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Psalms 1:1

Context

Book 1
(Psalms 1-41)

Psalm 1 1 

1:1 How blessed 2  is the one 3  who does not follow 4  the advice 5  of the wicked, 6 

or stand in the pathway 7  with sinners,

or sit in the assembly 8  of scoffers! 9 

Psalms 1:3

Context

1:3 He is like 10  a tree planted by flowing streams; 11 

it 12  yields 13  its fruit at the proper time, 14 

and its leaves never fall off. 15 

He succeeds in everything he attempts. 16 

Psalms 2:12

Context

2:12 Give sincere homage! 17 

Otherwise he 18  will be angry, 19 

and you will die because of your behavior, 20 

when his anger quickly ignites. 21 

How blessed 22  are all who take shelter in him! 23 

Psalms 34:9

Context

34:9 Remain loyal to 24  the Lord, you chosen people of his, 25 

for his loyal followers 26  lack nothing!

Psalms 65:4

Context

65:4 How blessed 27  is the one whom you choose,

and allow to live in your palace courts. 28 

May we be satisfied with the good things of your house –

your holy palace. 29 

Psalms 84:12

Context

84:12 O Lord who rules over all, 30 

how blessed are those who trust in you! 31 

Psalms 89:15

Context

89:15 How blessed are the people who worship you! 32 

O Lord, they experience your favor. 33 

Psalms 106:3

Context

106:3 How blessed are those who promote justice,

and do what is right all the time!

Psalms 112:1

Context
Psalm 112 34 

112:1 Praise the Lord!

How blessed is the one 35  who obeys 36  the Lord,

who takes great delight in keeping his commands. 37 

Psalms 127:5--128:1

Context

127:5 How blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!

They will not be put to shame 38  when they confront 39  enemies at the city gate.

Psalm 128 40 

A song of ascents. 41 

128:1 How blessed is every one of the Lord’s loyal followers, 42 

each one who keeps his commands! 43 

Psalms 144:15

Context

144:15 How blessed are the people who experience these things! 44 

How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!

1 sn Psalm 1. In this wisdom psalm the author advises his audience to reject the lifestyle of the wicked and to be loyal to God. The psalmist contrasts the destiny of the wicked with that of the righteous, emphasizing that the wicked are eventually destroyed while the godly prosper under the Lord’s protective care.

2 tn The Hebrew noun is an abstract plural. The word often refers metonymically to the happiness that God-given security and prosperity produce (see v. 3; Pss 2:12; 34:9; 41:1; 65:4; 84:12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 127:5; 128:1; 144:15).

3 tn Heb “[Oh] the happiness [of] the man.” Hebrew wisdom literature often assumes and reflects the male-oriented perspective of ancient Israelite society. The principle of the psalm is certainly applicable to all people, regardless of their gender or age. To facilitate modern application, we translate the gender and age specific “man” with the more neutral “one.” (Generic “he” is employed in vv. 2-3). Since the godly man described in the psalm is representative of followers of God (note the plural form צַדִּיקִים [tsadiqim, “righteous, godly”] in vv. 5-6), one could translate the collective singular with the plural “those” both here and in vv. 2-3, where singular pronouns and verbal forms are utilized in the Hebrew text (cf. NRSV). However, here the singular form may emphasize that godly individuals are usually outnumbered by the wicked. Retaining the singular allows the translation to retain this emphasis.

4 tn Heb “walk in.” The three perfect verbal forms in v. 1 refer in this context to characteristic behavior. The sequence “walk–stand–sit” envisions a progression from relatively casual association with the wicked to complete identification with them.

5 tn The Hebrew noun translated “advice” most often refers to the “counsel” or “advice” one receives from others. To “walk in the advice of the wicked” means to allow their evil advice to impact and determine one’s behavior.

6 tn In the psalms the Hebrew term רְשָׁעִים (rÿshaim, “wicked”) describes people who are proud, practical atheists (Ps 10:2, 4, 11) who hate God’s commands, commit sinful deeds, speak lies and slander (Ps 50:16-20), and cheat others (Ps 37:21).

