Psalms 52

Psalm 52

Psalm 52. The psalmist confidently confronts his enemy and affirms that God will destroy evildoers and vindicate the godly.

For the music director; a well-written song
The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. The word is derived from a verb meaning “to be prudent; to be wise.” Various options are: “a contemplative song,” “a song imparting moral wisdom,” or “a skillful [i.e., well-written] song.” The term occurs in the superscriptions of Pss 32, 42, 44, 45, 52–55, 74, 78, 88, 89, and 142, as well as in Ps 47:7.
by David. It was written when Doeg the Edomite went and informed Saul: “David has arrived at the home of Ahimelech.”
Heb “when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul and said to him, ‘David has come to the house of Ahimelech.’”
According to the superscription, David wrote this psalm during the period when Saul was seeking his life. On one occasion Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s head shepherd (1 Sam 21:7), informed Saul of David’s whereabouts (see 1 Sam 21–22).

1 Why do you boast about your evil plans,
Heb “Why do you boast in evil?”
O powerful man?
God’s loyal love protects me all day long!
Heb “the loyal love of God [is] all the day.” In this context, where the psalmist is threatened by his enemy, the point seems to be that the psalmist is protected by God’s loyal love at all times.

2 Your tongue carries out your destructive plans;
Heb “destruction your tongue devises.”

it is as effective as a sharp razor, O deceiver.
Heb “like a sharpened razor, doer of deceit.” The masculine participle עָשָׂה (’asah) is understood as a substantival vocative, addressed to the powerful man.

3 You love evil more than good,
lies more than speaking the truth.
Or “deceit more than speaking what is right.”
4 You love to use all the words that destroy,
Heb “you love all the words of swallowing.” Traditionally בַּלַּע (bala’) has been taken to mean “swallowing” in the sense of “devouring” or “destructive” (see BDB 118 s.v. בָּלַע). HALOT 135 s.v. III *בֶּלַע proposes a homonym here, meaning “confusion.” This would fit the immediate context nicely and provide a close parallel to the following line, which refers to deceptive words.

and the tongue that deceives.
5 Yet
The adverb גַּם (gam, “also; even”) is translated here in an adversative sense (“yet”). It highlights the contrastive correspondence between the evildoer’s behavior and God’s response.
God will make you a permanent heap of ruins.
Heb “will tear you down forever.”

He will scoop you up
This rare verb (חָתָה, khatah) occurs only here and in Prov 6:27; 25:22; Isa 30:14.
and remove you from your home;
Heb “from [your] tent.”

he will uproot you from the land of the living. (Selah)
6 When the godly see this, they will be filled with awe,
and will mock the evildoer, saying:
Heb “and the godly will see and will fear and at him will laugh.”

7 “Look, here is the man who would not make
The imperfect verbal form here draws attention to the ongoing nature of the action. The evildoer customarily rejected God and trusted in his own abilities. Another option is to take the imperfect as generalizing, “[here is the man who] does not make.”
God his protector!
He trusted in his great wealth
and was confident about his plans to destroy others.”
Heb “he was strong in his destruction.” “Destruction” must refer back to the destructive plans mentioned in v. 2. The verb (derived from the root עָזַז, ’azaz, “be strong”) as it stands is either an imperfect (if so, probably used in a customary sense) or a preterite (without vav [ו] consecutive). However the form should probably be emended to וַיָּעָז (vayyaaz), a Qal preterite (with vav [ו] consecutive) from עָזַז. Note the preterite form without vav (ו) consecutive in the preceding line (וַיִּבְטַח, vayyivtakh, “and he trusted”). The prefixed vav (ו) was likely omitted by haplography (note the suffixed vav [ו] on the preceding עָשְׁרוֹ, ’oshro, “his wealth”).

