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Psalms 141:4-5

Context

141:4 Do not let me have evil desires, 1 

or participate in sinful activities

with men who behave wickedly. 2 

I will not eat their delicacies. 3 

141:5 May the godly strike me in love and correct me!

May my head not refuse 4  choice oil! 5 

Indeed, my prayer is a witness against their evil deeds. 6 

1 tn Heb “do not turn my heart toward an evil thing.”

2 tn Heb “to act sinfully in practices in wickedness with men, doers of evil.”

3 sn Their delicacies. This probably refers to the enjoyment that a sinful lifestyle appears to offer.

4 tn The form יָנִי (yaniy) appears to be derived from the verbal root נוּא (nu’). Another option is to emend the form to יְנָא (yÿna’), a Piel from נָאָה (naah), and translate “may choice oil not adorn my head” (see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 [WBC], 271). In this case, choice oil, like delicacies in v. 4, symbolize the pleasures of sin.

5 sn May my head not refuse choice oil. The psalmist compares the constructive criticism of the godly (see the previous line) to having refreshing olive oil poured over one’s head.

6 tc Heb “for still, and my prayer [is] against their evil deeds.” The syntax of the Hebrew text is difficult; the sequence -כִּי־עוֹד וּ (kiy-od u-, “for still and”) occurs only here. The translation assumes an emendation to כִּי עֵד תְפלָּתִי (“indeed a witness [is] my prayer”). The psalmist’s lament about the evil actions of sinful men (see v. 4) testifies against the wicked in the divine court.



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