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Psalms 73:17-20

Context

73:17 Then I entered the precincts of God’s temple, 1 

and understood the destiny of the wicked. 2 

73:18 Surely 3  you put them in slippery places;

you bring them down 4  to ruin.

73:19 How desolate they become in a mere moment!

Terrifying judgments make their demise complete! 5 

73:20 They are like a dream after one wakes up. 6 

O Lord, when you awake 7  you will despise them. 8 

1 tn The plural of the term מִקְדָּשׁ (miqdash) probably refers to the temple precincts (see Ps 68:35; Jer 51:51).

2 tn Heb “I discerned their end.” At the temple the psalmist perhaps received an oracle of deliverance announcing his vindication and the demise of the wicked (see Ps 12) or heard songs of confidence (for example, Ps 11), wisdom psalms (for example, Pss 1, 37), and hymns (for example, Ps 112) that describe the eventual downfall of the proud and wealthy.

3 tn The use of the Hebrew term אַךְ (’akh, “surely”) here literarily counteracts its use in v. 13. The repetition draws attention to the contrast between the two statements, the first of which expresses the psalmist’s earlier despair and the second his newly discovered confidence.

4 tn Heb “cause them to fall.”

5 tn Heb “they come to an end, they are finished, from terrors.”

6 tn Heb “like a dream from awakening.” They lack any real substance; their prosperity will last for only a brief time.

7 sn When you awake. The psalmist compares God’s inactivity to sleep and the time of God’s judgment to his awakening from sleep.

8 tn Heb “you will despise their form.” The Hebrew term צֶלֶם (tselem, “form; image”) also suggests their short-lived nature. Rather than having real substance, they are like the mere images that populate one’s dreams. Note the similar use of the term in Ps 39:6.



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