Psalms 140

 

It is generally thought that this psalm and the next three following it form a group having a similar theme.  The theme is claimed to be one of the psalmist enduring persecution and praying for relief.  See if you agree with this assessment.  In all three psalms I find possible clues to a different interpretation -- the psalmist is incensed by the evil perpetrated around him and he is praying for God’s intervention to end the evil.   Incidentally, there are errors indicated in three verses in this psalm, two of which I question.  See below.

לַמְנַצֵּחַ מִזְמֹור לְדָוִד׃   140:1

Psal. 140:1   A psalm of David's for the leader:

חַלְּצֵנִי יְהוָה מֵאָדָם רָע מֵאִישׁ חֲמָסִים תִּנְצְרֵנִי׃   140:2

Psal. 140:2   Remove me, Lord, from the evil man;

                                 may You keep me from the one of violence,

אֲשֶׁר חָשְׁבוּ רָעֹות בְּלֵב כָּל־יֹום יָגוּרוּ מִלְחָמֹות׃   140:3

Psal. 140:3   who invent such evil things in the heart,

                                 every day they could stir up battles.

This verse, with its plural verbs, must refer to both the evil man and the one of violence mentioned in the preceding verse.

שָׁנֲנוּ לְשֹׁונָם כְּמֹו־נָחָשׁ חֲמַת עַכְשׁוּב תַּחַת שְׂפָתֵימֹו סֶלָה׃   140:4

Psal. 140:4   They sharpen their tongue like that of a snake;

                                 the venom of a viper is under their lips.             Selah!

שָׁמְרֵנִי יְהוָה מִידֵי רָשָׁע מֵאִישׁ חֲמָסִים תִּנְצְרֵנִי אֲשֶׁר חָשְׁבוּ לִדְחֹות פְּעָמָי׃   140:5

Psal. 140:5   Guard me, Lord, from the hands of the wicked;

                                 may You keep me from the one of violence,

                        who devise to harass my steps.

טָמְנוּ־גֵאִים פַּח לִי וַחֲבָלִים פָּרְשׂוּ רֶשֶׁת לְיַד־מַעְגָּל מֹקְשִׁים שָׁתוּ־לִי סֶלָה׃   140:6

Psal. 140:6   The proud hide a trap for me, and ropes,

                                 have spread a net at the side of the path,

                        have set lures for me.             Selah.

אָמַרְתִּי לַיהוָה אֵלִי אָתָּה הַאֲזִינָה יְהוָה קֹול תַּחֲנוּנָי׃   140:7

Psal. 140:7   I say to the Lord,

                                 “You are my God.

                       Listen, Lord, to the sound of my supplication. ”

יְהֹוִה אֲדֹנָי עֹז יְשׁוּעָתִי סַכֹּתָה לְרֹאשִׁי בְּיֹום נָשֶׁק׃   140:8

Psal. 140:8   The Lord is my Master,

                                 the Power of my salvation,

                         the Screen for my head,

                                 Armor at any time.

אַל־תִּתֵּן יְהוָה מַאֲוַיֵּי רָשָׁע זְמָמֹו אַל־תָּפֵק יָרוּמוּ סֶלָה׃   140:9

Psal. 140:9   May You not grant, O Lord, the desires of any wicked one;

                                 may You not promote his evil plan;

                         they could exalt themselves.             Selah.

רֹאשׁ מְסִבָּי עֲמַל שְׂפָתֵימֹו (יְכַסּוּמֹו) [יְכַסֵּמֹו]׃   140:10

Psal. 140:10   The company of those surrounding me,

                                 let the mischief of their own lips overwhelm them.

The word in the parentheses is the first of the three indicated errors.  The middle vav in the word is indeed extraneous.  The correction is in the brackets.

יָמִיטוּ) [יִמֹּוטוּ] עֲלֵיהֶם גֶּחָלִים בָּאֵשׁ יַפִּלֵם בְּמַהֲמֹרֹות בַּל־יָקוּמוּ׃   140:11

Psal. 140:11   Let burning coals fall on them;

                                 let Him cast them into a fire, into watery pits, never to rise.

The word before the left parenthesis in this verse is assumed to be in error.  I believe it is correctly spelled and in the right form to be translated as I have:  Let ... fall.  The spelling in the brackets puts the word in the wrong form to be translated as an active verb, which it should be.

אִישׁ לָשֹׁון בַּל־יִכֹּון בָּאָרֶץ אִישׁ־חָמָס רָע יְצוּדֶנּוּ לְמַדְחֵפֹת׃   140:12

Psal. 140:12   Let not a slanderer be established on the earth.

                                 The man of evil violence, let Him hunt him, for thrusting.

יָדַעְתָּ) [יָדַעְתִּי] כִּי־יַעֲשֶׂה יְהוָה דִּין עָנִי מִשְׁפַּט אֶבְיֹנִים׃   140:13

Psal. 140:13   You know that the Lord shall prepare the cause of the poor,

                                 the case of the needy.

The word before the left parenthesis in this verse is the third assumed error.  I find this assumption to be questionable.  The translation of the word before the left parenthesis is You know.  The translation of the word in the brackets is I know.  I claim either of these is appropriate, and the correction is not required.

אַךְ צַדִּיקִים יֹודוּ לִשְׁמֶךָ יֵשְׁבוּ יְשָׁרִים אֶת־פָּנֶיךָ׃   140:14

Psal. 140:14   Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name,

                                 the upright shall dwell with Your presence.

 

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