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Psalms 58:1--59:17

Context
Psalm 58 1 

For the music director; according to the al-tashcheth style; 2  a prayer 3  of David.

58:1 Do you rulers really pronounce just decisions? 4 

Do you judge people 5  fairly?

58:2 No! 6  You plan how to do what is unjust; 7 

you deal out violence in the earth. 8 

58:3 The wicked turn aside from birth; 9 

liars go astray as soon as they are born. 10 

58:4 Their venom is like that of a snake, 11 

like a deaf serpent 12  that does not hear, 13 

58:5 that does not respond to 14  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 15  like water that flows away! 16 

Let them wither like grass! 17 

58:8 Let them be 18  like a snail that melts away as it moves along! 19 

Let them be like 20  stillborn babies 21  that never see the sun!

58:9 Before the kindling is even placed under your pots, 22 

he 23  will sweep it away along with both the raw and cooked meat. 24 

58:10 The godly 25  will rejoice when they see vengeance carried out;

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

58:11 Then 26  observers 27  will say,

“Yes indeed, the godly are rewarded! 28 

Yes indeed, there is a God who judges 29  in the earth!”

Psalm 59 30 

For the music director; according to the al-tashcheth style; 31  a prayer 32  of David, written when Saul sent men to surround his house and murder him. 33 

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

Protect me 34  from those who attack me! 35 

59:2 Deliver me from evildoers! 36 

Rescue me from violent men! 37 

59:3 For look, they wait to ambush me; 38 

powerful men stalk 39  me,

but not because I have rebelled or sinned, O Lord. 40 

59:4 Though I have done nothing wrong, 41  they are anxious to attack. 42 

Spring into action and help me! Take notice of me! 43 

59:5 You, O Lord God, the invincible warrior, 44  the God of Israel,

rouse yourself and punish 45  all the nations!

Have no mercy on any treacherous evildoers! (Selah)

59:6 They return in the evening;

they growl 46  like a dog

and prowl around outside 47  the city.

59:7 Look, they hurl insults at me

and openly threaten to kill me, 48 

for they say, 49 

“Who hears?”

59:8 But you, O Lord, laugh in disgust at them; 50 

you taunt 51  all the nations.

59:9 You are my source of strength! I will wait for you! 52 

For God is my refuge. 53 

59:10 The God who loves me will help me; 54 

God will enable me to triumph over 55  my enemies. 56 

59:11 Do not strike them dead suddenly,

because then my people might forget the lesson. 57 

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

O Lord who shields us! 58 

59:12 They speak sinful words. 59 

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 60  like a dog

and prowl around outside 61  the city.

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

they refuse to sleep until they are full. 62 

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 63 

and my place of shelter when I face trouble. 64 

59:17 You are my source of strength! I will sing praises to you! 65 

For God is my refuge, 66  the God who loves me. 67 

Psalms 75:1-10

Context
Psalm 75 68 

For the music director; according to the al-tashcheth style; 69  a psalm of Asaph; a song.

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

You reveal your presence; 70 

people tell about your amazing deeds.

75:2 God says, 71 

“At the appointed times, 72 

I judge 73  fairly.

75:3 When the earth and all its inhabitants dissolve in fear, 74 

I make its pillars secure.” 75  (Selah)

75:4 76 I say to the proud, “Do not be proud,”

and to the wicked, “Do not be so confident of victory! 77 

75:5 Do not be so certain you have won! 78 

Do not speak with your head held so high! 79 

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

or from the wilderness. 80 

75:7 For God is the judge! 81 

He brings one down and exalts another. 82 

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

of foaming wine mixed with spices, 83 

and pours it out. 84 

Surely all the wicked of the earth

will slurp it up and drink it to its very last drop.” 85 

75:9 As for me, I will continually tell what you have done; 86 

I will sing praises to the God of Jacob!

75:10 God says, 87 

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

the godly will be victorious.” 88 

1 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.

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 57, 59, and 75.

3 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.”

4 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.

5 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.)

6 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).

7 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.”

8 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).

9 tn Heb “from the womb.”

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

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

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

13 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).

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

15 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.

16 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.”

17 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).”

18 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.

19 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.”

20 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).

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

22 tn Heb “before your pots perceive thorns.”

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

24 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.

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

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

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

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

29 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.

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

31 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.

32 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.”

33 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.

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

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

36 tn Heb “from the workers of wickedness.”

37 tn Heb “from men of bloodshed.”

38 tn Heb “my life.”

39 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.

40 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.

41 tn Heb “without sin.”

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

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

44 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.

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

46 tn Or “howl”; or “bark.”

47 tn Heb “go around.”

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

49 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.

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

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

52 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.

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

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

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

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

57 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.

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

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

60 tn Or “howl”; or “bark.”

61 tn Heb “go around.”

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

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

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

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

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

67 tn Heb “the God of my loyal love.”

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

69 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.

70 tn Heb “and near [is] your name.”

71 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.

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

73 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.”

74 tn Heb “melt.”

75 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.”

76 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”).

77 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.

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

79 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.

80 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.

81 tn Or “judges.”

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

83 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.

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

85 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.

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

87 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.

88 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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