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Psalms 102:4-7

Context

102:4 My heart is parched 1  and withered like grass,

for I am unable 2  to eat food. 3 

102:5 Because of the anxiety that makes me groan,

my bones protrude from my skin. 4 

102:6 I am like an owl 5  in the wilderness;

I am like a screech owl 6  among the ruins. 7 

102:7 I stay awake; 8 

I am like a solitary bird on a roof.

1 tn Heb “struck, attacked.”

2 tn Heb “I forget.”

3 sn I am unable to eat food. During his time of mourning, the psalmist refrained from eating. In the following verse he describes metaphorically the physical effects of fasting.

4 tn Heb “from the sound of my groaning my bone[s] stick to my flesh.” The preposition at the beginning of the verse is causal; the phrase “sound of my groaning” is metonymic for the anxiety that causes the groaning. The point seems to be this: Anxiety (which causes the psalmist to groan) keeps him from eating (v. 4). This physical deprivation in turn makes him emaciated – he is turned to “skin and bones,” so to speak.

5 tn The Hebrew term קָאַת (qaat) refers to some type of bird (see Lev 11:18; Deut 14:17) that was typically found near ruins (see Zeph 2:14). Modern translations have frequently rendered this as some type of owl (NIV, REB “desert owl”; NRSV “owl”).

6 tn The Hebrew term כוֹס (khos) refers to a bird (see Lev 11:17; Deut 14:16), probably a type of owl (cf. NIV, REB “owl”; NRSV “little owl”).

7 sn By comparing himself to a screech owl among the ruins, the psalmist may be highlighting his loneliness (see v. 7), though he may also be comparing his cries for help to the owl’s screech.

8 tn This probably refers to the psalmist’s inability to sleep. Another option is to translate, “I keep watch,” in which case it might refer to watching for a response from the Lord (see vv. 1-2).



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