise to gain immediate praise and rewards from men. It is a "me" and "now" focused lifestyle (cf. Isa. 29:13; Col. 2:16-23). True disciples order their lives in light of Jesus' words about the present and coming Kingdom of God.

▣ "for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction" "Way" can be (1) a metaphor for lifestyle and (2) the earliest title of the church (cf. Acts 9:2; 19:9,23; 22:4; 24:14,22; 18:25-26). This verse implies that salvation is not an easy decision which fits in with the mainstream of culture, but a decisive change of life which issues in obedience to the principles of God. The fact that one way leads to destruction shows the ultimate outcome of those who live lives independent of God. Often they seem very religious (cf. Isa. 29:13; Matt. 7:21-23; Col. 2:23)!

This phrase has a typical Greek manuscript variable. In the first of the verse it says, "enter by the narrow gate," but in the second half "the gate" is omitted in the uncial manuscript א*, some old Latin manuscripts, some Vulgate manuscripts, the Diatessaron, and the Greek texts used by Clement and Eusebius. It is present in the uncials א1, B, C, L, W, and some old Latin, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic manuscripts. So the question is, "Was it inserted for balance" or "fell out by accident?" The UBS4 gives the longer text (i.e., its inclusion) a "B" rating (almost certain). However, its inclusion or exclusion does not change the meaning of the text. This is true of the vast majority of the NT variations in the 5,300 Greek New Testaments in existence today! See Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 19.

Matt. 7:14 In a day of "easy-believeism" this is a needed balance! This is not saying that Christianity is dependent on human effort, but rather that the life of faith will be filled with persecution. "Narrow" in this verse shares the same root word as "tribulation" or "persecution" in other NT passages. This emphasis is the exact opposite of Matt. 11:29-30. These two verses could be characterized as the "gate" and the "way." We come to God through Jesus as a free gift of God (cf. Rom. 3:24; 5:15-17; 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9), but once we know Him, it is the pearl of great price for which we sell all that we have to follow Him. Salvation is absolutely free, but it costs everything that we are and have.

The phrase "few they are that find it" should be compared with Matt. 7:13 and Luke 13:23-24. The question is "are more going to be lost than saved?" Is the verse teaching this numerical distinction?

 

D.The rabbis combine Psalm 1 and 2 into one psalm. This may be confirmed in

1. Acts 13:33, which calls Psalm 2 "the first psalm"

2. the use of "blessed" in Ps. 1:1 and 2:12 may be a literary technique called inclusio

3. surprisingly neither Psalm 1 nor Psalm 2 has an introductory phrase in the MT

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 1:1-3
 1How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
 Nor stand in the path of sinners,
 Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
 2But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
 And in His law he meditates day and night.
 3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
 Which yields its fruit in its season
 And its leaf does not wither;
 And in whatever he does, he prospers.

1:1-3 There seems to be a progression of time elements in these opening verses. Hebrew verbs do not express time, only context. It is possible that

1. the perfect verbs of Ps. 1:1 denote past time (i.e., how that person lived)

2. the imperfect verb of Ps. 1:2 denotes current time (i.e., way the person lives every day)

3. verse 3 starts out with a perfect verb with a waw (see Hebrew grammar article beginning on page iii) which could denote a future condition like blessedness (i.e., expected fruitfulness)

 

1:1 The word "blessed" is plural but the object is singular, "the man." This could be explained by

1. the plural is a Hebrew way to denote all the blessings of God

2. "the man" is a singular plural denoting all men who know and obey God (i.e., James 1:2-23). This is how the term "a tree" is used in Ps. 1:3a.

This word ("blessed," BDB 80) means "happy," "honored," or "well off" (cf. Matt. 5:3-12).

No human can be "happy" apart from God. We were created by Him and for Him (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 3:8). Until our relationship with our Creator is vibrant, all other areas of physical life cannot bring true, lasting happiness! This relationship has observable characteristics!

Notice the three Qal perfect verbs which denote characteristic actions and attitude (i.e., settled character).

1. does not walk in the counsel of the wicked

2. does not stand in the way of sinners

3. does not sit in the seat of scoffers

The "blessed" faithful follower is described by negations in Ps. 1:1 and by their actions in Ps. 1:2.

▣ "walk in the counsel of the wicked" This speaks of one's lifestyle associates. This emphasis on lifestyle is reinforced by the use of the verbs "walk. . .stand. . .sit." We are affected by the group to which we belong, our peers (cf. 1 Cor. 15:33).

The term "wicked" (BDB 957) refers not only to active law breakers (i.e., commission and omission) but also to those who leave God out of their lives (i.e., practical atheist).

▣ "Lord" This is the covenant name for Israel's Deity, YHWH.

SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY

▣ "path of sinners" In the root meaning of the word "path" is "way" (cf. Ps. 1:6 [twice]) and is another term used for lifestyle. NT faithful followers were first described as people of "the Way" (cf. Acts 9:2; 19:9,23; 22:4; 24:14,22). This implies that biblical faith is more than assent to a doctrine or the participation in a ritual, but also lifestyle obedience and personal relationship (i.e., "walk," cf. Eph. 4:1,17; 5:2,15).

▣ "the seat of scoffers" We all have presuppositions about life. "Scoffers" (BDB 539, KB 529, Qal participle) represents the stereotype of an irreligious pessimist (i.e., Isa. 5:19; Jer. 17:15; Ezek. 12:22,27; Mal. 2:17; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 2 Pet. 3:3-4; Jude Ps. 1:18).

1:2 "his delight is in the law of the Lord" The term "law" (BDB 435) means "teaching." In the Psalms "the law" always refers to the general teachings of God (cf. Psalm 119), not just the writings of Moses. The law was not a burden to the OT believer (cf. Ps. 19:7-13), but the very revelation of YHWH for longevity, peace, security, joy, and abundance.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Terms for God's Revelation (Using Deuteronomy and Psalms)

▣ "he meditates day and night" This verb (BDB 211, KB 237, Qal imperfect) denotes a "soft reading" of YHWH-revealed truths. The ancients did not read silently, so it must refer to quiet reading.

Notice how this verb is used.

1. meditating on YHWH's teachings — Ps. 1:2; Jos. 1:8

2. meditating on YHWH Himself — Ps. 63:7

3. meditating on YHWH's deeds — Ps. 77:13; 143:5

4. meditating on terror — Isa. 33:18

What do you meditate on?

Our thought life is the seed bed for our actions (cf. Pro. 23:7). This verse emphasizes the principle of continually (i.e., day and night) keeping God and His will in our consciousness. This was the original purpose symbolized in Deut. 6:8-9. I have included the comment from these verses here.

 

Deuteronomy 6

Deut. 6:8 "you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead" Originally this phrase seems to be used as a metaphor (cf. LXX). The context is lifestyle-teaching opportunities for God's word. However, the rabbis took this verse very literally and they began to wrap a leather strap around their left hand with a small box (tefillin) attached which contained selected Scriptures from the Torah. The same kind of box was also strapped to their forehead. These "phylacteries" or "frontals" (BDB 377) are also mentioned in Deut. 11:18 and Matt. 23:5.

Deut. 6:9 "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates" This again is a symbolic gesture that God is to have a part, not only in our home life, but in our social life (i.e., gate, cf. Deut. 21:19; 22:15,24). As the threshold (BDB 265) of the home was often seen as the place of the demonic in the Greek and Roman worlds, in the Jewish world it represented the presence of God (i.e., the place where the blood of the Passover was placed, cf. Exod. 12:7,22,23).

"Your gates" (BDB 1044) may refer to the place of social meeting and justice (i.e., like the city gates). Usually, these small boxes and door markers (mezuza) contained several set passages of Scripture: Deut. 6:4-9; 11:13-21 and Exod. 13:1-10,11-16.

 

1:3 "like a tree" There is a striking metaphor of this in Jer. 17:5-8. For a desert community, the fruitful tree was a symbol of strength and prosperity.

The verb (BDB 1060, KB 1670, firmly planted," Qal passive participle) means "transplanted" (cf. Ps. 92:14; Jer. 17:8; Ezek. 17:10,22; 19:10,13; Hos. 9:13). This implies that this person, like all people, was not originally a fruitful believer. Maturity takes time, effort, and especially the grace of God. Paul uses a litany of OT texts to illustrate the initial evil of humans after the Fall (cf. Rom. 3:10-18).

1. vv. 10-12 — Ps. 14:1-3; 53:1-4

2. v. 13 — Ps. 5:9; 140:3

3. v. 14 — Ps. 10:7

4. vv. 15-17 —Isa. 59:7-8

5. v. 18 — Ps. 36:1

All of us are "transplanted" from rebellion into blessedness!

▣ "streams of water" This is plural and speaks of an elaborate irrigation system.

▣ "yields its fruit in its season" This is a biblical metaphor to describe a mature spiritual life (cf. Matt. 7:15-27). The goal of faith is faithfulness! This same imagery has an eschatological setting in Revelation 22.

▣ "its leaf does not wither" This is an eschatological theme (cf. Ezek. 47:12; Rev. 22:2). Agricultural metaphors were very powerful for farmers and herders in semi-arid areas.

1:3-4 "whatever he does, he prospers. . .the wicked are not so" This is the OT view that temporal blessings and cursings were based on one's spiritual life (cf. Deuteronomy 28 and 30).

However, this must be balanced with the life of Job, Psalm 37 and 73, and also NT revelation. The OT is a performance-based covenant but the NT is a grace-based covenant (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-38; Eph. 2:8-10). Both were meant to produce godly followers who demonstrate the character of YHWH.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 1:4-6
 4The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
 5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 6For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

1:4 "like chaff" This is a common biblical metaphor for that which is transitory, temporary, or fleeting (cf. Ps. 35:5; 83:13; Job 21:18; Isa. 17:13; 29:5; 40:24; 41:15-16; Jer. 13:24; Hos. 13:3).

There are two ways to look at the judgment of the wicked.

1. temporal — no joy, no prosperity, early death (cf. Matthew 7)

2. eschatological — end-time judgment scene, where one's eternal destiny is revealed (cf. Matthew 25; Revelation 20)

 

1:5 "stand" This verb (BDB 763, KB 840) has the connotation of a legal setting (cf. Pro. 19:21; Isa. 14:24; note Rom. 8:31-38). Sinners/wicked will have

1. no right to present their case

2. no right to even be present in court

3. no possible excuses

4. no hope for a positive judgment

 

"the judgment" This implies that individuals are responsible for their actions and will one day give an account to God (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; 1 Cor. 3:10-15; Rev. 20:11-15). In the OT this truth is gradually developed (cf. Job 19:25-27; Dan. 12:2).

▣ "the wicked. . .sinners" There are several descriptive titles given to those who do not "walk/stand/sit."

1. the wicked, Ps. 1:1, 5, 6 (BDB 957)

2. sinners, Ps. 1:1, 5 (BDB 308)

3. scoffers, Ps. 1:1 (BDB 539)

The NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 1202, lists the different Hebrew terms that describe those who do not know and follow YHWH (i.e., the righteous).

1. workers of iniquity — Ps. 28:3; 92:7; 101:8; 141:9

2. evildoers — Ps. 26:5; 37:9; Pro. 24:19

3. evil men — Ps. 10:15; Pro. 4:14; 14:19; 24:20

4. ruthless men — Job 15:20; 27:13; Isa. 13:11

5. sinners — Ps. 1:1,5; 104:35

6. scorners — Ps. 1:1; Pro. 9:7

7. liars — Ps. 58:3

8. transgressors — Pro. 2:22; 21:18; Jer. 12:1; Hab. 1:13

9. the enemy — Job 27:7; Ps. 3:7; 17:9; 55:3

 

▣ "in the assembly of the righteous" Notice the parallelism between this phrase and "in the judgment." These phrases must refer to a gathering of true, faithful followers where the wicked are not recognized or able to speak.

The "assembly" can refer to

1. gathered worship (i.e., Ps. 22:25; 35:18; 40:9-10)

2. a title for the people of God (i.e., Exod. 12:3,6,19,47; 16:1,2,9,10,22)

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS

1:6 "the Lord knows" The term "know" means "intimate personal relationship" (cf. Gen. 4:1; Jer. 1:5).

SPECIAL TOPIC: KNOW (USING MOSTLY DEUTERONOMY AS A PARADIGM)

▣ "the way of the wicked will perish" The theological question is what does "perish" (BDB 1, KB 2) mean?

1. total non-existence (i.e., annihilation)

2. will not last on earth (i.e., death)

The issue has become acute in the modern discussion of an eternal hell. Some evangelical scholars (i.e., John Stott) advocate a period of judgment, then non-existence for sinners instead of an eternal punishment. My problem is that the same word, "eternal," used in Matt. 25:46, describes both "punishment" and "eschatological life." I cannot see how an inspired writer can use them with differing senses in the same verse.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What does the phrase "the two ways" mean?

2. Describe the difference between the righteous man and the wicked man from this Psalm.

3. Explain the use of the metaphors:

a. walk. . .way

b. tree

c. chaff

4. Does this Psalm teach an eschatological judgment or temporal judgment?

5. How does this Psalm relate to Job, or Psalm 37 and 73?

6. Why is this Psalm considered an introduction to the whole Psalter?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 2

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Reign of the Lord's Anointed
______________
No MT Intro
The Messiah's Triumph and Kingdom The Lord Gives Universal Dominion to His King
(A Royal Psalm, Composed for a Coronation)
God's Chosen King The Messianic Drama
2:1-3 2:1-3 2:1-3 2:1-3 2:1-3
2:4-6 2:4-6 2:4-6 2:4-6 2:4-6
2:7-9 2:7-9 2:7-9 2:7-9 2:7-9
2:10-12 2:10-12 2:10-12b 2:10-12 2:10-12
    2:12c    

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This Psalm is understood in the NT to be Messianic (cf. Heb. 1:5; 5:5, i.e., a son, cf. Ps. 1:7). It is used by

a. Peter in Acts 4:25

b. Paul in Acts 13:33

The problem with this referring to Jesus is verse 7. See full notes there relating to "today I have begotten You."

B. The Messianic reign will be universal (this is the obvious conclusion to monotheism (see Special Topic at Psalm 2:9, cf. Ps. 2:8; Rev. 12:5; 19:5; see my commentary on Revelation online at www.freebiblecommentary.org).

 

C. There will be opposition from "the nations" (cf. Ps. 2:1-3). Many commentators relate this as an end-time military conflict (i.e., premillennialism) between those who know YHWH and His Messiah and those who do not! This is the consummation of the promise in Gen. 3:15 and the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21-22. Everything in between is a terrible parenthesis of rebellion which abrogated God's plan of fellowship with His highest creation (i.e., Gen. 1:26-27; 3:8).

 

D. Conflict may come but YHWH has an eternal plan of redemption which involves His Messiah.

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 2:1-3
 1Why are the nations in an uproar
 And the peoples devising a vain thing?
 2The kings of the earth take their stand
 And the rulers take counsel together
 Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
 3"Let us tear their fetters apart
 And cast away their cords from us!"

2:1-3 This describes the independence of the fallen human spirit (esp. Ps. 2:3; Genesis 3). Nationalism was God's way of protecting humans from the one-world government (cf. Genesis 10-11; 2 Thessalonians 2). However, one day the world will be united under God's Messiah. For the church this reversal of the Tower of Babel occurred at Pentecost (cf. Acts 2, i.e., "they all heard the gospel in their own language").

2:1 The AB (p. 6) translates this first verse as "Why do the nations forgather, and the peoples number their troops?" This reading is based on

1. parallelism

2. Ugaritic word usage

3. the first verb ("be in tumult," BDB 921, KB 1189, Qal perfect) is found only here in the OT

4. the use of the root, "vain thing," ריק (BDB 937) in Gen. 14:14, is translated by the LXX (i.e., "he counted his own homebreds")

It seems to form a better parallel to verse 2.

2:2 "kings. . .rulers" These are also parallel in Jdgs. 5:3; Pro. 8:15 (poetry).

▣ "of the earth" The term "earth" has a wide semantical field. Context must determine if it is local, regional, or global. The question here is "Did this Psalm originally refer to the nations surrounding Israel, the nations of the ANE, or all nations (cf. Ps. 2:8)"? In a sense this may be a multi-fulfillment prophecy like Isa. 7:14 or typology like Psalm 22. In light of this Psalm's usage in the NT, it has a universal sense (i.e., Messianic, eschatological, global).

SPECIAL TOPIC: LAND, COUNTRY, EARTH

▣ "the Lord" This is the covenant name for Israel's Deity. See Special Topic at Ps. 1:1.

▣ "Anointed" This is the Hebrew word for "messiah." It is translated into Greek as "Christ." It symbolized the special presence of the Holy Spirit to accomplish God's assigned task through a person (cf. 1 Sam.10:1,6; 16:13; 1 Kgs. 19:16; Isa. 61:1).

SPECIAL TOPIC: MESSIAH

SPECIAL TOPIC: OT TITLES OF THE SPECIAL COMING ONE

2:3 This verse has two cohortatives.

1. let us tear — BDB 683, KB 736, Piel cohortative, cf. Jer. 5:5

2. let us cast away — BDB 1020, KB 1527, Hiphil cohortative

Fallen humans (individuals and corporate groups) want independence from their Creator (cf. Genesis 3).

The terms "fetters" (BDB 64) and "cords" (BDB 721) refer to things that bind prisoners (here, vassals). They (like all fallen humans) saw YHWH's law as restricting their freedom, while in reality, His law is designed to keep us safe, happy, and productive in a fallen world. The laws are the loving guidelines of a parent, providing guidance and wisdom!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 2:4-6
 4He who sits in the heavens laughs,
 The Lord scoffs at them.
 5Then He will speak to them in His anger
 And terrify them in His fury, saying,
 6"But as for Me, I have installed My King
 Upon Zion, My holy mountain."

2:4-6 This describes YHWH's thoughts and actions in response to the nations' uproar. This is anthropomorphic language.

1. sits

2. laughs (cf. Ps. 59:8; Pro. 1:26)

3. scoffs

4. speaks in anger

Can fallen, corporate humanity resist YHWH's will (i.e., Genesis 10-11)? No!

SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS A HUMAN (anthropomorphic language)

2:4 "sits in the heavens" This refers to the place of God's throne, where He reigns! For "heavens" see Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: HEAVEN

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEAVENS AND THE THIRD HEAVEN

▣ "laughs" The verb (BDB 965, KB 1315, Qal imperfect ) is a literary way of denoting YHWH's sovereignty. THE UBS Handbook (p. 26) has an insightful comment. "In Ps. 1:1 ‘scoffers' are people who make fun of God; here it is God who mocks the pagan rulers."

▣ "Lord" Verses 4a and 4b are parallel, so the Deity referred to is YHWH (cf. Ps. 2:2c). Here the word is not YHWH but Adon the Hebrew word for "owner," "husband," "lord." See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at Ps. 1:1.

2:6 YHWH, in contradistinction to the idols who cannot see, hear, or act, installed (lit. "consecrated," BDB 651, KB 703, Qal perfect) His King! Israel's King acted as YHWH's representative.

Notice the use of the personal pronoun, "Me," "My" (twice). YHWH is personally present and active in the world, and especially with His covenant people.

▣ "Zion, My holy mountain" These both refer to Mount Moriah, the hill in Jerusalem on which the temple was built. Originally Zion referred to the hill on which the Jebusite fortress was built (i.e., Jerusalem encompassed seven hills). David conquered it and built his palace on this hill. Later it came to be a way to designate the entire city of Jerusalem.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 2:7-9
 7"I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
 He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
 Today I have begotten You.
 8Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
 And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
 9You shall break them with a rod of iron,
 You shall shatter them like earthenware.'"

2:7-9 The speaker is the new King, here called YHWH's "Son" (cf. Heb. 1:2; 3:6; 5:8; 7:28).

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE SON OF GOD

2:7 "today I have begotten You" In a sense this phrase represents the divine promises of 2 Samuel 7 (cf. Ps. 89:26-27), where YHWH promises in figurative language to be a "father" to David's royal descendants. "Today" would refer to the king's coronation day. Note John H. Walton, ANE Thought and the OT, p. 89, footnote 19,

"the idea that procreation is related to role rather than to substance is evident even in the biblical statements like. . .(Ps. 2:7) in which the king is born to his royal position."

Also note G. B. Caird, The Language and Imagery of the Bible, p. 190. However, in this Psalm it is used of the Messiah (i.e., Jesus, cf. Matt. 3:17; Luke 3:22; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5), which caused some theological problems particularly in relation to "monotheism," and later the NT heresy of adoptionism.

SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM

The theological issue is "Is the Messianic king pre-existent deity" or a created being (cf. Pro. 8:22-31; Rom. 1:4)? John 1:1-3 answers this issue. It is so important that I have included my notes from John 1:1-3.

John 1

John 1:1 "In the beginning" This reflects Genesis 1:1 and is also used in 1 John 1:1 as a reference to the incarnation. It is possible that 1 John was a cover letter to the Gospel. Both deal with Gnosticism. John 1:1-5 are an affirmation of Jesus Christ's divine pre-existence before creation (cf. John 1:15; 8:56-59; 16:28; 17:5; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6-7; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; 10:5-8).

The NT is described as

1. a new creation, not marred by the Fall (i.e., Gen. 3:15 fulfilled for mankind)

2. a new conquest (Promised Land)

3. a new exodus (fulfilled prophecy)

4. a new Moses (law giver)

5. a new Joshua (cf. Heb. 4:8)

6. a new water miracle (cf. Hebrews 3-4)

7. new manna (cf. John 6)

and so many more, especially in Hebrews.

▣ "was" (thrice) This is an imperfect tense (cf. Ps. 2:1,2,4,10) which focuses on continual existence in past time. This tense is used to show the Logos' pre-existence (cf. Ps. 8:57-58; 17:5,24; 2 Cor. 8:9; Col. 1:17; Heb. 10:5-7). It is contrasted with the aorist tensesof Ps. 2:3, 6, and 14.

▣ "the Word" The Greek term logos referred to a message, not just a single word. In this context it is a title which the Greeks used to describe "world reason" and the Hebrews as analogous with "Wisdom." John chose this term to assert that God's Word is both a person and a message. See Contextual Insights, C.

▣ "with God" "With" could be paraphrased "face to face." It depicts intimate fellowship. It also points toward the concept of one divine essence and three personal eternal manifestations (see SPECIAL TOPIC: THE TRINITY at John 14:26). The NT asserts the paradox that Jesus is separate from the Father, but also that He is one with the Father.

▣ "the Word was God" This verb is imperfect tense as in Ps. 2:1a. There is no article (which identifies the subject, see F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, p. 66) with Theos, but Theos is placed first in the Greek phrase for emphasis. This verse and Ps. 2:18 are strong statements of the full deity of the pre-existent Logos (cf. Ps. 5:18; 8:58; 10:30; 14:9; 17:11; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1). Jesus is fully divine as well as fully human (cf. 1 John 4:1-3). He is not the same as God the Father, but He is the very same divine essence as the Father.

The NT asserts the full deity of Jesus of Nazareth, but protects the distinct personhood of the Father. The one divine essence is emphasized in John 1:1; 5:18; 10:30,34-38; 14:9-10; and 20:28, while their distinctives are emphasized in John 1:2,14,18; 5:19-23; 8:28; 10:25,29; 14:11,12,13,16.

1:2 This is parallel to Ps. 2:1 and emphasizes again the shocking truth in light of monotheism that Jesus, who was born around 6-5 b.c., has always been with the Father and, therefore, is Deity.

1:3 "All things came into being through Him" The Logos was the Father's agent of creation of both the visible and the invisible (cf. Ps. 2:10; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2). This is similar to the role wisdom plays in Ps. 33:6 and Pro. 8:12-23 (in Hebrews "wisdom" is a feminine gender noun).

▣ "apart from Him nothing came into being" This is a refutation of the Gnostic false teaching of angelic aeons between the high, good god and a lesser spiritual being that formed, pre-existent matter (see Contextual Insights, D).

It must be noted that the "Father. . .son" imagery is a figurative way to show a personal relationship (cf. Deut. 32:18). The human family is an easily understood way to symbolize this fellowship. This same truth is also part of the Hebrew concept of "know." See Special Topic: Know at Ps. 1:6.

2:8 The reign of the Messiah will be universal (cf. Ps. 67:7; Isa. 45:22; 52:10; Jer. 16:19; Micah 5:4, see Special Topic: Land, Country, Earth at Ps. 1:2). This is God's world. It was created as a platform for God and the creatures made in His image (cf. Gen. 1:26-27) for fellowship (cf. Gen. 3:8). The rebellion of Adam and Eve (cf. Genesis 3) damaged the image of God in mankind and negatively affected physical creation (cf. Rom. 8:18-25). This is not the world that God intended it to be! However, He has refused to give up on mankind. He revealed Himself through Israel and sent His Son (cf. Gen. 3:15) to restore creation to its intended purpose. The Bible starts with God and mankind in a garden setting (cf. Genesis 1-3; Ps. 1:3) and it concludes with God and mankind in a garden setting (cf. Revelation 21-22). Everything between Genesis 3 and Revelation 21-22 is God cleaning up the mess!

▣ "inheritance. . .possession" Both of these words have theological significance to God's gift, to His covenant people. The first is often especially related to the Levites. The second is a promise to the descendants of Abraham (cf. Gen. 17:8; 48:4; Lev. 25:34).

2:9 "You will break them with a rod of iron" The Hebrew verb (BDB 949, KB 1270, Qal imperfect) is from the root רעע, but the LXX and Peshitta read it as "rule" or "shepherd," רעה (BDB 944). The early church used the LXX and this is how the phrase is used in Rev. 2:27; 12:5 and 19:15.

However, the parallelism with the next line of Hebrew poetry (i.e., "shatter" — BDB 658, KB 711, Piel imperfect) favors "break."

▣ "rod" The noun (BDB 986) can mean "rod," "staff," or "scepter." The last option seems best in the royal context (cf. Ps. 45:6; 125:3; Num. 24:17; Isa. 14:5; Ezek. 19:11,14; Zech. 10:11). Although if "shepherd" is correct, then it would be "staff" (cf. Ps. 23:4; Micah 7:14).

▣ "You will shatter them like earthenware" The breaking of a clay vessel was an ANE visual symbol of judgment.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 2:10-12
 10Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
 Take warning, O judges of the earth.
 11Worship the Lord with reverence
 And rejoice with trembling.
 12Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
 For His wrath may soon be kindled.
 How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

2:10-12 Notice the series of imperatives as the psalmist (i.e., David, cf. Acts 4:25), speaking for YHWH, warns the rulers of this world to prepare to meet Him (cf. Pro. 8:12-21).

1. show discernment — BDB 968, KB 1328, Hiphil imperative

2. take warning — BDB 415, KB 418, Niphal imperative

3. worship the Lord — BDB 712, KB 773, Qal imperative

4. rejoice with trembling — BDB 162, KB 189, Qal imperative

5. do homage to the Son (lit. "kiss") — BDB 676, KB 730, Piel imperative

 

2:12 "the Son" There is some doubt about this translation. The Hebrew word "son," בן (BDB 61), is used in Ps. 2:7 but here the word is בר (BDB 135, i.e., the Aramaic word for "son," cf. Pro. 31:2 [thrice]), which in Hebrew can mean "pure" (BDB 141 II, cf. Ps. 24:4; 73:1; Job 11:4; Pro. 14:4). The NRSV and NJB translate Ps. 2:11a-12a as "with trembling kiss his feet." The UBS Text Project (p. 164) gives "kiss the Son" a "B" rating (i.e., some doubt).

Some scholars have assumed that since Ps. 2:11-12 are directed to surrounding pagan nations, there is a purposeful switch from the Hebrew "son" to the Aramaic "son." The general thrust of "submission" is clear even if the linguistic details are not!

▣ "you perish in the way" One wonders if it is by accident that both the words "perish" (BDB 1, KB 2) and "way" (BDB 202) are used in Psalm 1. Biblical faith is a daily relationship with YHWH and His Messiah. Jesus may surely have used Psalm 1 and 2 as an outline in Matthew 5-7, esp. 7:13,21-23,26-27.

▣ "How blessed are all who take refuge in Him" The last line of Psalm 2 links to the first line of Psalm 1, possibly a literary technique called inclusio. Thereby, Psalm 1— Psalm 2 comprise one literary unit (cf. Acts 13:33). The Talmud suggests that Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 form one psalm (cf. b. Ber. 9b-10a). Blessed is the true believer who reverences YHWH and obeys His revelation! Faith and faithfulness must go together. Justification and sanctification cannot be separated!

Notice that both Ps. 1:1 and 2:12 accentuate human choices and activities. Biblical faith is a life journey of trust and obedience.

YHWH is described in several metaphors as a place of safety, security, and rest. We can trust/take refuge in

1. a rock — Deut. 32:37; 2 Sam. 22:2,3; Ps. 18:2

2. a fortress — 2 Sam. 22:2; Ps. 144:2

3. a stronghold — Ps. 18:2; 62:2; 144:2

4. a deliverer — 2 Sam. 22:2; Ps. 144:2

5. a shield — Gen. 15:1; 2 Sam. 22:3; Ps. 3:3; 18:2; 144:2; Pro. 30:5

6. a horn of salvation — 2 Sam. 22:26; Ps. 18:2; 75:10

7. a mother bird — Ps. 17:8; 36:7 (also note Deut. 32:10-11); 57:1; 63:7; 91:4

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why is this Psalm considered Messianic?

2. Are the nations local or worldwide?

3. Define "Anointed" in verse 2.

4. Are "His Anointed" and My Son the same person?

5. If this refers to Jesus does verse 7 imply he was created?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 3

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Morning Prayer of Trust in God
MT Intro
"A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son"
(cf. I1 Samuel 15-16)
The Lord Helps His Troubled People
 
Prayer For Deliverance From Personal enemies
(A Lament)
Morning Prayer for Help Morning Prayer of the Upright in Persecution
3:1-2 3:1-2 3:1-2 3:1-2 3:1-2
3:3-6 3:3-4 3:3-4 3:3-4 3:3-4
  3:5-6 3:5-6 3:5-6 3:5-6
3:7-8 3:7-8 3:7 3:7-8 3:7-8
    3:8    

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 3:1-2
 1O Lord, how my adversaries have increased!
 Many are rising up against me.
 2Many are saying of my soul,
 "There is no deliverance for him in God."Selah.

3:1-2 The psalmist felt trapped/surrounded by adversaries (BDB 865 III).

1. they have increased (cf. Ps. 3:6)

2. they are rising up

3. they are saying

Notice the threefold use of "many" (BDB 912 I). Even for the righteous God-fearer there are problems (real and imagined) in this fallen world. The Psalms want to give the reader a faith worldview (i.e., the eyes of faith, cf. 2 Kgs. 6:17). The remainder of the psalm describes YHWH's presence and care!

One wonders how these laments work in

1. our day

2. our faith groups

Are those who disagree with us enemies of God? I think it best to use the psalms as words of encouragement to faith/trust in God and not as an attack on all who disagree with me! The true enemies are those who reject our God and His Christ!

3:2 "my soul" This is the Hebrew word nephesh (BDB 659, KB 711-713), which denotes an air-breathing animal (i.e., related to the Hebrew word for breath and spirit). It is used of mankind (cf. Gen. 2:7) and cattle (cf. Gen. 1:24; 2:19).

Humans are both a part of this creation and created in the image and likeness of the Creator (cf. Gen. 1:26-27). We have both a physical component and a spiritual component.

▣ "Selah" Notice this term is placed in the margin, apparently for the choir director, in Ps. 3:2,4,8. The root is not certain. Here are some of the theories.

1. from Persian root for "song"

2. from Hebrew סלל (BDB 699) "to lift up," i.e., a higher pitch

3. from Hebrew נצח (BDB 663) meaning "always," functioning like "amen"

4. from LXX denoting an interlude of instruments

With all these theories it is obvious that moderns do not know what it refers to in the Psalter. It is used over 70 times in the MT and over 90 times in the LXX. See Intro. to Psalms, VIII.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 3:3-6
 3But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
 My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
 4I was crying to the Lord with my voice,
 And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.
 5I lay down and slept;
 I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.
 6I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
 Who have set themselves against me round about.

3:3-6 "O Lord" See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at Ps. 1:1.

▣ "You. . .are" The psalmist enumerates in powerful imagery the person and work of YHWH for the believer.

1. a shield, Ps. 3:3 — Gen. 15:1; Deut. 33:29; 2 Sam. 22:3; Ps. 28:7; 33:20; 59:11; 84:11; 115:9,10,11; 119:114; 144:2 (also note 1 Pet. 1:5)

2. my glory, Ps. 3:3 — Ps. 62:7

a. honor

b. victory (cf. TEV)

3. lifts my head, Ps. 3:3

a. victory in battle

b. recognition by the judge in court

c. deliverance from death

4. answers my prayers, Ps. 3:4

5. sustains me, Ps. 3:5

6. causes me not to have fear, Ps. 3:6

 

3:4 "I was crying to the Lord" This prayer for help may be Ps. 3:7a. The consequences of "He answered me" are seen in Ps. 3:7b-8.

▣ "from His holy mountain" This refers to the temple, where in OT imagery, YHWH dwelt between the wings of the Cherubim over the ark of the covenant. This was the place where heaven and earth (the spiritual and physical) met!

3:5 Sleep is possible because of YHWH's presence, peace, and protection (cf. Ps. 4:8; Pro. 3:24). Psalm 3:5a is an idiom for a restful night's sleep! This is possible because of one's faith and trust in YHWH, His presence, His promises, His character!

3:6 This is hyperbolic, idiomatic language. The term "ten thousand" (BDB 914) is an idiom for an innumerable host. The plural (as here) intensifies this (cf. Deut. 33:2,17; 1 Sam. 18:7; Micah 6:7).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 3:7-8
 7Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!
 For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek;
 You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.
 8Salvation belongs to the Lord;
 Your blessing upon Your people! Selah.

3:7 This verse begins with two imperatives (i.e., prayer requests).

1. arise — BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative used in the sense of entreating YHWH to act, cf. Num. 10:35; Ps. 7:6; 9:19; 10:12; 44:26; 68:1; 74:22; 82:8; 132:8; as enemies "arose," now the palmist calls on YHWH to rise up (i.e., from His throne)!

2. save — BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative, which in the OT, denotes deliverance from the trials, pains, issues of this life (Ps. 3:8)

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: SALVATION (OLD TESTAMENT TERM) (OT Term)

▣ "has smitten. . .has shattered" YHWH brings deliverance by forcefully dealing with the psalmist's adversaries.

1. has smitten — BDB 645, KB 697, Hiphil perfect

2. has shattered — BDB 990, KB 1402, Piel perfect

The "cheek" (BDB 534 I) and "teeth" 9BDB 1042 I) are idioms of shame and defeat (cf. 1 Kgs. 22:24; Job 16:10; Ps. 58:6; Micah 5:1). It specifically refers to their hateful words (cf. Ps. 3:2).

3:8 There are no verbs in Ps. 3:8. Often the biblical Hebrew "to be" verb is supplied by the reader.

▣ "Selah" See notes at Psalm 3:2.

3:9 Notice how an individual lament is used to reflect a corporate concern (i.e., "Thy people," of Ps. 3:9; Ps. 25:22; 28:9). YHWH brings salvation/deliverance, not only to individuals who ask but to the nation who asks (i.e., 2 Chr. 7:14).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Who are the adversaries?

2. Why are they denying YHWH's deliverance?

3. What does the imperative "arise" mean?

What are its possible backgrounds

4. What does "Selah" mean?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 4

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Evening Prayer of Trust in God
MT Intro
"For the choir director; on stringed instruments, a Psalm of David"
The Safety of the Faithful Prayer For Deliverance From Personal Enemies
(a Lament)
Evening Prayer for Help Evening Prayer
4:1 4:1 4:1 4:1 4:1
4:2-3 4:2-3 4:2 4:2 4:2
    4:3 4:3 4:3
4:4-5 4:4-5 4:4-5 4:4-5 4:4
        4:5
4:6-8 4:6-8 4:6-7 4:6-7 4:6
        4:7
    4:8 4:8 4:8

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

BRIEF OUTLINE

A. Opening prayer to God, Ps. 4:1

 

B. Address to opponents, Ps. 4:2-3

 

C. Commands for an appropriate response to God, Ps. 4:4-5 

 

D. Closing prayer to God, Ps. 4:6-8

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 4:1
 1Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
 You have relieved me in my distress;
 Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

4:1 Notice the imperatives used to implore God.

1. answer me — BDB 772, KB 851, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 27:7

2. be gracious to me — BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 25:16; 69:16

3. hear my prayer — BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 17:6; 39:12

The psalmist expects God to hear and act (cf. Ps. 3:4; 6:8,9; 17:6; 86:7)! Prayer is not only request, it is fellowship! We need Him even more than our answered requests!

Notice how the psalmist characterizes God.

1. O God of my righteousness (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:5)

2. O God, reliever of my distress

There are so many personal pronouns in these first two verses! YHWH is the only source of "righteousness," which brings peace (both physically and spiritually)!

NASB, NKJV"relieved me"
NRSV, LXX"gave me room"
NJB"set me at large"
JPSOA, REB"freed me"

The Hebrew word (BDB 931, KB 1210, Hiphil perfect) is an idiom for a wide space (cf. Ps. 18:19), the opposite of "restriction" (i.e., oppression, tribulation, narrow straights, BDB 865, "distress"). Its metaphorical nature can be seen in Gen. 26:22; Deut. 33:20; Ps. 25:17; Isa. 54:2; 57:8.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 4:2-3
 2O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach?
 How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?
 Selah.
 3But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself;
 The Lord hears when I call to Him.

4:2 The author develops the antagonistic setting by two questions directed to those who oppose.

1. reproach/shame — BDB 484

2. worthless/vain words — BDB 938

3. deception/lies — BDB 469

As God is called "my righteousness" in Ps. 4:1, now He is called on to reveal the attitude, motives, and actions of those who would do the psalmist harm.

NASB"my honor become a reproach"
NKJV"my glory to shame"
NJB"heavy of heart"

The NJB follows the LXX, which apparently translated a different Hebrew text than the MT. The UBS Text Project (p. 165) gives the MT a "C" rating (considerable doubt).

▣ "Selah" See note at Psalm 3:2.

4:3 How should the opponents respond to the psalmist's questions of Ps. 4:2?

1. know (Qal imperative) that the Lord has set apart (LXX, "has done wondrous things for His holy one," cf. NJB, NEB) the godly man for Himself (UBS Text Project gives an "A" rating [very high probability])

2. the Lord hears the godly man (BDB 339) when he prays

YHWH knows and responds to His true followers. An attack on them is an attack on Him!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 4:4-5
 4Tremble, and do not sin;
 Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
 5Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
 And trust in the Lord.

4:4-5 There is a series of commands whereby the psalmist suggests how his opponents (i.e., "sons of men," Ps. 4:2) should live.

1. tremble — BDB 919, KB 1182, Qal imperative

2. do not sin — BDB 306, KB 305, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

3. meditate (lit. speak) — BDB 55, KB 65, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 77:6

4. be still — BDB 198, KB 226, Qal imperative

5. offer sacrifices — BDB 256, KB 261, Qal imperative

6. trust in YHWH — BDB 105, KB 120, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 37:3; 62:8

 

4:4 Number 2 above is quoted by Paul in Eph. 4:26 in combination with Deut. 24:15, as "be angry, and yet do not sin," which is from the LXX. The MT has "tremble" which denotes "fear" (cf. Isa. 32:11; Micah 7:17; Hab. 3:16), not anger.

▣ "be still" The word (BDB 198, KB 226) has several usages.

1. fear in battle — Exod. 15:14-16

2. speechless in judgment — 2 Sam. 2:9

3. silence in death — Ps. 31:17; 94:17; Jer. 48:2; 49:26

4. shocked silence at destruction — Jer. 25:37

5. silence of wisdom in an appropriate moment — Ps. 4:4; 62:5; 131:2; Amos 5:13

 

▣ "Selah" See notes at Psalm 3:2.

4:5 "trust in the Lord" This is a recurrent theme (BDB 105, KB 120).

1. a call to sinners — Ps. 4:5

2. a call to the faithful — Ps. 9:10; 32:10; 37:3,5; 40:3; 55:23; 56:4,11; 84:12; 91:2; 112:7; 115:11; 125:1; 143:8; Pro. 16:20; 29:25; Isa. 26:3-4

3. the king — Ps. 21:7; 25:2; 26:1; 28:7

4. the fathers — Ps. 22:4-5

5. O people — Ps. 62:8; 115:9

6. priests — Ps. 115:10

It is trust in YHWH and His word that brings hope (cf. Ps. 4:3), joy (cf. Ps. 4:7), and peace (cf. Ps. 4:8) in this fallen world.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 4:6-8
 6Many are saying, "Who will show us any good?"
 Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord!
 7You have put gladness in my heart,
 More than when their grain and new wine abound.
 8In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
 For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.

4:6-7 Like verse 2, verse 6 begins with a question which reflects the attitude, motives, and actions of the psalmist's opponents.

The answer is the request (Qal imperative) that YHWH "lift up the light of His countenance" (cf. Num. 6:26; Ps. 80:3,7,19). This is an idiom of Deity taking personal notice and extending mercy to His faithful (Ps. 4:5b) followers (cf. Ps. 27:1; Micah 7:8). YHWH has

1. put gladness in the psalmist's heart

2. put peace in the psalmist's heart

3. put safety in the psalmist's heart

In Num. 6:26 the verb "lift up," is נשא, BDB 669, but here it is נסה (KB 702). Apparently they are two forms of one root (cf. BDB 650, KB 702, NET Bible, p. 853, #6).

4:7 "heart" See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART

▣ "new grain" The UBS Handbook (p. 47) mentions that the Hebrew MSS found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as the LXX and Vulgate, add "and olive oil" after "grain" and before "new wine," which may come from Deut. 7:13; 11:14; 12:17; 14:23; 18:4; 28:51.

▣ "new wine" See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Biblical Attitudes Toward Alcohol (fermentation) and Alcoholism (addiction)

4:8

NASB, NKJV
NRSV, REV,
NJB"For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety"
NET, JPSOA
(footnote)"For You, O Lord, keep me alone and secure"

The word "alone" (BDB 94) can modify

1. the Lord

2. the faithful follower who sleeps alone (i.e., no enemies present)

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Who are "sons of men"? How are they characterized?

2. What are the different meanings of the Hebrew verb "know"?

3. Explain verse 4 in your own words.

4. Who are the "many" in verse 6?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 5

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Prayer For Protection From the Wicked
MT Intro
"For the choir director; for flute accompaniment. A Psalm of David"
A Prayer for Guidance Prayer for Deliverance From Personal Enemies
(a Lament)
A Prayer for Protection Morning Prayer
5:1-3 5:1-3 5:1-3 5:1-3 5:1-2
        5:3
5:4-7 5:4-6 5:4-6 5:4-6 5:4-5a
        5:5b-6
  5:7-8 5:7-8 5:7-8 5:7
5:8-10       5:8
  5:9-10 5:9-10 5:9-10 5:9
        5:10
5:11-12 5:11-12 5:11-12 5:11-12 5:11
        5:12

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 5:1-3
 1Give ear to my words, O Lord,
 Consider my groaning.
 2Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,
 For to You I pray.
 3In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice;
 In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.

5:1-2 This prayer begins with three imperatives.

1. give ear to my words — BDB 24; KB 27, Hiphil imperative

2. consider my groanings — BDB 106, KB 122, Qal imperative ("groaning," BDB 211, only here and Ps. 39:3, "musing")

3. heed the sound of my cry — BDB 904, KB 1151, Hiphil imperative

These do not represent a fear on the psalmist's part that God will not hear, but Hebrew parallelism.

5:1 "O Lord" Notice the parallelism of titles.

1. O Lord (YHWH, cf. Exod. 3:14)

2. my King (the terminology comes from 1 Sam. 8:7, cf. Ps. 84:3, the rabbis later call YHWH "the King of the universe")

3. my God (see note below)

For #3 there are several forms of the term "God/god." A good example is Deuteronomy 32.

1. vv. 3,15 — אלה (Eloah, BDB 42-43, cf. Ps. 5:2)

2. vv. 4,18,21 — אל (El, BDB 41-42, cf. Ps. 5:4)

3. v. 17 — אלהים (Elohim, BDB 43-44, cf. Ps. 5:10)

All are based on El, which denotes power and strength. In poetry all are used interchangeably.

5:3 This Psalm denotes a morning prayer. For post-exilic Jews there were several set times a day when prayers were offered.

1. at the time of the morning sacrifice, about 9 a.m. (possibly alluded to in Ps. 46:5b)

2. at noon

3. at the time of the evening sacrifice, about 3 p.m.

This faithful follower structured his day around times with God. He believed God heard and would respond (i.e., "eagerly watch," Ps. 5:3b, BDB 859 I, KB 1044, Piel imperfect).

The daily sacrifices in the tabernacle (cf. Exod. 29:38-42), and later temple, occurred every morning and evening. They were called "The Continual." These were special times to draw near to YHWH.

NASB"I will order"
NKJV"I will direct"
NRSV"I will plead"
TEV"I will offer"
NJB"I will lay"
LXX"I will present"

This verb (BDB 789, KB 884, Qal imperfect) has a wide semantic field but basically means "to arrange something." Here it could be (1) words or (2) sacrifice.

▣ "eagerly watch" This verb (BDB 859, KB 1044, Piel imperfect) denotes expectant waiting for something, here for YHWH to respond to the psalmist's prayer (cf. Lam. 4:17; Micah 7:7; Hab. 2:1).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 5:4-7
 4For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness;
 No evil dwells with You.
 5The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes;
 You hate all who do iniquity.
 6You destroy those who speak falsehood;
 The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.
 7But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house,
 At Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.

5:4-6 The psalmist describes God (El, אל, see note at Ps. 5:1).

1. not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness

2. no evil dwells (permanent abode) with You (I think James 1:17 is a theological parallel)

3. the boastful will not stand before Your eyes (cf. Ps. 1:5)

4. You hate all who do iniquity

5. You destroy those who speak falsehood

6. You abhor the man of bloodshed and deceit

 

5:5 "You hate" This is shocking to us—that YHWH, the Creator, the desirer of fellowship with all humans, "hates" (BDB 971, KB 1338, Qal perfect). The Bible uses human terms to describe deity. This always causes tensions. See the Special Topic at Ps. 2:4-6 on anthropomorphisms.

His love for those "made in His image" (cf. Gen. 1:26-27) causes the opposite reaction when they treat each other in destructive ways!

5:7 In contrast to the faithless follower, the psalmist knows that because of YHWH's "abundant lovingkindness" (cf. Ps. 6:4b), he will worship Him in the tabernacle/temple in reverence.

The term "lovingkindness" is the NASB's way of translating the powerful covenant term hesed (BDB 338).

SPECIAL TOPIC: LOVINGKINDNESS (HESED)

▣ "temple" There was no temple in David's day! But the same term (BDB 228) is used in 1 Sam.1:9 and 3:3 for the tabernacle.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 5:8-10
 8O Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes;
 Make Your way straight before me.
 9There is nothing reliable in what they say;
 Their inward part is destruction itself.
 Their throat is an open grave;
 They flatter with their tongue.
 10Hold them guilty, O God;
 By their own devices let them fall!
 In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out,
 For they are rebellious against You.

5:8 This is the content of the psalmist's prayer mentioned in Ps. 5:1-2.

1. lead (Qal imperative) me in Your righteousness (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:5)

2. make Your way straight/smooth (Kethib has Hiphil, while Qere has Piel imperative, cf. NET Bible, p. 854, #4) before me (the terms "righteous" and "straight" are related theologically)

 

5:9 The psalmist is concerned about the words and deeds of his foes ("enemies," Ps. 5:8, BDB 1004).

1. there is nothing reliable/true in what they say

2. their inward parts are destruction itself

3. their throat is an open grave

4. they flatter/smooth tongue (cf. Ps. 12:2)

Paul quotes this verse in his litany of OT texts which reflect the fallen nature of mankind in Rom. 3:10-18 (esp. Ps. 5:13).

5:10 The psalmist asks God to act against the enemies because of their words and deeds.

1. hold them guilty — BDB 79, KB 95, Hiphil imperative (the opposite of justification)

2. by their own devices let them fall — BDB 656, KB 709, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

3. in the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out — BDB 623, KB 673, Hiphil imperative (i.e., from YHWH's personal presence at worship, Ps. 5:7 or at trial, Ps. 5:5)

4. for they are rebellious against You — BDB 598, KB 632, Qal perfect

Notice the different words the psalmist uses to describe his enemies.

1. wicked, Ps. 5:4

2. boastful, Ps. 5:5

3. doers of iniquity, Ps. 5:5

4. speak falsehood, Ps. 5:6

5. men of bloodshed, Ps. 5:6

6. men of deceit, Ps. 5:6

7. foes (i.e., those who lie in wait), Ps. 5:8

8. nothing reliable, Ps. 5:9

9. attitude of destruction, Ps. 5:9

10. liar, Ps. 5:9

11. transgressor, Ps. 5:10

12. rebellious, Ps. 5:10

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 5:11-12
 11But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
 Let them ever sing for joy;
 And may You shelter them,
 That those who love Your name may exult in You.
 12For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord,
 You surround him with favor as with a shield.

5:11-12 In contrast to the wicked enemy, the psalmist now describes the faithful followers (i.e., plurals, the prayer and experience of one became the description of all).

1. they take refuge in YHWH

2. they rejoice in YHWH

3. they take shelter in Him (I think this refers to a female bird metaphor, cf. Ruth 2:12; Ps. 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:1,4; see Special Topic below)

4. they love and exult in His name (see Special Topic below)

In light of this, YHWH

1. shelters them

2. blesses them

3. surrounds them as a shield (cf. 1 Sam. 23:26)

One can tell the difference between a faithful follower and a faithless follower by their fruit (cf. Matt. 7:15-22)!

SPECIAL TOPIC: SHADOW AS METAPHOR FOR PROTECTION AND CARE

SPECIAL TOPIC: "THE NAME" OF YHWH

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why is Psalm 4 considered an evening Psalm and Psalm 5 a morning Psalm?

2. List the attributes of YHWH from verses 4-6.

3. The life of faith is described as a road/path/way. Why?

4. Describe the wicked from verses 4-6 and 9-10.

 

Passage: 

Psalm 6

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Prayer For Mercy in Time of Trouble
MT Intro
"For the choir director; with stringed instruments, upon an eight-stringed lyre. A Psalm of David"
A Prayer of Faith in Time of Distress Prayer for Healing From a Severe Illness
 
A Prayer for Help in Time of Trouble Supplication in Time of Trial
 
6:1-3 6:1-3 6:1-3 6:1-3 6:1-3
6:4-5 6:4-5 6:4-5 6:4-5 6:4-5
6:6-7 6:6-7 6:6-7 6:6-7 6:6-8a
6:8-10 6:8-10 6:8-10 6:8-10  
        6:8b-10

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 6:1-3
 1O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
 Nor chasten me in Your wrath.
 2Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away;
 Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed.
 3And my soul is greatly dismayed;
 But You, O Lord—how long?

6:1 There are two imperatives used as jussives.

1. rebuke — BDB 406, KB 410, Hiphil negated, cf. Ps. 38:1

2. chasten — BDB 415, KB 418, Piel negated

This is a penitential psalm, as are Psalm 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143. The Jewish Study Bible (p. 1289) says that this Psalm of supplication has become the liturgical weekday morning prayer of Jewish people.

▣ "in Your anger. . .in Your wrath" The psalm does not say why YHWH is angry. It may reflect the OT theology of one causation. The psalmist had enemies, YHWH allowed/sent them (cf. Ps. 6:3). Life's circumstances are

1. punishment for sin (cf. Ps. 41:4)

2. life in a fallen world (cf. Ps. 147:3)

3. ways to strengthen faith (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13; Heb. 5:8)

However, one never knows which it is, so repent and have faith!

6:2-3 Notice how "dismayed" (BDB 96, KB 111, Niphal perfect) is related to both

1. my bones (BDB 782), Ps. 6:2

2. my soul (lit. nephesh, BDB 659, cf. Ps. 6:4), Ps. 6:3 (see full note at Ps. 3:2)

Both of these were ways of referring to a person's innermost life and thoughts. This writer is in great distress and does not know why!

6:2 As verse 1 asks YHWH for what not to do, verse 2 asks YHWH to (also note Ps. 6:4)

1. be gracious to me — BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative

2. heal me — BDB 950, KB 1272, Qal imperative

The verb "heal" does not necessarily relate to a physical illness (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 1166, c, cf. Isa. 1:5-6), but to the attack of adversaries (cf. Ps. 6:7b, 10). However, verse 2 leaves open the possibility of an illness. If an illness, why are adversaries mentioned? Some would say the enemies made fun of the psalmist (cf. Psalm 102:8) in his illness. The ancient Israelites believed sin and sickness were related.

6:3 "how long" This is the cry of the human person made in God's image but trapped in a fallen mind, body, and world (cf. Ps. 13:1; 74:10; 90:13)! As believers we trust in God, not circumstances, but still we cry out—why? When will it be over?

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 6:4-5
 4Return, O Lord, rescue my soul;
 Save me because of Your lovingkindness.
 5For there is no mention of You in death;
 In Sheol who will give You thanks?

6:4 As Ps. 6:2 asks YHWH to act on the psalmist's behalf (i.e., "be gracious. . .heal"), so too, verse 4.

1. return — BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal imperative

2. rescue — BDB 322, KB 321, Piel imperative

3. save — BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative

Notice the reason given for the requests is not the worth or merit of the psalmist but the unchanging, merciful character of the covenant creator/redeemer Deity!

One wonders what "return" in this context means. Did the psalmist think YHWH had departed or hid Himself?

▣ "lovingkindness" See Special Topic at Ps. 5:7.

6:5 Verse 5 gives the OT view of the afterlife. Sheol was a place of consciousness but no joy or praise. The whole issue of conscious existence beyond physical death is developed through Scripture. There are only hints in the OT (cf. Job 14:14-15; 19:25-27; Ps. 16:10; 49:15; 86:13; Isa. 25:8; 26:19; Ezek. 37:12-13; Dan. 12:1-2; Hos. 13:14). The full truth is revealed in 1 Corinthians 15!

The Hebrew Sheol (BDB 982) refers to the realm of the dead. It is characterized by

1. a dark, gloomy place, Job 10:21-22; Ps. 143:3

2. a place of no return, Job 10:21; 16:22

3. a place of no praise to God, Ps. 6:5; 30:9; 38:18; 88:10-12; 115:17 (silence, Ps. 94:17)

4. a place separated from God, Ps. 88:5; 39:13, yet God is there, Ps. 139:8; Pro. 15:11!

See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead? at Ps. 1:6.

Notice the author specifically mentions that in his understanding of Sheol, there is no

1. remembrance (BDB 271)

2. praise (BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect, cf. Ps. 30:9; 88:10-12; Isa. 38:18)

The Tyndale OT Commentary Series (vol. 15, p. 78) lists the imagery used in the OT for Sheol.

1. vast cavern — Ezek. 32:18-32

2. stronghold — Ps. 9:13; 107:18; Matt. 16:18

3. dark wasteland — Job 10:22

4. a huge beast with a large mouth — Isa. 5:14; Jonah 2:2; Hab. 2:5

Thank God for a New Testament!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 6:6-7
 6I am weary with my sighing;
 Every night I make my bed swim,
 I dissolve my couch with my tears.
 7My eye has wasted away with grief;
 It has become old because of all my adversaries.

6:6-7 The psalmist describes his physical and emotional trauma caused by his "adversaries" (BDB 865, KB 1058, Qal participle, "those who show hostility").

1. weary with sighing (BDB 58)

2. bed wet with tears (hyperbole)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 6:8-10
 8Depart from me, all you who do iniquity,
 For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.
 9The Lord has heard my supplication,
 The Lord receives my prayer.
 10All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed;
 They shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed.

6:8-10 The psalmist comes to a place of mental relief as he trusted in YHWH, who has heard his prayer (cf. Ps. 28:6). This is expressed in three parallel lines (i.e., Ps. 6:8b, 9a, 9b).

Because of YHWH's acceptance of the prayer the adversaries

1. must depart, Ps. 6:8a (cf. Ps. 119:115; 139:19)

2. will be ashamed, Ps. 6:10 (cf. Ps. 71:13,24)

3. will be greatly dismayed, Ps. 6:10 (same verb used of the psalmist in Ps. 6:2b and 3a)

4. will turn back, Ps. 6:10 (same verb used of YHWH in Ps. 6:4, but here may be of going into Sheol, cf. Job 34:15; Ps. 9:18; Eccl. 3:20; 5:15; 12:7)

5. will be suddenly ashamed (same verb as Ps. 6:10a, cf. Ps. 73:19)

Numbers 2-5 are all imperfects used in a jussive sense. The psalmist seeks the presence of YHWH but the absence of his foes! What they tried to do to him is now done to them! This literary structure (i.e., reversal) is typical of the OT. What humans expect is often opposite of what YHWH brings about.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Describe Sheol from an OT perspective.

2. Explain what "ashamed" means in an OT context.

3. How does the anger and wrath of YHWH relate to the wicked and to the faithful follower?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 7

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Lord Implored to Defend the Psalmist Against the Wicked
MT Intro
"A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite"
Prayer and Praise for Deliverance From Enemies Prayer for Deliverance From Personal Enemies
(A Lament)
A Prayer for Justice Prayer of the Upright in Persecution
7:1-2 7:1-2 7:1-2 7:1-2 7:1-5
7:3-5 7:3-5 7:3-5 7:3-5  
7:6-11 7:6-8 7:6-8 7:6-9 7:6-8a
        7:8b-9
  7:9-10 7:9-11    
      7:10-13 7:10-12a
  7:11-13      
7:12-16   7:12-16    
        7:12b-14
  7:14-16   7:14-16  
        7:15-16
7:17 7:17 7:17 7:17 7:17

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 7:1-2
 1O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge;
 Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me,
 2Or he will tear my soul like a lion,
 Dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.

7:1 "I have taken refuge" This verb (BDB 340, KB 337) is a Qal perfect, which denotes a complete or settled action. The psalmist had and continued to seek refuge (i.e., protection, care, provision) with YHWH.

The psalmist asks God to

1. save him — BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative

2. deliver him — BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil imperative

because he has taken refuge in Him (BDB 340, KB 337, Qal perfect). This is a recurrent theme, cf. Ps. 2:12; 5:11; 7:1; 11:1; 16:1; 17:7; 18:2,30; 25:20; 31:1,19; 34:8,22; 36:7; 37:40; 57:1; 61:4; 64:10; 71:1; 118:8,9; 141:8; 144:2. YHWH is the only true place of protection and rest!

7:2 In Ps. 7:1 the psalmist's antagonists are called "those who pursue me." In verse 2 they are described as a carnivorous animal (cf. Ps. 57:4).

1. tear — BDB 382, KB 380, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 17:12

2. drag away — BDB 830, KB 973, Qal participle

3. none can deliver — this is in contrast to Ps. 7:1, where the psalmist pleads for YHWH to deliver. No one but God can!

The psalmist is either using striking metaphors or is afraid of a violent physical attack by his enemies.

SPECIAL TOPIC: LIONS IN THE OT

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 7:3-5
 3O Lord my God, if I have done this,
 If there is injustice in my hands,
 4If I have rewarded evil to my friend,
 Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary,
 5Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it;
 And let him trample my life down to the ground
 And lay my glory in the dust. Selah.

7:3-5 The psalmist sets up hypothetical parallel situations.

1. if I have done this (but "this" is not specified)

2. if there is injustice in my hands (i.e., actions, see SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND below)

3. if I have rewarded evil to my friend (this may be a well known proverb, cf. Pro. 20:22; 24:29; Rom. 12:17)

4. if I have plundered my friend without cause

If any of these things are true, then

1. let my enemy pursue me — BDB 922, KB 1191, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. let my enemy overtake me — BDB 673, KB 727, Hiphil jussive

3. let my enemy trample my life — BDB 942, KB 1245, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

4. I will lay my glory in the dust — BDB 1014, KB 1496, Hiphil jussive ("glory" in the sense of one's life essence, cf. Ps. 16:9; 30:12; 57:8; 108:1)

This is a poetic way of claiming innocence!

SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND (ILLUSTRATED FROM EZEKIEL)

7:5 "Selah" See note at Ps. 3:2 and Introduction to Psalms, VIII.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 7:6-11
 6Arise, O Lord, in Your anger;
 Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries,
 And arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment.
 7Let the assembly of the peoples encompass You,
 And over them return on high.
 8The Lord judges the peoples;
 Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.
 9O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous;
 For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.
 10My shield is with God,
 Who saves the upright in heart.
 11God is a righteous judge,
 And a God who has indignation every day.

7:6-11 The psalmist calls on YHWH to act on his behalf.

