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Psalms 75:4-6

Context

75:4 1 I say to the proud, “Do not be proud,”

and to the wicked, “Do not be so confident of victory! 2 

75:5 Do not be so certain you have won! 3 

Do not speak with your head held so high! 4 

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

or from the wilderness. 5 

1 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”).

2 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.

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

4 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.

5 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.



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