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Psalms 55:1-3

Context
Psalm 55 1 

For the music director, to be accompanied by stringed instruments; a well-written song 2  by David.

55:1 Listen, O God, to my prayer!

Do not ignore 3  my appeal for mercy!

55:2 Pay attention to me and answer me!

I am so upset 4  and distressed, 5  I am beside myself, 6 

55:3 because of what the enemy says, 7 

and because of how the wicked 8  pressure me, 9 

for they hurl trouble 10  down upon me 11 

and angrily attack me.

1 sn Psalm 55. The suffering and oppressed author laments that one of his friends has betrayed him, but he is confident that God will vindicate him by punishing his deceitful enemies.

2 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. See the note on the phrase “well-written song” in the superscription of Ps 52.

3 tn Heb “hide yourself from.”

4 tn Or “restless” (see Gen 27:40). The Hiphil is intransitive-exhibitive, indicating the outward display of an inner attitude.

5 tn Heb “in my complaint.”

6 tn The verb is a Hiphil cohortative from הוּם (hum), which means “to confuse someone” in the Qal and “to go wild” in the Niphal. An Arabic cognate means “to be out of one’s senses, to wander about.” With the vav (ו) conjunctive prefixed to it, the cohortative probably indicates the result or effect of the preceding main verb. Some prefer to emend the form to וְאֵהוֹמָה (vÿehomah), a Niphal of הוּם (hum), or to וְאֶהַמֶה (vÿehameh), a Qal imperfect from הָמָה (hamah, “to moan”). Many also prefer to take this verb with what follows (see v. 3).

7 tn Heb “because of [the] voice of [the] enemy.”

8 tn The singular forms “enemy” and “wicked” are collective or representative, as the plural verb forms in the second half of the verse indicate.

9 tn Heb “from before the pressure of the wicked.” Some suggest the meaning “screech” (note the parallel “voice”; cf. NEB “shrill clamour”; NRSV “clamor”) for the rare noun עָקָה (’aqah, “pressure”).

10 tn Heb “wickedness,” but here the term refers to the destructive effects of their wicked acts.

11 tc The verb form in the MT appears to be a Hiphil imperfect from the root מוֹט (mot, “to sway”), but the Hiphil occurs only here and in the Kethib (consonantal text) of Ps 140:10, where the form יַמְטֵר (yamter, “let him rain down”) should probably be read. Here in Ps 55:3 it is preferable to read יַמְטִירוּ (yamtiru, “they rain down”). It is odd for “rain down” to be used with an abstract object like “wickedness,” but in Job 20:23 God “rains down” anger (unless one emends the text there; see BHS).



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