1. arise — BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative (see note at Ps. 3:7). This verb can mean

a. stand up and act on our behalf Judge/Warrior

b. wake up in the sense of "pay attention and act" (cf. Ps. 44:23)

2. lift up Yourself — BDB 669, KB 724, Niphal imperative

3. arouse Yourself — BDB 734, KB 802, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 35:23; 44:23; 59:4

4. return — BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal imperative (or understood as "dwell," BDB 442, cf. Ps. 23:6)

5. vindicate me — BDB 1047, KB 1622, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 26:1; 35:24; 43:1

YHWH is called on to allow His anger against sin to manifest itself in judgment. This thought is summarized in Ps. 7:7. The Hebrew is difficult.

JPSOA"let the assembly of peoples gather about You, with You enthroned on high"
NJB"let the assembly of nations gather around You; return above it on high"

The question is "How does 'the peoples' fit in this context of justice for an individual?" Does this psalm seek justice against

1. personal enemies (Ps. 7:6,8)

2. the pagan nations (Obad. Ps. 7:5)

The fact that verse 8 begins with "The Lord judges the peoples" gives credence to option #2, but it is surprising in this context.

7:8 "according to my righteousness" This phrase must be interpreted in light of Ps. 7:3-5. The psalmist is not claiming sinlessness but that he had not done what he was accused of doing!

Notice verses 9, 17 where YHWH's righteousness is affirmed. The psalmist is longing for the day when God will set all things straight, reveal the true motives and actions of all humans. The Bible is clear that this physical universe was created and maintained by a moral/ethical God. Each human made in His image will give an account to Him of the gift/stewardship of life (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15)!

▣ "integrity" This term (BDB 1070) means "innocence," "blamelessness" (cf. Ps. 25:21; 26:1,11; 41:12; Pro. 2:7; 10:9; 19:1; 20:7; 28:6). It is not a claim to sinlessness but a claim to a pure mind/motive/heart (cf. Ps. 7:10b). See Special Topic at Ps. 18:20-24.

7:9 "the evil of the wicked" Does this refer to those who accuse the psalmist in Ps. 7:3-5 or all the peoples/nations (cf. Psalm 2)?

The psalmist calls on God to end evil (BDB 170, KB 197, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense) and establish (BDB 465, KB 464, Polel imperfect) righteousness (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:5).

▣ "for the righteous, God tries the heart and minds" This is a recurrent theme (cf. Ps. 11:4-5; 17:3; 26:2; 66:10; 139:23; Jer. 11:20; 17:10; 20:12). God knows the motives of the heart (BDB 480, lit. kidneys; the lower viscera were seen as the seat of the emotions and moral character).

7:10-11 For the faithful follower, YHWH is a shield (see note at Ps. 3:3), but for the faithless follower He is a "righteous judge" (cf. Ps. 96:13).

7:11 "indignation" The verb (BDB 276, KB 277, Qal participle) is found only here in the Psalms. It is found several times in Proverbs (cf. Ps. 22:14; 24:24; 25:23).

This verse describes YHWH's (both Elohim and El are used in this verse for Deity) continual reaction against sin. This is not the world He intended it/created it to be. Genesis 3 has had a terrible effect on

1. God (cf. Hosea 11:1-4,8-9)

2. humans (cf. Rom. 3:10-18,23)

3. physical creation (cf. Rom. 8:18-23)

Sin affects time and eternity!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 7:12-16
 12If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword;
 He has bent His bow and made it ready.
 13He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons;
 He makes His arrows fiery shafts.
 14Behold, he travails with wickedness,
 And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.
 15He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
 And has fallen into the hole which he made.
 16His mischief will return upon his own head,
 And his violence will descend upon his own pate.

7:12 "If a man does not repent" Notice the conditional covenant. Also notice that repentance, like faith, is life long! See the Special Topics below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: REPENTANCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

SPECIAL TOPIC: PERSEVERANCE

7:12-13 God's reactions to unrepentant people are (cf. Deut. 32:34-43)

1. He will sharpen His sword (cf. Ps. 17:13)

2. He has bent His bow (cf. Zech. 9:13)

3. He has prepared deadly weapons

4. He makes fiery arrows (cf. Ps. 38:2)

This terminology relates to warfare. This lends support to verse 7 addressing the nations, not just faithless Israelites.

7:14-16 These verses, however, seem to relate to personal, not national, enemies.

1. he travails with wickedness (see note below)

2. he conceives mischief (cf. Job 15:35; Isa. 59:4)

3. he brings forth falsehood

4. he digs a pit, Ps. 7:15a

(these seem to combine metaphors from birthing and hunting)

But notice the reversal (cf. Pro. 26:27; 28:10; Eccl. 10:8).

1. he falls into his own pit, Ps. 7:15b; 57:6

2. his mischief will return on his own head, Ps. 7:16a,b

 

7:14

NASB, NKJV"wickedness"
NRSV, JPSOA"evil"
NJB"malice"
REB"iniquity"

There is no matching verb for this noun (BDB 19). There are no cognates to this root in the Semitic languages. It is found in poetic passages in the Psalms, Job, and Proverbs.

It may come from a root which denotes "power" or "an abuse of power" (NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 310). This is hated by YHWH (cf. Ps. 5:5; 11:5). It can denote inappropriate covenant conduct in

1. worship (cf. Isa. 1:13; Zech. 10:2)

2. politics (cf. Isa. 31:2)

3. the courts (cf. Isa. 10:1; 29:20)

4. warfare (Ps. 56:7)

This term denotes a heart that has a settled disposition against God and His people.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 7:17
 17I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness
 And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

7:17 "I will give thanks. . .will sing praise" These are both cohortatives (vows).

1. give thanks — BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense

2. sing praise — BDB 274, KB 273, Piel cohortative

The NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 406, #3, suggests that "thank offerings" were accompanied by verbal expressions of thanksgiving (i.e., songs, cf. Ps. 107:22; 116:17; Jonah 2:9). Prayers of lament often involved thanksgiving and praise (cf. Ps. 35:18; 43:4; 54:6; 56:12; 57:9; 69:30; 71:22; 109:30; 140:13; 142:7).

▣ "the name of the Lord" See Special Topic at Ps. 5:11-12.

▣ "Most High" This Hebrew name, Elyon (BDB 751 II) is used often in the Psalms as a title for YHWH (cf. Gen. 14:19; Num. 24:16; Deut. 32:8; Ps. 9:2; 18:13; 21:7; 46:4; 47:2, and many more.). It comes from the word "high" or "upper" (BDB 751 I). It is linked with YHWH in Ps. 47:2, where it is parallel with "a great King over all the earth." In Ps. 9:2 and 92:1 the exact phrase that is in Ps. 7:17 is repeated.

This was the title of the high god in the Canaanite pantheon. It is possible that Israel took this name (as they did the names of the gods of Babylon and Persia) as a way of asserting that their God was the only true God! See SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM at Ps. 2:7.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the theological distinction between "YHWH" and "Elohim"?

2. What are the psalmist's enemies accusing him of in verses 3-4?

3. What does this statement, "God tries the hearts and minds," mean?

4. Explain the difference between the Hebrew word "repent" and the Greek term "repent."

5. Explain the literary concept of "reversal." Why is it found so often in the Bible?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 8

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Lord's Glory and Man's Dignity
MT Intro
"For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David"
The Glory of the Lord in Creation Hymn Celebrating God's Glory and the God-given Dignity of Human Beings God's Glory and Human Dignity The Power of God's Name
8:1-2 8:1 8:1a 8:1-2 8:1a
    8:1b-2   8:1b-2
  8:2      
8:3-8 8:3-5 8:3-4 8:3-4 8:3-4
    8:5-8 8:5-8 8:5-6
  8:6-8      
        8:7-8
8:9 8:9 8:9 8:9 8:9

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 8:1-2
 1O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
 2From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength
Because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.

8:1 "O Lord, our Lord" This is a combination of

1. YHWH — the covenant name (BDB 217) for God (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:1)

2. Adon — the term (BDB 10) means "owner," "husband," "master," or "lord." Here it is plural. Everywhere else this title is used in the Psalms it is singular (cf. Ps. 45:12; 57:5; 105:21; 110:1; 114:7, except in 136:3, where the construct "Lord of Lords" is used. This, then, must be an example of the "plural of majesty."

They are used together here of one God, but in Ps. 110:1 they are used separately of YHWH and His Messiah (cf. Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42,43; Acts 2:34,35; Heb. 1:13).

Also notice that in English translations the two terms are identified by the capitalization.

YHWH = Lord

Adon = Lord

 

NASB, NRSV,
NJB, JPSOA"majestic"
NKJV"excellent"
TEV"greatness"
REB"glorious"
NET Bible"magnificent"

This Hebrew adjective (BDB 12) is used of things, people, and God. When used of God it is an attempt to describe His incomprehensible grandeur (cf. Ps. 76:4; 93:4).

The noun form (no verb) is regularly used of clothing.

1. Esau's hair like a hairy mantle — Gen. 25:25

2. expensive mantle stolen from Jericho by Achan — Jos. 7:21,24

3. Elijah's mantle (symbol of YHWH's enabling) — 1 Kgs. 19:13,19; 2 Kgs. 2:8,13,14

4. a prophet's hairy mantle (a symbol of his prophetic office) — Zech. 13:4

It can also mean

1. glory — Zech. 11:3

2. noble — Ezek. 17:8

This phrase may be linked by subject (God's place in creation) and the noun "majesty" (clothing) to Isaiah 6:1-4.

▣ "name" This stands for YHWH Himself. See Special Topic: The Name of YHWH at Ps. 5:11-12.

▣ "In all the earth" this refers to the entire creation (cf. Psalm 104; see Special Topic at Ps. 1:2). YHWH is the only true creator, redeemer God (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM at Ps. 2:7).

▣ "Who has displayed your splendor above the heavens" There are several issues with the Hebrew text of this phrase.

1. The MT has an imperative of the verb "give" (BDB 678, KB 733, Qal imperative), "set Your splendor above the heavens" (see SPECIAL TOPIC: HEAVEN at Ps. 2:4).

2. The UBS Text Project (p. 169, see NIV) changes it to an infinitive of the same verb, "You have set Your splendor above the heavens" (the UBS rates this change as "D," i.e., "highly doubtful").

3. NET Bible takes it as perfect or imperfect form, "You who place Your majesty upon the heavens" (p. 857).

4. Anchor Bible (vol. 16, p. 45) takes it as "I will adore Your majesty above the heavens," by relating the verb to Ugaritic usages.

5. UBS Handbook on Psalms (pp. 78-79, cf. REB) revocalizes it to "to tell" or "to praise," "whose glory is told/praised above the heavens" (see SPECIAL TOPIC: HEAVENs at Ps. 2:4).

Just a personal note, I love this Psalm and the song "The Majesty and Glory of Your Name." I feel God's presence in a wonderful way when I think of this message about the incomprehensible grandeur of our God. I do not want an academic issue to take away from this worshipful message. But at the same time, I want to be true to the message of the inspired author! May the Spirit of God help us to know Him, proclaim Him, and live in the light of His presence!

▣ "above the heavens" This can be understood in several ways.

1. the whole verse is extolling the God of creation

2. God's praises reach as high as the heavens

3. creation tells/reveals the glory/majesty of its Creator (i.e., the night sky, Ps. 8:3)

See Special Topics: "Heaven" and "Heavens and the Third Heaven" at Ps. 2:4.

8:2 "from the mouth of infants and nursing babes" This is obviously hyperbole. These infants cannot speak, yet their very presence shows the glory and majesty of God and His creation. This is the natural revelation of Ps. 19:1-6. Through the things of this creation God is known (cf. Rom. 1:19-20; 2:14-16).

This verse from the LXX is quoted by Jesus to the Pharisees watching His "Triumphal Entry" into Jerusalem in Matt. 21:16.

NASB, JPSOA"You have established strength"
NKJV"You have ordained strength"
NRSV, REB"You have founded a bulwark"
NJB"You make him a fortress"

The verb (BDB 413, KB 417, Piel perfect, cf. Ps. 89:11, Qal perfect) means "establish" (cf. 1 Chr. 9:22) or "founded" (cf. Jos. 6:26; 1 Kgs. 16:34; Ezra 3:10; Isa. 14:32; 28:16).

The word "strength" (BDB 738) normally means "strength," but in this context it refers to "a stronghold for defense."

There is a word play between "nursing babes" (BDB 413) and "establish" (BDB 413).

YHWH, the Creator, is revealed in the heavens and in the little ones. All creation shouts His presence and purpose!

The exact meaning of this verse is uncertain, but apparently the little ones who reveal God's majesty are under attack and God defends and protects them, as He does all who reveal His truths!

8:2b Notice the participles that express the evil opponents.

1. adversaries — BDB 865 II, KB 1058, Qal participle

2. enemy — BDB 33, KB 38, Qal participle

3. revengeful — BDB 667, KB 721, Hithpael participle

See full note on the names of the psalmist's opponents at Ps. 1:5 and 5:10.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 8:3-8
 3When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
 The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
 4What is man that You take thought of him,
 And the son of man that You care for him?
 5Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
 And You crown him with glory and majesty!
 6You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
 You have put all things under his feet,
 7All sheep and oxen,
 And also the beasts of the field,
 8The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
 Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

8:3 This verse expresses the wonder of humans as they view the night sky. For many in the ANE it was a source of superstition and fear. But for the Israelites it was the canvas of YHWH (cf. Gen. 1:14-19).

The verb "ordained" (BDB 465, KB 464, Polel perfect) is also used of God's creation in Ps. 24:2; 119:90. The next verse focuses on God's creation of humans (cf. Deut. 32:6). Creation, beautiful creation, had a purpose—a platform for God and mankind to fellowship (see full note at Ps. 2:8). Everything in the Bible between Genesis 3 and Revelation 20 is God restoring the fellowship lost in Eden. It is not by accident that Genesis 1-2 parallel Revelation 21-22!

▣ "the work of Your fingers" This is anthropomorphic language. See Special Topic at Ps. 2:4-6.

I recommend reading John H. Walton, ANE Thought and the OT, chapter 7, "Cosmic Geography," pp. 165-178, as a way to orient the modern reader to the worldview of the ANE, so different from our own!

The worship of the sun and moon were common in the ANE. Genesis 1 is a polemic against Babylonian astral worship, as the plagues of Egypt were a polemic against the nature gods of Egypt.

God creates the heavenly bodies (cf. Gen. 1:14-19) and controls them.

SPECIAL TOPIC: MOON WORSHIP

8:4 Note the synonymous parallelism between the two lines of poetry and especially "man" (BDB 60, enosh, cf. Ps. 9:20, also note Ps. 103:14) and "son of man" (BDB 119 construct BDB 9, "son of man," "ben Adam," cf. Ps. 144:3).

The first term, enosh, has two meanings.

1. BDB 60 I — weak, sick, frail (from the Hebrew verb; Niphal, 2 Sam. 12:15; Qal passive, Isa. 17:11; Jer. 15:18; 17:9)

2. BDB 60 II — mankind, as used here without the connotation of weak, quite the opposite

The second term/phrase, "son of man," is a Hebrew idiom for a human person (i.e., Ps. 146:3; Ezek. 2:1). YHWH gives special attention to His highest creation, made in His image (cf. Gen. 1:26-27), for fellowship (cf. Gen. 3:8). Humans are significant creatures, uniquely related to God. We are part of this creation, yet more than the physical! Once created, we are eternal, spiritual creatures.

Humans are a higher spiritual order than angels. I know that sounds ridiculous, but think with me.

1. no angel is ever said to be made in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen. 1:26-27)

2. Jesus did not die to redeem angels (cf. Heb. 2:14-16)

3. believers will judge the angels (cf. 1 Cor. 6:3)

4. angels are to serve mankind (cf. Heb. 1:14)

In the creation myth of Sumer and later Babylon, humans were noisy, bothersome, and expendable (see intro. notes to Genesis 1-11), but in the Bible it is just the opposite. They are the focus of YHWH's creative activity.

NASB"take thought of him"
NKJV, NRSV,
JPSOA, REB,
LXX"mindful of him"
TEV"think of them"
NJB"spare a thought for them"

The verb (BDB 269, KB 269, Qal imperfect) means "remember," in the sense of "think about kindly" (cf. Ps. 9:12; 78:39; 98:3; 103:14; 105:8,42; 106:45; 111:5; 115:12; 136:23). Usually in the Bible, God is called on to "forget" human sin and humans are called on to "remember" God, but here the psalmist is awestruck with the vastness and beauty of creation and the thought that its Creator has time and concern for one special creature on this one planet! But, this is the intellectual/theological question, isn't it (i.e., naturalism vs. purposeful creator)?

8:5 The dignity and worth of humans are clearly seen in this verse. We were "made" is a verb (BDB 341, KB 338, Piel imperfect, cf. Eccl. 4:8) which means "cause to lack" or "made him inferior" to only God Himself (Elohim). The LXX interprets this as "angels" (cf. Heb. 2:7), but the context of Psalm 8 demands "God" because this psalm reflects God's creation in Genesis. Although it is possible that the plural "us" in Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 11:7, reflects God's heavenly council (cf. 1 Kgs. 22:19-23; Job 1:6; 2:1; Ps. 82:1,6; 86:8; 89:6,8; Dan. 7:10), and thereby, refers to angels in leadership (cf. Gen. 3:5). However, I think contextually "God" is best.

Notice that enosh/ben Adam is crowned with

1. glory — BDB 458

2. majesty — BDB 214

Humanity is the highest creation of God. They were created for fellowship with God. They function as His supervisors on earth (cf. Gen. 1:28). All physical creation is a stage for God and mankind to meet and come to know each other (cf. Gen. 3:8).

8:6-8 As Ps. 8:3 surely has a Genesis 1 orientation, so too, verse 6 (cf. Gen. 1:28). Humans were God's stewards in the Garden (and by implication, all creation). Humans rule (BDB 605, KB 647, Hiphil imperfect), subdue (BDB 461, KB 460, Qal imperative, cf. Gen. 1:28), and have dominion (BDB 921, KB 1190, Qal imperative, cf. Gen. 1:28) only in their connection with God! We are stewards!

8:6 "the works of Your hands" This is referring to Genesis 1 (cf. Job 14:15; Ps. 92:4; 138:8; 143:5), as is "the work of Your fingers" in Ps. 8:3 (cf. Ps. 102:25). It is interesting that in Genesis 1 God's creative activities are by the spoken word. Only mankind is made/fashioned by personal attention in Gen. 2:7. See SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS HUMAN (ANTHROPOMORPHISM) (anthropomorphism) at Ps. 2:4-6.

8:7 The order of the creation of these creatures is parallel to Genesis 1. This Psalm (like Psalm 104) must be read in light of Genesis 1! If Genesis 1-2 were in the Psalms, we would not be debating their genre or literalness!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 8:9
 9O Lord, our Lord,
 How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

8:9 This Psalm ends as it began (Ps. 8:1b). The theme and major character of the Bible is God!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How are "the heavens" and "infants" related?

2. Does YHWH have "fingers"?

3. Why is it theologically significant that YHWH creates the sun and moon?

4. How is "man" in verse 4a related to "son of man" in verse 4b?

5. Is man a little lower than the angels or God? Why?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 9

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
A Psalm of Thanksgiving for God's Justice
MT Intro
"For the choir director; on Muth-labben. A Psalm of David"
Prayer and Thanksgiving for the Lord's Righteous Judgments Prayer for Deliverance From Personal Enemies
(Psalm 9-10, A Lament)
 
Thanksgiving To God for His Justice God Strikes the Wicked and Saves the Humbled
(Psalm 9-10)
Acrostic
9:1-2 9:1-2 9:1-2 9:1-2 9:1 (Aleph)
        9:2
9:3-6 9:3-5 9:3-4 9:3-4 9:3-4 (Bet)
    9:5-6 9:5-6 9:5-6 (Gimel)
  9:6-8      
9:7-10   9:7-8 9:7-8 9:7-8 (He)
  9:9-10 9:9-10 9:9-10 9:9-10 (Waw)
9:11-16 9:11-12 9:11-12 9:11-12 9:11-12 (Zain)
  9:13-14 9:13-14 9:13-14 9:13-14 (Het)
  9:15-16 9:15-16 9:15-16 9:15-16 (Tet)
9:17-20 9:17-18 9:17 9:17-18 9:17 (Yod)
        9:18 (Kaph)
  9:19-20 9:19-20 9:19-20 9:19-20

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) asserts that Psalm 9 and Psalm 10 form a loose acrostic (cf. LXX).

 

B. Acrostics are a specialized type of poetry. In order to make each letter fit

1. rare words used

2. rare forms of words used

3. strained lines of poetry occur

4. unusual metaphor and figurative language occurs

5. use of prepositions

The ancients felt the alphabet had magical significance (i.e., Kabala, Ras Shamra texts).

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 9:1-2
 1I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart;
 I will tell of all Your wonders.
 2I will be glad and exult in You;
 I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

9:1-2 This opening strophe has five cohortatives.

1. I will give thanks — BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense

2. I will tell — BDB 707, KB 765, Piel cohortative

3. I will be glad — BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal cohortative

4. I will exult — BDB 763, KB 836, Qal cohoratative

5. I will sing, praise — BDB 274, KB 273, Piel cohortative

All of these relate to YHWH (i.e., the Most High). Thanksgiving and praise are the duty of mankind. These are signs/evidences of an intimate, personal, daily relationship with God.

Notice the four "I wills" of Ps. 9:1-2 are based on the five "You haves" of Ps. 9:4-6. YHWH has acted! Now His followers can praise Him!

9:1 "with all my heart" This was a Hebrew idiom of complete devotion (cf. Psalm 86:12; 111:1; 138:1; 1 Kgs. 8:23,61; 11:4; 1 Chr. 28:9). For "heart" see Special Topic at Ps. 4:7.

NASB, NJB,
JPSOA"wonders"
NKJV"marvelous works"
NRSV, REB,
LXX"wonderful deeds"

This is a Hebrew construct (BDB 481 and BDB 810, Niphal participle). See Special Topic below.

TOPIC: WONDERFUL THINGS (פלא)

9:2 "in You. . .to Your Name" These are parallel. Notice the personal element in worship. See Special Topic: The Name of YHWH at Ps. 5:11-12.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 9:3-6
 3When my enemies turn back,
 They stumble and perish before You.
 4For You have maintained my just cause;
 You have sat on the throne judging righteously.
 5You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked;
 You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
 6The enemy has come to an end in perpetual ruins,
 And You have uprooted the cities;
 The very memory of them has perished.

9:3-6 This strophe extolls YHWH as a Righteous Judge (cf. Ps. 9:4b).

Notice His actions toward the enemy.

1. enemies turn back, Ps. 9:3a — BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal infinitive construct (i.e., in battle)

2. enemies stumble, Ps. 9:3b — BDB 505, KB 502, Niphal imperfect

3. enemies perish, Ps. 9:3b — BDB 1, KB 2, Qal imperfect

4. has rebuked the nations, Ps. 9:5a — BDB 172, KB 199, Qal perfect (NET Bible sees this as referring to a "battle cry," p. 858, #19)

5. has destroyed the wicked, Ps. 9:5a — BDB 1, KB 2, Piel perfect

6. has blotted out their name, Ps. 9:5b — BDB 562, KB 567, Qal perfect (i.e., died in battle)

7. has uprooted the enemy's cities, Ps. 9:6 — BDB 684, KB 737, Qal perfect

Notice how YHWH is characterized.

1. You have maintained my just cause

2. You sat on the throne judging righteously

3. cf. Ps. 9:7-8 (emphasis repeated in next strophe)

It is possible that "the just cause" is YHWH installing the psalmist as King of His covenant people.

9:3 "perish before You" Notice this verb (BDB 1, KB 2) is repeated in Ps. 9:5, 6, 18. It is used of

1. individual enemies

2. the nations

3. the afflicted (negated)

It obviously refers to physical life but also of eternal existence (cf. Ps. 9:6, Hebrew idiom). Opposing God and His people is a dangerous activity with temporal and eschatological consequences.

9:5 "the nations" The same switch from an individual to "the nations" (cf. Ps. 9:17-20) occurs in Ps. 7:6-7. Many psalms written by individuals became corporate in worship liturgy.

Also note that YHWH as Judge is expressed in Ps. 7:7 (cf. Ps. 9:4-6,7-8).

▣ "has blotted out their name forever and ever" Notice how the theme of "permanent" judgment is repeated (cf. Ps. 69:28).

1. blotted out, Ps. 9:5 (Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 69:28; also note Num. 5:23; Deut. 9:14; 25:19; 29:20)

2. forever and ever, Ps. 9:5 (see Special Topic: Forever below)

3. perpetual ruins, Ps. 9:6 (Piel perfect, cf. Jer. 25:9; 49:13)

4. the very memory of them has perished, Ps. 9:6 (Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 34:16; 109:15)

Verses 5-6 remind me of the opening dialog in Malachi 1, where Israel's very existence is contrasted with the complete demise of Edom as evidence of YHWH's covenant love. Where are the ancient surrounding nations? They are lost to history, but not Israel!

The verb "blot out" (#1) may refer to the book of life.

SPECIAL TOPIC: FOREVER (‘OLAM)

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE TWO BOOKS OF GOD

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 9:7-10
 7But the Lord abides forever;
 He has established His throne for judgment,
 8And He will judge the world in righteousness;
 He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.
 9The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed,
 A stronghold in times of trouble;
 10And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
 For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

9:7-8 Nations will come and go based on their relationship to the righteous God/Judge (cf. Ps. 89:14).

SPECIAL TOPIC: JUDGE, JUDGMENT, and JUSTICE (שפט) IN ISAIAH

9:7

NASB"abides"
NKJV"endures"
NRSV, TEV,
NJB"sits enthroned"

Psalm 9:7 is in stark contrast to Ps. 9:5-6. The rebellious nations are temporary but the God of Israel is permanently enthroned (BDB 442, KB 444, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 10:16; 29:10).

The second verb of Ps. 9:7, "established" (BDB 465, KB 464), is a Polel perfect, which denotes His permanent throne!

9:8 "He will judge the world in righteousness" Again the theological issue is the meaning of "world" (BDB 385). In Ps. 96:13 and 98:9, this word is parallel with erets (BDB 75, see Special Topic: Land, Country, Earth at Ps. 2:2). It must refer to the "known" world of that day. However, from the NT this concept involves the whole planet (i.e., John 3:16).

9:9 "stronghold" The verb (BDB 960) means "to be high." The noun is used regularly of God as a high, mighty, and safe stronghold or fortress (cf. Ps. 9:9 [twice]; 18:2; 46:7,11; 48:3; 59:9,16,17; 62:2,6; 94:22; 144:2). This is an idiom for safety and protection. For the faithful follower (cf. Ps. 9:10) our God is our stronghold and there is no other!

Notice the phrase, "in times of trouble," of Ps. 9:9b reappears in Ps. 10:1b. It is found only here in the OT. There is some doubt about the meaning of the word translated "trouble" (BDB 131). In Jer. 14:1 and 17:8 it means "drought," but that connotation does not fit here. Remember words only have meaning in sentences and sentences in literary units.

9:10a This line of poetry expresses a major biblical reality. I have added my comments from Isa. 26:3-4 below.

For the Hebrew word "know" see Special Topic at Ps. 1:6.

 

Isaiah 26

Isaiah 26:3 "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace" Notice the covenantal aspect.

1.The believer's mind is stayed on YHWH (BDB 701, KB 759, Qal passive participle, but used in an active sense, cf. 1 Chr. 29:18).

2.YHWH keeps him/her (BDB 665 I, KB 718, Qal imperfect, the covenant relationship has two participants, see Special Topic at Isaiah 1:19).

3."Perfect peace" is a doubling of shalom (BDB 1022, cf. DSS). This doubling of words is very common in this section of Isaiah.

 

▣ "he trusts in You" The word "trust" (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal passive participle) means "trust in YHWH" (cf. Ps. 12:2; 26:4; 36:15; 37:10; 50:10). Notice that the next verse has the same word as an imperative. This is such an important theological concept of the need for a personal relationship with God, not just obedience. Both are crucial!

26:4 "Trust in the Lord forever" For the verb (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal imperative), see Special Topic at Ps. 22:23.

The name for Deity in the first line of Ps. 9:4 is YHWH; in the second line a contraction Yah and YHWH, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:1.

The term "forever" (BDB 723 I), first the plural form and then the singular form (construct, cf 65:18; Ps. 83:18; 92:8). This construction, along with "everlasting" (BDB 761), used of YHWH, implies a personal relationship beyond this life (cf. Ps. 9:14,19; Ps. 23:6).

▣ "we have an everlasting rock" The word "rock" is a metaphor for God's unchanging character (cf. Ps. 18:1, 2; Isa. 17:10; 30:29; 44:8).

9:10b What a wonderful statement of YHWH's faithfulness! This is a repeated theme in the Psalms (cf. Ps. 37:28; 94:14). Believers' hope is in the unchanging character of the merciful Creator (cf. Mal. 3:6).

SPECIAL TOPIC: CHARACTERISTICS OF ISRAEL'S GOD

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 9:11-16
 11Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion;
 Declare among the peoples His deeds.
 12For He who requires blood remembers them;
 He does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
 13Be gracious to me, O Lord;
 See my affliction from those who hate me,
 You who lift me up from the gates of death,
 14That I may tell of all Your praises,
 That in the gates of the daughter of Zion
 I may rejoice in Your salvation.
 15The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made;
 In the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught.
 16The Lord has made Himself known;
 He has executed judgment.
 In the work of his own hands the wicked is snared. Higgaion Selah.

9:11-12 YHWH is praised because of His justice (cf. Ps. 9:12,15-16).

1. He avenges bloodshed

2. He does not forget the cry of the afflicted

His justice is seen in the evil plans of the wicked by which they have ensnared themselves (cf. Ps. 9:15-16).

9:11 "who dwells in Zion" Zion is the hill in Jerusalem on which stood the Jebusite fortress that was captured by David. He built his palace on this hill. It came to designate the entire city.

Jerusalem, and particularly the temple on the hill Moriah, became the place where YHWH "dwelt," between the wings of the Cherubim above the ark of the covenant. This place fulfills the repeated phrase in Deuteronomy, "the place that YHWH causes His name to dwell."

9:12

NASB"He who requires blood"
NKJV, NRSV"He avenges blood"
NJB, REB"the avenger of blood"
JPSOA"He who requires bloodshed"

This phrase links to Gen. 9:5-6. Life is a gift from God. One who takes away that gift must give an account before God and pay with his/her own life (cf. Deut. 32:43).

Later in Hebrew thought this developed into "the Blood Avenger" (i.e., Jos. 20:3,5,9).

"remembers them. . .does not forget" Notice how "remembers" is parallel with "forget" (negated). He will not forget His people!

9:13-14 The wicked seek the psalmist's life (i.e., the King) but YHWH has delivered him. Now he wants to praise YHWH in the tabernacle/temple ("who dwells in Zion," Ps. 9:11).

1. "that I may tell" — BDB 707, KB 765, Piel cohortative

2. "that I may rejoice" — BDB 162, KB 189, Qal cohortative

 

9:13 "the gates of death" Sheol (see full note at Ps. 6:5) is depicted as

1. an open grave/pit (cf. Exod. 15:12; Num. 16:22; 26:11; Ps. 124:3; Pro. 1:12)

2. a carnivorous animal (cf. Isa. 5:14; Hab. 2:5)

3. a city with gates (cf. Job 38:17; Ps. 107:18; Isa. 38:10; Matt. 16:18) or

4. a prison with gates (cf. Rev. 1:8; 9:1; 20:1)

 

9:14 "in the gates of the daughter of Zion" There is an obvious contrast between "the gates of death" in Ps. 9:13c and the gates of Jerusalem/temple in Ps. 9:14c. In the first there is no remembrance but in the second there is praise and testimony about YHWH.

9:15-16 Notice the string of six perfects. The defeat of the enemy army by YWHW (i.e., Holy War imagery of the Conquest) is the focus.

9:15 Notice the psalmist's adversaries are nations (cf. Ps. 9:17) and not individuals. Therefore, this must be a king, so the traditional introduction is probably correct.

9:16 In the OT God's character is manifested in time by His actions.

1. grace, mercy, and love toward covenant people

2. judgment and wrath toward their enemies

Notice the reversal of the plans of the wicked. What they planned for others, occurs to them. Justice is built into God's created order.

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, JPSOA"snared"
TEV, REB"trapped"
NJB"ensnared"
LXX"trap"

The MT has "strikes down" from BDB 669, KB 723, Qal active participle (found only here in the OT). All the English translations see it as the Niphal perfect of BDB 430, KB 432, "entrap" or "lure." The UBS Text Project (p. 171) gives the MT a "C" rating (considerable doubt).

▣ "Higgaion" The BDB (212; see note at Intro. to Psalms, VII) defines this as

1. resounding music (cf. Ps. 92:3)

2. meditation, musing (cf. Ps. 19:14)

It is translated in Lam. 3:62 as "mutter" (KB 238).

▣ "Selah" See note at Psalm 3:2.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 9:17-20
 17The wicked will return to Sheol,
 Even all the nations who forget God. 18For the needy will not always be forgotten,
 Nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.
  19Arise, O Lord, do not let man prevail;
  Let the nations be judged before You.
 20Put them in fear, O Lord;
  Let the nations know that they are but men.  Selah.

9:17-18 As the wicked act foolishly (i.e., turn to Sheol), the needy (BDB 2) and afflicted (BDB 776, lit. "poor") will be helped by YHWH.

9:17 "all the nations who forget God" Most of Israel's enemies were from the surrounding nations who had some exposure to YHWH. The verb "forget" (BDB 1013) implies they had turned from the truth and by implication, worshiped false idols.

9:19-20 These last two lines comprise a series of commands for YHWH to act.

1. arise — BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative (in contrast to Ps. 9:4b,7, where He sits enthroned on call to action as the Divine Warrior)

2. do not let man prevail — BDB 738, KB 808, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

3. let the nations be judged before You — BDB 1047, KB 1622, Niphal imperfect used in a jussive sense

4. put them in fear — BDB 1011, KB 1483, Qal imperfect

5. let the nations know they are but men — BDB 393, KB 390, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense (cf. Ps. 62:9; 90:5-6; 103:14; Isa. 40:7-8)

 

9:20 "Selah" See note at Psalm 3:2.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why is verse 3 a court scene?

2. How are "the nations" and "the wicked" of verse 5 related?

3. Define the different "gates" in verses 13 and 14.

4. How are Sheol and the Pit related?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 10

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
A Prayer for the Overthrow of the Wicked
____________
No MT Intro
A Song of Confidence in God's Triumph Over Evil Prayer for Deliverance From Personal Enemies
(Psalm 9-10, A Lament)
Acrostic
A Prayer for Justice God Strikes the Wicked and Saves the Humble
(Psalm 9-10)
Acrostic Continues
10:1-2 10:1-2 10:1-2 10:1-2 10:1-2 (Lamed)
10:3-4 10:3-4 10:3-4 10:3-4 10:3 (Mem)
        10:4 (Nun)
10:5-11 10:5-7 10:5-6 10:5-7 10:5
        10:6a,b
        10:6c-7a
    10:7-8a   10:7b-8b (Pe)
  10:8-11 10:8b-9 10:8-9 10:8c-9 (Ain)
    10:10-11 10:10-11 10:10-11
10:12-15 10:12-13 10:12-13 10:12-13 10:12-13 (Qoph)
  10:14-15 10:14 10:14 10:14 (Resh)
    10:15-16 10:15 10:15-16 (Shim)
10:16-18 10:16-18   10:16  
    10:17-18 10:17-18 10:17-18 (Taw)

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 10:1-2
 1Why do You stand afar off, O Lord?
 Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?
 2In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted;
 Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.

10:1 This is a common question for faithful believers in a fallen world. Evil and suffering are often surprises and unexpected events. Why would our loving, merciful God allow this?

There is no biblical answer except that we live in a fallen world. This is not the world God intended it to be, nor is it the world it will be in the future. As a theologian I must assert that God has allowed us to reap the consequences of both Adam/Eve's sin and our personal choices. Yet He has aggressively acted on our behalf in redemption! The best book on the subject of evil and suffering in this life/world, which truly takes it seriously, is John W. Wenham, The Goodness of God.

The psalmist asks two specific questions ("why") about God's apparent absence.

1. stand far off — BDB 763, KB 840, Qal imperfect

2. hide Yourself — BDB 761, KB 834, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 27:9; 55:1; 69:17

YHWH promised to be present and involved with His covenant people but He seems to be absent and purposefully inactive (cf. Ps. 10:5a,11)!

Notice the sound play and parallelism so characteristic of ANE poetry (see Appendix: Hebrew Poetry).

These charges are not reality but the emotions of confused and hurting believers.

10:2 Notice the characteristics of the wicked.

1. pride/arrogance — BDB 144, cf. Ps. 31:18,23; 36:11; 73:6

2. hotly pursue — BDB 196, KB 223, Qal imperfect, cf. Gen. 31:36; 1 Sam. 17:53; Lam. 4:19

3. devise plots — BDB 362, KB 359, Qal perfect

This is developed further in the next strophes (Ps. 10:3-4 and 5-11).

▣ "Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised" This is translated by NASB as a jussive (BDB 1074, KB 1779, Niphal imperfect used in a jussive sense), as should Ps. 10:15b.

This expresses a typical OT motif of "role reversal." What is expected does not occur because of God's presence.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 10:3-4
 3For the wicked boasts of his heart's desire,
 And the greedy man curses and spurns the Lord.
 4The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him.
 All his thoughts are, "There is no God."

10:3-4 This strophe further describes (1) pagans, (2) atheists, or at least (3) the "practical atheism" of the psalmist's enemies (i.e., other Israelites).

1. curses the Lord — but a few times in the sense of "curse," (lit. "bless," BDB 138, KB 159, Piel perfect, cf. 1 Kgs. 21:10,13; Job 1:5; 2:9)

2. spurns the Lord — BDB 610, KB 658, Piel perfect

3. does not seek the Lord — BDB 205, KB 233, Qal imperfect

4. assumes there is no God — "no," BDB 34 II, "God," BDB 43 (phrase has no verb), cf. Ps. 10:5a,11; 14:1; 53:1; this is not a philosophical issue but a practical issue. Everyone in the ANE believed in a spiritual realm. JPSOA translates the phrase as "God does not care."

 

10:3a The fall of Genesis 3 has turned the heart of the creature away from the Creator and onto himself/herself. Our lives are spent seeking selfish things, positions, and power. Augustine put it well when he wrote about every human being created with a God-shaped hole. Nothing but God can fill that need but fallen humanity tries to fill it with temporal/earthly things.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 10:5-11
 5His ways prosper at all times;
 Your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
 As for all his adversaries, he snorts at them.
 6He says to himself, "I will not be moved;
 Throughout all generations I will not be in adversity."
 7His mouth is full of curses and deceit and oppression;
 Under his tongue is mischief and wickedness.
 8He sits in the lurking places of the villages;
 In the hiding places he kills the innocent;
 His eyes stealthily watch for the unfortunate.
 9He lurks in a hiding place as a lion in his lair;
 He lurks to catch the afflicted;
 He catches the afflicted when he draws him into his net.
 10He crouches, he bows down,
 And the unfortunate fall by his mighty ones.
 11He says to himself, "God has forgotten;
 He has hidden His face; He will never see it."

10:5-11 This strophe describes the seeming unfairness of life. The wicked prosper and the righteous suffer! The same issue is addressed in the book of Job, Psalm 73, and Habakkuk. The wicked are characterized as:

1. prospers at all times — the verb (BDB 298 II, KB 311, Qal imperfect) is lit. "be firm," but is used in the sense of wealth, cf. Gen. 34:29; Num. 31:9; Deut. 8:17,18; Job 5:5; 15:29; 20:15,18; 31:25; Ps. 49:6,10; 62:10; 73:12; Isa. 8:4; 10:14; 30:6; 60:5; 61:6; Micah 4:13

2. snorts at his adversaries — BDB 806, KB 916, Hiphil imperfect, this sense is found only here but the word is often used of liars in Proverbs (cf. Pro. 6:19; 14:5,25; 19:5,9)

3. I shall not be moved — BDB 556, KB 555, Niphal imperfect meaning my situation of prosperity and safety will never be changed

4. his mouth is full of (i.e., the mouth reveals the heart; Paul quotes this verse in his litany of OT texts that reveal the universality of human sin, cf. Rom. 3:14)

a. curses

b. deceit

c. oppression

d. mischief

e. wickedness

5. he ambushes the innocent like a wild animal (cf. Ps. 10:8-10; Lam. 3:10-11)

6. he believes and asserts the very words of the psalmist from Ps. 10:1. God is absent and irrelevant! The psalmist's words were a cry of faith, but these are the assertions of an unbeliever (cf. Ps. 39:1-2).

 

10:5b This line of poetry refers to God as far away and irrelevant (cf. Ps. 10:4b,11).

10:8 "villages" This does not seem to fit the context. NJB changes the vowels to "of the rushes" (UBS Text Project, p. 174, gives "village" a "B" rating, meaning "some doubt"). The NET Bible translates it as "near the villages" (MT, "in the villages").

NASB, REB"unfortunate"
NASB margin"poor"
NKJV, NRSV"helpless"
JPSOA"hapless"
LXX"needy"

This adjective (BDB 319, KB 319) occurs only in this chapter in the Psalms, and only three times in all the OT. I think all three uses refer to a person being attacked.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 10:12-15
 12Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up Your hand.
 Do not forget the afflicted.
 13Why has the wicked spurned God?
 He has said to himself, "You will not require it."
 14You have seen it, for You have beheld mischief and vexation to take it into Your hand.
 The unfortunate commits himself to You;
 You have been the helper of the orphan.
 15Break the arm of the wicked and the evildoer,
 Seek out his wickedness until You find none.

10:12 This verse describes the stealth (Qere) of a wild animal seeking prey.

10:12-15 This is a prayer for God to act.

1. arise — (BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative) from Your throne or as the Divine Warrior

2. lift up Your hand — BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperative

3. do not forget the afflicted — BDB 1013, KB 1489, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 9:12 and19 contrast Ps. 10:11!

4. break the arm of the wicked — BDB 990, KB 1402, Qal imperative (i.e., break the power of this/these evil person/people)

5. seek out — BDB 205, KB 233, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

The psalmist wants God to act on behalf of the faithful believer to show the unbeliever his/her folly!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 10:16-18
 16The Lord is King forever and ever;
 Nations have perished from His land.
 17O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
 You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear
 18To vindicate the orphan and the oppressed,
 So that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror.

10:16-18 This strophe affirms the character of the God of Israel, the Creator, Redeemer God.

1. YHWH is King forever and ever (cf. Exod. 15:18; Ps. 9:7; 29:10; 146:10; Jer. 10:10; Lam. 5:19). For "forever" see Special Topic at Ps. 9:5.

2. YHWH gave the Israelites the land of Canaan (cf. Gen. 15:12-21). The focus on "the nations" resumes the thought from Ps. 9:17-20.

3. YHWH hears and acts on behalf of the humble/afflicted believer (note the perfect, YHWH will and does hear).

4. YHWH acts on behalf of the socially powerless and vulnerable (i.e., reflects Deuteronomy).

5. YHWH will remove the arrogant unbeliever and his/her deeds from the earth.

See SPECIAL TOPIC: CHARACTERISTICS OF ISRAEL'S GOD at Ps. 9:10b.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Is verse 4 describing an atheist?

2. What is the person of verse 6 asserting?

3. What is the person of verses 11 and 13b asserting?

4. How is verse 18 related to Deuteronomy?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 11

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Lord a Refuge and Defense
MT Intro
"For the choir director. A psalm of David"
11:1-3
Faith in the Lord's Righteousness
11:1-3
Confidence in God's Concern for Justice
11:1-3
Confidence in the Lord
11:1-3
The Confidence of the Upright
11:1
        11:2-3
11:4-7 11:4-6 11:4-7 11:4-5 11:4
        11:5-6
      11:6-7  
  11:7     11:7

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 11:1-3
 1In the Lord I take refuge;
 How can you say to my soul, "Flee as a bird to your mountain;
 2For, behold, the wicked bend the bow,
 They make ready their arrow upon the string
 To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart.
  3If the foundations are destroyed,
 What can the righteous do?"

11:1 "refuge" See notes at Ps. 2:12; 5:11. This (BDB 340, KB 337, Qal perfect) is a wonderful recurrent metaphor of protection and security (cf. Ps. 34:22; 37:40; Ezek. 7:15-16).

David's advisors (or enemies) said, "run" (Ps. 11:1b), but David said, "why run?" (Ps. 11:1a, 2-3). God is our refuge and He knows what we are going through. He is with us and for us. Look at Him and not the circumstances!

▣ "flee as a bird to your mountain" The MT has the plural (BDB 626, KB 678, Qal imperative), but the Qere reading is singular.

It seems that the wicked (i.e., plural verb) are addressing the faithful to flee to YHWH's protection (i.e., "refuge" and "mountain" are parallel, cf. Ps. 121:1). The phrase is, therefore, a taunt.

The UBS Handbook says verses 1 and 4 occur at the temple and, therefore, it is the psalmist's friends/co-worshipers who call on him to flee in silence to a desert fortress.

I think "the foundations" of Ps. 11:3 is also parallel to "refuge" and "mountains." They refer to the presence and truth of YHWH (cf. Ps. 87:1; 119:152) with His people, which the wicked deny.

11:2-3 It is possible to view these verses in two ways.

1. the advice of (a) the wicked or (b) friends at worship continue through Ps. 11:3

2. the psalmist answers those who call on him to flee in Ps. 11:1b

 

11:2 This describes the malicious activity and plans of the wicked.

1. bend the bow — BDB 201, KB 131, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 7:12; 37;14

2. make ready the arrow — BDB 465, KB 464, Polel perfect, cf. Ps. 64:3

3. shoot — BDB 434, KB 436, Qal infinitive construct, cf. Ps. 64:6

 

▣ "the upright in heart" There are no sinless humans. However, there are obviously two kinds.

1. those who seek YHWH and live to please Him

2. those who live for themselves as if there were no covenant or covenant God

 

11:3 The righteous person's only hope is the truth and presence of YHWH. He is the only source of help! If there is no God (cf. Ps. 10:4; 14:1; 36:1) then the faithful follower is the fool, but if there is an ethical Creator before whom all conscious life must stand and give an account (cf. Ps. 11:4b-f), then the disobedient, wicked, self-centered human (pagan or Israelite) is the fool!

There is a possibility that the second line of Ps. 11:3 refers to God (i.e., "the Just One," cf. AB, p. 69, and footnote in Jewish Study Bible, p. 1294). See Ps. 11:5, where YHWH and righteous (BDB 843) may be in opposition; both are titles for the God of Israel.

▣ "foundations" The etymology of this word/root, שׁת (BDB 1011, KB 1666-1667). It is a rare word but consensus is that it refers to the covenant laws. KB has the latest scholarly speculations.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 11:4-7
 4The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven;
 His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
 5The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
 And the one who loves violence His soul hates.
 6Upon the wicked He will rain snares;
 Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
 7For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness;
 The upright will behold His face.

11:4-7 This strophe answers the implied question of the wicked in Ps. 11:1b. As it happens, "the foundations" of Ps. 11:3b are not destroyed!

11:4 YHWH dwells in heaven (see Special Topic at Ps. 8:1), but He manifests Himself (i.e., makes Himself available) between the wings of the Cherubim over the ark of the covenant (cf. Isa. 66:1). Heaven and earth meet in the Holy of Holies in the temple in Jerusalem.

11:4b-5a YHWH knows (imperfects which denote characteristic actions)

1. what happens on earth

2. the motives of the human heart

He tests (BDB 103, KB 119, Qal imperfect, cf. Job 7:18; Ps. 7:9; 26:2; 139:1,23) the sins of men (ben Adam), both the righteous and the wicked. The NT records the event in Matt. 12:36-37; 16:27; 25:31-46; Acts 10:42; Rom. 2:16; 14:10,12; 1 Pet. 4:5; and Rev. 20:11-15. God's testing is both in time (temporal) and beyond time (eschatological). Often we do reap in this life what we sow, but if not, a day is coming!

SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD TESTS HIS PEOPLE

SPECIAL TOPIC: THAT DAY

11:5 "His soul hates" This is anthropomorphic language. See Special Topic at Ps. 2:4-6. See Exod. 15:9; Isa. 1:14; Jer. 5:9,29; 6:8; 9:9; 32:41; Ezek. 23:18 for the same use of nephesh (BDB 659, see note at Ps. 3:2).

It is possible that this verse deals with only the wicked and that "the righteous" is a title for God (cf. Ps. 11:3b). If so, YHWH and "the Just One" are in apposition (cf. Ps. 11:3b, 7a).

The OT lists several things YHWH hates.

1. idolatry — Deut. 12:31; 16:22; Jer. 44:4; Hos. 9:15

2. all who do iniquity — Ps. 5:5

3. one who loves violence — Ps. 11:5

4-9. see lists in Pro. 6:10-19 (also note Zech. 8:16-17)

10. the false, sham worship of Israel — Isa. 1:14; Amos 5:1; 6:8

11. divorce — Mal. 2:16

 

11:6

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, NJB,
LXX"He will rain"
NET Bible"May the Lord rain down"

The verb (BDB 565, KB 574) is a jussive which the NET Bible and the Anchor Bible translate accurately, but the other translations assume it is jussive in form but not in meaning.

NASB, MT,
LXX"snares"
NASB margin"coals of fire"
NKJV, NRSV,
TEV, NJB,
JPSOA"coals"

The context seems to demand an emendation from "snares," פחים (BDB 809) to "coals," פחמי (BDB 809). The UBS Text Project gives "snares" a "B" rating.

11:6b Does this refer to

1. hyperbolic poetic imagery about the circumstances of this life

2. the reality of judgment in the afterlife (cf. Deut. 32:22)

See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead? at Ps. 1:6.

▣ "fire" This is a recurrent metaphor of judgment and cleansing.

SPECIAL TOPIC: FIRE

NASB, NKJV"burning wind"
NRSV, TEV,
NJB, JPSOA,
NRSV, REB"scorching wind"
LXX"a wind of a tempest"
NET"whirlwind"

This rare term (BDB 273) basically means "heat." It is used in

1. Psalm 11:6 — describing a wind

2. Psalm 119:53 — as burning indignation

3. Lamentation 5:10 — as burning famine

The interpretive question is, "Does this term continue the series of nouns (BDB 809, 77, 172, cf. Job 1:16) or start a new metaphor?"

1. destructive whirlwind (cf. Ps. 58:9; Pro. 1:27; Hos. 8:7; Amos 1:14; Nah. 1:3)

2. hot desert wind (cf. Ps. 90:56; 103:15-16)

 

▣ "their cup" This is a Hebrew idiom for a person's destiny, usually negative (cf. Ps. 75:8, but occasionally positive, cf. Ps. 16:5). It is associated with drunkenness (cf. Isa. 51:17; Jer. 25:15).

This same idiom was used by Jesus in

1. Matt. 20:22; Mark 10:38,39

2. Matt. 26:39,42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42

3. John 18:11

 

11:7 YHWH is characterized as righteous (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:5, cf. Exod. 9:27; Ezra 9:15; Neh. 9:8; Ps. 119:137; Jer. 12:1; Lam. 1:18; John 17:25; Rev. 16:5,7).

Some of the actions of the righteous God are:

1. He tests the hearts of men — Ps, 7:9; 11:5; Jer. 20:12

2. He judges in righteousness — Ps. 7:11

3. He loves righteousness — Ps. 11:7; 33:5; 146:8

4. He is gracious and righteous — Ps. 116:5

5. He cuts the cords of the wicked — Ps. 129:4

6. He is righteous in all His ways — Ps. 145:7; Dan. 9:14

 

11:7b "The upright will behold His face" One wonders if this is the source of Jesus' words in Matt. 5:8. God is holy (Lev. 19:2; Matt. 5:48). No one can see God and live (i.e., Exod. 33:11,17-23), yet those who are pronounced righteous in Him/Jesus will have intimate fellowship with Deity (cf. Job 19:25-27; 27:4; Ps. 17:15; Matt. 5:8; 1 John 3:2)!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What does "take refuge" mean?

2. Explain verse 3 in your own words.

3. From verse 4, where is YHWH, heaven or the temple?

4. Does YHWH test humans (Ps. 11:5)?

How and why?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 12

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
God a Helper Against the Treacherous
MT Intro
"For the choir director; upon an eight-stringed lyre. A psalm of David"
12:1-5
Man's Treachery and God's Constancy
12:1-2
Prayer for Deliverance from Personal Enemies
(A Lament)
12:1-2
Prayer for Help
12:1-2
Against a Treacherous World
12:1-2
  12:3-5 12:3-4 12:3-4 12:3-5
    12:5-6 12:5  
12:6-8 12:6-7   12:6 12:6
    12:7-8 12:7-8 12:7-8
  12:8      

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 12:1-5
 1Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be,
 For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
 2They speak falsehood to one another;
 With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
 3May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
 The tongue that speaks great things;
 4Who have said, "With our tongue we will prevail;
 Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?"
 5"Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy,
 Now I will arise," says the Lord; "I will set him in the safety for which he longs."

12:1 "Help, Lord" What a powerful cry for help (BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative). In the OT this term has the implication of physical deliverance but in the NT it takes on the emphasis of spiritual salvation. See SPECIAL TOPIC: SALVATION (OLD TESTAMENT TERM) in the OT at Ps. 13:5-6.

I have often thought how sad it would be for someone to be physically delivered (i.e., health, war, financial) but miss the joy and benefit of spiritual deliverance! In the NT healing did not always result in a spiritual transformation. What humans need most is God, not a change of circumstances!

▣ "for the godly man ceases to be" Notice the parallelism between line 1 and line 2. These both speak of the death of faithful followers. This is a corporate lament, although the LXX has "me" in Ps. 12:1-2.

For "faithful" (BDB 52 I) see Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Believe, Trust, Faith, and Faithfulness in the Old Testament (אמן)

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"disappeared"
LXX, NJB,
JPSOA, REB"vanished"

The "cease to be" of line one is parallel to this word (BDB 821 II), which is found only here in the OT. Some suggest a different root (BDB 67) which is found in Isa. 16:4.

The UBS Text Project (p. 177) offers two ways to understand this verb.

1. their numbers are greatly reduced (LXX)

2. they have completely disappeared (cf. Ps. 12:1a and Ps. 12:3a)

 

12:2-4 Notice the theme of "speaking" (i.e., lips, tongue). The false message of the double-hearted person is contrasted with the true message of YHWH's revelation (cf. Ps. 12:6).

Every day believers must ascertain which messages they hear are true/false; from fallen humanity/from God (cf. Deut. 13:1-5; 18:14-22; Matthew 7; 1 John 4:1-3)!

12:2 "speak falsehood" This is literally "emptiness" or "vanity" (BDB 996). This "emptiness of speech" is a recurrent theme (cf. Ps. 41:6; 144:8,11; Pro. 30:9; Isa. 59:4; Ezek. 13:8-9; Hos. 10:4).

In some contexts it is used of false testimony (cf. Exod. 20:16; 23:1; Deut. 5:20) in court. In other places it refers to false prophecies (cf. Lam. 2:14; Ezek. 22:28; Zech. 10:2).

One thing is sure, this word characterizes false followers! Their mouths reveal their double heart (cf. Ps. 12:2; Matt. 12:34; 15:18; Mark 7:20-23; Luke 6:45; James 3:2-12).

12:3 The psalmist calls on YHWH to silence (lit. "cut off" — BDB 503, KB 500, Hiphil jussive) the

1. flattering lips (lit. "smooth lips," cf. Ps. 5:9)

2. tongue that speaks great things

 

12:4 This verse shows the true heart of the "double heart" (lit. "a heart and a heart"). This person is one who does not allow YHWH to control his/her life! This is the essence of fallen humanity's attitude.

▣ "Who have said" The NASB Study Bible (p. 751) reminds us that the psalmist often quotes or alludes to the false words of the wicked (cf. Ps. 3:2 and 10:11; also note 2 Pet. 3:1-4; Jude Ps. 12:18-19).

12:5 YHWH explains why He will "arise" (BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperfect, see full note at Ps. 3:7).

1. because of the devastation of the afflicted

2. because of the groaning (BDB 60 I) of the needy

YHWH is affected by the prayers and circumstances of His people (i.e., Exod. 3:7; 2:25; Neh. 9:9; Isa. 63:9; Acts 7:34). YHWH (unlike the idols) is the God who hears, sees, and acts!

▣ "safety" This noun (BDB 447) is from the verb "help" (BDB 446, KB 448) used in verse 1. It seems to be similar to an Arabic root which denotes that which is wide or spacious (cf. Ps. 4:1; 31:8; 118:5). This is the opposite idiom from "narrow" or "stressed."

▣ "he longs" This verb (BDB 806, KB 916, Hiphil imperfect) basically means "to breathe" or "to blow out breath."

1. used of YHWH's snorting in disgust — Ps. 10:5

2. used of testimony in court — Pro. 6:19; 12:17; 14:5,25; 19:5,9

3. in the cool of the day — Song of Songs 2:17; 4:6

4. used of panting or sighing for something

a. place of safety — Ps. 12:5

b. vision being fulfilled — Hab. 2:3

The LXX translates this line of poetry as YHWH speaking, "I will place in safety; I will speak freely against it (or ‘him')." The JPSOA has "I will give help, He affirms him."

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 12:6-8
 6The words of the Lord are pure words;
 As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.
 7You, O Lord, will keep them;
 You will preserve him from this generation forever.
 8The wicked strut about on every side
 When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.

12:6-8 Contrast the revelation of YHWH with the worthless attitude of the wicked. YHWH's message is characterized as

1. pure words (cf. Ps. 19:8; 119:140)

2. refined silver (Ps. 18:30; Pro. 30:5)

He is faithful to His word (cf. Ps. 12:7). The wicked reveal themselves by their words and actions (cf. Matt. 7:15-23,24-27).

12:6

NASB"a furnace on the earth"
NKJV"a furnace of earth"
NRSV"a furnace on the ground"
NJB"which comes from the earth"
JPSOA"an earthen crucible"
REB"tested for soil"

The word translated "furnace" (BDB 760, KB 833) is found only here in the OT. Many scholars believe it is a technical term from metallurgy denoting an earthen mold in the ground made from dirt or clay.

The MT has "to the ground" or "on the ground," which seems to refer to an earthen mold into which the refined silver is poured.

▣ "seven times" Seven is the symbolic number of perfection which originated from the seven days of creation in Genesis 1-2.

SPECIAL TOPIC: SYMBOLIC NUMBERS IN SCRIPTURE

12:7 "protect. . .guard" These verbs (BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal imperfect and BDB 665, KB 718, Qal imperfect) are used many times in the Psalms to express the psalmist's cry for YHWH's presence to avail against the opponents or circumstances. 

▣ "from this generation" This phrase in Psalm 12 refers to those who

1. speak falsehood, Ps. 12:2

2. have flattering lips, Ps. 12:2

3. have a double heart, Ps. 12:2

4. speak great things about themselves, Ps. 12:3-4

5. devastate the needy, Ps. 12:5

6. are the wicked who strut about, Ps. 12:8

 

▣ "forever" This may be a title for YHWH, "the Eternal One" (AB, p. 75). If so, it parallels YHWH in the previous line of poetry.

12:8

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"vileness"
NJB"depravity"
JPSOA"baseness"
REB"of little worth"

This noun (BDB 273) is found only here in the OT. The verb form (NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 1109) means

1. in Qal, "be frivolous" or "be despised"

2. in Hiphil, "to treat lightly"

If one tries to see how the two lines of Ps. 12:8 form a synonymous parallelism, other textual emendations have been suggested.

1. revocalization — "hold vile"

2. different supposed root — "pit"

3. emendation — "stolen goods" (cf. LXX)

4. emendation — "astral bodies"

It seems best in this etymological issue involving rare words, to let

1. the meaning of the whole Psalm

2. the central truth of the strophe

3. the possible parallelism of the lines

4. possible cognate roots

give us the best guess!

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What is a double heart (Ps. 12:2)?

2. What does verse 4 mean?

3. Why are a person's words so important?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 13

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Prayer for Help in Trouble
MT Intro
"For the choir director.
A Psalm of David"
Trust in the Salvation of the Lord Prayer for Deliverance from Personal Enemies
(A Lament)
A Prayer for Help

 

A Confident Appeal

 

13:1-2 13:1-2 13:1-2 13:1-2 13:1-3
13:3-4 13:3-4 13:3-4 13:3-4  
        13:4-5 (6)
13:5-6 13:5-6 13:5-6 13:5-6  

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 13:1-2
 1How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
 How long will You hide Your face from me?
 2How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
 Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
 How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

13:1-2 Notice the structure of this introductory strophe is four "how long" (BDB 723 II, cf. Ps. 6:3; 90:13) questions.

1. two in verse 1

2. two in verse 2

They are a literary way of expressing the psalmist's frustration at his current circumstances. He felt abandoned by God.

1. forgotten by God, Ps. 13:1a

2. God has hidden Himself, Ps. 13:1b

3. personal sorrow, Ps. 13:2a,b

4. his enemy is exalted, Ps. 13:2c

Notice #1 and #2 also appear together in Ps. 10:11. The theme of a sense of abandonment is beautifully expressed in Psalm 42. The sense of abandonment is only the perception of the hurting psalmist. The reality is YHWH is with us, for us, and will act on our behalf in appropriate, timely ways!

