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Psalms 73:17-28

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 

73:21 Yes, 9  my spirit was bitter, 10 

and my insides felt sharp pain. 11 

73:22 I was ignorant 12  and lacked insight; 13 

I was as senseless as an animal before you. 14 

73:23 But I am continually with you;

you hold my right hand.

73:24 You guide 15  me by your wise advice,

and then you will lead me to a position of honor. 16 

73:25 Whom do I have in heaven but you?

I desire no one but you on earth. 17 

73:26 My flesh and my heart may grow weak, 18 

but God always 19  protects my heart and gives me stability. 20 

73:27 Yes, 21  look! Those far from you 22  die;

you destroy everyone who is unfaithful to you. 23 

73:28 But as for me, God’s presence is all I need. 24 

I have made the sovereign Lord my shelter,

as 25  I declare all the things you have done.

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.

9 tn Or perhaps “when.”

10 tn The imperfect verbal form here describes a continuing attitude in a past time frame.

11 tn Heb “and [in] my kidneys I was pierced.” The imperfect verbal form here describes a continuing condition in a past time frame.

12 tn Or “brutish, stupid.”

13 tn Heb “and I was not knowing.”

14 tn Heb “an animal I was with you.”

15 tn The imperfect verbal form here suggests this is the psalmist’s ongoing experience.

16 tn Heb “and afterward [to] glory you will take me.” Some interpreters view this as the psalmist’s confidence in an afterlife in God’s presence and understand כָּבוֹד (cavod) as a metonymic reference to God’s presence in heaven. But this seems unlikely in the present context. The psalmist anticipates a time of vindication, when the wicked are destroyed and he is honored by God for his godly life style. The verb לָקַח (laqakh, “take”) here carries the nuance “lead, guide, conduct,” as in Num 23:14, 27-28; Josh 24:3 and Prov 24:11.

17 tn Heb “Who [is there] for me in heaven? And besides you I do not desire [anyone] in the earth.” The psalmist uses a merism (heaven/earth) to emphasize that God is the sole object of his desire and worship in the entire universe.

18 tn The Hebrew verb כָלָה (khalah, “to fail; to grow weak”) does not refer here to physical death per se, but to the physical weakness that sometimes precedes death (see Job 33:21; Pss 71:9; 143:7; Prov 5:11).

19 tn Or “forever.”

20 tn Heb “is the rocky summit of my heart and my portion.” The psalmist compares the Lord to a rocky summit where one could go for protection and to landed property, which was foundational to economic stability in ancient Israel.

21 tn Or “for.”

22 sn The following line defines the phrase far from you in a spiritual sense. Those “far” from God are those who are unfaithful and disloyal to him.

23 tn Heb “everyone who commits adultery from you.”

24 tn Heb “but as for me, the nearness of God for me [is] good.”

25 tn The infinitive construct with -לְ (lÿ) is understood here as indicating an attendant circumstance. Another option is to take it as indicating purpose (“so that I might declare”) or result (“with the result that I declare”).



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