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Psalms 72:1-20

Context
Psalm 72 1 

For 2  Solomon.

72:1 O God, grant the king the ability to make just decisions! 3 

Grant the king’s son 4  the ability to make fair decisions! 5 

72:2 Then he will judge 6  your people fairly,

and your oppressed ones 7  equitably.

72:3 The mountains will bring news of peace to the people,

and the hills will announce justice. 8 

72:4 He will defend 9  the oppressed among the people;

he will deliver 10  the children 11  of the poor

and crush the oppressor.

72:5 People will fear 12  you 13  as long as the sun and moon remain in the sky,

for generation after generation. 14 

72:6 He 15  will descend like rain on the mown grass, 16 

like showers that drench 17  the earth. 18 

72:7 During his days the godly will flourish; 19 

peace will prevail as long as the moon remains in the sky. 20 

72:8 May he rule 21  from sea to sea, 22 

and from the Euphrates River 23  to the ends of the earth!

72:9 Before him the coastlands 24  will bow down,

and his enemies will lick the dust. 25 

72:10 The kings of Tarshish 26  and the coastlands will offer gifts;

the kings of Sheba 27  and Seba 28  will bring tribute.

72:11 All kings will bow down to him;

all nations will serve him.

72:12 For he will rescue the needy 29  when they cry out for help,

and the oppressed 30  who have no defender.

72:13 He will take pity 31  on the poor and needy;

the lives of the needy he will save.

72:14 From harm and violence he will defend them; 32 

he will value their lives. 33 

72:15 May he live! 34  May they offer him gold from Sheba! 35 

May they continually pray for him!

May they pronounce blessings on him all day long! 36 

72:16 May there be 37  an abundance 38  of grain in the earth;

on the tops 39  of the mountains may it 40  sway! 41 

May its 42  fruit trees 43  flourish 44  like the forests of Lebanon! 45 

May its crops 46  be as abundant 47  as the grass of the earth! 48 

72:17 May his fame endure! 49 

May his dynasty last as long as the sun remains in the sky! 50 

May they use his name when they formulate their blessings! 51 

May all nations consider him to be favored by God! 52 

72:18 The Lord God, the God of Israel, deserves praise! 53 

He alone accomplishes amazing things! 54 

72:19 His glorious name deserves praise 55  forevermore!

May his majestic splendor 56  fill the whole earth!

We agree! We agree! 57 

72:20 This collection of the prayers of David son of Jesse ends here. 58 

Psalms 144:1-15

Context
Psalm 144 59 

By David.

144:1 The Lord, my protector, 60  deserves praise 61 

the one who trains my hands for battle, 62 

and my fingers for war,

144:2 who loves me 63  and is my stronghold,

my refuge 64  and my deliverer,

my shield and the one in whom I take shelter,

who makes nations submit to me. 65 

144:3 O Lord, of what importance is the human race, 66  that you should notice them?

Of what importance is mankind, 67  that you should be concerned about them? 68 

144:4 People 69  are like a vapor,

their days like a shadow that disappears. 70 

144:5 O Lord, make the sky sink 71  and come down! 72 

Touch the mountains and make them smolder! 73 

144:6 Hurl lightning bolts and scatter them!

Shoot your arrows and rout them! 74 

144:7 Reach down 75  from above!

Grab me and rescue me from the surging water, 76 

from the power of foreigners, 77 

144:8 who speak lies,

and make false promises. 78 

144:9 O God, I will sing a new song to you!

Accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, I will sing praises to you,

144:10 the one who delivers 79  kings,

and rescued David his servant from a deadly 80  sword.

144:11 Grab me and rescue me from the power of foreigners, 81 

who speak lies,

and make false promises. 82 

144:12 Then 83  our sons will be like plants,

that quickly grow to full size. 84 

Our daughters will be like corner pillars, 85 

carved like those in a palace. 86 

144:13 Our storehouses 87  will be full,

providing all kinds of food. 88 

Our sheep will multiply by the thousands

and fill 89  our pastures. 90 

144:14 Our cattle will be weighted down with produce. 91 

No one will break through our walls,

no one will be taken captive,

and there will be no terrified cries in our city squares. 92 

144:15 How blessed are the people who experience these things! 93 

How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!

