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Psalms 57:1--58:11

Context
Psalm 57 1 

For the music director; according to the al-tashcheth style; 2  a prayer 3  of David, written when he fled from Saul into the cave. 4 

57:1 Have mercy on me, O God! Have mercy on me!

For in you I have taken shelter. 5 

In the shadow of your wings 6  I take shelter

until trouble passes.

57:2 I cry out for help to the sovereign God, 7 

to the God who vindicates 8  me.

57:3 May he send help from heaven and deliver me 9 

from my enemies who hurl insults! 10  (Selah)

May God send his loyal love and faithfulness!

57:4 I am surrounded by lions;

I lie down 11  among those who want to devour me; 12 

men whose teeth are spears and arrows,

whose tongues are a sharp sword. 13 

57:5 Rise up 14  above the sky, O God!

May your splendor cover the whole earth! 15 

57:6 They have prepared a net to trap me; 16 

I am discouraged. 17 

They have dug a pit for me. 18 

They will fall 19  into it! (Selah)

57:7 I am determined, 20  O God! I am determined!

I will sing and praise you!

57:8 Awake, my soul! 21 

Awake, O stringed instrument and harp!

I will wake up at dawn! 22 

57:9 I will give you thanks before the nations, O Master!

I will sing praises to you before foreigners! 23 

57:10 For your loyal love extends beyond the sky, 24 

and your faithfulness reaches the clouds.

57:11 Rise up 25  above the sky, O God!

May your splendor cover the whole earth! 26 

Psalm 58 27 

For the music director; according to the al-tashcheth style; 28  a prayer 29  of David.

58:1 Do you rulers really pronounce just decisions? 30 

Do you judge people 31  fairly?

58:2 No! 32  You plan how to do what is unjust; 33 

you deal out violence in the earth. 34 

58:3 The wicked turn aside from birth; 35 

liars go astray as soon as they are born. 36 

58:4 Their venom is like that of a snake, 37 

like a deaf serpent 38  that does not hear, 39 

58:5 that does not respond to 40  the magicians,

or to a skilled snake-charmer.

58:6 O God, break the teeth in their mouths!

Smash the jawbones of the lions, O Lord!

58:7 Let them disappear 41  like water that flows away! 42 

Let them wither like grass! 43 

58:8 Let them be 44  like a snail that melts away as it moves along! 45 

Let them be like 46  stillborn babies 47  that never see the sun!

58:9 Before the kindling is even placed under your pots, 48 

he 49  will sweep it away along with both the raw and cooked meat. 50 

58:10 The godly 51  will rejoice when they see vengeance carried out;

they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.

58:11 Then 52  observers 53  will say,

“Yes indeed, the godly are rewarded! 54 

Yes indeed, there is a God who judges 55  in the earth!”

Psalms 75:1-10

Context
Psalm 75 56 

For the music director; according to the al-tashcheth style; 57  a psalm of Asaph; a song.

75:1 We give thanks to you, O God! We give thanks!

You reveal your presence; 58 

people tell about your amazing deeds.

75:2 God says, 59 

“At the appointed times, 60 

I judge 61  fairly.

75:3 When the earth and all its inhabitants dissolve in fear, 62 

I make its pillars secure.” 63  (Selah)

75:4 64 I say to the proud, “Do not be proud,”

and to the wicked, “Do not be so confident of victory! 65 

75:5 Do not be so certain you have won! 66 

Do not speak with your head held so high! 67 

75:6 For victory does not come from the east or west,

or from the wilderness. 68 

75:7 For God is the judge! 69 

He brings one down and exalts another. 70 

75:8 For the Lord holds in his hand a cup full

of foaming wine mixed with spices, 71 

and pours it out. 72 

Surely all the wicked of the earth

will slurp it up and drink it to its very last drop.” 73 

75:9 As for me, I will continually tell what you have done; 74 

I will sing praises to the God of Jacob!

75:10 God says, 75 

“I will bring down all the power of the wicked;

the godly will be victorious.” 76 

1 sn Psalm 57. The psalmist asks for God’s protection and expresses his confidence that his ferocious enemies will be destroyed by their own schemes.

