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Psalms 79:1-13

Context
Psalm 79 1 

A psalm of Asaph.

79:1 O God, foreigners 2  have invaded your chosen land; 3 

they have polluted your holy temple

and turned Jerusalem 4  into a heap of ruins.

79:2 They have given the corpses of your servants

to the birds of the sky; 5 

the flesh of your loyal followers

to the beasts of the earth.

79:3 They have made their blood flow like water

all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury them. 6 

79:4 We have become an object of disdain to our neighbors;

those who live on our borders taunt and insult us. 7 

79:5 How long will this go on, O Lord? 8 

Will you stay angry forever?

How long will your rage 9  burn like fire?

79:6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not acknowledge you, 10 

on the kingdoms that do not pray to you! 11 

79:7 For they have devoured Jacob

and destroyed his home.

79:8 Do not hold us accountable for the sins of earlier generations! 12 

Quickly send your compassion our way, 13 

for we are in serious trouble! 14 

79:9 Help us, O God, our deliverer!

For the sake of your glorious reputation, 15  rescue us!

Forgive our sins for the sake of your reputation! 16 

79:10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”

Before our very eyes may the shed blood of your servants

be avenged among the nations! 17 

79:11 Listen to the painful cries of the prisoners! 18 

Use your great strength to set free those condemned to die! 19 

79:12 Pay back our neighbors in full! 20 

May they be insulted the same way they insulted you, O Lord! 21 

79:13 Then we, your people, the sheep of your pasture,

will continually thank you. 22 

We will tell coming generations of your praiseworthy acts. 23 

1 sn Psalm 79. The author laments how the invading nations have destroyed the temple and city of Jerusalem. He asks God to forgive his people and to pour out his vengeance on those who have mistreated them.

2 tn Or “nations.”

3 tn Heb “have come into your inheritance.”

4 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

5 tn Heb “[as] food for the birds of the sky.”

6 tn Heb “they have poured out their blood like water, all around Jerusalem, and there is no one burying.”

7 tn Heb “an [object of] taunting and [of] mockery to those around us.” See Ps 44:13.

8 tn Heb “How long, O Lord?”

9 tn Or “jealous anger.”

10 tn Heb “which do not know you.” Here the Hebrew term “know” means “acknowledge the authority of.”

11 sn The kingdoms that do not pray to you. The people of these kingdoms pray to other gods, not the Lord, because they do not recognize his authority over them.

12 tn Heb “do not remember against us sins, former.” Some understand “former” as an attributive adjective modifying sins, “former [i.e., chronologically prior] sins” (see BDB 911 s.v. רִאשׁוֹן). The present translation assumes that ראשׁנים (“former”) here refers to those who lived formerly, that is, the people’s ancestors (see Lam 5:7). The word is used in this way in Lev 26:45; Deut 19:14 and Eccl 1:11.

13 tn Heb “may your compassion quickly confront us.” The prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive, indicating a tone of prayer.

14 tn Heb “for we are very low.”

15 tn Heb “the glory of your name.” Here and in the following line “name” stands metonymically for God’s reputation.

16 tn Heb “your name.”

17 tn Heb “may it be known among the nations, to our eyes, the vengeance of the shed blood of your servants.”

18 tn Heb “may the painful cry of the prisoner come before you.”

19 tn Heb “according to the greatness of your arm leave the sons of death.” God’s “arm” here symbolizes his strength to deliver. The verbal form הוֹתֵר (hoter) is a Hiphil imperative from יָתַר (yatar, “to remain; to be left over”). Here it must mean “to leave over; to preserve.” However, it is preferable to emend the form to הַתֵּר (hatter), a Hiphil imperative from נָתַר (natar, “be free”). The Hiphil form is used in Ps 105:20 of Pharaoh freeing Joseph from prison. The phrase “sons of death” (see also Ps 102:21) is idiomatic for those condemned to die.

20 tn Heb “Return to our neighbors sevenfold into their lap.” The number seven is used rhetorically to express the thorough nature of the action. For other rhetorical/figurative uses of the Hebrew phrase שִׁבְעָתַיִם (shivatayim, “seven times”) see Gen 4:15, 24; Ps 12:6; Prov 6:31; Isa 30:26.

21 tn Heb “their reproach with which they reproached you, O Lord.”

22 tn Or (hyperbolically) “will thank you forever.”

23 tn Heb “to a generation and a generation we will report your praise.” Here “praise” stands by metonymy for the mighty acts that prompt worship. Cf. Ps 9:14.



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