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Psalms 53:5-6

Context

53:5 They are absolutely terrified, 1 

even by things that do not normally cause fear. 2 

For God annihilates 3  those who attack you. 4 

You are able to humiliate them because God has rejected them. 5 

53:6 I wish the deliverance 6  of Israel would come from Zion!

When God restores the well-being of his people, 7 

may Jacob rejoice, 8 

may Israel be happy! 9 

1 tn Heb “there they are afraid [with] fear.” The perfect verbal form is probably used in a rhetorical manner; the psalmist describes the future demise of the oppressors as if it were already occurring. The adverb שָׁם (sham, “there”) is also used here for dramatic effect, as the psalmist envisions the wicked standing in fear at a spot that is this vivid in his imagination (BDB 1027 s.v.). The cognate accusative following the verb emphasizes the degree of their terror (“absolutely”).

2 tn Heb “there is no fear.” Apparently this means the evildoers are so traumatized with panic (see v. 5b) that they now jump with fear at everything, even those things that would not normally cause fear. Ps 14:5 omits this line.

3 tn Heb “scatters the bones.” The perfect is used in a rhetorical manner, describing this future judgment as if it were already accomplished. Scattering the bones alludes to the aftermath of a battle. God annihilates his enemies, leaving their carcasses spread all over the battlefield. As the bodies are devoured by wild animals and decay, the bones of God’s dead enemies are exposed. See Ps 141:7.

4 tn Heb “[those who] encamp [against] you.” The second person masculine singular pronominal suffix probably refers to God’s people viewed as a collective whole. Instead of “for God scatters the bones of those who encamp against you,” Ps 14:5 reads, “for God is with a godly generation.”

5 tn Once again the perfect is used in a rhetorical manner, describing this future judgment as if it were already accomplished. As in the previous line, God’s people are probably addressed. The second person singular verb form is apparently collective, suggesting that the people are viewed here as a unified whole. Ps 14:6 reads here “the counsel of the oppressed you put to shame, even though God is his shelter,” the words being addressed to the wicked.

6 tn This refers metonymically to God, the one who lives in Zion and provides deliverance for Israel.

7 tn Heb “turns with a turning [toward] his people.” The Hebrew term שְׁבוּת (shÿvut) is apparently a cognate accusative of שׁוּב (shuv).

8 tn The verb form is jussive.

9 tn Because the parallel verb is jussive, this verb, which is ambiguous in form, should be taken as a jussive as well.



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