Psalms 73:13-22

73:13 I concluded, “Surely in vain I have kept my motives pure

and maintained a pure lifestyle.

73:14 I suffer all day long,

and am punished every morning.”

73:15 If I had publicized these thoughts,

I would have betrayed your loyal followers.

73:16 When I tried to make sense of this,

it was troubling to me.

73:17 Then I entered the precincts of God’s temple,

and understood the destiny of the wicked.

73:18 Surely you put them in slippery places;

you bring them down 10  to ruin.

73:19 How desolate they become in a mere moment!

Terrifying judgments make their demise complete! 11 

73:20 They are like a dream after one wakes up. 12 

O Lord, when you awake 13  you will despise them. 14 

73:21 Yes, 15  my spirit was bitter, 16 

and my insides felt sharp pain. 17 

73:22 I was ignorant 18  and lacked insight; 19 

I was as senseless as an animal before you. 20 

tn The words “I concluded” are supplied in the translation. It is apparent that vv. 13-14 reflect the psalmist’s thoughts at an earlier time (see vv. 2-3), prior to the spiritual awakening he describes in vv. 17-28.

tn Heb “heart,” viewed here as the seat of one’s thoughts and motives.

tn Heb “and washed my hands in innocence.” The psalmist uses an image from cultic ritual to picture his moral lifestyle. The reference to “hands” suggests actions.

tn Heb “If I had said, ‘I will speak out like this.’”

tn Heb “look, the generation of your sons I would have betrayed.” The phrase “generation of your [i.e., God’s] sons” occurs only here in the OT. Some equate the phrase with “generation of the godly” (Ps 14:5), “generation of the ones seeking him” (Ps 24:6), and “generation of the upright” (Ps 112:2). In Deut 14:1 the Israelites are referred to as God’s “sons.” Perhaps the psalmist refers here to those who are “Israelites” in the true sense because of their loyalty to God (note the juxtaposition of “Israel” with “the pure in heart” in v. 1).

tn Heb “and [when] I pondered to understand this, troubling it [was] in my eyes.”

tn The plural of the term מִקְדָּשׁ (miqdash) probably refers to the temple precincts (see Ps 68:35; Jer 51:51).

tn Heb “I discerned their end.” At the temple the psalmist perhaps received an oracle of deliverance announcing his vindication and the demise of the wicked (see Ps 12) or heard songs of confidence (for example, Ps 11), wisdom psalms (for example, Pss 1, 37), and hymns (for example, Ps 112) that describe the eventual downfall of the proud and wealthy.

tn The use of the Hebrew term אַךְ (’akh, “surely”) here literarily counteracts its use in v. 13. The repetition draws attention to the contrast between the two statements, the first of which expresses the psalmist’s earlier despair and the second his newly discovered confidence.

10 tn Heb “cause them to fall.”

11 tn Heb “they come to an end, they are finished, from terrors.”

12 tn Heb “like a dream from awakening.” They lack any real substance; their prosperity will last for only a brief time.

13 sn When you awake. The psalmist compares God’s inactivity to sleep and the time of God’s judgment to his awakening from sleep.

14 tn Heb “you will despise their form.” The Hebrew term צֶלֶם (tselem, “form; image”) also suggests their short-lived nature. Rather than having real substance, they are like the mere images that populate one’s dreams. Note the similar use of the term in Ps 39:6.

15 tn Or perhaps “when.”

16 tn The imperfect verbal form here describes a continuing attitude in a past time frame.

17 tn Heb “and [in] my kidneys I was pierced.” The imperfect verbal form here describes a continuing condition in a past time frame.

18 tn Or “brutish, stupid.”

19 tn Heb “and I was not knowing.”

20 tn Heb “an animal I was with you.”