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Psalms 44:20-21

Context

44:20 If we had rejected our God, 1 

and spread out our hands in prayer to another god, 2 

44:21 would not God discover it,

for he knows 3  one’s thoughts? 4 

1 tn Heb “If we had forgotten the name of our God.” To “forget the name” here refers to rejecting the Lord’s authority (see Jer 23:27) and abandoning him as an object of prayer and worship (see the next line).

2 tn Heb “and spread out your hands to another god.” Spreading out the hands was a prayer gesture (see Exod 9:29, 33; 1 Kgs 8:22, 38; 2 Chr 6:12-13, 29; Ezra 9:15; Job 11:13; Isa 1:15). In its most fundamental sense זר (“another; foreign; strange”) refers to something that is outside one’s circle, often making association with it inappropriate. A “strange” god is an alien deity, an “outside god” (see L. A. Snijders, TDOT 4:54-55).

3 tn The active participle describes what is characteristically true.

4 tn Heb “would not God search out this, for he knows the hidden things of [the] heart?” The expression “search out” is used metonymically here, referring to discovery, the intended effect of a search. The “heart” (i.e., mind) is here viewed as the seat of one’s thoughts. The rhetorical question expects the answer, “Of course he would!” The point seems to be this: There is no way the Israelites who are the speakers in the psalm would reject God and turn to another god, for the omniscient God would easily discover such a sin.



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