13:1 "forever" This word (BDB 664) is a hyperbolic idiom expressing the psalmist's feelings of being permanently abandoned by God.

▣ "face" This, too, is a Hebrew idiom of personal presence (cf. Ps. 11:7; 17:15; 27:4,8). For some reason (i.e., personal sin, cf. Ps. 13:3b or illness, 3b) YHWH has seemingly turned away.

13:2 "soul. . .heart" These two are parallel and denote Hebrew ways of personifying the person.

▣ "all the day" This idiom means "all the time." This does not mean that the sorrow lasts only during daylight hours.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 13:13-4
 3Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
 Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
 4And my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
 And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.

13:3-4 This strophe is a prayer for God to answer his prayer questions of Ps. 13:1-2.

There is a series of three imperatives (i.e., prayer requests).

1. consider (lit. "look") — BDB 613, KB 661, Hiphil imperative, cf. Ps. 80:14; Lam. 1:11; 2:20; 5:1

2. answer — BDB 772, KB 851, Qal imperative

3. enlighten (lit. "cause to shine") — BDB 21, KB 24, Hiphil imperative; this may be used in the sense of

a. God answer my prayer with knowledge of your revelation (cf. Ps. 6:7; 19:8)

b. God deliver me from death (cf. Ps. 38:10)

Also notice that NASB has "lest" three times (MT, BDB 814, twice).

1. lest I die

2. lest my enemy brag

3. lest my adversaries rejoice

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 13:5-6
 5But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
 My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
 6I will sing to the Lord,
 Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

13:5-6 This is the psalmist's declaration of faith/trust/belief in YHWH.

1. I have trusted (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal perfect) in Your lovingkindness (see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7). Trust is a crucial aspect of a true believer (cf. Ps. 25:5; 42:5; 65:5; 78:22; 86:2). See full note at Ps. 4:5.

2. I will rejoice (BDB 162, KB 189, Qal jussive) in Your salvation (see Special Topic at Ps. 3:7), which in context, refers to health restored.

3. I will sing (BDB 1010, KB 1479, Qal cohortative).

In Hebrew thought death was a descent into Sheol, where no one praises God (cf. Ps. 6:5; 30:9; 88:10-12; 115:17; Isa. 38:18). See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead? at Ps. 1:6. See notes at Ps. 6:5 and 9:13.

The psalmist bases his trust on YHWH's character and actions (i.e., "dealt bountifully with me," BDB 168, KB 197, Qal perfect).

13:6 "has dealt bountifully with me" This verb (BDB 168, KB 197, Qal perfect) is used several times in Psalms (cf. Ps. 116:7; 119:17; 142:7). This perfect form denotes the psalmist's certainty that YHWH will act on his behalf in the future and, therefore, states it as if it had already occurred.

▣ "with me" Interestingly the LXX translates this as a title for God—"the Most High" (cf. NJB). This same change may also occur at Ps. 7:8.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Verses 1-2 describe how faithful followers feel in a fallen world. Explain this in your own words.

2. Is death a "sleep"?

3. Define and explain "lovingkindness."

4. How does the word "salvation" change meanings from the OT to the NT? 

 

Passage: 

Psalm 14

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Folly and Wickedness of Men Folly of the Godless and God's Final Triumph Condemnation of a Cynical and Unrighteous Age
(cf. Psalm 53)
Human Wickedness
(cf. Psalm 53)
The Fate of the Godless
MT Intro
"For the choir director. A Psalm of David"
       
14:1-3 14:1 14:1 14:1 14:1
  14:2-3 14:2 14:2-3 14:2
    14:3   14:3
14:4-6 14:4-6 14:4-6 14:4 14:4
      14:5-6 14:5-6
14:7 14:7 14:7 14:7 14:7

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 14:1-3
 1The fool has said in his heart,  "There is no God."
 They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds;
 There is no one who does good.
 2The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
 To see if there are any who understand,
 Who seek after God.
 3They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt;
 There is no one who does good, not even one.

14:1 "fool" This psalm is almost exactly like Psalm 53. This word (BDB 614 I) refers to people who should know YHWH but choose to live as if He does not affect their lives. There were no atheists in the philosophical sense in the ANE, but many of the covenant people were practical atheists (cf. Deut. 32:6,21; 2 Sam. 13:13; Ps. 10:4,11,13; 53:1; 74:22; Ezek. 13:3). The proverb of Luke 12:48 surely applies to these people.

Notice how "the fool" is characterized.

1. they are corrupt — BDB 1007, KB 1469, Hiphil perfect (i.e., a settled condition)

2. they have committed abominable deeds — BDB 1073, KB 1765, Hiphil perfect (i.e., a settled condition)

 

▣ "abominable deeds" See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: ABOMINATION (OT)

▣ "There is no one who does good" This is a general statement on the spiritual condition of fallen mankind, even the covenant people. It is elaborated on in Ps. 14:2-3. Notice how fallen humanity is characterized.

1. no one does good, Ps. 14:1,3 (inclusive)

2. no one understands

3. no one seeks after God

4. all have turned aside (see note at Ps. 14:3)

5. all have become corrupt

One clearly sees the influence of Genesis 3 on all humanity. Paul put together a powerful litany of verses on human rebellion in Rom. 3:9-18,23. He quotes Ps. 14:1-3; 53:1-4; 5:9; 140:3; 10:7; Isa. 59:7-8; Ps. 36:1. This truth is the first truth of the gospel (Rom. 1:18-3:18). The gospel is "good news" in light of the bad news!

14:2 "The Lord has looked down from heaven" YHWH was envisioned to dwell in heaven (see Special Topic at Ps. 8:1), from which He sees and knows all that occurs on earth (acts, motives, intents, cf. Ps. 33:13,14; 102:19; Job 28:24). YHWH, so different from the idols, sees, knows, and acts!

14:3 "they have turned aside" YHWH's covenant was a clearly-marked path/road/way. His people were to stay on this straight (i.e., righteous) and narrow road, but they did not (cf. Exod. 32:8; Deut. 9:12; 11:16; 17:11,17; Jdgs. 2:17; 1 Sam. 12:20; 2 Kgs. 22:2; Jer. 5:23; 17:13; 32:40). The turning away was not an act of ignorance but purposeful rebellion!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 14:4-6
 4Do all the workers of wickedness not know,
 Who eat up my people as they eat bread,
 And do not call upon the Lord?
 5There they are in great dread,
 For God is with the righteous generation.
 6You would put to shame the counsel of the afflicted,
 But the Lord is his refuge.

14:4-6 This strophe heightens the results of "not knowing" (BDB 393, KB 390, Qal perfect, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:6). The actions of the wicked against the poor, needy, and those with no social voice or power will be judged by God, their protector (cf. Deut. 10:17-19; 14:29; 24:17,19-22; 26:12,13; 27:19)!

He is their "refuge" (BDB 340, cf. Ps. 2:12; 5:11; 34:22). To attack them is to attack Him. He will defend them.

14:4

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, LXX"do not call upon the Lord"
TEV"they never pray to me"
NJB, REB"they never call to YHWH"
JPSOA"do not invoke the Lord"

The verb (BDB 894, KB 1128, Qal perfect) is a common one used in many ways (i.e., a wide semantic field). In Psalms it has several usages.

1. of priests in ritual and prayer — Ps. 99:6

2. of the prayers of the covenant people — Ps. 4:2; 20:10; 50:15; 86:5; 91:15; 107:6,13; 116:2; 141:1

3. the nations do not call on YHWH (i.e., Ps. 79:6) but Israel does — Ps. 14:4; 50:15; 53:4

In the NT this OT worship phrase (i.e., ritual and prayer) becomes a way of denoting entrance into a relationship with YHWH through Jesus (cf. Acts 2:21; 22:16; Rom. 10:9-13).

We are a called people who call on the name of the Lord and are then called to service! Prayerlessness is a sign of false faith and practical atheism! 

14:5 "There they are in great dread" Literally this is "they feared a fear" (Qal perfect and noun of the same root — BDB 808, KB 922).

Since "there" is undefined, some switch it to the end of the phrase and add "where there is no fear" (AB, NJB).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 14:7
 7O, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
 When the Lord restores His captive people,
 Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad.

14:7 "O, that the salvation of Israel" This is a title for YHWH who dwells in Zion (i.e., Mt. Moriah, the temple). Notice the parallel of "YHWH" in line 2.

This verse is also found in Ps. 53:6, which means it may be proverbial. The LXX makes this first line a question (cf. Ps. 53:6).

▣ "restores" This same verb (BDB 996, KB 1427) also can mean "repent" or "turn back." However, in this context Israel is not called on to repent.

There is a word play between "restores" (BDB 996) and "fortunes" (BDB 986). The footnote in the NET Bible has "turns with a turning (toward) his people."

▣ "Jacob. . .Israel" The Patriarch Jacob had twelve children who became the twelve tribes. Jacob's name was changed to Israel in Gen. 32:22-32.

SPECIAL TOPIC: ISRAEL (THE NAME)

▣ "rejoice. . .be glad" Both of these verbs denote the result of restoration. Verbs in Hebrew take their time orientation from the context. This context is future.

1. rejoice — BDB 162, KB 189, Qal jussive

2. be glad — BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What did the fool mean by his statement, "There is no God"?

2. Does the OT teach that all humans are sinful?

3. What does it mean "to call upon the Lord"?

4. Does verse 7 imply an exile?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 15

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Description of a Citizen of Zion The Character of Those Who May Dwell with the Lord A Liturgy for Admission to the Temple What God Requires The Guest of Yahweh
MT Intro
"A Psalm of David"
       
15:1-5 15:1 15:1 15:1 15:1
  15:2-5b 15:2-5b 15:2-5b 15:2-3a
        15:3b-4b
        15:4c-5
  15:5c 15:5c 15:5c  

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 15:1-5
 1O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?
 Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
 2He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
 And speaks truth in his heart.
 3He does not slander with his tongue,
 Nor does evil to his neighbor,
 Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
 4In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,
 But who honors those who fear the Lord;
 He swears to his own hurt and does not change;
 5He does not put out his money at interest,
 Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
 He who does these things will never be shaken.

15:1 "Lord" This is the covenant name for Deity from the Hebrew verb "to be." See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at Ps. 1:1.

▣ "who" Verse 1 is a question which may be a textual marker for a type of liturgy used for those who enter the temple on a feast day.

▣ "Your tent. . .Your holy hill" These are parallel which means the verbs ("abide" and "dwell") are also. The concept of being in YHWH's temple permanently (cf. Ps. 23:6b) is eternal fellowship with God that

1. reaches beyond this life

2. involves intimacy

3. has a daily aspect

Psalm 27:4-6 expresses this same thought in a non-hyperbolic way (i.e., "all the days of my life," cf. Ps. 23:6a).

Also note that in Ps. 5:4b "no evil abides/resides with YHWH," but the faithful follower desires to live with God (cf. Ps. 61:4; 84:10).

15:2-5 These verses describe (in balanced positive and negative attributes) the kind of person who will dwell with God (cf. Ps. 24:3-6).

1. walks in integrity ("blameless," BDB 1071, cf. Ps. 18:23,31; 119:80; Pro. 28:18)

2. works righteousness

3. speaks truth (see Special Topic at Ps. 12:1) in his heart

4. does not slander

5. does not do evil to his neighbor

6. does not take up a reproach against his friend

7. despises reprobates

8. honors those who fear the Lord (i.e., covenant partners)

9. swears to truth (i.e., a vow, cf. Leviticus 27)

10. does not change (renege on a vow for self interest)

11. does not charge interest (cf. Exod. 22:25; Lev. 25:36)

12. does not take a bribe against the innocent (cf. Exod. 23:8; Deut. 16:19)

Notice that all of these characterizations describe how a godly person lives and treats others. To know God is to respect people. Faithful followers are meant to live and love so that the world may come to know and emulate the Creator God.

15:4b "those who fear the Lord" This is a recurrent description of faithful followers (cf. Ps. 25:12,14; 103:11,13; 118:4). They are described in several ways.

1. what they do

a. praise, glorify, and stand in awe of YHWH, Ps. 22:23

b. walk in His way, Ps. 128:1

2. what He does for them

a. explains His covenant, Ps. 25:14

b. brings salvation near, Ps. 85:9

c. is their help and shield, Ps. 115:11

d. blesses them, Ps. 115:13; 128:1

e. fulfills their desires, Ps. 145:19 (also "hears their cry and will save them")

 

15:5c This is the summary statement. Those who live in covenant with God and their brothers/sisters will never be shaken (BDB 556, KB 555, Niphal imperfect, cf. Ps. 17:5; 30:6; Pro. 10:30; 12:3). TEV translates it as "will always be secure." Isaiah 33:15 seems to parallel the glorification of those who can approach and dwell with YHWH. If so, then Isa. 33:16 is parallel to Ps. 15:5c.

The purpose of salvation is not just individual-focused but societal! A love for God should issue in love for each other! We must not separate justification from justice! The Fall of Genesis 3 affected all mankind (cf. Ps. 14:1-3). The image of God (cf. Gen. 1:26-27) in mankind was damaged. Mankind has turned inward. Selfishness and independence now characterize his/her thoughts and actions. A new encounter with God changes this focus (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:25-27). The new person again has a sense of dependance. He/she lives for God/for others.

▣ "never" See Special Topic: Forever at Ps. 9:5.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Describe the person who can approach YHWH in the temple.

2. How is "lifestyle faith" related to saving faith?

3. List the five positive and negative characteristics of a faithful follower.

4. Define "usury."

5. Does this Psalm imply a righteous person will never suffer?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 16

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Lord the Psalmist's Portion in Life and Deliverer in Death The Hope of the Faithful, and the Messiah's Victory An Act of Personal Faith in God's Power to Save
(A Song of Trust)
A Prayer of Confidence Yahweh My Heritage
MT Intro
"Mikhtam of David"
       
16:1-4 16:1 16:1-2 16:1-3 16:1
  16:2-3     16:2-3a
    16:3-4   16:3b-6
  16:4   16:4  
16:5-6 16:5-6 16:5-6 16:5-6  
16:7-11 16:7-8 16:7-8 16:7-8 16:7-8
  16:9-11 16:9-10 16:9-10 16:9-11
    16:11 16:11  

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 16:1-4
 1Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.
 2I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord;
 I have no good besides You."
  3As for the saints who are in the earth,
 They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.
 4The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;
 I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,
 Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

16:1 "Preserve me, O God" This is the only imperative (BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative) in Psalm 16. It is an urgent prayer request. From Ps. 16:10-11 it becomes obvious that the psalmist is facing death. He requests life but knows that even death will not separate him from God (cf. Rom. 8:31-38).

In this Psalm Deity is called by

1. El, Ps. 16:1 (general title of God in the ANE)

2. YHWH, Ps. 16:2,5,7,8 

3. Adon, Ps. 16:2

See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at Ps. 1:1.

▣ "for I take refuge in You" This is the theme of many Psalms! For "refuge" see notes at Ps. 5:11.

Humans are made in the image and likeness of God Himself (cf. Gen. 1:26-27). We were created for fellowship (cf. Gen. 3:8). We can find peace, rest, joy, purpose, and safety only in Him!

16:2 This is the psalmist's profession of faith. Verse 2 seems to summarize a previous prayer or confession.

NASB"I have no good beside You"
NKJV"My goodness is nothing apart from You"
NRSV"I have no good apart from You"
TEV"all the good things I have come from You"
REB"from You alone comes the good I enjoy"
NET Bible"my only source of well-being"
JPSOA
footnote"I have no good but in You"

One is tempted to read into this phrase the NT doctrine of justification, but in the OT a better parallel is Ps. 73:25-28. YHWH is the psalmist's only "good." The idols of the nations are false (cf. Ps. 16:3-4). The gracious, merciful, covenant God honors those who trust Him and live according to His covenant requirements (i.e., OT — Mosaic covenant; NT — the gospel, cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:25-27). The result is a life and an afterlife of fellowship with God.

16:3-4 There are many questions about how to understand this verse. The Jewish Study Bible says of them (p. 1297) that "These are among the most obscure verses in the Psalter."

1. Who are "the saints" (BDB 872) — Some (NEB, NJB) scholars take the last words of Ps. 16:2 and bring the negative into Ps. 16:3, which makes "saints" refer to "the sacred spirits of the earth" (i.e., the idols of Ps. 16:4). See note below.

2. Who are "the majestic ones" (BDB 12) — Because of parallelism they are either positive (i.e., godly ones, cf. TEV) or negative (i.e., Canaanite idols, NJB).

It is possible to take these two titles as referring to the covenant people in Ps. 16:3 who become idolaters in Ps. 16:4. Many translations separate verses 3 and 4 into separate strophes. The question is, "Do Ps. 16:3-4 form a contrast or an extended description?"

16:3 "saints" This is the Hebrew term Kadosh (BDB 872), which is used for

1. the faithful followers of YHWH — Deut. 33:3; Ps. 34:9; Dan. 8:24

2. spiritual beings (i.e., angels) — Job 5:1; 15:15; Ps. 89:5,7; Dan. 8:13 (twice); Zech. 14:5

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: SAINTS (HOLY) (קדוש)

16:4

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"sorrows"
TEV"troubles"
NJB"teeming idols"
LXX"infirmities"
REB"endless trouble"

The word "troubles" (עצבות, BDB 781) is very similar to "idols" (עצבים, BDB 781, NJB). The context is obviously about idolatry. Exactly who is referred to in Ps. 16:3 is uncertain.

It is possible to see the term "another" (אחר, BDB 29 I, Ps. 16:4) as "other gods" (אחרים, cf. Isa. 42:8; NET Bible, p. 866, #29).

For an extensive discussion see NIDOTTE, vol. 2, pp. 860-862 or UBS Handbook, pp. 141-142.

The psalmist who takes refuge in YHWH refuses to

1. pour out a drink offering of blood (of animal sacrifices or a metaphor for wine)

2. take their names on his lips (cf. Exod. 20:3-5)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 16:5-6
 5The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
 You support my lot.
 6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
 Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

16:5-6 Possibly the drink offering mentioned in verse 4 reminded the psalmist of the idiom of "cup," which denoted one's destiny (cf. Ps. 11:6; 23:5; 75:8; 116:13). Usually it has a negative connotation but not here.

The "lot" alludes to the dividing of the land of Canaan into tribal allocations by Joshua, by lot (cf. Joshua 13-19), which is the prophetic fulfillment of YHWH's promise to Abraham (cf. Gen. 12:1-3). The Levites and Priests inherited only 48 cities (cf. Joshua 20-24). They were said to have the Lord Himself as their inheritance (cf. Num. 18:20; Deut. 18:1). However, in Psalm this designation is expanded to all faithful followers (cf. Ps. 73:26; 119:57; 142:5; also Lam. 3:24).

Verse 6 continues this imagery by "lines have fallen to me." The psalmist asserts that his inheritance is beautiful (i.e., Jer. 3:19).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 16:7-11
 7I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;
 Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
 8I have set the Lord continually before me;
 Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
 9Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
 My flesh also will dwell securely.
 10For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
 Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
 11You will make known to me the path of life;
 In Your presence is fullness of joy;
 In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

16:7-11 The psalmist asserts his faith in YHWH's

1. counsel, Ps. 16:7a (cf. Ps. 32:8)

2. instructions, Ps. 16:7b

3. powerful presence, Ps. 16:8,11

4. victory, Ps. 16:8b

The result is that he rejoices in his security in YHWH (cf. Ps. 16:9), even in death (Ps. 16:10-11).

1. He will not abandon the psalmist in Sheol, Ps. 16:10 (cf. Job 14:14-15; 19:25-27)

2. He will make known to him the path of life (cf. Ps. 139:24; Pro. 15:24; i.e., an idiom for daily faithful living; for a similar phrase see Ps. 101:2,6)

3. He will be with him personally, even in Sheol (cf. Ps. 139:7-8)

4. He provides in abundance all the psalmist needs

Even in times of distress the faithful follower can know that YHWH is with him/her, for him/her, and will never leave him/her! This faith in YHWH's faithfulness is our hope, joy, peace, rest, and victory!

16:8b "at my right hand" YHWH's right hand (see SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS HUMAN (ANTHROPOMORPHISM) [anthropomorphism] at Ps. 2:4-6). The right hand is proverbial for power and strength. The Messiah is described as seated on God's right hand which denotes the place of power, preeminence, and authority.

The combination of several elements in this Psalm made it Messianic for the Apostles, Peter and Paul

1. right hand imagery, Ps. 16:8,11

2. life beyond the physical existence

3. title "Holy One"

See fuller note at verse 10.

16:9

NASB, NKJV"my glory"
NRSV, NJB"my soul"
LXX"my tongue"
JPSOA"my whole being"
REB"my spirit"

The Hebrew word "glory" (כבודי, BDB 458 II) may be a scribal error for "liver" (כדבכ, BDB 458, cf. Gen. 49:6; Ps. 30:12), which, like the heart, denoted the whole person (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 2, pp. 587-588; NET Bible, p. 866, #11). Notice that "heart," "liver/glory," and "flesh" all are parallel and denote the psalmist himself.

16:10

NASB, NKJV"Your Holy One"
NRSV, JPSOA"your faithful one"
NJB, REB"your faithful servant"
LXX"your devout"
NET Bible"your faithful follower"

The Hebrew has "your godly one" (חסיד, BDB 339). This word is used often to describe those covenant people who loved, served, and obeyed YHWH (cf. Ps. 4:3; 12:2; 32:6; 86:2; Micah 7:2). When used of YHWH it is translated "kind" (cf. Ps. 18:25; 145:17) or "gracious" (cf. Jer. 3:12).

Because this verse is quoted by both Peter (cf. Acts 2:27,31) and Paul (cf. Acts 13:35) to refer to Jesus' resurrection, in this Psalm the term is translated "Holy One" (NASB, NKJV). I am not sure how to view this verse in Psalm 16. In context it obviously refers to a godly, faithful Israelite (note the parallelism of Ps. 16:10). It could then have been understood by an Apostle as

1. prophetic

2. typological

3. multiple fulfillment

The Apostles looked back into the OT and saw many signs and foreshadowing, as well as specific predictions, of the life, work, death, resurrection, and coming again of Jesus Christ! I trust their inspiration.

NASB, REB"the pit"
NKJV, LXX"corruption"
NRSV, JPSOA"the Pit"
NJB"the abyss"

The MT has "Pit" (BDB 1001) and it is parallel to Sheol (cf. Job 33:18; Isa. 38:17-18). For Sheol see SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead? at Ps. 1:6 and the notes at Ps. 6:5; 9:13. Both were ways of referring to death.

The LXX is quoted by both Peter and Paul in Acts to confirm the resurrection of Jesus. There are several places in the OT which assert, or at least hint at, a resurrection (cf. Job 14:14-15; 19:25-27; Ps. 17:15; 49:15; 56:13; 73:24,25; 86:13; Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2). Ezekiel 37 seems to refer to a restoration of the nation, not individual resurrection.

Thank God for the full revelation of the NT.

1. Jesus' empty tomb and post-resurrection appearances

2. Paul's discussion of resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15

The afterlife is a progressive revelation!

The life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus changed the Apostles' worldview. Their OT perspective was modified. They began to search the OT for prophecies, typologies, and hints of this new reality. Jesus Himself may have started this by revelatory interpretations about Himself from the OT to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, who passed them on to the group in the upper room (cf. Luke 24:25-27).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Define the word "saints."

2. Are the "saints" the same as "the majestic ones"?

3. How is verse 4 related to idolatry?

4. Define the OT use of the term "portion."

Is it parallel to "lot"?

5. What organ of the human body was believed to be the origin of thought and feelings?

6. Is this a Messianic Psalm because verse 10 is quoted in Acts 13:35?

7. Why is biblical faith described as a "path"?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 17

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Prayer for Protection Against Oppressors Prayer with Confidence in Final Salvation Prayer of Deliverance from Personal Enemies
(A Lament)
The Prayer of An Innocent Person The Plea of the Innocent
MT Intro
"A Prayer of David"
       
17:1-5 17:1-2 17:1-2 17:1-2 17:1-2
  17:3-5 17:3-5 17:3-5 17:3-4a
        17:4b-7
17:6-12 17:6-9 17:6-7 17:6-7  
    17:8-12 17:8-9a 17:8-12
      17:9b-12  
  17:10-12      
17:13-15 17:13-14 17:13-14 17:13-14 17:13-14b
        17:14c-15
  17:15 17:15 17:15  

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 17:1-5
 1Hear a just cause, O Lord, give heed to my cry;
 Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips.
 2Let my judgment come forth from Your presence;
 Let Your eyes look with equity.
 3You have tried my heart;
 You have visited me by night;
 You have tested me and You find nothing;
 I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
 4As for the deeds of men, by the word of Your lips
 I have kept from the paths of the violent.
 5My steps have held fast to Your paths.
 My feet have not slipped.

17:1 Notice the parallel imperatives referring to the psalmist's prayer.

1. hear — BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 17:6; 27:7; 28:2; 30:10; 39:12; 54:12; 61:1; 64:1; 84:8; 102:1; 119:149; 130:2; 143:1

2. give heed — BDB 904, KB 1151, Hiphil imperative, cf. Ps. 5:2; 55:2; 61:1; 86:6; 142:6

3. give ear — BDB 23, KB 27, Hiphil imperative, cf. Ps. 5:1; 39:12; 49:1; 54:2; 55:1; 77:1; 80:1; 84:8; 140:6; 141:1; 143:1

Psalms is a book of God's people earnestly asking Him to hear (i.e., take note of and respond to) their sensed needs.

In verse 1 the words of the one with a just cause (BDB 841) is contrasted to the words of the one with "deceitful lips" (cf. Isa. 29:13).

Psalm 17:1 is parallel to 17:6. All three strophes of this Psalm begin with several imperatives beseeching God to act on the psalmist's behalf!

NASB, NKJV"not from deceitful lips"
NRSV, NJB"from lips free of deceit"
TEV"honest prayer"
JPSOA"without guile"

The psalmist is asserting his integrity. He prays with no hidden motives or known lies (cf. Isa. 29:13).

17:2 As verse one had three imperatives, this verse has two understood jussives.

1. let my judgment/vindication come forth from Your presence — BDB 422, KB 425, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. let Your eyes look with equity — BDB 302, KB 301, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

 

NASB"equity"
NKJV"upright"
NRSV"the right"
NJB, TEV,
JPSOA, REB"right"
LXX"straightforwardness"

The MT has "evenness," "uprightness," or "equity" (BDB 449). Here it refers to YHWH judging fairly or impartially. The psalmist is asking for the God of justice to render a just verdict (cf. Ps. 17:1a).

17:3-5 The psalmist enumerates why God should judge/vindicate him.

1. what God has done (all perfects)

a. He tried his heart, Ps. 17:3a

b. He visited him by night, Ps. 17:3b (a & b are parallel with no distinction intended)

c. He tested him and found nothing, Ps. 17:3c (see SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD TESTS HIS PEOPLE at Ps. 11:4b)

2. what he has done or not done

a. he has not transgressed with his mouth, Ps. 17:3d

b. he has kept away from the path of the violent (the word, BDB 829, means "robber," cf. Jer. 7:11, but can mean "violent," cf. Ezek. 18:10), Ps. 17:4

c. he has walked God's paths, Ps. 17:5a

d. he has not slipped, Ps. 17:5b (cf. Ps. 18:36)

The concept of "path" means that the psalmist has followed carefully God's covenant guidelines (cf. Ps. 37:31; 40:2; 44:18; 66:9; 73:2; 119:105; Pro. 14:15). Wicked people

1. deviate from the path to the right or left

2. stumble on the path

3. have slippery steps

See SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD TESTS HIS PEOPLE at Ps. 11:4b-5.

17:3d The UBS Text Project (pp. 182-183) has a good brief note about the options for translating this line of poetry.

"If זמתי is interpreted as an infinitive construct with a suffix, the last part of Ps. 17:3 should be interpreted as ‘my plans (thoughts) do not go beyond my mouth' (i.e., my thoughts correspond with my words, my words confirm with my ideas). If זמתי is interpreted as a verb in the first person singular, the clause should be interpreted as ‘if I devise 〈something〉 (i.e. something wicked), 〈this〉 should not cross my mouth."

Also see NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 1112, for the same suggested emendation. The change from the MT, "my wickedness" (BDB 273, KB 273) to "I have considered" or "I planned" (BDB 273, KB 273, Qal perfect) involves only a change of vowels.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 17:6-12
 6I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God;
 Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.
 7Wondrously show Your lovingkindness,
 O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand
 From those who rise up against them.
 8Keep me as the apple of the eye;
 Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
 9From the wicked who despoil me,
 My deadly enemies who surround me.
 10They have closed their unfeeling heart,
 With their mouth they speak proudly.
 11They have now surrounded us in our steps;
 They set their eyes to cast us down to the ground.
 12He is like a lion that is eager to tear,
 And as a young lion lurking in hiding places.

17:6-12 This strophe describes God's actions toward the psalmist and his opponents' actions.

1. God's actions

a. he called and God answered, Ps. 17:6

b. God showed His covenant love and loyalty (i.e., lovingkindness, see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7)

c. God gave him refuge (see note at Ps. 5:11)

d. God kept/protected "the apple of my eye" (an idiom of tender care for someone especially close, cf. Deut. 32:16; Pro. 7:2)

e. God hid him in the shadow of His wings (see Special Topic at Ps. 5:11-12)

2. the opponent's actions

a. they despoiled him (i.e., kill him), Ps. 17:9

b. they surrounded him, Ps. 17:9b,11a

c. they closed their heart (lit. "their fat [BDB 316] they have closed" [BDB 688, KB 742, Qal perfect]," cf. LXX; "fat" is used in a negative sense of people in Ps. 73:3 and 119:70)

d. they speak proudly against him

e. they set their eyes against him

f. they tear him like a lion, Ps. 17:12

What a sharp contrast!

17:6

NASB, NKJV"incline Your ear to me"
TEV, NJB,
JPSOA"turn your ear to me"

This is a Hebrew idiom, which when used in prayers, asks YHWH to turn/bend (cf. 2 Kgs. 19:16; Isa. 37:17; Dan. 9:18; Ps. 31:2; 71:2; 86:1; 88:2; 102:2; 116:2).

YHWH, though a non-corporal spiritual being, is described in human vocabulary. See the Special Topic on anthropomorphism at Ps. 2:4-6. Humans have no vocabulary but that related to this planet and their physicalness. Human vocabulary used of God or the spiritual realm is always figurative.

17:7 This verse has a series of powerful, emotive theological terms related to YHWH's person and mercy.

1. wondrously show — BDB 811, KB 930, Hiphil imperative (see related word BDB 810 in Ps. 33:22, see Special Topic at Ps. 9:1)

2. lovingkindness, YHWH's hesed — BDB 338 (see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7) which denotes His covenant loyalty and steadfast love

3. O Savior — BDB 446, Hiphil participle, i.e., the one who saves, cf. Ps. 106:7,21

4. refuge — BDB 340, Qal participle, YHWH is a strong and mighty fortress for those who take refuge in Him, cf. Ps. 5:11; 18:2

 

▣ "at Your right hand" This phrase can be understood in several senses.

1. the place close to YHWH where the needy seek refuge, cf. NASB, TEV

2. the means by which YHWH delivers the needy (i.e., His strong right hand, cf. NKJV, JPSOA, REB, see SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND at Ps. 7:3-4)

3. the close association between the psalmist and his enemies (i.e., close associates, cf. NRSV)

 

17:9 "the wicked" It is hard to identify this group. It could refer to

1. covenant partners who, for their own purposes, attack the psalmist

2. covenant partners who knowingly violate YHWH's covenant

3. the surrounding nations who ignorantly, blindly follow idols and not YHWH

Only the context of the Psalm and the individual strophe can help the identification. I am not sure "the wicked" realize they are such. Often they think they are serving God in their actions.

In this Psalm they seem to be wealthy, successful Israelites who see their possessions and children as a covenant sign of God's approval.

17:11 "They have now surrounded us" The MT has the verb (BDB 685, KB 738) as singular but it is paralleled in the next line with a plural verb. So the Masoretic scholars put a marginal note (Qere) suggesting it be read as a plural (cf. NASB "us" in Ps. 17:11, lines a and b).

I think the singular (MT) is best. This Psalm is an individual lament, but later came to be used liturgically for the whole community, which is so common in the Psalms.

NASB, NKJV"our steps"
NRSV"they track me down"
NJB"they are advancing"

The Hebrew of Ps. 17:11 starts with "our steps" (BDB 81, feminine plural, אשׁרינו) but by a change of vowels, can become a verb, "advance" (BDB 80, אשׁר), which is in one Hebrew manuscript, cf. NRSV, NJB.

NASB"to cast us to the ground"
NKJV"crouching down to the earth"
NRSV"to cast me to the ground"
TEV"to pull me down"
NJB"hurl me to the ground"
LXX"to incline at the ground"
Peshitta"to bury me in the ground"

The verbal "to cast" (Qal infinitive construct) is literally the verb "incline" (BDB 639, KB 692) used in Ps. 17:6, but here that translation does not fit the context. Remember words have meaning only in context! Poetry forces words to be used in unique ways.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 17:13-15
 13Arise, O Lord, confront him, bring him low;
 Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword,
 14From men with Your hand, O Lord,
 From men of the world, whose portion is in this life,
 And whose belly You fill with Your treasure;
 They are satisfied with children,
 And leave their abundance to their babes.
 15As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;
 I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.

17:13-15 The psalmist calls on God to act on his behalf (Ps. 17:13).

1. arise — BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative

2. confront — BDB 869, KB 1068, Piel imperative

3. bring low — BDB 502, KB 499, Hiphil imperative

4. deliver — BDB 812, KB 930, Piel imperative

Notice the "froms," which characterize the opponents (Ps. 17:13b-14).

1. from the wicked

2. from men (NET Bible [p. 867, #32] emends it to "from those who kill," i.e., "murderers" in both lines a and b)

a. whose portion in life is of the world

b. whose belly is full

c. who have many children

d. who leave their wealth to their children

However, the psalmist is characterized as

1. one who beholds God's face in righteousness (idiom of intimacy, cf. Ps. 11:7)

2. one who is satisfied with God's presence (cf. Ps. 16:11)

Both of the verbs of Ps. 17:15 are cohortatives.

1. see/behold — BDB 302, KB 301, Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense

2. satisfied — BDB 959, KB 1302, Qal cohortative

 

17:15 As the wicked (and their posterity) are satisfied (BDB 959, KB 1302, Qal imperfect) with earthly things, ill-gotten gains; the psalmist (emphatic "I") is satisfied (BDB 959, KB 1302) with YHWH's presence!

▣ "when I awake" This verb (BDB 884, KB 1098, Hiphil infinitive construct) is used in several senses.

1. awake from a special vision of God

2. awake from a night's sleep

3. awake from drunkenness

4. awake from death

I think #4 best fits the context (i.e., YHWH's presence, cf. 2 Kgs. 4:31; Job 14:12; Ps. 23:24-25; 139:18; Isa. 26:19; Jer. 51:39,57; Dan. 12:2). If so, then the ending of Psalm 16 and Psalm 17 are similar!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How did YHWH deal with the psalmist's claim of innocence?

2. How does the psalmist claim that he is innocent?

3. Explain the imagery of "at Your right Hand."

4. Explain the imagery of "the apple of the eye."

5. Explain the imagery of "in the shadow of Your wings."

 

Passage: 

Psalm 18

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Lord Praised for Giving Deliverance God the Sovereign Savior A King Gives Thanks for a Victory in Battle
(A Royal Thanksgiving, cf. 2 Sam. 22:1-3)
David's Song of Victory A King's Thanksgiving
MT Intro
"For the choir director. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said. . .,
       
18:1-3  18:1-3 18:1-3 18:1 18:1
      18:2-3 18:2
        18:3
18:4-6 18:4-6 18:4-5 18:4-6 18:4-5
    18:6   18:6
18:7-15 18:7-12 18:7-15 18:7-15 18:7-8
        18:9-10
        18:11-12
  18:13-15     18:13-14
        18:15
18:16-19 18:16-19 18:16-19 18:16-19 18:16-17
        19:18-19
18:20-24 18:20-24 18:20-24 18:20-24 18:20-21
        18:22-23
        18:24-25
18:25-29 18:25-27 18:25-30 18:25-27  
        18:26-27
  18:28-30   18:28-29 18:28-29
18:30-36     18:30-34 18:30
  18:31-34 18:31-42   18:31-32
        18:33-34
  18:35-36   18:35-42 18:35-36
18:37-42 18:37-42     18:37-38
        18:39-40
        18:41-42
18:43-45 18:43-45 18:43-45 18:43-45 18:43
        18:44-45
18:46-50 18:46-49 18:46-48 18:46-50 18:46-47
        18:48
    18:49-50   18:49
  18:50     18:50

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 18:1-3
 1"I love You, O Lord, my strength."
 2The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
 My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
 My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
 3I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
 And I am saved from my enemies.

18:1-3 The psalmist addresses his God with a series of powerful titles and allusions (same poem in 2 Samuel 22). In the midst of life's stresses he knew the unchanging character of the God of creation and redemption. Notice the personal element in the "my" pronouns.

1. my strength — BDB 305, KB 304, noun only here and 1 Sam. 22:2

2. my rock (twice) — two different Hebrew roots

a. BDB 700 I — cf. Ps. 31:3; 42:10; 71:3

b. BDB 849 — cf. Deut. 32:4,15,30

3. my fortress — BDB 845 II, KB 622, cf. Ps. 31:3; 71:3; 91:2; 144:2

4. my deliverer — BDB 812, KB 930, Piel participle, cf. Ps. 40:17; 70:5; 144:2

5. my God (El) in whom I take refuge — BDB 340, KB 337, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 2:12; 5:11; 7:1; 11:1; 16:1; 25:20; 31:1; 37:40; 57:1; 61:5; 64:10; 71:1; 118:8-9; 141:8; 143:9; 144:2; Pro. 30:5

6. my shield — BDB 171, KB 545 I, cf. Ps. 3:3; 7:10; 18:30,35; 28:7; 33:20; 59:11; 84:11; 115:9-11; 119:114; 144:2; Pro. 2:7; 30:5

7. the horn of my salvation

a. "horn" (BDB 901) — an idiom of power or strength, cf. Ps. 75:10

b. "horn" may mean "hill," cf. Isa. 5:1; if so, it is similar imagery to fortress or stronghold (NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 991)

8. my stronghold — BDB 960 I, KB 640, cf. Ps. 9:9; 46:7,11; 48:3; 59:9,16,17; 62:2,6; 94:22; 144:2

9. the Lord who is worthy to be praised — BDB 237, KB 248, Pual participle, cf. Ps. 48:1; 96:4; 145:3

The accumulative effect of these words of safety, protection, and security is powerful and emotional. Life in a fallen world is hard, unfair, and unpredictable but then there is our God who is exactly the opposite!

18:1 "love" This word (BDB 933, KB 1216, Qal imperfect) is the same Hebrew root (רחם) as "womb," but before we read too much into this, the same root also means "vulture"! Be careful of etymology as the only source for meaning. Context determines meaning!

The Qal stem of this verb is found only here and refers to man's love for God. The Piel stem is much more common and is used of God's compassion for covenant humanity (cf. Exod. 33:19; Deut. 13:13; 30:3; Isa. 14:1; 27:11; 30:18; 49:10,13; 54:8,10; 55:7; 60:10).

This verb is not paralleled in 2 Samuel 22 and BDB thinks it may have been added, possibly when the psalm became liturgical for the community.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 18:4-6
 4The cords of death encompassed me,
 And the torrents of ungodliness terrified me.
 5The cords of Sheol surrounded me;
 The snares of death confronted me.
 6In my distress I called upon the Lord,
 And cried to my God for help;
 He heard my voice out of His temple,
 And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

18:4-5 The psalmist describes his distress in vivid, parallel, poetic language.

1. the cords (i.e., snares, cf. Pro. 13:14; 14:27) of death encompassed me — BDB 67, KB 79, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 116:3; it is possible that "cords," following 2 Samuel 22, should be understood as "waves," which forms a good parallel to the next line of poetry. The NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 482, mentions that the DSS (IQH 3:28; 5:39) uses the verb for thanking God for deliverance from

a. "pangs of death"

b. "rivers of Belial"

This also fits the context here.

2. the torrents of Belial (BDB 116, cf. Nah. 1:15; 2 Cor. 6:15) terrified me — BDB 129, KB 147, Piel imperfect; the verb is used often in Job (cf. Job 3:5; 9:34; 13:11,21; 15:24; 18:11; 33:7). In 2 Sam. 22:5 "Belial" is translated "destruction," which shows it can be non-personal

3. the cords of Sheol (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:6) surround me — BDB 685, KB 738, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 17:11; 22:12,16; 49:5; 88:17; 118:10-12

4. the snares of death confronted me — BDB 869, KB 1068, Piel perfect, cf. Ps. 18:18; Job 30:27

As "my" was prominent in Ps. 18:1-3, now "me" as the object of attack is prominent in verses 4-5. Every human is fearful of death until they have a personal faith encounter with the God of life and love (cf. 1 John 4:7-21)! Satan does not control death but he does magnify the fear of death.

18:6 Verse 6 is the psalmist's response to his sense of impending death (i.e., "distress," BDB 856 II, cf. Job 15:24; 38:23; Ps. 66:14; 119:143).

1. I called upon the Lord — BDB 894, KB 1128, Qal imperfect

2. I cried to my God — BDB 1002, KB 1443, Piel imperfect

His prayers are answered.

1. He heard my voice out of His temple

2. He heard my cry for help before it came into His ears (cf. Ps. 6:8-9; 28:2,6)

Notice the parallelism of lines 1 and 2 then lines 3 and 4. This synonymous parallelism is characteristic of Hebrew poetry (see Introductory Article). The God of protection is also the God who responds to prayer!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 18:7-15
 7Then the earth shook and quaked;
 And the foundations of the mountains were trembling
 And were shaken, because He was angry.
 8Smoke went up out of His nostrils,
 And fire from His mouth devoured;
 Coals were kindled by it.
 9He bowed the heavens also, and came down
 With thick darkness under His feet.
 10He rode upon a cherub and flew;
 And He sped upon the wings of the wind.
 11He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him,
 Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.
 12From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds,
 Hailstones and coals of fire.
 13The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
 And the Most High uttered His voice,
 Hailstones and coals of fire.
 14He sent out His arrows, and scattered them,
 And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them.
 15Then the channels of water appeared,
 And the foundations of the world were laid bare
 At Your rebuke, O Lord,
 At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.

18:7-15 This strophe describes God's response to the psalmist's prayer. God arouses Himself for action (i.e., [1] holy war imagery or [2] rises from His throne)!

1. in verse 7 the distress of the faithful follower causes Divine anger (BDB 354, KB 351, Qal perfect, see Special Topic at Ps. 2:4-6). This burning anger (earthquake imagery, cf. Isa. 29:6) is characterized in verse 8 (i.e., thunderstorm imagery, cf. Deut. 33:26; Isa. 29:6). It is possible this imagery reflects Exod. 19:18-19 (i.e., giving of the Mosaic covenant at Mt. Sinai).

2. YHWH's response is characterized in the imagery of a thunderstorm in verses 9-15.

a. bowed the heavens (cf. Isa. 64:1). The REB revocalizes the phrase and has, "He parted the heavens." This same imagery is reflected in Isa. 34:4; Rev. 6:12-14.

b. came down with thick darkness

c. darkness of waters

d. thick clouds of the skies

e. brightness before Him

f. hailstones and coals of fire

g. thundered in the heavens

h. lightning flashes

i. channels of water

In many ways this description alludes to the Shekinah cloud of glory during the wilderness wandering period, both hiding and revealing YHWH (cf. Exod. 13:21-22; 19:19-20,24; 16:10; 19:9,16; 24:15-18; 40:34-38).

18:7 "the earth shook and quaked" The interpretive question is, "Is this literal or figurative?"

1. literal — their imagery of an earthquake as a sign of God's coming presence, Exod. 19:18; Ps. 68:7-8

2. figurative — a personification of "the earth"

a. the earth brought forth — Gen. 1:12,24

b. the earth swallowed them — Exod. 15:12; Num. 16:34

c. the earth spewed out — Lev. 18:25,28; 20:22

d. the earth opened its mouth — Num. 16:32; 26:10; Deut. 11:6; Ps. 106:17

e. the earth as a witness — Deut. 4:26; 30:19; 31:28; 32:1

f. speak to the earth — Job 12:8; 16:18; Ps. 50:4

g. the earth will rise up against him — Job 20:27

h. the earth cries out — Job 31:38

i. the earth praises YHWH — Ps. 69:34

j. the earth rejoices — Ps. 96:11; 97:1

k. the earth trembled — Jdgs. 5:4; 1 Sam.14:15; Isa. 13:13

l. the earth mourns — Isa. 24:4; 33:9; Hos. 4:3

 

18:8 "fire" See Special Topic at Ps. 11:6.

18:9 "He. . .came down" YHWH lives in heaven. His presence dwells between the cherubim on the ark of the covenant, but from time to time the Bible speaks of His coming to humans in special ways (i.e., theophanies, cf. Exodus 3). Exodus 3:7-8 is a specific example of YHWH responding to His people's need and acting on their behalf. In this context the imagery is described as a violent thunderstorm.

18:10-11 This describes YHWH in imagery of a thunderstorm. Rain was important for semi-desert dwellers but storms were frightening. In Israel's history after they entered Canaan the Israelites became influenced by the fertility gods, especially Ba'al, the storm god, the giver of rain and fertility. However, the true "storm god" was YHWH (note the imagery of Exodus 19).

18:10 "cherub" Note parallel imagery in Ps. 104:3. See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: CHERUBIM

18:11 "He made darkness His hiding place" In the OT to see YHWH meant death (cf. Gen. 16:13; 32:30; Exod. 3:6; 33:20; Jdgs. 6:22-23; 13:22; 1 Kgs. 19:13; Isa. 6:5; Acts 7:32). The thick dark cloud was a way of protecting the Israelites (cf. Exod. 19:9; 20:21; Deut. 4:11; 5:23).

18:15 "the foundations of the world" This imagery is expressed as

1. the pillars of the earth — 1 Sam. 2:8; Job 9:6; 38:4-6; Ps. 75:3; 104:5

2. the roots of the mountains — Deut. 32:22; Job 28:9; Jonah 2:6

It is possible that verse 15 is alluding to YHWH's great act of deliverance in

a. prose — Exod. 14:21-22,29

b. poetry — Exod. 15:8; Ps. 106:9

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 18:16-19
 16He sent from on high, He took me;
 He drew me out of many waters.
 17He delivered me from my strong enemy,
 And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.
 18They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
 But the Lord was my stay.
 19He brought me forth also into a broad place;
 He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

18:16-19 This strophe describes YHWH's deliverance of the psalmist. Also note the "distress" of verse 6 is now clarified as "those who hate me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity" (cf. Ps. 59:16-17)!

1. He sent from on high, He took me, cf. Ps. 144:7

2. He drew me out of many waters, cf. Ps. 32:6

3. He delivered me from my strong enemy

4. He delivered me from those who hate me

5. He brought me forth into a broad place, an idiom for freedom, cf. Ps. 4:1; 31:8; 118:5

6. He secured me, because He delighted in me, cf. 2 Sam. 22:20; Ps. 37:23; 41:11; 147:11

 

18:16 "He drew me out of many waters" This root, משׁה (BDB 602, KB 642) is found only (1) here [and the parallel in 2 Sam. 22:17] and (2) in the account of Moses' rescue in Exod. 2:10. It became the popular etymology of the name "Moses."

The "many waters" can be understood in two ways.

1. a contextual metaphor of trouble/problems/attacks (cf. Ps. 32:6; 46:1-3; 69:1-2; 124:1-5; 144:5-8; Isa. 43:2

2. an allusion to the Genesis account of YHWH defeating the waters of chaos (cf. Ps. 74:13-14; 89:9-10; 104:6-7; Isa. 51:9-10, see the Jerome Biblical Commentary, p. 578, and my note at Gen. 1:2, "the deep" at www.freebiblecommentary.org in Genesis 1-11)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 18:20-24
 20The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness;
 According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.
 21For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
 And have not wickedly departed from my God.
 22For all His ordinances were before me,
 And I did not put away His statutes from me.
 23I was also blameless with Him,
 And I kept myself from my iniquity.
 24Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,
 According to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes.

18:20-24 Notice the inclusio of Ps. 18:20 compared to Ps. 18:24. This strophe should not be understood as the psalmist claiming sinlessness or perfection. Theologically he is asserting his "blamelessness" (see Special Topic below).

Notice the parallelism of each pair.

1. according to my righteousness

2. according to the cleanness of my hands

3. I have kept the ways of the Lord

4. I have not wickedly departed from my God

5. all His ordinances were before me (for #5 and #6 see Special Topic at Ps. 1:2)

6. I did not put away His statutes from me

7. I was blameless with Him

8. I kept myself from my iniquity

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: BLAMELESS, INNOCENT, GUILTLESS, WITHOUT REPROACH

18:20 "He has recompensed me" This verb (BDB 996, KB 1427) is repeated at the close of the strophe (cf. Ps. 18:24). There are consequences for unbelief, but, thank God, there are benefits for a faithful follower! These are spelled out in the next strophe (Ps. 18:25-29).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 18:25-29
 25With the kind You show Yourself kind;
 With the blameless You show Yourself blameless;
 26With the pure You show Yourself pure,
 And with the crooked You show Yourself astute.
 27For You save an afflicted people,
 But haughty eyes You abase.
 28For You light my lamp;
 The Lord my God illumines my darkness.
 29For by You I can run upon a troop;
 And by my God I can leap over a wall.

18:25-29 These are the wonderful, divine consequences which follow a faithful believer.

1. "With the kind (BDB 339), You show Yourself kind" (BDB 338, KB 336, Hithpael imperfect; this verse and the parallel in 2 Sam. 22:26 are the only places in the OT that the verb form of this special covenant noun, hesed, occurs; see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7). Notice that "with" (עם) introduces Ps. 18:25-26, while "for" (כי) introduces Ps. 18:27-29.

2. "With the blameless (BDB 1071, cf. Ps. 18:23) You show Yourself blameless" (BDB 1070, KB 1752, Hithpael imperfect).

3. "With the pure (BDB 140, KB 162, Niphal participle, cf. Isa. 52:11) You show Yourself pure" (BDB 140, KB 162, Hithpael imperfect). Notice the antithetical parallelism of Ps. 18:26 and 27.

4. "With the crooked (BDB 786 I) You show Yourself twisted (BDB 836, KB 990, Hithpael imperfect). "Crooked" is the opposite of righteous, which denoted that which was straight, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:5.

5. "For You save (BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperfect) an afflicted people." Poor or afflicted people are contrasted with wicked people.

6. "But haughty eyes (BDB 926, KB 1202, Qal participle, cf. Isa. 2:11; 5:15) You abase" (BDB 1050, KB 1631, Hiphil imperfect). Notice the antithetical parallelism of Ps. 18:27 (2 Samuel 22 parallel is slightly different).

The strophe affirms the basic biblical truth that one reaps what he/she sows (cf. Job 34:11; Ps. 28:4; 62:12; Pro. 24:12; Eccl. 12:14; Jer. 17:10; 32:19; Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Rom. 2:6; 14:12; 1 Cor. 3:8; 2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:7-10; 2 Tim. 4:14; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 2:23; 20:12; 22:12).

18:28-29 The form of Ps. 18:25-27 is altered in Ps. 18:28-29. The psalmist makes several assertions about YHWH's actions.

1. For You light (BDB 21, KB 24, Hiphil imperfect) my lamp (BDB 632, 2 Sam. 22:29 has "You are my Lamp."

2. YHWH my God illumines (BDB 618, KB 667, Hiphil imperfect, synonymous parallelism for verbs) my darkness (objects are antithetical parallelism, i.e., lamp vs. darkness).

3. For by You I can run (i.e., defeat) upon a troop (BDB 151 I, i.e., military unit). Some English translations take גדוד (BDB 151) in the sense of "bank" and translate a phrase which parallels "leap over a wall" (cf. REB, NIB). The LXX (i.e., A New English Translation of the Septuagint, 2007) has a totally different phrase, "because in you I shall be rescued from a pirate's nest." The 1970 translation of the LXX has the traditional translation. The UBS Text Project gives the word "troop" an "A" rating. The parallel in 2 Samuel 22 also has it.

The AB thinks "troop," which is found only here, should be "sinew," גד, which would also parallel the next line (p. 114).

4. By my God I can leap over a wall. Numbers 3 and 4 are not synonymous but are two different ways to show the power of God's empowering.

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 18:30-36
 30As for God, His way is blameless;
 The word of the Lord is tried;
 He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
 31For who is God, but the Lord?
 And who is a rock, except our God,
 32The God who girds me with strength
 And makes my way blameless?
 33He makes my feet like hinds' feet,
 And sets me upon my high places.
 34He trains my hands for battle,
 So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
 35You have also given me the shield of Your salvation,
 And Your right hand upholds me;
 And Your gentleness makes me great.
 36You enlarge my steps under me,
 And my feet have not slipped.

18:30-36 This strophe explains why the psalmist gives YHWH the titles of Ps. 18:2. His actions bring the titles!

1. His way is blameless (lit. "complete" or "perfect," BDB 1071, cf. Ps. 18:23,30,32).

2. His word/promise (BDB 57, used 19 times in Psalm 119) is tried or tested (BDB 864, KB 1057, Qal passive participles, cf. 2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 119:140; Proverbs 30:5). See videos on "The Trustworthiness of God's Word" on www.freebiblecommentary.org, sermons from Lakeside Baptist Church, Dallas, TX.

3. He is a shield (BDB 171, cf. Ps. 18:2)

4. He is a rock (BDB 849, cf. Ps. 18:2)

5. He girds (BDB 25, KB 28, Piel participle, cf. Ps. 18:39) me with strength (BDB 298, synonym of BDB 305 in Ps. 18:2)

6. He makes my way blameless (BDB 1071, cf. Ps. 18:23,30,32)

7. He makes my feet secure (BDB 763, KB 840, Hiphil imperfect) like hinds' feet (i.e., sure-footed deer who can walk safely in rugged, rocky places, cf. Hab. 3:19)

8. He trains/equips/teaches me for battle, cf. Ps. 144:1

9. He has given me the shield of His salvation, cf. Ps. 18:2

10. His right hand upholds me, cf. Ps. 63:8; 119:117 (the right hand is an idiom of powerful action, see SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND at Ps. 7:3-4)

11. His gentleness/humility (KB 855 II, cf. 2 Sam. 22:36; also note Pro. 15:33; 18:12; 22:4) makes me great

12. He enlarges (BDB 931, KB 1210, Hiphil imperfect) my steps (i.e., parallels 18:19a; Ps. 4:1; 12:5; 31:8; 118:5). NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 317 has a good insight, "What is certain is that whereas spaciousness signifies salvation, narrowness symbolizes trouble and danger."

13. He enables the psalmist's feet to not slip (BDB 588, KB 609, Qal perfect, i.e., stayed on the path, cf. Ps. 18:20-24; see note at Ps. 1:1 for path/way)

 

18:30 "For who is God, but the Lord" This is an allusion to monotheism. See Special Topic at Ps. 2:7.

18:35

NASB, NKJV"gentleness"
NRSV"help"
JPSOA"care"
NASB, JPSOA
footnotes"condescension"
REB, NAB"stoop down"
LXX"instruction"

The Hebrew root is "condescension" (BDB 776, ענה) or "humility" (BDB 776, ענוה). BDB supports the second option (NASB), but UBS Text Project gives the first option a "B" rating (some doubt, NRSV).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 18:37-42
 37I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
 And I did not turn back until they were consumed.
 38I shattered them, so that they were not able to rise;
 They fell under my feet.
 39For You have girded me with strength for battle;
 You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.
 40You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me,
 And I destroyed those who hated me.
 41They cried for help, but there was none to save,
 Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them.
 42Then I beat them fine as the dust before the wind;
 I emptied them out as the mire of the streets.

18:37-42 This strophe is the psalmist's description of how, by YHWH's help/empowerment, he defeated his enemies. Again, it is uncertain who these enemies are, but Ps. 18:41 implies they were fellow Israelites (i.e., Saul's army, Absalom, or other rebels).

1. I pursued my enemies

2. I overtook them

3. I did not turn back (but the enemies will, cf. Ps. 18:40)

4. I shattered them

a. they were unable to rise

b. they fell under my feet

5. You have girded (i.e., prepared for action) me with strength for battle

6. You have subdued (i.e., caused to bow) them

7.  You have made them turn their backs

8. I destroyed those who hated me

9. I beat them fine as the dust

10. I emptied them out as the mire of the streets (cf. 2 Sam. 22:43; Micah 7:10)

Notice some describe David's actions and some YHWH's enabling actions.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 18:43-45
 43You have delivered me from the contentions of the people;
 You have placed me as head of the nations;
 A people whom I have not known serve me.
 44As soon as they hear, they obey me;
 Foreigners submit to me.
 45Foreigners fade away,
 And come trembling out of their fortresses.

18:43-45 This strophe deals with the King of Israel's exalted place in YHWH's plans for the nations. Israel ("the people" of Ps. 18:43a) was meant to inform the nations and draw them to faith in YHWH (see Special Topic at Intro. to Psalm 2). But notice that Israel was "contentious" (cf. Ps. 35:1).

Notice the different phrases that refer to non-Israelites (i.e., Gentiles).

1. the King of Israel (cf. Ps. 18:50) was made the head of the nations

2. the nations are a people who the King had not known but now they serve (BDB 712, KB 773, Qal imperfect) him

3. as soon as these nations hear the King they

a. obey (BDB 1033, KB 1570, Niphal imperfect)

b. submit (lit. "lying" or "deceive," but used in the sense of "cringe"; possibly "leanness" or their reduced number and influence. The Hebrew verb has both senses) — BDB 471, KB 469, Piel imperfect

c. fade away — BDB 615, KB 663, Qal imperfect

d. come trembling — BDB 353, KB 350, Qal imperfect; only here in the OT out of their fortresses — (possibly "fatness," BDB 689, or KB 604, "prison," cf. Micah 7:17)

Notice all the imperfects (nine) which denote ongoing action (i.e., continual defeat).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 18:46-50
 46The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock;
 And exalted be the God of my salvation,
 47The God who executes vengeance for me,
 And subdues peoples under me.
 48He delivers me from my enemies;
 Surely You lift me above those who rise up against me;
 You rescue me from the violent man.
 49Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O Lord,
 And I will sing praises to Your name.
 50He gives great deliverance to His king,
 And shows lovingkindness to His anointed,
 To David and his descendants forever.

18:46-50 This strophe is the psalmist's thanksgiving to YHWH for His character and actions!

Notice the titles and characterizations of YHWH.

1. lives — this is the adjective (BDB 311) which comes from the verb "to be" (BDB 217), which is the meaning of YHWH (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:1). He is the ever-living, only-living One! The phrase "as YHWH lives" is usually an introduction to an oath, but here it introduces a doxology.

2. my rock — denotes power and stability (cf. Ps. 18:2,31)

3. the God (אלה) of my salvation

4. His acts on the King's behalf

a. executes vengeance (BDB 668)

b. subdues peoples

c. delivers (cf. Ps. 18:50)

d. lifts him above his enemies

e. rescues him from the violent man

Notice in light of this what the King of Israel will do.

1. give thanks among the nations

2. sing praises to His Name

The King does this because of

1. YHWH's deliverance

2. YHWH's lovingkindness to the King and his descendants forever (cf. 2 Samuel 7)

 

18:49 This verse (or 2 Sam. 22:50) is used by Paul in Rom. 15:9 to show that YHWH's plan of redemption from the very beginning included the Gentiles (note Gen. 1:26-27; 12:3; Exod. 19:5-6).

Paul also used Deut. 32:43; Ps. 117:1 and Isa. 11:10. There has always been an eternal redemptive plan for all humans (see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan at Intro. to Psalm 2).

18:50 "His anointed" See Special Topic at Psalm 2:2.

▣ "lovingkindness" See Special Topic at Psalm 5:7.

▣ "forever" See Special Topic at Psalm 9:5.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. List the titles of God in verse 2.

2. God is described as what in verses 7-15?

3. How would you entitle verses 16-19?

4. Does verse 20 teach a "works righteousness"?

5. Where does the title of "rock" as used of God come from? (Ps. 18:2,31,46 and Deut. 32:4,31)

6. What do verses 43-45 imply?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 19

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Works and Word of God The Perfect Revelation of the Lord Hymn to God as Creator of Nature and Giver of the Law God's Glory in Creation Yahweh, Son of Saving Justice
MT Intro
For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
       
19:1-6  19:1-4b 19:1-4b 19:1-6 19:1-2
        19:3-5
  19:4c-6 19:4c-6    
      The Law of the Lord 19:6
19:7-14 19:7-11 19:7-10 19:7-11 19:7
        19:8
        19:9
    19:11-13   19:11-12
  19:12-13   19:12-13  
        19:13
  19:14 19:14 19:14 19:14

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This Psalm is about how humans know God. They cannot discover Him. He must reveal Himself and He has in two ways.

