Psalms 59

 

לַמְנַצֵּחַ אַל־תַּשְׁחֵת לְדָוִד מִכְתָּם בִּשְׁלֹחַ שָׁאוּל וַיִּשְׁמְרוּ אֶת־הַבַּיִת לַהֲמִיתוֹ׃   59:1

Psal. 59:1   A lyric poem of David's for the leader al-tashheth, on Saul sending, and they watched the house to kill him:

The episode mentioned here is found in 1Samuel starting with 1Sam. 19:11.  Incidentally, if you need a reminder regarding the term al-tashheth, see my remark at Psal. 57:1.

הַצִּילֵנִי מֵאֹיְבַי אֱלֹהָי מִּמִתְקוֹמְמַי תְּשַׂגְּבֵנִי׃   59:2

Psal. 59:2   Deliver me from my enemies, O my God!

                             May You set me higher than those rising up against me.

הַצִּילֵנִי מִפֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן וּמֵאַנְשֵׁי דָמִים הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי׃   59:3

Psal. 59:3   Deliver me from workers of iniquity,

                              and save me from men of blood.

כִּי הִנֵּה אָרְבוּ לְנַפְשִׁי יָגוּרוּ עָלַי עַזִים לֹא־פִשְׁעִי וְלֹא־חַטָּאתִי יְהוָה׃   59:4

Psal. 59:4   For behold, they lie in wait for my soul;

                               the mighty gather together against me.

                      It is not my transgression or my sin, Lord.

בְּלִי־עָוֹן יְרוּצוּן וְיִכֹּונָנוּ עוּרָה לִקְרָאתִי וּרְאֵה׃   59:5

Psal. 59:5   Without guilt they would run,

                               as they get ready.

                      Awaken to my call and see!

Many translators add the words I am before Without guilt, which changes the meaning of the Hebrew.  I believe the psalmist was describing the lack of conscience of David’s enemies.

וְאַתָּה יְהוָה־אֱלֹהִים צְבָאוֹת אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָקִיצָה לִפְקֹד כָּל־הַגּוֹיִם אַל־תָּחֹן כָּל־בֹּגְדֵי אָוֶן סֶלָה׃   59:6

Psal. 59:6   Now You, O Lord, are the God of hosts, God of Israel.

                                Arise to punish all the nations;

                      have no mercy on all the treacherous dealers of iniquity.            Selah.

At this point, the psalmist brings in the nations also as David’s enemies. .I don’t know why, because he immediately returns to his closer enemies in the next verse.  Yet he will refer to them again in v. 9 below.

יָשׁוּבוּ לָעֶרֶב יֶהֱמוּ כַכָּלֶב וִיסוֹבְבוּ עִיר׃   59:7

Psal. 59:7   They will have returned toward evening;

                                 they would growl like a dog as they prowl about the city.

הִנֵּה יַבִּיעוּן בְּפִיהֶם חֲרָבוֹת בְּשִׂפְתוֹתֵיהֶם כִּי־מִי שֹׁמֵעַ׃   59:8

Psal. 59:8   Behold, they would belch out with their mouths,

                                 knives on their lips, for “Who listens?”

In other words the psalmist believes that David’s enemies think no one cares what they do.

וְאַתָּה יְהוָה תִּשְׂחַק־לָמוֹ תִּלְעַג לְכָל־גּוֹיִם׃   59:9

Psal. 59:9   But You, O Lord, will mock them,

                                You will bear derision for all the nations.

עֻזּוֹ אֵלֶיךָ אֶשְׁמֹרָה כִּי־אֱלֹהִים מִשְׂגַּבִּי׃   59:10

Psal. 59:10   His strength!  To You I will give charge,

                                 for God is my High Tower.

The implication of the exclamation is that David’s enemies are strong, and because of that, he will depend on the Lord.