1 sn Psalm 72. This royal psalm contains a prayer for the Davidic king (note the imperatival form in v. 1 and the jussive forms in vv. 16-17). It is not entirely clear if vv. 2-15 express a prayer or anticipate a future reign. The translation assumes a blend of petition and vision: (I) opening prayer (v. 1), followed by anticipated results if prayer is answered (vv. 2-7); (II) prayer (v. 8), followed by anticipated results if prayer is answered (vv. 9-14); (III) closing prayer (vv. 15-17). Whether a prayer, vision, or combination of the two, the psalm depicts the king’s universal rule of peace and prosperity. As such it is indirectly messianic, for the ideal it expresses will only be fully realized during the Messiah’s earthly reign. Verses 18-19 are a conclusion for Book 2 of the Psalter (Pss 42-72; cf. Ps 41:13, which contains a similar conclusion for Book 1), while v. 20 appears to be a remnant of an earlier collection of psalms or an earlier edition of the Psalter.

2 tn The preposition could be understood as indicating authorship (“Of Solomon”), but since the psalm is a prayer for a king, it may be that the superscription reflects a tradition that understood this as a prayer for Solomon.

3 tn Heb “O God, your judgments to [the] king give.”

4 sn Grant the king…Grant the king’s son. It is not entirely clear whether v. 1 envisions one individual or two. The phrase “the king’s son” in the second line may simply refer to “the king” of the first line, drawing attention to the fact that he has inherited his dynastic rule. Another option is that v. 1 envisions a co-regency between father and son (a common phenomenon in ancient Israel) or simply expresses a hope for a dynasty that champions justice.

5 tn Heb “and your justice to [the] son of [the] king.”

6 tn The prefixed verbal form appears to be an imperfect, not a jussive.

7 sn These people are called God’s oppressed ones because he is their defender (see Pss 9:12, 18; 10:12; 12:5).

8 tn Heb “[the] mountains will bear peace to the people, and [the] hills with justice.” The personified mountains and hills probably represent messengers who will sweep over the land announcing the king’s just decrees and policies. See Isa 52:7 and C. A. Briggs and E. G. Briggs, Psalms (ICC), 2:133.

9 tn Heb “judge [for].”

10 tn The prefixed verbal form appears to be an imperfect, not a jussive.

11 tn Heb “sons.”

12 tn In this context “fear” probably means “to demonstrate respect for the Lord’s power and authority by worshiping him and obeying his commandments.” See Ps 33:8. Some interpreters, with the support of the LXX, prefer to read וְיַאֲרִיךְ (vÿaarikh, “and he [the king in this case] will prolong [days]”), that is, “will live a long time” (cf. NIV, NRSV).

13 tn God is the addressee (see vv. 1-2).

14 tn Heb “with [the] sun, and before [the] moon [for] a generation, generations.” The rare expression דּוֹר דּוֹרִים (dor dorim, “generation, generations”) occurs only here, in Ps 102:24, and in Isa 51:8.

15 tn That is, the king (see vv. 2, 4).

16 tn The rare term zg refers to a sheep’s fleece in Deut 18:4 and Job 31:20, but to “mown” grass or crops here and in Amos 7:1.

17 tc The form in the Hebrew text appears to be an otherwise unattested noun. Many prefer to emend the form to a verb from the root זָרַף (zaraf). BHS in textual note b on this verse suggests a Hiphil imperfect, third masculine plural יַזְרִיפוּ (yazrifu), while HALOT 283 s.v. *זרף prefers a Pilpel perfect, third masculine plural זִרְזְפוּ (zirzÿfu). The translation assumes the latter.

