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Psalms 78:38-40


78:38 Yet he is compassionate.

He forgives sin and does not destroy.

He often holds back his anger,

and does not stir up his fury. 1 

78:39 He remembered 2  that they were made of flesh,

and were like a wind that blows past and does not return. 3 

78:40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness,

and insulted him 4  in the desert!

1 tn One could translate v. 38 in the past tense (“he was compassionate…forgave sin and did not destroy…held back his anger, and did not stir up his fury”), but the imperfect verbal forms are probably best understood as generalizing. Verse 38 steps back briefly from the narrational summary of Israel’s history and lays the theological basis for v. 39, which focuses on God’s mercy toward sinful Israel.

2 tn The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive signals a return to the narrative.

3 tn Heb “and he remembered that they [were] flesh, a wind [that] goes and does not return.”

4 tn Or “caused him pain.”

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