Psalms 143

O Lord, hear my prayer!
Pay attention to my plea for help!
Because of your faithfulness and justice, answer me!
Do not sit in judgment on
Heb “do not enter into judgment with.”
your servant,
for no one alive is innocent before you.
Heb “for no one living is innocent before you.”

Or “for.”
my enemies
Heb “an enemy.” The singular is used in a representative sense to describe a typical member of the larger group of enemies (note the plural “enemies” in vv. 9, 12).
chase me.
They smash me into the ground.
Heb “he crushes on the ground my life.”

They force me to live
Or “sit.”
in dark regions,
Dark regions refers to Sheol, which the psalmist views as a dark place located deep in the ground (see Ps 88:6).

like those who have been dead for ages.
My strength leaves me;
Heb “my spirit grows faint.”

I am absolutely shocked.
Heb “in my midst my heart is shocked.” For a similar use of the Hitpolel of שָׁמֵם (shamem), see Isa 59:16; 63:5.

I recall the old days;
Or “ancient times”; Heb “days from before.”

I meditate on all you have done;
I reflect on your accomplishments.
Heb “the work of your hands.”

I spread my hands out to you in prayer;
The words “in prayer” are supplied in the translation to clarify that the psalmist is referring to a posture of prayer.

my soul thirsts for you in a parched
Heb “faint” or “weary.” See Ps 63:1.
Heb “my soul like a faint land for you.” A verb (perhaps “thirsts”) is implied (see Ps 63:1). The translation assumes an emendation of the preposition -כְּ (ke, “like”) to -בְּ (be, “in,” see Ps 63:1; cf. NEB “athirst for thee in a thirsty land”). If the MT is retained, one might translate, “my soul thirsts for you, as a parched land does for water/rain” (cf. NIV, NRSV).

Answer me quickly, Lord!
My strength is fading.
Heb “my spirit is failing.”

Do not reject me,
Heb “do not hide your face from me.” The idiom “hide the face” (1) can mean “ignore” (see Pss 10:11; 13:1; 51:9) or (2) can carry the stronger idea of “reject” (see Pss 30:7; 88:14).

or I will join
Heb “I will be equal with.”
those descending into the grave.
Heb “the pit.” The Hebrew noun בּוֹר (bor, “pit; cistern”) is sometimes used of the grave and/or the realm of the dead. See Ps 28:1.

May I hear about your loyal love in the morning,
Heb “cause me to hear in the morning your loyal love.” Here “loyal love” probably stands metonymically for an oracle of assurance promising God’s intervention as an expression of his loyal love.
The morning is sometimes viewed as the time of divine intervention (see Pss 30:5; 59:16; 90:14).

for I trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
The way probably refers here to God’s moral and ethical standards and requirements (see v. 10).

because I long for you.
Heb “for to you I lift up my life.” The Hebrew expression נָאָשׂ נֶפֶשׁ (naas nefesh, “to lift up [one’s] life”) means “to desire; to long for” (see Deut 24:15; Prov 19:18; Jer 22:27; 44:14; Hos 4:8, as well as H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, 16).

Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord!
I run to you for protection.
Heb “to you I cover,” which makes no sense. The translation assumes an emendation to נַסְתִּי (nastiy, “I flee,” a Qal perfect, first singular form from נוּס, nos). Confusion of kaf (כ) and nun (נ) is attested elsewhere (see P. K. McCarter, Textual Criticism [GBS], 48). The collocation of נוּס (“flee”) with אֶל (’el, “to”) is well-attested.

10  Teach me to do what pleases you,
Or “your will.” See Ps 40:8.

for you are my God.
May your kind presence
Heb “your good spirit.” God’s “spirit” may refer here to his presence (see the note on the word “presence” in Ps 139:7) or to his personal Spirit (see Ps 51:10).

lead me
The prefixed verbal form is taken as a jussive. Taking the statement as a prayer fits well with the petitionary tone of vv. 7–10a.
into a level land.
A level land (where one can walk free of obstacles) here symbolizes divine blessing and protection. See Pss 26:12 and 27:11 for similar imagery.

11  O Lord, for the sake of your reputation,
Heb “name,” which here stands metonymically for God’s reputation.
revive me!
The imperfect verbal forms in vv. 11–12a are understood as expressing the psalmist’s desire. Note the petitionary tone of vv. 7–10a.

Because of your justice, rescue me from trouble!
Heb “by your justice bring out my life from trouble.”

As a demonstration of your loyal love,
Heb “in [or “by”] your faithfulness.”
destroy my enemies!
The perfect with vav (ו) consecutive carries on the mood of the preceding imperfect.
all who threaten my life,
Heb “all the enemies of my life.”

for I am your servant.

Psalm 144

Psalm 144. The psalmist expresses his confidence in God, asks for a mighty display of divine intervention in an upcoming battle, and anticipates God’s rich blessings on the nation in the aftermath of military victory.

By David.

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