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Psalms 20:1-9

Context
Psalm 20 1 

For the music director; a psalm of David.

20:1 May the Lord answer 2  you 3  when you are in trouble; 4 

may the God of Jacob 5  make you secure!

20:2 May he send you help from his temple; 6 

from Zion may he give you support!

20:3 May he take notice 7  of your offerings;

may he accept 8  your burnt sacrifice! (Selah)

20:4 May he grant your heart’s desire; 9 

may he bring all your plans to pass! 10 

20:5 Then we will shout for joy over your 11  victory;

we will rejoice 12  in the name of our God!

May the Lord grant all your requests!

20:6 Now I am sure 13  that the Lord will deliver 14  his chosen king; 15 

he will intervene for him 16  from his holy heavenly temple, 17 

and display his mighty ability to deliver. 18 

20:7 Some trust in chariots and others in horses, 19 

but we 20  depend on 21  the Lord our God.

20:8 They will fall down, 22 

but we 23  will stand firm. 24 

20:9 The Lord will deliver the king; 25 

he will answer us 26  when we call to him for help! 27 

1 sn Psalm 20. The people pray for the king’s success in battle. When the king declares his assurance that the Lord will answer the people’s prayer, they affirm their confidence in God’s enablement.

2 tn The prefixed verbal forms here and in vv. 1b-5 are interpreted as jussives of prayer (cf. NEB, NIV, NRSV). Another option is to understand them as imperfects, “the Lord will answer,” etc. In this case the people declare their confidence that the Lord will intervene on behalf of the king and extend to him his favor.

3 sn May the Lord answer you. The people address the king as they pray to the Lord.

4 tn Heb “in a day of trouble.”

5 tn Heb “the name of the God of Jacob.” God’s “name” refers metonymically to his very person and to the divine characteristics suggested by his name, in this case “God of Jacob,” which highlights his relationship to Israel.

6 tc Heb “from [the] temple.” The third masculine singular pronominal suffix (ן, nun) has probably been accidentally omitted by haplography. Note that the following word begins with a prefixed vav (ו). See P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC), 184.

7 tn Or “remember.” For other examples of the verb זָכַר (zakhar) carrying the nuance “take notice of,” see Pss 8:4 and 9:12.

8 tc Heb “consider as fat.” The verbal form should probably be emended to יְדַשְּׁנֶהָ (yÿdashÿneha), the final he (ה) being understood as a third feminine singular pronominal suffix referring back to the feminine noun “burnt sacrifice.”

9 tn Heb “may he give to you according to your heart.” This probably refers to the king’s prayer for protection and victory in battle. See vv. 5-6.

10 sn May he bring all your plans to pass. This probably refers to the king’s strategy for battle.

11 sn Your victory. Here the king is addressed (see v. 1).

12 tc The Hebrew verb דָּגַל (dagal) occurs only here in the Qal. If accepted as original, it may carry the nuance “raise a banner,” but it is preferable to emend the form to נגיל (“we will rejoice”) which provides better parallelism with “shout for joy” and fits well with the prepositional phrase “in the name of our God” (see Ps 89:16).

13 tn Or “know.”

sn Now I am sure. The speaker is not identified. It is likely that the king, referring to himself in the third person (note “his chosen king”), responds to the people’s prayer. Perhaps his confidence is due to the reception of a divine oracle of salvation.

14 tn The perfect verbal form is probably used rhetorically to state that the deliverance is as good as done. In this way the speaker emphasizes the certainty of the deliverance. Another option is to take the statement as generalizing; the psalmist affirms that the Lord typically delivers the king.

15 tn Heb “his anointed one.” This title refers to the Davidic king. See Pss 2:2 and 18:50.

16 tn Heb “he will answer him.”

17 tn Heb “from his holy heavens.”

18 tn Heb “with mighty acts of deliverance of his right hand.” The Lord’s “right hand” here symbolizes his power to protect and deliver (see Ps 17:7).

19 tn Heb “these in chariots and these in horses.” No verb appears; perhaps the verb “invoke” is to be supplied from the following line. In this case the idea would be that some “invoke” (i.e., trust in) their military might for victory (cf. NEB “boast”; NIV “trust”; NRSV “take pride”). Verse 8 suggests that the “some/others” mentioned here are the nation’s enemies.

20 tn The grammatical construction (conjunction + pronominal subject) highlights the contrast between God’s faithful people and the others mentioned in the previous line.

21 tn Heb “we invoke the name of.” The Hiphil of זָכַר (zakhar), when combined with the phrase “in the name,” means “to invoke” (see Josh 23:7; Isa 48:1; Amos 6:10). By invoking the Lord’s name in prayer, the people demonstrate their trust in him.

22 tn Or “stumble and fall down.”

23 tn The grammatical construction (conjunction + pronominal subject) highlights the contrast between God’s victorious people and the defeated enemies mentioned in the previous line. The perfect verbal forms either generalize or, more likely, state rhetorically the people’s confidence as they face the approaching battle. They describe the demise of the enemy as being as good as done.

24 tn Or “rise up and remain upright.” On the meaning of the Hitpolel of עוּד (’ud), see HALOT 795 s.v. I עוד. The verbal forms (a perfect followed by a prefixed form with vav [ו] consecutive) either generalize or, more likely, state rhetorically the people’s confidence as they face the approaching battle.

25 tc This translation assumes an emendation of the verbal form הוֹשִׁיעָה (hoshiah). As it stands, the form is an imperative. In this case the people return to the petitionary mood with which the psalm begins (“O Lord, deliver”). But the immediate context is one of confidence (vv. 6-8), not petition (vv. 1-5). If one takes the final he on the verb “deliver” as dittographic (note the initial he (ה) on the following phrase, “the king”), one can repoint the verbal form as a perfect and understand it as expressing the people’s confidence, “the Lord will deliver the king” (see v. 6). The Hebrew scribal tradition takes “the king” with the following line, in which case it would be best interpreted as a divine title, “may the King answer us” or “the king will answer us” (see Pss 98:6; 145:1). However, the poetic parallelism is better balanced if “the king” is taken with the first line. In this case the referent is the Davidic king, who is earlier called the Lord’s “anointed one” (cf. note on “chosen king” in v. 6; see Pss 21:7; 45:5, 11; 63:11).

26 tn If the imperative is retained in the preceding line, then the prefixed verbal form is best taken as a jussive of prayer, “may he answer us.” However, if the imperative in the previous line is emended to a perfect, the prefixed form is best taken as imperfect, “he will answer us” (see the note on the word “king” at the end of the previous line).

27 tn Heb “in the day we call.”



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