7 tn “Pathway” here refers to the lifestyle of sinners. To “stand in the pathway of/with sinners” means to closely associate with them in their sinful behavior.

8 tn Here the Hebrew term מוֹשַׁב (moshav), although often translated “seat” (cf. NEB, NIV), appears to refer to the whole assembly of evildoers. The word also carries the semantic nuance “assembly” in Ps 107:32, where it is in synonymous parallelism with קָהָל (qahal, “assembly”).

9 tn The Hebrew word refers to arrogant individuals (Prov 21:24) who love conflict (Prov 22:10) and vociferously reject wisdom and correction (Prov 1:22; 9:7-8; 13:1; 15:12). To “sit in the assembly” of such people means to completely identify with them in their proud, sinful plans and behavior.

10 tn The Hebrew perfect verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive here carries the same characteristic force as the imperfect in the preceding verse. According to the psalmist, the one who studies and obeys God’s commands typically prospers.

11 tn Heb “channels of water.”

12 tn Heb “which.”

13 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal forms in v. 3 draw attention to the typical nature of the actions/states they describe.

14 tn Heb “in its season.”

15 tn Or “fade”; “wither.”

sn The author compares the godly individual to a tree that has a rich water supply (planted by flowing streams), develops a strong root system, and is filled with leaves and fruit. The simile suggests that the godly have a continual source of life which in turn produces stability and uninterrupted prosperity.

16 tn Heb “and all which he does prospers”; or “and all which he does he causes to prosper.” (The simile of the tree does not extend to this line.) It is not certain if the Hiphil verbal form (יַצְלִיחַ, yatsliakh) is intransitive-exhibitive (“prospers”) or causative (“causes to prosper”) here. If the verb is intransitive, then כֹּל (kol, “all, everything”) is the subject. If the verb is causative, then the godly individual or the Lord himself is the subject and כֹּל is the object. The wording is reminiscent of Josh 1:8, where the Lord tells Joshua: “This law scroll must not leave your lips! You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper (literally, “cause your way to prosper”) and be successful.”

17 tn Traditionally, “kiss the son” (KJV). But בַּר (bar) is the Aramaic word for “son,” not the Hebrew. For this reason many regard the reading as suspect. Some propose emendations of vv. 11b-12a. One of the more popular proposals is to read בִּרְעָדָה נַשְּׁקוּ לְרַגְלָיו (biradah nashÿqu lÿraslayv, “in trembling kiss his feet”). It makes better sense to understand בַּר (bar) as an adjective meaning “pure” (see Pss 24:4; 73:1 and BDB 141 s.v. בַּר 3) functioning here in an adverbial sense. If read this way, then the syntactical structure of exhortation (imperative followed by adverbial modifier) corresponds to the two preceding lines (see v. 11). The verb נָשַׁק (nashaq, “kiss”) refers metonymically to showing homage (see 1 Sam 10:1; Hos 13:2). The exhortation in v. 12a advocates a genuine expression of allegiance and warns against insincerity. When swearing allegiance, vassal kings would sometimes do so insincerely, with the intent of rebelling when the time was right. The so-called “Vassal Treaties of Esarhaddon” also warn against such an attitude. In this treaty the vassal is told: “If you, as you stand on the soil where this oath [is sworn], swear the oath with your words and lips [only], do not swear with your entire heart, do not transmit it to your sons who will live after this treaty, if you take this curse upon yourselves but do not plan to keep the treaty of Esarhaddon…may your sons and grandsons because of this fear in the future” (see J. B. Pritchard, ed., The Ancient Near East, 2:62).

18 tn Throughout the translation of this verse the third person masculine pronouns refer to the Lord (cf. v. 11).

19 tn The implied subject of the verb is the Lord, mentioned in v. 11. Elsewhere the subject of this verb is consistently the Lord, suggesting it may be a technical term for divine anger. Anger is here used metonymically for judgment, as the following statement makes clear. A Moabite cognate occurs in the Mesha inscription, where it is used of the Moabite god Chemosh’s anger at his people (see J. B. Pritchard, ed., The Ancient Near East, 1:209).

