Psalms 31

1In you, O Lord, I have taken shelter!
Never let me be humiliated!
Vindicate me by rescuing me!
Heb “in your vindication rescue me.”

2 Listen to me!
Heb “turn toward me your ear.”

Quickly deliver me!
Be my protector and refuge,
Heb “become for me a rocky summit of refuge.”

a stronghold where I can be safe!
Heb “a house of strongholds to deliver me.”

3 For you are my high ridge
The metaphor of the high ridge pictures God as a rocky, relatively inaccessible summit, where one would be able to find protection from enemies. See 1 Sam 23:25, 28.
and my stronghold;
for the sake of your own reputation
Heb “name.” The Hebrew term שֵׁם (shem, “name”) refers here to the Lord’s reputation. (The English term “name” is often used the same way.)
you lead me and guide me.
The present translation assumes that the imperfect verbal forms are generalizing, “you lead me and guide me.” Other options are to take them as an expression of confidence about the future, “you will lead me and guide me” (cf. NASB), or as expressing a prayer, “lead me and guide me” (cf. NEB, NIV, NRSV).

4 You will free me
Heb “bring me out.” The translation assumes that the imperfect verbal form expresses the psalmist’s confidence about the future. Another option is to take the form as expressing a prayer, “free me.”
from the net they hid for me,
for you are my place of refuge.
5 Into your hand I entrust my life;
Heb “my spirit.” The noun רוּחַ (ruakh, “spirit”) here refers to the animating spirit that gives the psalmist life.

you will rescue
Or “redeem.” The perfect verbal form is understood here as anticipatory, indicating rhetorically the psalmist’s certitude and confidence that God will intervene. The psalmist is so confident of God’s positive response to his prayer that he can describe his deliverance as if it had already happened. Another option is to take the perfect as precative, expressing a wish or request (“rescue me”; cf. NIV). See IBHS 494–95 #30.5.4c, d. However, not all grammarians are convinced that the perfect is used as a precative in biblical Hebrew.
me, O Lord, the faithful God.
6 I hate those who serve worthless idols,
Heb “the ones who observe vain things of falsehood.” See Jonah 2:9.

but I trust in the Lord.
7 I will be happy and rejoice in your faithfulness,
because you notice my pain
and you are aware of how distressed I am.
Heb “you know the distresses of my life.”

8 You do not deliver me over to the power of the enemy;
you enable me to stand
Heb “you cause my feet to stand.”
in a wide open place.
9 Have mercy on me, for I am in distress!
My eyes grow dim
Or perhaps, “are swollen.”
from suffering.
Cf. Ps 6:7, which has a similar line.

I have lost my strength.
Heb “my breath and my stomach [grow weak].” Apparently the verb in the previous line (“grow dim, be weakened”) is to be understood here. The Hebrew term נפשׁ can mean “life,” or, more specifically, “throat, breath.” The psalmist seems to be lamenting that his breathing is impaired because of the physical and emotional suffering he is forced to endure.

10 For my life nears its end in pain;
my years draw to a close as I groan.
Heb “and my years in groaning.”

My strength fails me because of
Heb “stumbles in.”
my sin,
and my bones become brittle.
Heb “grow weak.”

11 Because of all my enemies, people disdain me;
Heb “because of all my enemies I am a reproach.”

my neighbors are appalled by my suffering
Heb “and to my neighbors, exceedingly.” If the MT is retained, then these words probably go with what precedes. However the syntactical awkwardness of the text suggests it is textually corrupt. P. C. Craigie (Psalms 1–50 [WBC], 258) suggests that the initial mem (מ) on מְאֹד (meod, “exceedingly”) be understood as an enclitic mem (ם) which was originally suffixed to the preceding form and then later misinterpreted. The resulting form אֵד (’ed) can then be taken as a defectively written form of אֵיד (’ed, “calamity”). If one follows this emendation, then the text reads literally, “and to my neighbors [I am one who experiences] calamity.” The noun פַחַד (fakhad, “[object of] horror”) occurs in the next line; אֵיד and פַחַד appear in parallelism elsewhere (see Prov 1:26–27).

those who know me are horrified by my condition;
Heb “and [an object of ] horror to those known by me.”

those who see me in the street run away from me.
12 I am forgotten, like a dead man no one thinks about;
Heb “I am forgotten, like a dead man, from [the] heart.” The “heart” is here viewed as the center of one’s thoughts.

