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Psalms 10:4-12

Context

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

“God won’t hold me accountable; he doesn’t care.” 1 

10:5 He is secure at all times. 2 

He has no regard for your commands; 3 

he disdains all his enemies. 4 

10:6 He says to himself, 5 

“I will never 6  be upended,

because I experience no calamity.” 7 

10:7 His mouth is full of curses and deceptive, harmful words; 8 

his tongue injures and destroys. 9 

10:8 He waits in ambush near the villages; 10 

in hidden places he kills the innocent.

His eyes look for some unfortunate victim. 11 

10:9 He lies in ambush in a hidden place, like a lion in a thicket; 12 

he lies in ambush, waiting to catch 13  the oppressed;

he catches the oppressed 14  by pulling in his net. 15 

10:10 His victims are crushed and beaten down;

they are trapped in his sturdy nets. 16 

10:11 He says to himself, 17 

“God overlooks it;

he does not pay attention;

he never notices.” 18 

10:12 Rise up, Lord! 19 

O God, strike him down! 20 

Do not forget the oppressed!

1 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).

2 tn Heb “they are firm, his ways, at every time.” The verb חַיִל (khayil, “be firm, be strong”) occurs only here and in Job 20:21, where it has the sense “endure.”

3 tc Heb “[on a] height, your judgments from before him.” If the MT is retained, then the idea may be that God’s “judgments” are high above (i.e., not recognized) by the wicked man. However, the syntax is awkward. The translation assumes an emendation of מָרוֹם (marom, “height”) to סָרוּ (saru, “[your judgments] are turned aside”), the final mem (ם) being dittographic (note the initial mem on the immediately following word [מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ, mishÿfatekha, “your judgments”). “Judgments” probably refers here to God’s laws or commands, rather than his judicial decisions or acts of judgment.

4 tn Heb “all his enemies, he snorts against them.” This may picture the wicked man defiantly challenging his enemies because he is confident of success. Another option is to take יָפִיחַ (yafiakh) from the root יָפַח (yafakh, “to testify”) and translate “he testifies against all his enemies,” implying that he gets the upper hand over them in legal battles. The noun יָפֵחַ (yafeakh, “witness”) is attested in biblical Hebrew (see Prov 6:19; 12:17; 14:5, 25; 19:5, 9, and Hab 2:3). The verb, however, is not clearly attested.

5 tn Heb “he says in his heart/mind.”

6 tn Heb “for a generation and a generation.” The traditional accentuation of the MT understands these words with the following line.

7 tn Heb “who, not in calamity.” If אֲשֶׁר (’asher) is taken as a relative pronoun here, then one could translate, “[I] who [am] not in calamity.” Some emend אֲשֶׁר to אֹשֶׁר (’osher, “happiness”; see HALOT 99 s.v. אֹשֶׁר); one might then translate, “[I live in] happiness, not in calamity.” The present translation assumes that אֲשֶׁר functions here as a causal conjunction, “because, for.” For this use of אֲשֶׁר, see BDB 83 s.v. אֲשֶׁר 8.c (where the present text is not cited).

8 tn Heb “[with] a curse his mouth is full, and lies and injury.”

9 tn Heb “under his tongue are destruction and wickedness.” The words translated “destruction and wickedness” are also paired in Ps 90:10. They also appear in proximity in Pss 7:14 and 55:10.

10 tn Heb “he sits in the ambush of the villages.”

11 tn Heb “his eyes for an unfortunate person lie hidden.” The language may picture a lion (see v. 9) peering out from its hiding place in anticipation that an unsuspecting victim will soon come strolling along.

12 tn Or “in its den.”

13 tn The verb, which also appears in the next line, occurs only here and in Judg 21:21.

14 tn The singular form is collective (see v. 10) or refers to the typical or representative oppressed individual.

15 tn Or “when he [i.e., the wicked man] pulls in his net.”

sn The background of the imagery is hunting, where the hunter uses a net to entrap an unsuspecting bird or wild animal.

16 tn Heb “he crushes, he is bowed down, and he falls into his strong [ones], [the] unfortunate [ones].” This verse presents several lexical and syntactical difficulties. The first word (יִדְכֶּה, yidekeh) is an otherwise unattested Qal form of the verb דָּכָה (dakhah, “crush”). (The Qere [marginal] form is imperfect; the consonantal text [Kethib] has the perfect with a prefixed conjunction vav [ו].) If the wicked man’s victim is the subject, which seems to be the case (note the two verbs which follow), then the form should be emended to a Niphal (יִדָּכֶה, yiddakheh). The phrase בַּעֲצוּמָיו (baatsumayv, “into his strong [ones]”), poses interpretive problems. The preposition -בְּ (bet) follows the verb נָפַל (nafal, “fall”), so it may very well carry the nuance “into” here, with “his strong [ones]” then referring to something into which the oppressed individual falls. Since a net is mentioned in the preceding verse as the instrument used to entrap the victim, it is possible that “strong [ones]” here refers metonymically to the wicked man’s nets or traps. Ps 35:8 refers to a man falling into a net (רֶשֶׁת, reshet), as does Ps 141:10 (where the plural of מִכְמָר [mikhmar, “net”] is used). A hunter’s net (רֶשֶׁת), is associated with snares (פַּח [pakh], מֹקְשִׁים, [moqÿshim]) and ropes (חֲבָלִים, khavalim) in Ps 140:5. The final word in the verse (חֶלְכָּאִים (khelkaim, “unfortunate [ones]”) may be an alternate form of חֵלְכָח (khelkhakh, “unfortunate [one]”; see vv. 8, 14). The Qere (marginal reading) divides the form into two words, חֵיל כָּאִים (khel kaim, “army/host of disheartened [ones]”). The three verb forms in v. 10 are singular because the representative “oppressed” individual is the grammatical subject (see the singular עָנִי [’aniy] in v. 9).

17 tn Heb “he says in his heart.” See v. 6.

18 tn Heb “God forgets, he hides his face, he never sees.”

19 sn Rise up, O Lord! The psalmist’s mood changes from lament to petition and confidence.

20 tn Heb “lift up your hand.” Usually the expression “lifting the hand” refers to praying (Pss 28:2; 134:2) or making an oath (Ps 106:26), but here it probably refers to “striking a blow” (see 2 Sam 18:28; 20:21). Note v. 15, where the psalmist asks the Lord to “break the arm of the wicked.” A less likely option is that the psalmist is requesting that the Lord declare by oath his intention to intervene.



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