2 tn Heb “do not destroy.” Perhaps this refers to a particular style of music, a tune title, or a musical instrument. These words also appear in the heading to Pss 58-59, 75.

3 tn The precise meaning of the Hebrew word מִכְתָּם (miktam), which also appears in the heading to Pss 16, 56, 58-60 is uncertain. HALOT 582-83 s.v. defines it as “inscription.”

4 sn According to the superscription, David wrote this psalm on the occasion when he fled from Saul and hid in “the cave.” This probably refers to either the incident recorded in 1 Sam 22:1 or to the one recorded in 1 Sam 24:3.

5 tn Heb “my life has taken shelter.” The Hebrew perfect verbal form probably refers here to a completed action with continuing results.

6 sn In the shadow of your wings. The metaphor likens God to a protective mother bird (see also Pss 17:8; 36:7).

7 tn Heb “to God Most High.” The divine title “Most High” (עֶלְיוֹן, ’elyon) pictures God as the exalted ruler of the universe who vindicates the innocent and judges the wicked. See especially Ps 47:2.

8 tn Or “avenges in favor of.”

9 tn Heb “may he send from heaven and deliver me.” The prefixed verbal forms are understood as jussives expressing the psalmist’s prayer. The second verb, which has a vav (ו) conjunctive prefixed to it, probably indicates purpose. Another option is to take the forms as imperfects expressing confidence, “he will send from heaven and deliver me” (cf. NRSV).

10 tn Heb “he hurls insults, one who crushes me.” The translation assumes that this line identifies those from whom the psalmist seeks deliverance. (The singular is representative; the psalmist is surrounded by enemies, see v. 4.) Another option is to understand God as the subject of the verb חָרַף (kharaf), which could then be taken as a homonym of the more common root חָרַף (“insult”) meaning “confuse.” In this case “one who crushes me” is the object of the verb. One might translate, “he [God] confuses my enemies.”

11 tn The cohortative form אֶשְׁכְּבָה (’eshkÿvah, “I lie down”) is problematic, for it does not seem to carry one of the normal functions of the cohortative (resolve or request). One possibility is that the form here is a “pseudo-cohortative” used here in a gnomic sense (IBHS 576-77 §34.5.3b).

12 tn The Hebrew verb לָהַט (lahat) is here understood as a hapax legomenon meaning “devour” (see HALOT 521 s.v. II להט), a homonym of the more common verb meaning “to burn.” A more traditional interpretation takes the verb from this latter root and translates, “those who are aflame” (see BDB 529 s.v.; cf. NASB “those who breathe forth fire”).

13 tn Heb “my life, in the midst of lions, I lie down, devouring ones, sons of mankind, their teeth a spear and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword.” The syntax of the verse is difficult. Another option is to take “my life” with the preceding verse. For this to make sense, one must add a verb, perhaps “and may he deliver” (cf. the LXX), before the phrase. One might then translate, “May God send his loyal love and faithfulness and deliver my life.” If one does take “my life” with v. 4, then the parallelism of v. 5 is altered and one might translate: “in the midst of lions I lie down, [among] men who want to devour me, whose teeth….”

14 tn Or “be exalted.”

15 tn Heb “over all the earth [be] your splendor.” Though no verb appears, the tone of the statement is a prayer or wish. (Note the imperative form in the preceding line.)

16 tn Heb “for my feet.”

17 tn Heb “my life bends low.” The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) with a pronominal suffix is often equivalent to a pronoun, especially in poetry (see BDB 660 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ 4.a).

18 tn Heb “before me.”

19 tn The perfect form is used rhetorically here to express the psalmist’s certitude. The demise of the enemies is so certain that he can speak of it as already accomplished.

20 tn Or perhaps “confident”; Heb “my heart is steadfast.” The “heart” is viewed here as the seat of the psalmist’s volition and/or emotions.

