Psalms 51Listen to what I say, ▼
▼ Heb “my words.”Lord!
Carefully consider my complaint! ▼
2 Pay attention to my cry for help,
my king and my God,
for I am praying to you!
3 Lord, in the morning ▼ you will hear ▼
▼ The imperfect is here understood in a specific future sense; the psalmist is expressing his confidence that God will be willing to hear his request. Another option is to understand the imperfect as expressing the psalmist’s wish or request. In this case one could translate, “Lord, in the morning hear me.”me; ▼
▼ Heb “my voice.”
in the morning I will present my case to you ▼ and then wait expectantly for an answer. ▼
▼ Heb “and I will watch.”
4 Certainly ▼
▼ Or “for.”you are not a God who approves of evil; ▼
▼ Heb “not a God [who] delights [in] wickedness [are] you.”
evil people ▼
▼ The Hebrew text has simply the singular form רע, which may be taken as an abstract noun “evil” (the reference to “wickedness” in the preceding line favors this; cf. NEB, NASB, NRSV) or as a substantival adjective “evil one” (the references to evil people in the next two verses favor this; cf. NIV “with you the wicked cannot dwell”).cannot dwell with you. ▼
▼ Heb “cannot dwell as a resident alien [with] you.” The negated imperfect verbal form here indicates incapability or lack of permission. These people are morally incapable of dwelling in God’s presence and are not permitted to do so.▼
5 Arrogant people cannot stand in your presence; ▼
▼ Heb “before your eyes.”
you hate ▼ all who behave wickedly. ▼
▼ Heb “all the workers of wickedness.”
6 You destroy ▼
▼ The imperfect verbal form indicates God’s typical response to such individuals. Another option is to translate the verb as future (“You will destroy”); the psalmist may be envisioning a time of judgment when God will remove the wicked from the scene.liars; ▼
▼ Heb “those who speak a lie.” In the OT a “lie” does not refer in a general philosophical sense to any statement that fails to correspond to reality. Instead it refers more specifically to a slanderous and/or deceitful statement that promotes one’s own selfish, sinful interests and/or exploits or harms those who are innocent. Note the emphasis on violence and deceit in the following line.
the Lord despises ▼
▼ The imperfect verbal form highlights the Lord’s characteristic attitude toward such individuals.violent and deceitful people. ▼
7 But as for me, ▼
▼ But as for me. By placing the first person pronoun at the beginning of the verse, the psalmist highlights the contrast between the evildoers’ actions and destiny, outlined in the preceding verses, with his own.because of your great faithfulness I will enter your house; ▼
I will bow down toward your holy temple as I worship you. ▼
▼ Heb “in fear [of] you.” The Hebrew noun יִרְאָה (yir’ah, “fear”), when used of fearing God, is sometimes used metonymically for what it ideally produces: “worship, reverence, piety.”
8 Lord, lead me in your righteousness ▼
▼ God’s providential leading is in view. His צְדָקָה (tsedaqah, “righteousness”) includes here the deliverance that originates in his righteousness; he protects and vindicates the one whose cause is just. For other examples of this use of the word, see BDB 842 s.v.
because of those who wait to ambush me, ▼
remove the obstacles in the way in which you are guiding me! ▼
▼ Heb “make level before me your way.” The imperative “make level” is Hiphil in the Kethib (consonantal text); Piel in the Qere (marginal reading). God’s “way” is here the way in which he leads the psalmist providentially (see the preceding line, where the psalmist asks the Lord to lead him).
9 For ▼
▼ Or “certainly.”they do not speak the truth; ▼
their stomachs are like the place of destruction, ▼
their throats like an open grave, ▼
their tongues like a steep slope leading into it. ▼
▼ Heb “they make smooth their tongue.” Flattering, deceitful words are in view. See Ps 12:2. The psalmist’s deceitful enemies are compared to the realm of death/Sheol in v. 9b. Sheol was envisioned as a dark region within the earth, the entrance to which was the grave with its steep slopes (cf. Ps 88:4–6). The enemies’ victims are pictured here as slipping down a steep slope (the enemies’ tongues) and falling into an open grave (their throat) that terminates in destruction in the inner recesses of Sheol (their stomach). The enemies’ קרב (“inward part”) refers here to their thoughts and motives, which are destructive in their intent. The throat is where these destructive thoughts are transformed into words, and their tongue is what they use to speak the deceitful words that lead their innocent victims to their demise.▼
▼ As the psalmist walks down the path in which God leads him, he asks the Lord to guide his steps and remove danger from the path (v. 8), because he knows his enemies have “dug a grave” for him and are ready to use their deceitful words to “swallow him up” like the realm of death (i.e., Sheol) and bring him to ruin.
10 Condemn them, ▼
▼ Heb “declare/regard them as guilty.” Declaring the psalmist’s adversaries guilty is here metonymic for judging them or paying them back for their wrongdoing.O God!
May their own schemes be their downfall! ▼
▼ Heb “may they fall from their plans.” The prefixed verbal form is a jussive, expressing an imprecation. The psalmist calls judgment down on the evildoers. Their plans will be their downfall in that God will judge them for their evil schemes.
Drive them away ▼
▼ Or “banish them.”because of their many acts of insurrection, ▼
▼ The Hebrew noun used here, פֶּשַׁע (pesha’), refers to rebellious actions. The psalmist pictures his enemies as rebels against God (see the next line).
for they have rebelled against you.
11 But may all who take shelter ▼
▼ 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 5:11–12; 31:17–20; 34:21–22).in you be happy! ▼
▼ The prefixed verbal form is a jussive of wish or prayer. The psalmist calls on God to reward his faithful followers.
May they continually ▼
▼ Or perhaps more hyperbolically, “forever.”shout for joy! ▼
▼ As in the preceding line, the prefixed verbal form is a jussive of wish or prayer.
Shelter them ▼
▼ Heb “put a cover over them.” The verb form is a Hiphil imperfect from סָכַךְ (sakhakh, “cover, shut off”). The imperfect expresses the psalmist’s wish or request.so that those who are loyal to you ▼ may rejoice! ▼
▼ The vav (ו) with prefixed verbal form following the volitional “shelter them” indicates purpose or result (“so that those…may rejoice).
▼ Or “For.”you reward ▼
▼ Or “bless.” The imperfect verbal forms here and in the next line highlight how God characteristically rewards and protects the godly.the godly, ▼
▼ Or “innocent.” The singular form is used here in a collective or representative sense.Lord.
Like a shield you protect ▼ them ▼
▼ Heb “him.” The singular form is used here in a collective or representative sense and is thus translated “them.”in your good favor. ▼
▼ Or “with favor” (cf. NRSV). There is no preposition before the noun in the Hebrew text, nor is there a pronoun attached. “Favor” here stands by metonymy for God’s defensive actions on behalf of the one whom he finds acceptable.
▼ Psalm 6. The psalmist begs the Lord to withdraw his anger and spare his life. Having received a positive response to his prayer, the psalmist then confronts his enemies and describes how they retreat.
For the music director, to be accompanied by stringed instruments, according to the sheminith style; a psalm of David.12 ▼
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