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Psalms 1:1-6

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 

1:2 Instead 10  he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; 11 

he meditates on 12  his commands 13  day and night.

1:3 He is like 14  a tree planted by flowing streams; 15 

it 16  yields 17  its fruit at the proper time, 18 

and its leaves never fall off. 19 

He succeeds in everything he attempts. 20 

1:4 Not so with the wicked!

Instead 21  they are like wind-driven chaff. 22 

1:5 For this reason 23  the wicked cannot withstand 24  judgment, 25 

nor can sinners join the assembly of the godly. 26 

1:6 Certainly 27  the Lord guards the way of the godly, 28 

but the way of the wicked ends in destruction. 29 

Psalms 37:1-40

Context
Psalm 37 30 

By David.

37:1 Do not fret 31  when wicked men seem to succeed! 32 

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 

37:4 Then you will take delight in the Lord, 35 

and he will answer your prayers. 36 

37:5 Commit your future to the Lord! 37 

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 

37:7 Wait patiently for the Lord! 40 

Wait confidently 41  for him!

Do not fret over the apparent success of a sinner, 42 

a man who carries out wicked schemes!

37:8 Do not be angry and frustrated! 43 

Do not fret! That only leads to trouble!

37:9 Wicked men 44  will be wiped out, 45 

but those who rely on the Lord are the ones who will possess the land. 46 

37:10 Evil men will soon disappear; 47 

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 

37:12 Evil men plot against the godly 50 

and viciously attack them. 51 

37:13 The Lord laughs in disgust 52  at them,

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 

37:15 Their swords will pierce 56  their own hearts,

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 

37:17 for evil men will lose their power, 58 

but the Lord sustains 59  the godly.

37:18 The Lord watches over the innocent day by day 60 

and they possess a permanent inheritance. 61 

37:19 They will not be ashamed when hard times come; 62 

when famine comes they will have enough to eat. 63 

37:20 But 64  evil men will die;

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 

37:22 Surely 68  those favored by the Lord 69  will possess the land,

but those rejected 70  by him will be wiped out. 71 

37:23 The Lord grants success to the one

whose behavior he finds commendable. 72 

37:24 Even if 73  he trips, he will not fall headlong, 74 

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,

or his children 76  forced to search for food. 77 

37:26 All day long he shows compassion and lends to others, 78 

and his children 79  are blessed.

37:27 Turn away from evil! Do what is right! 80 

Then you will enjoy lasting security. 81 

37:28 For the Lord promotes 82  justice,

and never abandons 83  his faithful followers.

They are permanently secure, 84 

but the children 85  of evil men are wiped out. 86 

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 

37:31 The law of their God controls their thinking; 88 

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 

37:34 Rely 92  on the Lord! Obey his commands! 93 

Then he will permit you 94  to possess the land;

you will see the demise of evil men. 95 

37:35 I have seen ruthless evil men 96 

growing in influence, like a green tree grows in its native soil. 97 

37:36 But then one passes by, and suddenly they have disappeared! 98 

I looked for them, but they could not be found.

37:37 Take note of the one who has integrity! Observe the godly! 99 

For the one who promotes peace has a future. 100 

37:38 Sinful rebels are totally destroyed; 101 

evil men have no future. 102 

37:39 But the Lord delivers the godly; 103 

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 (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 Here the Hebrew expression כִּי־אִם (ki-im, “instead”) introduces a contrast between the sinful behavior depicted in v. 1 and the godly lifestyle described in v. 2.

11 tn Heb “his delight [is] in the law of the Lord.” In light of the following line, which focuses on studying the Lord’s law, one might translate, “he finds pleasure in studying the Lord’s commands.” However, even if one translates the line this way, it is important to recognize that mere study and intellectual awareness are not ultimately what bring divine favor. Study of the law is metonymic here for the correct attitudes and behavior that should result from an awareness of and commitment to God’s moral will; thus “obeying” has been used in the translation rather than “studying.”

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.”

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

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.”

21 tn Here the Hebrew expression כִּי־אִם (ki-im, “instead,” cf. v. 2) introduces a contrast between the prosperity of the godly depicted in v. 3 and the destiny of the wicked described in v. 4.

