Psalms 141

1O Lord, I cry out to you. Come quickly to me!
Pay attention to me when I cry out to you!
2 May you accept my prayer like incense,
my uplifted hands like the evening offering!
Heb “may my prayer be established [like] incense before you, the uplifting of my hands [like] an evening offering.”

3 O Lord, place a guard on my mouth!
Protect the opening
Heb “door.” The Hebrew word occurs only here in the OT.
of my lips!
My mouth…my lips. The psalmist asks God to protect him from speaking inappropriately or sinfully.

4 Do not let me have evil desires,
Heb “do not turn my heart toward an evil thing.”

or participate in sinful activities
with men who behave wickedly.
Heb “to act sinfully in practices in wickedness with men, doers of evil.”

I will not eat their delicacies.
Their delicacies. This probably refers to the enjoyment that a sinful lifestyle appears to offer.

5 May the godly strike me in love and correct me!
May my head not refuse
The form יָנִי (yaniy) appears to be derived from the verbal root נוּא (nu’). Another option is to emend the form to יְנָא (yena’), a Piel from נָאָה (naah), and translate “may choice oil not adorn my head” (see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101–150 [WBC], 271). In this case, choice oil, like delicacies in v. 4, symbolize the pleasures of sin.
choice oil!
May my head not refuse choice oil. The psalmist compares the constructive criticism of the godly (see the previous line) to having refreshing olive oil poured over one’s head.

Indeed, my prayer is a witness against their evil deeds.
Heb “for still, and my prayer [is] against their evil deeds.” The syntax of the Hebrew text is difficult; the sequence -כִּי־עוֹד וּ (kiy-od u-, “for still and”) occurs only here. The translation assumes an emendation to כִּי עֵד תְפלָּתִי (“indeed a witness [is] my prayer”). The psalmist’s lament about the evil actions of sinful men (see v. 4) testifies against the wicked in the divine court.

6 They will be thrown down the side of a cliff by their judges.
Heb “they are thrown down by the hands of a cliff, their judges.” The syntax of the Hebrew text is difficult and the meaning uncertain. The perfect verbal form is understood as rhetorical; the psalmist describes the anticipated downfall of the wicked as if it had already occurred. “Their judges” could be taken as the subject of the verb, but this makes little, if any, sense. The translation assumes the judges are the agents and that the wicked, mentioned earlier in the psalm, are the subjects of the verb.

It is unclear how this statement relates to the preceding sentence. Perhaps the judges are the referent of the pronominal subject (“they”) of the verb “will listen,” and “my words” are the referent of the pronominal subject (“they”) of the phrase “are pleasant.” The psalmist may be affirming here his confidence that he will be vindicated when he presents his case before the judges, while the wicked will be punished.
will listen to my words, for they are pleasant.
7 As when one plows and breaks up the soil,
Heb “like splitting and breaking open in the earth.” The meaning of the statement and the point of the comparison are not entirely clear. Perhaps the psalmist is suggesting that he and other godly individuals are as good as dead; their bones are scattered about like dirt that is dug up and tossed aside.

so our bones are scattered at the mouth of Sheol.
8 Surely I am looking to you,
Heb “my eyes [are] toward you.”
O sovereign Lord.
In you I take shelter.
Do not expose me to danger!
Heb “do not lay bare my life.” Only here is the Piel form of the verb collocated with the term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “life”). In Isa 53:12 the Lord’s servant “lays bare (the Hiphil form of the verb is used) his life to death.”

9 Protect me from the snare they have laid for me,
and the traps the evildoers have set.
Heb “and the traps of the doers of evil.”

10 Let the wicked fall
The prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive of prayer. Another option is to translate, “the wicked will fall.”
into their
Heb “his.”
own nets,
while I escape.
Heb “at the same [that] I, until I pass by.” Another option is to take יַחַד (yakhad) with the preceding line, “let the wicked fall together into their own nets.”

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