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Psalms 40:6-8

Context

40:6 Receiving sacrifices and offerings are not your primary concern. 1 

You make that quite clear to me! 2 

You do not ask for burnt sacrifices and sin offerings.

40:7 Then I say,

“Look! I come!

What is written in the scroll pertains to me. 3 

40:8 I want to do what pleases you, 4  my God.

Your law dominates my thoughts.” 5 

Psalms 51:16-17

Context

51:16 Certainly 6  you do not want a sacrifice, or else I would offer it; 7 

you do not desire a burnt sacrifice. 8 

51:17 The sacrifices God desires are a humble spirit 9 

O God, a humble and repentant heart 10  you will not reject. 11 

1 tn Heb “sacrifice and offering you do not desire.” The statement is exaggerated for the sake of emphasis (see Ps 51:16 as well). God is pleased with sacrifices, but his first priority is obedience and loyalty (see 1 Sam 15:22). Sacrifices and offerings apart from genuine allegiance are meaningless (see Isa 1:11-20).

2 tn Heb “ears you hollowed out for me.” The meaning of this odd expression is debated (this is the only collocation of “hollowed out” and “ears” in the OT). It may have been an idiomatic expression referring to making a point clear to a listener. The LXX has “but a body you have prepared for me,” a reading which is followed in Heb 10:5.

3 tn Heb “in the roll of the scroll it is written concerning me.” Apparently the psalmist refers to the law of God (see v. 8), which contains the commandments God desires him to obey. If this is a distinctly royal psalm, then the psalmist/king may be referring specifically to the regulations of kingship prescribed in Deut 17:14-20. See P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC), 315.

4 tn Or “your will.”

5 tn Heb “your law [is] in the midst of my inner parts.” The “inner parts” are viewed here as the seat of the psalmist’s thought life and moral decision making.

6 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.

7 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.)

8 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.

9 tn Heb “a broken spirit.”

10 tn Heb “a broken and crushed heart.”

11 tn Or “despise.”



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