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Psalms 109:17-18

Context

109:17 He loved to curse 1  others, so those curses have come upon him. 2 

He had no desire to bless anyone, so he has experienced no blessings. 3 

109:18 He made cursing a way of life, 4 

so curses poured into his stomach like water

and seeped into his bones like oil. 5 

1 sn A curse in OT times consists of a formal appeal to God to bring judgment down upon another. Curses were sometimes justified (such as the one spoken by the psalmist here in vv. 6-19), but when they were not, the one pronouncing the curse was in danger of bringing the anticipated judgment down upon himself.

2 tn Heb “and he loved a curse and it came [upon] him.” A reference to the evil man experiencing a curse seems premature here, for the psalmist is asking God to bring judgment on his enemies. For this reason some (cf. NIV, NRSV) prefer to repoint the vav (ו) on “it came” as conjunctive and translate the verb as a jussive of prayer (“may it come upon him!”). The prefixed form with vav consecutive in the next line is emended in the same way and translated, “may it be far from him.” However, the psalmist may be indicating that the evil man’s lifestyle has already begun to yield its destructive fruit.

3 tn Heb “and he did not delight in a blessing and it is far from him.”

4 tn Heb “he put on a curse as [if it were] his garment.”

5 tn Heb “and it came like water into his inner being, and like oil into his bones.” This may refer to this individual’s appetite for cursing. For him cursing was as refreshing as drinking water or massaging oneself with oil. Another option is that the destructive effects of a curse are in view. In this case a destructive curse invades his very being, like water or oil. Some who interpret the verse this way prefer to repoint the vav (ו) on “it came” to a conjunctive vav and interpret the prefixed verb as a jussive, “may it come!”



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