or stand in the pathway 7 with sinners,
and its leaves never fall off. 19
He succeeds in everything he attempts. 20
1:4 Not so with the wicked!
nor can sinners join the assembly of the godly. 26
but the way of the wicked ends in destruction. 29
Do not envy evildoers!
37:2 For they will quickly dry up like grass,
and wither away like plants. 33
37:3 Trust in the Lord and do what is right!
Settle in the land and maintain your integrity! 34
and he will answer your prayers. 36
Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf. 38
37:6 He will vindicate you in broad daylight,
and publicly defend your just cause. 39
Wait confidently 41 for him!
Do not fret over the apparent success of a sinner, 42
a man who carries out wicked schemes!
Do not fret! That only leads to trouble!
but those who rely on the Lord are the ones who will possess the land. 46
you will stare at the spot where they once were, but they will be gone. 48
37:11 But the oppressed will possess the land
and enjoy great prosperity. 49
and viciously attack them. 51
for he knows that their day is coming. 53
37:14 Evil men draw their swords
and prepare their bows,
to bring down 54 the oppressed and needy,
and to slaughter those who are godly. 55
and their bows will be broken.
37:16 The little bit that a godly man owns is better than
the wealth of many evil men, 57
but the Lord sustains 59 the godly.
and they possess a permanent inheritance. 61
when famine comes they will have enough to eat. 63
the Lord’s enemies will be incinerated 65 –
they will go up in smoke. 66
37:21 Evil men borrow, but do not repay their debt,
but the godly show compassion and are generous. 67
37:23 The Lord grants success to the one
whose behavior he finds commendable. 72
for the Lord holds 75 his hand.
37:25 I was once young, now I am old.
I have never seen a godly man abandoned,
and his children 79 are blessed.
Then you will enjoy lasting security. 81
and never abandons 83 his faithful followers.
They are permanently secure, 84
37:29 The godly will possess the land
and will dwell in it permanently.
37:30 The godly speak wise words
and promote justice. 87
their 89 feet do not slip.
37:32 Evil men set an ambush for the godly
and try to kill them. 90
37:33 But the Lord does not surrender the godly,
or allow them to be condemned in a court of law. 91
Then he will permit you 94 to possess the land;
you will see the demise of evil men. 95
growing in influence, like a green tree grows in its native soil. 97
I looked for them, but they could not be found.
For the one who promotes peace has a future. 100
evil men have no future. 102
he protects them in times of trouble. 104
37:40 The Lord helps them and rescues them;
he rescues them from evil men and delivers them, 105
for they seek his protection.
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 (rÿsha’im, “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.
11 tn Heb “his delight [is] in the law of the
12 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal form draws attention to the characteristic behavior described here and lends support to the hyperbolic adverbial phrase “day and night.” The verb הָגָה (hagag) means “to recite quietly; to meditate” and refers metonymically to intense study and reflection.
13 tn Or “his law.”
14 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.
15 tn Heb “channels of water.”
16 tn Heb “which.”
18 tn Heb “in its season.”
19 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.
20 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.”
22 tn Heb “[they are] like the chaff which [the] wind blows about.” The Hebrew imperfect verbal form draws attention to the typical nature of the action described.
sn Wind-driven chaff. In contrast to the well-rooted and productive tree described in v. 3, the wicked are like a dried up plant that has no root system and is blown away by the wind. The simile describes the destiny of the wicked (see vv. 5-6).
23 tn Or “Therefore.”
24 tn Heb “arise in,” but the verb is used metonymically here in the sense of “stand”; “endure,” as in 1 Sam 13:14 and Job 8:15. The negated Hebrew imperfect verbal form is here taken as indicating incapability or lack of potential, though one could understand the verb form as indicating what is typical (“do not withstand”) or what will happen (“will not withstand”).
25 tn Heb “the judgment.” The article indicates a judgment that is definite in the mind of the speaker. In the immediate context this probably does not refer to the “final judgment” described in later biblical revelation, but to a temporal/historical judgment which the author anticipates. Periodically during the OT period, God would come in judgment, removing the wicked from the scene, while preserving a godly remnant (see Gen 6-9; Ps 37; Hab 3).