8 But I
The disjunctive construction (vav [ו] + subject) highlights the contrast between the evildoer’s destiny (vv. 5–7) and that of the godly psalmist’s security.
am like a flourishing
Or “luxuriant, green, leafy.”
olive tree in the house of God;
I continually
Or, hyperbolically, “forever and ever.”
trust in God’s loyal love.
9 I will continually
Or, hyperbolically, “forever.”
thank you when
Or “for.”
you execute judgment;
Heb “you have acted.” The perfect verbal form (1) probably indicates a future perfect here. The psalmist promises to give thanks when the expected vindication has been accomplished. Other options include (2) a generalizing (“for you act”) or (3) rhetorical (“for you will act”) use.

I will rely
Or “wait.”
on you,
Heb “your name.” God’s “name” refers here to his reputation and revealed character.
for your loyal followers know you are good.
Heb “for it is good in front of your loyal followers.”

Psalms 53

Psalm 53

Psalm 53. This psalm is very similar to Ps 14. The major difference comes in v. 5, which corresponds to, but differs quite a bit from, Ps 14:5–6, and in the use of the divine name. Ps 14 uses “the Lord” (יְהוָה, yehvah, “Yahweh”) in vv. 2a, 4, 6, and 7, while Ps 53 employs “God” (אֱלֹהִים, ’elohim) throughout, as one might expect in Pss 42–83, where the name “Yahweh” is relatively infrequent. The psalmist observes that the human race is morally corrupt. Evildoers oppress God’s people, but the psalmist is confident of God’s protection and anticipates a day when God will vindicate Israel.

For the music director; according to the machalath style;
The meaning of the Hebrew term מָחֲלַת (makhalat, “machalath”) is uncertain; perhaps it refers to a particular style of music, a tune title, or a musical instrument. The term also appears in the heading of Ps 88.
a well-written song
The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. See the note on the phrase “well-written song” in the superscription of Ps 52.
by David.

1 Fools say to themselves,
Heb “a fool says in his heart.” The singular is used here in a collective or representative sense; the typical fool is envisioned.
“There is no God.”
There is no God. This statement is probably not a philosophical assertion that God does not exist, but rather a confident affirmation that he is unconcerned about how men live morally and ethically (see Ps 10:4, 11).

They sin and commit evil deeds;
Heb “they act corruptly, they do evil [with] injustice.” Ps 14:1 has עֲלִילָה (’alilah, “a deed”) instead of עָוֶל (’aval, “injustice”). The verbs describe the typical behavior of the wicked. The subject of the plural verbs is “sons of man” (v. 2). The entire human race is characterized by sinful behavior. This practical atheism – living as if there is no God who will hold them accountable for their actions – makes them fools, for one of the earmarks of folly is to fail to anticipate the long range consequences of one’s behavior.

none of them does what is right.
Heb “there is none that does good.”

2 God looks down from heaven
The picture of the Lord looking down from heaven draws attention to his sovereignty over the world.
at the human race,
Heb “upon the sons of man.”

to see if there is anyone who is wise
Or “acts wisely.” The Hiphil is exhibitive.
and seeks God.
That is, who seeks to have a relationship with God by obeying and worshiping him.

3 Everyone rejects God;
Heb “all of it turns away.” Ps 14:1 has הָכֹּל (hakkol) instead of כֻּלּוֹ, and סָר (sar, “turn aside”) instead of סָג (sag, “turn away”).

they are all morally corrupt.
Heb “together they are corrupt.”

None of them does what is right,
Heb “there is none that does good.”

not even one!
4 All those who behave wickedly
Heb “the workers of wickedness.” See Pss 5:5; 6:8. Ps 14:4 adds כֹּל (kol, “all of”) before “workers of wickedness.”
do not understand
Heb “Do they not understand?” The rhetorical question expresses the psalmist’s amazement at their apparent lack of understanding. This may refer to their lack of moral understanding, but it more likely refers to their failure to anticipate God’s defense of his people (see vv. 5–6).

those who devour my people as if they were eating bread,
and do not call out to God.
5 They are absolutely terrified,
Heb “there they are afraid [with] fear.” The perfect verbal form is probably used in a rhetorical manner; the psalmist describes the future demise of the oppressors as if it were already occurring. The adverb שָׁם (sham, “there”) is also used here for dramatic effect, as the psalmist envisions the wicked standing in fear at a spot that is this vivid in his imagination (BDB 1027 s.v.). The cognate accusative following the verb emphasizes the degree of their terror (“absolutely”).

even by things that do not normally cause fear.
Heb “there is no fear.” Apparently this means the evildoers are so traumatized with panic (see v. 5b) that they now jump with fear at everything, even those things that would not normally cause fear. Ps 14:5 omits this line.

