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Psalms 143:1-12

Context
Psalm 143 1 

A psalm of David.

143:1 O Lord, hear my prayer!

Pay attention to my plea for help!

Because of your faithfulness and justice, answer me!

143:2 Do not sit in judgment on 2  your servant,

for no one alive is innocent before you. 3 

143:3 Certainly 4  my enemies 5  chase me.

They smash me into the ground. 6 

They force me to live 7  in dark regions, 8 

like those who have been dead for ages.

143:4 My strength leaves me; 9 

I am absolutely shocked. 10 

143:5 I recall the old days; 11 

I meditate on all you have done;

I reflect on your accomplishments. 12 

143:6 I spread my hands out to you in prayer; 13 

my soul thirsts for you in a parched 14  land. 15 

143:7 Answer me quickly, Lord!

My strength is fading. 16 

Do not reject me, 17 

or I will join 18  those descending into the grave. 19 

143:8 May I hear about your loyal love in the morning, 20 

for I trust in you.

Show me the way I should go, 21 

because I long for you. 22 

143:9 Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord!

I run to you for protection. 23 

143:10 Teach me to do what pleases you, 24 

for you are my God.

May your kind presence 25 

lead me 26  into a level land. 27 

143:11 O Lord, for the sake of your reputation, 28  revive me! 29 

Because of your justice, rescue me from trouble! 30 

143:12 As a demonstration of your loyal love, 31  destroy my enemies!

Annihilate 32  all who threaten my life, 33 

for I am your servant.

1 sn Psalm 143. As in the previous psalm, the psalmist laments his persecuted state and asks the Lord to deliver him from his enemies.

2 tn Heb “do not enter into judgment with.”

3 tn Heb “for no one living is innocent before you.”

4 tn Or “for.”

5 tn Heb “an enemy.” The singular is used in a representative sense to describe a typical member of the larger group of enemies (note the plural “enemies” in vv. 9, 12).

6 tn Heb “he crushes on the ground my life.”

7 tn Or “sit.”

8 sn Dark regions refers to Sheol, which the psalmist views as a dark place located deep in the ground (see Ps 88:6).

9 tn Heb “my spirit grows faint.”

10 tn Heb “in my midst my heart is shocked.” For a similar use of the Hitpolel of שָׁמֵם (shamem), see Isa 59:16; 63:5.

11 tn Or “ancient times”; Heb “days from before.”

12 tn Heb “the work of your hands.”

13 tn The words “in prayer” are supplied in the translation to clarify that the psalmist is referring to a posture of prayer.

14 tn Heb “faint” or “weary.” See Ps 63:1.

15 tc Heb “my soul like a faint land for you.” A verb (perhaps “thirsts”) is implied (see Ps 63:1). The translation assumes an emendation of the preposition -כְּ (kÿ, “like”) to -בְּ (bÿ, “in,” see Ps 63:1; cf. NEB “athirst for thee in a thirsty land”). If the MT is retained, one might translate, “my soul thirsts for you, as a parched land does for water/rain” (cf. NIV, NRSV).

16 tn Heb “my spirit is failing.”

17 tn Heb “do not hide your face from me.” The idiom “hide the face” (1) can mean “ignore” (see Pss 10:11; 13:1; 51:9) or (2) can carry the stronger idea of “reject” (see Pss 30:7; 88:14).

18 tn Heb “I will be equal with.”

19 tn Heb “the pit.” The Hebrew noun בּוֹר (bor, “pit; cistern”) is sometimes used of the grave and/or the realm of the dead. See Ps 28:1.

20 tn Heb “cause me to hear in the morning your loyal love.” Here “loyal love” probably stands metonymically for an oracle of assurance promising God’s intervention as an expression of his loyal love.

sn The morning is sometimes viewed as the time of divine intervention (see Pss 30:5; 59:16; 90:14).

21 sn The way probably refers here to God’s moral and ethical standards and requirements (see v. 10).

22 tn Heb “for to you I lift up my life.” The Hebrew expression נָאָשׂ נֶפֶשׁ (naas nefesh, “to lift up [one’s] life”) means “to desire; to long for” (see Deut 24:15; Prov 19:18; Jer 22:27; 44:14; Hos 4:8, as well as H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, 16).

23 tn Heb “to you I cover,” which makes no sense. The translation assumes an emendation to נַסְתִּי (nastiy, “I flee,” a Qal perfect, first singular form from נוּס, nos). Confusion of kaf (כ) and nun (נ) is attested elsewhere (see P. K. McCarter, Textual Criticism [GBS], 48). The collocation of נוּס (“flee”) with אֶל (’el, “to”) is well-attested.

24 tn Or “your will.” See Ps 40:8.

25 tn Heb “your good spirit.” God’s “spirit” may refer here to his presence (see the note on the word “presence” in Ps 139:7) or to his personal Spirit (see Ps 51:10).

26 tn The prefixed verbal form is taken as a jussive. Taking the statement as a prayer fits well with the petitionary tone of vv. 7-10a.

27 sn A level land (where one can walk free of obstacles) here symbolizes divine blessing and protection. See Pss 26:12 and 27:11 for similar imagery.

28 tn Heb “name,” which here stands metonymically for God’s reputation.

29 tn The imperfect verbal forms in vv. 11-12a are understood as expressing the psalmist’s desire. Note the petitionary tone of vv. 7-10a.

30 tn Heb “by your justice bring out my life from trouble.”

31 tn Heb “in [or “by”] your faithfulness.”

32 tn The perfect with vav (ו) consecutive carries on the mood of the preceding imperfect.

33 tn Heb “all the enemies of my life.”



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