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Psalms 12:5-7

Context

12:5 “Because of the violence done to the oppressed, 1 

because of the painful cries 2  of the needy,

I will spring into action,” 3  says the Lord.

“I will provide the safety they so desperately desire.” 4 

12:6 The Lord’s words are absolutely reliable. 5 

They are as untainted as silver purified in a furnace on the ground,

where it is thoroughly refined. 6 

12:7 You, Lord, will protect them; 7 

you will continually shelter each one from these evil people, 8 

Psalms 138:2-3

Context

138:2 I will bow down toward your holy temple,

and give thanks to your name,

because of your loyal love and faithfulness,

for you have exalted your promise above the entire sky. 9 

138:3 When 10  I cried out for help, you answered me.

You made me bold and energized me. 11 

1 tn The term translated “oppressed” is an objective genitive; the oppressed are the recipients/victims of violence.

2 tn Elsewhere in the psalms this noun is used of the painful groans of prisoners awaiting death (79:11; 102:20). The related verb is used of the painful groaning of those wounded in combat (Jer 51:52; Ezek 26:15) and of the mournful sighing of those in grief (Ezek 9:4; 24:17).

3 tn Heb “I will rise up.”

4 tn Heb “I will place in deliverance, he pants for it.” The final two words in Hebrew (יָפִיחַ לוֹ, yafiakh lo) comprise an asyndetic relative clause, “the one who pants for it.” “The one who pants” is the object of the verb “place” and the antecedent of the pronominal suffix (in the phrase “for it”) is “deliverance.” Another option is to translate, “I will place in deliverance the witness for him,” repointing יָפִיחַ (a Hiphil imperfect from פּוּחַ, puakh, “pant”) as יָפֵחַ (yafeakh), a noun meaning “witness.” In this case the Lord would be promising protection to those who have the courage to support the oppressed in the court of law. However, the first part of the verse focuses on the oppressed, not their advocates.

5 tn Heb “the words of the Lord are pure words,” i.e., untainted by falsehood or deception (in contrast to the flattery of the evildoers, v. 2).

6 tn Heb “[like] silver purified in a furnace of [i.e., “on”] the ground, refined seven times.” The singular participle מְזֻקָּק (mÿzuqqaq, “refined”) modifies “silver.” The number seven is used rhetorically to express the thorough nature of the action. For other rhetorical/figurative uses of שִׁבְעָתָיִם (shivatayim, “seven times”), see Gen 4:15, 24; Ps 79:12; Prov 6:31; Isa 30:26.

7 tn The third person plural pronominal suffix on the verb is masculine, referring back to the “oppressed” and “needy” in v. 5 (both of those nouns are plural in form), suggesting that the verb means “protect” here. The suffix does not refer to אִמֲרוֹת (’imarot, “words”) in v. 6, because that term is feminine gender.

8 tn Heb “you will protect him from this generation permanently.” The third masculine singular suffix on the verb “protect” is probably used in a distributive sense, referring to each one within the group mentioned previously (the oppressed/needy, referred to as “them” in the preceding line). On this grammatical point see GKC 396 §123.f (where the present text is not cited). (Some Hebrew mss and ancient textual witnesses read “us,” both here and in the preceding line.) The noun דוֹר (dor, “generation”) refers here to the psalmist’s contemporaries, who were characterized by deceit and arrogance (see vv. 1-2). See BDB 189-90 s.v. for other examples where “generation” refers to a class of people.

9 tc The MT reads, “for you have made great over all your name your word.” If retained, this must mean that God's mighty intervention, in fulfillment of his word of promise, surpassed anything he had done prior to this. However, the statement is odd and several emendations have been proposed. Some read, “for you have exalted over everything your name and your word,” while others suggest, “for you have exalted over all the heavens your name and your word.” The translation assumes an emendation of “your name” to “your heavens” (a construction that appears in Pss 8:3 and 144:5). The point is that God has been faithful to his promise and the reliability of that promise is apparent to all. For a fuller discussion of these options, see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 244.

10 tn Heb “in the day.”

11 tn Heb “you made me bold in my soul [with] strength.”



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