18 sn The imagery of this verse compares the blessings produced by the king’s reign to fructifying rains that cause the crops to grow.

19 tn Heb “sprout up,” like crops. This verse continues the metaphor of rain utilized in v. 6.

20 tn Heb “and [there will be an] abundance of peace until there is no more moon.”

21 tn The prefixed verbal form is a (shortened) jussive form, indicating this is a prayer of blessing.

22 sn From sea to sea. This may mean from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Dead Sea in the east. See Amos 8:12. The language of this and the following line also appears in Zech 9:10.

23 tn Heb “the river,” a reference to the Euphrates.

24 tn Or “islands.” The term here refers metonymically to those people who dwell in these regions.

25 sn As they bow down before him, it will appear that his enemies are licking the dust.

26 sn Tarshish was a distant western port, the precise location of which is uncertain.

27 sn Sheba was located in Arabia.

28 sn Seba was located in Africa.

29 tn The singular is representative. The typical needy individual here represents the entire group.

30 tn The singular is representative. The typical oppressed individual here represents the entire group.

31 tn The prefixed verb form is best understood as a defectively written imperfect (see Deut 7:16).

32 tn Or “redeem their lives.” The verb “redeem” casts the Lord in the role of a leader who protects members of his extended family in times of need and crisis (see Pss 19:14; 69:18).

33 tn Heb “their blood will be precious in his eyes.”

34 tn The prefixed verbal form is jussive, not imperfect. Because the form has the prefixed vav (ו), some subordinate it to what precedes as a purpose/result clause. In this case the representative poor individual might be the subject of this and the following verb, “so that he may live and give to him gold of Sheba.” But the idea of the poor offering gold is incongruous. It is better to take the jussive as a prayer with the king as subject of the verb. (Perhaps the initial vav is dittographic; note the vav at the end of the last form in v. 14.) The statement is probably an abbreviated version of the formula יְחִי הַמֶּלֶךְ (yÿkhiy hammelekh, “may the king live”; see 1 Sam 10:24; 2 Sam 16:16; 1 Kgs 1:25, 34, 39; 2 Kgs 11:12).

35 tn Heb “and he will give to him some gold of Sheba.” The prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive with a grammatically indefinite subject (“and may one give”). Of course, the king’s subjects, mentioned in the preceding context, are the tribute bearers in view here.

36 tn As in the preceding line, the prefixed verbal forms are understood as jussives with a grammatically indefinite subject (“and may one pray…and may one bless”). Of course, the king’s subjects, mentioned in the preceding context, are in view here.

37 tn The prefixed verbal form is jussive, not imperfect. The translation assumes the subject is impersonal (rather than the king).

38 tn The Hebrew noun פִסַּה (pissah; which appears here in the construct form) occurs only here in the OT. Perhaps the noun is related to the verbal root פָּשָׂה (pasah, “to spread,” see BDB 832 s.v.; the root appears as פָּסָה [pasah] in postbiblical Hebrew), which is used in postbiblical Hebrew of the rising sun’s rays spreading over the horizon and a tree’s branches spreading out (see Jastrow 1194 s.v. פסי, פָּסָה, פָּשָׂה). In Ps 72:16 a “spreading of grain” would refer to grain fields extending out over the land. C. A. Briggs and E. G. Briggs (Psalms [ICC], 2:139) emend the form to סְפִיחַ (sÿfiakh, “second growth”).

39 tn Heb “top” (singular).

40 tn That is, the grain.

41 tn According to the traditional accentuation of the MT, this verb belongs with what follows. See the translator’s note at the end of the verse for a discussion of the poetic parallelism and interpretation of the verse.

42 tn The antecedent of the third masculine singular pronominal suffix is unclear. It is unlikely that the antecedent is אֶרֶץ (’erets, “earth”) because this noun is normally grammatically feminine. Perhaps רֹאשׁ (rosh, “top [of the mountains]”) is the antecedent. Another option is to understand the pronoun as referring to the king, who would then be viewed as an instrument of divine agricultural blessing (see v. 6).

