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Psalms 32:1-11

Context
Psalm 32 1 

By David; a well-written song. 2 

32:1 How blessed 3  is the one whose rebellious acts are forgiven, 4 

whose sin is pardoned! 5 

32:2 How blessed is the one 6  whose wrongdoing the Lord does not punish, 7 

in whose spirit there is no deceit. 8 

32:3 When I refused to confess my sin, 9 

my whole body wasted away, 10 

while I groaned in pain all day long.

32:4 For day and night you tormented me; 11 

you tried to destroy me 12  in the intense heat 13  of summer. 14  (Selah)

32:5 Then I confessed my sin;

I no longer covered up my wrongdoing.

I said, “I will confess 15  my rebellious acts to the Lord.”

And then you forgave my sins. 16  (Selah)

32:6 For this reason every one of your faithful followers 17  should pray to you

while there is a window of opportunity. 18 

Certainly 19  when the surging water 20  rises,

it will not reach them. 21 

32:7 You are my hiding place;

you protect me from distress.

You surround me with shouts of joy from those celebrating deliverance. 22  (Selah)

32:8 I will instruct and teach you 23  about how you should live. 24 

I will advise you as I look you in the eye. 25 

32:9 Do not be 26  like an unintelligent horse or mule, 27 

which will not obey you

unless they are controlled by a bridle and bit. 28 

32:10 An evil person suffers much pain, 29 

but the Lord’s faithfulness overwhelms the one who trusts in him. 30 

32:11 Rejoice in the Lord and be happy, you who are godly!

Shout for joy, all you who are morally upright! 31 

Psalms 51:1-19

Context
Psalm 51 32 

For the music director; a psalm of David, written when Nathan the prophet confronted him after David’s affair with Bathsheba. 33 

51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of 34  your loyal love!

Because of 35  your great compassion, wipe away my rebellious acts! 36 

51:2 Wash away my wrongdoing! 37 

Cleanse me of my sin! 38 

51:3 For I am aware of 39  my rebellious acts;

I am forever conscious of my sin. 40 

51:4 Against you – you above all 41  – I have sinned;

I have done what is evil in your sight.

So 42  you are just when you confront me; 43 

you are right when you condemn me. 44 

51:5 Look, I was guilty of sin from birth,

a sinner the moment my mother conceived me. 45 

51:6 Look, 46  you desire 47  integrity in the inner man; 48 

you want me to possess wisdom. 49 

51:7 Sprinkle me 50  with water 51  and I will be pure; 52 

wash me 53  and I will be whiter than snow. 54 

51:8 Grant me the ultimate joy of being forgiven! 55 

May the bones 56  you crushed rejoice! 57 

51:9 Hide your face 58  from my sins!

Wipe away 59  all my guilt!

51:10 Create for me a pure heart, O God! 60 

Renew a resolute spirit within me! 61 

51:11 Do not reject me! 62 

Do not take your Holy Spirit 63  away from me! 64 

51:12 Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance!

Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey! 65 

51:13 Then I will teach 66  rebels your merciful ways, 67 

and sinners will turn 68  to you.

51:14 Rescue me from the guilt of murder, 69  O God, the God who delivers me!

Then my tongue will shout for joy because of your deliverance. 70 

51:15 O Lord, give me the words! 71 

Then my mouth will praise you. 72 

51:16 Certainly 73  you do not want a sacrifice, or else I would offer it; 74 

you do not desire a burnt sacrifice. 75 

51:17 The sacrifices God desires are a humble spirit 76 

O God, a humble and repentant heart 77  you will not reject. 78 

51:18 Because you favor Zion, do what is good for her! 79 

Fortify 80  the walls of Jerusalem! 81 

51:19 Then you will accept 82  the proper sacrifices, burnt sacrifices and whole offerings;

then bulls will be sacrificed 83  on your altar. 84 

1 sn Psalm 32. The psalmist recalls the agony he experienced prior to confessing his sins and affirms that true happiness comes when one’s sins are forgiven. He then urges others not to be stubborn, but to turn to God while forgiveness is available, for God extends his mercy to the repentant, while the wicked experience nothing but sorrow.

