for the sake of his reputation. 4
119:103 Your words are sweeter
in my mouth than honey! 5
than even a great amount of pure gold;
they bring greater delight 7 than honey,
than even the sweetest honey from a honeycomb.
for your promise revives me. 12
1 tn The appearance of the Hebrew term ???????? (nafshi), traditionally translated “my soul,” might suggest a spiritualized interpretation for the first line of v. 3. However, at the surface level of the shepherd/sheep metaphor, this is unlikely. When it occurs with a pronominal suffix ?????? (nefesh) is often equivalent to a pronoun, especially in poetry (see BDB 660 s.v. ?????? 4.a). In this context, where the statement most naturally refers to the physical provision just described, the form is best translated simply “me.” The accompanying verb (a Polel form [factitive use] of ????? [shuv]), if referring to the physical provision just described, carries the nuance “refresh, restore strength.”
2 tn The imperfect verbal forms in v. 3 (????????? [yÿshovev] and ????????? [yakheniy]), like those in vv. 1-2, highlight what is typical of the shepherd/sheep relationship.
3 tn The attributive genitive ????? (tsedeq) is traditionally translated “righteousness” here, as if designating a moral or ethical quality. But this seems unlikely, for it modifies ?????????? (ma’ggÿley, “paths”). Within the shepherd/sheep metaphor, the phrase likely refers to “right” or “correct” paths, i.e. ones that lead to pastures, wells, or the fold. While ????? usually does carry a moral or ethical nuance, it can occasionally refer to less abstract things, such as weights and offerings. In this context, which emphasizes divine provision and protection, the underlying reality is probably God’s providential guidance. The psalmist is confident that God takes him down paths that will ultimately lead to something beneficial, not destructive.
4 tn The Hebrew term ???? (shem, “name”) refers here to the shepherd’s reputation. (The English term “name” is often used the same way.) The statement ??????? ?????? (lÿma’an shÿmo, “for the sake of his name”) makes excellent sense within the framework of the shepherd/sheep metaphor. Shepherds, who sometimes hired out their services, were undoubtedly concerned about their vocational reputation. To maintain their reputation as competent shepherds, they had to know the “lay of the land” and make sure they led the sheep down the right paths to the proper destinations. The underlying reality is a profound theological truth: God must look out for the best interests of the one he has promised to protect, because if he fails to do so, his faithfulness could legitimately be called into question and his reputation damaged.
5 tn Heb “How smooth they are to my palate, your word, more than honey to my mouth.” A few medieval Hebrew
6 tn Heb “more desirable.”
9 tn Heb “it [i.e., the doorway] gives.”
11 tn The demonstrative “this” refers back to the hope just mentioned or forward to the statement in the second line concerning the promise’s power to revive. See the note on the word “me” at the end of the verse for further discussion.
12 tn The hope generated by the promise (see v. 49b) brings comfort because (note “for” at the beginning of the line) the promise revives the psalmist’s spirits. Another option is to take כִּי (ki) at the beginning of the second line in the sense of “that,” in which case “this” refers to the promise’s power to revive.