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Psalms 140:1-9

Psalm 140 1 

For the music director; a psalm of David.

140:1 O Lord, rescue me from wicked men! 2 

Protect me from violent men, 3 

140:2 who plan ways to harm me. 4 

All day long they stir up conflict. 5 

140:3 Their tongues wound like a serpent; 6 

a viper’s 7  venom is behind 8  their lips. (Selah)

140:4 O Lord, shelter me from the power 9  of the wicked!

Protect me from violent men,

who plan to knock me over. 10 

140:5 Proud men hide a snare for me;

evil men 11  spread a net by the path;

they set traps for me. (Selah)

140:6 I say to the Lord, “You are my God.”

O Lord, pay attention to my plea for mercy!

140:7 O sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, 12 

you shield 13  my head in the day of battle.

140:8 O Lord, do not let the wicked have their way! 14 

Do not allow their 15  plan to succeed when they attack! 16  (Selah)

140:9 As for the heads of those who surround me –

may the harm done by 17  their lips overwhelm them!

1 sn Psalm 140. The psalmist asks God to deliver him from his deadly enemies, calls judgment down upon them, and affirms his confidence in God’s justice.

2 tn Heb “from a wicked man.” The Hebrew uses the singular in a representative or collective sense (note the plural verbs in v. 2).

3 tn Heb “a man of violent acts.” The Hebrew uses the singular in a representative or collective sense (note the plural verbs in v. 2).

4 tn Heb “they devise wicked [plans] in [their] mind.”

5 tc Heb “they attack [for] war.” Some revocalize the verb (which is a Qal imperfect from גּוּר, gur, “to attack”) as יְגָרוּ (yÿgaru), a Piel imperfect from גָרָה (garah, “stir up strife”). This is followed in the present translation.

6 tn Heb “they sharpen their tongue like a serpent.” Ps 64:3 reads, “they sharpen their tongues like sword.” Perhaps Ps 140:3 uses a mixed metaphor, the point being that “they sharpen their tongues [like a sword],” as it were, so that when they speak, their words wound like a serpent’s bite. Another option is that the language refers to the pointed or forked nature of a serpent’s tongue, which is viewed metaphorically as “sharpened.”

7 tn The Hebrew term is used only here in the OT.

8 tn Heb “under.”

9 tn Heb “hands.”

10 tn Heb “to push down my steps.”

11 tn Heb “and ropes,” but many prefer to revocalize the noun as a participle (חֹבְלִים, khovÿlim) from the verb חָבַל (khaval, “act corruptly”).

12 tn Heb “the strength of my deliverance.”

13 tn Heb “cover.”

14 tn Heb “do not grant the desires of the wicked.”

15 tn Heb “his.” The singular is used in a representative sense (see v. 1).

16 tn Heb “his plot do not promote, they rise up.” The translation understands the final verb as being an unmarked temporal clause. Another option is to revocalize the verb as a Hiphil and take the verb with the next verse, “those who surround me lift up [their] head,” which could refer to their proud attitude as they anticipate victory (see Ps 27:6).

17 tn Heb “harm of their lips.” The genitive here indicates the source or agent of the harm.

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