26 tn Heb “and sinners in the assembly (or “circle”) of [the] godly.” The negative particle and verb from the preceding line are assumed by ellipsis here (“will not arise/stand”).
sn The assembly of the godly is insulated from divine judgment (Ps 37:12-17, 28-29).
27 tn The translation understands כי as asseverative. Another option is to translate “for,” understanding v. 6 as a theological explanation for vv. 3-5, which contrasts the respective destinies of the godly and the wicked.
28 tn Heb “the
29 tn Heb “but the way of the wicked perishes.” The “way of the wicked” may refer to their course of life (Ps 146:9; Prov 4:19; Jer 12:1) or their sinful behavior (Prov 12:26; 15:9). The Hebrew imperfect verbal form probably describes here what typically happens, though one could take the form as indicating what will happen (“will perish”).
30 sn Psalm 37. The psalmist urges his audience not to envy the wicked, but to trust in and obey the Lord, for he will destroy sinners and preserve the godly. When the smoke of judgment clears, the wicked will be gone, but the godly will remain and inherit God’s promised blessings. The psalm is an acrostic; every other verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
31 tn The verb form is singular (see vv. 3-10 as well, where the second person verbs and pronouns are also singular). The psalmist’s exhortation has a wisdom flavor to it; it is personalized for each member of his audience.
33 tn Heb “like green vegetation.”
34 tn Heb “tend integrity.” The verb רָעָה (ra’ah, “tend, shepherd”) is probably used here in the sense of “watch over, guard.” The noun אֱמוּנָה (’emunah, “faithfulness, honesty, integrity”) is understood as the direct object of the verb, though it could be taken as an adverbial accusative, “[feed] securely,” if the audience is likened to a flock of sheep.
36 tn Or “and he will give you what you desire most.” Heb “and he will grant to you the requests of your heart.”
37 tn Heb “roll your way upon the
39 tn Heb “and he will bring out like light your vindication, and your just cause like noonday.”
40 tn Heb “Be quiet before the
41 tc The Hebrew text has וְהִתְחוֹלֵל (vÿhitkholel, Hitpolel of חִיל, khil, “writhe with fear, suffer”) but this idea fits awkwardly here. The text should be changed to וְתוֹחֵל (vÿtokhel; Hiphil of יָחַל, yakhal, “wait”). It appears that the Hebrew text is the product of dittography: (1) the initial וה (vav-he) is accidentally repeated from the preceding word (יְהוָה, yÿhvah) and (2) the final lamed (ל) is accidentally repeated (note the preceding lamed and the initial lamed on the following form, לו).
42 tn Heb “over one who causes his way to be successful.”
43 tn Heb “Refrain from anger! Abandon rage!”
45 tn Or “cut off, removed.”
46 tn Heb “and those who wait on the
47 tn Heb “and yet, a little, there will be no wicked [one].”
48 tn Heb “and you will carefully look upon his place, but he will not be [there].” The singular is used here in a representative sense; the typical evildoer is in view.
50 tn Or “innocent.” The singular is used here in a representative sense; the typical evildoer and the typical godly individual are in view.
52 tn Heb “laughs.” As the next line indicates, this refers to derisive laughter (see 2:4). The Hebrew imperfect verbal form describes the action from the perspective of an eye-witness who is watching the divine response as it unfolds before his eyes.
54 tn Heb “to cause to fall.”
55 tn Heb “the upright in way,” i.e., those who lead godly lives.
56 tn Heb “enter into.”
57 tn Heb “Better [is] a little to the godly one than the wealth of many evil ones.” The following verses explain why this is true. Though a godly individual may seem to have only meager possessions, he always has what he needs and will eventually possess the land. The wicked may prosper for a brief time, but will eventually be destroyed by divine judgment and lose everything.
58 tn Heb “for the arms of the evil ones will be broken.”
59 tn The active participle here indicates this is characteristically true.
60 tn Heb “the
61 tn Heb “and their inheritance is forever.”
62 tn Heb “in a time of trouble.”
63 tn Heb “in days of famine they will be satisfied.”
