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Psalms 7:1--8:9

Context
Psalm 7 1 

A musical composition 2  by David, which he sang to the Lord concerning 3  a Benjaminite named Cush. 4 

7:1 O Lord my God, in you I have taken shelter. 5 

Deliver me from all who chase me! Rescue me!

7:2 Otherwise they will rip 6  me 7  to shreds like a lion;

they will tear me to bits and no one will be able to rescue me. 8 

7:3 O Lord my God, if I have done what they say, 9 

or am guilty of unjust actions, 10 

7:4 or have wronged my ally, 11 

or helped his lawless enemy, 12 

7:5 may an enemy relentlessly chase 13  me 14  and catch me; 15 

may he trample me to death 16 

and leave me lying dishonored in the dust. 17  (Selah)

7:6 Stand up angrily, 18  Lord!

Rise up with raging fury against my enemies! 19 

Wake up for my sake and execute the judgment you have decreed for them! 20 

7:7 The countries are assembled all around you; 21 

take once more your rightful place over them! 22 

7:8 The Lord judges the nations. 23 

Vindicate me, Lord, because I am innocent, 24 

because I am blameless, 25  O Exalted One! 26 

7:9 May the evil deeds of the wicked 27  come to an end! 28 

But make the innocent 29  secure, 30 

O righteous God,

you who examine 31  inner thoughts and motives! 32 

7:10 The Exalted God is my shield, 33 

the one who delivers the morally upright. 34 

7:11 God is a just judge;

he is angry throughout the day. 35 

7:12 If a person 36  does not repent, God sharpens his sword 37 

and prepares to shoot his bow. 38 

7:13 He prepares to use deadly weapons against him; 39 

he gets ready to shoot flaming arrows. 40 

7:14 See the one who is pregnant with wickedness,

who conceives destructive plans,

and gives birth to harmful lies – 41 

7:15 he digs a pit 42 

and then falls into the hole he has made. 43 

7:16 He becomes the victim of his own destructive plans 44 

and the violence he intended for others falls on his own head. 45 

7:17 I will thank the Lord for 46  his justice;

I will sing praises to the sovereign Lord! 47 

Psalm 8 48 

For the music director, according to the gittith style; 49  a psalm of David.

8:1 O Lord, our Lord, 50 

how magnificent 51  is your reputation 52  throughout the earth!

You reveal your majesty in the heavens above! 53 

8:2 From the mouths of children and nursing babies

you have ordained praise on account of your adversaries, 54 

so that you might put an end to the vindictive enemy. 55 

8:3 When I look up at the heavens, which your fingers made,

and see the moon and the stars, which you set in place, 56 

8:4 Of what importance is the human race, 57  that you should notice 58  them?

Of what importance is mankind, 59  that you should pay attention to them, 60 

8:5 and make them a little less than the heavenly beings? 61 

You grant mankind 62  honor and majesty; 63 

8:6 you appoint them to rule over your creation; 64 

you have placed 65  everything under their authority, 66 

8:7 including all the sheep and cattle,

as well as the wild animals, 67 

8:8 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea

and everything that moves through the currents 68  of the seas.

8:9 O Lord, our Lord, 69 

how magnificent 70  is your reputation 71  throughout the earth! 72 

1 sn Psalm 7. The psalmist asks the Lord to intervene and deliver him from his enemies. He protests his innocence and declares his confidence in God’s justice.

2 tn The precise meaning of the Hebrew term שִׁגָּיוֹן (shiggayon; translated here “musical composition”) is uncertain. Some derive the noun from the verbal root שָׁגָה (shagah, “swerve, reel”) and understand it as referring to a “wild, passionate song, with rapid changes of rhythm” (see BDB 993 s.v. שִׁגָּיוֹן). But this proposal is purely speculative. The only other appearance of the noun is in Hab 3:1, where it occurs in the plural.

3 tn Or “on account of.”

4 sn Apparently this individual named Cush was one of David’s enemies.

5 tn The Hebrew perfect verbal form probably refers here to a completed action with continuing results.

6 tn The verb is singular in the Hebrew text, even though “all who chase me” in v. 1 refers to a whole group of enemies. The singular is also used in vv. 4-5, but the psalmist returns to the plural in v. 6. The singular is probably collective, emphasizing the united front that the psalmist’s enemies present. This same alternation between a collective singular and a plural referring to enemies appears in Pss 9:3, 6; 13:4; 31:4, 8; 41:6, 10-11; 42:9-10; 55:3; 64:1-2; 74:3-4; 89:22-23; 106:10-11; 143:3, 6, 9.

7 tn Heb “my life.” The pronominal suffix attached to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is equivalent to a personal pronoun. See Ps 6:3.

8 tn Heb “tearing and there is no one rescuing.” The verbal form translated “tearing” is a singular active participle.

