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Psalms 144:5-15

Context

144:5 O Lord, make the sky sink 1  and come down! 2 

Touch the mountains and make them smolder! 3 

144:6 Hurl lightning bolts and scatter them!

Shoot your arrows and rout them! 4 

144:7 Reach down 5  from above!

Grab me and rescue me from the surging water, 6 

from the power of foreigners, 7 

144:8 who speak lies,

and make false promises. 8 

144:9 O God, I will sing a new song to you!

Accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, I will sing praises to you,

144:10 the one who delivers 9  kings,

and rescued David his servant from a deadly 10  sword.

144:11 Grab me and rescue me from the power of foreigners, 11 

who speak lies,

and make false promises. 12 

144:12 Then 13  our sons will be like plants,

that quickly grow to full size. 14 

Our daughters will be like corner pillars, 15 

carved like those in a palace. 16 

144:13 Our storehouses 17  will be full,

providing all kinds of food. 18 

Our sheep will multiply by the thousands

and fill 19  our pastures. 20 

144:14 Our cattle will be weighted down with produce. 21 

No one will break through our walls,

no one will be taken captive,

and there will be no terrified cries in our city squares. 22 

144:15 How blessed are the people who experience these things! 23 

How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!

1 tn The Hebrew verb נָטָה (natah) can carry the sense “to [cause to] bend; to [cause to] bow down.” For example, Gen 49:15 pictures Issachar as a donkey that “bends” its shoulder or back under a burden. Here the Lord causes the sky, pictured as a dome or vault, to sink down as he descends in the storm. See Ps 18:9.

2 tn Heb “so you might come down.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) conjunctive indicates purpose after the preceding imperative. The same type of construction is utilized in v. 6.

3 tn Heb “so they might smolder.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) conjunctive indicates purpose after the preceding imperative.

4 sn Arrows and lightning bolts are associated in other texts (see Pss 18:14; 77:17-18; Zech 9:14), as well as in ancient Near Eastern art (see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” [Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983], 187).

5 tn Heb “stretch out your hands.”

6 tn Heb “mighty waters.” The waters of the sea symbolize the psalmist’s powerful foreign enemies, as well as the realm of death they represent (see the next line and Ps 18:16-17).

7 tn Heb “from the hand of the sons of foreignness.”

8 tn Heb “who [with] their mouth speak falsehood, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.” The reference to the “right hand” is probably a metonymy for an oath. When making an oath, one would raise the hand as a solemn gesture. See Exod 6:8; Num 14:30; Deut 32:40. The figure thus represents the making of false oaths (false promises).

9 tn Heb “grants deliverance to.”

10 tn Heb “harmful.”

11 tn Heb “from the hand of the sons of foreignness.”

12 tn Heb “who [with] their mouth speak falsehood, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.” See v. 8 where the same expression occurs.

13 tn Some consider אֲשֶׁר (’asher) problematic, but here it probably indicates the anticipated consequence of the preceding request. (For other examples of אֲשֶׁר indicating purpose/result, see BDB 83 s.v. and HALOT 99 s.v.) If the psalmist – who appears to be a Davidic king preparing to fight a battle (see vv. 10-11) – is victorious, the whole nation will be spared invasion and defeat (see v. 14) and can flourish. Some prefer to emend the form to אַשְׁרֵי (“how blessed [are our sons]”). A suffixed noun sometimes follows אַשְׁרֵי (’ashrey; see 1 Kgs 10:8; Prov 20:7), but the presence of a comparative element (see “like plants”) after the suffixed noun makes the proposed reading too awkward syntactically.

14 tn Heb “grown up in their youth.” The translation assumes that “grown up” modifies “plants” (just as “carved” modifies “corner pillars” in the second half of the verse). Another option is to take “grown up” as a predicate in relation to “our sons,” in which case one might translate, “they will be strapping youths.”

15 tn The Hebrew noun occurs only here and in Zech 9:15, where it refers to the corners of an altar.

16 tn Heb “carved [in] the pattern of a palace.”

17 tn The Hebrew noun occurs only here.

18 tn Heb “from kind to kind.” Some prefer to emend the text to מָזוֹן עַל מָזוֹן (mazonal mazon, “food upon food”).

19 tn Heb “they are innumerable.”

20 tn Heb “in outside places.” Here the term refers to pastures and fields (see Job 5:10; Prov 8:26).

21 tn Heb “weighted down.” This probably refers (1) to the cattle having the produce from the harvest placed on their backs to be transported to the storehouses (see BDB 687 s.v. סָבַל). Other options are (2) to take this as reference to the cattle being pregnant (see HALOT 741 s.v. סבל pu) or (3) to their being well-fed or fattened (see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 [WBC], 288).

22 tn Heb “there [will be] no breach, and there [will be] no going out, and there [will be] no crying out in our broad places.”

23 tn Heb “[O] the happiness of the people who [it is] such to them.”



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