65 tc The meaning of the MT (כִּיקַר כָּרִים [kiqar karim], “like what is precious among the pastures/rams”) is uncertain. One possibility is to take the noun כָּרִים as “pastures” and interpret “what is precious” as referring to flowers that blossom but then quickly disappear (see v. 2 and BDB 430 s.v. יָקָר 3). If כָּרִים is taken as “rams,” then “what is precious” might refer to the choicest portions of rams. The present translation follows a reading in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpPs37), כיקוד כורם (“like the burning of an oven”). The next line, which pictures the
66 tn Heb “they perish in smoke, they perish.” In addition to repeating the verb for emphasis, the psalmist uses the perfect form of the verb to picture the enemies’ demise as if it had already taken place. In this way he draws attention to the certitude of their judgment.
67 tn Heb “an evil [man] borrows and does not repay; but a godly [man] is gracious and gives.” The singular forms are used in a representative sense; the typical evildoer and godly individual are in view. The three active participles and one imperfect (“repay”) draw attention to the characteristic behavior of the two types.
68 tn The particle כִּי is best understood as asseverative or emphatic here.
70 tn Heb “cursed.”
72 tn Heb “from the
73 tn Other translation options for כִּי in this context are “when” (so NASB) or “though” (so NEB, NIV, NRSV).
74 tn Heb “be hurled down.”
76 tn Or “offspring”; Heb “seed.”
77 tn Heb “or his offspring searching for food.” The expression “search for food” also appears in Lam 1:11, where Jerusalem’s refugees are forced to search for food and to trade their valuable possessions for something to eat.
78 tn The active participles describe characteristic behavior.
79 tn Or “offspring”; Heb “seed.”
81 tn Heb “and dwell permanently.” The imperative with vav (ו) is best taken here as a result clause after the preceding imperatives.
82 tn Heb “loves.” The verb “loves” is here metonymic; the
83 tn The imperfect verbal form draws attention to this generalizing statement.
84 tn Or “protected forever.”
85 tn Or “offspring”; Heb “seed.”
87 tn Heb “The mouth of the godly [one] utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.” The singular form is used in a representative sense; the typical godly individual is in view. The imperfect verbal forms draw attention to the characteristic behavior of the godly.
88 tn Heb “the law of his God [is] in his heart.” The “heart” is here the seat of one’s thoughts and motives.
90 tn Heb “an evil [one] watches the godly [one] and seeks to kill him.” The singular forms are used in a representative sense; the typical evildoer and godly individual are in view. The active participles describe characteristic behavior.
91 tn Heb “the
92 tn Or “wait.”
93 tn Heb “keep his way.” The
94 tn Heb “and he will lift you up.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) is best taken here as a result clause following the imperatives in the preceding lines.
95 tn Heb “when evil men are cut off you will see.”
96 tn The Hebrew uses the representative singular again here.
97 tn Heb “being exposed [?] like a native, luxuriant.” The Hebrew form מִתְעָרֶה (mit’areh) appears to be a Hitpael participle from עָרָה (’arah, “be exposed”), but this makes no sense in this context. Perhaps the form is a dialectal variant of מִתְעָלָה (“giving oneself an air of importance”; see Jer 51:3), from עָלָה (’alah, “go up”; see P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 [WBC], 296). The noun אֶזְרָח (’ezrakh, “native, full citizen”) refers elsewhere to people, but here, where it is collocated with “luxuriant, green,” it probably refers to a tree growing in native soil.
98 tn Heb “and he passes by and, look, he is not [there].” The subject of the verb “passes by” is probably indefinite, referring to any passerby. Some prefer to change the form to first person, “and I passed by” (cf. NEB; note the first person verbal forms in preceding verse and in the following line).
99 tn Or “upright.”
101 tn Or “destroyed together.” In this case the psalmist pictures judgment sweeping them away as a group.
102 tn Heb “the end of evil men is cut off.” As in v. 37, some interpret אַחֲרִית (’akharit, “end”) as referring to offspring (see Ps 109:13). The perfect verbal forms in v. 38 probably express general truths. Another option is that they are used emphatically to state with certitude that the demise of the wicked is as good as done.
103 tn Heb “and the deliverance of the godly [ones] [is] from the
104 tn Heb “[he is] their place of refuge in a time of trouble.”
105 tn The prefixed verbal forms with vav (ו) consecutive carry on the generalizing tone of the preceding verse.