Psalms 94

1O Lord, the God who avenges!
O God who avenges, reveal your splendor!
Heb “shine forth” (see Pss 50:2; 80:1).

2 Rise up, O judge of the earth!
Pay back the proud!
3 O Lord, how long will the wicked,
how long will the wicked celebrate?
Or “exult.”

4 They spew out threats
Heb “they gush forth [words].”
and speak defiantly;
all the evildoers boast.
The Hitpael of אָמַר (’amar) occurs only here (and perhaps in Isa 61:6).

5 O Lord, they crush your people;
they oppress the nation that belongs to you.
Or “your inheritance.”

6 They kill the widow and the one residing outside his native land,
and they murder the fatherless.
The Hebrew noun יָתוֹם (yatom) refers to one who has lost his father (not necessarily his mother, see Ps 109:9). Because they were so vulnerable and were frequently exploited, fatherless children are often mentioned as epitomizing the oppressed (see Pss 10:14; 68:5; 82:3; 146:9; as well as Job 6:27; 22:9; 24:3, 9; 29:12; 31:17, 21).

7 Then they say, “The Lord does not see this;
the God of Jacob does not take notice of it.”
Heb “does not understand.”

8 Take notice of this,
Heb “understand.” The verb used in v. 7 is repeated here for rhetorical effect. The people referred to here claim God is ignorant of their actions, but the psalmist corrects their faulty viewpoint.
you ignorant people!
Heb “[you] brutish among the people.”

You fools, when will you ever understand?
9 Does the one who makes the human ear not hear?
Does the one who forms the human eye not see?
Heb “The one who plants an ear, does he not hear? The one who forms an eye, does he not see?”

10 Does the one who disciplines the nations not punish?
He is the one who imparts knowledge to human beings!
11 The Lord knows that
peoples’ thoughts are morally bankrupt.
Heb “the Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are emptiness.” The psalmist thinks specifically of the “thoughts” expressed in v. 7.

12 How blessed is the one
Heb “[Oh] the happiness [of] the man.” Hebrew wisdom literature often assumes and reflects the male-oriented perspective of ancient Israelite society. The principle of the psalm is certainly applicable to all people, regardless of their gender or age. To facilitate modern application, we translate the gender and age specific “man” with the more neutral “one.” The generic masculine pronoun is used in v. 2.
whom you instruct, O Lord,
the one whom you teach from your law,
13 in order to protect him from times of trouble,
Heb “to give him rest from the days of trouble.”

until the wicked are destroyed.
Heb “until a pit is dug for the wicked.”

14 Certainly
Or “for.”
the Lord does not forsake his people;
he does not abandon the nation that belongs to him.
Or “his inheritance.”

15 For justice will prevail,
Heb “for judgment will return to justice.”

and all the morally upright
Heb “all the pure of heart.” The “heart” is here viewed as the seat of one’s moral character and motives. The “pure of heart” are God’s faithful followers who trust in and love the Lord and, as a result, experience his deliverance (see Pss 7:10; 11:2; 32:11; 36:10; 64:10; 97:11).
will be vindicated.
Heb “and after it [are] the pure of heart.”

16 Who will rise up to defend me
Heb “for me.”
against the wicked?
Who will stand up for me against the evildoers?
Who will stand up for me…? The questions anticipate the answer, “No one except God” (see v. 17).

17 If the Lord had not helped me,
I would have laid down in the silence of death.
Heb “If the Lord [were] not my help, quickly my life would have lain down in silence.” The psalmist, perhaps speaking as the nation’s representative, recalls God’s past intervention. For other examples of conditional sentences with the term לוּלֵי (luley, “if not”) in the protasis and a perfect verbal form in the apodosis, see Pss 119:92 and 124:2–5.

18 If I say, “My foot is slipping,”
your loyal love, O Lord, supports me.
19 When worries threaten to overwhelm me,
Heb “when my worries are many within me.”

your soothing touch makes me happy.
Heb “your comforts cause my soul to delight.”

20 Cruel rulers
Heb “a throne of destruction.” “Throne” stands here by metonymy for rulers who occupy thrones.
are not your allies,
those who make oppressive laws.
Heb “Is a throne of destruction united to you, one that forms trouble upon a statute?” The rhetorical question anticipates the answer, “Of course not!” The translation, while not preserving the interrogative form of the statement, reflects its rhetorical force.

21 They conspire against
Or “attack.”
the blameless,
Heb “the life of the blameless.”

and condemn to death the innocent.
Heb “and the blood of the innocent they declare guilty.”

22 But the Lord will protect me,
Heb “and the Lord has become my elevated place.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive is used in a rhetorical sense, describing an anticipated development as if it were already reality.

and my God will shelter me.
Heb “and my God [has become] a rocky summit of my safety.”

23 He will pay them back for their sin.
The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive is used in a rhetorical sense, describing an anticipated development as if it were already reality.

He will destroy them because of
Or “in.”
their evil;
the Lord our God will destroy them.

Psalm 95

Psalm 95. The psalmist summons Israel to praise God as the creator of the world and the nation’s protector, but he also reminds the people not to rebel against God.
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