43 tn Heb “fruit.”

44 tc According to the traditional accentuation of the MT, this verb belongs with what follows. See the note on the word “earth” at the end of the verse for a discussion of the poetic parallelism and interpretation of the verse. The present translation takes it with the preceding words, “like Lebanon its fruit” and emends the verb form from וְיָצִיצוּ (vÿyatsitsu; Qal imperfect third masculine plural with prefixed vav, [ו]) to יָצִיץ (yatsits; Qal imperfect third masculine singular). The initial vav is eliminated as dittographic (note the vav on the ending of the preceding form פִּרְיוֹ, piryo, “its/his fruit”) and the vav at the end of the form is placed on the following emended form (see the note on the word “crops”), yielding וַעֲמִיר (vaamir, “and [its] crops”).

45 tn Heb “like Lebanon.”

46 tc The MT has “from the city.” The translation assumes an emendation to עֲמִיר (’amir, “crops”).

47 tn The translation assumes that the verb צוץ (“flourish”) goes with the preceding line. The words “be as abundant” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

48 tc The traditional accentuation and vocalization of the MT differ from the text assumed by the present translation. The MT reads as follows: “May there be an abundance of grain in the earth, / and on the tops of the mountains! / May its [or “his”?] fruit [trees?] rustle like [the trees of] Lebanon! / May they flourish from the city, like the grass of the earth!” If one follows the MT, then it would appear that the “fruit” of the third line is a metaphorical reference to the king’s people, who flow out from the cities to populate the land (see line 4). Elsewhere in the OT people are sometimes compared to grass that sprouts up from the land (see v. 7, as well as Isa 27:6; Pss 92:7; 103:15). The translation understands a different poetic structural arrangement and, assuming the emendations mentioned in earlier notes, interprets each line of the verse to be a prayer for agricultural abundance.

49 tn Heb “may his name [be] permanent.” The prefixed verbal form is jussive, not imperfect.

50 tn Heb “before the sun may his name increase.” The Kethib (consonantal text) assumes יָנִין (yanin; a Hiphil of the verbal root נִין, nin) or יְנַיֵן (yÿnayen; a Piel form), while the Qere (marginal reading) assumes יִנּוֹן (yinnon; a Niphal form). The verb נִין occurs only here, though a derived noun, meaning “offspring,” appears elsewhere (see Isa 14:22). The verb appears to mean “propagate, increase” (BDB 630 s.v. נוּן, נִין) or “produce shoots, get descendants” (HALOT 696 s.v. נין). In this context this appears to be a prayer for a lasting dynasty that will keep the king’s name and memory alive.

