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Psalm 54

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Prayer for Defense Against Enemies
MT Intro
For the choir director on stringed instruments. A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites came and said to Saul, "Is not David hiding himself among us?"
Answered Prayer For Deliverance From Adversaries Prayer For Deliverance From Personal Enemies A Prayer For Protection From Enemies Appeal to God, the Just Judge
54:1-3 54:1-3 54:1-2 54:1-3 54:1-2
    54:3   54:3
54:4-5 54:4-5 54:4-5 54:4-5 54:4-5
54:6-7 54:6-7 54:6-7 54:6-7 54:6-7

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 54:1-3
 1Save me, O God, by Your name,
 And vindicate me by Your power.
 2Hear my prayer, O God;
 Give ear to the words of my mouth.
 3For strangers have risen against me
 And violent men have sought my life;
 They have not set God before them.  Selah.

54:1-3 This strophe shows the historical setting as one of personal attack, apparently by other covennant people. Notice the prayer requests.

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

2. vindicate (i.e., judge rightly) me — BDB 192, KB 220, Qal imperfect used between three imperatives and parallel to the first. It is functioning as an imperative of request after examples in Ugaritic poetry (AB, p. 24). It denotes a "legal verdict." The psalmist is asking God for judicial acquittal. He has been unfairly accused.

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

4. give ear — BDB 24, KB 27, Hiphil imperative in a synonymous parallel relationship to #3, cf. Ps. 5:1; 55:1; 86:7

 

▣ "O God" This is the name for God (Elohim) that refers to Him as creator, sustainer, and provider of all life on this planet (cf. Gen. 1:6, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:1). It appears twice, 54:1a and 54:2a. It is paralleled by

1. Your name (cf. Special Topic at Ps. 5:11-12)

2. Your power, cf. 2 Chr. 20:6

 

54:2 The psalmist's enemies/adversaries are described in this verse.

1. strangers (BDB 266 I, cf. Ps. 44:20; 109:11) have arisen against me, 54:3a. This is usually used of other covenant people.

2. violent men (BDB 792). This is usually used of enemies of other nations (i.e., invaders, cf. Isa. 13:11; Ezek. 28:7; 30:11; 31:12; 32:12)

3. they have not set God before them; this could refer to

a. godless Israelites, cf. Ps. 14:1; 36:1-4; 53:1

b. Gentiles (i.e., national enemies)

4. in Ps. 54:5 he calls them "those who lie in wait for me" (i.e., so as to murder)

 

▣ "Selah" See note at Psalm 3:2 and Intro to Psalms, VII.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 54:4-5
 4Behold, God is my helper;
 The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.
 5He will recompense the evil to my foes;
 Destroy them in Your faithfulness.

54:4-5 As the psalmist described his enemies in Ps. 54:3, in Ps. 54:4-5 he characterizes God and asks for Him to act against his foes.

1. God is my helper — BDB 740, KB 810, Qal participle, cf. Ps. 27:9; 30:10; 37:40; 118:7

2. the Lord (Adon, BDB 10) is the sustainer of my soul (BDB 701, KB 759, Qal participle, cf. Ps. 37:17,24; 41:12; 51:12; 71:6; 145:14)

3. He will recompense (lit. return, BDB 996, KB 1427). MT has Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, but the Masoretic scholars suggested that it be read (Qere) as a Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense.

4. The psalmist asked God to destroy (lit. "put to silence," BDB 856, KB 1035, Hiphil imperative, cf. Ps. 143:12) his enemies as they were trying to silence him, cf. Ps. 18:4; 69:4; 73:27; 94:23; 101:5,8

 

54:5

NASB, NRSV"in Your faithfulness"
NKJV, LXX"in Your truth"
TEV"because he is faithful"
NJB"in your constancy"
JPSOA"by Your faithfulness"
REB"show yourself faithful"

The MT has "faithfulness" (BDB 54, see Special Topic at Ps. 12:1). It seems to link back to the psalmist's assertions about God in verse 4.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 54:6-7
 6Willingly I will sacrifice to You;
 I will give thanks to Your name, O Lord, for it is good.
 7For He has delivered me from all trouble,
 And my eye has looked with satisfaction upon my enemies.

54:6 This closing strophe (54:6-7) expresses the confidence of the psalmist that God (YHWH, Ps. 54:6) will act on his behalf. When He does then the psalmist will

1. sacrifice to You — BDB 256, KB 261, Qal cohortative

2. give thanks to Your name — BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense; either the "name" is good or giving thanks to YHWH is good, cf. Ps. 92:1

 

Psalm 54:6 has a rare use of the covenant name for Israel's God, YHWH, in Book 2 of the Psalter.

NASB"willingly"
NKJV, REB"freely"
NRSV"with a freewill offering"
TEV, NJB"gladly"
JPSOA"a freewill offering"

The MT has a preposition and a noun (BDB 621). It can refer to

1. voluntariness

2. freewill offering

Here #1 fits best.

54:7 "He" The MT has "it," which would relate to "Your name" in verse 6 (cf. JPSOA).

Not only is the psalmist "delivered" (BDB 664, KIB 717, Hiphil perfect) but he "sees" (BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal perfect) the defeat of his enemies (cf. Ps. 59:10; 92:11; 112:8; 118:7; this is culturally similar to "laugh at him" in Ps. 52:6).

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 word "vindicate" mean?

2. Who are the enemies mentioned in verses 3 and 5?

3. Explain the significance of "name" (Ps. 54:1,6).