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Psalms 121:1-2

Context
Psalm 121 1 

A song of ascents. 2 

121:1 I look up 3  toward the hills.

From where 4  does my help come?

121:2 My help comes from the Lord, 5 

the Creator 6  of heaven and earth!

1 sn Psalm 121. The psalm affirms that the Lord protects his people Israel. Unless the psalmist addresses an observer (note the second person singular forms in vv. 3-8), it appears there are two or three speakers represented in the psalm, depending on how one takes v. 3. The translation assumes that speaker one talks in vv. 1-2, that speaker two responds to him with a prayer in v. 3 (this assumes the verbs are true jussives of prayer), and that speaker three responds with words of assurance in vv. 4-8. If the verbs in v. 3 are taken as a rhetorical use of the jussive, then there are two speakers. Verses 3-8 are speaker two’s response to the words of speaker one. See the note on the word “sleep” at the end of v. 3.

2 sn The precise significance of this title, which appears in Pss 120-134, is unclear. Perhaps worshipers recited these psalms when they ascended the road to Jerusalem to celebrate annual religious festivals. For a discussion of their background see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 219-21.

3 tn Heb “I lift my eyes.”

4 tn The Hebrew term מֵאַיִן (meayin) is interrogative, not relative, in function. Rather than directly stating that his source of help descends from the hills, the psalmist is asking, “From where does my help come?” Nevertheless, the first line does indicate that he is looking toward the hills for help, probably indicating that he is looking up toward the sky in anticipation of supernatural intervention. The psalmist assumes the dramatic role of one needing help. He answers his own question in v. 2.

5 tn Heb “my help [is] from with the Lord.”

6 tn Or “Maker.”



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