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Psalms 34:19-21


34:19 The godly 1  face many dangers, 2 

but the Lord saves 3  them 4  from each one of them.

34:20 He protects 5  all his bones; 6 

not one of them is broken. 7 

34:21 Evil people self-destruct; 8 

those who hate the godly are punished. 9 

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

2 tn Or “trials.”

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

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

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

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

7 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).

8 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.

9 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.

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