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Psalms 31

Psalm 31 1 

For the music director; a psalm of David.

31:1 In you, O Lord, I have taken shelter!

Never let me be humiliated!

Vindicate me by rescuing me! 2 

31:2 Listen to me! 3 

Quickly deliver me!

Be my protector and refuge, 4 

a stronghold where I can be safe! 5 

31:3 For you are my high ridge 6  and my stronghold;

for the sake of your own reputation 7  you lead me and guide me. 8 

31:4 You will free me 9  from the net they hid for me,

for you are my place of refuge.

31:5 Into your hand I entrust my life; 10 

you will rescue 11  me, O Lord, the faithful God.

31:6 I hate those who serve worthless idols, 12 

but I trust in the Lord.

31:7 I will be happy and rejoice in your faithfulness,

because you notice my pain

and you are aware of how distressed I am. 13 

31:8 You do not deliver me over to the power of the enemy;

you enable me to stand 14  in a wide open place.

31:9 Have mercy on me, for I am in distress!

My eyes grow dim 15  from suffering. 16 

I have lost my strength. 17 

31:10 For my life nears its end in pain;

my years draw to a close as I groan. 18 

My strength fails me because of 19  my sin,

and my bones become brittle. 20 

31:11 Because of all my enemies, people disdain me; 21 

my neighbors are appalled by my suffering 22 

those who know me are horrified by my condition; 23 

those who see me in the street run away from me.

31:12 I am forgotten, like a dead man no one thinks about; 24 

I am regarded as worthless, like a broken jar. 25 

31:13 For I hear what so many are saying, 26 

the terrifying news that comes from every direction. 27 

When they plot together against me,

they figure out how they can take my life.

31:14 But I trust in you, O Lord!

I declare, “You are my God!”

31:15 You determine my destiny! 28 

Rescue me from the power of my enemies and those who chase me.

31:16 Smile 29  on your servant!

Deliver me because of your faithfulness!

31:17 O Lord, do not let me be humiliated,

for I call out to you!

May evil men be humiliated!

May they go wailing to the grave! 30 

31:18 May lying lips be silenced –

lips 31  that speak defiantly against the innocent 32 

with arrogance and contempt!

31:19 How great is your favor, 33 

which you store up for your loyal followers! 34 

In plain sight of everyone you bestow it on those who take shelter 35  in you. 36 

31:20 You hide them with you, where they are safe from the attacks 37  of men; 38 

you conceal them in a shelter, where they are safe from slanderous attacks. 39 

31:21 The Lord deserves praise 40 

for he demonstrated his amazing faithfulness to me when I was besieged by enemies. 41 

31:22 I jumped to conclusions and said, 42 

“I am cut off from your presence!” 43 

But you heard my plea for mercy when I cried out to you for help.

31:23 Love the Lord, all you faithful followers 44  of his!

The Lord protects those who have integrity,

but he pays back in full the one who acts arrogantly. 45 

31:24 Be strong and confident, 46 

all you who wait on the Lord!

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1 sn Psalm 31. The psalmist confidently asks the Lord to protect him. Enemies threaten him and even his friends have abandoned him, but he looks to the Lord for vindication. In vv. 19-24, which were apparently written after the Lord answered the prayer of vv. 1-18, the psalmist thanks the Lord for delivering him.

2 tn Heb “in your vindication rescue me.”

3 tn Heb “turn toward me your ear.”

4 tn Heb “become for me a rocky summit of refuge.”

5 tn Heb “a house of strongholds to deliver me.”

6 sn The metaphor of the high ridge pictures God as a rocky, relatively inaccessible summit, where one would be able to find protection from enemies. See 1 Sam 23:25, 28.

7 tn Heb “name.” The Hebrew term שֵׁם (shem, “name”) refers here to the Lord’s reputation. (The English term “name” is often used the same way.)

8 tn The present translation assumes that the imperfect verbal forms are generalizing, “you lead me and guide me.” Other options are to take them as an expression of confidence about the future, “you will lead me and guide me” (cf. NASB), or as expressing a prayer, “lead me and guide me” (cf. NEB, NIV, NRSV).

9 tn Heb “bring me out.” The translation assumes that the imperfect verbal form expresses the psalmist’s confidence about the future. Another option is to take the form as expressing a prayer, “free me.”

10 tn Heb “my spirit.” The noun רוּחַ (ruakh, “spirit”) here refers to the animating spirit that gives the psalmist life.