21 tn Heb “glory,” but that makes little sense in the context. Some view כָּבוֹד (kavod, “glory”) here as a metonymy for man’s inner being (see BDB 459 s.v. II כָּבוֹד 5), but it is preferable to emend the form to כְּבֵדִי (kÿvediy, “my liver”). Like the heart, the liver is viewed as the seat of one’s emotions. See also Pss 16:9; 30:12; 108:1, as well as H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, 64, and M. Dahood, Psalms (AB), 1:90. For an Ugaritic example of the heart/liver as the source of joy, see G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 47-48: “her [Anat’s] liver swelled with laughter, her heart was filled with joy, the liver of Anat with triumph.”

22 tn BDB 1007 s.v. שַׁחַר takes “dawn” as an adverbial accusative, though others understand it as a personified direct object. “Dawn” is used metaphorically for the time of deliverance and vindication the psalmist anticipates. When salvation “dawns,” the psalmist will “wake up” in praise.

23 tn Or “the peoples.”

24 tn Heb “for great upon the sky [or “heavens”] [is] your loyal love.”

25 tn Or “be exalted.”

26 tn Heb “over all the earth [be] your splendor.” Though no verb appears, the tone of the statement is a prayer or wish. (Note the imperative form in the preceding line.)

27 sn Psalm 58. The psalmist calls on God to punish corrupt judges because a vivid display of divine judgment will convince observers that God is the just judge of the world who vindicates the godly.

28 tn Heb “do not destroy.” Perhaps this refers to a particular style of music, a tune title, or a musical instrument. These words also appear in the heading to Pss 57, 59, and 75.

29 tn The precise meaning of the Hebrew word מִכְתָּם (miktam) which also appears in the heading to Pss 16 and 56-57, 59-60 is uncertain. HALOT 582-83 s.v. defines it as “inscription.”

30 tn Heb “Really [in] silence, what is right do you speak?” The Hebrew noun אֵלֶם (’elem, “silence”) makes little, if any, sense in this context. Some feel that this is an indictment of the addressees’ failure to promote justice; they are silent when they should make just decisions. The present translation assumes an emendation to אֵלִם (’elim), which in turn is understood as a defectively written form of אֵילִים (’elim, “rulers,” a metaphorical use of אַיִל, ’ayil, “ram”; see Exod 15:15; Ezek 17:13). The rhetorical question is sarcastic, challenging their claim to be just. Elsewhere the collocation of דָּבַר (davar, “speak”) with צֶדֶק (tsedeq, “what is right”) as object means “to speak the truth” (see Ps 52:3; Isa 45:19). Here it refers specifically to declaring what is right in a legal setting, as the next line indicates.

31 tn Heb “the sons of mankind.” The translation assumes the phrase is the object of the verb “to judge.” Some take it as a vocative, “Do you judge fairly, O sons of mankind?” (Cf. NASB; see Ezek 20:4; 22:2; 23:36.)

32 tn The particle אַף (’af, “no”) is used here as a strong adversative emphasizing the following statement, which contrasts reality with the rulers’ claim alluded to in the rhetorical questions (see Ps 44:9).

33 tn Heb “in the heart unjust deeds you do.” The phrase “in the heart” (i.e., “mind”) seems to refer to their plans and motives. The Hebrew noun עַוְלָה (’avlah, “injustice”) is collocated with פָּעַל (paal, “do”) here and in Job 36:23 and Ps 119:3. Some emend the plural form עוֹלֹת (’olot, “unjust deeds”; see Ps 64:6) to the singular עָוֶל (’avel, “injustice”; see Job 34:32), taking the final tav (ת) as dittographic (note that the following verbal form begins with tav). Some then understand עָוֶל (’avel, “injustice”) as a genitive modifying “heart” and translate, “with a heart of injustice you act.”

34 tn Heb “in the earth the violence of your hands you weigh out.” The imagery is from the economic realm. The addressees measure out violence, rather than justice, and distribute it like a commodity. This may be ironic, since justice was sometimes viewed as a measuring scale (see Job 31:6).

35 tn Heb “from the womb.”

36 tn Heb “speakers of a lie go astray from the womb.”

