THE BOOK OF PSALMS

The Hebrew Psalter numbers 150 songs. The corresponding number in the Septuagint differs because of a different division of certain Psalms. Hence the numbering in the Greek Psalter (which was followed by the Latin Vulgate) is usually one digit behind the Hebrew. In the New American Bible the numbering of the verses follows the Hebrew numbering; many of the traditional English translations are often a verse number behind the Hebrew because they do not count the superscriptions as a verse.

The superscriptions derive from pre-Christian Jewish tradition, and they contain technical terms, many of them apparently liturgical, which are no longer known to us. Seventy-three Psalms are attributed to David, but there is no sure way of dating any Psalm. Some are preexilic (before 587), and others are postexilic (after 539), but not as late as the Maccabean period (ca. 165). The Psalms are the product of many individual collections (e.g., Songs of Ascents, Ps 120134), which were eventually combined into the present work in which one can detect five “books,” because of the doxologies which occur at 41:14; 72:1819; 89:53; 106:48.

Two important features of the Psalms deserve special notice. First, the majority were composed originally precisely for liturgical worship. This is shown by the frequent indication of liturgical leaders interacting with the community (e.g., Ps 118:14). Secondly, they follow certain distinct patterns or literary forms. Thus, the hymn is a song of praise, in which a community is urged joyfully to sing out the praise of God. Various reasons are given for this praise (often introduced by “for” or “because”): the divine work of creation and sustenance (Ps 135:112; 136). Some of the hymns have received a more specific classification, based on content. The “Songs of Zion” are so called because they exalt Zion, the city in which God dwells among the people (Ps 47; 9699). Characteristic of the songs of praise is the joyful summons to get involved in the activity; Ps 104 is an exception to this, although it remains universal in its thrust.

Another type of Psalm is similar to the hymn: the thanksgiving Psalm. This too is a song of praise acknowledging the Lord as the rescuer of the psalmist from a desperate situation. Very often the psalmist will give a flashback, recounting the past distress, and the plea that was uttered (Ps 30; 116). The setting for such prayers seems to have been the offering of a todah (a “praise” sacrifice) with friends in the Temple.

There are more Psalms of lament than of any other type. They may be individual (e.g., Ps 37; 22) or communal (e.g., Ps 44). Although they usually begin with a cry for help, they develop in various ways. The description of the distress is couched in the broad imagery typical of the Bible (one is in Sheol, the Pit, or is afflicted by enemies or wild beasts, etc.)—in such a way that one cannot pinpoint the exact nature of the psalmist’s plight. However, Ps 51 (cf. also Ps 130) seems to refer clearly to deliverance from sin. Several laments end on a note of certainty that the Lord has heard the prayer (cf. Ps 7, but contrast Ps 88), and the Psalter has been characterized as a movement from lament to praise. If this is somewhat of an exaggeration, it serves at least to emphasize the frequent expressions of trust which characterize the lament. In some cases it would seem as if the theme of trust has been lifted out to form a literary type all its own; cf. Ps 23, 62, 91. Among the communal laments can be counted Ps 74 and 79. They complain to the Lord about some national disaster, and try to motivate God to intervene in favor of the suffering people.

Other Psalms are clearly classified on account of content, and they may be in themselves laments or Psalms of thanksgiving. Among the “royal” Psalms that deal directly with the currently reigning king, are Ps 20, 21, and 72. Many of the royal Psalms were given a messianic interpretation by Christians. In Jewish tradition they were preserved, even after kingship had disappeared, because they were read in the light of the Davidic covenant reported in 2 Sm 7. Certain Psalms are called wisdom Psalms because they seem to betray the influence of the concerns of the ages (cf. Ps 37, 49), but there is no general agreement as to the number of these prayers. Somewhat related to the wisdom Psalms are the “torah” Psalms, in which the torah (instruction or law) of the Lord is glorified (Ps 1; 19:814; 119). Ps 78, 105, 106 can be considered as “historical” Psalms. Although the majority of the Psalms have a liturgical setting, there are certain prayers that may be termed “liturgies,” so clearly does their structure reflect a liturgical incident (e.g., Ps 15, 24).

