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Psalms 121:3-8

Context

121:3 May he not allow your foot to slip!

May your protector 1  not sleep! 2 

121:4 Look! Israel’s protector 3 

does not sleep or slumber!

121:5 The Lord is your protector;

the Lord is the shade at your right hand.

121:6 The sun will not harm you by day,

or the moon by night. 4 

121:7 The Lord will protect you from all harm;

he will protect your life.

121:8 The Lord will protect you in all you do, 5 

now and forevermore.

1 tn Heb “the one who guards you.”

2 tn The prefixed verbal forms following the negative particle אל appear to be jussives. As noted above, if they are taken as true jussives of prayer, then the speaker in v. 3 would appear to be distinct from both the speaker in vv. 1-2 and the speaker in vv. 4-8. However, according to GKC 322 §109.e), the jussives are used rhetorically here “to express the conviction that something cannot or should not happen.” In this case one should probably translate, “he will not allow your foot to slip, your protector will not sleep,” and understand just one speaker in vv. 4-8.

3 tn Heb “the one who guards Israel.”

4 sn One hardly thinks of the moon’s rays as being physically harmful, like those of the sun. The reference to the moon may simply lend poetic balance to the verse, but it is likely that the verse reflects an ancient, primitive belief that the moon could have an adverse effect on the mind (note the English expression “moonstruck,” which reflects such a belief). Another possibility is that the sun and moon stand by metonymy for harmful forces characteristic of the day and night, respectively.

5 tn Heb “your going out and your coming in.”



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