2 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. The word is derived from a verb meaning “to be prudent; to be wise.” Various options are: “a contemplative song,” “a song imparting moral wisdom,” or “a skillful [i.e., well-written] song.” The term occurs in the superscriptions of Pss 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89, and 142, as well as in Ps 47:7.

3 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, 3; 2:12; 34:9; 41:1; 65:4; 84:12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 127:5; 128:1; 144:15). Here it refers to the relief that one experiences when one’s sins are forgiven.

4 tn Heb “lifted up.”

5 tn Heb “covered over.”

6 tn Heb “man.” The word choice reflects the perspective of the psalmist, who is male. The principle of the psalm is certainly applicable to all people, regardless of their gender or age. To facilitate modern application, the gender and age specific “man” has been translated with the more neutral “one.”

7 tn Heb “blessed [is] the man to whom the Lord does not impute wrongdoing.”

8 sn In whose spirit there is no deceit. The point is not that the individual is sinless and pure. In this context, which focuses on confession and forgiveness of sin, the psalmist refers to one who refuses to deny or hide his sin, but instead honestly confesses it to God.

9 tn Heb “when I was silent.”

10 tn Heb “my bones became brittle.” The psalmist pictures himself as aging and growing physically weak. Trying to cover up his sin brought severe physical consequences.

11 tn Heb “your hand was heavy upon me.”

12 tc Heb “my [?] was turned.” The meaning of the Hebrew term לְשַׁד (lÿshad) is uncertain. A noun לָשָׁד (lashad, “cake”) is attested in Num 11:8, but it would make no sense to understand that word in this context. It is better to emend the form to לְשֻׁדִּי (lÿshuddiy, “to my destruction”) and understand “your hand” as the subject of the verb “was turned.” In this case the text reads, “[your hand] was turned to my destruction.” In Lam 3:3 the author laments that God’s “hand” was “turned” (הָפַךְ, hafakh) against him in a hostile sense.

sn You tried to destroy me. The psalmist’s statement reflects his perspective. As far as he was concerned, it seemed as if the Lord was trying to kill him.

13 tn The translation assumes that the plural form indicates degree. If one understands the form as a true plural, then one might translate, “in the times of drought.”

14 sn Summer. Perhaps the psalmist suffered during the hot season and perceived the very weather as being an instrument of divine judgment. Another option is that he compares his time of suffering to the uncomfortable and oppressive heat of summer.

15 tn The Hiphil of ידה normally means “give thanks, praise,” but here, as in Prov 28:13, it means “confess.”

16 tn Heb “the wrongdoing of my sin.” By joining synonyms for “sin” in this way, the psalmist may be emphasizing the degree of his wrongdoing.

17 tn A “faithful follower” (חָסִיד, khasid) is one who does what is right in God’s eyes and remains faithful to God (see Pss 4:3; 12:1; 18:25; 31:23; 37:28; 86:2; 97:10).

18 tn Heb “at a time of finding.” This may mean, “while there is time to ‘find’ [the Lord]” and seek his forgiveness (cf. NIV). Some emend the text by combining מְצֹא (mÿtso’, “finding”) with the following term רַק (raq, “only, surely”) and read either ר[וֹ]מָצ (matsor, “distress”; see Ps 31:22) or ק[וֹ]מָצ (matsoq, “hardship”; see Ps 119:143). In this case, one may translate “in a time of distress/hardship” (cf. NEB, NRSV).

19 tn The Hebrew term רַק (raq) occasionally has an asseverative force.

20 sn The surging water is here a metaphor for trouble that endangers one’s life.

21 tn Heb “him.” The translation uses the plural “them” to agree with the plural “every one of your faithful followers” in the first line of v. 6.