I am regarded as worthless, like a broken jar.
Heb “I am like a broken jar.” One throws away a broken jar without a second thought because it is considered worthless and useless.

13 For I hear what so many are saying,
Heb “the report of many.”

the terrifying news that comes from every direction.
Heb “the terror from all around.”

When they plot together against me,
they figure out how they can take my life.
14 But I trust in you, O Lord!
I declare, “You are my God!”
15 You determine my destiny!
Heb “in your hand [are] my times.”

Rescue me from the power of my enemies and those who chase me.
16 Smile
Heb “cause your face to shine.”
on your servant!
Deliver me because of your faithfulness!
17 O Lord, do not let me be humiliated,
for I call out to you!
May evil men be humiliated!
May they go wailing to the grave!
The verb יִדְּמוּ (yiddemu) is understood as a form of דָּמַם (damam, “wail, lament”). Another option is to take the verb from דָּמַם (“be quiet”; see BDB 198-99 s.v. I דָּמַם), in which case one might translate, “May they lie silent in the grave.”

18 May lying lips be silenced –
Heb “the [ones which].”
that speak defiantly against the innocent
Or “godly.”

with arrogance and contempt!
19 How great is your favor,
Or “How abundant are your blessings!”

which you store up for your loyal followers!
Heb “for those who fear you.”

In plain sight of everyone you bestow it on those who take shelter
“Taking shelter” in the Lord is an idiom for seeking his protection. Seeking his protection presupposes and even demonstrates the subject’s loyalty to the Lord. In the psalms those who “take shelter” in the Lord are contrasted with the wicked and equated with those who love, fear, and serve the Lord (Pss 2:12; 5:11–12; 34:21–22).
in you.
Heb “you work [your favor] for the ones seeking shelter in you before the sons of men.”

20 You hide them with you, where they are safe from the attacks
The noun רֹכֶס (rokhes) occurs only here. Its meaning is debated; some suggest “snare,” while others propose “slander” or “conspiracy.”
of men;
Heb “you hide them in the hiding place of your face from the attacks of man.” The imperfect verbal forms in this verse draw attention to God’s typical treatment of the faithful.

you conceal them in a shelter, where they are safe from slanderous attacks.
Heb “you conceal them in a shelter from the strife of tongues.”

21 The Lord deserves praise
Heb “blessed [be] the Lord.”

for he demonstrated his amazing faithfulness to me when I was besieged by enemies.
Heb “for he caused his faithfulness to be amazing to me in a besieged city.” The psalmist probably speaks figuratively here. He compares his crisis to being trapped in a besieged city, but the Lord answered his prayer for help. Verses 19–24 were apparently written after the Lord answered the prayer of vv. 1–18.

22 I jumped to conclusions and said,
Heb “and I, I said in my haste.”

“I am cut off from your presence!”
Heb “from before your eyes.”

But you heard my plea for mercy when I cried out to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all you faithful followers
A “faithful follower” (חָסִיד, khasid) is one who does what is right in God’s eyes and remains faithful to God (see Pss 4:3; 12:1; 16:10; 31:23; 37:28; 86:2; 97:10).
of his!
The Lord protects those who have integrity,
but he pays back in full the one who acts arrogantly.
The participial forms in the second and third lines characterize the Lord as one who typically protects the faithful and judges the proud.

Be strong and confident,
Heb “be strong and let your heart[s] be confident.”

all you who wait on the Lord!

Psalm 32

Psalm 32. The psalmist recalls the agony he experienced prior to confessing his sins and affirms that true happiness comes when one’s sins are forgiven. He then urges others not to be stubborn, but to turn to God while forgiveness is available, for God extends his mercy to the repentant, while the wicked experience nothing but sorrow.

By David; 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.
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