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Psalms 7:8-16

Context

7:8 The Lord judges the nations. 1 

Vindicate me, Lord, because I am innocent, 2 

because I am blameless, 3  O Exalted One! 4 

7:9 May the evil deeds of the wicked 5  come to an end! 6 

But make the innocent 7  secure, 8 

O righteous God,

you who examine 9  inner thoughts and motives! 10 

7:10 The Exalted God is my shield, 11 

the one who delivers the morally upright. 12 

7:11 God is a just judge;

he is angry throughout the day. 13 

7:12 If a person 14  does not repent, God sharpens his sword 15 

and prepares to shoot his bow. 16 

7:13 He prepares to use deadly weapons against him; 17 

he gets ready to shoot flaming arrows. 18 

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

who conceives destructive plans,

and gives birth to harmful lies – 19 

7:15 he digs a pit 20 

and then falls into the hole he has made. 21 

7:16 He becomes the victim of his own destructive plans 22 

and the violence he intended for others falls on his own head. 23 

1 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).

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

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

4 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.

5 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.

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

7 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.

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

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

10 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.

11 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.

12 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).

13 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.

14 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).

15 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.

16 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.

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

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

19 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.

20 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.

21 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.

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

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



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