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Psalms 40:1-11

Context
Psalm 40 1 

For the music director; By David, a psalm.

40:1 I relied completely 2  on the Lord,

and he turned toward me

and heard my cry for help.

40:2 He lifted me out of the watery pit, 3 

out of the slimy mud. 4 

He placed my feet on a rock

and gave me secure footing. 5 

40:3 He gave me reason to sing a new song, 6 

praising our God. 7 

May many see what God has done,

so that they might swear allegiance to him and trust in the Lord! 8 

40:4 How blessed 9  is the one 10  who trusts in the Lord 11 

and does not seek help from 12  the proud or from liars! 13 

40:5 O Lord, my God, you have accomplished many things;

you have done amazing things and carried out your purposes for us. 14 

No one can thwart you! 15 

I want to declare them and talk about them,

but they are too numerous to recount! 16 

40:6 Receiving sacrifices and offerings are not your primary concern. 17 

You make that quite clear to me! 18 

You do not ask for burnt sacrifices and sin offerings.

40:7 Then I say,

“Look! I come!

What is written in the scroll pertains to me. 19 

40:8 I want to do what pleases you, 20  my God.

Your law dominates my thoughts.” 21 

40:9 I have told the great assembly 22  about your justice. 23 

Look! I spare no words! 24 

O Lord, you know this is true.

40:10 I have not failed to tell about your justice; 25 

I spoke about your reliability and deliverance;

I have not neglected to tell the great assembly about your loyal love and faithfulness. 26 

40:11 O Lord, you do not withhold 27  your compassion from me.

May your loyal love and faithfulness continually protect me! 28 

1 sn Psalm 40. The psalmist combines a song of thanksgiving for a recent act of divine deliverance (vv. 1-11) with a confident petition for renewed divine intervention (vv. 12-17).

2 tn Heb “relying, I relied.” The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verbal form to emphasize the verbal idea. The emphasis is reflected in the translation through the adverb “completely.” Another option is to translate, “I waited patiently” (cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV).

3 tn Heb “cistern of roaring.” The Hebrew noun בּוֹר (bor, “cistern, pit”) is used metaphorically here of Sheol, the place of death, which is sometimes depicted as a raging sea (see Ps 18:4, 15-16). The noun שָׁאוֹן (shaon, “roaring”) refers elsewhere to the crashing sound of the sea’s waves (see Ps 65:7).

4 tn Heb “from the mud of mud.” The Hebrew phrase translated “slimy mud” employs an appositional genitive. Two synonyms are joined in a construct relationship to emphasize the single idea. For a detailed discussion of the grammatical point with numerous examples, see Y. Avishur, “Pairs of Synonymous Words in the Construct State (and in Appositional Hendiadys) in Biblical Hebrew,” Semitics 2 (1971): 17-81.

5 tn Heb “he established my footsteps.”

6 sn A new song was appropriate because the Lord had intervened in the psalmist’s experience in a fresh and exciting way.

7 tn Heb “and he placed in my mouth a new song, praise to our God.”

8 tn Heb “may many see and fear and trust in the Lord.” The translation assumes that the initial prefixed verbal form is a jussive (“may many see”), rather than an imperfect (“many will see”). The following prefixed verbal forms with vav (ו) conjunctive are taken as indicating purpose or result (“so that they might swear allegiance…and trust”) after the introductory jussive.

9 tn The Hebrew noun is an abstract plural. The word often refers metonymically to the happiness that God-given security and prosperity produce (see Pss 1:1, 3; 2:12; 34:9; 41:1; 65:4; 84:12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 127:5; 128:1; 144:15).

10 tn Heb “man.” See the note on the word “one” in Ps 1:1.

11 tn Heb “who has made the Lord his [object of] trust.”

12 tn Heb “and does not turn toward.”

13 tn Heb “those falling away toward a lie.”