It is obvious that not all of the Psalms can be pigeon-holed into neat classifications, but even a brief sketch of these types help us to catch the structure and spirit of the Psalms we read. It has been rightly said that the Psalms are “a school of prayer.” They not only provide us with models to follow, but inspire us to voice our own deepest feelings and aspirations.

First Book—Psalms 141

PSALM 1*

True Happiness in God’s Law

I

1Blessed is the man who does not walk

in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the way* of sinners,

nor sit in company with scoffers.a

2Rather, the law of the LORD* is his joy;

and on his law he meditates day and night.b

3He is like a treec

planted near streams of water,

that yields its fruit in season;

Its leaves never wither;

whatever he does prospers.

II

4But not so are the wicked,* not so!

They are like chaff driven by the wind.d

5Therefore the wicked will not arise at the judgment,

nor will sinners in the assembly of the just.

6Because the LORD knows the way of the just,e

but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

* [Psalm 1] A preface to the whole Book of Psalms, contrasting with striking similes the destiny of the good and the wicked. The Psalm views life as activity, as choosing either the good or the bad. Each “way” brings its inevitable consequences. The wise through their good actions will experience rootedness and life, and the wicked, rootlessness and death.

* [1:1] The way: a common biblical term for manner of living or moral conduct (Ps 32:8; 101:2, 6; Prv 2:20; 1 Kgs 8:36).

* [1:2] The law of the LORD: either the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, or, more probably, divine teaching or instruction.

* [1:4] The wicked: those who by their actions distance themselves from God’s life-giving presence.

a. [1:1] Ps 26:45; 40:5.

b. [1:2] Jos 1:8; Ps 119; Sir 39:1.

c. [1:3] Ps 52:10; 92:1315; Jer 17:8.

d. [1:4] Ps 35:5; 83:1416; Jb 21:18.

e. [1:6] Ps 37:18.

PSALM 2*

A Psalm for a Royal Coronation

1Why do the nations protest

and the peoples conspire in vain?a

2Kings on earth rise up

and princes plot together

against the LORD and against his anointed one:*b

3“Let us break their shackles

and cast off their chains from us!”c

4The one enthroned in heaven laughs;

the Lord derides them,d

5Then he speaks to them in his anger,

in his wrath he terrifies them:

6“I myself have installed my king

on Zion, my holy mountain.”

7I will proclaim the decree of the LORD,

he said to me, “You are my son;

today I have begotten you.e

8Ask it of me,

and I will give you the nations as your inheritance,

and, as your possession, the ends of the earth.

9With an iron rod you will shepherd them,

like a potter’s vessel you will shatter them.”f

10And now, kings, give heed;

take warning, judges on earth.

11Serve the LORD with fear;

exult with trembling,

Accept correction

lest he become angry and you perish along the way

when his anger suddenly blazes up.g

Blessed are all who take refuge in him!

* [Psalm 2] A royal Psalm. To rebellious kings (Ps 2:13) God responds vigorously (Ps 2:46). A speaker proclaims the divine decree (in the legal adoption language of the day), making the Israelite king the earthly representative of God (Ps 2:79) and warning kings to obey (Ps 2:1011). The Psalm has a messianic meaning for the Church; the New Testament understands it of Christ (Acts 4:2527; 13:33; Heb 1:5).

* [2:2] Anointed: in Hebrew mashiah, “anointed”; in Greek christos, whence English Messiah and Christ. In Israel kings (Jgs 9:8; 1 Sm 9:16; 16:1213) and high priests (Lv 8:12; Nm 3:3) received the power of their office through anointing.

a. [2:1] Rev 11:18.

b. [2:2] Ps 83:6.

c. [2:3] Ps 149:8.

d. [2:4] Ps 37:13; 59:9; Wis 4:18.

e. [2:7] Ps 89:27; 110:23; Is 49:1.

f. [2:9] Rev 2:27; 12:5; 19:15.

g. [2:11] Ps 34:9; 146:5; Prv 16:20.