 

B. God's revelation must be personally received and implemented! It is not primarily a creed but a personal relationship with God.

 

C. This Psalm has been a great blessing to my life in two ways.

1. it shows the trustworthiness and preciousness of Scripture (i.e., Ps. 19:7-10)

2. it gives a hope and peace amidst the daily struggle with sin (i.e., Ps. 19:11-14)

The prayer of verse 14 is one I pray often!

 

D. Brief Outline

1. General revelation (God reveals Himself in nature, Ps. 19:1-6, cf. Rom. 1:19-20; also note Rom. 2:14-15)

2. Special revelation (God reveals Himself by what He does, cf. parallel of line 2), which is recorded in the Bible, yet supremely in His Son, Ps. 19:7-11, cf. John 1:1-14; 14:6,9; 2 Cor. 5:17-21 (see Biblical Interpretation Seminar online at www.freebiblecommentary.org, which includes information about general hermeneutical procedures and special procedures for different genres)

3. Prayer of surrender, Ps. 19:12-14

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 19:1-6
 1The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
 And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
 2Day to day pours forth speech,
 And night to night reveals knowledge.
 3There is no speech, nor are there words;
 Their voice is not heard.
 4Their line has gone out through all the earth,
 And their utterances to the end of the world.
 In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
 5Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
 It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
 6Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
 And its circuit to the other end of them;
 And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

19:1 "The heavens are telling of the glory of God" This is known as "natural revelation." Romans 1:19-20 expresses the same truth that everyone can know something about God from the physical creation. Also notice Rom. 2:14-15 which asserts an inner moral witness in humans.

▣ "heavens" Note Ps. 8:1; 50:6 and how they relate to the theology of Rom. 1:19-20. See Special Topic at Psalm 2:4.

▣ "glory" See BDB 458, #2, C, (2).

SPECIAL TOPIC: GLORY (DOXA)

NASB"expanse"
NKJV, NRSV,
LXX"firmament"
NRSV footnote"dome"
NJB, REB"the vault of heaven"
JPSOA"sky"

The term (BDB 956) is used in Gen. 1:6,7 (thrice),8,14,15,17. It denotes the Hebrew concept of the atmosphere as a solid dome or stretched skin (i.e., tent, cf. Ps. 104:2; Isa. 40:22). The windows of heaven must be opened to allow the rain to fall.

Notice that "heavens" in line 1 is parallel to "expanse" in line 2.

▣ "the work of His hands" This phrase is asserting the personal involvement of YHWH in creation (cf. Isa. 48:13; 64:8). It specifically reflects His personal creation of Adam in Gen. 2:7 (i.e., "formed," not spoken into existence).

19:2-3 "day to day" Notice the personification of both the "day" and "night." The point is that creation continuously, though silently (cf. Ps. 19:3), is giving the revelation/message about God (i.e., a good modern proponent of this concept is the "Intelligent Design" movement).

19:2 "pour forth" This verb (BDB 615, KB 665, Hiphil imperfect) has the basic meaning of a "bubbling spring" (cf. Pro. 18:4). It came to be used metaphorically of speaking

1. positively — Ps. 19:2; 119:171; 145:7; Pro. 1:23

2. negatively — Ps. 59:7; 94:4; Pro. 15:28

 

▣ "night to night reveals knowledge" Mankind has always looked in awe and sometimes idolatry at the starry heavens (cf. 2 Kgs. 23:5; Ps. 8:1,3).

19:3 "There is no speech" This refers to nature's silent, but powerful, witness.

19:4

NASB, NKJV"line"
NRSV, JPSOA"voice"
TEV, NJB,
NRSV, REB"message"
LXX, NASB
margin"sound"
NEB"music"
Peshitta"words"

The MT has קקם (BDB 876 II, KB 1081 from קו), which denotes a "boundary line," "musical melody" (cf. NEB). The UBS Text Project gives it an "A" rating. However, the LXX and Jerome have קולם (BDB 876, KB 1083 from קול) which means "speech," "word," "cry," which seems to fit the context best (same root in Ps. 19:3, i.e., ‘voice"). The early church used (i.e., quoted from) the LXX.

▣ "through all the earth. . .to the ends of the world" These first two lines of Ps. 19:4 are synonymous parallelism. The theological thrust is the universal availability of God's revelation to humans (cf. Isa. 42:10; 49:6; 62:11). All are responsible for their knowledge of God (Rom. 1:18-3:18).

Natural revelation (i.e., through the physical creation and an inner moral witness) results in a spiritual responsibility on the part of all humans (cf. Rom. 1:18-3:18). Once a person is saved it then becomes a way of wonder, praise, and worship of the God of creation (cf. Psalm 8).

19:4c-6 "the sun" This imagery using the sun is not a scientific description or mythological account but typical OT language using popular descriptive idioms for a natural phenomenon. Notice the imagery.

1. the sun has a tent (i.e., abode), Ps. 19:4c

2. the sun is a bridegroom, Ps. 19:5a

3. the sun runs a set course, Ps. 19:5b (i.e., described in Ps. 19:6)

As the sun lights all the earth, so too, the revelation of God's character, power, beauty, and design is universal (cf. Ps. 19:4a,b). Every human knows something about God. The only other place that "natural revelation" is used theologically to denote human responsibility is Rom. 1:18-3:18.

Paul also specifically used this verse in Rom. 10:18 in a context that denotes the need of the world hearing/receiving the message of God in Christ (i.e., the gospel). The rabbis of Paul's day often put several quotes together to make a point. Paul was trained in the procedure.

The psalmist possibly picked the sun as a servant of YHWH to critique the sun worship of the ANE. This Psalm, like Genesis 1, shows YHWH as creator and controller of the heavenly bodies (i.e., sun, moon, stars, planets, comets, etc.). They are not gods or angels that control, or even affect, the lives of humans!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 19:7-14
 7The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
 The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
 8The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
 The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
 9The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
 The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
 10They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
 Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
 11Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
 In keeping them there is great reward.
 12Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
 13Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
 Let them not rule over me;
 Then I will be blameless,
 And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
 14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
 Be acceptable in Your sight,
 O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

19:7 "the Lord" This is the covenant name for God, YHWH. It is from the Hebrew verb "to be," cf. Exod. 3:14. The rabbis say it refers to God in His special covenant relationship to Israel. See Special Topic at Ps. 1:1.

▣ "perfect" See SPECIAL TOPIC: BLAMELESS, INNOCENT, GUILTLESS, WITHOUT REPROACH at Ps. 18:20-24.

19:7-9 "law. . .testimony. . .precepts. . .commandment. . .fear. . .judgments" These are synonyms for God's written revelation. See Special Topic at Ps. 1:2.

▣ "perfect. . .sure. . .right. . .pure. . .clean. . .true" These are characteristics of God's written revelation. The Bible is the only clear, self-revelation of God. This is a crucial faith assertion. It is normally called "inspiration" (see Special Topic below). If you are interested in my evidence for this faith presupposition see "The Trustworthiness of the NT" online at www.freebiblecommentary.org, "Video Sermons," Lakeside, Dallas.

SPECIAL TOPIC: INSPIRATION

19:7-11 "restoring. . .making. . .rejoicing. . .enlightening. . .enduring. . .righteous. . .more desirable. . .sweeter. . .warned. . .keeping" This is what the written revelation does for us. Oh, the value of Scripture for fallen humanity!

Notice the threefold parallels.

 

  Titles
for YHWH's Revelation
Description
of YHWH's Revelation
Purpose of YHWH's Revelation
or Description of It
v. 7a the law of the Lord perfect/blameless restoring the soul
v. 7b the testimony of the Lord sure making wise the simple (cf. Ps. 119:98-100)
v. 8a the precepts of the Lord right rejoicing the heart (cf. Ps. 119:14)
v. 8b the commandment of the Lord pure enlightening the eyes (cf. Ps. 36:9; 119:130)
v. 9a the fear of the Lord clean enduring forever
v. 9b the judgments of the Lord true righteous altogether (cf. Deut. 32:4; Ps. 119:138)
v. 10a they more desirable gold, fine gold (cf. Ps. 119:72, 127)
v. 10b they sweeter honey, honey comb (cf. Ps. 119:103)
v. 11a   keeping them great reward
v. 11b   Your servant warned

What powerful repetition and parallelism! God's revelation is redemptive, informative, prescriptive, and a real blessing! Oh, thank God for revelation!

19:8-9 "righteous" The Hebrew root originally meant "a measuring reed." It speaks of a standard for judgment. God Himself is that standard. See Special Topic at Ps. 1:5.

19:9 "fear" This feminine noun (BDB 432, KB 433) means "revere" or "with awe and respect." The concept is used often in Wisdom Literature (cf. Job 4:6; 6:14; 22:4; 28:28; Ps. 5:7; 34:11; 90:11; 111:10; 119:38; Pro. 1:7; 2:5; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26-27; 15:16; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17). The recurrent message is that awe/respect/fear are the beginning of wisdom! Without God there is no truth, just fallen human opinions and traditions (cf. Isa. 29:13).

▣ "enduring forever" This same truth is expressed by Jesus in Matt. 5:18; 24:35; Mark. 13:31; Luke 21:33.

19:10 "they are more desirable than gold. . .honey" Does this describe your attitude toward God's revelation? Is your Bible your most precious property?

19:11 "the servant is warned" God has given us a guideline for a life of peace and joy, but it must be lived out! There is a divine path (see note at Ps. 1:1) and we must stay on it (cf. Matt. 7:13-14).

19:12-13 These verses are a recognition and prayer that amidst our current fallen ignorance and folly God will deal effectively with our fallen nature.

1. "Who can discern his errors?" (cf. Ps. 40:12). Only God knows the heart. He must judge (cf. Ps. 139:23-24; 1 Cor. 4:4-5; Heb. 4:12-13).

2. "Acquit me of hidden faults." This is an imperative of prayer (BDB 667, KB 720, Piel imperative). Notice it is "hidden faults," not open-eyed rebellion (cf. Lev. 4:2,22,27; 5:15-18; 22:14).

3. "Keep back from presumptuous sins." This is another imperative of prayer (BDB 362, KB 359, Qal imperative). This is open-eyed rebellion.

The adjective "presumptuous" (BDB 267) is used several times in Psalm 119 (cf. Ps. 19:21, 51,69,78,85,122) and translated "arrogant," which denotes an attitude of rebellion. In this context it refers to known sins.

4. "Let them not rule over me." This verb is a Qal imperfect but is used in a jussive sense. This is another point of prayer. Sin is a slave-master (cf. Rom. 5:21; 6:9,14,17,23).

The last two lines of Ps. 19:13 state the requested results of the psalmist's prayer.

1. I shall be blameless

2. I shall be acquitted of great transgression

The psalmist had great confidence in YHWH's desire and ability to forgive and forget sin/sins (cf. Isa. 1:18; 38:17; 43:25; 44:22; Micah 7:19). We only learn of the mechanism of this forgiveness in the NT record and interpretation of the life, teachings, death, resurrection, ascension, and return of Jesus the Christ (i.e., the gospel). As the Psalm extols the wonder and greatness of God's written revelation, only the NT reveals the splendor of God's incarnate revelation (i.e., the Living Word)! Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God (cf. John 1:1-14; Col. 1:13-17; Heb. 1:2-3).

19:14 In light of the power of God's revelation and His marvelous forgiveness, the psalmist continues his prayer.

1. Let the words of my mouth (one verb, BDB 224, KB 243, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, controls #1,2,3)

2. Let the meditations of my heart

3. "Acceptable" (BDB 953) is

a. a common sacrificial term in Leviticus

b. a very common word in Wisdom Literature

NIV translates it as

1) pleased/pleasing/pleasure

2) acceptable/accepted

3) favor/favored

4) fitting

5) delight

Once we know Him and are changed by Him, we want to live in a way that pleases Him. A way that brings others to Him. True forgiveness must issue in a changed and changing life of godliness (cf. Rom. 8:28-30; 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 4:19; Eps. 1:4; 4:13; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:13; Titus 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:15)! The goal of biblical faith is not heaven when we die but Christlikeness now!

Several descriptive titles close this Psalm as they started Psalm 18 (i.e., Ps. 19:2).

1. YHWH (i.e., ever-living, ever-present, only God)

2. Rock

3. Redeemer (Qal participle, see Special Topic below)

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What is "general revelation"? What can it tell you about God?

2. What is included in "special revelation"? What can it tell you about God?

3. Why are two different names for God used in this Psalm?

4. Do you find as much joy in the Law of God as this Psalm describes?

5. List characteristics of the Law.

6. What should I do about unknown sins?

7. What are "presumptuous sins"? What is so serious about them in the OT?

8. What is the meaning of verse 14 to you?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 20

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Prayer for Victory Over Enemies The Assurance of God's Saving Work Prayer for the King's Victory in Battle A Prayer for Victory Prayer for the King
MT Intro
For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
       
20:1-3  20:1-3 20:1-3 20:1-5 20:1-2
        20:3-4
20:4-5 20:4-5 20:4-5    
        20:5a
        20:5b
20:6-9 20:6 20:6-8 20:6-8 20:6
  20:7-8     20:7-8
  20:9 20:9 20:9 20:9

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This may have been a liturgical prelude to battle, as Psalm 21 is a liturgy of welcoming home the victorious king and army.

 

B. The offerings of Ps. 20:3 (i.e., "meal" and "fat") may have been the expected sacrificial offerings before a battle.

 

C. The song/shout and the banners of Ps. 20:5 may have been the expected ways of welcoming home a victorious king.

Psalm 21 may be the song referred to in Ps. 20:5.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 20:1-3
 1May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
 May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!
 2May He send you help from the sanctuary
 And support you from Zion!
 3May He remember all your meal offerings
 And find your burnt offering acceptable! Selah.

20:1-3,4-5 This strophe is a prayer, as is Ps. 20:4-5, to plead with YHWH to help His covenant representative (i.e., the Davidic king, cf. 1 Sam. 8:7; 10:19) in battle (cf. Ps. 20:5,7).

Notice the series of imperfects used in a jussive sense (cf. NASB, NRSV, REB, NIV, JPSOA, i.e., prayer requests) in Ps. 20:1-5.

1. May the Lord answer you — BDB 772, KB 851, Qal imperfect

2. May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high — BDB 960, KB 1305, Piel imperfect

3. May He send you help from the sanctuary — BDB 1018, KB 1511, Qal imperfect

4. May He support you from Zion — BDB 703, KB 761, Qal imperfect

5. May He remember all your meal offerings — BDB 269, KB 269, Qal imperfect

6. May He grant you your heart's desire — BDB 678, KB 733, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 21:2; 37:4

7. May He fulfill all your counsel/purpose — BDB 569, KB 583, Piel imperfect

8. May He fulfill all your petitions — same as #7

 

20:1 "in the day of trouble" This is a recurrent phrase (cf. Gen. 35:3; 2 Kgs. 19:3; Ps. 50:15; 77:3; 86:7; Pro. 24:10; 25:19; Isa. 37:3; Jer. 16:19; Obad. Ps. 20:12,14; Nah. 1:7; Hab. 3:16). It stands for many different life problems that occur in this fallen world. The news is that God is aware of our problems (i.e., Exod. 3:7-8) and is with us in the midst of those problems. He is the answer to all human need and amazingly He is pursuing us!

The term "day" (BDB 398) has several connotations. See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: DAY (YOM)

▣ "the name of the God of Jacob" There are two Special Topics that illuminate this phrase.

1. Names For Deity at Ps. 1:1

2. The Name of YHWH at Ps. 5:11-12

 

NASB"set you securely on high"
NKJV"defend you"
NRSV, TEV,
NJB, LXX"protect you"
JPSOA"keep you safe"
REB"be your tower of strength"

The MT verb (BDB 960, KB 1305, Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense) is from the root "to be high," and thereby inaccessible and secure (cf. Ps. 59:1; 69:29; 91:14; 107:41). This is the same imagery of a high, defensible fortress used in Ps. 18:2!

20:2 "from the sanctuary. . .from Zion" These are parallel lines of poetry. Both refer to the temple in Jerusalem. It was not built in David's day but the tabernacle was there. Jerusalem was built on seven hills; the temple was built on Mt. Moriah (cf. 1 Chr. 21:18; 2 Chr. 3:1). Mt. Zion was the site of the Jebusite fortress captured by David (cf. 2 Sam. 5:7; 1 Chr. 11:5), as well as the site for his palace. It came to be the name used for the entire city of Jerusalem and the phrase "daughter of Zion" for the Israelite people (cf. 2 Kgs. 19:21).

Notice that Ps. 20:6 uses the phrase "from His holy heaven," which is another parallel.

20:3 "Selah" See note at Ps. 3:2 and Introduction to Psalms, VII.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 20:4-5
 4May He grant you your heart's desire
 And fulfill all your counsel!
 5We will sing for joy over your victory,
 And in the name of our God we will set up our banners.
 May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

20:4 "your heart's desire" This is "the" issue of peace and trust. A good example of an appropriate desire for a Davidic King is Solomon's prayer of dedication of the Temple (cf. 1 Kgs. 8:22-61).

20:5

NASB"We will sing for joy"
NKJV, LXX"we will rejoice"
NRSV, TEV,
JPSOA"we shout for joy"
NJB"with joy we can hail. . ."
REB"Let us sing aloud your praise"

This verb (BDB 943, KB 1247, Piel cohortative) denotes a "shout" for good or bad, depending on the context. Here it is rejoicing over the military victory accomplished by YHWH (cf. Zeph. 3:14).

▣ "we will set up our banners" This follows דגל (BDB 186, KB 213, Qal imperfect [found only here in the OT] used in a cohortative sense). It would be an expected welcome procedure for the victorious king and military.

The NET Bible (p. 875) recommends an emendation to another verbal root, נגיל, from BDB 162 with preposition. The NET Bible suggests this fits the parallelism better and also notes Ps. 89:16, where the verb is used in connection with "in Your name."

▣ "petitions" This rare noun (BDB 982) is found only twice in the OT, here and Ps. 37:4. The verb root (BDB 981) means "ask." The root occurs in several names (cf. 1 Sam. 9:2,3,5; 1 Chr. 1:48,49; 4:24; 6:24).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 20:6-9
 6Now I know that the Lordsaves His anointed;
 He will answer him from His holy heaven
 With the saving strength of His right hand.
 7Some boast in chariots and some in horses,
 But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.
 8They have bowed down and fallen,
 But we have risen and stood upright.
 9Save, O Lord;
 May the King answer us in the day we call.

20:6-9 The psalmist (i.e., the King, a priest, or a collective singular; Ps. 20:9 fits this last option best) affirms his confidence that YHWH will respond appropriately.

1. Now I know — BDB 393, KB 390, Qal perfect

2. YHWH saves — BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil perfect

The verb denotes a settled confidence (cf. Ps. 56:9; 118:6; Rom. 8:31-39). YHWH will hear and answer positively (cf. Ps. 20:6b,c). The King and the covenant people are part of a larger universal redemptive plan for all humanity (see Special Topic at Introduction to Psalm 2).

20:6 "His anointed" This is the Hebrew verb "anoint" (BDB 603), which became a popular title for God's Special Coming King (cf. Ps. 2:2; 18:50). See Special Topics

1. OT Titles of the Special Coming One at Ps. 2:2

2. "Messiah" at Ps. 2:2

 

▣ "His right hand" This is a Hebrew idiom of power, authority to act. See SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND at Psalm 7:3-4.

20:7 The verb "boast" (BDB 269, KB 269, Hiphil imperfect) is literally "cause to remember." It denotes that which one trusts in.

1. human power (i.e., chariots, horses, soldiers, weaponry, etc.)

2. YHWH and His promises

Here are some good parallel texts — Deut. 20:1; 31:6,8; Jdgs. 7:2; 1 Sam. 17:45,47; 2 Chr. 20:17; 32:8; Ps. 33:16,17; 44:2-3,4-8; 60:11-12; 146:3-7; 147:10; Pro. 21:31; Isa. 31:3; Jer. 17:5; Zech. 4:6! What are you trusting in/boasting about?

▣ "We will boast" The verb (BDB 209, KB 209, Hiphil imperfect) means "cause to remember" with the connotation of rejoicing or praising in some past event or blessing or person. The concept of "boasting" is significant in the Bible; note especially Jer. 9:23-24. See the use of the concept in Paul's writings in the Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: BOASTING

20:8 Note the antithetical parallelism. There are consequences to our words/actions!

20:9 "Save, O Lord" This is an exclamatory prayer request (BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative (cf. Ps. 3:7; 6:4; 17:13).

▣ "May the King answer us in the day we call" The grammatical form of the verb is a Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense. The LXX and several English translations see it referring to the prayers of the people for the King (cf. Ps. 20:6; Ps. 21:7; NRSV; TEV; NJB; REB) or "King" may refer to YHWH (cf. Targums' UBS Handbook, p. 202; also note Ps. 98:6; 145:1).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. List all the prayer requests that start with "may. . ." in verses 1-5.

2. What does "may He grant you your heart's desire" mean?

3. Does verse 5 imply a military victory? Why?

4. Who is YHWH's "anointed"?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 21

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Praise for Deliverance Joy In the Salvation of the Lord Thanksgiving After the King's Victory in Battle
(parallel with Psalm 20)
Praise for Victory For a Coronation Ceremony
MT Intro
For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
       
21:1-6  21:1-2 21:1-7 21:1-2 21:1-2
  21:3-4   21:3-4 21:3-4
  21:5-7   21:5-6 21:5-7
21:7-13     21:7-9b  
  21:8-12 21:8-10   21:8-10
      21:9c-12  
    21:11-12   21:11-12
  21:13 21:13 21:13 21:13

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Psalm 20 and 21 may be connected. Psalm 20 is the liturgical prayer for victory in battle and Psalm 21 is a liturgical welcoming of the King and soldiers home in victory.

 

B. Notice the possible strophes. By comparing the strophe divisions from various English translations a person can ascertain how many main truths are expressed in a psalm.

1. NASB  — 2

2. NKJV — 5

3. NRSV — 4

4. NJB — 6

Obviously it is difficult to be certain of how to identify strophes. There is often no textual marker. Modern students must

1. check the parallelism

2. check the Hebrew beat pattern

3. check related subject matter (every strophe has one major subject)

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 21:1-6
 1O Lord, in Your strength the king will be glad,
 And in Your salvation how greatly he will rejoice!
 2You have given him his heart's desire,
 And You have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah.
 3For You meet him with the blessings of good things;
 You set a crown of fine gold on his head.
 4He asked life of You,
 You gave it to him,
 Length of days forever and ever.
 5His glory is great through Your salvation,
 Splendor and majesty You place upon him.
 6For You make him most blessed forever;
 You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence.

21:1 Note the synonymous parallelism between "in Your strength" and "in Your salvation."

The term (BDB 447, feminine singular) translated salvation has several possible connotations.

1. prosperity — Job 30:15

2. deliverance/help — 2 Sam. 10:11; 1 Chr. 19:12; Ps. 22:1

3. salvation — Gen. 49:18; Ps. 3:2,8; 14:7; 35:3; 53:6; 62:2; and many more

4. victory — Exod. 15:2; Ps. 20:6; 21:1,5; 44:4; 68:20-21; 118:14,15,21

YHWH is our great hope and there is no other! In light of this, faithful followers (in this context, the King) will continue to

1. be glad — BDB 970, KB 1330, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 9:2

2. rejoice — BDB 162, KB 189, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 9:14

 

21:2 This verse seems to link to Ps. 20:4 and is connected to the King's prayer for military victory.

Notice the two parallel perfect verbs (i.e., completed action).

1. has given — BDB 678, KB 733, Qal perfect

2. has not withheld — BDB 586, KB 602, negated, Qal perfect

 

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"request"
NJB"prayer"
LXX"wish"
NEB"ask"

The word (BDB 77, KB 92) is found only here in the OT. It seems, in context, to refer to a ritual liturgical prayer before a battle, possibly in the tabernacle/temple.

▣ "Selah" See note at Ps. 3:2 and Introduction to Psalms, VII. Some commentators feel it denotes a point in the liturgy where there is a transition to another liturgical act (i.e., praise, song, sacrifice, another liturgy read, bowing, etc.).

21:3-6 These are the actions of YHWH on behalf of the King.

1. meet him with the blessings of good things (i.e., YHWH Himself welcomes the victorious king)

2. set a crown of fine gold on his head (i.e., a reaffirmation of kingship or the liturgical transfer of the battle helmet for the royal crown)

3. gave him his prayer for life (i.e., victory in battle)

4. placed upon him

a. splendor (BDB 217)

b. majesty (BDB 214) — these are descriptions of YHWH (cf. 1 Chr. 16:27; Ps. 45:3; 96:6; 104:1; 111:3), but because of YHWH's image in mankind, they share these attributes (cf. Ps. 8:5)

5. make him blessed for a long life (‘olam must be interpreted in context, see Special Topic at Ps. 9:5; a literary parallel would be "long live the king," cf. 1 Sam. 10:24; 1 Kgs. 1:25,31,34,39; Dan. 2:4; 3:9)

6. make him joyful in Your presence

It is not just the King who is the recipient of YHWH's actions, but through him all the covenant people.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 21:7-13
 7For the king trusts in the Lord,
 And through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken.
 8Your hand will find out all your enemies;
 Your right hand will find out those who hate you.
 9You will make them as a fiery oven in the time of your anger;
 The Lord will swallow them up in His wrath,
 And fire will devour them.
 10Their offspring You will destroy from the earth,
 And their descendants from among the sons of men.
 11Though they intended evil against You
 And devised a plot,
 They will not succeed.
 12For You will make them turn their back;
 You will aim with Your bowstrings at their faces.
 13Be exalted, O Lord, in Your strength;
 We will sing and praise Your power.

21:7 "the king trusts in the Lord" This is an affirmation of the king's faith orientation (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal active participle, cf. Ps. 4:5; 9:10; 13:5; 22:4,5,9; and many more). The king has strength, joy, and deliverance only through YHWH.

▣ "the lovingkindness of the Most High" The special covenant term, "lovingkindness" (hesed, BDB 338, see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7) means YHWH's covenant loyalty. YHWH is always faithful, the King and the nation will be also, if they continue to "trust" (BDB 105, KB 120) in Him (cf. Ps. 125:1). Nehemiah 9 is a record of YHWH's faithfulness and Israel's unfaithfulness!

For "Most High" (Elyon, BDB 751) see Special Topic at Ps. 1:1, B.

NASB, LXX,
JPSOA"he will not be shaken"
NKJV, NRSV"he shall not be moved"
TEV"he will always be secure"
NJB"will keep him from falling"

The verb (BDB 556, KB 555, Niphal imperfect) means "totter," "shake," or "slip." It can be used in several senses.

1. place on the throne

2. security in life

3. godly lifestyle

To see the different senses see Ps. 10:6; 15:5; 16:8; 21:7; 30:6; 62:2,6; 112:6; Pro. 10:30; 12:3. There is stability in YHWH but not in a fallen world.

21:8-12 These verses describe what YHWH (i.e., through the king's army) will do if the king and people stay faithful.

1. power over your enemies

2. your enemies will be destroyed

3. your enemies and their descendants will be cut off and disappear

4. your enemies will not succeed in their plans (i.e., to plan against YHWH's king and covenant people is to plan against Him, cf. Ps. 21:11a; Ps. 2:1-3; 83:1-5)

5. your enemies will retreat in battle

Some scholars (AB) see these verses as describing YHWH's actions in battle on behalf of His covenant king and people.

▣ "hand" This is a Hebrew idiom of the power to act. See SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND at Ps. 7:3-4.

21:9 "The Lord will swallow them up" This verb (BDB 118, KB 134, Piel imperfect) is an idiom for complete destruction (cf. Job 2:3; 10:8; 19:3; 28:7; Lam. 2:2,5,8).

21:13 This verse concludes the Psalm with commanded praises of YHWH.

1. Be exalted — BDB 926, KB 1202, Qal imperative, cf. II San. 22:47; Ps. 18:46; 46:10; 57:5,11; 108:5

2. We will sing — BDB 1010, KB 1479, Qal cohortative

3. We will praise — BDB 274, KB 273, Piel cohortative

 

▣ "Your strength" This mantra begins the Psalm (cf. Ps. 21:1) and closes (cf. Ps. 21:13) the Psalm. God is the chief character of the Bible. It is His book; it is about Him!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How are Psalm 20 and 21 related?

2. Does verse 4 imply eternal life?

3. List the military imagery in verses 7-13.

 

Passage: 

Psalm 22

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
A Cry of Anguish and A Song of Praise The Suffering, Praise, and Posterity of the Messiah Prayer for Deliverance from Mortal Illness
(A Lament)
A Cry of Anguish and A Song of Praise The Suffering and Hopes of the Upright
MT Intro
For the choir director; upon aijeleth hashshahar. A Psalm of David.
       
22:1-5  22:1-2 22:1-2 22:1-5 22:1-2
  22:3-5 22:3-5   22:3-5
22:6-8 22:6-8 22:6-8 22:6-8 22:6-8
22:9-10 22:9-11 22:9-11 22:9-11 22:9-11
22:11-18        
  22:12-13 22:12-13 22:12-13 22:12-13
  22:14-15 22:14-15 22:14-15 22:14-15
  22:16-18 22:16-18 22:16-18 22:16-18
22:19-21 22:19-21b 22:19-21a 22:19-21 22:19-21
  22:21c 22:21b-24    
22:22-24 22:22-24   22:22-24 22:22-23
        22:24
22:25-31 22:25-26 22:25-26 22:25-26 22:25-26
  22:27-28 22:27-28 22:27-28 22:27-31
  22:29 22:29-31 22:29-31  
  22:30-31      

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Hermeneutical practice demands that modern interpreters take seriously the original author's intent as the beginning point in establishing a proper understanding of the meaning of any passage. This proves to be difficult in this psalm.

1. uncertainty of the inspiration of the MT introductions (i.e., not present in Dead Sea Scrolls)

2. the details do not fit the life of King David or any other OT person

3. the striking similarity to the experiences of Jesus on the cross (cf. Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34)

 

B. Therefore, how should modern interpreters classify this psalm?

1. typology (i.e., an event in the OT parallels an event in Jesus' life)

2. predictive prophecy

3. multiple fulfillment prophecy

4. historical account (in poetry) of the experience of an OT person

 

C. There are several unique elements that cannot be reconciled with an OT psalmist's historical setting.

1. crucifixion (i.e., "pierced," see note)

2. clothes gambled for by lot

3. rare assertion of the inclusion of the nations, Ps. 22:27

4. possible allusion to

a. eternal life, Ps. 22:26c

b. affect on the departed, Ps. 22:29

c. creation of a "seed" of faithful followers for generations to come

5. notice there is no call for vengeance or attack on the enemies

 

D. I will approach the psalm, as others, from a historical, grammatical, lexical orientation, but with an eye toward the death of Christ. I can do nothing less!

 

E. This psalm is quoted or alluded to in the NT in connection to Jesus' crucifixion. The NT is the proper lens to view the OT, not vice-verse! The NT (i.e., Jesus) is the ultimate revelation (cf. Matt. 5:17-48).

1. v. 1 — Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34

2. v. 7 — Matt. 27:39; Mark 15:29

3. v. 8 — Matt. 27:43

4. v. 16 — Matt. 27:35; John 20:25

5. v. 18 — Matt. 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:24

6. v. 22 — Heb. 2:12

7. possibly Ps. 22:15 — in John 19:28

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 22:1-5
 1My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
 Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
 2O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;
 And by night, but I have no rest.
 3Yet You are holy,
 O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
 4In You our fathers trusted;
 They trusted and You delivered them.
 5To You they cried out and were delivered;
 In You they trusted and were not disappointed.

22:1 There are repeated vocative type statements.

1. My God, my God, Ps. 22:1 (the doubling is for intensity)

2. O my God, Ps. 22:2 (Eloh, BDB 43)

3. O Lord, 22:19a (YHWH, BDB 217)

4. O You my help, 22:19b

The psalmist is calling on God in direct address with intensity and passion. They know each other!

Just a note about Jesus quoting the first part of this psalm from the cross, by that He meant (or an inspired gospel writer) for future readers to read the whole psalm. Quoting the first line was a way to denote a context on a Scripture scroll.

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, NJB"forsaken"
TEV, JPSOA"abandoned"

This verb (BDB 736 I, KB 806, Qal perfect) means to leave or reject by abandoning. The perfect denotes the idea of a settled rejection. In several places the OT uses the term of YHWH rejecting His covenant people and promises (cf. Ps. 119:8; Isa. 54:7; Jer. 7:12; Ezek. 8:12), but thank God for Gen. 28:15 and the second line of Isa. 54:7.

Notice the very personal aspect of this rejection or abandonment (i.e., "me," cf. Matt. 27:46). The psalmist felt alone and betrayed by YHWH. He did not understand why. It was not because of any perceived sin (i.e., omission or commission).

The second line has no verbal. NKJV, NRSV, REB, JPSOA all add "Why are you. . .," making it a question. The psalmist is "groaning" (BDB 980, cf. Job 3:24; Ps. 32:3). The Hebrew word can refer to the roar of a lion (cf. Job 4:10), but here to a human groan of psychological and physical pain and confusion, which fits this context best. The psalmist could not understand why the covenant God had rejected a faithful covenant person (cf. Ps. 22:2).

This terrible sense of alienation, loneliness, and spiritual confession is the result of the Fall (cf. Genesis 3). Mankind, made in YHWH's image and likeness (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 3:8), has been damaged. The estrangement is terrible. In this case the sense of YHWH's silence is accentuated because the psalmist knew Him. The psalmist could not understand the silence from God and the vicious attack of others! But there was a purpose (i.e., the gospel, cf. Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:21)!

22:2 The psalmist's persistent prayer goes unheard by God or at least He does not apparently respond (cf. Ps. 42:3; 88:1-2).

The second line of Ps. 22:2 is difficult to translate. Literally "there is no silence for me." This could mean

1. he prays all night (NKJV, REB)

2. God remains silent

3. he finds no rest (LXX, TEV, JPSOA)

If this reflects Jesus' future experience, then the last night in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest fits best (cf. Matt. 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42).

22:3-5 The psalmist describes God as

1. holy (cf. Ps. 99:9)

2. enthroned upon the praises of Israel (i.e., YHWH dwells between the wings of the Cherubim above the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies)

3. trusted in by the Patriarchs

a. they prayed, He delivered

b. they trusted and were not disappointed (i.e., there is historical precedent to trust in YHWH)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 22:6-8
 6But I am a worm and not a man,
 A reproach of men and despised by the people.
 7All who see me sneer at me;
 They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,
 8"Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him;
 Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him."

22:6-8 In spite of Ps. 22:3-5 and God's faithful actions in the past to those who trusted in Him, the psalmist did not feel helped.

1. he felt like a worm, Ps. 22:6 (cf. Job 25:6; Isa. 41:14)

2. he was reproached and despised by people, Ps. 22:6b

3. they sneered at him, Ps. 22:7 (see Matt. 27:39; Mark 15:29)

4. they mocked his faith and prayers, Ps. 22:8

a. commit (lit. "roll," cf. Ps. 37:5; Pro. 16:3) — BDB 164, KB 193, Qal imperative (cf. Matt. 27:43)

b. let Him deliver him — BDB 812, KB 930, Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense (cf. Matt. 27:43)

c. let Him rescue him — BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 22:9-10
 9Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb;
 You made me trust when upon my mother's breasts.
 10Upon You I was cast from birth;
 You have been my God from my mother's womb.

22:9-10 The imagery of these verses is the predestined purpose of the righteous suffering servant.

1. sometimes an individual (used of Messiah in Isa. 42:1 and of His death in Isa. 52:13-53:12)

2. sometimes the collective people of YHWH (cf. Isa. 41:8-9; 42:18-19; 46:3; 49:1)

This is OT covenant language. It expresses the redemptive purposes of God for Israel (see Special Topic at Intro. to Psalm 2). The psalmist believed he had a purpose in God's plan and could not understand God's seeming abandonment (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21).

22:10 This verse is reflecting the concept of covenant acceptance by birth (i.e., circumcision). Israelites were born into the covenant people, however, true covenant faith and obedience were the confirming evidence of the reality of their faith. So many Israelites were not truly covenant people (i.e., disobedience to the covenant stipulations, idolatry)!

 

22:9

NASB, REB"brought me forth"
NKJV"took me out"
NRSV"took me"
NJB, JPSOA"drew me"
LXX"cast from"

This participle (BDB 161, KB 189) occurs only here in the OT. Context gives us a general sense but the exact connotation must remain uncertain. However, the general meaning of the verse is clear.

YHWH is involved in a person's life even before birth (cf. Job 31:11; Ps. 139:13; Eccl. 11:5; Jer. 1:5). Life begins with God! Humans are created by Him and for Him.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 22:11-18
 11Be not far from me, for trouble is near;
 For there is none to help.
 12Many bulls have surrounded me;
 Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.
 13They open wide their mouth at me,
 As a ravening and a roaring lion.
 14I am poured out like water,
 And all my bones are out of joint;
 My heart is like wax;
 It is melted within me.
 15My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
 And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
 And You lay me in the dust of death.
 16For dogs have surrounded me;
 A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
 They pierced my hands and my feet.
 17I can count all my bones.
 They look, they stare at me;
 18They divide my garments among them,
 And for my clothing they cast lots.

22:11-18 This describes in poetic imagery the suffering of the psalmist. Many of the poetic details and parallelism turned out to be very literal of Jesus' rejection and crucifixion.

22:11 "Be not far from me" This verb (BDB 934, KB 1221, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 22:19; Ps. 71:12) is used in an interpersonal sense, not a distance sense. The psalmist felt alone ("there is none to help," cf. Isa. 63:5) to face his enemies (i.e., bulls, lions, dogs, wild oxen). Notice the contrast—when trouble is near the psalmist wants YHWH near also!

22:12-13,16-18 His enemies are described.

1. bulls have surrounded him, Ps. 22:12

2. lions have attacked him, Ps. 22:13 (i.e., opened wide their mouths, which is an idiom for a vicious attack)

3. dogs have surrounded him, Ps. 22:16 

4. they stare at him

5. they pierced his hands and feet (cf. John 20:25; see note below)

6. they/I can count all my bones (i.e., [1] in the OT this may refer to the suffering man being just skin and bones, [2] he is dead, having been devoured by animals and only his bones are left or [3] in the NT this may refer to the detail that the two thieves' legs were broken to bring about their rapid death on crosses, but Jesus, by this time, had already died)

7. they divided his clothes by casting lots (cf. Matt. 27:35; Luke 23:34; John 19:24)

 

22:14-15 This is highly figurative language. It is hard to pin down the exact allusion but the accumulative effect is a completely discouraged person in light of

1. YHWH's apparent absence even though the psalmist cries/groans day and night

2. the presence of violent enemies on every side

3. the possibility that the imagery is alluding to symptoms of sickness (cf. Isa. 52:14) or even the early process of bodily decay before death (i.e., lit. "bones scattered about," BDB 825, KB 962)

A striking, painful, surprising feeling from a faithful covenant follower!

22:15

NASB, NKJV,
RSV, LXX"strength"
NRSV, NJB,
NRSV, REB"mouth"
TEV"throat"
JPSOA"vigor"

The UBS Text Project gives the MT's "my strength" (כחי) an "A" rating (high probability). The NRSV, NJB, REB, and TEV reverse the consonants to produce "my palate" (חכי, KB 313, cf. Job 12:11; 20:13; Ps. 119:103; 137:6; Lam. 4:4; Ezek. 3:26).

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"jaws"
REB"gums"
TEV"the roof of my mouth"
NJB"jaw"
JPSOA"palate"
LXX"throat"

This Hebrew word (BDB 544 II, KB 594) occurs only here in the OT. Therefore context, parallelism, and related roots must provide interpreters a possible meaning. But please note that just because we do not know the exact meaning of this word, still the general sense of the verse is obvious.

22:15 "You lay me in the dust of death" The "you" here must refer to YHWH. YHWH (i.e., the only causality in the universe) allowed the psalmist to approach death (i.e., imperfect verb, cf. Psalm 104:29).

This fits into the NT understanding of Jesus' vicarious, substitutionary death on our behalf as YHWH's predestined will (cf. Luke 22:28; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; 1 Pet. 1:20).

Jesus was incarnated for several purposes.

1. fully reveal the Father

2. fully reveal His redemptive plan (i.e., the gospel)

3. die in our place, for our sin

4. show us what humans were created to be

It is crucial in interpreting these oblique OT texts to see the full and complete revelation of the NT. The NT is the perfect fulfillment of the OT (cf. Matt. 5:17-48). The story is fully understood only in Jesus, the Messiah!

22:16

NASB, NKJV,
RSV"they have pierced"
NRSV"shriveled" (Akkadian root)
TEV"tear at"
LXX"gouged" or "dig"
NJB, NEB"hack off"
JPSOA
(cf. Isa. 38:13)"like lions (they maul, cf. Ps. 22:13)"
REB (footnote)"bound"
NET Bible"like a lion they pin"

This verse is not quoted directly in the NT Gospels related to Jesus' crucifixion. Several other verses of this Psalm are. The real question is "What does the Hebrew say?"

1. The UBS Text Project gives "like a lion" (כארי, BDB 71) a "B" rating.

2. The verb "dig," "bore," or "pierce" comes from רוכ, BDB 468 II (found only here).

3. "Bound" or "tie" comes from the Greek translation of Aquila, Symmachus, the Latin translation of Jerome, and two Hebrew MSS (cf. UBS Handbook, p. 221). They assume the root is ןרכ, BDB 501, KB 497, but there are no OT examples of it.

4. See a good technical note in Gleason Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, p. 37.

Usually this idea of being pierced refers to a violent death by sword or spear in battle (several different roots but two prophetically significant).

1. Zech. 12:10 — BDB 201, KB 230 (cf. John 19:37; Rev. 1:7)

2. Isa. 53:5 — BDB 319, KB 320

The ambiguity (i.e., rarity, only here in the OT) of this word allows it to function in an OT sense and a NT sense. This Psalm must have had meaning in its day but obviously points beyond to the vicarious, substitutionary atonement of Christ (i.e., nails pierced His hands and feet). The full meaning of many OT texts comes to light only in Christ (i.e., typology or direct prediction). I think it was Jesus Himself who showed these texts of His suffering and resurrection to the two on the road to Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:13-43) and they told the ones in the upper room. Just then He appeared to them and showed them His hands and feet (cf. Luke 24:36-43).

22:14-15,17 These verses describe how the suffering/attacked author feels.

1. I am poured out like water

2. all my bones are out of joint (i.e., this was one result of crucifixion)

3. my heart is like wax

4. my strength (or "palate") is dried up (this possibly relates to Jesus taking some wine just before His last words, cf. Matt. 27:48; Mark 15:36; John 19:29)

It is not certain how or if Ps. 22:17a relates to Ps. 22:14b. We are dealing with Hebrew poetic parallelism! Remember this is not prose. This is figurative language. Be careful of pushing details for theological purposes, unless it is done by an inspired NT author!

22:16 "a band of evildoers" The word "band" (BDB 417) means gathering or assembly. A different word (BDB 874) is used of the same concept in Ps. 22:22 and 25. What a contrast between these two assemblies.

1. evil men with evil purposes gather together

2. godly men with witness and worship purposes gather together (cf. Ps. 1:5)

Which group do you want to be a part of?

22:18 In the OT this would refer to the spoils of war being divided among the victors! Notice there is no parallel OT passage. In the NT it refers to the fact that the Roman soldiers who carried out the crucifixion were allowed to divide the condemned person's possessions among themselves as a payment for the extra duty.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 22:19-21
 19But You, O Lord, be not far off;
 O You my help, hasten to my assistance.
 20Deliver my soul from the sword,
 My only life from the power of the dog.
 21Save me from the lion's mouth;
 From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.

22:19-21 Verse 19 links to verse 11. The jussive (see note below) is followed by three imperatives of request.

1. hasten to my assistance — BDB 301, KB 300, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 38:22; 40:13; 70:1,5; 71:12; 141:1

2. deliver my soul — BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil imperative

3. save me — BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative

This strophe closes "You answered me" with a Qal perfect verb (BDB 772, KB 851) which implies that the psalmist has come to the conviction that YHWH is/will answer him (cf. Ps. 34:4; 118:5; 120:1).

Notice again how the psalmist characterizes his enemies.

1. the sword (i.e., "pierced" of possibly the bite of dogs, cf. Ps. 22:16)

2. paw of the dog (cf. Ps. 22:16)

3. the lion's mouth (cf. Ps. 22:13; 35:17)

4. the horns of the wild oxen (symbol of power, cf. Job 39:9-10)

 

22:19 "be not far off" See note at Ps. 22:11.

22:20 "from the sword" It is difficult to know exactly what problems/distresses/enemies the psalmist is facing.

1. sickness

2. rebellion

3. invasion

Because of the many links to Jesus' life, I think "sword" is figurative language (cf. Ps. 37:12-15).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 22:22-24
 22I will tell of Your name to my brethren;
 In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
 23You who fear the Lord, praise Him;
 All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
 And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.
 24For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
 Nor has He hidden His face from him;
 But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

22:22-24 In a sense this strophe overlaps with Ps. 22:25-31. Both speak of witness and praise of YHWH in a worship setting (i.e., the assembly, Ps. 22:22; the great assembly, Ps. 22:25). The difference is the scope of the help.

1. vv. 22-24 — the afflicted

2. vv. 25-31 — the world

 

22:22 There are two cohortative verbs.

1. I will tell — BDB 707, KB 765, Piel cohortative

2. I will praise — BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperfect used in a cohortative sense

 

22:23 Notice the parallelism.

1. you who fear the Lord

2. you descendants (lit., seed) of Jacob

3. you descendants of Israel

They are to

1. praise Him — BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperative

2. glorify Him — BDB 457, KB 455, Piel imperative

3. stand in awe of Him — BDB 158, KB 185, Qal imperative

 

22:24 The reasons for the praise, glory, and awe to YHWH are

1. He has not despised (BDB 102, KB 117, Qal perfect) the afflicted

2. He has not abhorred (BDB 1055, KB 1646, Piel perfect) the afflicted

3. He has not hidden His face (BDB 711, KB 771, Hiphil perfect) from the afflicted

4. When the afflicted cried to Him for help, He heard (BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal perfect)

The psalmist now feels YHWH has heard his cries for help and will respond (cf. Ps. 22:21,22-24). This is a reversal of Ps. 22:1-2,8,11,19.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 22:25-31
 25From You comes my praise in the great assembly;
 I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him.
 26The afflicted will eat and be satisfied;
 Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.
 Let your heart live forever!
 27All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,
 And all the families of the nations will worship before You.
 28For the kingdom is the Lord's
 And He rules over the nations.
 29All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship,
 All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him,
 Even he who cannot keep his soul alive.
 30Posterity will serve Him;
 It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation.
 31They will come and will declare His righteousness
 To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.

22:25-26 The setting is a worship setting, probably the tabernacle/temple (i.e., "pay vows" and "eat and be satisfied"). The worshipers are characterized as "the afflicted" (BDB 776) from Ps. 22:24. They are the ones who

1. seek YHWH, Ps. 22:26 — BDB 205, KB 233, Qal participle

2. praise YHWH, Ps. 22:26 — BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperfect

 

22:26 "Let your heart live forever" This verb (BDB 310, KB 309, Qal jussive) reflects the common idiom used of the Kings of Israel/Judah. The psalmist is a king. There seems to be fluidity in Ps. 22:28-31 between the covenant God and His kingly representative (i.e., Messiah, cf. 2 Sam. 7:1-17).

22:27 The universal emphasis is shocking and unmistakable.

1. all the ends of the earth (cf. Isa. 45:22; 49:6; 52:10; 66:23; Jer. 16:19; Micah 5:4)

2. all the families of the nations (cf. Gen. 12:3; Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8)

Notice what the nations will do.

1. remember YHWH — BDB 269, KB 269, Qal imperfect

2. turn to YHWH — BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal imperfect (this verb is often used of repentance)

3. worship before You/Him — BDB 1005, KB 295, Hishtaphel/Hithpalel imperfect, cf. Ps. 66:4; 86:9

 

22:28 The reason for the universal emphasis is given. This has always been YHWH's desire. It is the clear implication of Gen. 1:26-27 and the theological assertion of monotheism!

1. The kingdom is YHWH's (cf. Ps. 47:7-9; 67:4; Obad. Ps. 22:21; Zech. 14:9)

2. He rules over the nations (cf. Ps. 47:8; 1 Chr. 16:31)

 

22:29 This verse is difficult to translate. Literally it would be

"all those in full vigor shall eat and prostrate themselves;

all those at death's door, whose spirits flag, shall bend the knee before Him" (JPSOA)

There is obviously a contrast between the wealthy and the poor/dying. The thrust of the verse is that everyone, everywhere will worship YHWH/His Messiah. Can we go so far as to see this verse as teaching an afterlife? In light of the NT's use of this Psalm as referring to Jesus' death, maybe so (cf. Luke 23:39-43).

One wonders if Ps. 22:29b has any connection to Phil. 2:10. The NT asserts that one day every knee shall bow.

1. the lost

2. the saved

This bowing in judgment is not an act of faith for the lost, but an acknowledgment of a fair judgment.

NASB, NKJV"even he who cannot keep his soul alive"
NRSV"and I shall live for him"
NJB"those who are dead"
REB"But I shall live for his sake"

The MT is reflected in the NASB, which the UBS Text Project gives a "C" rating (considerable doubt). The LXX is reflected in the NRSV, which involves the emendation of two consonants.

MT — פנושׁו אל היח

LXX — פנושׁי ל היח

 

22:30-31 A new faith seed/family/descendant will come from the terrible suffering event. They will serve the Suffering One and declare His righteousness (i.e., innocence)!

22:31

NASB"He has performed it"
NKJV"He has done this"
NRSV"he has done it"
TEV"the Lord saved his people"
NJB"he has fulfilled it"
LXX, JPSOA,
NRSV, REB"the Lord acted"

The verb (BDB 793, KB 889, Qal perfect) speaks of an accomplished task (cf. 1 Sam.26:25; Dan. 8:24). In light of NT usage this refers to mankind's redemption on Calvary (cf. Rom. 5:12-21), evidenced and verified by the empty tomb (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-28)!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Is this Psalm a prediction, a typology, or a multi-fulfillment prophecy?

2. List the possible connections between this psalm and Jesus' death.

3. The psalmist calls his adversaries by names of several animals. List them.

4. Why is there doubt about the word "pierced" in verse 16?

5. Explain the mood shift at verse 22.

6. Why are verses 27-29 so theologically significant?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 23

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Lord, the Psalmist's Shepherd The Lord the Shepherd of His People An Expression of confidence in God's Protection
(A Song of Trust)
The Lord Our Shepherd The Good Shepherd
MT Intro
A Psalm of David.
       
23:1-3  23:1-3 23:1-3 23:1-4 23:1-2a
        23:2b-3
23:4-6 23:4 23:4   23:4
  23:5-6 23:5-6 23:5-6 23:5
        23:6

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This is possibly the best known passage in the Bible by the general public; the other ones being John 3:16 or "the love chapter" in 1 Corinthians 13.

This is the biblical worldview of a faithful follower. The focus is on YHWH and His presence, care, and provision!

B. It uses three distinct cultural metaphors to describe the close personal aspect of biblical faith (i.e., "I," "me," "my").

1. God as Shepherd; His people as needy sheep, Ps. 23:1-2

2. God as Guide; His people as needy pilgrims, Ps. 23:3-4

3. God as Host; His people as welcomed guests, Ps. 23:5-6

 

C. This Psalm has ten imperfect (ongoing action) verbs. God is present every day, not just in crisis times. This is the OT counterpoint of Matt. 6:11.

1. I do not lack — BDB 341, KB 338, Qal negated imperfect, cf. Ps. 34:9,10

2. He makes me lie down — BDB 918, KB 1181, Hiphil imperfect

3. He leads me — BDB 624, KB 675, Piel imperfect

4. He restores my soul — BDB 996, KB 1427, Polel imperfect, cf. Ps. 19:7

5. He guides me — BDB 634, KB 685, Hiphil imperfect, cf. Ps. 5:8; 31:3

6. Even though I walk — BDB 229, KB 246, Qal imperfect

7. I fear no evil — BDB 431, KB 432, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 27:1

8. They (i.e., rod and staff) comfort me — BDB 636, KB 688, Piel imperfect

9. You prepare a table before me — BDB 789, KB 884, Qal imperfect

10. Goodness and lovingkindness will pursue me — BDB 922, KB 1191, Qal imperfect

11. I will dwell/turn — BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal perfect with waw, cf. Ps. 27:4-6

 

D. The UBS Handbook (p. 230) notes that this Psalm does not have synonymous parallelism. The poetic lines do not have symmetry (i.e., same length). It is a climactic progression in succinct wording. Its brevity accentuates its message and power!

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 23:1-3
 1The Lord is my shepherd,
 I shall not want.
 2He makes me lie down in green pastures;
 He leads me beside quiet waters.
 3He restores my soul;
 He guides me in the paths of righteousness
 For His name's sake.

23:1 The opening line is literally "YHWH is the one shepherding me." The only verbal is the Qal active participle (BDB 944, KB 1258). The concept of YHWH as Shepherd was a royal title in the ANE (i.e., Hammurabi). In the OT it is used in the sense of

1. a description — Ps. 78:52; Ezek. 34:11-13

2. a covenant title — Ps. 80:1

3. a metaphor — Isa. 40:11; Jer. 31:10

4. the Messiah as Shepherd — John 10:11; 1 Peter 2:25

It is such powerful imagery because of

1. the close and constant presence of the shepherd with the sheep

2. the sheep's need of an ever-present caretaker and protector

 

▣ "I shall not want" This is a simple but comprehensive phrase. It cannot refer to every want or need. It denotes that which is necessary for sheep to be healthy. The worst thing God could do for most fallen humans is answer positively their selfish, worldly requests. The Shepherd of our souls will do and give that which is best for us!

23:2 This verse describes verse 1. The Shepherd knows that sheep need

1. rest

2. food

3. water

He provides these in ways that the sheep can accept (i.e., the right food, water they can drink from easily). We are not alone (cf. Psalm 139)! There is purpose in our lives, even in a fallen world. This is not meant to imply a pain-free, problem-free life experience. It does affirm that He is with us, and for us (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13).

23:3 "He restores my soul" This verse addresses and acknowledges the fallen human condition (cf. Isa. 53:6). We need "restoring." This verb (BDB 996, KB 1427) is the very verb used of "repentance," see Special Topic at Ps. 7:12. This same verb is used in Ps. 23:6 of returning to the tabernacle/temple for lifelong fellowship. Faithful followers, motivated by God's Spirit, must turn from self and sin, and to God. Biblical salvation is

1. a reversal of the fall

2. restored intimacy with God

3. turning from known sin and forgiveness for unknown sin (cf. Ps. 19:12-14)

4. purposeful turning to God (i.e., in fellowship, obedience, and worship, cf. Ps. 23:3b)

The Hebrew term "soul" is nephesh (BDB 659, KB 711, see note at Ps. 3:2) and can refer to

1. human beings — Gen. 2:7

2. animals — Gen. 1:24; 2:19

 

NASB, NKJV"in the paths of righteousness"
NRSV, TEV,
JPSOA, REB"in right paths"
NJB"in paths of saving justice"

In context this refers to the safe paths that lead to food and water. The word "right" or "righteousness" (BDB 841, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:5) basically has an ethical, moral aspect and surely it is implied here (cf. Eph. 1:4; 2:10). To know God is to live in obedience to His revealed will. This implication is reenforced by the last phrase of Ps. 23:3, "for His Name's sake" (see Special Topic at Ps. 5:11-12). He "leads" so we may "live" for Him. We as faithful followers reveal Him! He saves us to save others. We are saved to serve!

For the phrase "for His name's sake," see Ps. 25:11; 31:3; 79:9; 106:8; 109:21; 143:11. We live to reveal His character and purposes. Often Israel did not (cf. Jer. 14:21; Ezek. 20:9,14,22; 36:22-38).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 23:4-6
 4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
 I fear no evil, for You are with me;
 Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
 You have anointed my head with oil;
 My cup overflows.
 6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
 And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

23:4

NASB, NKJV"the valley of the shadow of death"
NRSV"the darkest valley"
TEV"the deepest darkness"
NJB"a ravine as dark as death"
LXX"death's shadow"
JPSOA, REB"a valley of deepest darkness"

This is a construct of "valley" (BDB 161) and "darkness," "deep shadow" (BDB 853). Many scholars think צלמות comes from צל and מות.

1. shadow, gloom, darkness — BDB 853, KB 1024

2. death, dying — BDB 560, KB 563

It is used eighteen times in the OT (ten in Job) for

1. death — Job 10:21,22; 38:17; Ps. 107:10,14

2. distress — Job 16:16; 24:17; Ps. 44:20

3. often in context with contrast to light — Job 3:5; 12:22; 24:17; 28:3; 34:22; Jer. 13:16; Amos 5:8

It is used figuratively of the fearful, distressing, and fatal experiences of fallen humanity in this fallen world. Life is fearful but God is with us (cf. Ps. 23:4b,c; Deut. 31:6,8; Matt. 28:20; 2 Cor. 4:9; Heb. 13:5).

▣ "fear. . .comfort" What a contrast! Faithful ones face trials with confidence because God is with them (i.e., symbolized with the Shepherd's rod and staff, His instruments of care and protection).

Problems will come! We never face them alone! Never! He will never forsake us or leave us (cf. Deut. 31:6; Jos. 1:5; Heb. 13:5).

23:5 Not only is God with us and for us, He will vindicate us in the very presence of those who would harm us. The culturally expected hospitality is used to demonstrate the extravagant abundance of God's love.

1. table prepared

2. anointed head

3. overflowing love

 

▣ "overflows" This is a rare word (BDB 924, "saturated") found only here in the OT. Psalm 66:12 has "place of abundance" (slightly different spelling). The LXX translates it as "Your cup cheers me like the best wine" or "Your cup was supremely intoxicating," which obviously takes the idea from "saturated" as "intoxicated."

23:6 "goodness" The verb (BDB 373), adjective (BDB 373 II), and noun (BDB 375III) all denote that which is "good," "pleasing," "beneficial." They are used extensively in Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. This is what God wanted to do for His covenant people (i.e., Deut. 30:9,15).

NASB"lovingkindness"
NKJV, NRSV"mercy"
TEV"love"
NJB"faithful love"
JPSOA"steadfast love"
REB"love unfailing"

This is the special covenant noun hesed (BDB 338), which denoted YHWH's faithful, undeserved covenant loyalty (see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7). The covenant loyalty is all the more striking in light of Israel's disobedience (cf. Neh. 9:6-38).

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, REB"follow"
TEV"will be with me"
NJB, LXX,
JPSOA"pursue"

This verb (BDB 922, KB 1191, Qal imperfect) has a more aggressive sense than "follow." It denoted active pursuit. Just think, God's covenant love chased the Israelites. It is a

1. military word

2. hunting word

3. judicial word

Stop! Turn around! Look who is pursuing you, yes you!

The last line in this OT context does not denote eternal life (other texts do, cf. Rev. 21:3-7; 22:1-5) but a life of covenant goodness (cf. Deut. 30:3,15,19). This was to be lived out in daily life and regular tabernacle/temple worship.

The verb (BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal perfect with waw) can denote

1. to sit down with (ancients)

2. to return (Hebrew)

 

▣ "forever" See Special Topic at Psalm 9:5.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How is YHWH like a shepherd?

2. How do the verbs of verses 1-3 apply to the daily life of faithful followers?

3. Define "the valley of the shadow of death."

4. Does this Psalm foreshadow an afterlife?

5. Why is the Psalm so meaningful to believers of all ages?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 24

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The King of Glory Enters The King of Glory and His Kingdom A Liturgy On Entering the Sanctuary The Great King For a Solemn Entry Into the Sanctuary
MT Intro
A Psalm of David.
       
24:1-6  24:1-2 24:1-2 24:1-2 24:1-2
  24:3-6 24:3-6 24:3-6 24:3
        24:4
        24:5-6
24:7-10 24:7-10 24:7-10 24:7-8 24:7
        24:8
      24:9-10 24:9
        24:10

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This is a psalm about

1. YHWH as creator (Ps. 24:1-2) and warrior (Ps. 24:8)

2. those who can approach Him to worship Him (Ps. 24:3-6)

 

B. Notice the consistent use of synonymous parallelism

 

C. Notice the vocatives

1. O gates, Ps. 24:7,9

2. O ancient doors, Ps. 24:7,9

3. Jacob, Ps. 24:6 may be "O Jacob"

 

D. Notice the titles and descriptive phrases

1. the God of his salvation, Ps. 24:5 (cf. Ps. 18:46; 25:5; 51:14; 79:9)

2. the King of glory, Ps. 24:7,8,10 (twice)

3. YHWH strong and mighty, Ps. 24:8

4. YHWH mighty in battle, Ps. 24:8

5. YHWH of hosts, Ps. 24:10

Numbers 3,4,5 have a military connotation.

