Psalms 251 O Lord, I come before you in prayer. ▼
2 My God, I trust in you.
Please do not let me be humiliated;
do not let my enemies triumphantly rejoice over me!
3 Certainly none who rely on you will be humiliated.
Those who deal in treachery will be thwarted ▼
▼ Heb “those who deal in treachery in vain.” The adverb רֵיקָם (reqam, “in vain”) probably refers to the failure (or futility) of their efforts. Another option is to understand it as meaning “without cause” (cf. NIV “without excuse”; NRSV “wantonly treacherous”).and humiliated.
4 Make me understand your ways, O Lord!
Teach me your paths! ▼
5 Guide me into your truth ▼
▼ The Lord’s commandments are referred to as truth here because they are a trustworthy and accurate expression of the divine will.and teach me.
For you are the God who delivers me;
on you I rely all day long.
6 Remember ▼
▼ That is, “remember” with the intention of repeating.your compassionate and faithful deeds, O Lord,
for you have always acted in this manner. ▼
▼ Heb “for from antiquity [are] they.”
7 Do not hold against me ▼
▼ Heb “do not remember,” with the intention of punishing.the sins of my youth ▼
▼ That is, the sins characteristic of youths, who lack moral discretion and wisdom.or my rebellious acts!
Because you are faithful to me, extend to me your favor, O Lord! ▼
▼ Heb “according to your faithfulness, remember me, you, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.”
8 The Lord is both kind and fair; ▼
▼ Heb “good and just.”
that is why he teaches sinners the right way to live. ▼
▼ Heb “teaches sinners in the way.”
9 May he show ▼
▼ The prefixed verbal form is jussive; the psalmist expresses his prayer.the humble what is right! ▼
▼ Heb “may he guide the humble into justice.” The Hebrew term עֲנָוִים (’anavim, “humble”) usually refers to the oppressed, but in this context, where the psalmist confesses his sin and asks for moral guidance, it apparently refers to sinners who humble themselves before God and seek deliverance from their sinful condition.
May he teach ▼
▼ The prefixed verbal form is interpreted as a jussive (it stands parallel to the jussive form, “may he guide”).the humble his way!
10 The Lord always proves faithful and reliable ▼
▼ Heb “all the paths of the Lord are faithful and trustworthy.” The Lord’s “paths” refer here to his characteristic actions.
to those who follow the demands of his covenant. ▼
▼ Heb “to the ones who keep his covenant and his testimonies.”
11 For the sake of your reputation, ▼
▼ Heb “name.” By forgiving the sinful psalmist, the Lord’s reputation as a merciful God will be enhanced.O Lord,
forgive my sin, because it is great. ▼
▼ Forgive my sin, because it is great. The psalmist readily admits his desperate need for forgiveness.
12 The Lord shows his faithful followers
the way they should live. ▼
13 They experience his favor; ▼
their descendants ▼
▼ Or “offspring”; Heb “seed.”inherit the land. ▼
▼ Or “earth.”
14 The Lord’s loyal followers receive his guidance, ▼
▼ Heb “the advice of the Lord belongs to those who fear him.”
and he reveals his covenantal demands to them. ▼
▼ Heb “and his covenant, to make them know.”
15 I continually look to the Lord for help, ▼
▼ Heb “my eyes continually [are] toward the Lord.”
for he will free my feet from the enemy’s net. ▼
16 Turn toward me and have mercy on me,
for I am alone ▼
▼ That is, helpless and vulnerable.and oppressed!
17 Deliver me from my distress; ▼
▼ Heb “the distresses of my heart, they make wide.” The text makes little if any sense as it stands, unless this is an otherwise unattested intransitive use of the Hiphil of רָחַב (rakhav, “be wide”). It is preferable to emend the form הִרְחִיבוּ (hirkhivu; Hiphil perfect third plural “they make wide”) to הַרְחֵיב (harkhev; Hiphil imperative masculine singular “make wide”). (The final vav [ו] can be joined to the following word and taken as a conjunction.) In this case one can translate, “[in/from] the distresses of my heart, make wide [a place for me],” that is, “deliver me from the distress I am experiencing.” For the expression “make wide [a place for me],” see Ps 4:1.
rescue me from my suffering! ▼
▼ Heb “from my distresses lead me out.”
18 See my pain and suffering!
Forgive all my sins! ▼
▼ Heb “lift up all my sins.”
19 Watch my enemies, for they outnumber me;
they hate me and want to harm me. ▼
▼ Heb “see my enemies for they are numerous, and [with] violent hatred they hate me.”
20 Protect me ▼
▼ Or “my life.”and deliver me!
Please do not let me be humiliated,
for I have taken shelter in you!
21 May integrity and godliness protect me,
for I rely on you!
O God, rescue ▼
▼ Or “redeem.”Israel
from all their distress! ▼
▼ Heb “his distresses.”▼
▼ O God, rescue Israel from all their distress. It is possible that the psalmist speaks on behalf of the nation throughout this entire psalm. Another option is that v. 22 is a later addition to the psalm which applies an original individual lament to the covenant community. If so, it may reflect an exilic setting.
▼ Psalm 26. The author invites the Lord to test his integrity, asserts his innocence and declares his loyalty to God.
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