37 tn Heb “[there is] venom to them according to the likeness of venom of a snake.”

38 tn Or perhaps “cobra” (cf. NASB, NIV). Other suggested species of snakes are “asp” (NEB) and “adder” (NRSV).

39 tn Heb “[that] stops up its ear.” The apparent Hiphil jussive verbal form should be understood as a Qal imperfect with “i” theme vowel (see GKC 168 §63.n).

40 tn Heb “does not listen to the voice of.”

41 tn Following the imperatival forms in v. 6, the prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive expressing the psalmist’s wish. Another option is to take the form as an imperfect (indicative) and translate, “they will scatter” (see v. 9). The verb מָאַס (maas; which is a homonym of the more common מָאַס, “to refuse, reject”) appears only here and in Job 7:5, where it is used of a festering wound from which fluid runs or flows.

42 tn Heb “like water, they go about for themselves.” The translation assumes that the phrase “they go about for themselves” is an implied relative clause modifying “water.” Another option is to take the clause as independent and parallel to what precedes. In this case the enemies would be the subject and the verb could be taken as jussive, “let them wander about.”

43 tc The syntax of the Hebrew text is difficult and the meaning uncertain. The text reads literally, “he treads his arrows (following the Qere; Kethib has “his arrow”), like they are cut off/dry up.” It is not clear if the verbal root is מָלַל (malal, “circumcise”; BDB 576 s.v. IV מָלַל) or the homonymic מָלַל (“wither”; HALOT 593-94 s.v. I מלל). Since the verb מָלַל (“to wither”) is used of vegetation, it is possible that the noun חָצִיר (khatsir, “grass,” which is visually similar to חִצָּיו, khitsayv, “his arrows”) originally appeared in the text. The translation above assumes that the text originally was כְּמוֹ חָצִיר יִתְמֹלָלוּ(kÿmo khatsir yitmolalu, “like grass let them wither”). If original, it could have been accidentally corrupted to חִצָּיר כְּמוֹ יִתְמֹלָלוּ (“his arrow(s) like they dry up”) with דָּרַךְ (darakh, “to tread”) being added later in an effort to make sense of “his arrow(s).”

44 tn There is no “to be” verb in the Hebrew text at this point, but a jussive tone can be assumed based on vv. 6-7.

45 tn Heb “like a melting snail [that] moves along.” A. Cohen (Psalms [SoBB], 184) explains that the text here alludes “to the popular belief that the slimy trail which the snail leaves in its track is the dissolution of its substance.”

46 tn The words “let them be like” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. The jussive mood is implied from the preceding context, and “like” is understood by ellipsis (see the previous line).

47 tn This rare word also appears in Job 3:16 and Eccles 6:3.

48 tn Heb “before your pots perceive thorns.”

49 tn Apparently God (v. 6) is the subject of the verb here.

50 tn Heb “like living, like burning anger he will sweep it away.” The meaning of the text is unclear. The translation assumes that within the cooking metaphor (see the previous line) חַי (khay, “living”) refers here to raw meat (as in 1 Sam 2:15, where it modifies בָּשָׂר, basar, “flesh”) and that חָרוּן (kharun; which always refers to God’s “burning anger” elsewhere) here refers to food that is cooked. The pronominal suffix on the verb “sweep away” apparently refers back to the “thorns” of the preceding line. The image depicts swift and sudden judgment. Before the fire has been adequately kindled and all the meat cooked, the winds of judgment will sweep away everything in their path.

51 tn The singular is representative here, as is the singular from “wicked” in the next line.

52 tn Following the imperfects of v. 10, the prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) conjunctive probably indicates a result or consequence of what precedes.

53 tn Heb “man.” The singular is representative here.

54 tn Heb “surely [there] is fruit for the godly.”

