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Psalms 140:1-3

Context
Psalm 140 1 

For the music director; a psalm of David.

140:1 O Lord, rescue me from wicked men! 2 

Protect me from violent men, 3 

140:2 who plan ways to harm me. 4 

All day long they stir up conflict. 5 

140:3 Their tongues wound like a serpent; 6 

a viper’s 7  venom is behind 8  their lips. (Selah)

1 sn Psalm 140. The psalmist asks God to deliver him from his deadly enemies, calls judgment down upon them, and affirms his confidence in God’s justice.

2 tn Heb “from a wicked man.” The Hebrew uses the singular in a representative or collective sense (note the plural verbs in v. 2).

3 tn Heb “a man of violent acts.” The Hebrew uses the singular in a representative or collective sense (note the plural verbs in v. 2).

4 tn Heb “they devise wicked [plans] in [their] mind.”

5 tc Heb “they attack [for] war.” Some revocalize the verb (which is a Qal imperfect from גּוּר, gur, “to attack”) as יְגָרוּ (yÿgaru), a Piel imperfect from גָרָה (garah, “stir up strife”). This is followed in the present translation.

6 tn Heb “they sharpen their tongue like a serpent.” Ps 64:3 reads, “they sharpen their tongues like sword.” Perhaps Ps 140:3 uses a mixed metaphor, the point being that “they sharpen their tongues [like a sword],” as it were, so that when they speak, their words wound like a serpent’s bite. Another option is that the language refers to the pointed or forked nature of a serpent’s tongue, which is viewed metaphorically as “sharpened.”

7 tn The Hebrew term is used only here in the OT.

8 tn Heb “under.”



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