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Psalms 140:2-5


140:2 who plan ways to harm me. 1 

All day long they stir up conflict. 2 

140:3 Their tongues wound like a serpent; 3 

a viper’s 4  venom is behind 5  their lips. (Selah)

140:4 O Lord, shelter me from the power 6  of the wicked!

Protect me from violent men,

who plan to knock me over. 7 

140:5 Proud men hide a snare for me;

evil men 8  spread a net by the path;

they set traps for me. (Selah)

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

2 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.

3 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.”

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

5 tn Heb “under.”

6 tn Heb “hands.”

7 tn Heb “to push down my steps.”

8 tn Heb “and ropes,” but many prefer to revocalize the noun as a participle (חֹבְלִים, khovÿlim) from the verb חָבַל (khaval, “act corruptly”).

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