11 tn Or “redeem.” The perfect verbal form is understood here as anticipatory, indicating rhetorically the psalmist’s certitude and confidence that God will intervene. The psalmist is so confident of God’s positive response to his prayer that he can describe his deliverance as if it had already happened. Another option is to take the perfect as precative, expressing a wish or request (“rescue me”; cf. NIV). See IBHS 494-95 §30.5.4c, d. However, not all grammarians are convinced that the perfect is used as a precative in biblical Hebrew.

12 tn Heb “the ones who observe vain things of falsehood.” See Jonah 2:9.

13 tn Heb “you know the distresses of my life.”

14 tn Heb “you cause my feet to stand.”

15 tn Or perhaps, “are swollen.”

16 tn Cf. Ps 6:7, which has a similar line.

17 tn Heb “my breath and my stomach [grow weak].” Apparently the verb in the previous line (“grow dim, be weakened”) is to be understood here. The Hebrew term נפשׁ can mean “life,” or, more specifically, “throat, breath.” The psalmist seems to be lamenting that his breathing is impaired because of the physical and emotional suffering he is forced to endure.

18 tn Heb “and my years in groaning.”

19 tn Heb “stumbles in.”

20 tn Heb “grow weak.”

21 tn Heb “because of all my enemies I am a reproach.”

22 tc Heb “and to my neighbors, exceedingly.” If the MT is retained, then these words probably go with what precedes. However the syntactical awkwardness of the text suggests it is textually corrupt. P. C. Craigie (Psalms 1-50 [WBC], 258) suggests that the initial mem (מ) on מְאֹד (meod, “exceedingly”) be understood as an enclitic mem (ם) which was originally suffixed to the preceding form and then later misinterpreted. The resulting form אֵד (’ed) can then be taken as a defectively written form of אֵיד (’ed, “calamity”). If one follows this emendation, then the text reads literally, “and to my neighbors [I am one who experiences] calamity.” The noun פַחַד (fakhad, “[object of] horror”) occurs in the next line; אֵיד and פַחַד appear in parallelism elsewhere (see Prov 1:26-27).

23 tn Heb “and [an object of ] horror to those known by me.”

24 tn Heb “I am forgotten, like a dead man, from [the] heart.” The “heart” is here viewed as the center of one’s thoughts.

25 tn Heb “I am like a broken jar.” One throws away a broken jar without a second thought because it is considered worthless and useless.

26 tn Heb “the report of many.”

27 tn Heb “the terror from all around.”

28 tn Heb “in your hand [are] my times.”

29 tn Heb “cause your face to shine.”

30 tn The verb יִדְּמוּ (yiddÿmu) is understood as a form of דָּמַם (damam, “wail, lament”). Another option is to take the verb from דָּמַם (“be quiet”; see BDB 198-99 s.v. I דָּמַם), in which case one might translate, “May they lie silent in the grave.”

31 tn Heb “the [ones which].”

32 tn Or “godly.”

33 tn Or “How abundant are your blessings!”

34 tn Heb “for those who fear you.”

35 tn “Taking shelter” in the Lord is an idiom for seeking his protection. Seeking his protection presupposes and even demonstrates the subject’s loyalty to the Lord. In the psalms those who “take shelter” in the Lord are contrasted with the wicked and equated with those who love, fear, and serve the Lord (Pss 2:12; 5:11-12; 34:21-22).

36 tn Heb “you work [your favor] for the ones seeking shelter in you before the sons of men.”

37 tn The noun רֹכֶס (rokhes) occurs only here. Its meaning is debated; some suggest “snare,” while others propose “slander” or “conspiracy.”

38 tn Heb “you hide them in the hiding place of your face from the attacks of man.” The imperfect verbal forms in this verse draw attention to God’s typical treatment of the faithful.

39 tn Heb “you conceal them in a shelter from the strife of tongues.”

40 tn Heb “blessed [be] the Lord.”

41 tn Heb “for he caused his faithfulness to be amazing to me in a besieged city.” The psalmist probably speaks figuratively here. He compares his crisis to being trapped in a besieged city, but the Lord answered his prayer for help. Verses 19-24 were apparently written after the Lord answered the prayer of vv. 1-18.

42 tn Heb “and I, I said in my haste.”

43 tn Heb “from before your eyes.”

44 tn A “faithful follower” (חָסִיד, khasid) is one who does what is right in God’s eyes and remains faithful to God (see Pss 4:3; 12:1; 16:10; 31:23; 37:28; 86:2; 97:10).

45 tn The participial forms in the second and third lines characterize the Lord as one who typically protects the faithful and judges the proud.

46 tn Heb “be strong and let your heart[s] be confident.”

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