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Psalms 10:2-4

Context

10:2 The wicked arrogantly chase the oppressed; 1 

the oppressed are trapped 2  by the schemes the wicked have dreamed up. 3 

10:3 Yes, 4  the wicked man 5  boasts because he gets what he wants; 6 

the one who robs others 7  curses 8  and 9  rejects the Lord. 10 

10:4 The wicked man is so arrogant he always thinks,

“God won’t hold me accountable; he doesn’t care.” 11 

1 tn Heb “because of the pride of [the] wicked he burns [i.e. hotly pursues] [the] oppressed.” The singular forms רָשָׁע (rasha’, “wicked”) and עָנִי (’aniy, “oppressed”) are collective and representative, as indicated in the next line, which uses plural verb forms to describe the actions of both.

2 tn The two imperfect verbal forms in v. 2 describe either what typically happens (from the psalmist’s perspective) or what the psalmist was experiencing at the time he offered this prayer.

3 tn Heb “they are trapped in the schemes which they have thought up.” The referents of the two pronominal suffixes on the verbs have been specified in the translation for clarity. The referent of the first suffix (“they”) is taken as the oppressed, while the referent of the second (“they”) is taken to be the wicked (cf. NIV, which renders “wicked” in the previous line as a collective singular). Others take the referent of both occurrences of “they” in the line to be the wicked (cf. NRSV, “let them be caught in the schemes they have devised”).

4 tn The translation assumes כִּי (ki) is asseverative: “indeed, certainly.” Another option is to translate “for,” understanding v. 3 as giving the reason why the wicked so arrogantly seek to destroy the helpless (so NASB, NRSV).

5 tn The representative or typical evildoer is described in vv. 3-11, 13, 15. Since the singular form predominates in these verses, it has been retained in the translation.

6 tn Heb “the wicked [one] boasts on account of the desire of his appetite.” The translation assumes that the preposition עַל (’al) introduces the reason why the wicked boasts (cf. this use of עַל with הָלַל (halal) in Ps 119:164 and Ezra 3:11). In this case, the “desire of his appetite” refers by metonymy to the object desired and acquired.

7 tn The translation assumes the active participle is substantival, referring to the wicked man mentioned in the preceding line. The substantival participle is then understood as the subject of the following verbs. For other examples of the participle of בָּצַע (batsar) used of those who desire and/or acquire wealth through dishonest and/or violent means, see Prov 1:19; 15:27; Jer 6:13; 8:10; Hab 2:9.

8 tn The verb בָּרַךְ (barakh) normally means “to bless,” but in a few cases it exhibits the polarized meaning “to curse” (1 Kgs 21:10, 13; Job 1:5-11; 2:5-9). (Some regard this use of בָּרַךְ as a mere euphemism.) The verb refers to the act of pronouncing or calling down a formal curse upon the object of one’s anger.

9 tn The conjunction “and” is supplied in the translation; it does not appear in the Hebrew text.

10 tn Another option is to translate, “he blesses one who robs others, [but] he curses the Lord.” In this case the subject of the verbs is “the wicked man” mentioned in the previous line, and “the one who robs others” is the object of the verb בָּרַךְ (barakh), which is understood in its usual sense of “bless.”

11 tn Heb “the wicked [one], according to the height of his nose, he does not seek, there is no God, all his thoughts.” The phrase “height of his nose” probably refers to an arrogant or snooty attitude; it likely pictures one with his nose turned upward toward the sky in pride. One could take the “wicked” as the subject of the negated verb “seek,” in which case the point is that the wicked do not “seek” God. The translation assumes that this statement, along with “there is no God,” is what the wicked man thinks to himself. In this case God is the subject of the verb “seek,” and the point is that God will not hold the wicked man accountable for his actions. Verse 13 strongly favors this interpretation. The statement “there is no God” is not a philosophical assertion that God does not exist, but rather a confident affirmation that he is unconcerned about how men live morally and ethically (see v. 11).



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