For God annihilates
Heb “scatters the bones.” The perfect is used in a rhetorical manner, describing this future judgment as if it were already accomplished. Scattering the bones alludes to the aftermath of a battle. God annihilates his enemies, leaving their carcasses spread all over the battlefield. As the bodies are devoured by wild animals and decay, the bones of God’s dead enemies are exposed. See Ps 141:7.
those who attack you.
Heb “[those who] encamp [against] you.” The second person masculine singular pronominal suffix probably refers to God’s people viewed as a collective whole. Instead of “for God scatters the bones of those who encamp against you,” Ps 14:5 reads, “for God is with a godly generation.”

You are able to humiliate them because God has rejected them.
Once again the perfect is used in a rhetorical manner, describing this future judgment as if it were already accomplished. As in the previous line, God’s people are probably addressed. The second person singular verb form is apparently collective, suggesting that the people are viewed here as a unified whole. Ps 14:6 reads here “the counsel of the oppressed you put to shame, even though God is his shelter,” the words being addressed to the wicked.

6 I wish the deliverance
This refers metonymically to God, the one who lives in Zion and provides deliverance for Israel.
of Israel would come from Zion!
When God restores the well-being of his people,
Heb “turns with a turning [toward] his people.” The Hebrew term שְׁבוּת (shevut) is apparently a cognate accusative of שׁוּב (shuv).

may Jacob rejoice,
The verb form is jussive.

may Israel be happy!
Because the parallel verb is jussive, this verb, which is ambiguous in form, should be taken as a jussive as well.

Psalms 54

Psalm 54

Psalm 54. The psalmist asks God for protection against his enemies, confidently affirms that God will vindicate him, and promises to give thanks to God for his saving intervention.

For the music director, to be accompanied by stringed instruments; a well-written song
The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. See the note on the phrase “well-written song” in the superscription of Ps 52.
by David. It was written when the Ziphites came and informed Saul: “David is hiding with us.”
Heb “Is not David hiding with us?”
According to the superscription, David wrote this psalm during the period when Saul was seeking his life. On one occasion the Ziphites informed Saul that David was hiding in their territory (see 1 Sam 23:19–20).

1 O God, deliver me by your name!
God’s “name” refers here to his reputation and revealed character, which would instill fear in the psalmist’s enemies (see C. A. Briggs and E. G. Briggs, Psalms [ICC], 2:17).

Vindicate me
The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request.
by your power!
2 O God, listen to my prayer!
Pay attention to what I say!
Heb “to the words of my mouth.”

3 For foreigners
Many medieval Hebrew mss read זֵדִים (zedim, “proud ones”) rather than זָרִים (zarim, “foreigners”). (No matter which reading one chooses as original, dalet-resh confusion accounts for the existence of the variant.) The term זֵדִים (“proud ones”) occurs in parallelism with עָרִיצִים (’aritsim, “violent ones”) in Ps 86:14 and Isa 13:11. However, זָרִים (zarim, “foreigners”) is parallel to עָרִיצִים (’aritsim, “violent ones”) in Isa 25:5; 29:5; Ezek 28:7; 31:12.
attack me;
Heb “rise against me.”

ruthless men, who do not respect God, seek my life.
Heb “and ruthless ones seek my life, they do not set God in front of them.”
4 Look, God is my deliverer!
Or “my helper.”

The Lord is among those who support me.
Or “sustain my life.”