22 tn Heb “[with] shouts of joy of deliverance you surround me.”

23 tn The second person pronominal forms in this verse are singular. The psalmist addresses each member of his audience individually (see also the note on the word “eye” in the next line). A less likely option (but one which is commonly understood) is that the Lord addresses the psalmist in vv. 8-9 (cf. NASB “I will instruct you and teach you…I will counsel you with My eye upon you”).

24 tn Heb “I will instruct you and I will teach you in the way [in] which you should walk.”

25 tn Heb “I will advise, upon you my eye,” that is, “I will offer advice [with] my eye upon you.” In 2 Chr 20:12 the statement “our eye is upon you” means that the speakers are looking to the Lord for intervention. Here the expression “my eye upon you” may simply mean that the psalmist will teach his pupils directly and personally.

26 tn The verb form is plural (i.e., “do not all of you be”); the psalmist addresses the whole group.

27 tn Heb “like a horse, like a mule without understanding.”

28 tn Heb “with a bridle and bit, its [?] to hold, not to come near to you.” The meaning of the Hebrew noun עֲדִי (’adiy) is uncertain. Normally the word refers to “jewelry,” so some suggest the meaning “trappings” here (cf. NASB). Some emend the form to לְחֵיהֶם (lÿkhehem, “their jawbones”) but it is difficult to see how the present Hebrew text, even if corrupt, could have derived from this proposed original reading. P. C. Craigie (Psalms 1-50 [WBC], 265) takes the form from an Arabic root and translates “whose gallop.” Cf. also NRSV “whose temper must be curbed.”

29 tn Heb “many [are the] pains of evil [one].” The singular form is representative here; the typical evildoer, representative of the larger group of wicked people, is in view.

30 tn Heb “but the one who trusts in the Lord, faithfulness surrounds him.”

31 tn Heb “all [you] pure of heart.” The “heart” is here viewed as the seat of one’s moral character and motives. The “pure of heart” are God’s faithful followers who trust in and love the Lord and, as a result, experience his deliverance (see Pss 7:10; 11:2; 36:10; 64:10; 94:15; 97:11).

32 sn Psalm 51. The psalmist confesses his sinfulness to God and begs for forgiveness and a transformation of his inner character. According to the psalm superscription, David offered this prayer when Nathan confronted him with his sin following the king’s affair with Bathsheba (see 2 Sam 11-12). However, the final two verses of the psalm hardly fit this situation, for they assume the walls of Jerusalem have been destroyed and that the sacrificial system has been temporarily suspended. These verses are probably an addition to the psalm made during the period of exile following the fall of Jerusalem in 586 b.c. The exiles could relate to David’s experience, for they, like him, and had been forced to confront their sin. They appropriated David’s ancient prayer and applied it to their own circumstances.

33 tn Heb “a psalm by David, when Nathan the prophet came to him when he had gone to Bathsheba.”

34 tn Or “according to.”

35 tn Or “according to.”

36 tn Traditionally “blot out my transgressions.” Because of the reference to washing and cleansing in the following verse, it is likely that the psalmist is comparing forgiveness to wiping an object clean (note the use of the verb מָחָה (makhah) in the sense of “wipe clean; dry” in 2 Kgs 21:13; Prov 30:20; Isa 25:8). Another option is that the psalmist is comparing forgiveness to erasing or blotting out names from a register (see Exod 32:32-33). In this case one might translate, “erase all record of my rebellious acts.”

37 tn Heb “Thoroughly wash me from my wrongdoing.”

38 sn In vv. 1b-2 the psalmist uses three different words to emphasize the multifaceted character and degree of his sin. Whatever one wants to call it (“rebellious acts,” “wrongdoing,” “sin”), he has done it and stands morally polluted in God’s sight. The same three words appear in Exod 34:7, which emphasizes that God is willing to forgive sin in all of its many dimensions. In v. 2 the psalmist compares forgiveness and restoration to physical cleansing. Perhaps he likens spiritual cleansing to the purification rites of priestly law.