 

E. Notice how those allowed to approach YHWH in worship (cf. Psalm 15) at His tabernacle/temple are characterized.

1. he who has clean hands, cf. Job 17:9; 22:30

2. he who has a pure heart, cf. Ps. 73:1

3. he who has not lifted his soul to falsehood, cf. Ezek. 18:15

4. he who has not sworn deceitfully

5. those who seek Him, cf. Ps. 9:10; 24:4,8; 27:8; 34:4; 69:32

This may have been a liturgical chant by Levites as worshipers came on a set feast day.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 24:1-6
 1The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains,
 The world, and those who dwell in it.
 2For He has founded it upon the seas
 And established it upon the rivers.
 3Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
 And who may stand in His holy place?
 4He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
 Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
 And has not sworn deceitfully.
 5He shall receive a blessing from the Lord
 And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
 6This is the generation of those who seek Him,
 Who seek Your face—even Jacob.  Selah.

24:1-2 These verses emphasize YHWH as creator (cf. Genesis 1-2; Exod. 9:29; 19:5; Ps. 50:12; 89:11; Psalm 104), both inanimate and animate, both animals and humans (cf. Ps. 146:6; Jer. 27:5; 51:15).

In verse 2 the figurative imagery is of the earth founded as water (cf. Ps. 104:3,5; 136:6). Water (both fresh [i.e., rivers] and salty [i.e. seas]) is not said to have been created in Genesis 1. In ANE mythology water referred to a chaos monster. For more information see

1. notes on Gen. 1:2 in Genesis 1-11 online free at www.freebiblecommentary.org

2. NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 545-549, "Divine Warrior"). In the Bible God controls water (cf. Amos 9:6).

He, not the fertility gods, uses it for His purposes.

1. creation and judgment

2. sustain plant and animal life (i.e., annual rains)

 

24:1 "earth. . .world" The first word (BDB 75) is very common and has a wide semantic field, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:2. The second word (BDB 385) is a poetic synonym used mostly in Psalms and Isaiah.

24:2 "founded. . .established" These two verbs (cf. Pro. 3:19)

1. BDB 413, KB 417, Qal perfect

2. BDB 465, KB 414, Polel imperfect

are in a parallel relationship. They both assert that YHWH, the creator God, firmly founded the dry land on pillars (cf. 1 Sam.2:8; Job 9:6; Ps. 75:3), which reached to the ocean floor and mountain roots (cf. Job 38:4-6; Ps. 18:7,15; Jonah 2:6).

This is not a modern scientific description but pre-scientific poetic imagery! The Bible was not written to answer or inform modern western science. It is an Ancient Near Eastern book, written in phenomenological language (i.e., as things appear to the five human senses).

24:3-6 This may be a separate strophe (see first page of English translation's literary units). It discusses those who seek to worship the God of creation (cf. Ps. 24:6 and Contextual Insights, E).

The place to worship Him is in His tabernacle/temple in Jerusalem (Ps. 24:3). The temple is a symbol of the whole world (cf. Jewish Study Bible, p. 1308, Ps. 24:1-2 and NASB Study Bible, p. 762, Ps. 24:2). A new book that has helped me understand Genesis 1-2 as YHWH building His temple is John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One. I hope you will look at it. It has the potential to solve, or at least reduce, the conflict over

1. the age of the earth

2. evolution

3. purpose of Genesis 1-2

4. how Genesis relates to other ANE creation accounts

In order to do this, covenant obedience (cf. Psalm 15) is required (cf. Ps. 24:4). The ones who are obedient will receive

1. a blessing from YHWH, Ps. 24:5

2. righteousness (i.e., vindication, cf. Isa. 54:17) from the God of his salvation, Ps. 24:5

Verses 4-6 answer the two questions posed in verse 3. This strophe seems to be ascension liturgy, sung by Levites as worshipers climb to the tabernacle/temple on Mt. Moriah.

24:4 "lift up" This verb (BDB 669, KB 724) is used several times in this Psalm.

1. v. 4 — who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood (Qal perfect)

2. v. 5 — he shall receive (lit. "carry away") blessing (Qal imperfect)

3. vv. 7,9 — lift up your heads, O gates (Qal imperative)

4. vv. 7,9 — be lifted up, O ancient doors (Qal imperative)

5. how Genesis relates or does not relate to modern science

 

▣ "soul" This is the Hebrew term nephesh (BDB 659). See note at Ps. 3:2 and 23:3.

NASB"to falsehood"
NKJV"to an idol"
NRSV, REB"to what is false"
TEV"worship idols"
NJB"vanities"
JPSOA"false oath"

The word (BDB 996) basically means "empty," "vain," or "nothingness." It is used in several senses (see Special Topic below).

SPECIAL TOPIC: EMPTY, VAIN, FALSE, NOTHINGNESS (BDB 996)

If Ps. 24:4 has four characteristics of a true faithful follower, and if the second line is parallel to the third, then they both must refer to true testimony in court, instead of Ps. 24:4b referring to idolatry. The use of "righteousness" in a judicial sense (cf. Ps. 24:5b) gives credence to this. Also note NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 153, where "clean hands" are imagery of a judicial acquittal.

24:6 "seek. . .seek" These translate two different but parallel Hebrew roots.

1. BDB 205, KB 233, Qal participle (MT — singular, Qere — plural), cf. Ps. 78:34

2. BDB 134, KB 152, Piel participle, cf. Deut. 4:29; 1 Chr. 16:11; 2 Chr. 7:14; Ps. 27:8; 105:4; Hos. 3:5; 5:15; Zeph. 1:6; 2:3

 

▣ "—even Jacob" This could be understood in more than one way.

1. the God of Jacob (LXX)

2. seek God as Jacob sought Him

3. another name for the covenant people (like "generations"); Jacob = Israel

 

▣ "Selah" See note at Ps. 3:2 and in Introduction to Psalms, VII.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 24:7-10
 7Lift up your heads, O gates,
 And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
 That the King of glory may come in!
 8Who is the King of glory?
 The Lord strong and mighty,
 The Lord mighty in battle.
 9Lift up your heads, O gates,
 And lift them up, O ancient doors,
 That the King of glory may come in!
 10Who is this King of glory?
 The Lord of hosts,
 He is the King of glory.  Selah.

24:7-10 The gates/ancient doors must refer to the gates of Jerusalem at the temple (Ps. 24:3). They are personified so as to greet the King of glory, YHWH, as He comes to His house/temple after a victory (cf. Exod. 14:14; 15:3; Deut. 1:30; 3:22, i.e., holy war). It is probable that a procession with the ark of the covenant symbolized YHWH's coming back to the temple. Notice all the commands.

1. lift up your heads — BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperative

2. be lifted up — BDB 669, KB 724, Niphal imperative

3. that the King of glory may come in — BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

4. lift up your head — same as #1

5. be lifted up — same as #2, but Qal imperative

6. same as #3

The UBS Handbook (p. 241) suggests that verse 7 is the liturgical cry of the pilgrims coming to worship. If so, then verses 8 and 10 might be a liturgical Levitical response. I think verses 1-6 comprise a Levitical liturgy spoken by the gatekeepers of the temple.

24:10 There is no verbal in this verse. The "to be" verb is supplied for English readers as it was by ancient Hebrew readers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How are Psalm 15 and Psalm 24 related?

2. Define "falsehood" in its OT sense.

3. What does it mean to "seek Your face"?

4. To what event do verses 7-10 seem to be a liturgical mantra?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 25

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
A Prayer for Protection, Guidance and Pardon A Plea for Deliverance and Forgiveness Deliverance From Personal Enemies
(A Lament)
A Prayer for Guidance and Protection Prayer in Danger
(Acrostic)
MT Intro
A Psalm of David.
       
25:1-3  25:1-3 25:1-2 25:1-3 25:1-2a (Aleph)
        25:2b (Bet)
        25:3 (Gimel)
    25:3    
25:4-7 25:4-5 25:4-5 25:4-5 25:4 (Dalet)
        25:5 (He)
  25:6-7 25:6-7 25:6-7 25:6c-7 (Waw)
        25:6 (Zain)
        25:7 (Het)
25:8-11 25:8-11 25:8-10 25:8-10 25:8 (Tet)
        25:9 (Yod)
        25:10 (Kaph)
    25:11-15 25:11-14 25:11 (Lamed)
25:12-15 25:12-15     25:12 (Mem)
        25:13 (Nun)
        25:14 (Samek)
      25:15-18 25:15 (Ain)
25:16-22 25:16-21 25:16-18   25:16 (Pe)
        25:17 (Zade)
        25:18 (Qoph)
    25:19-21 25:19-21 25:19 (Resh)
        25:20 (Shin)
        25:21 (Taw)
  25:22 25:22 25:22 25:22

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This is an acrostic (cf. NJB's strophes). However, two letters are missing and two are doubled (Jewish Study Bible, p. 1309).

 

B. It is dominated by emphatic prayer requests.

1. cohortatives

a. v. 2 — "do not let me be ashamed," BDB 101, KB 116, Qal cohortative (this root is used four times in this Psalm; it is not so much embarrassment as it is the exposure of faithlessness)

b. v. 20 — "do not let me be ashamed, same as a., but Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense (inclusio)

2. imperfects used in a jussive sense

a. v. 2 — "do not let my enemies exult over me, BDB 763, KB 836, Qal imperfect

b. v. 7 — "do not remember the sins," BDB 269, KB 269, Qal imperfect (this root is used three times in Ps. 25:6-7)

c. v. 21 — "let integrity and uprightness preserve me," BDB 665, KB 718, Qal imperfect

3. imperatives

a. v. 4 — "make me know Your Ways," BDB 393, KB 390, Hiphil

b. v. 4 — "teach me Your paths," BDB 540, KB 531, Piel

c. v. 5 — "lead me in Your truth," BDB 201, KB 231, Hiphil

d. v. 5 — "teach me," same as b.

e. v. 6 — "remember," BDB 269, KB 268, Qal

f. v. 7 — "remember," same as e.

g. v. 16 — "turn to me," BDB 815, KB 937, Qal

h. v. 16 — "be gracious to me," BDB 335, KB 334, Qal

i. v. 17 — "bring me out of my distress," BDB 422, KB 425, Hiphil

j. v. 18 — "look upon my affliction," BDB 906, KB1157, Qal

k. v. 18 — "forgive all my sin," BDB 669, KB 1157, Qal

l. v. 19 — "look upon my enemies," same as j.

m. v. 20 — "guard my soul," BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal

n. v. 20 — "deliver me," BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil

o. v. 22 — "redeem Israel," BDB 804, KB 911, Qal

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 25:1-3
 1To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
 2O my God, in You I trust,
 Do not let me be ashamed;
 Do not let my enemies exult over me.
 3Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
 Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.

25:1-3 The psalmist fears being ashamed by his enemies but in the midst of his fear he expresses his faith in YHWH's promised victory.

He characterizes himself as one who

1. lifts his soul to YHWH — BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperfect, which denotes continual action (cf. Ps. 86:4; 143:8)

2. trusts in YHWH — BDB 105, KB 120, Qal perfect, which denotes a settled action/condition

3. waits for YHWH — BDB 875, KB 1082, Qal participle, AB (p. 155) suggests it is from another root with the same letters that means "to call" or "to invoke"

Because of this he is confident that he will not be

a. ashamed (inclusio, cf. Ps. 25:20; 31:1)

b. exulted over (cf. Ps. 41:11)

but that his enemies will be (cf. Ps. 25:3b). In a sense those who trust in YHWH are witnesses of His character (see SPECIAL TOPIC: CHARACTERISTICS OF ISRAEL'S GOD at Ps. 9:10b). How they live and trust gives powerful evidence of the reality and character of YHWH.

25:3

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, REB"without cause"
NRSV, LXX"wantonly"
NJB"groundlessly"
JPSOA"disappointed, empty-handed"
NET Bible"thwarted"
Peshitta"vanity"

This adjective (BDB 938, KB 1229) can be understood in two ways.

1. without cause (cf. Ps. 7:4)

2. to no effect (cf. Isa. 55:11; Jer. 50:9)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 25:4-7
 4Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
 Teach me Your paths.
 5Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
 For You are the God of my salvation;
 For You I wait all the day.
 6Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,
 For they have been from of old.
 7Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
 According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
 For Your goodness' sake, O Lord.

25:4-7 Notice the string of powerful emphatic imperatives which requests YHWH's action on behalf of the one who trusts in Him. 

1. know (BDB 393, KB 390, Hiphil imperative) His ways (BDB 202, cf. Ps. 25:4,8,9,12)

2. teach (BDB 540, KB 531, Piel imperative) him His paths (BDB 73, cf. Ps. 25:4,10)

3. lead (BDB 201, KB 231, Hiphil imperative) him in His truth (BDB 54, see Special Topic at Psalm 12:1)

4. teach (BDB 540, KB 531, Piel imperative) me

The one who trusts (and waits, Ps. 25:5c, 21b) wants to know YHWH in both personal fellowship and revelatory truth. Based on this truth and lifestyle obedience, he then requests that YHWH

1. remember His character (cf. Ps. 25:7b,c), see Special Topic at Ps. 9:10b

a. compassion — BDB 933 (Ps. 25:5)

b. lovingkindness — BDB 338 (cf. Ps. 25:6,7, see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7)

c. goodness — BDB 375 (Ps. 25:7)

2. do not remember the sins (BDB 308) of his youth (cf. Job 13:26)

3. do not remember his transgressions (BDB 833)

 

24:4 "ways. . .paths" The revelatory truths of YHWH were viewed as a well marked/worn road or trail (see note at Ps. 1:1). There was no confusion about what to do, only the need for obedience to the well-marked path (cf. Ps. 139:24). God's path is often described as level, straight, unobstructed, clearly visible.

24:6 "For they have been from of old" The psalmist is asking YHWH to act towards him (and Israel, cf. Ps. 25:22) in the consistent ways that He has displayed in the past (cf. Ps. 89:49). In essence the psalmist wants the covenant God to remember His covenant promises. He has acted in the past, now please act again for Your people and purposes. Even though the psalmist and Israel have sinned foolishly, please let Your covenant love (hesed, i.e., covenant loyalty) and Your basic character (i.e., goodness and mercy, cf. Ps. 23:6), forgive the humble sinner (cf. Ps. 25:8-11).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 25:8-11
 8Good and upright is the Lord;
 Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
 9He leads the humble in justice,
 And He teaches the humble His way.
 10All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth
 To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
 11For Your name's sake, O Lord,
 Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

25:8-11 Many of the key words and concepts from Ps. 25:4-7 are repeated in this strophe. Remember this is an acrostic psalm. All of the psalmist's poetic license and creativity are being used.

1. 25:8a extols YHWH's character, as did Ps. 25:6,7

a. good (BDB 373)

b. upright (BDB 449)

2. 25:8b-9 again mention YHWH's teaching and leading, as did Ps. 25:4-5

The two added thoughts are the descriptive words about the one taught and led.

1. sinners (BDB 308), Ps. 25:8

2. humble (BDB 776), Ps. 25:9 (twice)

The paths of YHWH are characterized as

1. lovingkindness (cf. Ps. 25:6,7)

2. truth (cf. Ps. 25:5)

 

25:10 "paths. . .testimonies" See SPECIAL TOPIC: TERMS FOR GOD'S REVELATION at Psalm 1:2.

▣ "to those who keep His covenant" Notice the emphasis, not just on knowledge (cf. Ps. 25:4-5) but obedience (cf. Deut. 5:10; 6:5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1,13,22; 13:3; 19:9; 30:6,16,20; Ps. 103:18). Obedience is not the mechanism of acceptance and forgiveness, which is YHWH but the result of meeting Him and being informed of His will. Jesus said it so well in Luke 6:46, also note Eph. 2:8-9 and then 1:4; 2:10. Grace is always first (cf. Ps. 25:11)! It is received by faith but it is a faith that must be lived out (cf. James 2:14-26).

▣ "covenant" See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT (ברית)

25:11 Any hope of forgiveness is based on the unchanging character of YHWH (cf. Ps. 102:26-27; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17, see Special Topic at Ps. 9:10b) and His Messiah (cf. Heb. 13:8). It is because of His name and character (cf. Ps. 79:9).

▣ "for it is great" Once we know the character of God (i.e., holiness, cf. Lev. 19:2; Matt. 5:48) and the truth of God, our sins and their consequences become more evident to us. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil (cf. Genesis 3) brought a revelation of our rebellion and its consequences!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 25:12-15
 12Who is the man who fears the Lord?
 He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
 13His soul will abide in prosperity,
 And his descendants will inherit the land.
 14The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him,
 And He will make them know His covenant.
 15My eyes are continually toward the Lord,
 For He will pluck my feet out of the net.

25:12-15 As in strophes 4-7 and 8-11, the same themes continue here. Notice how the faithful follower is characterized.

1. he fears YHWH, Ps. 25:12,14, cf. Ps. 15:4; 103:11,13; 115:11; 118:4

2. he knows YHWH's covenant, Ps. 25:14

3. his eyes are continually toward YHWH, Ps. 25:15

Notice what YHWH will do for him.

1. He will instruct him in the way, Ps. 25:12, cf. Ps. 16:11; 139:24

2. He will provide good (BDB 373) for him and his descendants, Ps. 25:13

3. He reveals to him His truths, Ps. 25:14

4. He will keep his feet on the path and out of harm, Ps. 25:15

 

25:12 "choose" There is a theological balance in the Bible between the sovereign acts of YHWH and His demand that humans choose Him and His ways (cf. Deut. 30:15,19; Jos. 24:14-15). We are responsible for our choices! See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Election/Predestination and the Need for a Theological Balance

25:14

NASB, NKJV,
NJB"secret"
NRSV"friendship"
TEV"friend"
LXX"empowerment"
JPSOA"counsel"
REB"confides"

The Hebrew word (BDB 691, KB 745) can mean (cf. Job 15:8; Ps. 111:1)

1. confidential discussion — Job 29:4; Ps. 55:14

2. secret counsel — Job 15:8; Pro. 11:13; 20:19; 25:9

3. circle of confidants — Ps. 89:7; Jer. 15:17; 23:18,22

These connotations are fluid and interchangeable. There is a special consultation, fellowship, and impartation of knowledge between the covenant God and His faithful followers.

25:15 As YHWH's eyes (see Special Topic at Ps. 2:4-6) are continuously on those who fear Him and obey Him, so too, the faithful continue to be faithful by keeping their full and focused attention on Him (cf. Heb. 12:2)!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 25:16-22
 16Turn to me and be gracious to me,
 For I am lonely and afflicted.
 17The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
 Bring me out of my distresses.
 18Look upon my affliction and my trouble,
 And forgive all my sins.
 19Look upon my enemies, for they are many,
 And they hate me with violent hatred.
 20Guard my soul and deliver me;
 Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You.
 21Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
 For I wait for You.
 22Redeem Israel, O God,
 Out of all his troubles.

25:16-21 This strophe documents the psalmist's problems.

1. I am lonely

2. I am afflicted

3. his heart has troubles

4. he is in distress

5. his enemies are many

6. they hate him with violent rage

7. he fears shame

In light of these things he asks YHWH

1. to turn to him (i.e., pay attention to him, cf. Ps. 69:16; 86:16)

2. to be gracious to him

3. to look upon/know his problems

4. to forgive His sins (cf. Ps. 25:18; Ps. 32:1; 51:2; 103:3)

5. to guard his soul (cf. Ps. 86:2)

6. to deliver him

His reasons for YHWH doing these things for him are

1. he takes refuge in YHWH

2. he asserts either his or YHWH's integrity and uprightness (because of Ps. 25:18b it is best to see these as characteristics of YHWH. AB (p. 159) suggests they are personified agents of YHWH)

3. he waits for YHWH (cf. Ps. 25:3)

 

25:22 I think this is a separate closing statement (one verse beyond the acrostic pattern). The King represents the people. This is the psalmist's final prayer request and it is national in scope. Redeem (BDB 804, KB 911, Qal imperative, see Special Topic at Ps. 19:14) Your covenant people (i.e., "Israel"), for Your eternal redemptive purposes (see Special Topic at Introduction to Psalm 2).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. List the prayer requests of verses 4-7.

2. List the psalmist's problem in verses 16-21.

3. How would you summarize the message of this Psalm?

4. How would you apply this Psalm to your life?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 26

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Protestation of Integrity and Prayer for Protection A Prayer for Divine Security and Redemption Prayer for Deliverance from Personal Enemies
(A Lament)
The Prayer of a Good Person Prayer of the Blameless
MT Intro
A Psalm of David.
       
26:1-7  26:1-5 26:1-3 26:1-3 26:1
        26:2
        26:3
    26:4-5 26:4-5 26:4-5
  26:6-8 26:6-7 26:6-7 26:6-8
26:8-12   26:8-10 26:8-10  
  26:9-10     26:9-10
  26:11-12 26:11-12 26:11 26:11-12
      26:12  

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This Psalm, like much of Wisdom Literature, is based on the OT concept known as "the two ways" (cf. Deut. 30:15,19; Psalm 1). There is prosperity for those who obey YHWH's word and condemnation for those who do not (i.e., the cursings and blessings of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-29).

 

B. The psalmist apparently has been accused of some covenant violation. The best guess is idolatry.

 

C. Verse 9 implies an end-of-life separation between the faithful and unfaithful. The afterlife in the OT is a vague (cf. Job 14:7-12,13-14; 19:25-27; Ps. 16:10; 49:15; 73:24; Isa. 25:8; 26:19; Dan. 12:1-4) concept but progressive revelation (i.e., NT) clarifies the issue (cf. Matt. 25:46; John 5:29; Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15).

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE RESURRECTION

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 26:1-7
 1Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity,
 And I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
 2Examine me, O Lord, and try me;
 Test my mind and my heart.
 3For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes,
 And I have walked in Your truth.
 4I do not sit with deceitful men,
 Nor will I go with pretenders.
 5I hate the assembly of evildoers,
 And I will not sit with the wicked.
 6I shall wash my hands in innocence,
 And I will go about Your altar, O Lord,
 7That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving
 And declare all Your wonders.

26:1-7 This strophe asserts the psalmist's desire to be vindicated by YHWH. He has been accused of some evil, possibly idolatry.

1. vindicate — BDB 1047, KB1022, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 7:8; 17:2-3; 35:24; 43:1; YHWH tests His people, cf. Jer. 11:20; 12:3; 20:12; see Special Topic at Ps. 11:4b

2. examine me — BDB 103, KB 119, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 139:23

3. test my mind — BDB 650, KB 707, Piel imperative, cf. Ps. 7:9; the mind (lit. "kidneys") and heart were idioms for the whole person (i.e., thoughts, motives, actions)

The author then lists the reasons why he should be vindicated.

1. I have walked in my integrity — BDB 229, KB 246, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 26:3b and 26:11a; Job 4:6; Ps. 7:8; 25:21; 41:12; 78:72; 101:2; Pro. 2:7; 19:1; 20:7; 28:6

2. I have trusted in YHWH without wavering — notice the two verbs.

a. trusted — BDB 105, KB 120, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 13:5; 52:8; this is a settled condition

b. without wavering — BDB 588, KB 609, Qal imperfect which is an ongoing need (cf. Heb. 10:23); similar imagery occurs in Ps. 5:8 and18:36

3. I have walked in Your truth — BDB 229, KB 246, Hithpael perfect with waw; truth here means faithfulness, not creedal

4. I do not sit with deceitful men — BDB 442, KB 444, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 1:1 (this may refer to idolatry, cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 4, p. 54)

5. I do not go with pretenders — BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperfect

6. I hate the assembly of evil doers — BDB 971, KB 1338, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 31:6; 139:21

7. I will not sit with the wicked — BDB 442, KB 444, Qal imperfect

8. I will wash my hands in innocence — BDB 934, KB 1220, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 73:13; Numbers 8 and 9 are ritual acts performed in national worship events (cf. Deut. 21:6)

9. I will go about Your altar — BDB 685, KB 738, Poel cohortative, this refers to some kind of ritual dance or march, cf. Jos. 6:3-15; Ps. 43:3-4; 48:12

10. I will proclaim all Your wonders (see Special Topic at Ps. 9:1)

a. singing aloud — BDB 1033, KB 1570, Hiphil infinitive construct

b. proclaim — BDB 707, KB 765, Piel infinitive construct, cf. Ps. 9:1; 40:5; 75:1

Notice the variations between perfects and imperfects. Remember time is not part of Hebrew verbs, just completed or ongoing action.

Notice how the opponents of faithful followers are characterized.

1. deceitful men (i.e., idolators, worthless, BDB 996, see Special Topic at Ps. 24:4)

2. pretenders (i.e., hypocrites, BDB 761, KB 824, Niphal participle)

3. the assembly of evil doers (BDB 949, KB 1269, Hiphil participle)

4. wicked (BDB 957)

Also, all the psalmist's positive actions could be understood as not performed by his opponents. He is innocent and asks for vindication. They are guilty and deserve condemnation.

The list of descriptive terms for his opponents (cf. Ps. 1:5; 5:10; 15:2-5) is expanded in the next strophe.

5. sinners (BDB 308)

6. men of bloodshed (BDB 60 construct BDB 196, cf. Ps. 5:6; 55:23; 139:19)

7. wicked schemers (BDB 273, cf. Ps. 37:7), AB suggests this refers to idols (p. 163)

8. offer bribes (BDB 1005), cf. Exod. 23:8; Deut. 16:19; Ps. 15:5

One wonders who these people are. Are they covenant people who live faithless lives or non-covenant people with no light? God help us, they seem to be people who had light, truth, and revelation but chose to reject it!

26:3 "lovingkindness" See Special Topic at Ps. 5:7.

26:5 "the assembly of evildoers" The word "assembly" (qahal, BDB 874) is the OT background to the NT designation of the church, ekklesia (lit. "the called out ones," i.e., the church) used in the LXX to translate qahal.

The idea is that there are two kinds of assemblies (cf. Matt. 7:13-14)

1. the faithful people of God — Ps. 22:22,25; 35:18; 40:9,10; 89:5; 107:32; 149:1

2. the evildoers (i.e., idolaters, cf. Ps. 31:6)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 26:8-12
 8O Lord, I love the habitation of Your house
 And the place where Your glory dwells.
 9Do not take my soul away along with sinners,
 Nor my life with men of bloodshed,
 10In whose hands is a wicked scheme,
 And whose right hand is full of bribes.
 11But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
 Redeem me, and be gracious to me.
 12My foot stands on a level place;
 In the congregations I shall bless the Lord.

26:8-12 This strophe parallels the thoughts of Ps. 26:1-7. The psalmist again lists his qualification for acceptance and his opponents' actions/motives for rejection.

The psalmist's qualifications:

1. I love the temple — BDB 12, KB 17, Qal perfect

2. I walk in integrity — BDB 1070, cf. Ps. 26:1

3. my foot stands on a level place (cf. Ps. 27:11). This is imagery for the clear path, the level way of YHWH's covenant, cf. Ps. 119:105

The psalmist asks God to act toward him differently than the way He acts toward the wicked.

1. Do not take my soul away along with sinners (i.e., "gather," BDB 62, KB 74, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense. This verb is used literally of "harvest" (cf. Isa. 62:9). It came to be used of death (cf. Jdgs. 2:10; 2 Kgs. 22:20; 2 Chr. 34:28).

2. Do not take my life with men of bloodshed

These people are characterized by bloodshed, wicked schemes, and bribery. There is a clear obvious lifestyle difference between the faithful follower and the faithless Israelite who performs the acts of worship and participates in the ritual but there is no lifestyle effect (cf. Matt. 7:15-27)!

SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI)

26:8 This imagery refers to the tabernacle of the wilderness (cf. Exodus 25-31, 36-40), but later came to refer to the temple in Jerusalem on Mt. Moriah. It was where YHWH dwelt among humans (i.e., between the wings of the Cherubim above the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies). Faithful followers longed to be in YHWH's presence (cf. Ps. 23:6; 27:4-5).

Verse 6 also refers to the tabernacle/temple (cf. Ps. 24:3-4).

26:11 Even though the psalmist believes he is innocent, he knows that YHWH is pure and holy and all humans are not (cf. Isa. 53:6; Rom. 1:18-3:18). The closer one comes into YHWH's fellowship the more the awareness of personal sin (i.e., omission and commission) becomes a reality. Psalm 19:11-14 expresses this truth well.

26:11b Because of these things he asks YHWH to

1. redeem him — BDB 804, KB 911, Qal imperative, see Special Topic at Ps. 19:14

2. be gracious to him — BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 25:16

He believes YHWH will vindicate him so he will bless YHWH

1. with songs, Ps. 26:7

2. with testimony, 26:7

3. with blessing, 26:12 (BDB 138, KB 159, Piel imperfect)

 

26:12 "congregations" The MT is plural but it may be an example of the plural of majesty. The NRSV, TEV, REB have the singular. The NET Bible makes the plural refer to the "worshipers" (cf. Knox Translation). The plural form appears only here and Ps. 68:26.

▣ "I shall bless the Lord" This refers to public affirmation of one's faith, trust, hope, and allegiance to YHWH (cf. Rom. 10:9-13), probably in a worship setting.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How does YHWH test the mind and heart?

2. Does verse 6 imply a priest is the author?

3. Define the word "wonders" (Ps. 26:7).

4. Explain verse 12a in your own words.

 

Passage: 

Psalm 27

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
A Psalm of Fearless Trust in God An Exuberant Declaration of Faith An Act of Devotion and a Prayer for Deliverance
(Song of Trust)
A Prayer Of Praise In God's Company There Is No Fear
MT Intro
A Psalm of David.
       
27:1-3  27:1-3 27:1 27:1 27:1
    27:2 27:2-3 27:2
    27:3   27:3
27:4-6 27:4-5 27:4 27:4-6 27:4
    27:5   27:5
  27:6 27:6   27:6
        27:6c
27:7-10 27:7-10 27:7-9a 27:7-9a 27:7-9a
    27:9b-10 27:9b-10 27:9b-10
27:11-14 27:11-13 27:11-12 27:11-12 27:11-12
    27:13-14 27:13-14 27:13-14
  27:14      

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. The theme from Psalm 26:8,12; Ps. 27:4; and Ps. 28:2 on being in God's house (i.e., tabernacle or temple) may be why these Psalms are placed together. In a sense Psalm 27 continues and fulfills the "trust in the Lord without wavering" theme of Ps. 26:1.

 

B. This psalm has such beautiful parallelism.

 

C. No one knows for sure the procedural criteria nor the person(s) involved in structuring the Psalter as we know it (and for that matter, the whole OT). It is a faith presupposition that the Spirit guided the editorial and collection process, as He did the writing of Scripture.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 27:1-3
 1The Lord is my light and my salvation;
 Whom shall I fear?
 The Lord is the defense of my life;
 Whom shall I dread?
 2When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
 My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
 3Though a host encamp against me,
 My heart will not fear;
 Though war arise against me,
 In spite of this I shall be confident.

27:1-3 This psalm characterizes what YHWH is to the psalmist.

1. light — BDB 21, i.e., this could refer to:

a. instruction — Pro. 6:23

b. guide — Ps. 43:3

c. YHWH's presence — Ps. 4:6; 44:3; 89:15

d. life and vitality — Job 33:28; Ps. 36:10; Micah 7:8, see UBS Handbook p. 261

The concept of "light" was a powerful image in the ancient world. Darkness was to be feared but light was a blessing. The imagery of God as light had several connotations (cf. Isa. 60:1,19-20; Micah 7:8; and John 8:12).

2. salvation — BDB 447, this could refer to

a. safety — Ps. 12:6; Job 5:4,11

b. rescue — Ps. 50:23; 69:14; 85:7,9

c. rock of. . . — Ps. 95:1

d. horn of. . . — Ps. 18:3

3. refuge — BDB 731 (i.e., place of safety, cf. Ps. 28:8; 31:2-3; 37:39-40; 2 Sam. 22:31-32)

There is no "to be" verb in verse 1, lines 1 and 3. The other verbs are imperfects (like Ps. 27:3) which speak of ongoing action. Note the contrast with the state of the evildoers/adversaries/enemies in verse 2. Their status (perfects) is set. They have stumbled and are fallen. The imperfect verbs continue in verse 3. Life has its trials, problems, incidents, but God is always with us and for us!

What are faithful followers to do in light of the experiences of life in a fallen world?

1. fear not, Ps. 27:1,3 (BDB 431, KB 432, Qal imperfects)

2. dread not, Ps. 27:1 (BDB 808, KB 922, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 118:6; Rom. 8:31)

3. be confident, Ps. 27:3 (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal active participle)

True faith is a personal relationship with God, a new worldview, a new lifestyle (cf. Rom. 8:31-39)! All of this is possible because of the character and revelation of God. He is with and for us and wants to have a daily personal relationship with us, even in a fallen world with sinful people!!

27:2 Notice the different words used to describe the opponents.

1. evildoers, Ps. 27:2 — BDB 949, KB 1269, Hiphil participle

2. adversaries, Ps. 27:2,12 — BDB 865 III

3. enemies, Ps. 27:2,6 — BDB 33, KB 38, Qal participle

They are said to have "stumbled" and "fell" (cf. Jer. 50:32). Both are Qal perfects. Their fate and judgment are viewed as already having occurred! Their doom is sure!

▣ "to devour my flesh" The TEV has "kill me" and this is the thrust of the idiom (cf. Ps. 14:4). It may imply the evildoers act like wild carnivores!

The RSV thinks it means "to slander" (i.e., "backbiting," based on Dan. 3:8), but the NRSV uses a more literal translation.

27:3 This verse strongly implies that the psalmist is a king. The context of Psalm 1-41 suggests it is David.

Note the word play between "host" (הנחמ, BDB 334) and "encamp" (הנחת, BDB 333). These kinds of sound plays occur often in Hebrew poetry.

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 27:4-6
 4One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
 That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
 To behold the beauty of the Lord
 And to meditate in His temple.
 5For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
 In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
 He will lift me up on a rock.
 6And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
 And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
 I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

27:4-6 The psalmist lists a series of prayer requests. Notice the parallel of perfect and imperfect verbs.

1. "I have asked" — BDB 981, K 1371, Qal perfect denotes a completed act

2. "I shall seek" — BDB 134, KB 152, Piel imperfect denotes an intense continuing prayer life

In interpreting the psalms we must remember that these requests serve two functions.

1. they reflect the heart and mind (i.e., new worldview, cf. Ezek. 36:22-38) of a faithful follower

2. they contrast and clearly reveal the heart and mind of false followers

Those who oppose God's leaders oppose God! It is not vengeance that is sought, but justice and the revelation of YHWH's character!

27:4 Note the fervent requests.

1. I may dwell (Qal infinitive construct) in the house of the Lord all the days of my life (cf. Ps. 23:6)

2. I may behold (Qal infinitive construct, often used of prophet's visions, BDB 302) the beauty (see note below) of the Lord

3. I may meditate (Piel infinitive construct) in His temple

 

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, JPSOA,
NRSV, REB"beauty"
NASB Margin"delightfulness"
LXX"pleasantness"
TEV"goodness"
NJB"sweetness"

The Hebrew word (BDB 653) basically means "pleasant," "delightful." The noun is used mostly in Proverbs and describes several different things. In the context of the temple it may denote a vision of God or the afterlife. It may be parallel to "goodness" (BDB 375) in verse 13, which also denotes a perfect setting with God.

Here is a sample of the use of this term in Proverbs.

1. noun — Pro. 3:17; 15:26; 16:21

2. adjective — Pro. 22:18; 23:8; 24:4

3. verb — Pro. 2:10; 9:17; 24:25

 

27:5 The results of his prayers are:

1. YHWH will conceal (BDB 860, KB 1049, Qal imperfect) him in His tabernacle (cf. Ps. 76:2) in his day of trouble.

2. YHWH will hide (BDB 711, KB 771, Hiphil imperfect) him in the secret place of His tent.

3. YHWH will lift him up (BDB 926, KB 1202, Polel imperfect) upon a rock (i.e., YHWH Himself).

 

I wonder if the Jews of old quoted this verse just before

1. the temple fell to Babylon, Egypt, Neo-Babylon

2. Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 b.c.) violated the temple

3. the Romans invaded the temple under Titus (a.d. 70)

We must remember that biblical promises have effect only

1. to faithful followers

2. in light of God's larger purposes in history

 

27:6 Because YHWH has responded in such wonderful ways to the psalmist's prayers (i.e., "my head will be lifted up above my enemies")

1. he will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy (lit. "sacrifices of shouts of joy"; verses such as this imply a verbal sacrifice was used by Jews following the destruction of their temple to simulate the annual sacrifices no longer possible)

2. he will sing praises to YHWH

There are three cohortative verbs in this verse. The psalmist believes he will be in YHWH's presence (i.e., the temple).

1. I will offer a sacrifice — BDB 256, KB 261, Qal

2. I will sing — BDB 1010, KB 1479, Qal

3. I will sing praises — BDB 274, KB 273, Piel

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 27:7-10
 7Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
 And be gracious to me and answer me.
 8When You said, " Seek My face," my heart said to You,
 "Your face, O Lord, I shall seek."
 9Do not hide Your face from me,
 Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
 You have been my help;
 Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
 O God of my salvation!
 10For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
 But the Lord will take me up.

27:7-10 Often in the Psalms separate strophes repeat the emphasis or theme of previous strophes. This could be explained as

1. another level of purposeful parallelism

2. the editorial process whereby

a. words

b. themes

c. moods

d. actions

which are similar in sound, meaning, or theology are grouped together by later editors/compilers.

27:7 "Hear. . .cry" The first is a Qal imperative (BDB 1033, KB 1570), so common in the Psalms as a way of beseeching God. The second verb, "cry" (BDB 894, KB 1128, Qal imperfect), also denotes prayer. This verse repeats the focus of verse 4.

The context of the prayer request is

1. be gracious to me — BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative

2. answer me — BDB 772, KB 851, Qal imperative

 

27:8 Notice that NASB and NKJV have an introductory phrase in italics (i.e., "When You said"), which denotes that it is not part of the Hebrew text. The NRSV and NJB translations assume the speaker is the psalmist.

The verb "seek" (BDB 134, KB 152) is repeated

1. first an opening Qal imperative (plural)

2. second a Piel imperfect (singular, the opening verb of Ps. 27:8 is also singular)

These seem to represent a dialogue between YHWH and the psalmist. One calls and the other appropriately responds. The verb "seek" denotes a call to a personal relationship (cf. Ps. 24:6; Deut. 4:29), which denotes worship and obedience. In this Psalm, because of the emphasis on prayer, it may parallel Ps. 27:4 and 7.

▣ "face" This is a Hebrew idiom for close personal contact (cf. Ps. 24:6), where both "seek" and "face" occur together.

27:9 There is a series of jussive verbs which denote the things the psalmist asks YHWH not to do.

1. do not hide Your face from me — BDB 711, KB 771, Hiphil jussive, cf. Ps. 69:17; 102:2; 143:7

2. do not turn away Your servant in anger — BDB 639, KB 692, Hiphil jussive

3. do not abandon me — BDB 643, KB 693, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 94:14, unless they cease to be faithful followers (cf. Jer. 12:7)

4. do not forsake me — BDB 736, KB 806, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

Notice the personal element involved in all these requests!

27:10

NASB"for"
NKJV"when"
NRSV"if"
TEV"may"
NJB, JPSOA,
NRSV, REB"though"
NET Bible"even if"

The introductory conjunction (BDB 471-475) has a wide semantical field. Only context can determine meaning. Obviously this context does not allow a clear translation.

▣ "my father and my mother forsake me" This is the same verb which was used in Ps. 27:9. Even though the translation of this phrase is uncertain, the meaning is obvious. One's closest human companions or family may leave but the covenant God will never leave (cf. Deut. 31:6; Jos. 1:5; Isa. 49:15; Heb. 13:5)!

The UBS Handbook (p. 266) mentions that TEV, NEB, JB take the verse as expressing a theoretical possibility to make a strong literary point, not a real abandonment.

One wonders if this may reflect YHWH's promise to David and his descendants in 2 Samuel 7. Possibly verse 13 relates to 2 Sam. 7:28.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 27:11-14
 11Teach me Your way, O Lord,
 And lead me in a level path
 Because of my foes.
 12Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
 For false witnesses have risen against me,
 And such as breathe out violence.
 13I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
 In the land of the living.
 14Wait for the Lord;
 Be strong and let your heart take courage;
 Yes, wait for the Lord.

27:11-14 This strophe starts out with more prayer requests (Ps. 27:11-12), moves to a testimony of faith (Ps. 27:13), and concludes with good advice (Ps. 27:14).

27:11-12 The prayer requests are

1. teach me Your way — BDB 434, KB 436, Hiphil imperative, cf. Ps. 25:4-5; 86:11

2. lead me in a level path — BDB 634, KB 685, Qal imperative, cf. Deut. 5:32-33; 31:29; Ps. 5:8; 26:12; 139:24; this is the OT background for the church being called "The Way," cf. Acts 9:2; 18:25; 19:9,23; 22:4; 24:14,22; John 14:6

3. do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries — BDB 678, KB 733, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

The psalmist gives two reasons for his prayers in this strophe.

1. because of my foes (lit. "those who lie in wait for me"), Ps. 27:11

2. for false witnesses have risen against me, Ps. 27:12

 

27:13 This verse expresses the psalmist's faith ("believed" — BDB 52, KB 63, Hiphil perfect) and worldview. He believed there was

1. justice in this life because of the character of YHWH

2. a future life with YHWH in the land of the living (cf. Job 14:7-12,13-14; 19:25-27; Ps. 16:10; 49:15; 73:24; 116:8-9; 142:5; Isa. 25:8; 26:19; 38:11)

 

27:14 In light of the psalmist's faith and worldview he admonishes others to

1. wait for the Piel imperative, cf. Ps. 25:3; 37:34; 40:1; 62:1,5; 130:5; Pro. 20:22; Isa. 8:17; 25:9; 33:2

2. be strong — BDB 304, KB 302, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 31:24

3. let your heart take courage — BDB 54, KB 65, Hiphil jussive

4. wait for the Lord — BDB same as #1

Some scholars (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 439) see verse 14 as

1. self-admonition (the psalmist)

2. a priestly oracle given at the temple

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How is "fear" the key word in the first strophe?

2. Verse 2 and Psalm 23:6 sound similar, what does this imagery imply?

3. Are verses 4-6 about the tabernacle or the temple?

4. Why is verse 9 so troubling? Does the covenant God abandon His followers?

5. What does verse 10 mean? Is it literal or figurative?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 28

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
A Prayer for Help, and Praise For Its Answer Rejoicing in Answered Prayer Prayer for Deliverance From Personal Enemies
(A Lament)
A Prayer For Help Petition and Thanksgiving
MT Intro
A Psalm of David.
       
28:1-5  28:1-2 28:1-2 28:1-3 28:1
        28:2
  28:3-5 28:3-5   28:3
      28:4-5 28:4
        28:5
28:6-9 28:6-7 28:6-7 28:6-7 28:6
        28:7
  28:8-9 28:8-9 28:8-9 28:8-9

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 28:1-5
 1To You, O Lord, I call;
 My rock, do not be deaf to me,
 For if You are silent to me,
 I will become like those who go down to the pit.
 2Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help,
 When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.
 3Do not drag me away with the wicked
 And with those who work iniquity,
 Who speak peace with their neighbors,
 While evil is in their hearts.
 4Requite them according to their work and according to the evil of their practices;
 Requite them according to the deeds of their hands;
 Repay them their recompense.
 5Because they do not regard the works of the Lord
 Nor the deeds of His hands,
 He will tear them down and not build them up.

28:1-5 There is some disagreement of how to divide the strophes in this Psalm (look at front page of this chapter). NASB has Ps. 28:1-5, 6-9, so I will use it. The first strophe is a lament and the second a psalm of thanksgiving.

The psalmist prays for

1. YHWH to hear him when he prays

2. YHWH not to drag him away like the wicked

In verse 4 he uses three imperatives to describe what God should do to the wicked.

1. give them (BDB 678, KB 733, Qal imperative) according to their deeds (cf. Job 34:11; Ps. 62:12; Pro. 24:12; Eccl. 12:14; Jer. 17:10; 32:19; Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Rom. 2:6; 14:12; 1 Cor. 3:8; 2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:7-10; 2 Tim. 4:14; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 2:23; 20:12; 22:12)

2. give them according to their evil practices (verb assumed from #1)

3. give them (same verb as #1) according to their actions (lit. "work of their hands")

4. reward (BDB 996, KB 1427, Hiphil imperative) them dire reward (lit. "dealings," BDB 168)

28:1 "My rock" This imagery speaks of permanence, strength, stability, protection (see full note at Ps. 18:2).

▣ "do not. . ." These are two imperfects used in a jussive sense.

1. hear — do not be deaf, BDB 361 II, cf. Ps. 35:22; 39:12; 83:1; 109:1 (parallel to "silent," BDB 364)

2. v. 2 — do not drag me away, BDB 604 (i.e., possibly like an animal or a prisoner of war)

 

▣ "the pit" The term (BDB 92, cf. Ps. 88:4; 143:7; Pro. 28:17) is a synonym for Sheol. See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead? at Ps. 1:5. It probably related to

1. a dug grave (cf. Isa. 14:9; Ezek. 32:25)

2. a hole in the hill for burial

3. an opening which goes into Sheol (cf. Ps. 30:4; Pro. 1:12; Isa. 14:15; 38:18; Ezek. 26:20)

 

28:2 "When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary" This gesture has several connotations.

1. an act of blessing after a sacrifice by a priest — Lev. 9:22 (i.e., some sacrifices were lifted up to YHWH)

2. an act on the part of a worshiper after a sacrifice of incense — Ps. 141:2

3. a gesture toward the sanctuary — Ps. 134:2

4. a posture of prayer, hands raised, cf. Exod. 9:29 (Moses); 1 Kgs. 8:22 (Solomon); Lam. 2:19; 3:41 (Israel); Luke 24:50 (Jesus); 1 Tim. 2:8 (believers)

5. a posture for praise, adoration, or public confession — Ps. 63:4

6. a way to show YHWH's power as His staff was lifted up in Moses' hands (cf. Exod. 17:8-12)

Here it is meant to symbolize a clean life (cf. 1 Tim. 2:8), open to God and a life that recognizes its need to receive from God (see negative usage in Ps. 44:20).

NASB"toward Your holy sanctuary"
NASB margin,
NRSV footnote"the innermost place"
NJB"Holy of Holies"
JPSOA"inner sanctuary"
LXX"court"
REB"shrine"

This Hebrew term (BDB 184 I) basically means "back part," "innermost." In 1 Kings 6:16,19,20,21, 22,23,31; 7:49; 8:6,8 it refers to the Holy of Holies (cf. Exod. 26:31-35), where the ark of the covenant stood between Solomon's giant cherubim.

Faithful followers in the Old Covenant faced the temple (cf. 1 Kings 8, Solomon's great prayer at the dedication of the Temple) when they prayed because it was there that YHWH dwelt between the wings of the cherubim. It was where heaven and earth met. The ark of the covenant was YHWH's footstool.

However, in the New Covenant, God is present in all places (cf. John 4:20-24). The new temple is Jesus (cf. John 2:19,21)!

28:3,5 "Because. . ." Verses 3 and 5 list the activities and attitudes of the wicked (i.e., practical atheists).

1. who work iniquity, Ps. 28:3

2. who speak peace to their neighbor but have evil in their hearts (see Special Topic at Ps. 4:7)

3. who do not regard the works of God, Ps. 28:5 (God's people must "regard" who He is by what He has done, cf. Deut. 32:7; Ps. 107:43; Jer. 2:10; Hos. 14:9)

4. who do not regard the deeds of God (parallel), Ps. 28:5, cf. Isa. 5:12

 

28:5 The last line of verse 5 tells what God will do to them (compare Jer. 1:10).

1. tear them down — BDB 248, KB 256, Qal imperfect, Ps. 28:5

2. not build them up — BDB 124, KB 139, Qal imperfect, negated, Ps. 28:5

The three imperfects of verse 5 denote the continuous actions of the wicked. Their lives are characterized by ignoring God and hurting others, therefore, God's judgments are also ongoing (i.e., perennial destruction, cf. Isa. 6:9-10; Jer. 1:10).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 28:6-9
 6Blessed be the Lord,
 Because He has heard the voice of my supplication.
 7The Lord is my strength and my shield;
 My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
 Therefore my heart exults,
 And with my song I shall thank Him.
 8The Lord is their strength,
 And He is a saving defense to His anointed.
 9Save Your people and bless Your inheritance;
 Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.

28:6-9 A radical mood swing occurs at verse 6. This strophe spells out the reasons why YHWH is to be blessed (Ps. 28:6a).

1. He hears his prayer

2. He is both his strength and shield

3. He is his refuge

In verses 8 and 9 the focus changes from the King (i.e., "His anointed") to His covenant people. As YHWH saved the King, may he now save His people! This fluidity between the singular and plural is common in the Psalms.

▣ "Blessed be the Lord" This is a recurrent theme in the Psalms. He is blessed by His faithful followers for many reasons, but all of them come back to who He is and what He has done! This phrase became a liturgical formula (cf. Ps.18:46; 28:6; 31:21; 41:13; 66:20; 68:35; 72:18; 89:52; 106:48; 119:12; 124:6; 135:21; 144:1). Let all that has breath praise the Lord!

28:7 As verses 3 and 5 describe the wicked, verse 7 describes the faithful follower.

1. his heart trusts in Him — BDB 105, KB 1200, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 112:7 (note the theological connection between human's trust and divine deliverance/salvation, cf. Ps. 22:4-5; 25:1-3; 28:7; 31:14-15; 86:2; see note at NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 646)

2. he is helped by God — BDB 740, KB 810, Niphal perfect

3. his heart exults — BDB 759, KB 831, Qal imperfect with waw

4. he thanks Him with song — BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect (continual praise)

Just a brief comment about the MT verses the LXX. There was probably a more ancient Hebrew text behind both of them. There are MSS in the DSS that follow the MT and others follow the LXX. The early church used the LXX almost exclusively. Verse 7 is a good example of their translating a different Hebrew text. The LXX has (see note in AB, p. 173)

"The Lord is my helper and my protector; in him my heart hoped,

And I was helped and my flesh revived, and from my will I shall acknowledge him."

▣ "shield" See note at Ps. 3:3.

28:8 "their" The UBS Text Project gives "to His people" a "C" rating (i.e., considerable doubt).

1. to them — למו (NKJV, JPSOA)

2. to His people — לעמו (NRSV, TEV, NJB, REB)

The Septuagint uses #2, as do some Hebrew manuscripts. Apparently one Hebrew letter has fallen out of the MT.

▣ "His anointed" See SPECIAL TOPIC: MESSIAH at Ps. 2:2. See similar usage in Ps. 18:50.

28:9 There is a series of imperatives directed in prayer to YHWH, beseeching Him to act on behalf of the covenant people.

1. save — BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative, cf. Ps. 106:47

2. bless — BDB 138, KB 159, Piel imperative

3. shepherd — BDB 944, KB 1258, Qal imperative (The NASB Study Bible [p. 765] makes the comment that "shepherd" links up with Psalm 23 and probably marks off Psalm 23-28 as a collection of psalms linked by several common themes)

4. carry (i.e., "lift up"), Piel imperative, cf. Isa. 40:11; 63:9

Several Psalms close with a corporate focus (i.e., Ps. 3:8; 15:7; 25:22; 29:11; 51:18-19; 130:8).

▣ "Your inheritance" YHWH gave a land allotment to all the nations (cf. Deut. 32:9), but the descendants of Abraham were His special people (cf. Exod. 19:5-6; 1 Kgs. 8:51; Ps. 33:12). He showed this by His promised exodus out of Egypt (cf. Gen. 15:12-21). He displayed His power and love (cf. Deut. 9:29). Moses beseeched YHWH not to judge His sinful people because the pagan nations would not understand (cf. Deut. 9:26-29). His people were meant to reveal His character to all nations (see Special Topic at the Intro. to Psalm 2). But if they continued in sin and idolatry there was rejection (cf. Ps. 106:40; Ezek. 36:22-23).

▣ "forever" See Special Topic: Forever at Psalm 9:5.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the OT view of death?

2. Is verse 4 the same truth as Gal. 6:7?

3. Is verse 5c related to Isa. 6:9-10 or Jer. 1:10?

4. Why do psalms that reflect an individual's thoughts and situation end in communal imperatives?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 29

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Voice of the Lord in the Storm Praise to God in His Holiness and Majesty Hymn to the God of the Storm The Voice of the Lord in the Storm Hymn to the Lord of the Storm
MT Intro
A Psalm of David.
       
29:1-2  29:1-2 29:1-2 29:1-2 29:1-2
29:3-9 29:3-4 29:3-4 29:3-4 29:3-4
  29:5-7 29:5-6 29:5-6 29:5-6
    29:7-8 29:7-9 29:7-9b
  29:8-9      
    29:9   29:9c-11
29:10-11 29:10-11 29:10-11 29:10-11  

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This is a psalm about natural revelation (i.e., God reveals Himself to everyone through creation).

1. Psalm 19:1-6 (silent voice in creation)

2. Romans 1:19-23 (knowledge of God from nature)

3. Romans 2:14-16 (inner moral witness)

 

B. The imagery of the psalm occurs to encompass

1. YHWH's defeat of the chaos of initial creation (i.e., water, cf. Ps. 29:3,10, the term "flood" [BDB 550] occurs only here and Genesis, chapters 6-11)

2. YHWH's power in a storm (cf. Ps. 29:3-9; cf. Ps. 18:7,15)

 

C. YHWH, not Ba'al, defeats, controls, and sends water. Many scholars note the numerous similarities to Ugaritic mythology and other ANE literature.

 

D. The UBS Handbook asserts that this psalm is a chiasm (p. 275).

1. fourfold use of YHWH in verses 1-2 and 10-11

2. "strength" (BDB 738) in Ps. 29:1 and 11

3. waters referred to in Ps. 29:3 and 10

4. YHWH's majesty referred to in Ps. 29:4 and 10

5. trees mentioned in Ps. 29:5 and 9

6. geographical places in Ps. 29:6 and 8

My problem with this is that a chiasm usually places the most significant theological statement at the middle but verse 7 does not fit this pattern.

E. This Psalm may refer to

1. a theophany as YHWH is depicted as coming in the imagery of a violent storm

2. but the thrust is a military victory (cf. Ps. 29:11)

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 29:1-2
 1Ascribe to the Lord, O sons of the mighty,
 Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
 2Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name;
 Worship the Lord in holy array.

29:1-2 "Ascribe" This verb (BDB 396, KB 393, Qal imperative) is repeated three times. It basically means "give glory to God (cf. Deut. 32:3). This same pattern is also in Psalm 96:7-8 and 1 Chr. 16:28-29. The threefold repetition denotes a superlative emphasis.

29:1

NASB"sons of the mighty"
NKJV"you mighty ones"
NRSV, TEV"heavenly beings"
NJB, LXX"sons of God"
JPSOA"divine beings"
REB"you angelic powers"

The MT has "sons of gods" (lit. "sons of Elim," BDB 119 construct BDB 42). It refers to the angels (cf. Gen. 6:2 ["sons of elohim"]; Ps. 103:20-21) or the heavenly angelic council (cf. Exod. 15:11; 2 Kgs. 22:19; Ps. 82:1; 86:6-8).

See Special Topic: The Sons of God below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: "the sons of God" in Genesis 6

▣ "glory and strength" These are two common terms applied to YHWH.

1. glory — BDB 458

2. strength — BDB 738

 

29:2 "Worship" This is the fourth in a series of four opening imperatives (lit. "bow down," BDB 1005, KB 295, Hishpael imperative). This is what faithful followers do as they come to His temple in holy array. This involves not just clothing but covenant obedience.

▣ "His name" This is an idiomatic way of referring to YHWH Himself. See Special Topic: The Name of YHWH at Psalm 5:11-12.

NASB"in holy array"
NKJV"in the beauty of holiness"
NRSV, NJB"in holy splendor"
JPSOA,
NASB margin"majestic in holiness"
REB, NET"in holy attire"
LXX, Peshitta"in His holy court"

The ambiguous phrase (BDB 214 construct BDB 871) also appears in three other temple worship contexts (cf. Ps. 96:9; 110:3; 1 Chr. 16:29). The TEV footnote offers three possible ways to translate the phrase.

1. when He (YHWH) appears (from Ugarit root, cf. TEV, i.e., YHWH Himself; this then would be similar to the theophany of Exodus 19-20)

2. garments of worship (Aaron's garments are described in a similar way in Exod. 28:2)

3. in His beautiful temple (seems to reflect LXX)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 29:3-9
 3The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
 The God of glory thunders,
 The Lord is over many waters.
 4The voice of the Lord is powerful,
 The voice of the Lord is majestic.
 5The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
 Yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
 6He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
 And Sirion like a young wild ox.
 7The voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire.
 8The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
 The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
 9The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve
 And strips the forests bare;
 And in His temple everything says, "Glory!"

29:3-9 This strophe is dominated by "the voice of the Lord." There seem to be two ways to view it.

1. YHWH the creator, cf. Ps. 29:3,10 (cf. Genesis 1; Psalm 93)

2. YHWH the true storm God and giver of rain (cf. Ps. 29:3-9, i.e., in opposition to Ba'al's claims)

Notice the way YHWH's voice is characterized (Ps. 29:4-9).

1. powerful (BDB 470)

2. majestic (same root in Ps. 29:2b, BDB 214)

3. breaks the cedars (verb, BDB 990, KB 1402 repeated in Ps. 29:5)

4. makes Lebanon and Sirion (i.e., Mt. Hermon, cf. Deut. 3:9) jump

5. lightning (cf. Ps. 18:12,14) flames trees

6. makes the wilderness shake (verb, BDB 296, KB 297, repeated in Ps. 29:8)

7. makes deer calve

8. strips forests bare (BDB 362 I)

It is important to remember that the spoken word was a very important and pervasive theological concept to the ancient Hebrews.

1. creation by the spoken word — Genesis 1

2. power of the spoken word of God — Isa. 14:24; 25:1; 45:23; 46:10; 55:11; 59:21; Matt. 24:35

3. the Messiah is called "the Word" in John 1:1-5,14; Rev. 19:13

4. the imagery of the returning Messiah with a two-edged sword for a tongue — Rev. 1:16; 2:12

 

29:6 "Lebanon. . .Sirion" These are geographical references north of the Promised Land of Canaan. The term "Sirion" for Mt. Hermon is rare (cf. Deut. 3:9). Because of this and the obvious context or "storm" imagery, many modern scholars have seen this Psalm as a reworking of an original hymn to Ba'al (Canaanite storm god). The Ras Shamra texts are opening much of the veiled imagery of the OT in light of Canaanite mythology. Hebrew authors often took the descriptions of pagan deities and changed them to descriptions and titles of YHWH. They knew He was the one and only true God (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM at Psalm 2:7).

For a good brief discussion of ancient cosmology see IVP Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, pp. 169-174.

29:9a The same verb (BDB 296, KB 297) translated "shake" in verse 8 (twice) is now used of calving (cf. Job 39:1) and of Sarah giving birth in Isa. 51:2.

If one tries to keep a synonymous parallelism between 29:9b and 29:5b, then he must change "hinds" (MT, UBS Text Project gives it a "B" rating) to "oaks" (cf. TEV, NJB, same consonants, just a change of vowels). This is done to try to continue the possible chiastic pattern.

The NET Bible (p. 885 #21) suggests an emendation of "forests" to "female mountain goats" in order to maintain the synonymous parallelism between verses 9a and 6. JPSOA has a footnote, "brings ewes to early birth" as an option (BDB 362 II).

29:9c The summary of all this action (i.e., the physical results of a strong thunderstorm) is that in His temple everything says, "Glory!"

YHWH the creator is providing agricultural abundance by rain in its season. The Creator is also the Sustainer! (See a good article on "Providence" in IVP Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, pp. 681-683.)

The NJB makes Ps. 29:9c the beginning of Ps. 29:10-12.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 29:10-11
 10The Lord sat as King at the flood;
 Yes, the Lord sits as King forever.
 11The Lord will give strength to His people;
 The Lord will bless His people with peace.

29:10 The word "King" is not in line 1 but is in line 2. The flood refers (1) to Genesis 6-9 (cf. Gen. 6:17) or (1) to the original creation (cf. Gen. 1:2).

The concept of YHWH as King goes back to 1 Sam.8:7. It is stated as a theological assertion in Psalm 10:16 and here. The imagery is of YHWH sitting on a throne (cf. Ps. 2:4; 113:5 and the imagery in Isaiah 6) or having a scepter.

▣ "sat. . .sits as King" The verb "sat" or "enthroned (BDB 442, KB 444) forever" is a recurrent theme (cf. Exod. 15:18; Ps. 9:7; 10:16; 29:10; 66:7; 145:13; 146:10; Jer. 10:10; Lam. 5:19).

▣ "over the flood" The preposition implies

1. power and authority over the waters of chaos (LXX)

2. YHWH in heaven is above the upper waters (i.e., rains), above the clouds (cf. Gen. 1:6-7; Ps. 148:4)

The term "flood" (BDB 550) is found only in Genesis and here in Psalm 29:10.

29:11 Because YHWH is King, His people are secure. His promises are secure. His purposes for the future are secure!

Even amidst the "storm" when the powers of nature seem so severe, YHWH's people are at peace (cf. Matt. 8:23-27; 14:22-33)! Jesus also demonstrated this divine power over the wind and waves!

