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Psalms 48:4-6

Context

48:4 For 1  look, the kings assemble; 2 

they advance together.

48:5 As soon as they see, 3  they are shocked; 4 

they are terrified, they quickly retreat. 5 

48:6 Look at them shake uncontrollably, 6 

like a woman writhing in childbirth. 7 

1 tn The logical connection between vv. 3-4 seems to be this: God is the protector of Zion and reveals himself as the city’s defender – this is necessary because hostile armies threaten the city.

2 tn The perfect verbal forms in vv. 4-6 are understood as descriptive. In dramatic style (note הִנֵּה, hinneh, “look”) the psalm describes an enemy attack against the city as if it were occurring at this very moment. Another option is to take the perfects as narrational (“the kings assembled, they advanced”), referring to a particular historical event, such as Sennacherib’s siege of the city in 701 b.c. (cf. NIV, NRSV). Even if one translates the verses in a dramatic-descriptive manner (as the present translation does), the Lord’s victory over the Assyrians was probably what served as the inspiration of the description (see v. 8).

3 tn The object of “see” is omitted, but v. 3b suggests that the Lord’s self-revelation as the city’s defender is what they see.

4 tn Heb “they look, so they are shocked.” Here כֵּן (ken, “so”) has the force of “in the same measure.”

5 tn The translation attempts to reflect the staccato style of the Hebrew text, where the main clauses of vv. 4-6 are simply juxtaposed without connectives.

6 tn Heb “trembling seizes them there.” The adverb שָׁם (sham, “there”) is used here, as often in poetic texts, to point “to a spot in which a scene is localized vividly in the imagination” (BDB 1027 s.v.).

7 tn Heb “[with] writhing like one giving birth.”

sn The language of vv. 5-6 is reminiscent of Exod 15:15.



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