39 tn Heb “know.”

40 tn Heb “and my sin [is] in front of me continually.”

41 tn Heb “only you,” as if the psalmist had sinned exclusively against God and no other. Since the Hebrew verb חָטָא (hata’, “to sin”) is used elsewhere of sinful acts against people (see BDB 306 s.v. 2.a) and David (the presumed author) certainly sinned when he murdered Uriah (2 Sam 12:9), it is likely that the psalmist is overstating the case to suggest that the attack on Uriah was ultimately an attack on God himself. To clarify the point of the hyperbole, the translation uses “especially,” rather than the potentially confusing “only.”

42 tn The Hebrew term לְמַעַן (lÿmaan) normally indicates purpose (“in order that”), but here it introduces a logical consequence of the preceding statement. (Taking the clause as indicating purpose here would yield a theologically preposterous idea – the psalmist purposely sinned so that God’s justice might be vindicated!) For other examples of לְמַעַן indicating result, see 2 Kgs 22:17; Jer 27:15; Amos 2:7, as well as IBHS 638-40 §38.3.

43 tn Heb “when you speak.” In this context the psalmist refers to God’s word of condemnation against his sin delivered through Nathan (cf. 2 Sam 12:7-12).

44 tn Heb “when you judge.”

45 tn Heb “Look, in wrongdoing I was brought forth, and in sin my mother conceived me.” The prefixed verbal form in the second line is probably a preterite (without vav [ו] consecutive), stating a simple historical fact. The psalmist is not suggesting that he was conceived through an inappropriate sexual relationship (although the verse has sometimes been understood to mean that, or even that all sexual relationships are sinful). The psalmist’s point is that he has been a sinner from the very moment his personal existence began. By going back beyond the time of birth to the moment of conception, the psalmist makes his point more emphatically in the second line than in the first.

46 sn The juxtaposition of two occurrences of “look” in vv. 5-6 draws attention to the sharp contrast between the sinful reality of the psalmist’s condition and the lofty ideal God has for him.

47 tn The perfect is used in a generalizing sense here.

48 tn Heb “in the covered [places],” i.e., in the inner man.

49 tn Heb “in the secret [place] wisdom you cause me to know.” The Hiphil verbal form is causative, while the imperfect is used in a modal sense to indicate God’s desire (note the parallel verb “desire”).

sn You want me to possess wisdom. Here “wisdom” does not mean “intelligence” or “learning,” but refers to moral insight and skill.

50 tn The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request.

51 tn Heb “cleanse me with hyssop.” “Hyssop” was a small plant (see 1 Kgs 4:33) used to apply water (or blood) in purification rites (see Exod 12:22; Lev 14:4-6, 49-52; Num 19:6-18. The psalmist uses the language and imagery of such rites to describe spiritual cleansing through forgiveness.

52 tn After the preceding imperfect, the imperfect with vav (ו) conjunctive indicates result.

53 tn The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request.

54 sn I will be whiter than snow. Whiteness here symbolizes the moral purity resulting from forgiveness (see Isa 1:18).

55 tn Heb “cause me to hear happiness and joy.” The language is metonymic: the effect of forgiveness (joy) has been substituted for its cause. The psalmist probably alludes here to an assuring word from God announcing that his sins are forgiven (a so-called oracle of forgiveness). The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request. The synonyms “happiness” and “joy” are joined together as a hendiadys to emphasize the degree of joy he anticipates.

56 sn May the bones you crushed rejoice. The psalmist compares his sinful condition to that of a person who has been physically battered and crushed. Within this metaphorical framework, his “bones” are the seat of his emotional strength.

57 tn In this context of petitionary prayer, the prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive, expressing the psalmist’s wish or request.

58 sn In this context Hide your face from my sins means “Do not hold me accountable for my sins.”