20 tn Heb “and you will perish [in the] way.” The Hebrew word דֶּרֶךְ (derekh, “way”) here refers to their rebellious behavior (not to a pathway, as often understood). It functions syntactically as an adverbial accusative in relation to the verb “perish.”

21 tn Or “burns.” The Lord’s anger is compared here to fire, the most destructive force known in ancient Israel.

22 tn The Hebrew noun is an abstract plural. The word often refers metonymically to the happiness that God-given security and prosperity produce (see Pss 1:1; 34:9; 41:1; 65:4; 84:12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 127:5; 128:1; 144:15).

23 sn Who take shelter in him. “Taking shelter” in the Lord is an idiom for seeking his protection. Seeking his protection presupposes and even demonstrates the subject’s loyalty to the Lord. In the psalms those who “take shelter” in the Lord are contrasted with the wicked and equated with those who love, fear, and serve the Lord (Pss 5:11-12; 31:17-20; 34:21-22).

24 tn Heb “fear.”

25 tn Heb “O holy ones of his.”

26 tn Heb “those who fear him.”

27 tn The Hebrew noun is an abstract plural. The word often refers metonymically to the happiness that God-given security and prosperity produce (see Pss 1:1; 2:12; 34:9; 41:1; 84:12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 127:5; 128:1; 144:15).

28 tn Heb “[whom] you bring near [so that] he might live [in] your courts.”

29 tn Or “temple.”

30 tn Traditionally “Lord of hosts.”

31 tn Heb “[Oh] the happiness [of] the man [who] trusts in you.” Hebrew literature often assumes and reflects the male-oriented perspective of ancient Israelite society. The principle stated here is certainly applicable to all people, regardless of their gender or age. To facilitate modern application, we translate the gender and age specific “man” with the plural “those.” The individual referred to here is representative of all followers of God, as the use of the plural form in v. 12b indicates.

32 tn Heb “who know the shout.” “Shout” here refers to the shouts of the Lord’s worshipers (see Pss 27:6; 33:3; 47:5).

33 tn Heb “in the light of your face they walk.” The idiom “light of your face” probably refers to a smile (see Eccl 8:1), which in turn suggests favor and blessing (see Num 6:25; Pss 4:6; 31:16; 44:3; 67:1; 80:3, 7, 19; Dan 9:17).

34 sn Psalm 112. This wisdom psalm lists some of the benefits of living a godly life. The psalm is an acrostic. After the introductory call to praise, every poetic line (twenty-two in all) begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

35 tn Heb “[Oh] the happiness [of] the man.” Hebrew wisdom literature often assumes and reflects the male-oriented perspective of ancient Israelite society. The individual is representative of a larger group, called the “godly” in vv. 3-4. The principle of the psalm is certainly applicable to all people, regardless of their gender. To facilitate modern application, we translate the gender specific “man” with the more neutral “one.” The generic masculine pronoun is used in the following verses.

36 tn Heb “fears.”

37 tn Heb “in his commands he delights very much.” The words “in keeping” are supplied in the translation for clarification. Taking delight in the law is metonymic here for obeying God’s moral will. See Ps 1:2.

38 tn Being “put to shame” is here metonymic for being defeated, probably in a legal context, as the reference to the city gate suggests. One could be humiliated (Ps 69:12) or deprived of justice (Amos 5:12) at the gate, but with strong sons to defend the family interests this was less likely to happen.

39 tn Heb “speak with.”

40 sn Psalm 128. The psalmist observes that the godly individual has genuine happiness because the Lord rewards such a person with prosperity and numerous children.

41 sn The precise significance of this title, which appears in Pss 120-134, is unclear. Perhaps worshipers recited these psalms when they ascended the road to Jerusalem to celebrate annual religious festivals. For a discussion of their background see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 219-21.

42 tn Heb “every fearer of the Lord.”

43 tn Heb “the one who walks in his ways.”

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



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