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Psalms 57:1--59:17

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!”

Psalm 59 56 

For the music director; according to the al-tashcheth style; 57  a prayer 58  of David, written when Saul sent men to surround his house and murder him. 59 

59:1 Deliver me from my enemies, my God!

Protect me 60  from those who attack me! 61 

59:2 Deliver me from evildoers! 62 

Rescue me from violent men! 63 

59:3 For look, they wait to ambush me; 64 

powerful men stalk 65  me,

but not because I have rebelled or sinned, O Lord. 66 

59:4 Though I have done nothing wrong, 67  they are anxious to attack. 68 

Spring into action and help me! Take notice of me! 69 

59:5 You, O Lord God, the invincible warrior, 70  the God of Israel,

rouse yourself and punish 71  all the nations!

Have no mercy on any treacherous evildoers! (Selah)

59:6 They return in the evening;

they growl 72  like a dog

and prowl around outside 73  the city.

59:7 Look, they hurl insults at me

and openly threaten to kill me, 74 

for they say, 75 

“Who hears?”

59:8 But you, O Lord, laugh in disgust at them; 76 

you taunt 77  all the nations.

59:9 You are my source of strength! I will wait for you! 78 

For God is my refuge. 79 

59:10 The God who loves me will help me; 80 

God will enable me to triumph over 81  my enemies. 82 

59:11 Do not strike them dead suddenly,

because then my people might forget the lesson. 83 

Use your power to make them homeless vagabonds and then bring them down,

O Lord who shields us! 84 

59:12 They speak sinful words. 85 

So let them be trapped by their own pride

and by the curses and lies they speak!

59:13 Angrily wipe them out! Wipe them out so they vanish!

Let them know that God rules

in Jacob and to the ends of the earth! (Selah)

59:14 They return in the evening;

they growl 86  like a dog

and prowl around outside 87  the city.

59:15 They wander around looking for something to eat;

they refuse to sleep until they are full. 88 

59:16 As for me, I will sing about your strength;

I will praise your loyal love in the morning.

For you are my refuge 89 

and my place of shelter when I face trouble. 90 

59:17 You are my source of strength! I will sing praises to you! 91 

For God is my refuge, 92  the God who loves me. 93 

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 59. The psalmist calls down judgment on his foreign enemies, whom he compares to ravenous wild dogs.

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 57-58, 75.

58 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.”

59 tn Heb “when Saul sent and they watched his house in order to kill him.”

sn According to the superscription, David wrote this psalm on the occasion when Saul sent assassins to surround David’s house and kill him in the morning (see 1 Sam 19:11). However, the psalm itself mentions foreign enemies (vv. 5, 8). Perhaps these references reflect a later adaptation of an original Davidic psalm.

60 tn Or “make me secure”; Heb “set me on high.”

61 tn Heb “from those who raise themselves up [against] me.”

62 tn Heb “from the workers of wickedness.”

63 tn Heb “from men of bloodshed.”

64 tn Heb “my life.”

65 tn The Hebrew verb is from the root גּוּר (gur), which means “to challenge, attack” in Isa 54:15 and “to stalk” (with hostile intent) in Ps 56:8.

66 sn The point is that the psalmist’s enemies have no justifiable reason for attacking him. He has neither rebelled or sinned against the Lord.

67 tn Heb “without sin.”

68 tn Heb “they run and they are determined.”

69 tn Heb “arise to meet me and see.” The Hebrew verb קָרָא (qara’, “to meet; to encounter”) here carries the nuance of “to help.”

70 tn HebLord, God, Hosts.” One expects the construct form אֱלֹהֵי (’elohey) before צְבָאוֹת (tsÿvaot, “hosts”). See Ps 89:9, but יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (yÿhvahelohim) precedes צְבָאוֹת (tsÿvaot) in Pss 80:4, 19; 84:8 as well.

71 tn Heb “wake up to punish” (see Pss 35:23; 44:23).

72 tn Or “howl”; or “bark.”

73 tn Heb “go around.”

74 tn Heb “look, they gush forth with their mouth, swords [are] in their lips.”

75 tn The words “for they say” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The following question (“Who hears?”) is spoken by the psalmist’s enemies, who are confident that no one else can hear their threats against the psalmist. They are aggressive because they feel the psalmist is vulnerable and has no one to help him.

76 sn Laugh in disgust. See Pss 2:4; 37:13.

77 tn Or “scoff at”; or “deride”; or “mock” (see Ps 2:4).

78 tc Heb “his strength, for you I will watch.” “His strength” should be emended to “my strength” (see v. 17). Some also emend אֶשְׁמֹרָה (’eshmorah, “I will watch”) to אֱזַמֵּרָה (’ezammerah, “I will sing praises [to you]”) See v. 17.

79 tn Or “my elevated place” (see Ps 18:2).

80 tn Heb “the God of my [Qere (marginal reading); the Kethib (consonantal text) has “his”] loyal love will meet me.”

81 tn Heb “will cause me to look upon.”

82 tn Heb “those who watch me [with evil intent].” See also Pss 5:8; 27:11; 54:5; 56:2.

83 tn Heb “do not kill them, lest my people forget.”

sn My people might forget the lesson. Swift, sudden destruction might be quickly forgotten. The psalmist wants God’s judgment to be prolonged so that it might be a continual reminder of divine justice.

84 tn Heb “make them roam around by your strength and bring them down, O our shield, the Lord.”

85 tn Heb “the sin of their mouth [is] the word of their lips.”

86 tn Or “howl”; or “bark.”

87 tn Heb “go around.”

88 tn Heb “if they are not full, they stay through the night.”

89 tn Or “my elevated place” (see Ps 18:2).

90 tn Heb “and my shelter in the day of my distress.”

91 tn Heb “my strength, to you I will sing praises.”

92 tn Or “my elevated place” (see Ps 18:2).

93 tn Heb “the God of my loyal love.”



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