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Psalms 49:3-4

Context

49:3 I will declare a wise saying; 1 

I will share my profound thoughts. 2 

49:4 I will learn a song that imparts wisdom;

I will then sing my insightful song to the accompaniment of a harp. 3 

1 tn Heb “my mouth will speak wisdom.” According to BDB 315 s.v. חָכְמָה the plural חָכְמוֹת (khokhmot, “wisdom”) indicates degree or emphasis here.

2 tn Heb “and the meditation of my heart [i.e., mind] is understanding.” The Hebrew term הָגוּת (hagut, “meditation”), derived from הָגָה (hagah, “to recite quietly; to meditate”), here refers to thoughts that are verbalized (see the preceding line). The plural form תְבוּנוֹת (tÿvunot, “understanding”) indicates degree or emphasis (see GKC 397-98 §124.e).

3 tn Heb “I will turn my ear to a wise saying, I will open [i.e., “reveal; explain”] my insightful saying with a harp.” In the first line the psalmist speaks as a pupil who learns a song of wisdom from a sage. This suggests that the resulting insightful song derives from another source, perhaps God himself. Elsewhere the Hebrew word pair חִידָה/מָשָׁל (mashal/khidah) refers to a taunt song (Hab 2:6), a parable (Ezek 17:2), lessons from history (Ps 78:2), and proverbial sayings (Prov 1:6). Here it appears to refer to the insightful song that follows, which reflects on the mortality of humankind and the ultimate inability of riches to prevent the inevitable – death. Another option is that the word pair refers more specifically to the closely related proverbial sayings of vv. 12, 20 (note the use of the verb מָשָׁל, mashal, “to be like” in both verses). In this case the psalmist first hears the sayings and then explains (Heb “opens”) their significance (see vv. 5-11, 13-19).



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