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Psalms 34:12-22

Context

34:12 Do you want to really live? 1 

Would you love to live a long, happy life? 2 

34:13 Then make sure you don’t speak evil words 3 

or use deceptive speech! 4 

34:14 Turn away from evil and do what is right! 5 

Strive for peace and promote it! 6 

34:15 The Lord pays attention to the godly

and hears their cry for help. 7 

34:16 But the Lord opposes evildoers

and wipes out all memory of them from the earth. 8 

34:17 The godly 9  cry out and the Lord hears;

he saves them from all their troubles. 10 

34:18 The Lord is near the brokenhearted;

he delivers 11  those who are discouraged. 12 

34:19 The godly 13  face many dangers, 14 

but the Lord saves 15  them 16  from each one of them.

34:20 He protects 17  all his bones; 18 

not one of them is broken. 19 

34:21 Evil people self-destruct; 20 

those who hate the godly are punished. 21 

34:22 The Lord rescues his servants; 22 

all who take shelter in him escape punishment. 23 

1 tn Heb “Who is the man who desires life?” The rhetorical question is used to grab the audience’s attention. “Life” probably refers here to quality of life, not just physical existence or even duration of life. See the following line.

2 tn Heb “[Who] loves days to see good?”

3 tn Heb “guard your tongue from evil.”

4 tn Heb “and your lips from speaking deception.”

5 tn Or “do good.”

6 tn Heb “seek peace and pursue it.”

7 tn Heb “the eyes of the Lord [are] toward the godly, and his ears [are] toward their cry for help.”

8 tn Heb “the face of the Lord [is] against the doers of evil to cut off from the earth memory of them.”

9 tn Heb “they” (i.e., the godly mentioned in v. 15).

10 tn The three perfect verbal forms are taken in a generalizing sense in v. 17 and translated with the present tense (note the generalizing mood of vv. 18-22).

11 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal form highlights the generalizing statement and draws attention to the fact that the Lord typically delivers the oppressed and needy.

12 tn Heb “the crushed in spirit.”

13 tn The Hebrew text uses the singular form; the representative or typical godly person is envisioned.

14 tn Or “trials.”

15 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal form highlights the generalizing statement and draws attention to the fact that the Lord typically delivers the godly.

16 tn Heb “him,” agreeing with the singular form in the preceding line.

17 tn The Hebrew participial form suggests such protection is characteristic.

18 tn That is, he protects the godly from physical harm.

19 sn Not one of them is broken. The author of the Gospel of John saw a fulfillment of these words in Jesus’ experience on the cross (see John 19:31-37), for the Roman soldiers, when they saw that Jesus was already dead, did not break his legs as was customarily done to speed the death of crucified individuals. John’s use of the psalm seems strange, for the statement in its original context suggests that the Lord protects the godly from physical harm. Jesus’ legs may have remained unbroken, but he was brutally and unjustly executed by his enemies. John seems to give the statement a literal sense that is foreign to its original literary context by applying a promise of divine protection to a man who was seemingly not saved by God. However, John saw in this incident a foreshadowing of Jesus’ ultimate deliverance and vindication. His unbroken bones were a reminder of God’s commitment to the godly and a sign of things to come. Jesus’ death on the cross was not the end of the story; God vindicated him, as John goes on to explain in the following context (John 19:38-20:18).

20 tn Heb “evil kills the wicked [one].” The singular form is representative; the typical evil person is envisioned. The Hebrew imperfect verbal form draws attention to the typical nature of the action.

21 tn Heb “are guilty,” but the verb is sometimes used metonymically with the meaning “to suffer the consequences of guilt,” the effect being substituted for the cause.

22 tn Heb “redeems the life of his servants.” The Hebrew participial form suggests such deliverance is characteristic.

23 tn “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 2:12; 5:11-12; 31:19).



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