Psalms 141 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.” ▼
They sin and commit evil deeds; ▼
▼ Heb “they act corruptly, they make a deed evil.” 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 The Lord 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. ▼
▼ Anyone who is wise and seeks God refers to the person who seeks to have a relationship with God by obeying and worshiping him.
3 Everyone rejects God; ▼
▼ Heb “everyone turns aside.”
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 ▼ do not understand – ▼
▼ Heb “Do they not understand?” The rhetorical question (rendered in the translation as a positive affirmation) 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. 5–7).
those who devour my people as if they were eating bread,
and do not call out to the Lord.
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.
for God defends the godly. ▼
▼ Heb “for God is with a godly generation.” The Hebrew noun דּוֹר (dor, “generation”) refers here to the general class of people who are characterized by godliness. See BDB 190 s.v. for other examples where “generation” refers to a class of people.
6 You want to humiliate the oppressed, ▼
▼ Heb “the counsel of the oppressed you put to shame.” Using a second person plural verb form, the psalmist addresses the wicked. Since the context indicates their attempt to harm the godly will be thwarted, the imperfect should be taken in a subjunctive (cf. NASB, NRSV) rather than an indicative manner (cf. NIV). Here it probably expresses their desire or intent (“want to humiliate”).
even though ▼
▼ It is unlikely that כִּי (ki) has a causal force here. The translation assumes a concessive force; another option is to understand an asseverative use (“certainly, indeed”).the Lord is their ▼
▼ Heb “his.” The antecedent of the singular pronoun is the singular form עָנִי (’ani, “oppressed”) in the preceding line. The singular is collective or representative here (and thus translated as plural, “they”).shelter.
I wish the deliverance ▼
▼ The deliverance of Israel. This refers metonymically to God, the one who lives in Zion and provides deliverance for Israel.of Israel would come from Zion!
When the Lord 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.
▼ Psalm 15. This psalm describes the character qualities that one must possess to be allowed access to the divine presence.
A psalm of David.7
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