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Psalms 140:1-13

Context
Psalm 140 1 

For the music director; a psalm of David.

140:1 O Lord, rescue me from wicked men! 2 

Protect me from violent men, 3 

140:2 who plan ways to harm me. 4 

All day long they stir up conflict. 5 

140:3 Their tongues wound like a serpent; 6 

a viper’s 7  venom is behind 8  their lips. (Selah)

140:4 O Lord, shelter me from the power 9  of the wicked!

Protect me from violent men,

who plan to knock me over. 10 

140:5 Proud men hide a snare for me;

evil men 11  spread a net by the path;

they set traps for me. (Selah)

140:6 I say to the Lord, “You are my God.”

O Lord, pay attention to my plea for mercy!

140:7 O sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, 12 

you shield 13  my head in the day of battle.

140:8 O Lord, do not let the wicked have their way! 14 

Do not allow their 15  plan to succeed when they attack! 16  (Selah)

140:9 As for the heads of those who surround me –

may the harm done by 17  their lips overwhelm them!

140:10 May he rain down 18  fiery coals upon them!

May he throw them into the fire!

From bottomless pits they will not escape. 19 

140:11 A slanderer 20  will not endure on 21  the earth;

calamity will hunt down a violent man and strike him down. 22 

140:12 I know 23  that the Lord defends the cause of the oppressed

and vindicates the poor. 24 

140:13 Certainly the godly will give thanks to your name;

the morally upright will live in your presence.

1 sn Psalm 140. The psalmist asks God to deliver him from his deadly enemies, calls judgment down upon them, and affirms his confidence in God’s justice.

2 tn Heb “from a wicked man.” The Hebrew uses the singular in a representative or collective sense (note the plural verbs in v. 2).

3 tn Heb “a man of violent acts.” The Hebrew uses the singular in a representative or collective sense (note the plural verbs in v. 2).

4 tn Heb “they devise wicked [plans] in [their] mind.”

5 tc Heb “they attack [for] war.” Some revocalize the verb (which is a Qal imperfect from גּוּר, gur, “to attack”) as יְגָרוּ (yÿgaru), a Piel imperfect from גָרָה (garah, “stir up strife”). This is followed in the present translation.

6 tn Heb “they sharpen their tongue like a serpent.” Ps 64:3 reads, “they sharpen their tongues like sword.” Perhaps Ps 140:3 uses a mixed metaphor, the point being that “they sharpen their tongues [like a sword],” as it were, so that when they speak, their words wound like a serpent’s bite. Another option is that the language refers to the pointed or forked nature of a serpent’s tongue, which is viewed metaphorically as “sharpened.”

7 tn The Hebrew term is used only here in the OT.

8 tn Heb “under.”

9 tn Heb “hands.”

10 tn Heb “to push down my steps.”

11 tn Heb “and ropes,” but many prefer to revocalize the noun as a participle (חֹבְלִים, khovÿlim) from the verb חָבַל (khaval, “act corruptly”).

12 tn Heb “the strength of my deliverance.”

13 tn Heb “cover.”

14 tn Heb “do not grant the desires of the wicked.”

15 tn Heb “his.” The singular is used in a representative sense (see v. 1).

16 tn Heb “his plot do not promote, they rise up.” The translation understands the final verb as being an unmarked temporal clause. Another option is to revocalize the verb as a Hiphil and take the verb with the next verse, “those who surround me lift up [their] head,” which could refer to their proud attitude as they anticipate victory (see Ps 27:6).

17 tn Heb “harm of their lips.” The genitive here indicates the source or agent of the harm.

18 tn The verb form in the Kethib (consonantal Hebrew text) appears to be a Hiphil imperfect from the root מוּט (mut, “to sway”), but the Hiphil occurs only here and in Ps 55:3, where it is preferable to read יַמְטִירוּ (yamtiru, “they rain down”). In Ps 140:10 the form יַמְטֵר (yamter, “let him rain down”) should probably be read.

19 tn Heb “into bottomless pits, they will not arise.” The translation assumes that the preposition -בְּ (bet) has the nuance “from” here. Another option is to connect the line with what precedes, take the final clause as an asyndetic relative clause, and translate, “into bottomless pits [from which] they cannot arise.” The Hebrew noun מַהֲמֹרָה (mahamorah, “bottomless pit”) occurs only here in the OT.

20 tn Heb “a man of a tongue.”

21 tn Heb “be established in.”

22 tn Heb “for blows.” The Hebrew noun מַדְחֵפֹה (madkhefoh, “blow”) occurs only here in the OT.

23 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading a first person verb form here. The Kethib reads the second person.

24 tn Heb “and the just cause of the poor.”



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