Psalms 401I relied completely ▼
▼ Heb “relying, I relied.” The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verbal form to emphasize the verbal idea. The emphasis is reflected in the translation through the adverb “completely.” Another option is to translate, “I waited patiently” (cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV).on the Lord,
and he turned toward me
and heard my cry for help.
2 He lifted me out of the watery pit, ▼
▼ Heb “cistern of roaring.” The Hebrew noun בּוֹר (bor, “cistern, pit”) is used metaphorically here of Sheol, the place of death, which is sometimes depicted as a raging sea (see Ps 18:4, 15–16). The noun שָׁאוֹן (sha’on, “roaring”) refers elsewhere to the crashing sound of the sea’s waves (see Ps 65:7).
out of the slimy mud. ▼
▼ Heb “from the mud of mud.” The Hebrew phrase translated “slimy mud” employs an appositional genitive. Two synonyms are joined in a construct relationship to emphasize the single idea. For a detailed discussion of the grammatical point with numerous examples, see Y. Avishur, “Pairs of Synonymous Words in the Construct State (and in Appositional Hendiadys) in Biblical Hebrew,” Semitics 2 (1971): 17-81.
He placed my feet on a rock
and gave me secure footing. ▼
▼ Heb “he established my footsteps.”
3 He gave me reason to sing a new song, ▼
▼ A new song was appropriate because the Lord had intervened in the psalmist’s experience in a fresh and exciting way.
praising our God. ▼
▼ Heb “and he placed in my mouth a new song, praise to our God.”
May many see what God has done,
so that they might swear allegiance to him and trust in the Lord! ▼
▼ Heb “may many see and fear and trust in the Lord.” The translation assumes that the initial prefixed verbal form is a jussive (“may many see”), rather than an imperfect (“many will see”). The following prefixed verbal forms with vav (ו) conjunctive are taken as indicating purpose or result (“so that they might swear allegiance…and trust”) after the introductory jussive.
4 How blessed ▼ is the one ▼ who trusts in the Lord ▼
▼ Heb “who has made the Lord his [object of] trust.”
and does not seek help from ▼
▼ Heb “and does not turn toward.”the proud or from liars! ▼
▼ Heb “those falling away toward a lie.”
5 O Lord, my God, you have accomplished many things;
you have done amazing things and carried out your purposes for us. ▼
▼ Heb “many things you have done, you, O Lord my God, your amazing deeds and your thoughts toward us.” The precise meaning of the text is not clear, but the psalmist seems to be recalling the Lord’s miraculous deeds on Israel’s behalf (see Pss 9:1; 26:7), as well as his covenantal decrees and promises (see Ps 33:11).
No one can thwart you! ▼
I want to declare them and talk about them,
but they are too numerous to recount! ▼
▼ Heb “I will declare and I will speak, they are too numerous to recount.” The present translation assumes that the cohortatives are used in a hypothetical manner in a formally unmarked conditional sentence, “Should I try to declare [them] and speak [of them]…” (cf. NEB, NIV, NRSV). For other examples of cohortatives in the protasis (“if” clause) of a conditional sentence, see GKC 320 #108.e. (It should be noted, however, that GKC understands this particular verse in a different manner. See GKC 320 #108.f, where it is suggested that the cohortatives are part of an apodosis with the protasis being suppressed.) Another option is to take the cohortatives as a declaration of the psalmist’s resolve to announce the truth expressed in the next line. In this case one might translate: “I will declare and speak [the truth]: They are too numerous to recount.”
6 Receiving sacrifices and offerings are not your primary concern. ▼
▼ Heb “sacrifice and offering you do not desire.” The statement is exaggerated for the sake of emphasis (see Ps 51:16 as well). God is pleased with sacrifices, but his first priority is obedience and loyalty (see 1 Sam 15:22). Sacrifices and offerings apart from genuine allegiance are meaningless (see Isa 1:11–20).
You make that quite clear to me! ▼
▼ Heb “ears you hollowed out for me.” The meaning of this odd expression is debated (this is the only collocation of “hollowed out” and “ears” in the OT). It may have been an idiomatic expression referring to making a point clear to a listener. The LXX has “but a body you have prepared for me,” a reading which is followed in Heb 10:5.
You do not ask for burnt sacrifices and sin offerings.
7 Then I say,
“Look! I come!
What is written in the scroll pertains to me. ▼
▼ Heb “in the roll of the scroll it is written concerning me.” Apparently the psalmist refers to the law of God (see v. 8), which contains the commandments God desires him to obey. If this is a distinctly royal psalm, then the psalmist/king may be referring specifically to the regulations of kingship prescribed in Deut 17:14–20. See P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1–50 (WBC), 315.