Passage: 

Psalm 30

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Thanksgiving For Deliverance From Death The Blessedness of Answered Prayer Thanksgiving For Healing A Prayer of Thanksgiving Thanksgiving After Mortal Danger
MT Intro
"A Psalm; A Song at the Dedication of the House.
A Psalm of David."
       
30:1-5  30:1-3 30:1-3 30:1-3 30:1-3
  30:4-7 30:4-7 30:4-5 30:4-5
30:6-9     30:6-7 30:6-7
  30:8-10 30:8-10 30:8-10 30:8-9
30:10-12       30:10-12
  30:11-12 30:11-12 30:11-12  

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

The introduction, which is in the MT, is not original (i.e., not in DSS psalms). It was obviously added later (cf. Introduction to Psalms 7, 60). I do not accept these introductions as inspired (see Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties, p. 243), therefore, I do not comment on them.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 30:1-5
 1I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up,
 And have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
 2O Lord my God,
 I cried to You for help, and You healed me.
 3O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol;
 You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.
 4Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones,
 And give thanks to His holy name.
 5For His anger is but for a moment,
 His favor is for a lifetime;
 Weeping may last for the night,
 But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

30:1-5 The psalmist extols and praises YHWH for deliverance from death.

30:1 "I will extol" This verb (BDB 926, KB 1202, Polel imperfect used in a cohortative sense) has two primary meanings.

1. to exalt, extol (here of YHWH), cf. Exod. 15:2; Ps. 34:3; 99:5,9; 107:32; 118:28; 145:1; Isa. 25:1

2. to lift up (referring to praise of YHWH), cf. 2 Sam. 22:47; Ps. 18:46; 21:13; 46:10; 57:5,11

This praise is given because YHWH has acted.

1. He lifted up (BDB 194, KB 222, Piel perfect) the psalmist, Ps. 30:1 (this term was used of drawing water from a well and may refer to divine rescue from the pit, cf. Ps. 30:4).

2. He did not let the psalmist's enemies rejoice (BDB 33, KB 38, Qal participle), cf. Ps. 25:2; 41:11.

3. He healed him (BDB 750, KB 1272, Qal imperfect with waw), Ps. 30:2.

4. He brought his soul up from Sheol (BDB 748, KB 828, Hiphil perfect), Ps. 30:3.

5. He has kept him alive (BDB 310, KB 309, Piel perfect), Ps. 30:3.

 

30:2 "O Lord my God" This is two of the most common designations of Israel's Deity (see SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at Ps. 1:1).

1. YHWH — God as Savior, the covenant-making God, cf. Gen. 2:4

2. Elohim — God as creator and provider of all life on this planet, cf. Gen. 1:1

Notice how this Psalm starts with this title (Ps. 30:2) and ends with this title (Ps. 30:12). This is typical of Hebraic literary style (i.e., inclusio).

SPECIAL TOPIC: IS HEALING GOD'S PLAN FOR EVERY AGE?

▣ "You healed me" See Special Topic below.

30:3 "Sheol. . .pit" These two terms (synonymous parallelism) refer to the grave or the holding place of the dead. See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead? at Ps. 1:6.

Notice that antithetical parallelism common in this Psalm. It demonstrates, in very real-to-life ways, the "two ways" of Psalm 1.

For a good brief discussion of "pit" see IVP, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, p. 646-647.

30:4

NASB"godly ones"
NKJV"saints"
NRSV"faithful ones"
TEV"faithful people"

This adjective (BDB 339) is formed from the noun hesed (BDB 338), which denoted covenant loyalty (See Special Topic at Ps. 5:7).

1. On God's part; He is faithful to His covenant promises.

2. On the faithful follower's part; he/she must be obedient and steadfast to their covenant obligations.

It becomes a common title in the Psalms for faithful covenant followers (i.e., Ps. 4:3 and many more). Several translations (TEV, NJB) see 30:4-5 as a separate strophe imploring faithful followers to join in the praise of YHWH (see paragraph divisions on the front page of this Psalm).

In this context they are called to

1. sing praise — BDB 274, KB 273, Piel imperative

2. give thanks — BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperative

 

NASB, NRSV,
JPSOA"name"
NKJV"remembrance"
TEV"remember"
NJB"unforgettable"

The MT has the noun "remembrance" or "memorial" (BDB 271, cf. Hos. 12:5). Here it refers to YHWH's gracious character and powerful acts on behalf of His people (cf. Ps. 6:5; 30:5; 97:12; 102:12; 111:4; 145:7). The Hebrew concept of "name" is here, but not the word. Both occur in parallel in Ps. 135:13 and Isa. 26:8. Also notice the focus on "memorial-name" in Exod. 3:15.

30:5 This verse has captured the wonder of grace to fallen humanity (antithetical parallel). This is a fallen world but YHWH would not allow the broken fellowship of Eden to be permanent. There are consequences to sin and rebellion but by His grace, mediated through a faithful follower's faith (cf. Eph. 2:8-9), there is forgiveness and restoration (cf. Ps. 103:8-14; Isa. 54:7-8)! The only permanent consequence is unbelief. It is the unpardonable sin (see Special Topics below).

The first two lines of Ps. 30:5 have no verbs. The tense structure emphasizes the theological point

"For a moment His anger

For a lifetime His favour!"

The AB (p. 182) suggests that "lifetime" (BDB 213) means "eternal life," based on Ps. 21:4. However, Ps. 91:16 is the normal OT usage of this word, which refers to this life.

Just an added thought about "anger" in this context. The OT saw a linkage between sin and sickness (cf. James 5:13-18). Jesus seems to modify this view in John 9:1-12. If God judged us in light of our sin we would all be sick and dying. The wonderful truth is we deserve "anger" but we get mercy, grace, and love! We, however, are not all healed (see Special Topic at Ps. 30:2)! Yet He is with us in our sufferings (cf. Rom. 8:18-25; 2 Cor. 4:17).

▣ "His anger" This root (BDB 60) is related to "nose" (i.e., red face) or "snort" (unspoken but vocal sign of human emotion). See SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS HUMAN (ANTHROPOMORPHISM) (anthropomorphism) at Ps. 2:4-6

SPECIAL TOPIC: SIN UNTO DEATH

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 30:6-9
 6Now as for me, I said in my prosperity,
 "I will never be moved."
 7O Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong;
 You hid Your face, I was dismayed.
 8To You, O Lord, I called,
 And to the Lord I made supplication:
 9"What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit?
 Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your faithfulness?

30:6-9 This strophe seems to reflect the fulfillment of the covenant promises of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. YHWH wanted to prosper His people to show the world His character. The psalmist, as a faithful follower, is asserting what YHWH did for him.

1. prospered him

2. gave him stability (i.e., "I will never be moved")

3. made him strong (i.e., figure of a mountain; LXX has "my majesty")

4. answered his prayers

5. protected him from death so he could praise YHWH's faithfulness (BDB 54)

The AB (p. 182) sees this strophe as a warning against the sin of overconfidence. The UBS Handbook (p. 282) sees it as his past inappropriate experience. However, I prefer the Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 confidence. The Handbook asserts that this Psalm, like Psalm 29, is a chiastic pattern. If this is true then the middle of the chiasm should be the main truth. But note the middle would be verse 6, which both the UBS Handbook and AB say is an inappropriate experience. You cannot have it both ways!

30:7b It is unsure how Ps. 30:7b fits with Ps. 30:7a,c. The two verbs (perfects) describe a settled condition.

1. You hid Your face — BDB 711, KB 771, Hiphil perfect, "face," refers to personal presence, he felt YHWH had left him, was not available, did not hear his prayers.

2. I was (BDB 224, KB 243, Qal perfect) dismayed — BDB 96, KB 111, Niphal participle. This term means "disturbed," "dismayed," or "terrified," cf. Job 4:5; 23:15; Ps. 6:4; 83:18; 90:7; 104:29; Isa. 13:8; 21:3; Jer. 51:32; Ezek. 26:18.

The JPSOA sees Ps. 30:7b in contrast to Ps. 30:8, YHWH made the psalmist "firm as a mighty mountain," but if/when He hid His face, it brought "terror." Therefore, he called out to YHWH in prayer (v 8). Prosperity alone, even covenant prosperity (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28) is not enough! We need God! We need to feel His presence and pleasure! We were created (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 3:8) for fellowship with God. Nothing, nothing else can meet this need!

 

30:9 There are two rhetorical questions which, in context, expect a "no" reply.

▣ "dust" This (BDB 779) is a figurative expression for death (cf. Psalm 22:15,19; Isaiah 26:19; 29:4) or Sheol/pit. Humans were made of clay/dust (cf. Gen. 2:7) and to dust we return at death (cf. Gen. 3:19).

▣ "will dust praise You?" In the OT death was a conscious, but silent, existence (cf. Ps. 6:5; 88:11-12; 115:7; Eccl. 9:10; Isa. 38:18-19).

▣ "Your faithfulness" This is "amen" (BDB 54); see Special Topic at Psalm 12:1.

YHWH is faithful (BDB 54) and loyal (BDB 338) to His covenant. He is the One who does not change (cf. Mal. 3:6; Ps. 102:27; James 1:17; also note Heb. 13:8). Our hope, as faithful followers, is in the unchanging, merciful character of YHWH.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 30:10-12
 10" Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me;
 O Lord, be my helper."
 11You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
 You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,
 12That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
 O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

30:10-12 This strophe starts out with three prayer requests (imperatives).

1. hear — BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative

2. be gracious — BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative

3. be my helper (BDB 740, KB 810) — BDB 224, KB 243, Qal imperative

Notice what YHWH's response caused in the psalmist.

1. turned him from mourning into dancing

2. loosed his sackcloth and girded him with gladness ("gladness" is a poetic way of contrasting sackcloth, i.e., festival garments)

3. caused him to sing praises and he will not be silent

4. caused him to give thanks forever

 

30:11 "sackcloth" This was worn as a sign of mourning.

SPECIAL TOPIC: GRIEVING RITES

30:12 "that my soul may sing praise to You" The "my soul" is literally "glory" (BDB 458). The same consonants also mean "liver." The UBS Text Project (p. 209) suggests it could be understood as

1. referring to the psalmist himself (i.e., inner most being — liver) by the term (LXX, NKJV, NRSV, TEV, JPSOA)

2. a vocative, "O Glory," referring to YHWH

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Does God heal all faithful followers?

2. Explain why verse 5 is such an important verse.

3. Is verse 6 a positive or negative statement?

4. How are verses 9 and 12 related?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 31

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
A Psalm of Complaint and of Praise The Lord, A Fortress in Adversity Prayer For Deliverance From Personal Enemies A Prayer of Trust in God Prayer In Time of Ordeal
MT Intro
"For the Choir Director. A Psalm of David."
       
31:1-5  31:1-2 31:1-2 31:1-2 31:1-2a
        31:2b-3
  31:3-5 31:3-5 31:3-5  
        31:4-5b
        31:5c-7a
31:6-8 31:6-8 31:6-8 31:6-8  
        31:7b-8
31:9-13 31:9-13 31:9-10 31:9-10 31:9
        31:10
    31:11-13 31:11-13 31:11
        31:11c-12
        31:13
31:14-18 31:14-18 31:14-18 31:14-18 31:14-16
        31:17-18
31:19-22 31:19-20 31:19-20 31:19-20 31:19
        31:20
  31:21-22 31:21-22 31:21-22 31:21-22
31:23-24 31:23-24 31:23-24 31:23-24 31:23-24

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. There are so many Psalms where the author is seeking help from God against enemies. One wonders

1. who are these enemies?

2. why does the psalmist feel detached so often?

3. were many of these written during the same period of the psalmist's life (probably David)?

 

B. The psalmist faces several issues.

1. personal sin and its mental and physical consequences (cf. Ps. 31:1-12)

2. personal attacks by

a. enemies

b. neighbors

c. acquaintances

 

C. The actions of the enemies are characterized as

1. trying to trap him in a net, Ps. 31:4

2. trying to get him to regard idols, Ps. 31:6

3. slandering him, Ps. 31:11,13,20

4. counseling together against him, Ps. 31:13,20

5. persecuting him, Ps. 31:15

6. having lying lips, Ps. 31:18

7. speaking arrogantly, Ps. 31:18

 

D. Many/most of the Psalms in Book One have similar themes and wording. This may reflect an unknown editing or compiling agenda. There was a purposeful structure to the different books of Psalms (see Introduction to the Psalter) but moderns are not sure what it was.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 31:1-5
 1In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge;
 Let me never be ashamed;
 In Your righteousness deliver me.
 2Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly;
 Be to me a rock of strength,
 A stronghold to save me.
 3For You are my rock and my fortress;
 For Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me.
 4You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
 For You are my strength.
 5Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
 You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth.

31:1-5 Notice the very personal way the author addresses YHWH. Notice the number of personal pronouns. Biblical faith is a personal trust in a personal God. It is not initially about a creed or even a moral code but about a personal encounter! That encounter changes everything! All else is based on it.

This strophe has several prayer requests.

1. Let me never be ashamed — BDB 101, KB 116, Qal cohortative; this shame could be connected to David's sin (cf. Psalm 32; 51) or others' attack on his reputation or motives, cf. Ps. 25:2-3,20; 31:1,17; 35:26; 69:6; 119:6,46,78,80. Shame sometimes means abandonment by YHWH (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 1, pp. 621-627).

2. Deliver me — BDB 812, KB 930, Piel imperative

3. Incline Your ear to me — BDB 639, KB 692, Hiphil imperative, cf. Ps. 17:6; 71:2; 86:1; 88:2; 102:2

4. Rescue me — BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil imperative

5. Be my rock — BDB 224, KB 243, Qal imperative

6. Lead me — BDB 634, KB 685, Qal imperative

7. Guide me — BDB 624, KB 675, Hiphil imperative

8. Pull me out of their net — BDB 422, KB 425, Hiphil imperfect

His prayer requests are based on

1. he has committed himself to YHWH, Ps. 31:5

2. YHWH has ransomed him, Ps. 31:5 (see Special Topic at Ps. 19:14)

3. YHWH is his strength, Ps. 31:4

4. YHWH is the God of truth/faithfulness, Ps. 31:5 (see Special Topic at Ps. 12:1)

 

31:1 "refuge" This alludes to a strong hiding place of safety and security. See note at Ps. 2:12.

▣ "righteousness" See Special Topic at Ps. 1:5.

31:2 "rock" See note at Ps. 18:2. There are two different Hebrew words translated "rock"; in Ps. 31:2 — BDB 700; in Ps. 31:3 — BDB 849. Both refer to a place of stability, protection, and security (cf. Deut. 32:4,15,18,30).

31:3 "fortress" See note at Ps. 18:2.

▣ "For Your name's sake" See notes at Psalm 23:3 and 25:11. It represents YHWH's character. See SPECIAL TOPIC: CHARACTERISTICS OF ISRAEL'S GOD at Ps. 9:10b.

31:3-4 Notice the series of imperfects that speak of continuous, ongoing actions.

1. lead — BDB 634, KB 685, Hiphil imperfect

2. guide — BDB 624, KB 675, Piel imperfect

3. pull out — BDB 422, KB 425, Hiphil imperfect

 

31:4 "net" This was an instrument of hunting (BDB 440). It came to be used figuratively of hurting or capturing humans (cf. Ps. 9:15; 10:9; 35:7-8; 57:6; 140:5).

31:5 "into Your hand I commit my spirit" This was quoted by Jesus on the cross just before His death (cf. Luke 23:46).

This verb (BDB 823, KB 955, Hiphil imperfect) has a wide semantic field. Here it denotes an ongoing trust. This trust is based on who God is (i.e., "God of truth," "faithful God"), not the merits of the psalmist.

▣ "hand" See Special Topic at Psalm 7:3-4.

▣ "spirit" This is the Hebrew word ruah (BDB 924). Here it is the unseen life force connected to YHWH breathing life into Adam in Gen. 2:7. When it leaves the body that body goes to the holding place of the dead (Sheol, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:6). See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: BREATH, WIND, SPIRIT (חור and pneuma)

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 31:6-8
 6I hate those who regard vain idols,
 But I trust in the Lord.
 7I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
 Because You have seen my affliction;
 You have known the troubles of my soul,
 8And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy;
 You have set my feet in a large place.

31:6-8 This strophe is dominated by perfects that denote a complete or settled condition.

1. I hate those who regard vain idols — BDB 971, KB 1338, Qal perfect. The intensity of the psalmist's requests for YHWH to judge is based on his worldview (i.e., viewing the world as YHWH's agent). He hates those who break or ignore YHWH's covenant. The LXX has "You hate."

2. I trust in YHWH — BDB 105, KB 120, Qal perfect; this is a recurrent theme, cf. Ps. 4:5; 13:5; 25:2; 26:1; 28:7; 31:6,14; 52:8; 56:3,4,11; 91:2. If "fear of YHWH is the beginning of knowledge" (cf. Pro. 1:7), then trust is the key to knowing Him personally.

3. YHWH sees his affliction — BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal perfect (cf. Exod. 3:7-8)

4. YHWH knows his trouble — BDB 393, KB 390, Qal perfect (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:6)

5. YHWH has not given him into the hands of his enemy — BDB 688, KB 742, Hiphil perfect

6. YHWH has set his feet in a large place — BDB 763, KB 840, Hiphil perfect, cf. Ps. 18:19; 118:5; a large place is the opposite of a narrow place/strait, which is an idiom of distress (cf. Ps. 4:1; 18:19; 118:5)

 

31:7 This verse has two Qal cohortatives.

1. I will rejoice — BDB 162, KB 189

2. I will be glad — BDB 970, KB 1333

 

NASB"lovingkindness"
NKJV, LXX"mercy"
NRSV"steadfast love"
TEV"constant love"
NJB"faithful love"
JPSOA"faithfulness"
REB"unfailing love"

All of these English translations are trying to express the essence of the powerful covenant noun, hesed. It denotes YHWH's unbreakable commitment to the covenant. See Special Topic at Ps. 5:7.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 31:9-13
 9Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
 My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.
 10For my life is spent with sorrow
 And my years with sighing;
 My strength has failed because of my iniquity,
 And my body has wasted away.
 11Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach,
 Especially to my neighbors,
 And an object of dread to my acquaintances;
 Those who see me in the street flee from me.
 12I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind;
 I am like a broken vessel.
 13For I have heard the slander of many,
 Terror is on every side;
 While they took counsel together against me,
 They schemed to take away my life.

31:9-13 This strophe uses parts of the human body to express the psalmist's distress (BDB 865 II).

1. eye (BDB 744), Ps. 31:9, cf. Ps. 6:7; 38:10

2. soul (BDB 659), Ps. 31:10 (i.e., nephesh, see note at Ps. 3:2)

3. body (BDB 105), Ps. 31:10

4. body (lit. "bones," BDB 782), Ps. 31:10

Stress (like sin, cf. Ps. 31:10c; Psalm 32, 51) causes physical manifestations.

1. sorrow

2. sighing

3. failure of strength

4. bones wasting away (verb, BDB 799, KB 898, Qal perfect, is used twice in this context, Ps. 31:9 and 10 and only one other time in the OT, cf. Ps. 6:7)

More and more modern medicine is understanding the link between the mind and the body. They are a unity (cf. Ps. 31:12).

31:11 The slander and distress, which have had such physical consequences, also bring social consequences.

1. I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors.

2. I have become an object of dread to my acquaintances.

3. People flee from me.

4. I am forgotten (out of mind) as a dead man.

 

31:13 This verse describes the actions of his adversaries.

1. they slander him (i.e., their false words are the next line, "terror on every side")

2. they counsel against him

3. they schemed (BDB 273, cf. Ps. 37:12) to take his life (parallel to #2)

In light of these actions, the imperative "be gracious to me, O Lord" of verse 9 is understandable!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 31:14-18
 14But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord,
 I say, " You are my God."
 15My times are in Your hand;
 Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.
 16Make Your face to shine upon Your servant;
 Save me in Your lovingkindness.
 17Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon You;
 Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol.
 18Let the lying lips be mute,
 Which speak arrogantly against the righteous
 With pride and contempt.

31:14-18 This strophe has numerous emphatic prayer requests based on

1. the psalmist's trust in YHWH (Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 31:6), Ps. 31:14

2. YHWH is his God, Ps. 31:14

3. his life is in YHWH's hand, Ps. 31:15

Here are the requests.

1. deliver me — BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil imperative, cf. Ps. 7:2; 18:17; 22:20; 31:2; 39:8; 51:14; 59:1; 69:14; 109:21; 119:170; 120:2; 142:6; 143:9; 144:7,11; this is the cry of the faithful follower's heart, deliverance from the spiritual, mental, and physical aspects of life in a fallen world

2. make Your face shine on me — BDB 21, KB 24, Hiphil imperative, cf. Num. 6:25-26; Ps. 4:6; 67:1; 80:3,7,19; 119:135

3. save me in Your lovingkidness — BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative, many times in the Psalms

4. let me not be put to shame — BDB 101, KB 116, Qal cohortative

5. let the wicked be put to shame — BDB 101, KB 116, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

6. let them be silent in Sheol — BDB 198, KB 226, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

7. let the lying lips be dumb — BDB 47, KB 57, Niphal imperfect used in a jussive sense

 

31:15 "My times are in Your hand" Faithful followers believe that time and eternity are in God's foreknowledge and control. Nothing surprises Him (cf. Job 14:5,16; 28:24; 31:4; 34:21; Ps. 139:1-16, esp. Ps. 31:16).

31:17 Notice the contrast.

1. the psalmist speaks to God

2-3. the wicked are silent (i.e., dead) or else they speak arrogantly with pride and contempt

You can know people by what they say (cf. Matt. 12:35-37). The tongue reveals the heart!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 31:19-22
 19How great is Your goodness,
 Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
 Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
 Before the sons of men!
 20You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
 You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.
 21Blessed be the Lord,
 For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.
 22As for me, I said in my alarm,
 "I am cut off from before Your eyes";
 Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
 When I cried to You.

31:19-22 This strophe describes YHWH's "goodness" (BDB 375, cf. Ps. 145:7). Probably this strophe is to be understood after YHWH has answered the psalmist's prayer requests found early in the psalm.

1. It is stored up for those who fear YHWH.

2. It is for those who take refuge in YHWH.

3. YHWH hides His people

a. in a secret place of His presence

b. in a shelter/pavilion

4. YHWH made His lovingkindness marvelous to the psalmist.

5. YHWH heard his supplications.

 

31:19 "before the sons of men" Not only does YHWH defend and protect, but He acknowledges our special relationship to Him before our enemies (cf. Ps. 23:5).

31:20 The secret place is the inner (or back) shrine of the temple/tabernacle (cf. Ps. 27:5). This was a special place where the personal presence of YHWH was manifested (i.e., ark of the covenant).

31:21 "in a besieged city" Although we do not know the historical setting of this Psalm, this phrase seems to be metaphorical. It describes a person who feels surrounded by wicked, evil, lying people.

Even though the psalmist feels isolated, he believes YHWH hears and will act on his behalf.

The UBS Text Project (p. 213) gives this reading an "A" rating versus "through distress," found in NEB.

The JPSOA translates this phrase as if it characterized why YHWH should be "blessed," 31:22a. He is strong and unchanging (i.e., "a veritable bastion"). The Jewish Study Bible margin links this to YHWH as "a rock of strength," "a stronghold," "a crag" (i.e., rock), and "a fortress" in Ps. 31:2-3 (p. 1316).

31:22 "I am cut off from before Your eyes" The Jewish Study Bible (p. 1316) interprets this phrase as meaning "absent from the temple" (i.e., 2 Chr. 26:21, where the same phrasing is used of Uzziah being unable, as a leper, to go into the temple). The Niphal form of this verb (BDB 173, KB 202) is found only here in the OT.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 31:23-24
 23O love the Lord, all you His godly ones!
 The Lord preserves the faithful
 And fully recompenses the proud doer.
 24Be strong and let your heart take courage,
 All you who hope in the Lord.

31:23-24 As is true so often in the Psalms the last strophe is

1. a warning

2. an admonition

3. a corporate prayer

Here it is #2. The first verbs of both verses are plural imperatives.

1. love YHWH — BDB 12, KB 17, Qal imperative; usually this verb refers to YHWH's love or is singular of the psalmist's love

2. be strong — BDB 304, KB 302, Qal imperative; it is followed by a synonym, BDB 54, KB 5, Hiphil jussive (Hebrew parallelism)

 

31:23 "His godly ones" This refers to faithful followers (cf. Ps. 30:4; 37:28; 50:5), not angels (cf. Ps. 29:1).

The life experiences (and afterlife experiences) of

1. the faithful — BDB 52 I

2. the proud doer — BDB 793 I, KB 889, Qal participle construct BDB 144

are contrasted.

1. preserved — BDB 665, KB 718, Qal participle

2. recompensed — BDB 1022, KB 1521, Piel participle

 

31:24 What a wonderful admonition for all faithful followers (cf. Ps. 27:14; 37:34; 62:5; 130:5; Isa. 25:9)!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why is the psalmist in such trouble?

2. List the physical and social consequences of sin.

3. Explain "shame" in an OT context.

4. Is verse 21 literal or metaphorical?

5. Why do so many Psalms written by an individual end in a corporate way?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 32

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Blessedness of Forgiveness and of Trust in God The Joy of Forgiveness Thanksgiving For Healing Confession and Forgiveness Candid Admission of Sin
MT Intro
"A Psalm of David. A Maskil"
       
32:1-2  32:1-2 32:1-2 32:1-2 32:1-2
32:3-7 32:3-5 32:3-4 32:3-4 32:3-4
    32:5 32:5 32:5
  32:6-7 32:6-7 32:6-7 32:6-7
32:8-11 32:8-9 32:8-9 32:8-9 32:8
        32:9
  32:10-11 32:10-11 32:10-11 32:10
        32:11

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Because of the MT introduction many scholars believe this Psalm, like Psalm 51, describes David's sin (i.e., sexual encounter with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, cf. 2 Samuel 11), cover up (cf. 2 Samuel 12), and forgiveness (i.e., although the consequences of his sin destroyed his family). In Romans 4:7-8 Paul quotes 32:1-2 (LXX) as referring to David.

 

B. This is surely possible but it may have a wider implication and purpose (cf. plurals of Ps. 32:11). Sin and its consequences are common to all humans (cf. Rom. 1:8-3:18), even covenant humans (cf. Romans 7; 1 John 1:5-10).

 

C. The psalmist's physical problems were the merciful acts of God that would not allow the sinful covenant person to remain in his/her rebellion (cf. Heb. 12:7-13). There are consequences to sin, thank God, the God of mercy pursues us in spite of them. As sin abounds, grace does much more abound (cf. Rom. 5:20).

 

D. One can tell which concepts, events, and issues are central to a culture by the number of words used to describe it. Obviously Israel was concerned with covenant rebellion (cf. 1 Kings 8), as well as its forgiveness. There are many words for sin and rebellion.

 

E. Psalm 31 and Psalm 32 may have been placed together by an editor or compiler, because they both discuss the physical result of sin (cf. Ps. 31:9-10; 32:3-4).

 

F. The NASB Study Bible (p. 769) gives an interesting theory about the speakers.

1. dialogue between David and YHWH in the tabernacle, Ps. 32:1-2

2. David speaks to YHWH in the hearing of the gathered worshipers, Ps. 32:3-7

3. a priest addresses David on YHWH's behalf, Ps. 32:8-10

4. David speaks to the gathered worshipers, v.11

 

G. This Psalm emphasizes

1. the sinfulness of humans

2. the merciful character of God

3. how a sinful human can become acceptable to a holy God (i.e., confession)

Paul's use of Ps. 32:1-2 in Romans 4, where he discusses OT examples of "justification by grace through faith" (cf. Rom. 3:21-31; Galatians 3; Eph. 2:8-9), reveals the context as an OT example of the theme developed and prioritized in the NT. This is the heart of how one is forgiven, although the mechanism for that forgiveness (i.e., the gospel of Christ) is not mentioned. It still clearly reveals the merciful, gracious availability of YHWH's forgiveness (i.e., "lifted and removed" and "covered").

If YHWH can forgive David, He can forgive you! Receive it through confession and repentance! Then stand forgiven in the promises!

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 32:1-2
 1How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
 Whose sin is covered!
 2How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
 And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

32:1 The term "blessed" (BDB 80, cf. Ps. 1:1, is used 26 out of 45 times in Psalms) is recurrent in Wisdom Literature and describes the faithful followers.

1. Job 5:17; Ps. 94:12 — disciplined by Shaddai

2. Psalm 1:1 — studies and walks in God's word

3. Psalm 2:12 — takes refuge in YHWH

4. Psalm 32:1-2 — sin is forgiven

5. Psalm 40:4; 84:12; Pro. 16:20 — trusts in YHWH

6. Psalm 41:1-3; Pro. 14:21 — considers the poor

7. Psalm 80:6 — strength is in YHWH

8. Psalm 89:12 — know joy and walk in the light of YHWH's countenance

9. Psalm 119:2 — seek Him with whole heart, observe His testimony

10. Psalm 112:1; 128:1 — fears YHWH, walks in His ways

11. Psalm 146:5 — YHWH is his help

12. Proverbs 3:13 — finds wisdom

13. Proverbs 8:32,34 — listens to YHWH, keeps His ways

14. Proverbs 28:14 — fears YHWH

15. Proverbs 29:18 — keeps YHWH's laws

The first two verses of this Psalm from the LXX are quoted by Paul in Romans 4:7-8 in his example of David as a blessed man because his sin was forgiven.

Notice the different words used to describe rebellion against YHWH (cf. Ps. 32:5).

1. transgression — BDB 833, KB 981; it denotes an intentional breaking of that which is God's will (i.e., covenant)

2. sin — BDB 308, KB 306; it denotes missing (BDB 306) a set target, again not by ignorance but willfully

3. iniquity — BDB 730, KB 799; misdeed, guilt (#1,2,3 appear together in Exod. 34:7; Lev. 16:21; Job 12:23; here; Isa. 59:12; Ezek. 21:24; Dan. 9:24)

4. deceit — BDB 941, KB 636; means treachery, trickery, fraud (cf. Ps. 52:2; 101:7; 120:2-3)

The UBS Handbook mentions that the psalmist purposely alternated masculine, feminine (twice) to show completeness (p. 303).

YHWH's (note the passive participles) forgiveness is described as righteousness given to sinners based on God's mercy and their repentance (this is the theological concept of imputed [cf. BDB 362, KB 359, Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6]).

1. forgiven (lit. "lifted and taken away") — BDB 669, KB 724, Qal passive participle, cf. Exod. 32:32; 34:7; Num. 14:18,19; Micah 7:18; same word negated in Exod. 23:21; Jos. 24:19; Job 7:21; Isa. 2:9

2. covered (i.e., puts out of sight, theological concept in Isa. 38:17; 43:25; Micah 7:19) — BDB 491, KB 487, Qal passive participle

The result is a person with no deceit/guile (cf. John 1:47). This does not mean sinless, but repentant.

32:2 "man" This is the Hebrew word Adam (BDB 9). In the early parts of Genesis (Genesis 1-3) it refers to Adam, the original human creation, but it took on the sense of humanity in general.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 32:3-7
 3When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
 Through my groaning all day long.
 4For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
 My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.  Selah.
 5I acknowledged my sin to You,
 And my iniquity I did not hide;
 I said, " I will confess my transgressions to the Lord";
 And You forgave the guilt of my sin.  Selah.
 6Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found;
 Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
 7You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
 You surround me with songs of deliverance.  Selah.

32:3-7 This strophe contrasts two ways to deal with sin.

1. be silent, hide it

a. bones wasted away, cf. Ps. 31:9-10

b. groaning all day long

c. vitality (lit. "juicy," BDB 545, cf. Num. 11:8; used here of body fluids) drained away (NET Bible suggests an emendation to "to my destruction," p. 888 #29)

2. acknowledge, confess

a. YHWH forgives the guilt of sin (cf. Exod. 34:7; Num. 14:18; Ps. 85:2)

b. sense of security returns

c. YHWH is a hiding place again

d. YHWH preserves him from trouble

e. he is surrounded with songs of deliverance

There is a play on YHWH's hand; in judgment it was heavy (Ps. 32:4; Ps. 38:2; 39:10; Job 23:2) but in confession it protected him (Ps. 32:6-7).

32:4,5,7 "Selah" See note at Ps. 3:2 and Introduction to Psalms, VII.

32:5 "I will confess" The parallelism of lines 1 and 2 demands a rare meaning of the verb (BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense). Usually the verb in Hiphil means "thanksgiving," but in a few contexts "confess" is the apparent meaning.

1. 1 Kgs. 8:33,35; 2 Chr. 6:24,26 it denotes "confess YHWH's name"

2. here and in Pro. 28:13 the context implies "confess sin"

 

32:6 "in a time when You may be found" This ambiguous phrase can be understood in several ways.

1. there is an appointed/appropriate time for repentance (LXX, Vulgate, NKJV)

2. pray in time of need or distress (cf. 2 Chr. 15:4; emendation cf. NRSV, TEV, NJB)

3. MT has "at a time of finding" (cf. Ps. 103:8-14; Isa. 55:6). JPSOA translates this as "upon discovering [his sin]."

 

▣ "in a flood of great waters" Water, raging water, is often used as an idiom of trouble/distress/attack (cf. Ps. 69:1; 124:5; 144:7 and most beautifully in Isa. 43:2).

32:7 This refers to the tabernacle/temple. The songs of praise are worship songs or liturgy.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 32:8-11
 8I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
 I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
 9Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,
 Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,
 Otherwise they will not come near to you.
 10Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
 But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him.
 11Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones;
 And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.

32:8-11 The psalmist speaks to himself (and others, Ps. 32:5) on YHWH's behalf. Here is the divine response, Ps. 32:8 (three cohortatives)!

1. verse 5,  I will confess my transgressions — BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense (see fuller note at Ps. 32:5)

2. verse 8,  I will instruct you — BDB 968, KB 1328, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense

I will teach you — BDB 434, KB 436, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense

I will counsel you — BDB 419, KB 421, Qal cohortative, cf. Ps. 16:7

32:8 "in the way" This is an idiom for a godly life (cf. Ps. 1:1; 25:8-9).

▣ "with My eye upon you" This is an idiom of personal care and presence (cf. Ps. 32:18; Ps. 34:15 [quoted in 1 Pet. 3:12]; Job 36:7).

For "eye" used of YHWH see SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS HUMAN (ANTHROPOMORPHISM) (anthropomorphism) at Psalm 2:4-6.

32:9 The person (plural) who will not repent is described in terms of rebellious, domesticated animals (cf. Isa. 1:2-3). Fallen humanity lives on an animal level characterized by "more and more for me at any cost!"

Again a contrast.

1. the wicked — many sorrows

2. the faithful follower (i.e., "he who trusts YHWH"), covenant loyalty and love will surround him (cf. Ps. 32:7b)

 

▣ "lovingkindness" See Special Topic at Psalm 5:7.

▣ "shall surround" This verb (BDB 685, KB 738, Poel imperfect) is also used in Ps. 32:7 of songs of deliverance and here of YHWH's lovingkindness (also note Deut. 32:10; the adjective is used in Ps. 34:7; 125:2). What a wonderful idiom of YHWH's presence and protection!

32:11 A series of plural imperatives instructing the faithful follower.

1. be glad — BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal imperative

2. rejoice — BDB 162, KB 189, Qal imperative

3. shout for joy — BDB 943, KB 1247, Hiphil imperative

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. List the physical problems related to unconfessed sin. What does it mean to "confess"?

2. How are Psalm 32 and 51 related?

3. Explain what verse 6a means. Is there a time to confess which may pass (i.e., window of opportunity)?

4. Who is speaking in verses 8-9?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 33

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Praise to the Creator and
Preserver
No MT Intro.
The Superiority of the Lord in Creation and History Hymn to God as Creator and Lord of History A Song of Praise Hymn to Providence
33:1-5  33:1-3 33:1-3 33:1-3 33:1-3
  33:4-5 33:4-5 33:4-5 33:4-5
33:6-12 33:6-7 33:6-7 33:6-7 33:6-7
  33:8-9 33:8-9 33:8-9 33:8-9
  33:10-12 33:10-12 33:10-12 33:10-12
33:13-17 33:13-15 33:13-17 33:13-15 33:13-15
  33:16-17   33:16-17 33:16-17
3:18-22 33:18-19 33:18-19 33:18-19 33:18-19
  33:20-22 33:20-22 33:20-22 33:20-22

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. The NASB Study Bible (p. 770) suggests this Psalm is part of a liturgy.

1. Levitical choir

a. leader, Ps. 33:1-3

b. choir, Ps. 33:4-19

2. gathered worshipers respond, Ps. 33:22-23

 

B. It has no MT title (like Psalms 1, 2, 10), but the "new song," in verse 3, implies some major historical event. Because of Ps. 33:16-17, probably it refers to a military victory.

 

C. I am moved by the universal scope of YHWH's purposes that include all humans (i.e., see use of "all" in Ps. 33:8,13-15). Note the shocking affirmation of Ps. 33:5b! See the full list of texts that show the inclusion of Gentiles from the very beginning as YHWH's ultimate purpose in covenant, 33:10-12 in my notes.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 33:1-5
 1Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones;
 Praise is becoming to the upright.
 2Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
 Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.
 3Sing to Him a new song;
 Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
 4For the word of the Lord is upright,
 And all His work is done in faithfulness.
 5He loves righteousness and justice;
 The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord.

33:1-5 The first three verses set the mood of the Psalm in praise to God (i.e., five parallel imperatives).

1. sing for joy in the Lord — BDB 943, KB 1247, Piel imperative (this same verb ends Psalm 32)

2. praise — BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperative

3. sing praises to Him — BDB 274, KB 273, Piel imperative

4. sing to Him — BDB 1010, KB 1479, Qal imperative

5. play skillfully (BDB 618, KB 668, Piel infinitive construct) with a shout of joy — BDB 405, KB 408, Hiphil imperative

Verses 4 and 5 give the reasons for praise.

1. YHWH's word (BDB 182) is upright (BDB 449)

2. all His work is done in faithfulness (BDB 53, see Special Topic at Ps. 12:1)

3. He loves righteousness (BDB 842, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:5) and justice (BDB 1048, see Special Topic at Ps. 9:5-6)

4. the earth is full of YHWH's lovingkindness (BDB 338, cf. Ps. 119:64; see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7)

The key to peace and security is the faithful follower's belief and trust in the unchanging, merciful, gracious character of the covenant-making God (cf. Ps. 102:27; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8)! The chief character of the Bible is God! It is His story! It is His project and purpose!

33:2 Two stringed instruments are mentioned.

1. lyre (BDB 490) — this had two to four strings. It was widely used in the ANE. This is what David played for King Saul to soothe him (cf. 1 Sam.16:16).

2. harp of ten strings (BDB 614 construct BDB 797). It was part of a group of instruments used in both secular and worship settings (cf. 1 Sam.10:5).

 

▣ "new song" The peoples of the ANE wrote songs to commemorate major events and persons (cf. Exodus 15; 1 Samuel 22). Here the person is YHWH, the Creator (cf. Ps. 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa. 42:10; Rev. 5:9; 14:3).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 33:6-12
 6By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
 And by the breath of His mouth all their host.
 7He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
 He lays up the deeps in storehouses.
 8Let all the earth fear the Lord;
 Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
 9For He spoke, and it was done;
 He commanded, and it stood fast.
 10The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations;
 He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
 11The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
 The plans of His heart from generation to generation.
 12Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
 The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.

33:6-12 This strophe has two major truths.

1. YHWH is creator, Ps. 33:6-9 (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM at Ps. 2:7)

2. YHWH has a purpose for the nations, Ps. 33:10-12 (see Special Topic at Psalm 2 Introduction)

 

33:6 "the word of the Lord" This surely reflects Genesis 1-2 (cf. Psalm 104). I hope you will take a moment and look online at my exegetical commentary on Genesis 1-2 at www.freebiblecommentary.org.

In Hebrew thought, creation was from nothing (ex nihilo) by the spoken word (fiat, cf. Ps. 33:9; Genesis 1; Ps. 148:5; 2 Cor. 4:6; Heb. 11:3). The word of God is an idiom for the mind or will of God. Modern believers fight over many issues connected to Genesis 1-2. A new book by John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One, has been a blessing to me as I have struggled with these issues.

▣ "heavens" This refers to the atmosphere above the earth. The ancients saw it as a hard dome of stretched skin with windows for the rain. Remember the Bible is not "anti-scientific" but "pre-scientific." It describes things with the five human senses, as they appear (i.e., phenomenal language). Be careful of modern western literalism. The Bible is an ancient eastern book! The Bible must be God's word to its day before it can be God's word to our day.

If the issue of proper principles for Bible interpretation interests you, see my Bible Interpretation Seminar (video, audio, written text) at www.freebiblecommentary.org.

▣ "all their host" This refers to completed creation of this planet (cf. Gen. 2:1). The ancients saw the heavenly lights (sun, moon, stars, planets, comets) as moving across a dome. They were not gods but just part of YHWH's beautiful physical creation. I think Genesis 1 functions theologically to depreciate the Babylonian gods, just as the plagues of Exodus 7-11 function to depreciate the Egyptian gods.

33:7 The subject of "waters" has several aspects.

1. Genesis does not specifically mention God creating water.

2. In ANE mythology salt water and fresh water were gods. YHWH defeats them!

3. Water becomes the means of YHWH's judgment and starting again with Noah (cf. Genesis 6-9).

4. Water was crucial for ANE peoples. They developed fertility worship as a way to ensure the regular cycles of nature (i.e., rain in its season).

 

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, REB"as a heap"
NASB margin"in a water skin"
NRSV"as in a bottle"
NJB"like a dam"
LXX"like a wineskin"
JPSOA"like a mound"

The MT has "heap" (BDB 622, דנ, cf. Exod. 15:8; Jos. 3:13,16; Ps. 78:13). It seems to refer to Gen. 1:9. The UBS Text Project gives it a "B" rating (i.e., some doubt).

The NASB margin, NRSV, LXX take it from a different root, BDB 609 (cf. Jos. 9:4,13; Jdgs. 4:19; Ps. 56:8; 119:83).

There is an Akkadian and Ugaritic root, כנד, which means "jar" or "bottle."

33:8 This verse starts out with two verbs used in a jussive sense (i.e., "let us. . .).

1. let all the earth fear/revere YHWH (BDB 431, KB 432, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 67:7)

2. let all the inhabitants of the world (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:2) stand in awe (BDB 158, KB 185, Qal imperfect) of Him

Notice the parallelism. YHWH, not nature, is to be feared. The enemy of biblical faith today in western societies is "naturalism," an agentless, purposeless universe.

33:9 See note at verse 6.

33:10-12 The theological assertions related to physical creation now focus the purpose of that creation, which is fellowship with the Creator (cf. Gen. 1:26,27; 3:8).

The "nations" (i.e., Gentiles) are not a second thought but YHWH's purpose from the beginning (cf. Gen. 3:15; 12:3; Exod. 19:5; Ps. 22:27; 66:1-4; 86:8-10; Isa. 2:2-4; 12:4-5; 25:6-9; 42:6-12; 45:22-23; 49:5-6; 51:4-5; 56:6-8; 60:1-3; 66:23; Micah 4:14; Mal. 1:11; John 3:16; 4:42; Acts 10:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:4; Titus 2:11; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 John 2:1; 4:14). See SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN at Intro. to Psalm 2.

33:10 "the counsel" The "counsel (BDB 420, i.e., purpose) of the Lord stands forever" (cf. Job 23:13; Pro. 19:21). Amen!

33:12 Does God choose some to salvation or all? This is the difficult question of God's sovereignty versus human free will. See SPECIAL TOPIC: ELECTION/PREDESTINATION AND THE NEED FOR A THEOLOGICAL BALANCE/Predestination and the Need for a Theological Balance at Ps. 25:12.

The love, plan, and purposes of YHWH include, but are larger than, the descendants of Abraham! He wants all to know Him (see lists of Scripture texts above)!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 33:13-17
 13The Lord looks from heaven;
 He sees all the sons of men;
 14From His dwelling place He looks out
 On all the inhabitants of the earth,
 15He who fashions the hearts of them all,
 He who understands all their works.
 16The king is not saved by a mighty army;
 A warrior is not delivered by great strength.
 17A horse is a false hope for victory;
 Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.

33:13-17 This strophe focuses on YHWH's immanence (cf. Ps. 14:2; 102:19). He knows what is happening on earth in individual lives (cf. Exod. 3:7-9; Matt. 6:25-34; 10:30; Luke 21:18; Acts 27:34; this same imagery is found in several OT texts, i.e., 1 Sam.14:45; 2 Sam. 14:11; 1 Kgs. 1:52). Faithful followers' lives are not controlled by luck, chance, fate, but are directed by faith, by God! Live boldly for Him!

Notice the number of times "all" (BDB 481) appears in this Psalm, 33:8a,b, 13b, 14b, 15a,b. YHWH created and takes note of all His human creation! Life is a gift with a purpose. All humans will give an account to God for their stewardship of that gift!

33:15 YHWH fashions (BDB 427, KB 428, Qal participle, cf. Gen. 2:7,8,19) all humans and knows their lives (cf. Psalm 139). He is a proper judge because He knows our will, motives, acts, and consequences (see full lists of texts on this subject at Psalm 28:4).

33:16-17 Human events, history, is not haphazard but purposeful. YHWH even uses evil for His purposes. Things do not just happen! Now to be fair, this is a fallen world and all that occurs is not the will of YHWH. He allows our choices to bear fruit (i.e., good or bad). The earth has been affected by mankind's sin (cf. Genesis 3; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 8:18-23). The mystery is how

1. YHWH's sovereignty

2. human choices

3. physical activity mesh

The eyes of faith search for God in all events (cf. Ps. 33:18-22). The wicked search for power, riches, evils, disasters and opportunities for self! Humans should not hope in military power (cf. Psalm 2).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 33:18-22
 18Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
 On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
 19To deliver their soul from death
 And to keep them alive in famine.
 20Our soul waits for the Lord;
 He is our help and our shield.
 21For our heart rejoices in Him,
 Because we trust in His holy name.
 22Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,
 According as we have hoped in You.

33:18-22 Notice how the faithful follower is characterized.

1. those who fear YHWH, Ps. 33:18

2. those who hope for His lovingkindness, Ps. 33:18

3. those who wait for YHWH, Ps. 33:20

4. those who see Him as their help and shield, Ps. 33:20

5. those who rejoice in Him, Ps. 33:21

6. those who trust in His holy name, Ps. 33:21

7. those who hope (lit. ‘wait") in Him, Ps. 33:22

YHWH will

1. keep His eye on them, Ps. 33:13-15

2. deliver them (BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil infinitive construct)

3. keep them (BDB 310, KB 309, Piel infinitive construct)

4. help (BDB 740) and protect (BDB 171) them

Notice how at the conclusion of many of the Psalms, the plural is used to widen the prayer/praise from one to all faithful followers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. List the imperatives in verses 1-3 that relate to musical worship. Why is music such an important aspect of worship?

2. How do verses 6-9 reflect Genesis 1?

3. Explain verse 11 in your own words.

4. How does verse 15 reflect Gen. 1:26-28?

5. Does YHWH have an "eye"?

Passage: 

Psalm 34

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Lord A Provider and Deliverer The Happiness of Those Who Trust in God Thanksgiving For Deliverance From Trouble
(An Acrostic)
In Praise of God's Goodness In Praise of God's Justice
(An Acrostic)
MT Intro
A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelich, who drove him away and he departed.
       
34:1-3  34:1-3 34:1-3 34:1-3 34:1 (Aleph)
        34:2 (Bet)
        34:3 (Gimel)
34:4-7 34:4-7 34:4-10 34:4-7 34:4 (Dalet)
        34:5 (He)
        34:6 (Zain)
        34:7 (Het)
34:8-14 34:8-10   34:8-10 34:8 (Tet)
        34:9 (Yod)
        34:10 (Kaph)
  34:11-14 34:11-14 34:11-14 34:11 (Lamed)
        34:12 (Mem)
        34:13 (Nun)
        34:14 (Samek)
34:15-18 34:15-16 34:15-18 34:15-18 34:15 (Ain)
        34:16 (Pe)
  34:17-18     34:17 (Zade)
        34:18 (Qoph)
34:19-22 34:19-22 34:19-22 34:19-21 34:19 (Resh)
        34:20 (Shin)
        34:21-22 (Taw)
      34:22  

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This is an acrostic psalm. Each verse (except Ps. 34:5, which has two Hebrew letters) starts with a sequential letter of the Hebrew alphabet, 22 letters.

It is interesting that if an acrostic poem goes beyond 22 letters the next letter is regularly Pe.

 

B. There are several examples of the acrostic form.

1. Psalm 9-10 (but not complete, five consonants missing and two reversed)

2. Psalm 25 (one consonant missing)

3. Psalm 34 (one verse has two consonants)

4. Psalm 37 (every two verses starts with sequential letters)

5. Psalm 111 (two consonants for each verse)

6. Psalm 112 (two consonants for each verse)

7. Psalm 119 (eight verses for each sequential consonant)

8. Psalm 145 (not complete)

 

C. Notice that YHWH (i.e., Lord) occurs in almost every verse. The Psalm is about YHWH. Humans know Him by

1. His acts (cf. Nehemiah 9)

2. His promises (esp. Genesis 12; Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-30)

3. His covenant (Genesis — Deuteronomy)

4. His Son (John 1:1-14; Col. 1:13-16; Heb. 1:2-3)

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 34:1-3
 1I will bless the Lord at all times;
 His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
 2My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
 The humble will hear it and rejoice.
 3O magnify the Lord with me,
 And let us exalt His name together.

34:1-3 This is a strophe of witness. It starts with a singular cohortative and ends with a plural. YHWH is too great and wonderful in character and deed not to be praised!

1. I will bless YHWH — BDB 943, KB 1247, Piel cohortative, singular

2. Let us exalt His name — BDB 926, KB 1202, Polel cohortative, plural

Notice how the praise is characterized.

1. At all times — this is an important reminder that YHWH is to be praised in good or difficult times; He does not change. His mercy is always present! Only our perspective changes. Faith must continue to affirm His presence and praise, cf. 1 Thess. 5:16-18.

2. Continually (BDB 556, cf. Ps. 35:27; 40:16; 70:4; 71:6) in my mouth — praise should not depend on personal circumstances but should be a normal activity of the recipients of grace.

3. Praise should rise from all people (i.e., humble, lit. "afflicted," "poor," or "weak," BDB 776). All humans have much to praise God for!

4. Together — praise is both individual and corporate (i.e., together, BDB 403), as worship should be. We bring our individual needs to Him as well as our "gathered needs." Unity and fellowship among faithful followers exhibit praise to God and witness to others!

 

34:2 "boast" The Hebrew verb (BDB 237 II, KB 248, Hithpael imperfect), in the Hithpael means "to boast," "to exult," or "to be praised" (cf. 1 Kgs. 20:11; 1 Chr. 16:10; Ps. 64:11; 105:3; 106:5; Pro. 20:14; 25:14; 27:1; Isa. 41:16; 45:25; Jer. 9:23).

For the theological concept of "boasting" see SPECIAL TOPIC: BOASTING at Ps. 20:7.

34:3 "O magnify the Lord" This verb (BDB 152, KB 178, Piel imperative) is a command to express to God our heart's gratefulness with our praise. Before we succumb to the frailties of life or the difficulties of current situations, we should remind ourselves of

1. who God is

2. what He has done

3. what He is doing

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 34:4-7
 4I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
 And delivered me from all my fears.
 5They looked to Him and were radiant,
 And their faces will never be ashamed.
 6This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
 And saved him out of all his troubles.
 7The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
 And rescues them.

34:4-7 This strophe develops the thoughts of the first. Notice how it moves from the singular (i.e., I sought YHWH) to the plural (i.e., they looked to Him), just like the first strophe.

1. For the psalmist, YHWH

a. answered him — BDB 772, KB 851, Qal perfect

b. delivered him from all his fears — BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil perfect

2. For the group

a. YHWH heard, Ps. 34:6

b. YHWH saved the afflicted

c. YHWH's angel encamped around those who fear Him (cf. Zech. 9:8; YHWH Himself in Ps. 125:2)

d. YHWH rescued them

3. The LXX, Syrian, Vulgate versions have "look" and "be radiant" as imperatives. The MT has perfects in Ps. 34:5.

Faithful followers are never alone or isolated. Their faithful God is always present and at the ready!

34:7 "The angel of the Lord" Angels are servants of the redeemed (cf. Num. 20:16; Ps. 91:11; Isa. 63:9; Dan. 3:28; 6:22; Matt. 18:10; Acts 12:11; Heb. 1:14). See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE ANGEL OF THE LORD

▣ "those who fear Him" This is a Qal active participle (BDB 431, KB 432) which describes faithful followers (cf. Ps. 15:4; 25:12,14; 31:19; 61:5; 66:16; 103:11; 118:4; Deut. 28:58; Neh. 1:11).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 34:8-14
 8O taste and see that the Lord is good;
 How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
 9O fear the Lord, you His saints;
 For to those who fear Him there is no want.
 10The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
 But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.
 11Come, you children, listen to me;
 I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
 12Who is the man who desires life
 And loves length of days that he may see good?
 13Keep your tongue from evil
 And your lips from speaking deceit.
 14Depart from evil and do good;
 Seek peace and pursue it.

34:8-14 Because YHWH is "good" (BDB 373 II), His faithful followers (i.e., saints, BDB 872) are admonished to

1. taste — BDB 380, KB 377, Qal imperative, cf. Heb. 6:5

2. see — BDB 406, KB 1157, Qal imperative (quoted by Peter in 1 Pet. 2:3 from LXX)

3. take refuge — BDB 340, KB 337, Qal imperative

4. fear — BDB 431, KB 432, Qal imperative

5,6. come (BDB 229, KB 246, Qal imperative ), listen (BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative ) to the psalmist teach the fear of YHWH, Ps. 34:11

The results of their actions are

1. there is no want, Ps. 34:9b; Ps. 23:1

2. they will not be in want of any good thing, Ps. 34:10b; Ps. 84:11

3. long life, Ps. 34:12

Here are the psalmist's teachings for a long, happy life.

1. keep your tongue from evil and lips from speaking deceit — BDB 665, KB 718, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 12:3-4; 15:2-3; 73:8-9; James 3:5-12

2. depart from evil — BDB 693, KB 747, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 37:27; Isa. 1:16

3. do good — BDB 793, KB 889, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 37:27; Isa. 1:17

4. seek peace — BDB 134, KB 152, Piel imperative, cf. Mark 9:50; Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 7:15; 2 Cor. 13:11; 1 Thess. 5:13; Heb. 12:14; James 3:17-18

5. pursue peace — BDB 922, KB 1191, Qal imperative, cf. same as #4

Notice the balance between what YHWH does for the faithful follower and what they must do for themselves. There are choices and consequences, both positive and negative (the next strophe is a partial list)!

Peter quotes from this Psalm in 1 Peter 3.

1. 1 Pet. 3:10 — Ps. 34:12,13

2. 1 Pet. 3:11 — Ps. 34:14

3. 1 Pet. 3:12 — Ps. 34:15-16

He sees it fitting into his emphasis of a united fellowship (i.e., "let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit, not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead," 1 Pet. 3:8-9).

34:8 "the Lord is good" "Good" (BDB 373 II) is a key word in this strophe (cf. 1 Thess. 5:15).

1. YHWH is good (adjective), Ps. 34:8, cf. Ps. 25:8; 86:5; 100:5; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1,29; 145:9; 1 Chr. 16:34; Ezra 3:11; Jer. 33:11; Nah. 1:7

2. those who seek Him will not be in want of any good thing (BDB 481 construct BDB 375), Ps. 34:10, cf. Ps. 84:11

3. fear of YHWH brings a long, good (BDB 373) life, Ps. 34:12

4. depart from evil and do good (BDB 373), Ps. 34:14

5. notice the use of "good" in Romans 8:28

 

34:9

NASB, NKJV"saints"
NRSV, NJB"holy ones"
TEV"people"
JPSOA"consecrated ones"
REB"holy people"

The adjective (BDB 872) can denote

1. the Messiah, Ps. 16:3 (as David's ultimate seed)

2. the angels or heavenly counsel, Job 5:1; 15:15; Ps. 89:5-6,7; Dan. 8:13; Zech. 14:5

3. faithful followers

a. priests — Num. 16:5,7; Ps. 106:16 (Aaron)

b. Levites — 2 Chr. 35:3

c. prophets — 2 Kgs. 4:9

d. Nazirites — Num. 6:5,8

e. Israel — Exod. 19:6; Lev. 11:44,45; 19:7; 20:7,26; 21:6; Num. 15:40; Deut. 7:6; 14:2,21; 26:19; 28:9

Here it refers to faithful followers.

34:10

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, NJB"lions"
LXX, Peshitta"rock"
REB"princes"
NEB"unbelievers" (from an Arabic root)

The MT has "lions." The question is "to whom does the imagery refer?" It seems best to contrast them with "the humbled," "the afflicted," or "the poor" (BDB 776) of verses 2 and 6.

34:11 "children" This is literally "sons" (BDB 119). In Wisdom Literature the teacher is called "father" and the students "sons" (i.e., Pro. 1:8; 4:1,10,20; 6:1,20; 24:13,21).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 34:15-18
 15The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
 And His ears are open to their cry.
 16The face of the Lord is against evildoers,
 To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
 17The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
 And delivers them out of all their troubles.
 18The Lord is near to the brokenhearted 
 And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

34:15-18 This strophe shows the results of godly or godless living.

1. godly

a. YHWH's eyes (presence and care) are toward the righteous, Ps. 34:15a

b. YHWH's ears hear their cry, Ps. 34:15b,17

c. YHWH delivers them out of all their trouble, Ps. 34:17b

d. YHWH is near to the brokenhearted, Ps. 34:18a

e. YHWH saves those who are crushed in spirit, Ps. 34:18b; Isa. 57:15

2. godless

a. YHWH's face is against evildoers, Ps. 34:16a

b. their memory is cut off (BDB 503, KB 500, Hiphil infinitive construct), Ps. 34:16b; this imagery refers to death

There are several anthropomorphisms in this strophe using the human body to describe YHWH (see Special Topic at Ps. 2:4-6).

1. eyes

2. ears

3. face

 

34:18 "The Lord is near" What a wonderful promise (cf. Deut. 4:7; Ps. 119:51; 145:18). It is shocking that a holy God wants to fellowship with sinful humans. He seeks us out and pursues us. We were created by Him for fellowship with Him (cf. Gen. 1:26,27; 3:8). No matter how bad things get (i.e., "the brokenhearted," cf. Ps. 147:3; Isa. 61:1 and "those who are crushed in spirit," cf. Ps. 51:17; Isa. 57:15), the Lord is near to faithful followers!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 34:19-22
 19Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
 But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
 20He keeps all his bones,
 Not one of them is broken.
 21Evil shall slay the wicked,
 And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
 22The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
 And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

34:19-22 This strophe continues the emphasis of the previous one, but emphasizing the different outcomes between the godly and godless. The last two strophes are parallelism at a second level.

1. YHWH's actions toward His faithful followers

a. He delivers them from all their many afflictions, Ps. 34:19

b. He keeps all their bones unbroken (i.e., imagery for health), Ps. 34:20

c. He redeems (see Special Topic at Ps. 19:14) His servants, Ps. 34:22a

d. none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned, Ps. 34:22b

2. YHWH's actions toward the unfaithful

a. He shall slay the wicked, Ps. 34:21a (cf. Ps. 34:16)

b. those who hate the righteous will be condemned, Ps. 34:21b

 

34:19 There needs to be two points made about this verse.

1. The righteous did/do/will suffer in this fallen world (cf. Ps. 37:39; 50:15; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21; 16:1-3; 17:14; Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3-4; 8:17,18-23; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 6:3-10; 11:23-30; Phil. 1:29; 1 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 3:12; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 4:12-16).

2. God is with them in and through these afflictions. Sometimes He chooses to miraculously deliver but often He does not (see Special Topic at Ps. 30:2). His presence is our greatest need and promise. He knows what we are going through (cf. Exod. 3:7).

34:20 The breaking of a person's bones was an idiom for the judgment of God (cf. Ps. 51:8; Isa. 38:13; Lam. 3:4). Therefore, no bones broken was an idiom of no judgment necessary (i.e., a righteous person).

This verse is quoted in John's Gospel (cf. John 19:36, along with Zech. 12:10 in John 19:37) as a prophetic prediction. I think it is better understood as a typological understanding. Psalm 34:20 is not a prediction about the Messiah's death but about a promise of health and well being to a faithful follower.

Here is the problem, hermeneutical theory asserts that the original intent of the inspired author is the place to begin how to understand a text, in a literary and historical context. This is surely true. But we must allow NT inspired authors the right to use typology. We cannot reproduce their method because we are not inspired, but they were. So, in these cases the NT usage must be valid, but often would have been a surprise to the OT author.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Who is "the angel of the Lord"? Where else is he mentioned in the Psalms?