PSALM 3*

Threatened but Trusting

1A psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom.*a

I

2How many are my foes, LORD!

How many rise against me!

3*How many say of me,

“There is no salvation for him in God.”b

Selah

4But you, LORD, are a shield around me;

my glory, you keep my head high.c

II

5With my own voice I will call out to the LORD,

and he will answer me from his holy mountain.

Selah

6I lie down and I fall asleep,

[and] I will wake up, for the LORD sustains me.d

7I do not fear, then, thousands of people

arrayed against me on every side.

III

8Arise, LORD! Save me, my God!

For you strike the cheekbone of all my foes;

you break the teeth of the wicked.e

9Salvation is from the LORD!

May your blessing be upon your people!f

Selah

* [Psalm 3] An individual lament complaining of enemies who deny that God will come to the rescue (Ps 3:23). Despite such taunts the psalmist hopes for God’s protection even in sleep (Ps 3:47). The Psalm prays for an end to the enemies’ power to speak maliciously (Ps 3:8) and closes peacefully with an expression of trust (Ps 3:9).

* [3:1] The superscription, added later, relates the Psalm to an incident in the life of David.

* [3:3, 3:5, 3:9] Selah: the term is generally considered a direction to the cantor or musicians but its exact meaning is not known. It occurs 71 times in 39 Psalms.

a. [3:1] 2 Sm 15:13ff.

b. [3:3] Ps 71:11.

c. [3:4] Ps 7:11; 18:3; 62:78; Dt 33:29; Is 60:19.

d. [3:6] Ps 4:9; Prv 3:24.

e. [3:8] Ps 58:7.

f. [3:9] Ps 28:9; Jon 2:10.

PSALM 4*

Trust in God

1For the leader;* with stringed instruments. A psalm of David.

I

2Answer me when I call, my saving God.

When troubles hem me in, set me free;

take pity on me, hear my prayer.a

II

3How long, O people, will you be hard of heart?

Why do you love what is worthless, chase after lies?*b

Selah

4Know that the LORD works wonders for his faithful one;

the LORD hears when I call out to him.

5Tremble* and sin no more;

weep bitterly* within your hearts,

wail upon your beds,c

6Offer fitting sacrifices

and trust in the LORD.d

III

7Many say, “May we see better times!

LORD, show us the light of your face!”e

Selah

8But you have given my heart more joy

than they have when grain and wine abound.

9f*In peace I will lie down and fall asleep,

for you alone, LORD, make me secure.

* [Psalm 4] An individual lament emphasizing trust in God. The petition is based upon the psalmist’s vivid experience of God as savior (Ps 4:2). That experience of God is the basis for the warning to the wicked: revere God who intervenes on the side of the faithful (Ps 4:36). The faithful psalmist exemplifies the blessings given to the just (Ps 4:78).

* [4:1] For the leader: many Psalm headings contain this rubric. Its exact meaning is unknown but may signify that such Psalms once stood together in a collection of “the choirmaster,” cf. 1 Chr 15:21.

* [4:3] Love what is worthless…lies: these expressions probably refer to false gods worshiped by those the psalmist is addressing.

* [4:5] Tremble: be moved deeply with fear for failing to worship the true God. The Greek translation understood the emotion to be anger, and it is so cited in Eph 4:26. Weep bitterly…wail: weeping within one’s heart and wailing upon one’s bed denote sincere repentance because these actions are not done in public or with the community but in the privacy of one’s heart and one’s home. The same idiom is found in Hos 7:14.