14 tn Heb “many things you have done, you, O Lord my God, your amazing deeds and your thoughts toward us.” The precise meaning of the text is not clear, but the psalmist seems to be recalling the Lord’s miraculous deeds on Israel’s behalf (see Pss 9:1; 26:7), as well as his covenantal decrees and promises (see Ps 33:11).

15 tn Heb “there is none arrayed against you.” The precise meaning of the text is unclear, but the collocation עָרַךְ אֶל (’arakhel, “array against”) is used elsewhere of military (Judg 20:30; 1 Chr 19:17) or verbal opposition (Job 32:14).

16 tn Heb “I will declare and I will speak, they are too numerous to recount.” The present translation assumes that the cohortatives are used in a hypothetical manner in a formally unmarked conditional sentence, “Should I try to declare [them] and speak [of them]…” (cf. NEB, NIV, NRSV). For other examples of cohortatives in the protasis (“if” clause) of a conditional sentence, see GKC 320 §108.e. (It should be noted, however, that GKC understands this particular verse in a different manner. See GKC 320 §108.f, where it is suggested that the cohortatives are part of an apodosis with the protasis being suppressed.) Another option is to take the cohortatives as a declaration of the psalmist’s resolve to announce the truth expressed in the next line. In this case one might translate: “I will declare and speak [the truth]: They are too numerous to recount.”

17 tn Heb “sacrifice and offering you do not desire.” The statement is exaggerated for the sake of emphasis (see Ps 51:16 as well). God is pleased with sacrifices, but his first priority is obedience and loyalty (see 1 Sam 15:22). Sacrifices and offerings apart from genuine allegiance are meaningless (see Isa 1:11-20).

18 tn Heb “ears you hollowed out for me.” The meaning of this odd expression is debated (this is the only collocation of “hollowed out” and “ears” in the OT). It may have been an idiomatic expression referring to making a point clear to a listener. The LXX has “but a body you have prepared for me,” a reading which is followed in Heb 10:5.

19 tn Heb “in the roll of the scroll it is written concerning me.” Apparently the psalmist refers to the law of God (see v. 8), which contains the commandments God desires him to obey. If this is a distinctly royal psalm, then the psalmist/king may be referring specifically to the regulations of kingship prescribed in Deut 17:14-20. See P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC), 315.

20 tn Or “your will.”

21 tn Heb “your law [is] in the midst of my inner parts.” The “inner parts” are viewed here as the seat of the psalmist’s thought life and moral decision making.

22 sn The great assembly is also mentioned in Pss 22:25 and 35:18.

23 tn Heb “I proclaim justice in the great assembly.” Though “justice” appears without a pronoun here, the Lord’s just acts are in view (see v. 10). His “justice” (צֶדֶק, tsedeq) is here the deliverance that originates in his justice; he protects and vindicates the one whose cause is just.

24 tn Heb “Look! My lips I do not restrain.”

25 tn Heb “your justice I have not hidden in the midst of my heart.”

26 tn Heb “I have not hidden your loyal love and reliability.”

27 tn Some (cf. NIV, NRSV) translate the verb as a request (“do not withhold”), but elsewhere in the psalms the second masculine singular prefixed form, when addressed to God and preceded by לֹא (lo’), is always indicative in mood and never has the force of a prayer (see Pss 16:10; 22:2; 44:9 51:16-17; 60:10; 108:11; cf. NEB, NASB).

28 tn In this line the psalmist makes the transition from confidence to petition (see v. 13). Since the prefixed verbal form in the preceding line is imperfect/indicative, one could take the verb in this line as imperfect as well and translate, “your loyal love and faithfulness continually protect me” (cf. NEB). However, the כִּי (ki) at the beginning of the next verse, if causal (“because”), is best understood as introducing a motivating argument in support of a petition. For this reason v. 11b is best taken as a prayer with the prefixed form being understood as jussive (cf. NIV, NRSV). For parallels to the proposed construction (jussive followed by כִּי + perfect introducing motivating argument), see Ps 25:21, as well as Pss 10:2-3; 22:8.



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