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Psalms 139:7-12

Context

139:7 Where can I go to escape your spirit?

Where can I flee to escape your presence? 1 

139:8 If I were to ascend 2  to heaven, you would be there.

If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be. 3 

139:9 If I were to fly away 4  on the wings of the dawn, 5 

and settle down on the other side 6  of the sea,

139:10 even there your hand would guide me,

your right hand would grab hold of me.

139:11 If I were to say, “Certainly the darkness will cover me, 7 

and the light will turn to night all around me,” 8 

139:12 even the darkness is not too dark for you to see, 9 

and the night is as bright as 10  day;

darkness and light are the same to you. 11 

1 tn Heb “Where can I go from your spirit, and where from your face can I flee?” God’s “spirit” may refer here (1) to his presence (note the parallel term, “your face,” and see Ps 104:29-30, where God’s “face” is his presence and his “spirit” is the life-giving breath he imparts) or (2) to his personal Spirit (see Ps 51:10).

2 tn The Hebrew verb סָלַק (salaq, “to ascend”) occurs only here in the OT, but the word is well-attested in Aramaic literature from different time periods and displays a wide semantic range (see DNWSI 2:788-90).

3 tn Heb “look, you.”

4 tn Heb “rise up.”

5 sn On the wings of the dawn. This personification of the “dawn” may find its roots in mythological traditions about the god Shachar, whose birth is described in an Ugaritic myth (see G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 126) and who is mentioned in Isa 14:12 as the father of Helel.

6 tn Heb “at the end.”

7 tn The Hebrew verb שׁוּף (shuf), which means “to crush; to wound,” in Gen 3:15 and Job 9:17, is problematic here. For a discussion of attempts to relate the verb to Arabic roots, see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 251. Many emend the form to יְשׂוּכֵּנִי (yesukkeniy), from the root שׂכך (“to cover,” an alternate form of סכך), a reading assumed in the present translation.

8 tn Heb “and night, light, around me.”

9 tn The words “to see” are supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.

10 tn Heb “shines like.”

11 tn Heb “like darkness, like light.”



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