55 tn The plural participle is unusual here if the preceding אֱלֹהִים (’elohim) is here a plural of majesty, referring to the one true God. Occasionally the plural of majesty does take a plural attributive (see GKC 428-29 §132.h). It is possible that the final mem (ם) on the participle is enclitic, and that it was later misunderstood as a plural ending. Another option is to translate, “Yes indeed, there are gods who judge in the earth.” In this case, the statement reflects the polytheistic mindset of pagan observers who, despite their theological ignorance, nevertheless recognize divine retribution when they see it.

56 sn Psalm 75. The psalmist celebrates God’s just rule, which guarantees that the godly will be vindicated and the wicked destroyed.

57 tn Heb “do not destroy.” Perhaps this refers to a particular style of music, a tune title, or a musical instrument. These words also appear in the superscription to Pss 57-59.

58 tn Heb “and near [is] your name.”

59 tn The words “God says” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation to clarify that God speaks in vv. 2-3.

60 tn Heb “when I take an appointed time.”

61 tn Heb “I, [in] fairness, I judge.” The statement is understood in a generalizing sense; God typically executes fair judgment as he governs the world. One could take this as referring to an anticipated (future) judgment, “I will judge.”

62 tn Heb “melt.”

63 tn The statement is understood in a generalizing sense; God typically prevents the world from being overrun by chaos. One could take this as referring to an anticipated event, “I will make its pillars secure.”

64 tn The identity of the speaker in vv. 4-6 is unclear. The present translation assumes that the psalmist, who also speaks in vv. 7-9 (where God/the Lord is spoken of in the third person) here addresses the proud and warns them of God’s judgment. The presence of כִּי (ki, “for”) at the beginning of both vv. 6-7 seems to indicate that vv. 4-9 are a unit. However, there is no formal indication of a new speaker in v. 4 (or in v. 10, where God appears to speak). Another option is to see God speaking in vv. 2-6 and v. 10 and to take only vv. 7-9 as the words of the psalmist. In this case one must interpret כִּי at the beginning of v. 7 in an asseverative or emphatic sense (“surely; indeed”).

65 tn Heb “do not lift up a horn.” The horn of an ox underlies the metaphor (see Deut 33:17; 1 Kgs 22:11; Ps 92:10). The horn of the wild ox is frequently a metaphor for military strength; the idiom “exalt/lift up the horn” signifies military victory (see 1 Sam 2:10; Pss 89:17, 24; 92:10; Lam 2:17). Here the idiom seems to refer to an arrogant attitude that assumes victory has been achieved.

66 tn Heb “do not lift up on high your horn.”

67 tn Heb “[do not] speak with unrestrained neck.” The negative particle is understood in this line by ellipsis (note the preceding line).

sn The image behind the language of vv. 4-5 is that of a powerful wild ox that confidently raises its head before its enemies.

68 tn Heb “for not from the east or from the west, and not from the wilderness of the mountains.” If one follows this reading the sentence is elliptical. One must supply “does help come,” or some comparable statement. However, it is possible to take הָרִים (harim) as a Hiphil infinitive from רוּם (rum), the same verb used in vv. 4-5 of “lifting up” a horn. In this case one may translate the form as “victory.” In this case the point is that victory does not come from alliances with other nations.

69 tn Or “judges.”

70 tn The imperfects here emphasize the generalizing nature of the statement.

71 tn Heb “for a cup [is] in the hand of the Lord, and wine foams, it is full of a spiced drink.” The noun מֶסֶךְ (mesekh) refers to a “mixture” of wine and spices.

72 tn Heb “and he pours out from this.”

73 tn Heb “surely its dregs they slurp up and drink, all the wicked of the earth.”

sn The psalmist pictures God as forcing the wicked to gulp down an intoxicating drink that will leave them stunned and vulnerable. Divine judgment is also depicted this way in Ps 60:3; Isa 51:17-23; and Hab 2:16.

74 tn Heb “I will declare forever.” The object needs to be supplied; God’s just judgment is in view.

75 tn The words “God says” are not in the Hebrew text. They are supplied in the translation to clarify that God speaks in v. 10.

76 tn Heb “and all the horns of the wicked I will cut off, the horns of the godly will be lifted up.” The imagery of the wild ox’s horn is once more utilized (see vv. 4-5).



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