8 I want to do what pleases you, ▼
▼ Or “your will.”my God.
Your law dominates my thoughts.” ▼
▼ Heb “your law [is] in the midst of my inner parts.” The “inner parts” are viewed here as the seat of the psalmist’s thought life and moral decision making.
9 I have told the great assembly ▼ about your justice. ▼
Look! I spare no words! ▼
▼ Heb “Look! My lips I do not restrain.”
O Lord, you know this is true.
10 I have not failed to tell about your justice; ▼
▼ Heb “your justice I have not hidden in the midst of my heart.”
I spoke about your reliability and deliverance;
I have not neglected to tell the great assembly about your loyal love and faithfulness. ▼
▼ Heb “I have not hidden your loyal love and reliability.”
11 O Lord, you do not withhold ▼
▼ Some (cf. NIV, NRSV) translate the verb as a request (“do not withhold”), but elsewhere in the psalms the second masculine singular prefixed form, when addressed to God and preceded by לֹא (lo’), is always indicative in mood and never has the force of a prayer (see Pss 16:10; 22:2; 44:9 51:16–17; 60:10; 108:11; cf. NEB, NASB).your compassion from me.
May your loyal love and faithfulness continually protect me! ▼
▼ In this line the psalmist makes the transition from confidence to petition (see v. 13). Since the prefixed verbal form in the preceding line is imperfect/indicative, one could take the verb in this line as imperfect as well and translate, “your loyal love and faithfulness continually protect me” (cf. NEB). However, the כִּי (ki) at the beginning of the next verse, if causal (“because”), is best understood as introducing a motivating argument in support of a petition. For this reason v. 11b is best taken as a prayer with the prefixed form being understood as jussive (cf. NIV, NRSV). For parallels to the proposed construction (jussive followed by כִּי + perfect introducing motivating argument), see Ps 25:21, as well as Pss 10:2–3; 22:8.
12 For innumerable dangers ▼ surround me.
My sins overtake me
so I am unable to see;
they outnumber the hairs of my head
so my strength fails me. ▼
13 Please be willing, O Lord, to rescue me!
O Lord, hurry and help me! ▼
14 May those who are trying to snatch away my life
be totally embarrassed and ashamed! ▼
▼ Heb “may they be embarrassed and ashamed together, the ones seeking my life to snatch it away.”
May those who want to harm me
be turned back and ashamed! ▼
▼ The four prefixed verbal forms in this verse (“may those…be…embarrassed and ashamed…may those…be turned back and ashamed”) are understood as jussives. The psalmist is calling judgment down on his enemies.▼
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be humiliated ▼
▼ The prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive in this imprecation.and disgraced! ▼
▼ Heb “May they be humiliated according to their shame, those who say to me, ‘Aha! Aha!’”
16 May all those who seek you be happy and rejoice in you!
May those who love to experience ▼
▼ Heb “those who love,” which stands metonymically for its cause, the experience of being delivered by the Lord.your deliverance say continually, ▼
▼ The three prefixed verbal forms prior to the quotation are understood as jussives. The psalmist balances out his imprecation against his enemies with a prayer of blessing upon the godly.
“May the Lord be praised!” ▼
I am oppressed and needy! ▼
May the Lord pay attention to me! ▼
▼ The prefixed verbal form may be taken as a jussive of prayer (as in the present translation; cf. NIV) or as an imperfect, “The Lord will pay attention to me” (cf. NRSV). The parallel in Ps 70:5 has, “O God, hurry to me!” For this reason some prefer to emend יַחֲשָׁב (yakhashav, “may he pay attention”) to חוּשָׁה (khushah, “hurry!”). The syntax of the Hebrew text is awkward; elsewhere when the Qal of חָשַׁב (khashav, “reckon; consider”) is collocated with the preposition -ל (lamed) and a pronominal suffix there is an accompanying direct object or additional prepositional phrase/adverbial accusative (see Gen 15:6; 2 Sam 19:19; Job 13:24; 19:11; 33:10; Pss 32:2; 41:7; Amos 6:5).
You are my helper and my deliverer!
O my God, do not delay!
▼ Psalm 41. The psalmist is confident (vv. 11–12) that the Lord has heard his request to be healed (vv. 4–10), and he anticipates the joy he will experience when the Lord intervenes (vv. 1–3). One must assume that the psalmist is responding to a divine oracle of assurance (see P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1–50 [WBC], 319-20). The final verse is a fitting conclusion to this psalm, but it is also serves as a fitting conclusion to the first “book” (or major editorial division) of the Psalter. Similar statements appear at or near the end of each of the second, third, and fourth “books” of the Psalter (see Pss 72:19, 89:52, and 106:48 respectively).
For the music director; a psalm of David.17
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