9 tn Heb “if I have done this.”

10 tn Heb “if there is injustice in my hands.” The “hands” figuratively suggest deeds or actions.

11 tn Heb “if I have repaid the one at peace with me evil.” The form שׁוֹלְמִי (sholÿmi, “the one at peace with me”) probably refers to a close friend or ally, i.e., one with whom the psalmist has made a formal agreement. See BDB 1023 s.v. שָׁלוֹם 4.a.

12 tn Heb “or rescued my enemy in vain.” The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive (the verb form is pseudo-cohortative; see IBHS 576-77 §34.5.3) carries on the hypothetical nuance of the perfect in the preceding line. Some regard the statement as a parenthetical assertion that the psalmist is kind to his enemies. Others define חָלַץ (khalats) as “despoil” (cf. NASB, NRSV “plundered”; NIV “robbed”), an otherwise unattested nuance for this verb. Still others emend the verb to לָחַץ (lakhats, “oppress”). Most construe the adverb רֵיקָם (reqam, “emptily, vainly”) with “my enemy,” i.e., the one who is my enemy in vain.” The present translation (1) assumes an emendation of צוֹרְרִי (tsorÿriy, “my enemy”) to צוֹרְרוֹ (tsorÿro, “his [i.e., the psalmist’s ally’s] enemy”) following J. Tigay, “Psalm 7:5 and Ancient Near Eastern Treaties,” JBL 89 (1970): 178-86, (2) understands the final mem (ם) on רֵיקָם as enclitic, and (3) takes רִיק (riq) as an adjective modifying “his enemy.” (For other examples of a suffixed noun followed by an attributive adjective without the article, see Pss 18:17 (“my strong enemy”), 99:3 (“your great and awesome name”) and 143:10 (“your good spirit”). The adjective רִיק occurs with the sense “lawless” in Judg 9:4; 11:3; 2 Chr 13:7. In this case the psalmist affirms that he has not wronged his ally, nor has he given aid to his ally’s enemies. Ancient Near Eastern treaties typically included such clauses, with one or both parties agreeing not to lend aid to the treaty partner’s enemies.

13 tn The vocalization of the verb form seems to be a mixture of Qal and Piel (see GKC 168 §63.n). The translation assumes the Piel, which would emphasize the repetitive nature of the action. The translation assumes the prefixed verbal form is a jussive. The psalmist is so certain that he is innocent of the sins mentioned in vv. 3-4, he pronounces an imprecation on himself for rhetorical effect.

14 tn Heb “my life.” The pronominal suffix attached to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is equivalent to a personal pronoun. See Ps 6:3.

15 tn Heb “and may he overtake.” The prefixed verbal form is distinctly jussive. The object “me,” though unexpressed, is understood from the preceding statement.

16 tn Heb “and may he trample down to the earth my life.”

17 tn Heb “and my honor in the dust may he cause to dwell.” The prefixed verbal form is distinctly jussive. Some emend כְבוֹדִי (khÿvodiy, “my honor”) to כְבֵדִי (khÿvediy, “my liver” as the seat of life), but the term כְבוֹדִי (khÿvodiy) is to be retained since it probably refers to the psalmist’s dignity or honor.

18 tn Heb “in your anger.”

19 tn Heb “Lift yourself up in the angry outbursts of my enemies.” Many understand the preposition prefixed to עַבְרוֹת (’avrot, “angry outbursts”) as adversative, “against,” and the following genitive “enemies” as subjective. In this case one could translate, “rise up against my furious enemies” (cf. NIV, NRSV). The present translation, however, takes the preposition as indicating manner (cf. “in your anger” in the previous line) and understands the plural form of the noun as indicating an abstract quality (“fury”) or excessive degree (“raging fury”). Cf. Job 21:30.

20 tc Heb “Wake up to me [with the] judgment [which] you have commanded.” The LXX understands אֵלִי (’eliy, “my God”) instead of אֵלַי (’elay, “to me”; the LXX reading is followed by NEB, NIV, NRSV.) If the reading of the MT is retained, the preposition probably has the sense of “on account of, for the sake of.” The noun מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat, “judgment”) is probably an adverbial accusative, modifying the initial imperative, “wake up.” In this case צִוִּיתָ (tsivvita, “[which] you have commanded”) is an asyndetic relative clause. Some take the perfect as precative. In this case one could translate the final line, “Wake up for my sake! Decree judgment!” (cf. NIV). However, not all grammarians are convinced that the perfect is used as a precative in biblical Hebrew.

21 tn Heb “and the assembly of the peoples surrounds you.” Some understand the prefixed verbal form as a jussive, “may the assembly of the peoples surround you.”

