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Psalms 12:3-4

Context

12:3 May the Lord cut off 1  all flattering lips,

and the tongue that boasts! 2 

12:4 They say, 3  “We speak persuasively; 4 

we know how to flatter and boast. 5 

Who is our master?” 6 

1 tn The verb form is a jussive, indicating that the statement is imprecatory (“May the Lord cut off”), not indicative (“The Lord will cut off”; see also Ps 109:15 and Mal 2:12). The psalmist appeals to God to destroy the wicked, rather than simply stating his confidence that he will. In this way he seeks to activate divine judgment by appealing to God’s just character. For an example of the power of such a curse, see Judg 9:7-57.

2 tn Heb “a tongue speaking great [things].”

3 tn Heb “which say.” The plural verb after the relative pronoun indicates a plural antecedent for the pronoun, probably “lips” in v. 3.

4 tn Heb “to our tongue we make strong.” The Hiphil of גָבַר (gavar) occurs only here and in Dan 9:27, where it refers to making strong, or confirming, a covenant. Here in Ps 12 the evildoers “make their tongue strong” in the sense that they use their tongue to produce flattering and arrogant words to accomplish their purposes. The preposition -לְ (l) prefixed to “our tongue” may be dittographic.

5 tn Heb “our lips [are] with us.” This odd expression probably means, “our lips are in our power,” in the sense that they say what they want, whether it be flattery or boasting. For other cases where אֵת (’et, “with”) has the sense “in the power of,” see Ps 38:10 and other texts listed by BDB 86 s.v. 3.a.

6 sn The rhetorical question expresses the arrogant attitude of these people. As far as they are concerned, they are answerable to no one for how they speak.



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