Psalms 39

 

לַמְנַצֵּחַ (לִידִיתוּן) [לִידוּתוּן] מִזְמֹור לְדָוִד׃   39:1

Psal. 39:1   For the leader, for Jeduthun, a psalm of David's:

The name Jeduthun appears in two other psalms and in both books of Chronicles.  He appears to be mentioned as the leader of the Temple choir.  Because the Temple was not in existence in David’s lifetime, either this beautiful, mournful psalm was composed some time after David’s death, or Chronicles describes another person with the same name.  I had suspected at first that the latter supposition was the correct one:  This Jeduthun may have been the leader of the choir in the Tabernacle.  But v. 39:13 below leads me to favor the first alternative -- this psalm was composed after David’s time.  However -- the fact that the name is “misspelled” here and elsewhere may mean that this “Jedithun” is someone else -- thus favoring the latter alternative.

                                                                                    [Return to Psal. 62:1]             [Return to Psal. 77:1]

אָמַרְתִּי אֶשְׁמְרָה דְרָכַי מֵחֲטוֹא בִלְשׁוֹנִי אֶשְׁמְרָה לְפִי מַחְסוֹם בְּעֹד רָשָׁע לְנֶגְדִּי׃   39:2

Psal. 39:2   I say, “I must have charge of my way,

                               to avoid sinning with my tongue.

                     I will keep a muzzle to my mouth,

                               while a wicked one is before me.”

נֶאֱלַמְתִּי דוּמִיָּה הֶחֱשֵׁיתִי מִטּוֹב וּכְאֵבִי נֶעְכָּר׃   39:3

Psal. 39:3   I am dumb, still waiting,

                                I am patient, agreeable,

                     but my pain is disturbing.

חַם־לִבִּי בְּקִרְבִּי בַּהֲגִיגִי תִבְעַר־אֵשׁ דִּבַּרְתִּי בִּלְשׁוֹנִי׃   39:4

Psal. 39:4   My heart grows hot within me;

                                during my musing a fire is kindled;

                       I speak with my tongue:

הוֹדִיעֵנִי יְהוָה קִצִּי וּמִדַּת יָמַי מַה־הִיא אֵדְעָה מֶה־חָדֵל אָנִי׃   39:5

Psal. 39:5   Lord, make known to me my end,

                                and the measure of my days!

                     What is it?

                                Let me know how short-lived I am.

הִנֵּה טְפָחוֹת נָתַתָּה יָמַי וְחֶלְדִּי כְאַיִן נֶגְדֶּךָ אַךְ כָּל־הֶבֶל כָּל־אָדָם נִצָּב סֶלָה׃   39:6

Psal. 39:6   Lo, hands breadth You have made my days,

                                and my lifetime is as nothing before You.

                     Surely the dignity of every man is all vanity!            Selah.

אַךְ־בְּצֶלֶם יִתְהַלֶּךְ־אִישׁ אַךְ־הֶבֶל יֶהֱמָיוּן יִצְבֹּר וְלֹא־יֵדַע מִי־אֹסְפָם׃   39:7

Psal. 39:7   Surely one must walk with emptiness;

                               only of vanity can they clamor;

                      he can pile up,

                               but he could not know who will be receiving them.

The word I translate as he can pile up is often associated with riches or silver.  So one can suppose that is what is implied here, although it is not specifically mentioned in the Hebrew.

וְעַתָּה מַה־קִּוִּיתִי אֲדֹנָי תּוֹחַלְתִּי לְךָ הִיא׃   39:8

Psal. 39:8   So now, why do I wait, my Master?

                               My hope!  It is for You.

מִכָּל־פְּשָׁעַי הַצִּילֵנִי חֶרְפַּת נָבָל אַל־תְּשִׂימֵנִי׃   39:9

Psal. 39:9   Despite all my transgressions, deliver me!

                               Do not make me a foolish reproach.

נֶאֱלַמְתִּי לֹא אֶפְתַּח־פִּי כִּי אַתָּה עָשִׂיתָ׃   39:10

Psal. 39:10   I am dumb;

                                I will not open my mouth.

                       Because You act.

הָסֵר מֵעָלַי נִגְעֶךָ מִתִּגְרַת יָדְךָ אֲנִי כָלִיתִי׃   39:11

Psal. 39:11   Remove from me Your plague;

                                by the contention of Your “hand” I am consumed.

בְּתוֹכָחוֹת עַל־עָוֺן יִסַּרְתָּ אִישׁ וַתֶּמֶס כָּעָשׁ חֲמוּדוֹ אַךְ הֶבֶל כָּל־אָדָם סֶלָה׃   39:12

Psal. 39:12   Because of iniquity You chasten one with punishments,

                                and You make his delight vanish as a moth.

                        Every human is only vanity.            Selah.

שִׁמְעָה־תְפִלָּתִי יְהוָה וְשַׁוְעָתִי הַאֲזִינָה אֶל־דִּמְעָתִי אַל־תֶּחֱרַשׁ כִּי גֵר אָנֹכִי עִמָּךְ תּוֹשָׁב   39:13

 כְּכָל־אֲבוֹתָי׃

Psal. 39:13   Grant my prayer, Lord, and hear my cry for help;

                                do not be deaf to my tears,

                         though I am a sojourner with You,

                                a stranger like all my fathers.

What can the psalmist possibly mean by his being a stranger or sojourner with the Lord?  David was no stranger; nor were his ancestors.  I have to admit I’m baffled by this verse.  I can imagine two possible explanations  (1)  that the psalmist was not an Israelite, but a sojourner in Israel, who knew Hebrew and in his distress, appealed to the God of the Jews, or (2) David was alluding to the realization that everyone is a sojourner in this life.  But then what does the heading (v. 39:1) to this psalm mean?  Is this one of David’s psalms or not?  I have to favor alternative (1) despite my misgivings.

הָשַׁע מִמֶּנִּי וְאַבְלִיגָה בְּטֶרֶם אֵלֵךְ וְאֵינֶנִּי׃   39:14

Psal. 39:14   Look away from me

                                 that I may smile before I must go

                        and there is no me.

 

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