5 May those who wait to ambush me
Heb “to those who watch me [with evil intent].” See also Pss 5:8; 27:11; 56:2.
be repaid for their evil!
The Kethib (consonantal text) reads a Qal imperfect, “the evil will return,” while the Qere (marginal reading) has a Hiphil imperfect, “he will repay.” The parallel line has an imperative (indicating a prayer/request), so it is best to read a jussive form יָשֹׁב (yashov, “let it [the evil] return”) here.

As a demonstration of your faithfulness,
Heb “in [or “by”] your faithfulness.”
destroy them!
6 With a freewill offering I will sacrifice
The cohortative verbal form expresses the psalmist’s resolve/vow to praise.
to you!
I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good!
Or “for,” indicating a more specific reason why he will praise the Lord’s name (cf. v. 6).
he rescues me from all trouble,
The perfects in v. 7 are probably rhetorical, indicating the psalmist’s certitude and confidence that God will intervene. The psalmist is so confident of God’s positive response to his prayer, he can describe God’s deliverance and his own vindication as if they were occurring or had already occurred.

and I triumph over my enemies.
Heb “and on my enemies my eyes look.”

Psalm 55

Psalm 55. The suffering and oppressed author laments that one of his friends has betrayed him, but he is confident that God will vindicate him by punishing his deceitful enemies.

For the music director, to be accompanied by stringed instruments; a well-written song by David.

The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. See the note on the phrase “well-written song” in the superscription of Ps 52.

Psalms 55

1Listen, O God, to my prayer!
Do not ignore
Heb “hide yourself from.”
my appeal for mercy!
2 Pay attention to me and answer me!
I am so upset
Or “restless” (see Gen 27:40). The Hiphil is intransitive-exhibitive, indicating the outward display of an inner attitude.
and distressed,
Heb “in my complaint.”
I am beside myself,
The verb is a Hiphil cohortative from הוּם (hum), which means “to confuse someone” in the Qal and “to go wild” in the Niphal. An Arabic cognate means “to be out of one’s senses, to wander about.” With the vav (ו) conjunctive prefixed to it, the cohortative probably indicates the result or effect of the preceding main verb. Some prefer to emend the form to וְאֵהוֹמָה (veehomah), a Niphal of הוּם (hum), or to וְאֶהַמֶה (veehameh), a Qal imperfect from הָמָה (hamah, “to moan”). Many also prefer to take this verb with what follows (see v. 3).

3 because of what the enemy says,
Heb “because of [the] voice of [the] enemy.”

and because of how the wicked
The singular forms “enemy” and “wicked” are collective or representative, as the plural verb forms in the second half of the verse indicate.
pressure me,
Heb “from before the pressure of the wicked.” Some suggest the meaning “screech” (note the parallel “voice”; cf. NEB “shrill clamour”; NRSV “clamor”) for the rare noun עָקָה (’aqah, “pressure”).

for they hurl trouble
Heb “wickedness,” but here the term refers to the destructive effects of their wicked acts.
down upon me
The verb form in the MT appears to be a Hiphil imperfect from the root מוֹט (mot, “to sway”), but the Hiphil occurs only here and in the Kethib (consonantal text) of Ps 140:10, where the form יַמְטֵר (yamter, “let him rain down”) should probably be read. Here in Ps 55:3 it is preferable to read יַמְטִירוּ (yamtiru, “they rain down”). It is odd for “rain down” to be used with an abstract object like “wickedness,” but in Job 20:23 God “rains down” anger (unless one emends the text there; see BHS).

and angrily attack me.
4 My heart beats violently
Heb “shakes, trembles.”
within me;
the horrors of death overcome me.
Heb “the terrors of death have fallen on me.”