22 tn Heb “over it (the feminine suffix refers back to the feminine noun “assembly” in the preceding line) on high return.” Some emend שׁוּבָה (shuvah, “return”) to שֵׁבָה (shevah, “sit [in judgment]”) because they find the implication of “return” problematic. But the psalmist does not mean to imply that God has abandoned his royal throne and needs to regain it. Rather he simply urges God, as sovereign king of the world, to once more occupy his royal seat of judgment and execute judgment, as the OT pictures God doing periodically.

23 sn The Lord judges the nations. In hyperbolic fashion the psalmist pictures the nations assembled around the divine throne (v. 7a). He urges God to take his rightful place on the throne (v. 7b) and then pictures him making judicial decisions that vindicate the innocent (see vv. 8-16).

24 tn Heb “judge me, O Lord, according to my innocence.”

25 tn Heb “according to my blamelessness.” The imperative verb translated “vindicate” governs the second line as well.

26 tn The Hebrew form עָלָי (’alay) has been traditionally understood as the preposition עַל (’al, “over”) with a first person suffix. But this is syntactically awkward and meaningless. The form is probably a divine title derived from the verbal root עָלָה (’alah, “ascend”). This relatively rare title appears elsewhere in the OT (see HALOT 824-25 s.v. I עַל, though this text is not listed) and in Ugaritic as an epithet for Baal (see G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 98). See M. Dahood, Psalms (AB), 1:44-45, and P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC), 98.

27 tn In the psalms the Hebrew term רְשָׁעִים (rÿshaim, “wicked”) describes people who are proud, practical atheists (Ps 10:2, 4, 11) who hate God’s commands, commit sinful deeds, speak lies and slander (Ps 50:16-20), and cheat others (Ps 37:21). They oppose God and his people.

28 tn The prefixed verbal form is a jussive, expressing an imprecation here.

29 tn Or “the godly” (see Ps 5:12). The singular form is collective (see the plural “upright in heart” in v. 10), though it may reflect the personal focus of the psalmist in this context.

30 tn The prefixed verbal form expresses the psalmist’s prayer or wish.

31 tn For other uses of the verb in this sense, see Job 7:18; Pss 11:4; 26:2; 139:23.

32 tn Heb “and [the one who] tests hearts and kidneys, just God.” The translation inverts the word order to improve the English style. The heart and kidneys were viewed as the seat of one’s volition, conscience, and moral character.

33 tn Traditionally, “my shield is upon God” (cf. NASB). As in v. 8, עַל (’al) should be understood as a divine title, here compounded with “God” (cf. NIV, “God Most High”). See M. Dahood, Psalms (AB), 1:45-46. The shield metaphor pictures God as a protector against deadly attacks.

34 tn Heb “pure of heart.” The “heart” is here viewed as the seat of one’s moral character and motives. The “pure of heart” are God’s faithful followers who trust in and love the Lord and, as a result, experience his deliverance (see Pss 11:2; 32:11; 36:10; 64:10; 94:15; 97:11).

35 tn Heb “God (the divine name אֵל [’el] is used) is angry during all the day.” The verb זֹעֵם (zoem) means “be indignant, be angry, curse.” Here God’s angry response to wrongdoing and injustice leads him to prepare to execute judgment as described in the following verses.

36 tn Heb “If he”; the referent (a person who is a sinner) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The subject of the first verb is understood as the sinner who fails to repent of his ways and becomes the target of God’s judgment (vv. 9, 14-16).

37 tn Heb “if he does not return, his sword he sharpens.” The referent (God) of the pronominal subject of the second verb (“sharpens”) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

38 tn Heb “his bow he treads and prepares it.” “Treading the bow” involved stepping on one end of it in order to string it and thus prepare it for battle.

39 tn Heb “and for him he prepares the weapons of death.”

40 tn Heb “his arrows into flaming [things] he makes.”

41 tn Heb “and he conceives harm and gives birth to a lie.”

sn Pregnant with wickedness…gives birth to harmful lies. The psalmist metaphorically pictures the typical sinner as a pregnant woman, who is ready to give birth to wicked, destructive schemes and actions.

42 tn Heb “a pit he digs and he excavates it.” Apparently the imagery of hunting is employed; the wicked sinner digs this pit to entrap and destroy his intended victim. The redundancy in the Hebrew text has been simplified in the translation.

43 tn The verb forms in vv. 15-16 describe the typical behavior and destiny of those who attempt to destroy others. The image of the evildoer falling into the very trap he set for his intended victim emphasizes the appropriate nature of God’s judgment.

44 tn Heb “his harm [i.e., the harm he conceived for others, see v. 14] returns on his head.”

45 tn Heb “and on his forehead his violence [i.e., the violence he intended to do to others] comes down.”

46 tn Heb “according to.”

