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Psalms 89:20-38

Context

89:20 I have discovered David, my servant.

With my holy oil I have anointed him as king. 1 

89:21 My hand will support him, 2 

and my arm will strengthen him.

89:22 No enemy will be able to exact tribute 3  from him; 4 

a violent oppressor will not be able to humiliate him. 5 

89:23 I will crush his enemies before him;

I will strike down those who hate him.

89:24 He will experience my faithfulness and loyal love, 6 

and by my name he will win victories. 7 

89:25 I will place his hand over the sea,

his right hand over the rivers. 8 

89:26 He will call out to me,

‘You are my father, 9  my God, and the protector who delivers me.’ 10 

89:27 I will appoint him to be my firstborn son, 11 

the most exalted of the earth’s kings.

89:28 I will always extend my loyal love to him,

and my covenant with him is secure. 12 

89:29 I will give him an eternal dynasty, 13 

and make his throne as enduring as the skies above. 14 

89:30 If his sons reject my law

and disobey my regulations,

89:31 if they break 15  my rules

and do not keep my commandments,

89:32 I will punish their rebellion by beating them with a club, 16 

their sin by inflicting them with bruises. 17 

89:33 But I will not remove 18  my loyal love from him,

nor be unfaithful to my promise. 19 

89:34 I will not break 20  my covenant

or go back on what I promised. 21 

89:35 Once and for all I have vowed by my own holiness,

I will never deceive 22  David.

89:36 His dynasty will last forever. 23 

His throne will endure before me, like the sun, 24 

89:37 it will remain stable, like the moon, 25 

his throne will endure like the skies.” 26  (Selah)

89:38 But you have spurned 27  and rejected him;

you are angry with your chosen king. 28 

1 tn The words “as king” are supplied in the translation for clarification, indicating that a royal anointing is in view.

2 tn Heb “with whom my hand will be firm.”

3 tn Heb “an enemy will not exact tribute.” The imperfect is understood in a modal sense, indicating capability or potential.

4 tn The translation understands the Hiphil of נָשַׁא (nasha’) in the sense of “act as a creditor.” This may allude to the practice of a conqueror forcing his subjects to pay tribute in exchange for “protection.” Another option is to take the verb from a homonymic verbal root meaning “to deceive,” “to trick.” Still another option is to emend the form to יִשָּׂא (yisa’), a Qal imperfect from נָאַשׂ (naas, “rise up”) and to translate “an enemy will not rise up against him” (see M. Dahood, Psalms [AB], 2:317).

5 tn Heb “and a son of violence will not oppress him.” The imperfect is understood in a modal sense, indicating capability or potential. The reference to a “son of violence” echoes the language of God’s promise to David in 2 Sam 7:10 (see also 1 Chr 17:9).

6 tn Heb “and my faithfulness and my loyal love [will be] with him.”

7 tn Heb “and by my name his horn will be lifted up.” 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 75:10; 92:10; Lam 2:17).

8 tn Some identify “the sea” as the Mediterranean and “the rivers” as the Euphrates and its tributaries. However, it is more likely that “the sea” and “the rivers” are symbols for hostile powers that oppose God and the king (see v. 9, as well as Ps 93:3-4).

9 sn You are my father. The Davidic king was viewed as God’s “son” (see 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 2:7). The idiom reflects ancient Near Eastern adoption language associated with covenants of grant, by which a lord would reward a faithful subject by elevating him to special status, referred to as “sonship.” Like a son, the faithful subject received an “inheritance,” viewed as an unconditional, eternal gift. Such gifts usually took the form of land and/or an enduring dynasty. See M. Weinfeld, “The Covenant of Grant in the Old Testament and in the Ancient Near East,” JAOS 90 (1970): 184-203, for general discussion and some striking extra-biblical parallels.

10 tn Heb “the rocky summit of my deliverance.”

11 sn The firstborn son typically had special status and received special privileges.

12 tn Heb “forever I will keep for him my loyal love and will make my covenant secure for him.”

13 tn Heb “and I will set in place forever his offspring.”

14 tn Heb “and his throne like the days of the heavens.”

15 tn Or “desecrate.”

16 tn Heb “I will punish with a club their rebellion.”

sn Despite the harsh image of beating…with a club, the language reflects a father-son relationship (see v. 30; 2 Sam 7:14). According to Proverbs, a שֵׁבֶט (shevet, “club”) was sometimes utilized to administer corporal punishment to rebellious children (see Prov 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15).

17 tn Heb “with blows their sin.”

18 tn Heb “break”; “make ineffectual.” Some prefer to emend אָפִיר (’afir; the Hiphil of פָּרַר, parar, “to break”) to אָסִיר (’asir; the Hiphil of סוּר, sur, “to turn aside”), a verb that appears in 2 Sam 7:15.

19 tn Heb “and I will not deal falsely with my faithfulness.”

20 tn Or “desecrate.”

21 tn Heb “and what proceeds out of my lips I will not alter.”

22 tn Or “lie to.”

23 tn Heb “his offspring forever will be.”

24 tn Heb “and his throne like the sun before me.”

25 tn Heb “like the moon it will be established forever.”

26 tn Heb “and a witness in the sky, secure.” Scholars have offered a variety of opinions as to the identity of the “witness” referred to here, none of which is very convincing. It is preferable to join וְעֵד (vÿed) to עוֹלָם (’olam) in the preceding line and translate the commonly attested phrase עוֹלָם וְעֵד (“forever”). In this case one may translate the second line, “[it] will be secure like the skies.” Another option (the one reflected in the present translation) is to take עד as a rare noun meaning “throne” or “dais.” This noun is attested in Ugaritic; see, for example, CTA 16 vi 22-23, where ksi (= כִּסֵּא, kisse’, “throne”) and ’d (= עד, “dais”) appear as synonyms in the poetic parallelism (see G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 91). Emending בַּשַּׁחַק (bashakhaq, “in the heavens”) to כַּשַׁחַק (kashakhaq, “like the heavens”) – bet/kaf (כ/ב) confusion is widely attested – one can then read “[his] throne like the heavens [is] firm/stable.” Verse 29 refers to the enduring nature of the heavens, while Job 37:18 speaks of God spreading out the heavens (שְׁחָקִים, shÿkhaqim) and compares their strength to a bronze mirror. Ps 89:29 uses the term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim, “skies”) which frequently appears in parallelism to שְׁחָקִים.

27 tn The Hebrew construction (conjunction + pronoun, followed by the verb) draws attention to the contrast between what follows and what precedes.

28 tn Heb “your anointed one.” The Hebrew phrase מְשִׁיחֶךָ (mÿshikhekha, “your anointed one”) refers here to the Davidic king (see Pss 2:2; 18:50; 20:6; 28:8; 84:9; 132:10, 17).



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