5 Fear and panic overpower me;
Heb “fear and trembling enter into me.”

terror overwhelms
Heb “covers.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive carries on the descriptive (present progressive) force of the preceding imperfect.
6 I say,
The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive carries on the descriptive (present progressive) force of the verbs in v. 5.
“I wish I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and settle in a safe place!
7 Look, I will escape to a distant place;
I will stay in the wilderness. (Selah)
8 I will hurry off to a place that is safe
from the strong wind
Heb “[the] wind [that] sweeps away.” The verb סָעָה (saah, “sweep away”) occurs only here in the OT (see H. R. Cohen, Biblical Hapax Legomena [SBLDS], 120).
and the gale.”
9 Confuse them,
Traditionally בַּלַּע (bala’) has been taken to mean “swallow” in the sense of “devour” or “destroy” (cf. KJV), but this may be a homonym meaning “confuse” (see BDB 118 s.v. בַּלַּע; HALOT 135 s.v. III *בֶּלַע). “Their tongue” is the understood object of the verb (see the next line).
O Lord!
Frustrate their plans!
Heb “split their tongue,” which apparently means “confuse their speech,” or, more paraphrastically, “frustrate the plans they devise with their tongues.”

For I see violence and conflict in the city.
10 Day and night they walk around on its walls,
Heb “day and night they surround it, upon its walls.” Personified “violence and conflict” are the likely subjects. They are compared to watchmen on the city’s walls.

while wickedness and destruction
Wickedness and destruction. These terms are also closely associated in Ps 7:14.
are within it.
11 Disaster is within it;
Or “injury, harm.”
and deceit do not depart from its public square.
12 Indeed,
Or “for.”
it is not an enemy who insults me,
or else I could bear it;
it is not one who hates me who arrogantly taunts me,
Heb “[who] magnifies against me.” See Pss 35:26; 38:16.

or else I could hide from him.
13 But it is you,
It is you. The psalmist addresses the apparent ringleader of the opposition, an individual who was once his friend.
a man like me,
Heb “a man according to my value,” i.e., “a person such as I.”

my close friend in whom I confided.
Heb “my close friend, one known by me.”

14 We would share personal thoughts with each other;
Heb “who together we would make counsel sweet.” The imperfect verbal forms here and in the next line draw attention to the ongoing nature of the actions (the so-called customary use of the imperfect). Their relationship was characterized by such intimacy and friendship. See IBHS 502–3 #31.2b.

in God’s temple we would walk together among the crowd.
15 May death destroy them!
The meaning of the MT is unclear. The Kethib (consonantal text) reads יַשִּׁימָוֶת עָלֵימוֹ (yashimavet alemo, “May devastation [be] upon them!”). The proposed noun יַשִּׁימָוֶת occurs only here and perhaps in the place name Beth-Jeshimoth in Num 33:49. The Qere (marginal text) has יַשִּׁי מָוֶת עָלֵימוֹ (yashi mavet alemo). The verbal form יַשִּׁי is apparently an alternate form of יַשִּׁיא (yashi’), a Hiphil imperfect from נָשַׁא (nasha’, “deceive”). In this case one might read “death will come deceptively upon them.” This reading has the advantage of reading מָוֶת (mavet, “death”) which forms a natural parallel with “Sheol” in the next line. The present translation is based on the following reconstruction of the text: יְשִׁמֵּם מָוֶת (yeshimmem mavet). The verb assumed in the reconstruction is a Hiphil jussive third masculine singular from שָׁמַם (shamam, “be desolate”) with a third masculine plural pronominal suffix attached. This reconstruction assumes that (1) haplography has occurred in the traditional text (the original sequence of three mems [מ] was lost with only one mem remaining), resulting in the fusion of originally distinct forms in the Kethib, and (2) that עָלֵימוֹ (’alemo, “upon them”) is a later scribal addition attempting to make sense of a garbled and corrupt text. The preposition עַל (’al) does occur with the verb שָׁמַם (shamam), but in such cases the expression means “be appalled at/because of” (see Jer 49:20; 50:45). If one were to retain the prepositional phrase here, one would have to read the text as follows: יַשִּׁים מָוֶת עָלֵימוֹ (yashim mavet alemo, “Death will be appalled at them”). The idea seems odd, to say the least. Death is not collocated with this verb elsewhere.

May they go down alive into Sheol!
Go down alive. This curse imagines a swift and sudden death for the psalmist’s enemies.