אֱלֹהֵי (חַסְדֹּו) [חַסְדִּי] יְקַדְּמֵנִי אֱלֹהִים יַרְאֵנִי בְשֹׁרְרָי׃   59:11

Psal. 59:11   May God, His mercy, come to meet me.

                                 May God perceive me among my adversaries.

The error indicated in the parentheses is presumably corrected in the brackets so that the beginning of the verse would read “May God of my mercy ....”  I believe my translation (I am discounting the “error”) is just as correct, so I don’t consider the word to be in error.

אַל־תַּהַרְגֵם פֶּן־יִשְׁכְּחוּ עַמִּי הֲנִיעֵמוֹ בְחֵילְךָ וְהוֹרִידֵמוֹ מָגִנֵּנוּ אֲדֹנָי׃   59:12

Psal. 59:12   Do not kill them,

                                   lest my people should forget;

                        toss them about with Your might,

                                  and bring them down, our Shield, my Master.

The phrase lest my people forget adds to my feeling that sometimes the psalmist takes on the identity of Israel.

חַטַּאת־פִּימוֹ דְּבַר־שְׂפָתֵימוֹ וְיִלָּכְדוּ בִגְאוֹנָם וּמֵאָלָה וּמִכַּחַשׁ יְסַפֵּרוּ׃   59:13

Psal. 59:13   It is the sin of their mouth,

                                  the speech of their lips,

                        that in their pride takes them,

                                  and the cursing and lying they would recount.

כַּלֵּה בְחֵמָה כַּלֵּה וְאֵינֵמוֹ וְיֵדְעוּ כִּי־אֱלֹהִים מֹשֵׁל בְּיַעֲקֹב לְאַפְסֵי הָאָרֶץ סֶלָה׃   59:14

Psal. 59:14   Fulfill in anger!

                                  Fulfill that there be no more of them!

                       Then they will know that God is ruling in Jacob

                                  to the ends of the earth.            Selah.

We can’t know if the psalmist is referring to the nations or David’s near enemies in this verse.  But if they are the same ones mentioned in v. 12 above, then the psalmist’s wishes as expressed here are in conflict with those in the earlier verse.  There he says don’t kill them, here he wants there to be no more of them.

וְיָשׁוּבוּ לָעֶרֶב יֶהֱמוּ כַכָּלֶב וִיסוֹבְבוּ עִיר׃   59:15

Psal. 59:15   So they return toward evening,

                                  they would growl like a dog as they prowl about the city.

Except for the vav prefix in the first word, the Hebrew of this verse is identical to that in v. 7 above.  An accurate  translation has to be as I have it.  Other translators, ignoring the implications of the grammar, offer the same English in both verses except they add an And to acknowledge the vav.

הֵמָּה (יְנוּעוּן) [יְנִיעוּן] לֶאֱכֹל אִם־לֹא יִשְׂבְּעוּ וַיָּלִינוּ׃   59:16

Psal. 59:16   They would wander to feed;

                                  if they were not satisfied, then they grumbled.

The word in the parentheses is assumed to be in error, requiring a yad in place of the first vav as in the brackets.  According to my extensive Hebrew dictionary, the original spelling is correct.

וַאֲנִי אָשִׁיר עֻזֶּךָ וַאֲרַנֵּן לַבֹּקֶר חַסְדֶּךָ כִּי־הָיִיתָ מִשְׂגָּב לִי וּמָנוֹס בְּיוֹם צַר־לִי׃   59:17

Psal. 59:17   But I shall sing of Your might,

                                 and I shall sing out of Your loving kindness to the morning.

                        For You are a High Tower for me,

                                 and a Refuge in the time of my distress.

עֻזִּי אֵלֶיךָ אֲזַמֵּרָה כִּי־אֱלֹהִים מִשְׂגַּבִּי אֱלֹהֵי חַסְדִּי׃   59:18

Psal. 59:18   O my Strength, to You I will sing praises,

                                  for God is my High Tower,

                        my God is my Loving Kindness.

 

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