47 tn Heb “[to] the name of the Lord Most High.” God’s “name” refers metonymically to his divine characteristics as suggested by his name, in this case the compound “Lord Most High.” The divine title “Most High” (עֶלְיוֹן, ’elyon) pictures God as the exalted ruler of the universe who vindicates the innocent and judges the wicked. See especially Ps 47:2.

48 sn Psalm 8. In this hymn to the sovereign creator, the psalmist praises God’s majesty and marvels that God has given mankind dominion over the created order.

49 tn The precise meaning of the Hebrew term הגתית is uncertain; it probably refers to a musical style or type of instrument.

50 tn The plural form of the title emphasizes the Lord’s absolute sovereignty.

51 tn Or “awesome”; or “majestic.”

52 tn Heb “name,” which here stands metonymically for God’s reputation.

53 tc Heb “which, give, your majesty on the heavens.” The verb form תְּנָה (tÿnah; an imperative?) is corrupt. The form should be emended to a second masculine singular perfect (נָתַתָּה, natatah) or imperfect (תִתֵן, titen) form. The introductory אֲשֶׁר (’asher, “which”) can be taken as a relative pronoun (“you who”) or as a causal conjunction (“because”). One may literally translate, “you who [or “because you”] place your majesty upon the heavens.” For other uses of the phrase “place majesty upon” see Num 27:20 and 1 Chr 29:25.

54 tn Heb “you establish strength because of your foes.” The meaning of the statement is unclear. The present translation follows the reading of the LXX which has “praise” (αἶνος, ainos) in place of “strength” (עֹז, ’oz); cf. NIV, NCV, NLT.

55 tn Heb “to cause to cease an enemy and an avenger.” The singular forms are collective. The Hitpael participle of נָקַם (naqam) also occurs in Ps 44:16.

56 tn Heb “when I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and stars which you established.” The verb “[and] see” is understood by ellipsis in the second half of the verse.

57 tn Heb “What is man[kind]?” The singular noun אֱנוֹשׁ (’enosh, “man”) is used here in a collective sense and refers to the human race.

58 tn Heb “remember him.”

59 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.

60 tn The two imperfect verbal forms in v. 4 describe God’s characteristic activity.

61 tn Heb “and you make him lack a little from [the] gods [or “God”].” The Piel form of חָסַר (khasar, “to decrease, to be devoid”) is used only here and in Eccl 4:8, where it means “to deprive, to cause to be lacking.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive either carries on the characteristic nuance of the imperfect in v. 5b or indicates a consequence (“so that you make him…”) of the preceding statement (see GKC 328 §111.m). Some prefer to make this an independent clause and translate it as a new sentence, “You made him….” In this case the statement might refer specifically to the creation of the first human couple, Adam and Eve (cf. Gen 1:26-27). The psalmist does appear to allude to Gen 1:26-27, where mankind is created in the image of God and his angelic assembly (note “let us make man in our image” in Gen 1:26). However, the psalmist’s statement need not be limited in its focus to that historical event, for all mankind shares the image imparted to the first human couple. Consequently the psalmist can speak in general terms of the exalted nature of mankind. The referent of אֱלֹהִים (’elohim, “God” or “the heavenly beings”) is unclear. Some understand this as a reference to God alone, but the allusion to Gen 1:26-27 suggests a broader referent, including God and the other heavenly beings (known in other texts as “angels”). The term אֱלֹהִים is also used in this way in Gen 3:5, where the serpent says to the woman, “you will be like the heavenly beings who know good and evil.” (Note Gen 3:22, where God says, “the man has become like one of us.”) Also אֱלֹהִים may refer to the members of the heavenly assembly in Ps 82:1, 6. The LXX (the ancient Greek translation of the OT) reads “angels” in Ps 8:5 (this is the source of the quotation of Ps 8:5 in Heb 2:7).

62 tn Heb “you crown him [with].” The imperfect verbal forms in this and the next line describe God’s characteristic activity.

63 sn Honor and majesty. These terms allude to mankind’s royal status as God’s vice-regents (cf. v. 6 and Gen 1:26-30).

64 tn Heb “you cause [i.e., “permit, allow”] him to rule over the works of your hands.”

65 tn The perfect verbal form probably has a present perfect nuance here. It refers to the continuing effects of God’s original mandate (see Gen 1:26-30).

66 tn Heb “under his feet.”

sn Placed everything under their authority. This verse affirms that mankind rules over God’s creation as his vice-regent. See Gen 1:26-30.

67 tn Heb “and also the beasts of the field.”

68 tn Heb “paths.”

69 tn The plural form of the title emphasizes the Lord’s absolute sovereignty.

70 tn Or “awesome, majestic.”

71 tn Heb “name,” which here stands metonymically for God’s reputation.

72 sn Using the poetic device of inclusio, the psalmist ends the psalm the way he began it. The concluding refrain is identical to v. 1.



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