2. How and why is verse 8 quoted twice in the NT (Heb. 6:5; 1 Pet. 2:3)?

3. Why does the author call his hearers "children"?

4. List the parts of the human body used to describe YHWH in verses 15-17.

5. What does the Hebrew idiom "keeps all his bones" mean?

6. What are the implications of verse 19 in a fallen world?

7. What does the word "soul" mean in the OT?

Passage: 

Psalm 35

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Prayer for Rescue From Enemies The Lord the Avenger of His People Prayer for Deliverance From Personal Enemies
(A Lament)
A Prayer For Help Prayer of the Virtuous in Persecution
MT Intro
"A Psalm of David."
       
35:1-8  35:1-3 35:1-3 35:1-3 35:1-3
  35:4-8 35:4-6 35:4-6 35:4
        35:5-6
    35:7-8 35:7-8 35:7-8
35:9-16 35:9-10 35:9-10 35:9-10 35:9-10
  35:11-14 35:11-12 35:11-14 35:11-12
    35:13-14   35:13-14
  35:15-16 35:15-16 35:15-16 35:15-16
35:17-21 35:17-18 35:17-18 35:17-18 35:17-18
  35:19-21 35:19-21 35:19 35:19
      35:20-25 35:20-21
35:22-26 35:22-25 35:22-25   35:22-24
        35:25-26
  35:26 35:26 35:26  
35:27-28 35:27-28 35:27-28 35:27-28 35:27
        35:28

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This Psalm is dominated by

1. prayer requests (8 imperatives) for YHWH's help against enemies

2. jussives (23) describing what the psalmist hopes will happen to those who are

a. his enemies

b. his supporters

 

B. In many of the Psalms it is difficult to identify who the adversaries are. In this Psalm (i.e., 35:12-14) it is obvious they were close covenant acquaintances. This made the pain of the betrayal all the more intense! However, verses 1-8 seem to imply a military opponent.

 

C. Psalm 34 and Psalm 35 are the only Psalms where "the angel of YHWH" is mentioned. This is possibly why they were placed next to each other. The Psalms were selected, edited, and compiled by unknown people in an unknown process. By faith we believe they were led by the Spirit.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 35:1-8
 1Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
 Fight against those who fight against me.
 2Take hold of buckler and shield
 And rise up for my help.
 3Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me;
 Say to my soul, "I am your salvation."
 4Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life;
 Let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me.
 5Let them be like chaff before the wind,
 With the angel of the Lord driving them on.
 6Let their way be dark and slippery,
 With the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
 7For without cause they hid their net for me;
 Without cause they dug a pit for my soul.
 8Let destruction come upon him unawares,
 And let the net which he hid catch himself;
 Into that very destruction let him fall.

35:1-8 This strophe starts out with several prayer requests (imperatives) in verses 1-3.

1. contend — BDB 936, KB 1224, Qal imperative, the noun occurs in the second phrase (BDB 937)

2. fight — BDB 535, KB 526, Qal imperative, the Qal participle occurs in the second phrase

3. take hold — BDB 304, KB 302, Hiphil imperative (lit. "seize")

4. rise up — BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative

5. draw — BDB 937, KB 1227, Hiphil imperative, cf. Exod. 15:9

6. MT has "close up" — BDB 688, KB 742, Qal imperative (NKJV, LXX, NIV) but the same consonants can mean "battle axes" (Herodotus, NASB, NRSV, NJB, JPSOA). The UBS Text Project gives the imperative an "A" rating. The Hebrew consonants can be translated "battle axe," "javelin," "pike"; it is found only here in the OT. One wonders who the psalmist is referring to as his adversaries.

a. military combatants, Ps. 35:1-3, 4-6

b. legal foes, Ps. 35:11

c. close friends, Ps. 35:12-14

7. say — BDB 55, KB 65, Qal imperative. Notice how personal this phrase is. The psalmist wants YHWH to affirm that He is his only deliverance, cf. Ps. 62:2; 89:26. If there is to be salvation/deliverance, it will come from the covenant God, YHWH!

 

Beginning at Ps. 35:4-8 the psalmist asks YHWH to

1. let those be ashamed — BDB 101, KB 116, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:4; Ps. 40:14; 70:2; 83:17

2. let those be dishonored — BDB 483, KB 480, Niphal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:4

3. let those be turned back — BDB 690, KB 744, Niphal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:4

4. let those be humiliated — BDB 344, KB 340, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:4

5. let them be like chaff before the wind — BDB 224, KB 243, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:5; Job 21:18; Ps. 1:4

6. let their way be dark and slippery — BDB 224, KB 243, Qal jussive, Ps. 35:6

7. let destruction come upon him unawares — BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:8

8. let the net which he hid catch himself — BDB 539, KB 530, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:8 (typical biblical role reversal; cf. Ps. 9:15; 31:4; 140:5; 142:3)

9. let him fall on him by means of his own evil plans — BDB 656, KB 709, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:8

 

These enemies are characterized as

1. who seek my life — BDB 134, KB 153, Piel participle, Ps. 35:4

2. who devise evil against me — BDB 362, KB 359, Qal participle, Ps. 35:4

3. who without cause they hid their net for me — BDB 380, KB 377, Qal perfect, Ps. 35:7

4. who without cause they dug a pit for my soul — BDB 343, KB 340, Qal perfect, Ps. 35:7 (notice this is repeated for emphasis)

 

35:2 "buckler and shield" These (BDB 857, KB 1037 and BDB 171, KB 545) were types of shields. BDB identifies "buckler" (BDB 857) as a large, full body shield but does not give the size of the other one. It is assumed that both were carried into battle by soldiers (and/or their armor bearers). Therefore, one was for spears and arrows (full body) and one for hand to hand fighting (smaller, BDB171; NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 846).

35:3 "pursue me" This term (BDB 922, KB 1191, Qal active participle) is often used in the Psalms of aggressive adversaries (cf. Ps. 7:1,5; 31:15; 71:11; 109:16; 119:84,86). It can be

1. a military pursuit

2. a hunting pursuit

3. a metaphor of aggressive opposition

 

35:5-6 "the angel of the Lord" The angels were agents of protection in Ps. 34:7, but here agents of judgment. Some would say the Bible, being an ancient, pre-scientific book, is superstitious about the unseen, unexplained. It is surely true that there is mystery here, but if one holds to the Bible being the unique revelation of the one true God, then he/she must accept its worldview, which includes the interconnection between the visible and invisible world. Exactly how, when, where, who is connected to this interconnection is uncertain.

It is often difficult to know the difference between the literary use (used for effect) and literal use (i.e., angelic intervention or activity). There are two cliches here—everything has an angelic component versus nothing has an angelic component. We live by faith and biblical revelation. Differing personalities migrate to one side or the other.

Life is often "dark" and "slippery" (cf. Ps. 73:18), but for those who trust YHWH, He walks through the valley(s) of deep darkness with them (cf. Ps. 23:4; 107:14). Life is often described in the figurative language of a walk or a journey. A straight, level, smooth road is imagery of a good life, while dark, slippery obstacles in the road or an unlevel road is imagery of a problem.

See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE ANGEL OF THE LORD at Ps. 34:7.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 35:9-16
 9And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord;
 It shall exult in His salvation.
 10All my bones will say, "Lord, who is like You,
 Who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him,
 And the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?"
 11Malicious witnesses rise up;
 They ask me of things that I do not know.
 12They repay me evil for good,
 To the bereavement of my soul.
 13But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth;
 I humbled my soul with fasting,
 And my prayer kept returning to my bosom.
 14I went about as though it were my friend or brother;
 I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother.
 15But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered themselves together;
 The smiters whom I did not know gathered together against me,
 They slandered me without ceasing.
 16Like godless jesters at a feast,
 They gnashed at me with their teeth.

35:9-16 This strophe affirms YHWH's deliverance.

1. my soul shall rejoice in the Lord — BDB 162, KB 189, Qal imperfect

2. it shall exult in His salvation — BDB 965, KB 1314, Qal imperfect

3. all his bones (i.e., his soul, cf. Ps. 51:8) will say — BDB 55, KB 65, Qal imperfect (i.e., the terms "soul," nephesh [BDB 659], and "bones" are idioms for the whole person, cf. Ps. 6:2)

a. who is like You, cf. Exod. 15:11; Ps. 86:8, Micah 7:18; see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM at Ps. 2:7

b. who delivers the afflicted

At this point (35:11) the psalmist begins to describe his adversaries.

1. malicious witnesses — BDB 729 construct BDB 329, Ps. 35:11

2. who asks him things he does not know, Ps. 35:11 (the setting is a court scene and the false witnesses are asking about things the psalmist did not do)

3. who repay evil for good, Ps. 35:12, cf. Ps. 38:20; 109:5 (reversal, cf. Ps. 35:13-14)

4. who rejoiced at his stumbling, Ps. 35:15

5. who gathered together to slander him, Ps. 35:15

6. who gnashed their teeth at him, Ps. 35:15, cf. Ps. 37:12; 112:10; Job 16:9; Lam. 2:16; Matt. 8:12; 25:30; Luke 13:28

In Ps. 35:14 and 15 the psalmist describes what he did for those who persecuted him

1. when they were sick, he wore sackcloth on their behalf (see SPECIAL TOPIC: GRIEVING RITES at Ps. 30:11)

2. he humbled himself, fasted, and prayed on their behalf

3. he mourned for them (as for a close friend or brother)

4. he mourned for them (as for his own mother)

There is a visible contrast between how the faithful follower acts and the faithless ones act! Our relationship with God is clearly seen in how we treat others.

35:12b The MT has "bereavement" (BDB 1013) from loss of children which is a terrible sorrow. The NEB suggests an emendation, "they seek for my life"; REB, "lying in wait to take my life."

As is so often true, modern readers do not fully understand the poetry of an ANE culture. However, though there are rare words and uncertain imagery, the overall thrust is understandable from context, especially parallelism.

35:13b

NASB, LXX"and my prayer kept returning to my bosom"
JPSOA"may what I prayed for happen to me"
NRSV, TEV"I prayed with a bowed head on my bosom"
NJB"praying ever anew in my heart"

The MT is uncertain. So the translations suggest

1. the psalmist's prayers and actions for his enemies in Ps. 35:13-14 return to his benefit, not theirs (cf. Matt. 10:13; Luke 10:6)

2. the phrase refers to his body's position in prayer

3. the phrase refers to repeated prayer

 

35:15

NASB, NRSV,
NJB, JPSOA,
NRSV, REB"stumbling"
NKJV, TEV"adversity"
NEB"ruffians"

The MT has "at my stumbling" (BDB 854, cf. Ps. 38:17; Job 18:12). The UBS Text Project gives the MT a "C" rating (considerable doubt). It suggests "limping ones," denoting a hurt psalmist (p. 220). The UBS Handbook (p. 335) suggests the psalmist was limping like a wounded animal. If so the "gathered together" could be like a pack of dogs.

35:16

NASB"like godless jesters at a feast"
NKJV"with ungodly mockers at feasts"
NRSV"they impiously mock more and more"
TEV"like those who would mock a cripple"
NJB"if I fall they surround me"
REB"when I slipped, they mocked at me"
JPSOA"with impious, mocking grimace"

The MT has "like the profanest of mockers of a cake," which obviously does not make sense. So English translations have tried to find a parallel between verse 15 and verse 16, but it is all conjecture. The AB (p. 214) suggests an emendation that results in "my encircling mockers."

The MT is not the first or oldest Hebrew manuscript.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 35:17-21
 17Lord, how long will You look on?
 Rescue my soul from their ravages,
 My only life from the lions.
 18I will give You thanks in the great congregation;
 I will praise You among a mighty throng.
 19Do not let those who are wrongfully my enemies rejoice over me;
 Nor let those who hate me without cause wink maliciously.
 20For they do not speak peace,
 But they devise deceitful words against those who are quiet in the land.
 21They opened their mouth wide against me;
 They said, "Aha, aha, our eyes have seen it!"

35:17-21 Unlike the previous strophe, this one starts out asking YHWH why and then a prayer for action.

1. how long will You not act — BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperfect (same sentiment as Ps. 13:1-2; 22:1-2; Hab. 1:2-4; YHWH does not respond as the psalmist thinks He should)

2. rescue (lit. "bring back") my soul — BDB 996, KB 1427, Hiphil imperative

Verse 18 describes what the psalmist will do if YHWH rescues him.

1. I will give You thanks in the great congregation (temple gathering, cf. Ps. 22:25; 40:9,10) — BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense

2. I will praise You among the mighty throng (synonymous parallelism with #1) — BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperfect used in a cohortative sense

Verse 19 returns to the "let those. . ." pattern of Ps. 35:5-8.

1. do not let those who are wrongfully my enemies rejoice over me — BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. neither let those who hate me without cause wink maliciously — BDB 902, KB 1147, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Pro. 6:12-14; 10:10

Ps. 35:20-21 gives the reasons why YHWH should act against his adversaries.

1. they do not speak peace

2. they devise deceitful words

3. they opened their mouth wide against me

4. they say, "Aha, aha, our eyes have seen it"

 

35:14 Jesus quotes part of this verse in John 15:25 as referring to Him in a typological sense.

35:17 "lions" See note at Psalm 34:10.

35:20 "those who are quiet in the land" This phrase is unique. From its parallel it seems to refer to people who do not cause trouble but seek peace.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 35:22-26
 22You have seen it, O Lord, do not keep silent;
 O Lord, do not be far from me.
 23Stir up Yourself, and awake to my right
 And to my cause, my God and my Lord.
 24Judge me, O Lord my God, according to Your righteousness,
 And do not let them rejoice over me.
 25Do not let them say in their heart, " Aha, our desire!"
 Do not let them say, "We have swallowed him up!"
 26Let those be ashamed and humiliated altogether who rejoice at my distress;
 Let those be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves over me.

35:22-26 The psalmist appeals to YHWH's knowledge of the situation (cf. Ps. 10:14; 32:8; 33:18; 34:15; Exod. 3:7). In light of His knowledge of the enemies' attack, please

1. do not keep silent — BDB 361, KB 357, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 28:1; 39:12; 83:1; 109:1; also note Hab. 1:13

2. do not be far from me — BDB 934, KB 1221, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 10:1; 22:11; 38:21; 71:12

These jussives are followed by three specific prayer requests (imperatives) for court justice (i.e., "right," "cause").

1. stir up Yourself — BDB 734, KB 802, Hiphil imperative, cf. Ps. 7:6; 44:23; 59:4; 80:2

2. awake — BDB 884, KB 1098, Hiphil imperative

3. judge — BDB 1047, KB 1622, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 26:1; 43:1; 139:1,23; notice the judgment is "according to Your righteousness" (cf. Ps. 31:1c; Romans 4-6; Galatians 3)

In the following verses (35:24b-26) there is another series of six Qal imperfects used in a jussive sense.

1. do not let them rejoice over me — BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:24

2. do not let them say in their hearts, "Aha, our desire!" — BDB 55, KB 65, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:25

3. do not let them say, "We have swallowed him up!" — BDB 55, KB 65, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:25

4. let them be ashamed — BDB 101, KB 116, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:26

5. let them be humiliated — BDB 344, KB 340, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:26

6. let those be clothed with shame and dishonor — BDB 344, KB 340, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:26

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 35:27-28
 27Let them shout for joy and rejoice, who favor my vindication;
 And let them say continually, "The Lord be magnified,
 Who delights in the prosperity of His servant."
 28And my tongue shall declare Your righteousness
 And Your praise all day long.

35:27-28 Again there is a series of four Qal imperfects used in a jussive sense.

1. let them who favor my vindication (cf. Ps. 35:24a) shout for joy — BDB 943, KB 1247, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:27

2. let them rejoice (parallel to #1) — BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:27

3. let them say continuously — BDB 55, KB 65, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:27

4. let the Lord be magnified — BDB 152, KB 178, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 35:27

 

35:28 The tongue of the faithless spreads lies, rumors, and bitterness but the tongue of the faithful follower tells of

1. the righteousness of YHWH, cf. Ps. 51:14; 71:15,24

2. His praise

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How does this Psalm use the imagery of YHWH as warrior?

2. List the things that the psalmist asks YHWH to do to his enemies in verses 4-8 and again in verses 24b-26.

3. What doctrine does the phrase "who is like You" (Ps. 35:10) imply?

4. Why does the psalmist feel betrayed by his acquaintances? (cf. Ps. 35:13-14)

5. What do the words, "Aha, aha" (cf. Ps. 35:21,25) imply?

6. List the good things the psalmist asks for his supporters in Ps. 35:27.

 

Passage: 

Psalm 36

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Wickedness of Men and Lovingkindness of God Man's Wickedness and God's Perfection A Psalm of Mixed Type Human Wickedness The Perversity of Sinners and the Benevolence of God
MT Intro
"For the Choir Director. APsalm of David the Servant of the Lord"
       
36:1-4  36:1-4 36:1-4 36:1-4 36:1
        36:2-3a
      The Goodness of God 36:3b-6a
36:5-9 36:5-9 36:5-6 36:5-6  
    36:7-9 36:7-9  
        36:6c-7
        36:8-9
36:10-12 36:10-12 36:10-12 36:10-12 36:10-11
        36:12

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This Psalm describes the ungodly person in Ps. 36:1-4 and then the faithful follower in Ps. 36:7-9.

 

B. YHWH is described in Ps. 36:5-6 by four powerful descriptive nouns.

1. lovingkindness

2. faithfulness

3. righteousness

4. judgments/justice

They describe YHWH and His covenant. These are how He wants His world to function!

 

C. Verses 10-12 offer concluding prayers for YHWH to help shield the godly from the influences of the godless. The downward pull of a

1. fallen world (cf. Eph. 2:1)

2. fallen culture

3. fallen acquaintances (cf. 1 Cor. 15:33)

4. fallen self (cf. Eph. 2:3)

5. Eph. 4:2 would also add Satan (i.e., the prince of the power of the air) who is often so strong, consistent, and pervasive. YHWH's character, word, and intervention are our only hope.

 

D. Two unique word usages are found in this Psalm.

1. evil personified (i.e., "transgression speaks"), Ps. 36:1

2. "house" refers to all creation or eschatological setting. See note at Ps. 36:8-9.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 36:1-4
 1Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart;
 There is no fear of God before his eyes.
 2For it flatters him in his own eyes
 Concerning the discovery of his iniquity and the hatred of it.
 3The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;
 He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
 4He plans wickedness upon his bed;
 He sets himself on a path that is not good;
 He does not despise evil.

36:1-4 These verses describe the ungodly (BDB 957).

1. Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his (LXX, MT, "my") heart (BDB 833 calls this "personified as evil spirit"). The verb of transgression/rebellion is used in Ps. 37:38; 51:13; Isa. 43:27; 59:13; 66:24; Jer. 2:8,29; 3:13; 33:8, where it refers to transgression/rebellion among the covenant people. The psalmist lives among a people of unclean lips (cf. Isa. 6:5,9-10).

2. There is no fear (i.e., terror, BDB 808) of God before their eyes. Fear of YHWH is admonished in Ps. 34:9; 55:19d. This verse is the concluding text quoted in the list of OT texts which assert the universal sinfulness of all mankind in Rom. 3:18.

3. Either "personified transgression" or the godless person himself lies ("smooth talk," BDB 325, KB 322, Hiphil perfect) to himself about his own iniquity.

4. The words of his mouth (which reflects who he is) are

a. wickedness (BDB 19)

b. deceit (BDB 941)

5. He has ceased to

a. be wise (BDB 968, KB 1328, Hiphil infinitive construct)

b. do good (BDB 405, KB 408, Hiphil infinitive construct)

6. He plans wickedness upon his bed (all the verbs of Ps. 36:4 are imperfects, denoting ongoing action), cf. Pro. 4:16; Micah 2:1.

7. He set himself on a path that is not good. Remember life is characterized as a path, road, way. Each of us must choose which path, cf. Deut. 30:15,19; Matt. 7:13-14.

8. He does not despise evil.

Even covenant people are tested/tempted (i.e., personified rebellion) but they are still responsible for their choices and the consequences of those choices!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 36:5-9
 5Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
 Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
 6Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
 Your judgments are like a great deep.
 O Lord, You preserve man and beast.
 7How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
 And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
 8They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
 And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
 9For with You is the fountain of life;
 In Your light we see light.

36:5-9 This strophe describes YHWH's character and actions toward His people. As the rebel chose and lived in light of his/her choices, so too, the faithful followers must continue to respond to YHWH's love.

1. YHWH is described as, Ps. 36:5-6

a. lovingkindness (BDB 338, i.e., covenant loyalty, see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7)

b. faithfulness (BDB 53, see Special Topic at Ps. 12:1)

c. righteousness (BDB 842, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:5)

d. judgments (BDB 1048, see Special Topic at Ps. 9:5-6)

These are four powerful, recurrent attributes of YHWH. They characterize His dealings with humans. In light of these attributes humans and all life on this planet is preserved (BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperfects). Elohim created and sustains this planet, its people, its animals, and its plant life (see SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at Ps. 1:1).

2. Faithful followers

a. take refuge in the shadow of Your wings (see Special Topic at Ps. 5:11-12)

b. drink their fill of the abundance of Your house (see Contextual Insights, D or note at Ps. 36:8)

c. have Your house as

(1) the fountain of life, cf. Jer. 2:13; 17:13

(2) light (i.e., truth, health, joy, cf. Ps. 18:28; 27;1)

 

36:7 "O God! And the children of men" It is possible that "God" (Elohim) here should/could refer to "leaders," because it seems to parallel "man and beasts" (i.e., a category of two) in Ps. 36:6c. If so, then the two categories of humans referred to must be

1. leaders (i.e., judges in Exod. 21:6; Ps. 82:6 or leaders in Ps. 29:1; 58:1)

2. those led

NEB, REB, TEV, and AB footnote have "Gods and men."

36:8 "Your house" In this context it does not refer to the temple but a recreated Eden (i.e., "delight," BDB 726, Ps. 36:8b) or eschatological setting (i.e., new age, cf. Ps. 46:4; Ezek. 47:1-12; Joel 3:18; Rev. 22:1-2).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 36:10-12
 10O continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You,
 And Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
 11Let not the foot of pride come upon me,
 And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
 12There the doers of iniquity have fallen;
 They have been thrust down and cannot rise.

36:10-12 This concluding strophe is a prayer by the psalmist to YHWH on behalf of the faithful followers (i.e., "to those who know You," see Special Topic at Ps. 1:6).

1. Continue — BDB 604, KB 645, Qal imperative

a. in Your lovingkindness

b. in Your righteousness

2. Do not let

a. the foot of pride come upon me — BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

b. the hand of the wicked drive me away — BDB 626, KB 678, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense

3. Let the wicked be

a. fallen — BDB 656, KB 709, Qal perfect

b. thrust down — BDB 190, KB 218, Qal perfect

c. unable to rise — BDB 407, KB 410, Qal perfect (all three verbs may refer to death and descent into Sheol)

Note the consequences of faith (36:7-8) and evil (36:11-12). Choices have consequences!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Compare all the translations that you have and note the different ways they translate verse 1.

2. Express in your own words the essence of verses 1-4 in one declarative sentence.

3. What do the four significant terms in Ps. 36:5,6 have to say about the concept of conditional and unconditional covenants in the OT?

4. Can the term Elohim in verse 7 refer to the judges or leaders of Israel as well as the God of Israel? Why?

5. Why does the term "in the shadow of Your wings" refer to God as a female? What is the implication of these types of statements?

6. Does it seem unspiritual to you that David prays for the destruction of his enemies?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 37

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Security of Those Who Trust in the Lord, and Insecurity of the Wicked The Heritage of the Righteous and the Calamity of the Wicked The Certainty of Retribution For the Wicked
(A Wisdom Psalm)
The Destiny of the Wicked and of the Good The Fate of the Upright and the Wicked

(An Acrostic)

MT Intro
A Psalm of David
       
37:1-6  37:1-2 37:1-2 3:1-2 37:1-2 (Aleph)
  37:3-4 37:3-4 37:3-4 37:3-4 (Bet)
  37:5-6 37:5-6 37:5-6 37:5-6 (Gimel)
37:7-11 37:7-11 37:7 37:7 37:7 (Dalet)
    37:8-9 37:8-9 37:8-9 (He)
    37:10-11 37:10-11 37:10-11 (Waw)
37:12-15 37:12-15 37:12-13 37:12-13 37:12-13 (Zain)
    37:14-15 37:14-15 37:14-15 (Het)
37:16-22 37:16-17 37:16-17 37:16-17 37:16-17 (Tet)
  37:18-20 37:18-19 37:18-20 37:18-19 (Yod)
    37:20   37:20 (Kaph)
  37:21-22 37:21-22 37:21-22 37:21-22 (Lamed)
37:23-26 37:23-24 37:23-24 37:23-24 37:23-24 (Mem)
  37:25-26 37:25-26 37:25-26 37:25-26 (Nun)
37:27-34 37:27-29 37:27-29 37:27-29 37:27-28b (Samek)
        37:28c-29 (Ain)
  37:30-31 37:30-31 37:30-31 37:30-31 (Pe)
  37:32-33 37:32-33 37:32-33 37:32-33 (Zade)
  37:34-36 37:34 37:34 37:34 (Qoph)
    37:35-36 37:35-36 37:35-36 (Resh)
37:35-40        
  37:37-38 37:37-38 37:37-38 37:37-38 (Shim)
  37:39-40 37:39-40 37:39-40 37:39-40 (Taw)

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This Psalm swings back and forth between admonishing and describing the faithful followers and describing the faithless. The theological issue is the prosperity of the wicked (cf. Psalm 73; Habakkuk).

 

B. YHWH is characterized in several different ways. He sustains the faithful and destroys the faithless.

 

C. This is an acrostic psalm. Each suggestive letter has two verses (i.e., 4 lines) except Qoph, 37:34, which has 3 lines.

 

D. This Psalm's theology about inheriting the land (i.e., Canaan) and prosperity is based on Gen. 12:1-3 (YHWH's initial call and promises to Abraham), which develops under Moses into the Mosaic covenant. It had blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-30 for a good summary).

YHWH wanted to reveal Himself to the world through His special covenant people, Israel. Israel was to reveal His grace, mercy, and love through its prosperity and godly culture. As is obvious from the historical books (i.e., Joshua — 2 Kings), the disobedience of Israel thwarted this purpose. Israel was judged and the covenant broken (i.e., exile). Therefore, YHWH was forced to start a "new covenant" (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-38) based on His grace and actions, not fallen human obedience (i.e., the gospel of Jesus Christ recorded in the NT). With this new covenant the promises to national Israel were annulled! Below I have place a Special Topic that tries to document this change.

SPECIAL TOPIC: WHY ARE THE END-TIME EVENTS SO CONTROVERSIAL?

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 37:1-6
 1Do not fret because of evildoers,
 Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
 2For they will wither quickly like the grass
 And fade like the green herb.
 3Trust in the Lord and do good;
 Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
 4Delight yourself in the Lord;
 And He will give you the desires of your heart.
 5Commit your way to the Lord,
 Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
 6He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
 And your judgment as the noonday.

37:1-6 This strophe has seven imperatives and three jussives. These are not prayers but admonitions to the faithful (i.e., what to do and what not to do).

1. fret not yourself — BDB 354, KB 351, Hithpael jussive, same form in Ps. 37:7,8; note Pro. 24:19; the word means "burn," or "be kindled" and is used figuratively of anger; here it is paired with "envy" (BDB 888)

2. do not be envious — BDB 888, KB 1109, Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 73:3; Pro. 3:31; 23:17; 24:1,19

The lives of the wicked look successful and happy but they are short lived; they will not ultimately inherit the promised land.

1. they will wither quickly like the grass — BDB 576, KB 593, Qal imperfect, cf. Job 14:2; Ps. 90:5-6; 103:15-16; Isa. 40:6-8

2. they will fade like the green herb — BDB 615, KB 663, Qal imperfect

In light of the transitoriness of the faithless ones, faithful followers should (37:3-5 has 7 imperatives)

1. trust in YHWH — BDB 105, KB 120, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 37:3,5; Ps. 52:8; 62:8; Pro. 3:5-6

2. do good — BDB 793, KB 889, Qal imperative

3. dwell in the land — BDB 1014, KB 1496, Qal imperative

4. cultivate faithfulness — BDB 944, KB 1258, Qal imperative

5. delight yourself in YHWH — BDB 772, KB 851, Hithpael imperative (i.e., not in physical prosperity)

6. commit your way (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:2) to YHWH — BDB 164, KB 193, Qal imperative

7. trust in Him — BDB same as #1

YHWH will

1. give (BDB 678, KB 733, Qal imperfect) the faithful follower "the desires of your heart," Ps. 37:4

2. "He will do it" (BDB 793, KB 889, Qal imperfect), Ps. 37:5

3. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light

4. He will bring forth your justice as the noonday (#3 and #4 are parallel and seem to refer to a court case or is figurative of end-time judgment)

 

37:4b This line of poetry has always meant a lot to me personally, but I am not sure I have interpreted it correctly. I usually use this to assert that if we are faithful followers we will desire the right things because YHWH has informed our hearts (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:26-27). But it surely could refer to the answered prayers of the faithful follower (cf. Ps. 20:4-5; 21:2; 145:19; Matt. 7:7-8). The theological issue is the interplay between God's sovereignty and human freewill (see Special Topic at Ps. 25:12; NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 444). Sometimes careful exegesis ruins a good sermon!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 37:7-11
 7Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
 Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
 Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
 8Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
 Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
 9For evildoers will be cut off,
 But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
 10Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
 And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
 11But the humble will inherit the land
 And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

37:7-11 This is a continuation of the previous strophe.

1. admonitions to the faithful

a. rest in YHWH — BDB 198, KB 226, Qal imperative

b. wait patiently for Him — BDB 296, KB 297, Hithpolel imperative (i.e., for YHWH to act temporally and eschatologically)

c. fret not — same as 37:1

d. cease from anger — BDB 951, KB 1276, Hiphil imperative (i.e., do not try to avenge yourself)

e. forsake wrath — BDB 736, KB 806, Qal imperative

f. fret not — same as 37:1,7

2. because the fate of the faithless is sure

a. his prosperity will be cut off (i.e., death)

b. the wicked will have no place (like wild flowers out of season)

3. therefore, the faithful (i.e., those who wait for YHWH, Ps. 37:9b)

a. will inherit the land, cf. Ps. 37:9,11,22,29,34, see note D. in Contextual Insights; and Special Topic at Ps. 1:2)

b. will delight themselves in abundant prosperity

 

37:7 "wait patiently" The MT has the verb (BDB 296 I, KB 297), literally "whirl," "dance," "writhe" (i.e., in pain). It is used in the sense of "waiting" in Job 35:14 (Polel). Only here in Ps. 37:7 (Hithpolel) does it mean "wait patiently." Because of this the NET Bible (cf. p. 895, #9) has suggested an emendation to a different Hebrew root (i.e., from חיל to יחל, BDB 403, Hiphil).

37:8 Here again is the recurrent OT emphasis of God's sovereignty and foreknowledge (cf. Ps. 37:23). All history is present before Him. Faithful followers can trust that

1. the past is forgiven

2. the present is empowered

3. the future is secure

 

37:10 "Yet a little while" This is Hebrew imagery for predestined occurrences. YHWH is in control of time. There is a plan, purpose, and just outcome. Righteousness will be victorious in the end and wickedness will be exposed, judged, and eliminated (cf. Ps. 37:13)!

37:11 "the humble will inherit the land" This is quoted by Jesus in the beatitude of Matt. 5:5 (LXX), where "land" has turned into "earth" (see Contextual Insights).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 37:12-15
 12The wicked plots against the righteous
 And gnashes at him with his teeth.
 13The Lord laughs at him,
 For He sees his day is coming.
 14The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow
 To cast down the afflicted and the needy,
 To slay those who are upright in conduct.
 15Their sword will enter their own heart,
 And their bows will be broken.

37:12-15 The wicked's actions against the faithful and YHWH's response.

1. the wicked

a. plot against the righteous

b. gnash (their teeth) at him/them, cf. Job 16:9; Ps. 35:11; Lam. 2:16; Acts 7:54

c. have drawn the swords

d. have bent their bows

(1) to cast down the afflicted

(2) to cast down the needy

(3) to slay the upright

2. YHWH's response

a. He laughs at him/them, cf. Ps. 2:4; 59:9

b. He sees his/their day (i.e., of judgment) coming, both temporal and eschatological

c. their sword will be broken (reversal by YHWH)

d. their bow will be broken (reversal by YHWH)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 37:16-22
 16Better is the little of the righteous
 Than the abundance of many wicked.
 17For the arms of the wicked will be broken,
 But the Lord sustains the righteous.
 18The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
 And their inheritance will be forever.
 19They will not be ashamed in the time of evil,
 And in the days of famine they will have abundance.
 20But the wicked will perish;
 And the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures,
 They vanish— like smoke they vanish away.
 21The wicked borrows and does not pay back,
 But the righteous is gracious and gives.
 22For those blessed by Him will inherit the land,
 But those cursed by Him will be cut off.

37:16-22 This strophe is a series of contrasts (antithetical parallelism).

1. Verse 16

a. better is the little of the righteous (cf. Pro. 15:16-17; 16:8; 28:6; this is the theological balance to 37:25)

b. than the abundance of many wicked (i.e., do not fret over the seeming prosperity of the wicked, 37:1-2)

2. Verse 17

a. the arms of the wicked will be broken

b. YHWH sustains the righteous

3. Verses 18-20

a. the blameless, Ps. 37:18-19

(1) YHWH knows their day

(2) their inheritance will be forever

(3) they will not be ashamed in the time of evil

(4) in the days of famine, they will have abundance

b. the wicked

(1) will perish

(2) will vanish away (MT uncertain, context suggests, like spring flowers, cf. Ps. 37:2)

4. Verse 21

a. the wicked borrows and does not pay back

b. the righteous is gracious and gives

5. Verse 22

a. those blessed by YHWH will inherit the land

b. those cursed by YHWH will be cut off

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 37:23-26
 23The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
 And He delights in his way.
 24When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
 Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
 25I have been young and now I am old,
 Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
 Or his descendants begging bread.
 26All day long he is gracious and lends,
 And his descendants are a blessing.

37:23-26 This strophe describes the faithful follower(s).

1. his/her steps are established by YHWH

2. YHWH delights in his/her way

3. when he/she falls

a. not hurled headlong (i.e., figurative of destruction)

b. because YHWH holds his/her hand (saints do falter from time to time but YHWH does not)

4. psalmist (with the experiences of a lifetime) has never seen the righteous forsaken

5. psalmist has never seen their descendants begging bread

6. he/she is gracious and lends

7. his/her descendants are a blessing

 

37:25 This is an OT perspective based on the Mosaic covenant (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-30). This is not meant to be interpreted today that all poor and needy people can not be believers. The covenants have changed, see Contextual Insights D. For a good brief discussion of this verse, see Hard Sayings of the Bible, pp. 267-268.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 37:27-34
 27Depart from evil and do good,
 So you will abide forever.
 28For the Lord loves justice
 And does not forsake His godly ones;
 They are preserved forever,
 But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
 29The righteous will inherit the land
 And dwell in it forever.
 30The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
 And his tongue speaks justice.
 31The law of his God is in his heart;
 His steps do not slip.
 32The wicked spies upon the righteous
 And seeks to kill him.
 33The Lord will not leave him in his hand
 Or let him be condemned when he is judged.
 34Wait for the Lord and keep His way,
 And He will exalt you to inherit the land;
 When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

37:27-34 This strophe, like Ps. 37:1-6, has several imperatives (6) admonishing the faithful. This is another strophe describing the actions of the faithful followers.

1. admonishments (i.e., imperatives)

a. depart from evil, Ps. 37:27 — BDB 693, KB 747, Qal imperative

b. do good, Ps. 37:27 — BDB 793, KB 889, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 37:3

c. dwell forever, Ps. 37:27 — BDB 1014, KB 1496, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 37:18,29

d. wait for YHWH, Ps. 37:34 — BDB 875, KB 1082, Piel imperative, cf. Ps. 37:9

e. keep His way, Ps. 37:34 — BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal imperative

2. reasons for the admonishments

a. YHWH loves justice

b. YHWH does not forsake His godly ones

c. they are preserved forever

d. they will inherit the land

e. they will dwell in the land forever

f. they speak wisdom/justice

g. they/he have the law of God in their/his hearts

h. his foot does not slip

i. YHWH will not desert him/them

j. he/they will not be condemned in judgment

Being a covenant believer changes every aspect of one's life, motives, and hopes. There is a radical difference between the faithful follower and the faithless person. The faithless person may be

1. an idolater

2. a disobedient covenant person

3. a practical atheist

4. an apathetic follower

5. an aggressive rich person

6. a disloyal political person

In verse 32 he/she is described as one who (see strophe 35-40)

1. spies upon the righteous

2. seeks to kill him/them

 

37:28 "They are preserved forever" The LXX changes this to "the evildoers will be chased away." This is suggested to preserve the acrostic structure (i.e., ‘ayin) and fit the parallelism. The UBS Text Project gives the MT a "B" rating (some doubt).

1. MT — נשמדו

2. LXX — נשדו (NEB, NJB, REB)

 

37:31 "The law of God" This term (BDB 435) is one of several terms used to describe YHWH's revelation to Israel (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:2).

▣ "in his heart" This is the internalization of God's revelation (i.e., God's Law written on the heart) and is a marker of the "new covenant" of Jer. 31:31-34.

▣ "His steps do not slip" Godly living is figuratively described as a straight, level, unobstructed path, a clearly marked road (cf. Ps. 37:34a, "His way," see note at Ps. 1:1). The opposite would be

1. steps slipped

2. in the miry clay

3. stumbled over

In the NT this same imagery is found (i.e., "walk," cf. Eph. 4:1,17; 5:2,15).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 37:35-40
 35I have seen a wicked, violent man
 Spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil.
 36Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more;
 I sought for him, but he could not be found.
 37Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright;
 For the man of peace will have a posterity.
 38But transgressors will be altogether destroyed;
 The posterity of the wicked will be cut off.
 39But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
 He is their strength in time of trouble.
 40The Lord helps them and delivers them;
 He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
 Because they take refuge in Him.

37:35-40 This strophe summarizes the contrast between the righteous and the wicked.

1. the wicked

a. violent (lit. "terror-striking," BDB 792)

b. spreading (rapidly, BDB 947) his influencing power and control like a luxuriant tree in the land (MT uncertain)

c. his days are numbered and he will be no more

d. he/they will be destroyed along with their descendants (see note below at #2 c.)

2. the righteous

a. mark (lit. "keep watch") the blameless man (see Special Topic at Ps. 18:20-24) — BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal imperative

b. behold the upright — BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperative

c. the man of peace will have a posterity (either afterlife or children)

d. they are saved by YHWH

e. YHWH is their strength in time of trouble

f. YHWH helps them

g. YHWH delivers them

All of this occurs because they take refuge in Him

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How is this Psalm related to Psalms 49 and 73, and the book of Job?

2. Why are men described in terms of grass and flowers?

3. What is the etymology of the term "trust" and what is the significance for our lives?

4. What is the central theme of this Psalm?

5. Why are verses 16 and 24 such an important balance to traditional OT wisdom?

6. Does this Psalm teach temporal or eschatological judgment? Why?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 38

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Prayer of a Suffering Penitent Prayer In Time of Chastening Prayer For Healing in Sickness
(A Lament)
The Prayer of a Sufferer Prayer in Distress
MT Intro
"A Psalm of David for a memorial"
       
38:1-8  38:1-2 38:1-2 38:1-2 38:1-3
  38:3-5 38:3-4 38:3-4  
        38:4-6
    38:5-6 38:5-8  
  38:6-8      
    38:7-8   38:7-8
38:9-12 38:9-10 38:9-11 38:9-12 38:9-10
  38:11-12     38:11-12
    38:12    
38:13-22 38:13-14 38:13-14 38:13-14 38:13-14
  38:15-20 38:15-16 38:15-17 38:15-16
    38:17-20   38:17-18
      38:18-20  
        38:19-20
  38:21-22 38:21-22 38:21-22 38:21-22

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This Psalm has much in common with Psalms 32 and 51.

 

B. In Jewish thought sin and sickness were related. Confession of sin brought answered prayer and restoration of mind, spirit, and body.

When one looks at all the physical problems mentioned, there are too many to be characteristic of one disease. Probably they are figurative (cf. Isa. 1:5-6). If so, the focus of the Psalm is not physical healing but forgiveness of sin!

C. As in so many Psalms the connection between

1. the physical problems

2. the attack of enemies

3. the rejection of friends

is uncertain. They are all related but how is a mystery. Are they literal or figurative of sin's social consequences?

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 38:1-8
 1O Lord, rebuke me not in Your wrath,
 And chasten me not in Your burning anger.
 2For Your arrows have sunk deep into me,
 And Your hand has pressed down on me.
 3There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation;
 There is no health in my bones because of my sin.
 4For my iniquities are gone over my head;
 As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.
 5My wounds grow foul and fester
 Because of my folly.
 6I am bent over and greatly bowed down;
 I go mourning all day long.
 7For my loins are filled with burning, 
 And there is no soundness in my flesh.
 8I am benumbed and badly crushed;
 I groan because of the agitation of my heart.

38:1-8 Most other English translations have this section broken down into several strophes. Strophe division is not a textual issue. It is speculation not inspiration.

The psalmist describes his condition and feelings.

1. he senses YHWH's displeasure

a. do not rebuke me in Your wrath — BDB 406, KB 410, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 6:1

b. do not chasten me in Your burning anger — BDB 415, KB 418, Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense; this verb often is used of covenant violations (cf. Lev. 26:18,28; Ps. 6:1; 39:11; 94:10; 118:18; Hos. 10:10)

2. he feels YHWH's punishment

a. Your arrows have sunk deep into me, cf. Deut. 32:23; Job 6:4; Ps. 7:12-13; 45:5

b. Your hand has pressed me down, cf. Ps. 32:4; 39:10 (note same verb in both lines but used in different senses, BDB 639, KB 692)

3. the physical result of YHWH's displeasure (because of sin, 38:3b,4,5b)

a. no soundness (BDB 1022, shalom) in my flesh

b. no health in my bones

c. wounds (lit. "stripes," BDB 289) grow foul (BDB 92, KB 107, Hiphil perfect) and fester (BDB 596, KB 583, Qal perfect)

d. bent over ("bent," BDB 730, KB 796, Niphal perfect; "bowed down," BDB 1005, KB 1458, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 35:14) in mourning

e. loins are filled (BDB 569, KB 583, Qal perfect) with burning

f. repeat of a. above

g. benumbed (BDB 806, KB 916, Niphal perfect, lit. "spent")

h. crushed (BDB 194, KB 221, Niphal perfect, Piel in Ps. 51:8)

i. groan (BDB 980, KB 1367, Qal perfect, i.e., animal sounds)

Notice the string of perfect tense verbs. YHWH's "anger" (BDB 893) and "wrath" (BDB 409) have come (imperfects) and remain (perfects)! What a terrible condition of mind (38:4, 8b) and body!

38:4 "over my head" This verb (BDB 716, KB 778, Qal perfect) is used of water.

1. flood as war — Isa. 8:8; 23:10; Dan. 11:10,40; Nahum 1:8

2. waves — literal in Isa. 54:9

3. waves — figurative of problems and emotions — Ps. 42:8; 88:16-17; 124:4-5

The psalmist's guilt from sin has overwhelmed him!

38:5 "fester" This verb (BDB 596, KB 628, Niphal perfect) is used in Leviticus 26, the cursing and blessing passage parallel to Deuteronomy 27-28. It denoted a "rotten decay" (cf. Lev. 26:39 [twice]). Sin destroys! Often in horrible ways!

38:6 "mourning" This term is from the Hebrew root "to be dark" (BDB 871). It could mean

1. dressed in dark clothing as a sign of mourning

2. dirt placed on head and clothing as a sign of mourning

3. an idiom for the condition of the heart, soul, mind (here because of known sin)

 

▣ "I am bent over and greatly bowed down" There are two parallel verbs.

1. bent over — BDB 730, KB 796, Niphal perfect which can be viewed as

a. bewilderment — Isa. 21:3

b. perversion of mind — 1 Sam.20:30; Pro. 12:8

c. literal — which matches the parallel verb

2. bowed down — BDB 1005, KB 1458, Qal perfect which seems to denote a bent body as a figure of a bent heart

 

38:7 "loins" There are several terms that are used in the OT to represent the whole person.

1. soul — BDB 659, nephesh

2. spirit — BDB 924, ruah

3. heart — BDB 524, leb

4. kidneys — BDB 480

5. only here, loins — BDB 492

There are several more. Only context can determine when this concept is meant. One part of the body represents the whole person.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 38:9-12
 9Lord, all my desire is before You;
 And my sighing is not hidden from You.
 10My heart throbs, my strength fails me;
 And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me.
 11My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague;
 And my kinsmen stand afar off.
 12Those who seek my life lay snares for me;
 And those who seek to injure me have threatened destruction,
 And they devise treachery all day long.

38:9-12 This strophe also describes the author's terrible condition.

1. his condition

a. his desire (i.e. prayer) is before YHWH (i.e., for forgiveness and restoration of fellowship)

b. his sighing is known to YHWH, cf. Ps. 31:10

2. his physical condition

a. heart throbs — BDB 695, KB 749, Niphal perfect

b. strength fails — BDB 736, KB 806, Qal perfect

c. eyes fail — no verbs; this is not referring to blindness but is an idiom for the lack of health, joy, peace, cf. Ps. 13:3; 1 Sam.14:29; Ezra 9:8

3. interpersonal issues

a. loved ones stand aloof

b. friends stand aloof

c. kinsmen stand far off

d. enemies seek his death

(1) lay snares

(2) threaten destruction

(3) devise treachery all day long; the verb BDB 211, KB 237, is lit. "groan." The psalmist "groans" (BDB 980, Ps. 38:8) but the wicked "devise" (cf. Pro. 24:2).

 

38:11

NASB, NKJV"plague"
NRSV, JPSOA"affliction"
TEV"sores"
NJB"disease"
REB"sickness"

The word (BDB 619) means "stroke/wound," "plague," or "mark."

1. plague — cf. Gen. 12:17; Exod. 11:1; 1 Kgs. 8:37-38; 2 Chr. 6:28-29; Ps. 39:10; 91:10

2. leprosy (OT sense) — Leviticus 13-14; Deut. 24:8

3. wound — Deut. 17:8; 21:5; Isa. 53:8

4. discipline (for children) — 2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 89:33; Pro. 6:23

Most words have multiple usages or else human vocabulary would be impossible to know and use. When an interpreter comes to a context, they seek the meaning intended by the original author and understandable to the hearers/readers of that day. This context is a divinely given physical manifestation of His displeasure over human sin. The punishment is meant to restore the person to faith. In this verse the parallelism suggests that the physical punishment frightened those who saw it, even close friends and relatives.

Therefore, in coming to a choice, several items are in play.

1. What physical manifestation?

2. Why the manifestation?

3. Why the response from others close by?

4. Is it figurative or literal?

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 38:13-22
 13But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;
 And I am like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
 14Yes, I am like a man who does not hear,
 And in whose mouth are no arguments.
 15For I hope in You, O Lord;
 You will answer, O Lord my God.
 16For I said, "May they not rejoice over me,
 Who, when my foot slips, would magnify themselves against me."
 17For I am ready to fall,
 And my sorrow is continually before me.
 18For I confess my iniquity;
 I am full of anxiety because of my sin.
 19But my enemies are vigorous and strong,
 And many are those who hate me wrongfully.
 20And those who repay evil for good,
 They oppose me, because I follow what is good.
 21Do not forsake me, O Lord;
 O my God, do not be far from me!
 22Make haste to help me,
 O Lord, my salvation!

38:13-22 This strophe has a mixture of current conditions (sickness, pain, injury) and future hope in YHWH's mercy.

1. current physical problems

a. does not hear (i.e., pretends he does not hear their slander), Ps. 38:13; Ps. 39:2,4

b. does not speak (i.e., respond to his accusers, cf. Isa. 53:7), Ps. 38:13b

c. ready to stumble, Ps. 38:16b-17a; metaphor for trouble, cf. Deut. 32:35; God's path was straight, level, and clear of obstacles

d. sorrow continually before him (his sin weighs heavily on him), Ps. 38:17b; Ps. 51:3

e. full of anxiety, Ps. 38:18

2. his enemies attack, Ps. 38:16,19-20

a. they grow strong and numerous, Ps. 38:19a

b. they hate him wrongfully, Ps. 38:19b

c. they repay evil for good, Ps. 38:20; Ps. 35:12; 109:5

d. they oppose him because he does what is good, Ps. 38:20b

3. confidence in YHWH's love, mercy, and forgiveness

a. hope (lit. "wait," BDB 403, KB 407, Hiphil perfect) in YHWH, Ps. 38:15a, cf. Job 13:15; Ps. 31:24; 33:22; 39:7; 42:5,11; 43:5

b. confident YHWH will answer his prayer, Ps. 38:15b

c. confident his enemies will not succeed and gloat over his fall, Ps. 38:16

d. he prays (two jussives, one imperative)

(1) do not forsake me — BDB 736, KB 806, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 9:11; 71:9,18; 94:14; 119:8; Isa. 49:14

(2) do not be far from me — BDB 934, KB 1221, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 22:11,19; 35:22; 71:12

(3) make haste to help me — BDB 301, KB 300, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 22:19b; 40:13; 70:1,5; 71:12; 141:1

 

38:18 This is the theological key to this Psalm (cf. Ps. 32:5). Confession brings

1. forgiveness from YHWH (cf. Psalm 51; note 1 John 1:9-2:1)

2. forgiveness for self

3. a sense of restoration of fellowship

Confession recognizes

1. human guilt for breaking YHWH's laws

2. YHWH's character of forgiveness and mercy

 

38:19

NASB, NKJV"vigorous"
NRSV"without cause"
TEV"healthy"
NJB, REB"without cause"
NET Bible"for no reason"

The MT has "living" (חיים, BDB 313), but several English translations emend the root to חנם, BDB 336, cf. Ps. 35:19; 69:4. This fits the parallelism of the next line, "who hate me wrongfully" (BDB 1055).

38:20 "adversaries" This is the Hebrew root (BDB 966) from which we get the term "satan."

SPECIAL TOPIC: SATAN

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Does YHWH punish His sinful followers in this life (Ps. 38:2-3)?

2. Is verse 4 a confession of many sins or a literary way of asserting the sinfulness of all humans?

3. List the physical problems associated with unconfessed sin.

4. Define the word "plague" in verse 11. Does your definition explain others' reactions to him?

5. How is the imagery of "foot slip" related to a life of sin?

6. Why is verse 18 so important?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 39

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Vanity Of Life Prayer for Wisdom and Forgiveness Prayer for Healing In Sickness
(A Lament)
The Confession of a Sufferer Insignificance of Human Beings Before God
MT Intro
"For the choir director, for Jeduthun."

A Psalm of David

       
39:1-6  39:1-3 39:1-6 39:1-4 39:1-2
        39:3-4
  39:4-6      
      39:5-6 39:5-6
39:7-11 39:7-11 39:7-10 39:7-11 39:7-9
        39:10-11
    39:11    
39:12-13 39:12-13 39:12-13 39:12-13 39:12-13

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. At first this Psalm is confusing. It starts out in a veiled literary technique, almost like a divine secret that cannot be shared/understood by outsiders to a faithful (but still sinful) walk with YHWH, Ps. 39:8.

 

B. The divine secret and human question is the transitoriness of human life. Mankind is so frail, fragile, temporary, ignorant, and usually focuses his/her attention on the wrong things (cf. Ps. 39:6, 11).

 

C. This Psalm in many ways reminds me of Ecclesiastes (the futility of life if there is no God). The psalmist characterizes himself in surprising ways.

1. like a stranger, Ps. 39:12

2. like a sojourner, Ps. 39:12

 

D. Verse 13 is still a mystery to me. The shocking truth of our fallen condition is that

1. we are attracted to God

2. His holiness frightens us and repels us, all at once!

There is a real mental conflict between the transitoriness of the human situation and the eternality of our God who created us for fellowship. We cannot be happy without knowing and loving Him. But we are broken and temporal. He is perfect and eternal.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 39:1-6
 1I said, "I will guard my ways
 That I may not sin with my tongue;
 I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle
 While the wicked are in my presence."
 2I was mute and silent,
 I refrained even from good,
 And my sorrow grew worse.
 3My heart was hot within me,
 While I was musing the fire burned;
 Then I spoke with my tongue:
 4"Lord, make me to know my end
 And what is the extent of my days;
 Let me know how transient I am.
 5Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
 And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
 Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.  Selah.
 6Surely every man walks about as a phantom;
 Surely they make an uproar for nothing;
 He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them."

39:1-6 The wicked live only for today, for themselves, but the faithful follower knows he lives and speaks for YHWH. However, without the aid of the Spirit (cf. John 6:44,65) the wicked cannot comprehend

1. their own spiritual and physical condition

2. the truth of God

They ask the wrong questions and focus on the wrong things.

39:1 "I will guard" Notice that the verb (BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal cohortative) is repeated. The psalmist should not speak his thought about life and God in the presence of intrenched unbelief (i.e., Matt. 7:6). This strophe cannot be proof-texted as a Scripture against witnessing to others. But it is true that some issues, some doctrines should be avoided in our conversations with unbelievers at first because of possible misunderstanding or confusion. A biblical worldview requires

1. the Spirit (cf. John 6:44,65)

2. a receptive heart (Matthew 13)

3. revelation in an understandable form

4. time/effort

The UBS Handbook (p. 374) interprets the silence as the psalmist not wanting to complain about his life in the presence of the wicked.

▣ "That I may not sin with my tongue" The sin here must be understood in context as speaking truth that the wicked cannot receive (cf. Matt. 7:6).

39:2-3 Apparently the psalmist tried not to think on these issues himself. But revelation caused him to address God with his question and concern about the fleetingness and transitoriness of human life.

39:2 "I refrained even from good" The MT of this line is "I held my peace to no avail" (i.e., without success; lit. "no good," BDB 373). This is ambiguous and different translations explain it differently. In context it refers to the psalmist's desire to speak but felt he should not. His reluctance to speak did not help the situation.

If life is so short, what should fallen humans focus on? The fate of the righteous and the unrighteous seems the same (cf. Eccl. 2:14-16,19,26; 9:2-3).

39:3 "the fire burned" This verb (BDB 128, KB 145, Qal imperfect) is the same that describes Jeremiah's compulsion to speak YHWH's word (cf. Jer. 20:9).

39:4-6 These are the issues the psalmist was "musing" (BDB 211, cf. Ps. 5:1) about.

1. the uncertainty of life

2. the fleetingness of life

3. the false focus (i.e., fame, riches) of life

4. the unfairness of life

 

39:5 "handbreadths" This term (BDB 381) is one of several Hebrew measurements from the human body.

1. arms outstretched

2. finger tip to elbow

3. fingers outstretched

4. four fingers together

5. one digit of a finger

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: CUBIT

▣ "my lifetime as nothing in Your sight" This is not asserting that YHWH does not care but that human life is fleeting and insignificant when compared to YHWH (cf. Isa. 40:15).

▣ "a mere breath" This phrase (BDB 481 construct BDB 210 I) is another connection to Ecclesiastes (cf. Eccl. 1:2; 12:8; lit. "vapor," "breath," "vanity"). This term is used thirty times in Ecclesiastes and only nine in the Psalms (cf. Ps. 39:5,6,11; 144:4) and three in Proverbs.

▣ "Selah" See note at Ps. 3:2 and Introduction to Psalms, VII.

39:6 "phantom" This is literally "shadow" (BDB 853). It can refer to clouds but is used regularly in a figurative sense of the transitoriness of life (cf. Job 8:9; 14:2; Ps. 102:11; 109:23; 144:4). This is the issue of this Psalm! Psalm 8 would be a good theological parallel.

▣ "He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them" This is so similar to the thought of Qohelech in Eccl. 2:18-23.

The NASB Study Bible (p. 778) has a good comment on this verse.

"Could almost serve as a summary of Ecclesiastes."

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 39:7-11
 7"And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
 My hope is in You.
 8Deliver me from all my transgressions;
 Make me not the reproach of the foolish.
 9I have become mute, I do not open my mouth,
 Because it is You who have done it.
 10Remove Your plague from me;
 Because of the opposition of Your hand I am perishing.
 11With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity;
 You consume as a moth what is precious to him;
 Surely every man is a mere breath."  Selah.

39:7-11 This strophe is a general summary of how YHWH deals with His faithful followers amidst all the questions and confusion of life in a fallen world.

1. they wait for YHWH

2. they hope in YHWH (#1,2 are the theological key in our mysterious and transitory lives)

3. they pray for deliverance from YHWH — BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil imperative (cf. Ps. 38:10)

4. they pray not to be foolish — BDB 962, KB 1321, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

5. YHWH guides our words and life (cf. Psalm 139)

6. they seek the removal of YHWH's judgment — BDB 693, KB 747, Hiphil imperative

In verses 10-11 the reasons for YHWH's actions are spelled out.

1. YHWH is active in their lives

2. YHWH's judgments are disciplinary not just punitive

3. YHWH takes away the things we trust in and cherish more than Him! Everything except YHWH is transitory! Do you get it?!

 

39:10

NASB, NKJV,
JPSOA"plague"
NRSV"stroke"
TEV, REB"blows"
NJB, LXX"scourge"

The Hebrew noun (BDB 619, see note at Ps. 38:11) is used often of a disease sent by YHWH.

1. plague — Gen. 12:17; Exod. 11:1; 1 Kgs. 8:37; Ps. 38:11; 39:10

2. strike/stroke — Ps. 89:23; Isa. 53:8

3. scourge — Ps. 89:23

YHWH can remove it because He sent it! It is always hard, if not impossible, to know the source of an illness, event, crisis, etc. in this life. The OT's theology attributed all causality to YHWH as a theological way of asserting monotheism. But from the progressive revelation of the NT several options arise.

1. God does send things

a. for punishment

b. for spiritual growth (cf. Heb. 5:8)

2. God allows (not sends) things to occur

3. we live in a fallen world where bad things happen (statistical evil)

I have chosen, by faith (as did the psalmist), to trust, hope, and wait (cf. Ps. 38:15; 39:7) on God in the midst of the mysterious, unfair, often evil events of life. I do not understand "why" or "why now" or "why this" or "how long," but I do by faith believe that God is with me, for me, and that there can be a purpose and effective outcome for all things (cf. Rom. 8:28-30,31-39)! It is a worldview, a faith stance, a theological orientation!

▣ "the opposition of Your hand" Hand is an idiom for power to act (see Special Topic at Ps. 7:3-4). As to the theological issue see Ps. 32:4 and 38:2. God as a disciplining, loving parent is a wonderful metaphor (cf. Pro. 3:11-12). He is active in our lives because He does not want us to destroy ourselves and others. The "hand" of discipline has a positive purpose (cf. Heb. 12:5-13).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 39:12-13
 12"Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry;
 Do not be silent at my tears;
 For I am a stranger with You,
 A sojourner like all my fathers.
 13Turn Your gaze away from me, that I may smile again
 Before I depart and am no more."

39:12-13 As is common in the Psalms, it closes with prayer requests.

1. Hear — BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative

2. Give ear — BDB 24, KB 27, Hiphil imperative

3. Do not be silent — BDB 361, KB 357, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 28:1; 35:22; 83:1; 109:1

4. Turn Your gaze away — BDB 1043, KB 1609, Hiphil imperative, see Job 7:17-19; 10:20-21; 14:6

5. That I may smile again — BDB 114, KB 132, Hiphil cohortative, see Job 9:27; 10:20

 

39:12 The last two lines of this verse address the tension between

1. special covenant people

2. continuing sinners with fleeting lives (cf. 1 Chr. 29:15; Ps. 119:19,54; Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 2:11).

Remember this is the fog of the OT. The gospel of Jesus Christ will address many of these issues and questions about life, purpose, and eternity!

▣ "I am a stranger" This word/concept bothers me. It seems to denote one who does not know God or is not known by God. But in context it refers to a visitor in a tent who stays one or two nights and departs. It is another example of figurative language used to describe and bemoan the transitoriness of human life.

39:13 In light of the holiness of YHWH, this life becomes distressed (cf. Job 14:6). The pull to be like YHWH (cf. Matt. 5:48; Lev. 19:2) is overwhelming. Only in Jesus can a peace come for us to be in the presence (i.e., gaze, i.e., associated with YHWH's judgment, cf. Job 7:19; 14:6; Isa. 22:4) of a holy God!

In light of this verse, Peter's request in Luke 5:8 makes sense!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why does the psalmist want to be silent in the presence of the wicked (Ps. 39:1)?