51 tn Heb “may they bless one another by him,” that is, use the king’s name in their blessing formulae because he is a prime example of one blessed by God (for examples of such blessing formulae, see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11). There is some debate on whether the Hitpael form of בָּרַךְ (barakh, “bless”) is reflexive-reciprocal (as assumed in the present translation) or passive. The Hitpael of בָּרַךְ occurs in five other passages, including the hotly debated Gen 22:18 and 26:4. In these two texts one could understand the verb form as passive and translate, “all the nations of the earth will be blessed through your offspring,” or one could take the Hitpael as reflexive or reciprocal and translate, “all the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings [i.e., on themselves or one another] by your offspring.” In the first instance Abraham’s (or Isaac’s) offspring are viewed as a channel of divine blessing. In the second instance they are viewed as a prime example of blessing that will appear as part of the nations’ blessing formulae, but not necessarily as a channel of blessing to the nations. In Deut 29:18 one reads: “When one hears the words of this covenant [or “oath”] and invokes a blessing on himself (Hitpael of בָּרַךְ) in his heart, saying: ‘I will have peace, even though I walk with a rebellious heart.’” In this case the Hitpael is clearly reflexive, as the phrases “in his heart” and “I will have peace” indicate. The Hitpael of בָּרַךְ appears twice in Isaiah 65:16: “The one who invokes a blessing on himself (see Deut 9:18) in the land will invoke that blessing by the God of truth; and the one who makes an oath in the land will make that oath by the God of truth.” A passive nuance does not fit here. The parallel line, which mentions making an oath, suggests that the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ refers here to invoking a blessing. Both pronouncements of blessing and oaths will appeal to God as the one who rewards and judges, respectively. Jer 4:2 states: “If you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ with truth, integrity, and honesty, then the nations will pronounce blessings by him and boast in him.” A passive nuance might work (“the nations will be blessed”), but the context refers to verbal pronouncements (swearing an oath, boasting), suggesting that the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ refers here to invoking a blessing. The logic of the verse seems to be as follows: If Israel conducts its affairs with integrity, the nation will be favored by the Lord, which will in turn attract the surrounding nations to Israel’s God. To summarize, while the evidence might leave the door open for a passive interpretation, there is no clear cut passive use. Usage favors a reflexive or reciprocal understanding of the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ. In Ps 72:17 the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ is followed by the prepositional phrase בוֹ (vo, “by him”). The verb could theoretically be taken as passive, “may all the nations be blessed through him” (cf. NIV, NRSV), because the preceding context describes the positive effects of this king’s rule on the inhabitants of the earth. But the parallel line, which employs the Piel of אָשַׁר (’ashar) in a factitive/declarative sense, “regard as happy, fortunate,” suggests a reflexive or reciprocal nuance for the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ here. If the nations regard the ideal king as a prime example of one who is fortunate or blessed, it is understandable that they would use his name in their pronouncements of blessing.

52 tn Heb “all the nations, may they regard him as happy.” The Piel is used here in a delocutive sense (“regard as”).

53 tn Heb “[be] blessed.” See Pss 18:46; 28:6; 31:21; 41:13.

54 tn Heb “[the] one who does amazing things by himself.”

55 tn Heb “[be] blessed.”

56 tn Or “glory.”

57 tn Heb “surely and surely” (אָמֵן וְאָמֵן [’amen vÿamen], i.e., “Amen and amen”). This is probably a congregational response of agreement to the immediately preceding statement about the propriety of praising God.

58 tn Heb “the prayers of David, son of Jesse, are concluded.” As noted earlier, v. 20 appears to be a remnant of an earlier collection of psalms or an earlier edition of the Psalter. In the present arrangement of the Book of Psalms, not all psalms prior to this are attributed to David (see Pss 1-2, 10, 33, 42-50, 66-67, 71-72) and several psalms attributed to David appear after this (see Pss 86, 101, 103, 108-110, 122, 124, 131, 138-145).

59 sn Psalm 144. The psalmist expresses his confidence in God, asks for a mighty display of divine intervention in an upcoming battle, and anticipates God’s rich blessings on the nation in the aftermath of military victory.

60 tn Heb “my rocky summit.” The Lord is compared to a rocky summit where one can find protection from enemies. See Ps 18:2.

61 tn Heb “blessed [be] the Lord, my rocky summit.”

62 sn The one who trains my hands for battle. The psalmist attributes his skill with weapons to divine enablement (see Ps 18:34). Egyptian reliefs picture gods teaching the king how to shoot a bow. See O. Keel, The Symbolism of the Biblical World, 265.

63 tn Heb “my loyal love,” which is probably an abbreviated form of “the God of my loyal love” (see Ps 59:10, 17).

64 tn Or “my elevated place.”

65 tn Heb “the one who subdues nations beneath me.”

66 tn Heb “What is mankind?” The singular noun אֱנוֹשׁ (’enosh) is used here in a collective sense and refers to the human race. See Ps 8:5.

67 tn Heb “and the son of man.” The phrase “son of man” is used here in a collective sense and refers to human beings. For other uses of the phrase in a collective or representative manner, see Num 23:19; Ps 146:3; Isa 51:12.

68 tn Heb “take account of him.” The two imperfect verbal forms in v. 4 describe God’s characteristic activity.