For evil is in their dwelling place and in their midst.
16 As for me, I will call out to God,
and the Lord will deliver me.
17 During the evening, morning, and noontime
I will lament and moan,
The first verb is clearly a cohortative form, expressing the psalmist’s resolve. The second verb, while formally ambiguous, should also be understood as cohortative here.

and he will hear
The prefixed verb with vav (ו) consecutive normally appears in narrational contexts to indicate past action, but here it continues the anticipatory (future) perspective of the preceding line. In Ps 77:6 one finds the same sequence of cohortative + prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive. In this case as well, both forms refer to future actions.
Heb “my voice.”

18 He will rescue
The perfect verbal form is here used rhetorically to indicate that the action is certain to take place (the so-called perfect of certitude).
me and protect me from those who attack me,
Heb “he will redeem in peace my life from [those who] draw near to me.”

even though
Or “for.”
they greatly outnumber me.
Heb “among many they are against me.” For other examples of the preposition עִמָּד (’immad) used in the sense of “at, against,” see HALOT 842 s.v.; BDB 767 s.v.; IBHS 219 #11.2.14b.

19 God, the one who has reigned as king from long ago,
will hear and humiliate them.
Heb “God will hear and answer them, even [the] one who sits [from] ancient times.” The prefixed verbal from with vav (ו) consecutive carries on the anticipatory force of the preceding imperfect. The verb appears to be a Qal form from עָנָה (’anah, “to answer”). If this reading is retained, the point would be that God “answered” them in judgment. The translation assumes an emendation to the Piel וַיְעַנֵּם (vayannem; see 2 Kgs 17:20) and understands the root as עָנָה (’anah, “to afflict”; see also 1 Kgs 8:35).
They refuse to change,
and do not fear God.
Heb “[the ones] for whom there are no changes, and they do not fear God.”

20 He
He. This must refer to the psalmist’s former friend, who was addressed previously in vv. 12–14.
Heb “stretches out his hand against.”
his friends;
The form should probably be emended to an active participle (שֹׁלְמָיו, sholemayv) from the verbal root שָׁלַם (shalam, “be in a covenant of peace with”). Perhaps the translation “his friends” suggests too intimate a relationship. Another option is to translate, “he attacks those who made agreements with him.”

he breaks his solemn promises to them.
Heb “he violates his covenant.”

21 His words are as smooth as butter,
Heb “the butter-like [words] of his mouth are smooth.” The noun מַחְמָאֹת (makhmaot, “butter-like [words]”) occurs only here. Many prefer to emend the form to מֵחֶמְאָה (mekhemah, from [i.e., “than”] butter”), cf. NEB, NRSV “smoother than butter.” However, in this case “his mouth” does not agree in number with the plural verb חָלְקוּ (kholqu, “they are smooth”). Therefore some further propose an emendation of פִּיו (piv, “his mouth”) to פָּנָיו (panayv, “his face”). In any case, the point seems to that the psalmist’s former friend spoke kindly to him and gave the outward indications of friendship.

but he harbors animosity in his heart.
Heb “and war [is in] his heart.”

His words seem softer than oil,
but they are really like sharp swords.
Heb “his words are softer than oil, but they are drawn swords.”

22 Throw your burden
The Hebrew noun occurs only here.
upon the Lord,
and he will sustain you.
The pronoun is singular; the psalmist addresses each member of his audience individually.

He will never allow the godly to be upended.
Heb “he will never allow swaying for the righteous.”

23 But you, O God, will bring them
The pronominal suffix refers to the psalmist’s enemies (see v. 19).
down to the deep Pit.
Heb “well of the pit.” The Hebrew term שַׁחַת (shakhat, “pit”) is often used as a title for Sheol (see Pss 16:10; 30:9; 49:9; 103:4).

Violent and deceitful people
Heb “men of bloodshed and deceit.”
will not live even half a normal lifespan.
Heb “will not divide in half their days.”

But as for me, I trust in you.
Copyright information for NETfull