2. Explain in your own words the implication of verse 4.

3. What is a "handbreadth"?

4. Explain verse 11b. Why would YHWH take everything precious from one of His followers?

5. Does verse 11c imply that YHWH does not care about individual humans?

6. What does verse 12, c and d, mean? Are we strangers to YHWH?

7. Explain in your own words the meaning or implication of verse 13.

 

Passage: 

Psalm 40

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
God Sustains His Servant Faith Persevering in Trial Thanksgiving For Deliverance From Trouble, Together With a Prayer for Help A Song of Praise Song of Praise and Prayer For Help
MT Intro
"For the choir director. A Psalm of David"
       
40:1-3  40:1-3 40:1-3 40:1-3 40:1
        40:2
        40:3
40:4-5 40:4-5 40:4-5 40:4-5 40:4
        40:5
40:6-8 40:6-8 40:6-8 40:6-8 40:6-7a
        40:7b-8
40:9-10 40:9-10 40:9-10 40:9-10 40:9-10
40:11-12 40:11-12 40:11-12 40:11 40:11
      A Prayer For Help  
      40:12-15 40:12
40:13-17 40:13-15 40:13-15   40:13-14a
        40:14b-15
  40:16-17 40:16-17 40:16-17 40:16
        40:17

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 40:1-3
 1I waited patiently for the Lord;
 And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
 2He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
 And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
 3He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
 Many will see and fear
 And will trust in the Lord.

40:1-3 The psalmist praises YHWH for His past acts of deliverance. YHWH responded to his prayers (i.e., "inclined," BDB 639, KB 692, Qal imperfect and "heard," BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperfect).

YHWH had

1. brought him up out of the pit of destruction (lit. "pit of tumult/noise," BDB 92 construct BDB 981, cf. Ps. 69:2; this could be water imagery of death (cf. Ps. 18:4) or a flood (cf. Ps. 18:16)

2. brought him up out of the miry clay

a. used of mire in the streets — 2 Sam. 22:43; Micah 7:10; Zech. 9:3; 10:5

b. used of mire in a cistern — Jer. 38:6

c. used figuratively of distress — Ps. 40:2; 69:14 ("pit" also mentioned in Ps. 69:15)

d. possibly refers to Sheol (i.e., death, UBS Handbook, p. 381)

3. set his feet upon a rock making his footsteps firm — godly, faithful covenant followers were those who walked on straight, level, unobstructed paths (cf. Ps. 17:5; 18:36; 37:31; 44:18; 69:9; 73:2; 94:18; Job 23:11; 31:7)

4. put a new song in his mouth, a song of praise — new songs were a cultural way to acknowledge and glorify YHWH's acts of deliverance (cf. Exodus 15; Judges 5; Deuteronomy 32); see note at Ps. 33:5; also note Ps. 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa. 42:10; Rev. 5:9; 14:3

The purpose of YHWH's deliverance of the psalmist was not just special treatment for one human but to bless and protect His covenant followers so that others (i.e., "many," BDB 912 I) would become covenant followers.

1. see — BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperfect

2. fear — BDB 431, KB 432, Qal imperfect

3. trust — BDB 105, KB 120, Qal imperfect

 

40:1 "waited patiently" This is an infinitive absolute and a perfect verb of the same root (BDB 875, KB 1082) used to denote intensity.

▣ "inclined" This verb (BDB 639, KB 692, cf. Ps. 17:6; 88:2) means "to bend." The imagery is either YHWH bent His ear to hear clearly or YHWH bent down to hear (cf. Job 15:29).

40:2 "rock" See note at Psalm 18:2.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 40:4-5
 4How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
 And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
 5Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,
 And Your thoughts toward us;
 There is none to compare with You.
 If I would declare and speak of them,
 They would be too numerous to count.

40:4-5 "How blessed is the man" This is the key thought of this strophe. This term (BDB 80) is used 26 times in the Psalms. See full note at Ps. 1:1. Psalm 41 starts with this phrase. It is used mostly in Psalms and Proverbs (i.e., Wisdom Literature), which focuses on a successful and prosperous life.

The reasons given for the blessed state are

1. who has made YHWH his trust

2. who has not turned (BDB 815, KB 937, Qal perfect) to the proud (LXX, NRSV, TEV see #2,3 referring to idols)

3. who has not turned (BDB 962, KB 1312, Qal participle, word found only here in the OT)

In verse 5 the attributes of YHWH are listed.

1. many are the wonders (see Special Topic at Ps. 9:1 and note at Ps. 40:5)

2. many are His thoughts toward the covenant people

3. none compare with You (cf. Ps. 16:2; Isa. 6:8-10; i.e., monotheism, see Special Topic at Ps. 2:7)

4. His wonders and thoughts are too numerous to count

a. declare — BDB 616, KB 665, Hiphil cohortative

b. speak — BDB 180, KB 210, Piel cohortative

 

40:5 This verse seems to be reflecting on YHWH's great acts of deliverance for Israel, especially the Exodus. The "us" must refer to the faith community from the descendants of Abraham (cf. Gen. 12:1-3). Within the covenant community are the faithful and the unfaithful (cf. Ps. 40:4), yet YHWH sustains the whole community. He has a universal, redemptive purpose for Israel (cf. Ps. 33:10-12).

The term "wonder" (BDB 810, see Special Topic at Ps. 9:1) is often used in connection to the Exodus.

1. verb — Exod. 3:20; 34:10; Deut. 28:59

2. noun — Exod. 15:11

The Exodus was the major evidence of YHWH's fidelity to His promises (cf. Gen. 15:12-21) and the demonstration of His power and purpose for Israel (cf. Gen. 12:3).

▣ "too numerous to count" This may be a verbal link to the promises to Abraham that his descendants would be too numerous to count (i.e., as dust, cf. Gen. 13:16; 28:14; Num. 23:10; as sand, cf. Gen. 22:17; 32:12; as stars, cf. Gen. 15:5; 22:17; 26:4). Another wonder of YHWH from an infertile, older couple!

A good parallel text would be Ps. 139:17-18, which also notes the numerous acts of deliverance by YHWH. Notice it mentions "outnumber the sand," which is another allusion to the promise of Abraham's descendants.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 40:6-8
 6Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
 My ears You have opened;
 Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
 7Then I said, "Behold, I come;
 In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
 8I delight to do Your will, O my God; 
 Your Law is within my heart."

40:6-8 This strophe uses the Mosaic Law as a literary foil to the psalmist's new personal relationship based on the concept similar to the new covenant of Jer. 31:31-34 (i.e., the Law is within my heart, cf. Isa. 51:7). The motivation for worship, obedience, service, and perseverance is internal (cf. Deut. 6:6).

The sacrificial system was YHWH's method of dealing with human sin among His covenant community. Innocent animals died in the place of sinful humans (cf. Ezek. 18:4,20; Rom. 6:23). It was a typological model of the coming Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world (cf. John 1:29; Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 10:1-18).

The problem with the Mosaic covenant is that for many Jews it became an external moral code instead of a means to intimate personal faith (cf. Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; 9:25; Rom. 2:28-29).

The NT sees this strophe (Ps. 40:6-8) as ultimately fulfilled by Jesus' life and death (cf. Heb. 10:5-7 from the LXX). He is the perfect fulfillment of these texts. He is the "ideal Israelite," dying on behalf of all (cf. Isaiah 53).

40:6 There are four different words used to describe the different sacrifices of Israel (cf. Leviticus 1-7).

1. sacrifices — BDB 257, general term for sacrifices where part of the animal was eaten in a fellowship with their Deity

2. meal offerings — BDB 585, originally referred to both animal and grain offerings but came to be used of grain only

3. burnt offerings — BDB 750 II, referred to an offering that was consumed completely on the altar

4. sin offerings — BDB 308, one of two feminine nouns; this is the rarer one; it is translated "great sin" in Gen. 20:9; Exod. 32:21,30,31; 2 Kgs. 17:21; and "sin" in Ps. 32:1; 109:7. Here it seems to refer to a sin offering because of the parallelism but the usage is unique.

This verse is not a rejection of the sacrificial system but its abuse (cf. 1 Sam.15:22; Ps. 50:8-14; 51:16-17; 69:30-31; Isa. 1:11-15; Jer. 7:22-23; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-22).

NASB, NKJV"opened"
NASB margin"dug or pierced"
NRSV margin"dug"
LXX"a body you have prepared for me"

This verb (BDB 500, KB 496, Qal perfect) has this meaning only here. It is used of digging

1. a well — Gen. 26:25; Num. 21:18

2. a grave — Gen. 50:5

3. a pit — Exod. 21:23

4. figuratively a plot — Ps. 7:16; 57:7; 119:85; Pro. 16:27; 26:27; Jer. 18:20 (i.e., compare Jer. 6:10)

The NASB marginal suggestion, "pierced," possibly comes from Exod. 21:5-6 or Deut. 15:12-18, where a slave is made a permanent member of the household (cf. Ps. 40:17, different verb and "ear" is singular).

The LXX translation must be based on a different Hebrew manuscript or it paraphrased the thought sensing that "ears" stood for the whole body. The LXX was what the early church used and it is quoted in Heb. 10:5 (cf. Heb. 10:1-18).

In context the verb refers to the new relationship of faith and trust established by the new covenant model (i.e., "Your Law is within my heart," cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:26-27), which allows sinful humans to clearly know and do YHWH's will (i.e., 40:8).

40:7

NASB, NKJV"Behold, I come"
NRSV, TEV,
NRSV, REB"Here I am"
NJB"Here I am, I am coming"
LXX"Look, I have come"
NET"Look, I come"

The translation, "Here I am," comes from the use of the same interjection (BDB 243) used by Isaiah in Isa. 6:8, combined with the verb (BDB 97, KB 112, Qal perfect), "I come" (different verb from Isa. 6:8).

It is an idiom of availability and surrender to YHWH's will and plan for one's life (cf. Ps. 40:7b-8). In this context (i.e., sacrifice) it may refer to the fact that in the OT there was no sacrifice for known, intentional sin (cf. Lev. 4:2,22,27; 5:15-18; 22:14; Ps. 51:16-17). Only the sins of passion or ignorance were covered (i.e., unintentional). The psalmist sees that the only appropriate sacrifice was himself (cf. Rom.12:1). This is surely a foreshadowing of the Lamb of God (cf. John 1:29) who came to give Himself (cf. Mark 10:45; Isaiah 53).

▣ "In the scroll of the book" Some scholars see this as referring to YHWH's revelation to Moses. The king was given a copy (cf. Deut. 17:18-20; 1 Kgs. 2:3; 2 Kgs. 11:12). The Bible uses "book(s)" to denote YHWH's plans for each person (cf. Ps. 139:1-6,16) or memory of the lives of all humans who will one day stand before Him as judge. This imagery is expressed in two books, the book of life and the book of deeds. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE TWO BOOKS OF GOD at Ps. 9:5.

40:8 "I delight to do Your will" What a radical change from Genesis 3. The damaged "image of God" has been restored! Fellowship at the deepest level is possible again. The independent spirit of the Fall is replaced by a dependent spirit.

Jesus modeled this servant attitude for us to see (cf. Matt. 26:39; John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 40:9-10
 9I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
 Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
 O Lord, You know.
 10I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
 I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
 I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.

40:9-10 The psalmist witnesses of YHWH's attributes in a temple/tabernacle (cf. Ps. 22:25) worship setting (i.e., the great congregation).

1. Your righteousness — BDB 842, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:5

2. Your faithfulness — BDB 53, see Special Topic at Ps. 12:1

3. Your salvation — BDB 448, see Special Topic at Ps. 13:5-6

4. Your lovingkindness — BDB 338, see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7

5. Your truth — BDB 54, see Special Topic at Ps. 12:1

Verse 11 adds to this list (the strophe division is uncertain).

6. Your compassion — BDB 933

7. Your lovingkindness — BDB 338

8. Your Trust — BDB 54

These are the great theological words of the OT which describe how the covenant God deals with the sons/daughters of Adam because of His special call of Abraham (see Special Topic at Psalm 2 Intro.).

40:9 "You know" YHWH knows the heart of His human creation (cf. Jos. 22:22; 1 Sam.2:3; 16:7; 1 Kgs. 8:39; 1 Chr. 28:9; Ps. 139:2-4; Jer. 17:10; 20:12; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 15:8; Rom. 8:27).

40:10 Notice the series of verbs whereby the psalmist affirms his full and open testimony about YHWH.

1. I have proclaimed — BDB 142, KB 163, Piel perfect, Ps. 40:9

2. I have not hidden — BDB 491, KB 487, Qal perfect, Ps. 40:10

3. I have spoken — BDB 55, KB 65, Qal perfect, Ps. 40:10

4. I have not concealed — BDB 470, KB 469, Piel perfect

YHWH desires that His people lift up His character and actions in praise and witness, so that all humans made in His image (cf. Gen. 1:26-27) may come to know and worship Him!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 40:11-12
 11You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
 Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.
 12For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
 My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see;
 They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
 And my heart has failed me.

40:11-12 This strophe describes the current situation of the psalmist. YHWH is surely with him but there are problems (a series of perfects).

1. evils beyond number have surrounded me — BDB 67, KB 79, Qal perfect; this list (AB, p. 247) is imagery taken from a pack of wild dogs attacking their prey; this number of problems is contrasted with YHWH's "wonders" in Ps. 40:5

2. my iniquities have overtaken me — BDB 673, KB 727, Hiphil perfect; in several Psalms in Book One the psalmist acknowledges his sin, cf. Ps. 25:11; 31:10; 32:5; 38:4,18; this may be a literary way of affirming the sinfulness of all humans

3. I am not able to see — BDB 407, KB 410, Qal perfect; possibly connected to constant weeping, cf. Ps. 69:3; sin always causes a disruption in our relationship with God and our ability to know His will

4. he acknowledges his iniquities are very many — BDB 782, KB 868, Qal perfect; the imagery of "hairs of the head" is repeated in Ps. 69:4 and used by Jesus of YHWH's knowledge of us in Matt. 10:30; it is an OT idiom, cf. 1 Sam.14:45; 2 Sam. 14:11; 1 Kgs. 1:52; Acts 27:34

5. his heart has failed (i.e., left) him — BDB 736, KB 806, Qal perfect

The life of the faithful follower is a struggle between indwelling sin (cf. Romans 7) and God's grace and mercy (cf. Romans 8).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 40:13-17
 13Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
 Make haste, O Lord, to help me.
 14Let those be ashamed and humiliated together
 Who seek my life to destroy it;
 Let those be turned back and dishonored
 Who delight in my hurt.
 15Let those be appalled because of their shame
 Who say to me, "Aha, aha!"
 16Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
 Let those who love Your salvation say continually,
 "The Lord be magnified!"
 17Since I am afflicted and needy,
 Let the Lord be mindful of me.
 You are my help and my deliverer;
 Do not delay, O my God.

40:13-17 As usual the concluding strophe is a series of prayer requests (imperfects and jussives in synonymous parallelism). This is very similar to Psalm 70.

1. Be pleased (BDB 953, KB 1280, Qal imperative) to deliver me (BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil infinitive construct). AB, p. 247, suggests a vowel change to the root for "run," which parallels #2 better.

2. Make haste to help me — BDB 301, KB 300, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 22:19; 38:22; 70:1,5; 71:12; 141:1

3. Let those who seek my life be ashamed — BDB 101, KB 116, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 35:4,26; 70:2; 63:17

4. Let those who seek my life be humiliated together — BDB 344, KB 346, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

5. Let those who delight in my hurt be turned back — BDB 690, KB 744, Niphal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 35:4,26; 70:2 (this is military imagery)

6. Let those who delight in my hurt be dishonored — BDB 483, KB 480, Niphal imperfect used in a jussive sense

7. Let those who say to me "Aha, aha" (cf. Ps. 35:21; 70:3) be appalled — BDB 1030, KB 1563, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

At 40:16 the prayers change from negative to positive.

8. Let all those who seek You rejoice — BDB 965, KB 1314, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense (notice that the wicked "seek" his life [BDB 134, KB 152] but the psalmist seeks YHWH, cf. Ps. 40:16)

9. Let all those who seek You be glad — BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

10. Let those who love Your salvation say. . . — BDB 55, KB 65, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense (faithful followers love YHWH by being obedient to His revealed will and way, cf. Deut. 6:5; 10:12; 11:1,13,22; 19:9; 30:15,16,19-20)

11. ". . .YHWH be magnified" — BDB 152, KB 178, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense (this is in contrast to what the wicked say in Ps. 40:15)

12. Let YHWH be mindful of me — BDB 362, KB 359, Qal jussive

13. Do not delay — BDB 29, KB 34, Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 70:5; this forms an inclusio with "make haste" of Ps. 40:13

 

40:17 Notice how the psalmist characterizes himself and YHWH.

1. himself

a. afflicted (BDB 776)

b. needy (BDB 2)

(these are often used of faithful followers, cf. Ps. 70:5; 86:1; 109:22; in this sense they are metaphorical of a sense of spiritual need, cf. Matt. 5:3-6)

2. YHWH (MT has Adon but some Hebrew MSS have YHWH)

a. his help (BDB 740 I)

b. his deliverer (BDB 812, KB 930, Piel participle)

 

▣ "O my God" In this Psalm YHWH and Elohim are used often and combined in Ps. 40:5.

1. YHWH, Ps. 40:1,3,4,9,11,13 (twice),16

2. Elohim, Ps. 40:3,5,8,17

See Special Topic at Psalm 1:1 for a detailed discussion of how the OT writers used these designations/titles/names for Deity to assert different aspects of His character and actions.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Describe the mood of verses 1-10; and then verses 11-17. What has changed?

2. List and explain the attributes of YHWH in verses 10-11.

3. How is the imagery of walking used to describe the life of faith?

4. Does verse 5 allude to Genesis or Exodus, or both? Why?

5. How can the LXX translation of Ps. 40:6b (cf. Heb. 10:5-7) be so different from the MT?

6. Is this a Messianic Psalm?

7. What "book" or "scroll" is verse 7b talking about?

8. Explain why verses 13-17 reappear in Psalm 70.

 

Passage: 

Psalm 41

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Psalmist In Sickness Complains of Enemies and False Friends The Blessing and Suffering of the Godly Prayer For Healing From Sickness
(A Lament)
A Prayer In Sickness Prayer of a Sufferer Deserted
MT Intro
"For the choir director. A Psalm of David"
       
41:1-3  41:1-3 41:1-3 41:1-3 41:1-3
41:4-9 41:4-6 41:4-10 41:4-9 41:4-9
  41:7-9      
41:10-12 41:10-12   41:10-13 41:10-12
    41:11-12    
41:13 41:13 41:13   41:13

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 41:1-3
 1How blessed is he who considers the helpless;
 The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble.
 2The Lord will protect him and keep him alive,
 And he shall be called blessed upon the earth;
 And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies.
 3The Lord will sustain him upon his sickbed;
 In his illness, You restore him to health.

41:1-3 This first strophe is describing the blessings (BDB 80, see note at Ps. 1:1) of the person who obeys the Law of Moses, which requires Israel to be kind, supportive, and attentive to those in need (BDB 195, cf. Exod. 23:5; Lev. 14:21; Ps. 72:13; 82:3; 113:7; Pro. 19:17; 21:13; 28:3,8; 29:7,14). Those who help them are, in reality, helping their God (see Jesus' discussion about the last judgment in Matt. 25:31-46).

The type of persons described by this term.

1. widow (cf. Exod. 22:22; Deut. 10:18; 24:17-18; 27:19; Ps. 68:5)

2. orphan

3. alien (cf. Lev. 19:33-34; Exod. 22:21-22; Deut. 24:17-18; 27:19)

4. blind/lame

5. socially powerless (landless)

6. bereft of worldly provisions (no necessary things for life—food, shelter, work, etc.)

Notice what YHWH will do for an obedient covenant follower (helping the poor is just one item but it stands here for the whole law).

1. YHWH will deliver him in a day of trouble

2. YHWH will protect him

3. YHWH will keep him alive

4. he will be called "blessed" (MT has imperfect but the Masoretic scholars thought the perfect with a waw was better; the meaning does not change)

5. YHWH will not give him over to his enemies

6. YHWH will sustain him upon his sickbed

7. YHWH will restore him to health

Notice all the imperfect verbs, denoting ongoing actions by God throughout life.

Just a note about the general statements like this in Wisdom Literature. This should not be understood as a promise that affects every person, every time, who helps the poor. This is a general statement. This is true the majority of the time but not each and every time. We live in a fallen world!

This is a good illustration of Matthew 7. How one lives, how one speaks, how one allocates his resources and time reveal the priority commitment of the heart!

41:2 "upon the earth" The Hebrew word "land" (BDB 75) can mean

1. field

2. district

3. country

4. area

5. world

See Special Topic at Ps. 1:2. Only context can tell. I have been convinced by Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture that the flood of Genesis 6-9 was local because of the use of this word in that context. See my commentary on Genesis 1-11 online free at www.freebiblecommentary.org.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 41:4-9
 4As for me, I said, "O Lord, be gracious to me;
 Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You."
 5My enemies speak evil against me,
 "When will he die, and his name perish?"
 6And when he comes to see me, he speaks falsehood;
 His heart gathers wickedness to itself;
 When he goes outside, he tells it.
 7All who hate me whisper together against me;
 Against me they devise my hurt, saying,
 8"A wicked thing is poured out upon him,
 That when he lies down, he will not rise up again."
 9Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
 Who ate my bread,
 Has lifted up his heel against me.

41:4-9 The logical connection between these strophes is not stated. Possibly the author was a man like the one described in verses 1-3, but his life was in distress and under attack from others. Apparently he recognized that he had sinned (Ps. 41:4). Many of the last psalms of Book I (Psalm 1-41) mention a confession or acknowledgment of sin.

There are several problems mentioned.

1. he is sick of body and spirit

2. he has enemies who slander him (Ps. 41:5-7)

3. they are planning evil against him (Ps. 41:7-8)

4. his enemies were at one time close friends (Ps. 41:9; cf. Ps. 35:11-16; 55:12-13,20). This is quoted in John 13:18 about Judas' betrayal of Jesus.

 

41:7 "whisper together" This verb (BDB 538, KB 527, Hithpael imperfect) can be used of curses/charms (cf. Ps. 58:5; Eccl. 10:11; Isa. 3:2-3) or it could just be people speaking in a low voice so as not to be heard (cf. 2 Sam. 12:19) or a low voice in prayer (cf. Isa. 26:16).

If it does refer to a curse in this context, verse 8 is the result.

41:8

NASB"a wicked thing is poured out upon me"
NKJV"an evil disease, they say, clings to him"
NRSV"they think a deadly thing has fastened on to him"
TEV"They say, ‘He is fatally ill'"
NJB"a fatal sickness has a grip on him"
REB"an evil spell is cast on him, they say"

The term "wicked" (BDB 116) later became the title Belial (i.e., Deut. 13:13; 2 Cor. 6:15). It was used in several senses, a good sample is in 1 Sam.1:16; 2:12; 25:17.

The usage here seems to be a personification of a disease which they would have seen as being sent by YHWH because of the sin of the psalmist (cf. Job's three friends). But YHWH's actions toward him in Ps. 41:10-12 show that their statements are lies/slander.

41:9 "Has lifted his heel against me" This act of cultural rejection (notice there is no parallel passage) came after a fellowship/covenant meal (cf. Gen. 26:28-30; 31:51-54; Exod. 12:18; 24:5; Ps. 69:23).

It is possible to see this as

1. an act of aggression/violence against the psalmist (i.e., stomped with the feet)

2. an act of insult expressed by a gesture. In the Middle East it is still a strong insult to show someone the bottom of one's shoe.

The rejection is all the more poignant because of the apparent friendship between the two of them.

▣ "my close friend" This is literally "man of peace who turned out to be a child of Beliel" (Ps. 41:8a).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 41:10-12
 10But You, O Lord, be gracious to me and raise me up,
 That I may repay them.
 11By this I know that You are pleased with me,
 Because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.
 12As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,
 And You set me in Your presence forever.

41:10-12 In verse 4 there were two requests (imperatives).

1. be gracious to me — BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative

2. heal my soul (nephesh, see note at Ps. 3:2) — BDB 950, KB 1272, Qal imperative

Now in the next strophe there are two imperatives and a cohortative.

1. same as #1 above, 41:4

2. raise me — BDB 877, KB 1086, Hiphil imperative (same request, different but parallel verb from #2 above), 41:4

3. that I may repay them — BDB 1022, KB 1532 Piel cohortative; the psalmist wants to be YHWH's instrument of justice

Healing will be a visible evidence that YHWH has heard and answered his prayers. It is not just the visible manifestation of YHWH that rejoices the psalmist but

1. it is a sign YHWH is pleased (BDB 342, KB 339, Qal perfect) with him

2. YHWH has upheld (BDB 1069, KB 1751, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 63:8) his integrity (BDB 1070), which means innocence (cf. Ps. 25:21; 101:2; Pro. 10:9; 19:1; 20:7; 28:6)

3. YHWH set him (BDB 662, KB 714, Hiphil imperfect with waw) in His presence (i.e., tabernacle/temple, cf. Ps. 16:11; 23:6; 27:4-6) forever (see Special Topic at Ps. 9:5).

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 41:13
 13Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
 From everlasting to everlasting.
 Amen and Amen.

41:13 This is a doxological, liturgical close (cf. Ps. 72:18-19; 89:52; 103:19-22; 106:48; 150:6). It probably was not originally part of Psalm 41, but a general close to the first book (Psalm 1-41) of the Psalter.

1. Psalm 72:18-19 ends Book II

2. Psalm 89:52 ends Book III

3. Psalm 106:47-48 ends Book IV

4. Psalm 150:6 ends Book V

 

▣ "Amen, and Amen" See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: AMEN

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Who is verse 1a referring to?

2. How are sin and sickness related?

3. Does verse 7 address gossip and slander or curses and charms?

4. What are "the wicked things" of verse 8?

5. How is verse 9 used in the NT?

What does it imply?

6. Exactly what is the psalmist asserting in verse 12? What does he want?

7. Why is verse 13 not part of the Psalm?

 

Passage: 

Psalms: The Hymnal Of Israel, Book II (Psalms 42-72)

Passage: 
Biblical Topics: 

Psalm 42

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Thirsting For God in Trouble and Exile
MT Intro
For the choir director. A Maskil of the sons of Korah.
Yearning For God in the Midst of Distress Prayer For Healing in Preparation for a Pilgrimage Prayer of Someone in Exile Lament of a Levite in Exile
42:1-4 42:1-3 42:1-3 42:1-3 42:1
        42:2
        42:3
  42:4 42:4-5b 42:4-5 42:4
42:5-8 42:5 42:5c-6a   42:5-6a
  42:6-8 42:6b-8 42:6-8 42:6b-d
        42:7
        42:8
42:9-11 42:9-10 42:9-10 42:9-10 42:9
        42:10
  42:11 42:11 42:11 42:11

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. The first verse has always spoken deeply to me. This is the essence of what a personal relationship should be. But even this deep intimacy does not mean that problems, illness, vicious attacks do not occur. The great promise is not the absence of problems, but His presence (cf. Ps. 23:4; 16:8).

B. I think the psalmist is in exile.

1. he cannot go to the temple, Ps. 42:4

2. he longs for Canaan, Ps. 42:6

3. he is being taunted by his captors, Ps. 42:3, 10 (cf. Psalm 137, which is also an exilic Psalm).

The NASB Study Bible (p. 781) has an interesting suggestion that the psalmist was a Korahite Levite taken captive by Syria. It gives an example of a Syrian raid (e.g., 2 Kgs. 12:17-18). The Korahites lived in the northern area of Israel (cf. Jos. 2:4,9-19). This may explain

1. the exile theory

2. the northern geographical sites in verse 6

C. The recurrent phrase is "in despair" (lit. "cast down," BDB 1005, KB 1458, Hithpolel (imperfect) occurs three times in this short poem, verses 5, 6, and 11. The psalmist is hurting inside (Ps. 42:5) and out (Ps. 42:10).

Also note the repetition of verses 5 and 11 with only slight changes. This same verse appears again in Ps. 43:5, which implies these Psalms are closely connected, possibly one Psalm (UBS Handbook, p. 398).

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 42:1-4
 1As the deer pants for the water brooks,
 So my soul pants for You, O God.
 2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
 When shall I come and appear before God?
 3My tears have been my food day and night,
 While they say to me all day long, "Where is your God?"
 4These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.
 For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God,
 With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

42:1-4 In this strophe one wonders what the problem is.

1. the psalmist feels cut off from YHWH

2. the psalmist cannot worship at the temple (cf. Ps. 42:4b,c)

3. the psalmist's faith is being challenged by his current conditions (i.e., exile) and the taunting of his oppressors (Ps. 42:3,10; 79:10; 115:2)

See Contextual Insights, B.

42:1

NASB, NKJV"pants"
NRSV, TEV,
LXX, REB"longs"
NJB"yearns"
JPSOA"crying"

This verb (BDB 788, KB 881, Qal imperfect) is found only three times in the OT, two here and one in Joel 1:20, where it is used of the beasts of the field.

Should the interpreter emphasize the deep desire of the psalmist for God (cf. Ps. 63:1) or his desire to be in the temple on a feast day (42:4)? I think option #2 fits the context better.

▣ "soul" This is the Hebrew term nephesh (BDB 659, cf. Ps. 42:2,4,5,6,11). See note at Psalm 3:2. It was an idiom of self reference.

▣ "the living God" This is a play on the words

1. live (verb, חיה, BDB 310)

2. living (חי, adjective, BDB 311 I)

3. YHWH (יהוה, BDB 217, covenant name for Deity, cf. Gen. 2:4; see Special Topic at Ps. 1:1)

YHWH is the only-living, ever-living God (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM at Ps. 2:7). All else is alive by Him, through Him, and for Him (cf. Ps. 18:46). This characterization of Israel's God as "living" contrasts with the pagan idols that are blind, deaf, mute, and non-existent (cf. Isa. 4:9-20; Hab. 2:18-19).

42:2 "appear before God" This is an idiom for being in the temple on a feast day. The psalmist is being hindered from being in Jerusalem during feast days.

There is a question of how to understand the consonants.

1. NASB follows the MT, "appear before"

2. RSV changes the vowels to "and behold the face of God"

The UBS Text Project (p. 232) gives option #2 a "C" rating (i.e., considerable doubt).

42:3 "they" The text is not specific who this refers to.

1. captors

2. enemies

3. pagans

I think #1 fits the Psalm best. The NJB entitles this Psalm "Lament of a Levite in Exile."

Notice the psalmist feels that these persons taunt him all day long (Ps. 42:3b; 79:10; 115:2).

42:4 Worship should be a joyful, anticipated experience. I hope your experience of worship can be so characterized!

The psalmist remembers his past worship times. 

1. I remember — BDB 269, KB 269, Qal cohortative

2. I pour out my soul within me — BDB 1049, KB 1629, Qal cohortative

 

NASB, NRSV"throng"
NKJV"multitude"
TEV, JPSOA"crowds"
NJB"under the roof"
LXX"tent"

The word (BDB 697) translated "throng" occurs only here in the OT, but the same consonants can mean "thicket," "cover," "tent," "booth." The LXX saw the parallelism of the second option as the best way to interpret this word (so too, UBS Text Project notes, p. 233). For a good brief discussion see NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 247.

▣ "lead them in procession" There is some confusion on the meaning of this word.

1. "walk slowly" — BDB 186, KB 214, Hithpael imperfect (psalmist was a Korahite Levite singer involved in the temple rites, songs, and liturgy, cf. 2 Chr. 20:19)

2. "of the majestic ones" — referring to the tent of place of worship (NJB, REB)

3. UBS Text Project (p. 234) gives a "C" rating (considerable doubt) to "I led them."

The only difference in all three options is the vowel marks.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 42:5-8
 5Why are you in despair, O my soul?
 And why have you become disturbed within me?
 Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
 For the help of His presence.
 6O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
 Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
 And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
 7Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
 All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
 8The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
 And His song will be with me in the night,
 A prayer to the God of my life.

42:5-8 The psalmist tries to reassure himself. This is conveyed by two questions in verse 5. He answers the questions:

1. "hope" ("wait," BDB 403, KB 407, Hiphil imperative) in God

2. "I shall again praise Him — BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperative) for the help of His presence"

3. "I remember (BDB 269, KB 269, Qal imperfect) You from"

a. land of Jordan

b. peaks of Hermon (BDB 356, the name is plural in the OT only here, therefore, "peaks")

c. Mount Mizar ("little hill," BDB 859, LXX) found only here in the OT. It could refer to

(1) small hill near Mt. Hermon

(2) a way of referring to Mt. Moriah, the site of the temple in Jerusalem

Hebrew poetry is slippery stuff! Its imagery is often vague (see Appendix: Hebrew Poetry at page xxi).

42:7 The imagery is powerful. The phrase "deep calls to deep" is moving but ambiguous. What waterfalls is he talking about?

1. the psalmist's tears, 42:3

2. the Jordan River Valley and its origin in the mountains, 42:6

The next line implies it may be figurative of problems the psalmist is facing (cf. Ps. 69:1-2; 88:7). Notice they are YHWH's

1. waterfalls

2. breakers

3. waves

that have rolled over (BDB 716, KB 778, Qal perfect) the psalmist! Faithful followers live in a fallen world but believe/trust that YHWH is "the God of my life" (42:9c). The "why" is unknown, but the "Who" is with us and this is certain!

The imagery of "water" in this Psalm is multi-fold.

1. water brooks, Ps. 42:1 (i.e., drought)

2. tears, Ps. 42:3 (i.e., pain)

3. a river (i.e., Jordan), Ps. 42:6

4. deep, Ps. 42:7

a. emotions

b. imagery from God's defeat of chaos in Genesis 1

5. waterfalls (i.e., hiding place in the north may be under a waterfall)

6. breakers/waves (i.e., a flood of problems)

 

42:8 As the psalmist's tears were his food day and night (Ps. 42:3), now YHWH's (notice this is the only use of YHWH in the Psalm; Book 2 of the Psalter is dominated by the use of Elohim for Deity, as Book 1 by YHWH) lovingkindness and song are his companions.

▣ "His song" Is this the result of YHWH's lovingkindness (hesed, see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7) or is it parallel to it? What is YHWH's song? How is the psalmist's prayer of line 3 related to "the song"? It probably refers to the content of the psalmist's praises of YHWH's mercy and faithfulness. The details of poetry are ambiguous. We must let the weight and feel of the strophe, and the parallelism of the lines guide us in an overall impression! Do not push the details! Do not build doctrine on isolated lines of poetry!

▣ "the God of my life" Faithful followers are not alone; there is purpose in their lives; there is a merciful Creator who is with them and for them! Nothing "just happens" to faithful followers (cf. Psalm 139).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 42:9-11
 9I will say to God my rock, "Why have You forgotten me?
 Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?"
 10As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
 While they say to me all day long, "Where is your God?"
 11Why are you in despair, O my soul?
 And why have you become disturbed within me?
 Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
 The help of my countenance and my God.

42:9-11 Do you see the intended parallel with verses 3 and 10; verses 5 and 11?

This is like a reinforcing summary. The psalmist feels alone (Ps. 42:9a), attacked (Ps. 42:9b), discouraged (Ps. 42:11a,b). How should he respond?

1. wait — same form as Ps. 42:5

2. praise — BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil cohortative

3. remember the God of verse 8 and his former worship times with Him in verse 4. Faith projects forward and builds on past acts of trust.

 

42:9 "my rock" See note at Psalm 18:2.

42:10 The words of his adversaries were so painful that the psalmist describes them as "death in his bones." Words do hurt. They can destroy. They reveal the heart and one day every human will give an account to God for his/her words (cf. Matt. 12:36-37).

42:11d This last noun clause functions like the noun clause of verse 8c. It is an affirmation of God's presence and care! He is with us and for us!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. In Book 2 (Psalms 42-72) of the Psalms there are two names for Deity that occur most often.

a. Elohim

b. YHWH

Explain what they mean.

2. How is "living God" a play on YHWH?

3. Is the author

a. a Levite?

b. in exile?

4. Where is Mt. Mizar?

5. Who would say, "Where is your God?"

6. Why is it thought that Psalms 42 and 43 were once one Psalm?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 43

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Prayer For Deliverance
No MT Intro
A continuation of Psalm 42
Prayer To God In Time of Trouble Prayer For Healing In Preparation For a Pilgrimage The Prayer of Someone in Exile Lament of a Levite in Exile
43:1-2 43:1-2 43:1-2 43:1-2 43:1
        43:2
43:3-4 43:3-4 43:3-4 43:3-4 43:3
        43:4
43:5 43:5 43:5 43:5 43:5

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 43:1-2
 1Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation;
 O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
 2For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me?
 Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

43:1 Because of

1. the refrain in Ps. 42:5 and 11, which reoccurs in Ps. 43:5

2. no introduction in the MT in Psalm 43 (the only Psalm in Book 2 with no introduction)

this was probably part of Psalm 42 at one time but was divided for some unknown reason. The Jewish Study Bible's marginal note (p. 1330) suggests that the fact that Psalm 42 focuses on the past, while Psalm 43 focuses on the future, that may be a hint as to why and where they were divided!

▣ "vindicate" This verb (BDB 1047, KB 1622, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 7:8; 26:1; 35:24) basically means "to judge." The psalmist is using court language (cf. Ps. 17:1-3). YHWH is the righteous and fair judge of all human activity (i.e., Ps. 9:4).

▣ "plead my case" This is also a court metaphor (BDB 936, KB 1224, Qal imperative). YHWH is the only fair and impartial judge! This same powerful court imagery is in Romans 8:31-39!

▣ "an ungodly nation" If it is true that Psalms 42 and 43 were originally one Psalm and that 42:6 means the author was in exile, then the "ungodly nation" would probably refer to Syria.

It is surprising that the next line uses the descriptive phrase, "the deceitful and unjust man!" One would have expected the plural and a description that focused on idolatry or aggression.

43:2 Life is hard, unfair, and problems come unexpectedly. All of us wonder why.

1. have I offended God

2. have I violated God's law

3. is this a judgment for sin or a random occurrence of evil events and people in a fallen world?

The psalmist asks "Why" (Ps. 43:2), so do all humans!

Remember this is OT Wisdom Literature, which is a genre well known in the ANE. It addresses questions all humans ask. For Israel, the questions are related to YHWH and His revelations through Moses. The OT does not answer all the questions in the same way as the NT. There is a change.

1. progressive revelation

2. new covenant

3. the mystery of evil

 

▣ "the God of my strength" This is a recurrent refrain (BDB 731, i.e., a place of safety or protection, often translated "refuge," cf. Ps. 27:1; 28:7-8; 31:2,4; 37:39; 52:7; Isa. 17:10; 25:4; 27:5; Jer. 16:19). Faithful followers can always know that YHWH is their hope, protection, and place of safety amidst the problems and conflicts of this fallen world. However, this peace must be embraced. It is a faith act and a worldview that is unrelated to the swirling circumstances of this present reality!

▣ "Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" This is very similar to Ps. 42:9.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 43:3-4
 3O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;
 Let them bring me to Your holy hill
 And to Your dwelling places.
 4Then I will go to the altar of God,
 To God my exceeding joy;
 And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.

43:3 "send" This verb (BDB 1018, KB 1511, Qal imperative) is a prayer request which personifies YHWH's

1. light — BDB 21

a. as YHWH's favor — Ps. 4:6; 44:3

b. as a guide — Micah 7:8

c. as eschatological light — Isa. 9:2 (first coming of Jesus); Isa. 60:19-20 (second coming of Jesus)

2. truth — BDB 54 (see Special Topic at Ps. 12:1)

a. an attribute of YHWH often translated "faithfulness" — Ps. 40:10; 71:22; 115:1; 138:2

b. often personified as YHWH's agents or messengers — Ps. 40:11; 43:3; 57:3; 85:10; 89:14

Notice what "the light" and "the truth" are to do.

1. let them lead me — BDB 634, KB 685, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. let them bring me to Your holy hill — BDB 97, KB 112, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense

 

▣ "holy hill" This is one of many ways to refer to the temple on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem. It is also called (usually with the adjective "holy"):

1. Zion

2. house

3. sanctuary

4. habitation

5. temple

6. mountain

7. city of God

 

Here it is parallel to "Your dwelling places" (cf. Ps. 46:4; 84:1). The plural denotes all the buildings of the temple complex or the plural of majesty (cf. NIDOTE, vol. 2, p. 1132).

43:4 The psalmist desires to go (BDB 97, KB 112, Qal cohortative) to the temple and praise (BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense) God with his lyre (BDB 490, i.e., a stringed instrument, cf Ps. 33:2).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 43:5
 5Why are you in despair, O my soul?
 And why are you disturbed within me?
 Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
 The help of my countenance and my God.

43:5 This is the repeated refrain from Ps. 42:5,11. This is what unifies these two psalms.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS — see list at Psalm 42. These two Psalms are a literary unit.

Copyright © 2012 Bible Lessons International

Passage: 

Psalm 44

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Former Deliverance and Present Troubles
MT Intro
For the choir director. A Maskil of the sons of Korah
Redemption Remembered in Present Dishonor Prayer For Deliverance From National Enemies A Prayer For Protection National Lament
44:1-3 44:1-3 44:1-3 44:1-3 44:1-2a
        44:2b-3
44:4-8 44:4-8 44:4-8 44:4-8 44:4-5
        44:6-8
44:9-16 44:9-16 44:9-12 44:9-12 44:9-10
        44:11-12
    44:13-16 44:13-16 44:13-14
        44:15-16
44:17-19 44:17-19 44:17-19 44:17-19 44:17-19
44:20-26 44:20-22 44:20-22 44:20-22 44:20-22
  44:23-26 44:23-26 44:23-24 44:23-24
      44:25-26 44:25-26

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. The opening strophes are contrasts between the failure of human plans and efforts and YHWH's effective and purposeful plans.

 

B. In a way this Psalm is similar to

1. Deuteronomy 32

2. Nehemiah 9

3. Psalm 78

which are the history of Israel's faithlessness and YHWH's faithfulness during the early years (exodus, wilderness, conquest, judges).

 

C. This Psalm obviously was written after Israel's experience of exile. Its focus is national not individual.

 

D. It must be stated again and again that YHWH has an eternal redemptive purpose. Please look at the following Special Topics online (www.freebiblecommentary.org).

1. YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Paln

2. Why Do OT Covenant Promises Seem So Different From NT Covenant Promises?

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 44:1-3
 1O God, we have heard with our ears,
 Our fathers have told us
 The work that You did in their days,
 In the days of old.
 2You with Your own hand drove out the nations;
 Then You planted them;
 You afflicted the peoples,
 Then You spread them abroad.
 3For by their own sword they did not possess the land,
 And their own arm did not save them,
 But Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence,
 For You favored them.

44:1-3 This strophe recounts (perfect verbs, cf. Deut. 32:7) all of YHWH's activities for Israel during the conquest of Joshua. This conquest fulfilled the promise of Gen. 15:12-21. Notice the Genesis passage emphasizes YHWH's role (i.e., holy war) in the promise. YHWH acted, Abraham slept! The conquest was YHWH's victory, not the Israelite military's (Ps. 44:3).

44:1 "we have heard" The Jewish annual feasts were occasions to instruct the new generations about God' saving activities (cf. Exodus 12; Deut. 6:20-25; note the recurrent phrase, "when your children ask. . .," cf. Exod. 12:26, 27; 13:14-15; Deut. 6:20-35; Jos. 4:6-7, 21-24). It is the spiritual responsibility of every generation of believers to instruct the new generation about God, His character, and redemptive acts.

44:2 "the nations. . .the peoples" This refers to the native tribes of Canaan. See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: The Pre-israelite Inhabitants of Palestine

▣ "You planted them" In context this still refers to the Canaanite tribes (cf. LXX). The OT viewed YHWH as the establisher of all people groups (cf. Deut. 32:8). Genesis 15:12-21 asserts that the inhabitants of Canaan were expelled because of their sins; when Israel sins she will be expelled also (cf. Psalm 78).

The TEV, REV, and NET Bible assume that verse 2 relates to

1. the Canaanite people, 44:2a,c

2. the Israelites under Joshua, 44:2b,d (cf. Exod. 15:17; Jer. 45:4)

 

44:3 It was not Israel's military but YHWH's power to accomplish His purposes that allowed Israel to leave Egypt, travel to Canaan, and dispossess the native tribes!

Notice the parallelism between

1. Your right hand

2. Your arm

3. the light of Your presence

Number 3 would refer to the Shekinah Cloud of Glory during the Wilderness Wandering Period.

▣ "You favored them" This is the purpose of YHWH's promise to Abraham.

1. a seed (i.e., descendants)

2. a land

a. Abraham — Gen. 12:7; 13:15; 15:18

b. Israel — Gen. 26:3

c. Jacob — Gen. 28:13

The verb "favored" (BDB 953, KB 1280, Qal perfect) denotes the covenant purpose (cf. Gen. 12:3) of bringing all peoples to Himself (see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan at Psalm 2, Intro.). YHWH chose to use Abraham and his seed (cf. Deut. 4:37; 7:7-8; 10:15) to reach all the sons and daughters of Adam.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 44:4-8
 4You are my King, O God;
 Command victories for Jacob.
 5Through You we will push back our adversaries;
 Through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us.
 6For I will not trust in my bow,
 Nor will my sword save me.
 7But You have saved us from our adversaries,
 And You have put to shame those who hate us.
 8In God we have boasted all day long,
 And we will give thanks to Your name forever.  Selah.

44:4-8 If the first strophe, dominated by perfect verbs, denotes the past, this one, dominated by imperfects, denotes the present. Both deal with the concept of "holy war" or " God as Warrior." YHWH (or His name, Ps. 44:5,8) is the source of Israel's victories, not their military.

44:4 "You are my King" YHWH as king probably comes from 1 Sam.8:7. The Israelite king was only an earthly representative of YHWH's rule and reign (cf. Isa. 24:23; 52:7; 93:1; 96:10; 97:1; 99:1). In Jewish literature and ritual, YHWH is called "King of the Universe."

▣ "Command victories for Jacob" This is an imperative of request (BDB 845, KB 1010, Piel imperative.

The word "victories" is literally "salvation" (BDB 447). In the OT it denotes deliverance from physical problems and enemies.

It is possible that the ending letter on Elohim could go with the next word, making it "my Commander" (AB, p. 265), which would be parallel to "My King." AB thinks the next phrase should also be a parallel title, "the Savior of Jacob."

▣ "for Jacob" This is an allusion to YHWH's promises to the Patriarchs (i.e., Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, cf. Genesis 12-35). YHWH has an eternal revelatory, redemptive purpose for the whole world in which Israel and Jesus are key components (see Special Topic at Psalm 2, Intro.)!

44:8 Notice the parallelism of verse 8.

1. boasted — give thanks

2. all day long — forever

 

▣ "Selah" See Introduction to Psalms, VII and note at Ps. 3:2.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 44:9-16
 9Yet You have rejected us and brought us to dishonor,
 And do not go out with our armies.
 10You cause us to turn back from the adversary;
 And those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves.
 11You give us as sheep to be eaten
 And have scattered us among the nations.
 12You sell Your people cheaply,
 And have not profited by their sale.
 13You make us a reproach to our neighbors,
 A scoffing and a derision to those around us.
 14You make us a byword among the nations,
 A laughingstock among the peoples.
 15All day long my dishonor is before me
 And my humiliation has overwhelmed me,
 16Because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles,
 Because of the presence of the enemy and the avenger.

44:9-16 This strophe is a stark reversal of Ps. 44:1-3 and 4-8. Instead of YHWH fighting for Israel (i.e., 44:9b; Ps. 60:10; 108:11), He is fighting against them. It does not specifically mention why, but the problem was covenant disobedience and its consequences (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-30).

The terrible consequences were not just military defeat but exile, slavery, humiliation!

44:9 "You have rejected us" This verb (BDB 276, KB 276, Qal perfect) is used often in the Psalms where YHWH rejects His covenant people (cf. Ps. 44:9,23; 60:1,10; 74:1; 77:7; 108:11). The reason why is the big question.

1. covenant disobedience (i.e., Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-30)

2. their relationship with YHWH (i.e., Job, Psalm 73, Habakkuk)

3. a test of their loyalty not related to blessings (see SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD TESTS HIS PEOPLE at Ps. 11:4b-5)

The Psalm does not answer this, unless 44:22 is the key to the whole Psalm.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 44:17-19
 17All this has come upon us, but we have not forgotten You,
 And we have not dealt falsely with Your covenant.
 18Our heart has not turned back,
 And our steps have not deviated from Your way,
 19Yet You have crushed us in a place of jackals
 And covered us with the shadow of death.

44:17-19 This strophe is an attempt to accept responsibility. Israel is claiming innocence.

1. we have not forgotten You

2. we have not dealt falsely with Your covenant

3. our heart (collective) has not turned back

4. our steps have not deviated from Your way

This claim of innocence is continued in the next strophe (cf. Ps. 44:20-22). This may be true for some Israelites but not for the majority of them, for the majority of their history (cf. Deuteronomy 32; Psalm 78; Nehemiah 9).

Verse 19 is theologically similar to Job where he was willing to make God look bad to enhance his own case. The psalmist is accusing God of acting against them in an unfair manner!

For a different interpretation see Derek Kidner, Tyndale OT Commentaries, vol. 15, pp. 185-186.

44:17 "Your covenant" See Special Topic at Ps. 25:10.

44:19

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, NJB"jackals"
JPSOA, REB"sea monster"

The difference between these two is one consonant.

1. jackal — BDB 1072, תנים

2. sea monster — BDB תנין

The UBS Text Project (p. 237) gives "jackal" a "B" rating (some doubt). The JPSOA gives Ezek. 29:3; 32:2, as parallel passages for tannin (i.e., "sea monster," cf. Gen. 1:21; Job 7:12).

From the Canaanite literature desert creatures are often used as figurative language for the demonic of a nation (cf. Isa. 13:21-22; 34:11-15; Jer. 9:11; Mic. 1:8; Zeph. 2:4).

▣ "the shadow of death" See note at Ps. 23:4. YHWH has abandoned His covenant people to the demonic forces of pagan religions and the realm of death!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 44:20-26
 20If we had forgotten the name of our God
 Or extended our hands to a strange god,
 21Would not God find this out?
 For He knows the secrets of the heart.
 22But for Your sake we are killed all day long;
 We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
 23Arouse Yourself, why do You sleep, O Lord?
 Awake, do not reject us forever.
 24Why do You hide Your face
 And forget our affliction and our oppression?
 25For our soul has sunk down into the dust;
 Our body cleaves to the earth.
 26Rise up, be our help,
 And redeem us for the sake of Your lovingkindness.

44:20 This is a specific denial of idolatry. They assert that if they were idolatrous, YHWH would surely have known (Ps. 44:21, cf. Ps. 7:9; 17:3; 26:2; 66:10; 139:23; Jer. 11:20; 17:10; 20:12).

▣ "extended our hands" This is literally "spread forth" (BDB 831, KB 975, Qal imperfect). This was a physical gesture of worship, usually denoting prayer (cf. Exod. 9:29; 2 Chr. 6:12; Ezra 9:5; Job 11:13; Ps. 28:2; 48:31; 88:9; 134:2; 141:2; 143:6), but could include offering (i.e., lifting up) some type of sacrifice (animal, incense, vegetable, or wine).

44:22 This is a claim, like Ps. 44:19, that YHWH has abandoned Israel (cf. UBS Handbook, p. 409). Paul makes use of this verse in Rom. 8:36, and seems to indicate that God's people face problems in a fallen world but He is with them and for them. Nothing can separate us from God's love in Christ (cf. Rom. 8:38-39).

▣ "for Your sake" Some have seen this phrase as the key theological thrust of the Psalm. God's people are persecuted, not because of their sin, but because of their relationship to Him. This motif is clearly seen in the life of Jesus.

I am just not sure there is enough textual evidence from this Psalm to make this claim!

44:23-26 This is seen as a separate strophe by NKJV, NRSV. There is a series of prayer requests (imperatives and jussives).

1. arouse Yourself, Ps. 44:23 — BDB 734, KB 802, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 7:6; 35:23

2. awake — BDB 884, KB 1098, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 35:23

3. do not reject us forever — BDB 276, KB 276, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 77:7

4. rise up — BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 3:7; 7:6; 9:19; 10:12; 17:13; 74:22; 82:8; 132:8

5. redeem us — BDB 804, KB 911, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 25:22; 130:8 (see Special Topic at Ps. 19:14)

 

44:23 "why do You sleep, O Lord?" This is an idiomatic anthropomorphic phrase (cf. Ps. 78:65). YHWH (here called Adonia) does not sleep (cf. Ps. 121:4), but at times because of Israel's sin, He seems to remove Himself from fellowship with them (cf. Ps. 44:24-25).

For a good brief discussion see Hard Sayings of the Bible, "Does God Sleep?" (pp. 268-269).

44:24 "do not reject us forever" "Forever" is another idiom referring to fellowship (cf. Ps. 103:9). It seemed forever to them! But it was simply a period of disfellowship so as to engender repentance and restore long term fellowship.

44:25 This is imagery for people praying, either on their knees or prostrate on the ground. This was an unusual position of prayer, which was usually standing with hands lifted and eyes open, looking up. Solomon prayed on his knees (cf. 2 Chr. 6:13); Daniel prayed on his knees (cf. Dan. 6:10); Jesus prayed on His face in Gethsemane (cf. Matt. 26:39)! It is a way to denote intensity!

44:26 "for the sake of Your lovingkindness" YHWH acts for

1. His love for their fathers (i.e., the Patriarchs)

2. His promise to their fathers

3. His wider purpose of the Abrahamic covenant (cf. Gen. 12:3; see Special Topic at Psalm 2, Intro)

4. His covenant loyalty (see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7) to His word (cf. Ps. 6:4; 109:21,26; 119:149)

It was not because of Israel's goodness (cf. Deut. 9:4-6; Ezek. 36:22-38).

SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's GRACE ACTS TO ISRAEL

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What aspect of the covenant is brought into question in this Psalm?

2. What does this Psalm teach about the political structure of Israel?

3. Why has Israel been defeated?

4. Why is God asked to respond?

 

Passage: 

Psalm 45

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
A Song Celebrating the King's Marriage
MT Intro
For the choir director; according to Shoshannim, A Maskil of the sons of Korah. A Song of Love.
The Glories of the Messiah and His Bride An Ode For a Royal Wedding A Royal Wedding Song Royal Wedding
45:1-2 45:1-5 45:1 45:1 45:1
    45:2-3 45:2-3 45:2
45:3-5       45:3a-4a
    45:4-5 45:4-5 45:4b-5
45:6-9 45:6-9 45:6-9 45:6-9 45:6-7a
        45:7b-8a
        45:8b-9
45:10-12 45:10-12 45:10-13a 45:10-12 45:10-13a
45:13-15 45:13-17 45:13b-15 45:13-15 45:13b-16
45:16-17   45:16-17 45:16-17  
        45:17

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This Psalm is praising an Israeli King.

1. probably Solomon at the time of one of his marriages (NASB margin)

2. Ahab and his marriage to Jezebel (Jewish Study Bible, p. 1332)

3. David (Ibn Ezra)

4. Messiah (Ibn Ezra's second choice and the Church Fathers)

 

B. This Psalm has been viewed by some as Messianic (notice the capitalized pronouns) but only in a typological sense. Historically it fits

1. the hyperbolic royal language of the ANE

2. a marriage of Solomon would have been attended by the people groups his empire controlled

 

C. All Israeli Kings were meant to represent YHWH (cf. 1 Sam. 8:6-7). He is the King of the Universe and they are to lead His people (by example) in His law.

 

D. The NASB Study Bible (p. 784) assumes the author was a Levitical singer and that as such his song was considered as coming from the temple (i.e., from God Himself). This is how the fluidity of terminology between God and the King is to be explained.

 

E. The Psalm has

1. a related opening (Ps. 45:1-2) and close (Ps. 45:16-17)

2. an address to the king, Ps. 45:3-9

3. an address to the bride, Ps. 45:10-15

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 45:1-2
 1My heart overflows with a good theme;
 I address my verses to the King;
 My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
 2You are fairer than the sons of men;
 Grace is poured upon Your lips;
 Therefore God has blessed You forever.

45:1 The author describes himself to his readers (only here in the Psalter) in this verse.

1. his heart (i.e., he himself) overflows (BDB 935, KB 1222, Qal perfect; LXX has "erupts") with a good theme (i.e., praise for the King of God's people)

2. he writes to praise the King on his marriage

3. his tongue is the pen of a ready writer (i.e., [1] he was eager to praise the King or [2] he was a court poet or scribe, cf. Ezra 7:6)

 

45:2 He describes the King in poetic imagery.

1. he is fairer (i.e., "more handsome," cf. NRSV, TEV, NJB; this word [BDB 421, KB 421] is rarely used of men; it is in a rare form — Pealal perfect) than other men (lit. "the sons of men")

2. his speech is eloquent (TEV) and gracious (cf. Pro. 22:11; Eccl. 10:12); I think Ps. 45:4c is parallel

3. therefore, God has blessed You forever — two thoughts about this

a. be cognizant of ANE hyperbolic, royal language

b. be careful of cause and effect logic (i.e., YHWH blessed him because he acted appropriately). There is a tension in Scripture between God's sovereignty and human free will (see Special Topic at Ps. 25:12). Obedience is important but call is crucial. He was not King because he deserved it but by family line.

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 45:3-5
 3Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
 In Your splendor and Your majesty!
 4And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
 For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
 Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
 5Your arrows are sharp;
 The peoples fall under You;
 Your arrows are in the heart of the King's enemies.

45:3-5 This strophe is poetic imagery about the King's military victories. Notice he represents YHWH as he fights for the cause of (LXX)

1. "truth" (BDB 54)

2. "meekness" (unusual vowel pointing, BDB 776, cf. Pro. 15:33; 18:12; 22:4; Zeph. 2:3)

Notice the three imperatives and two jussives which reflect military imagery.

1. "gird Your sword on Your thigh" — BDB 291, KB 291, Qal imperative, Ps. 45:3, cf. Deut. 1:41; Jdgs. 3:16; 18:11; 1 Sam.17:39; 25:13

2-3. "ride on victoriously," Ps. 45:4

a. "be successful!" — BDB 852, KB 1026, Qal imperative

b. "ride" — BDB 938, KB 1230, Qal imperative

4. "let Your right hand teach," Ps. 45:4 — BDB 434, KB 436, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

5. "let the peoples fall under You," Ps. 45:5— BDB 656, KB 709, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

 

45:3 "Splendor" (BDB 217 I) and "majesty" (BDB 214) are often associated with God (i.e., Ps. 104:1). Notice how NASB capitalizes the pronouns in Ps. 45:2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. But they are also used of the Israeli King (i.e., Ps. 21:5).

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"O Mighty One"
TEV"Mighty King"
NJB"Warrior"
JPSOA"O hero"
REB"warrior king"
LXX"O powerful one"

This adjective (BDB 150) basically means "strong," or "mighty." It was used of

1. human warriors — Gen. 10:9; Ps. 78:65; 120:4; 127:4; Eccl. 9:11; Song of Songs 3:7

2. Messiah — Isa. 9:5 (David as type — Ps. 89:20)

3. YHWH as faithful covenant warrior (i.e., holy war) — Neh. 9:32; Ps. 24:8; Isa. 10:21; Jer. 32:18

In this context it refers to the Davidic King as victorious warrior, empowered by YHWH.

45:4-5 The pronouns are difficult to identify. 

1. some refer to God

2. some to the King

This same confusion is in verses 6-7. The problem is that the author is describing the King as a representative of YHWH Himself. It is obvious how early Christian authors (i.e., Heb. 1:8-9) saw this as a Messianic Psalm. For them the Messiah had come and the OT pointed to Him (i.e., Jesus).

45:4

NASB, NKJV"awesome things"
NRSV"dread deeds"
TEV"great victories"
JPSOA, REB"awesome deeds"
LXX"marvelously"

This participle (BDB 431, KB 432, Niphal participle) means "awe-inspiring deeds."

1. God Himself — Deut. 1:19; 7:21; 10:20-21

2. His deeds — 2 Sam. 7:23; Ps. 145:6 (splitting the Red Sea, Ps. 106:22)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 45:6-9
 6Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
 A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
 7You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
 Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
 With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
 8All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
 Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
 9Kings' daughters are among Your noble ladies;
 At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.

45:6-9 Here again is a strophe that addresses both YHWH and His royal representative in a unified way.

45:6

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, LXX"Your throne, O God"
NRSV margin"Your throne is a throne of God"
TEV"The kingdom that God has given you"
NJB"Your throne is from God"
JPSOA, RSV"Your divine throne"
REB"God has enthroned you"
NEB"Your throne is like God's throne"

You can see from the variety of translations that the Hebrew text is uncertain (JPSOA footnote). In a monotheistic (see Special Topic at Ps. 2:7) OT context this cannot be asserting deity to the King, but it is asserting that all the King is and has comes from his relationship to YHWH. The King is YHWH's earthly representative, as is the High Priest (cf. Zechariah 4).

YHWH's throne (cf. 1 Chr. 29:23; Lam. 5:19) is forever (cf. Ps. 93:2; see Special Topic at Ps. 9:5). The King's throne is for a lifetime. The Messiah is the special coming King (see Special Topic at Ps. 2:2). This phrase has one connotation in the OT and a fuller one in the NT!

45:7 One wonders if this is royal hyperbole or this Psalm truly addressed a godly King. If it is addressed to Ahab, it is royal hyperbole; if Solomon, it was true at first but not later; if David it was true at first and at last but not during his sinning period (i.e., Bathsheba, Uriah).

We must always be careful of attributing God's blessing based on human performance. God anointed