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 Lord knows the way of the righteous.” To “know a way” means, in its most basic sense, “to recognize/acknowledge a pathway, route, or prescribed way of life” (see Josh 3:4; Job 21:14; Ps 67:2; Isa 42:16; Jer 5:4-5). Here it could refer to the Lord recognizing the behavior of the godly and, by metonymy, rewarding their godliness with security and prosperity (resulting in the translation, “the Lord rewards the behavior of the godly”). The present translation takes the verb in the sense of “mark out” (cf. Job 23:10), which metonymically could mean “watch over, protect, guard.” In this case the “way of the godly” is not their behavior, but their course of life or destiny; a translation reflecting this would be “the Lord protects the lives of the godly” or “the Lord watches over the destiny of the godly” (cf. NEB, NIV, NRSV). The Hebrew active participle יוֹדֵעַ (yodea’, “knows”) has here a characteristic durative force.

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.

32 tn Heb “over sinners.” The context indicates that the psalmist has in mind the apparent power and success of sinners. See v. 7b.

33 tn Heb “like green vegetation.”

34 tn Heb “tend integrity.” The verb רָעָה (raah, “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.

35 tn Following the imperatives of v. 3 the prefixed verbal forms with vav (ו) in v. 4 indicate result. Faith and obedience (v. 3) will bring divine blessing (v. 4).

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 Lord.” The noun “way” may refer here to one’s activities or course of life.

38 tn Heb “he will act.” Verse 6 explains what is meant; the Lord will vindicate those who trust in him.

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 Lord!”

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!”

44 tn Heb “for evil men.” The conjunction כִּי (ki, “for”) relates to the exhortations in v. 8; there is no reason to be frustrated, for the evildoers will be punished in due time.

45 tn Or “cut off, removed.”

46 tn Heb “and those who wait on the Lord, they will possess the land.”

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.

49 tn Heb “and they will take delight in (see v. 4) abundance of peace.”

50 tn Or “innocent.” The singular is used here in a representative sense; the typical evildoer and the typical godly individual are in view.

51 tn Heb “and gnashes at him with his teeth” (see Ps 35:16). The language may picture the evil men as wild animals. The active participles in v. 12 are used for purposes of dramatic description.

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.

53 tn Heb “for he sees that his day is coming.” As the following context makes clear (vv. 15, 17, 19-20), “his day” refers to the time when God will destroy evildoers.

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 Lord knows the days of the innocent ones.” He “knows” their days in the sense that he is intimately aware of and involved in their daily struggles. He meets their needs and sustains them.

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.”

64 tn Or “for,” but Hebrew כי in this case would have to extend all the way back to v. 17a. Another option is to understand the particle as asseverative, “surely” (see v. 22).

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 Lord’s enemies being consumed in smoke, supports this reading, which assumes confusion of the Hebrew letters resh (ר) and dalet (ד) at the end of the first word in the sequence.

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.

69 tn Heb “those blessed by him.” The pronoun “him” must refer to the Lord (see vv. 20, 23), so the referent has been specified in the translation for clarity.

70 tn Heb “cursed.”

71 tn Or “cut off”; or “removed” (see v. 9).

72 tn Heb “from the Lord the steps of a man are established, and in his way he delights.” The second line qualifies the first. The man whose behavior is commendable in God’s sight is the one whose ways are established by God. Another option is that the second line refers to the godly man delighting in God’s “way,” namely the lifestyle which he prescribes for men. In this case one might translate, “The Lord grants success to the one who desires to obey his commands.”

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.”

75 tn The active participle indicates this is characteristically true. See v. 17.

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.”

80 tn Or “Do good!” The imperatives are singular (see v. 1).

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 Lord’s commitment to principles of justice causes him to actively promote these principles as he governs the world. The active participle describes characteristic behavior.

83 tn The imperfect verbal form draws attention to this generalizing statement.

84 tn Or “protected forever.”

85 tn Or “offspring”; Heb “seed.”

86 tn Or “cut off”; or “removed.” The perfect verbal forms in v. 28b state general truths.

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.

89 tn Heb “his.” The pronoun has been translated as plural to agree with the representative or typical “godly” in v. 30.

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 Lord does not abandon him into his hand or condemn him when he is judged.” The imperfects draw attention to the Lord’s characteristic behavior in this regard.

92 tn Or “wait.”

93 tn Heb “keep his way.” The Lord’s “way” refers here to the “conduct required” by the Lord. In Ps 25 the Lord’s “ways” are associated with his covenantal demands (see vv. 4, 9-10). See also Ps 119:3 (cf. vv. 1, 4), as well as Deut 8:6; 10:12; 11:22; 19:9; 26:17; 28:9; 30:16.

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 (mitareh) 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.”

100 tn Heb “for [there is] an end for a man of peace.” Some interpret אַחֲרִית (’akharit, “end”) as referring to offspring (see the next verse and Ps 109:13; cf. NEB, NRSV).

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 Lord.”

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.



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