59 tn See the note on the similar expression “wipe away my rebellious acts” in v. 1.

60 sn The heart is viewed here as the seat of the psalmist’s motives and moral character.

61 tn Heb “and a reliable spirit renew in my inner being.”

62 tn Heb “do not cast me away from before you.”

63 sn Your Holy Spirit. The personal Spirit of God is mentioned frequently in the OT, but only here and in Isa 63:10-11 is he called “your/his Holy Spirit.”

64 sn Do not take…away. The psalmist expresses his fear that, due to his sin, God will take away the Holy Spirit from him. NT believers enjoy the permanent gift of the Holy Spirit and need not make such a request nor fear such a consequence. However, in the OT God’s Spirit empowered certain individuals for special tasks and only temporarily resided in them. For example, when God rejected Saul as king and chose David to replace him, the divine Spirit left Saul and came upon David (1 Sam 16:13-14).

65 tn Heb “and [with] a willing spirit sustain me.” The psalmist asks that God make him the kind of person who willingly obeys the divine commandments. The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request.

66 tn The cohortative expresses the psalmist’s resolve. This may be a vow or promise. If forgiven, the psalmist will “repay” the Lord by declaring God’s mercy and motivating other sinners to repent.

67 tn Heb “your ways.” The word “merciful” is added for clarification. God’s “ways” are sometimes his commands, but in this context, where the teaching of God’s ways motivates repentance (see the next line), it is more likely that God’s merciful and compassionate way of dealing with sinners is in view. Thanksgiving songs praising God for his deliverance typically focus on these divine attributes (see Pss 34, 41, 116, 138).

68 tn Or “return,” i.e., in repentance.

69 tn Heb “from bloodshed.” “Bloodshed” here stands by metonymy for the guilt which it produces.

70 tn Heb “my tongue will shout for joy your deliverance.” Another option is to take the prefixed verbal form as a jussive, “may my tongue shout for joy.” However, the pattern in vv. 12-15 appears to be prayer/request (see vv. 12, 14a, 15a) followed by promise/vow (see vv. 13, 14b, 15b).

71 tn Heb “open my lips.” The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request.

72 tn Heb “and my mouth will declare your praise.”

73 tn Or “For.” The translation assumes the particle is asseverative (i.e., emphasizing: “certainly”). (Some translations that consider the particle asseverative leave it untranslated.) If taken as causal or explanatory (“for”, cf. NRSV), the verse would explain why the psalmist is pleading for forgiveness, rather than merely offering a sacrifice.

74 tn The translation assumes that the cohortative is used in a hypothetical manner in a formally unmarked conditional sentence, “You do not want a sacrifice, should I offer [it]” (cf. NEB). For other examples of cohortatives in the protasis (“if” clause) of a conditional sentence, see GKC 320 §108.e. (It should be noted, however, that GKC understands this particular verse in a different manner. See GKC 320 §108.f, where it is suggested that the cohortative is part of an apodosis with the protasis being suppressed.)

75 sn You do not desire a burnt sacrifice. The terminology used in v. 16 does not refer to expiatory sacrifices, but to dedication and communion offerings. This is not a categorical denial of the sacrificial system in general or of the importance of such offerings. The psalmist is talking about his specific situation. Dedication and communion offerings have their proper place in worship (see v. 19), but God requires something more fundamental, a repentant and humble attitude (see v. 17), before these offerings can have real meaning.

76 tn Heb “a broken spirit.”

77 tn Heb “a broken and crushed heart.”

78 tn Or “despise.”

79 tn Heb “do what is good for Zion in your favor.”

80 tn Or “Build.” The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request.

81 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

82 tn Or “desire, take delight in.”

83 tn Heb “then they will offer up bulls.” The third plural subject is indefinite.

84 sn Verses 18-19 appear to reflect the exilic period, when the city’s walls lay in ruins and the sacrificial system had been disrupted.



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