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Psalms 17:3-5

Context

17:3 You have scrutinized my inner motives; 1 

you have examined me during the night. 2 

You have carefully evaluated me, but you find no sin.

I am determined I will say nothing sinful. 3 

17:4 As for the actions of people 4 

just as you have commanded,

I have not followed in the footsteps of violent men. 5 

17:5 I carefully obey your commands; 6 

I do not deviate from them. 7 

1 tn Heb “you tested my heart.”

2 tn Heb “you visited [at] night.”

3 tc Heb “you tested me, you do not find, I plan, my mouth will not cross over.” The Hebrew verbal form זַמֹּתִי (zammotiy) is a Qal perfect, first person singular from the root זָמַם (zamam, “plan, plan evil”). Some emend the form to a suffixed form of the noun, זִמָּתִי (zimmatiy, “my plan/evil plan”), and take it as the object of the preceding verb “find.” However, the suffix seems odd, since the psalmist is denying that he has any wrong thoughts. If one takes the form with what precedes, it might make better sense to read זִמּוֹת (zimmot, “evil plans”). However, this emendation leaves an unclear connection with the next line. The present translation maintains the verbal form found in the MT and understands it in a neutral sense, “I have decided” (see Jer 4:28). The words “my mouth will not cross over” (i.e., “transgress, sin”) can then be taken as a noun clause functioning as the object of the verb.

4 tn Heb “with regard to the deeds of man[kind].”

5 tn Heb “by the word of your lips, I, I have watched the paths of the violent” (i.e., “watched” in the sense of “watched for the purpose of avoiding”).

6 tn Heb “my steps stay firm in your tracks.” The infinitive absolute functions here as a finite verb (see GKC 347 §113.gg). God’s “tracks” are his commands, i.e., the moral pathways he has prescribed for the psalmist.

7 tn Heb “my footsteps do not stagger.”



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