69 tn Heb “man,” or “mankind.”

70 tn Heb “his days [are] like a shadow that passes away,” that is, like a late afternoon shadow made by the descending sun that will soon be swallowed up by complete darkness. See Ps 102:11.

71 tn The Hebrew verb נָטָה (natah) can carry the sense “to [cause to] bend; to [cause to] bow down.” For example, Gen 49:15 pictures Issachar as a donkey that “bends” its shoulder or back under a burden. Here the Lord causes the sky, pictured as a dome or vault, to sink down as he descends in the storm. See Ps 18:9.

72 tn Heb “so you might come down.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) conjunctive indicates purpose after the preceding imperative. The same type of construction is utilized in v. 6.

73 tn Heb “so they might smolder.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) conjunctive indicates purpose after the preceding imperative.

74 sn Arrows and lightning bolts are associated in other texts (see Pss 18:14; 77:17-18; Zech 9:14), as well as in ancient Near Eastern art (see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” [Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983], 187).

75 tn Heb “stretch out your hands.”

76 tn Heb “mighty waters.” The waters of the sea symbolize the psalmist’s powerful foreign enemies, as well as the realm of death they represent (see the next line and Ps 18:16-17).

77 tn Heb “from the hand of the sons of foreignness.”

78 tn Heb “who [with] their mouth speak falsehood, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.” The reference to the “right hand” is probably a metonymy for an oath. When making an oath, one would raise the hand as a solemn gesture. See Exod 6:8; Num 14:30; Deut 32:40. The figure thus represents the making of false oaths (false promises).

79 tn Heb “grants deliverance to.”

80 tn Heb “harmful.”

81 tn Heb “from the hand of the sons of foreignness.”

82 tn Heb “who [with] their mouth speak falsehood, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.” See v. 8 where the same expression occurs.

83 tn Some consider אֲשֶׁר (’asher) problematic, but here it probably indicates the anticipated consequence of the preceding request. (For other examples of אֲשֶׁר indicating purpose/result, see BDB 83 s.v. and HALOT 99 s.v.) If the psalmist – who appears to be a Davidic king preparing to fight a battle (see vv. 10-11) – is victorious, the whole nation will be spared invasion and defeat (see v. 14) and can flourish. Some prefer to emend the form to אַשְׁרֵי (“how blessed [are our sons]”). A suffixed noun sometimes follows אַשְׁרֵי (’ashrey; see 1 Kgs 10:8; Prov 20:7), but the presence of a comparative element (see “like plants”) after the suffixed noun makes the proposed reading too awkward syntactically.

84 tn Heb “grown up in their youth.” The translation assumes that “grown up” modifies “plants” (just as “carved” modifies “corner pillars” in the second half of the verse). Another option is to take “grown up” as a predicate in relation to “our sons,” in which case one might translate, “they will be strapping youths.”

85 tn The Hebrew noun occurs only here and in Zech 9:15, where it refers to the corners of an altar.

86 tn Heb “carved [in] the pattern of a palace.”

87 tn The Hebrew noun occurs only here.

88 tn Heb “from kind to kind.” Some prefer to emend the text to מָזוֹן עַל מָזוֹן (mazonal mazon, “food upon food”).

89 tn Heb “they are innumerable.”

90 tn Heb “in outside places.” Here the term refers to pastures and fields (see Job 5:10; Prov 8:26).

91 tn Heb “weighted down.” This probably refers (1) to the cattle having the produce from the harvest placed on their backs to be transported to the storehouses (see BDB 687 s.v. סָבַל). Other options are (2) to take this as reference to the cattle being pregnant (see HALOT 741 s.v. סבל pu) or (3) to their being well-fed or fattened (see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 [WBC], 288).

92 tn Heb “there [will be] no breach, and there [will be] no going out, and there [will be] no crying out in our broad places.”

93 tn Heb “[O] the happiness of the people who [it is] such to them.”



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