* [4:9] In peace I will…fall asleep: the last verse repeats two themes in the Psalm. One is the security of one who trusts in the true God; the other is the interior peace of those who sincerely repent (“on [their] beds”), whose sleep is not disturbed by a guilty conscience.

a. [4:2] Ps 118:5.

b. [4:3] Ps 62:4.

c. [4:5] Eph 4:26.

d. [4:6] Ps 51:19.

e. [4:7] Ps 31:17; 44:4; 67:1; 80:4; Jb 13:24; Nm 6:25; Dn 9:17.

f. [4:9] Ps 3:6.

PSALM 5*

Prayer for Divine Help

1For the leader; with wind instruments. A psalm of David.

I

2Give ear to my words, O LORD;

understand my sighing.a

3Attend to the sound of my cry,

my king and my God!

For to you I will pray, LORD;

4in the morning you will hear my voice;

in the morning I will plead before you and wait.b

II

5You are not a god who delights in evil;

no wicked person finds refuge with you;

6the arrogant cannot stand before your eyes.

You hate all who do evil;

7you destroy those who speak falsely.c

A bloody and fraudulent man

the LORD abhors.

III

8But I, through the abundance of your mercy,*

will enter into your house.

I will bow down toward your holy sanctuary

out of fear of you.d

9LORD, guide me in your justice because of my foes;

make straight your way before me.e

IV

10For there is no sincerity in their mouth;

their heart is corrupt.

Their throat* is an open grave;f

on their tongue are subtle lies.

11Declare them guilty, God;

make them fall by their own devices.g

Drive them out for their many sins;

for they have rebelled against you.

V

12Then all who trust in you will be glad

and forever shout for joy.h

You will protect them and those will rejoice in you

who love your name.

13For you, LORD, bless the just one;

you surround him with favor like a shield.

* [Psalm 5] A lament contrasting the security of the house of God (Ps 5:89, 1213) with the danger of the company of evildoers (Ps 5:57, 1011). The psalmist therefore prays that God will hear (Ps 5:24) and grant the protection and joy of the Temple.

* [5:8] Mercy: used to translate the Hebrew word, hesed. This term speaks to a relationship between persons. It is manifested in concrete actions to persons with some need or desire. The one who offers hesed has the ability to respond to that need of the other person. Other possible ways to translate hesed include “steadfast love” and “loving kindness.”

* [5:10] Their throat: their speech brings harm to their hearers (cf. Jer 5:16). The verse mentions four parts of the body, each a source of evil to the innocent.

a. [5:2] Ps 86:6; 130:12.

b. [5:4] Wis 16:28.

c. [5:7] Ps 101:7; Wis 14:9; Heb 1:13.

d. [5:8] Ps 138:2; Jon 2:5.

e. [5:9] Ps 23:3; Prv 4:11; Is 26:7.

f. [5:10] Rom 3:13.

g. [5:11] Ps 141:10.

h. [5:12] Ps 64:11.

PSALM 6*

Prayer in Distress

1For the leader; with stringed instruments, “upon the eighth.”*

A psalm of David.

I

2Do not reprove me in your anger, LORD,

nor punish me in your wrath.a

3Have pity on me, LORD, for I am weak;

heal me, LORD, for my bones are shuddering.b

4My soul too is shuddering greatly—

and you, LORD, how long…?*c

5Turn back, LORD, rescue my soul;

save me because of your mercy.

6For in death there is no remembrance of you.

Who praises you in Sheol?*d

II

7I am wearied with sighing;

all night long I drench my bed with tears;

I soak my couch with weeping.

8My eyes are dimmed with sorrow,

worn out because of all my foes.e

III

9Away from me, all who do evil!f

The LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

10The LORD has heard my plea;

the LORD will receive my prayer.

11My foes will all be disgraced and will shudder greatly;

they will turn back in sudden disgrace.g

* [Psalm 6] The first of the seven Penitential Psalms (Ps 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143), a designation dating from the seventh century A.D. for Psalms suitable to express repentance. The psalmist does not, as in many laments, claim to be innocent but appeals to God’s mercy (Ps 6:5). Sin here, as often in the Bible, is both the sinful act and its injurious consequences; here it is physical sickness (Ps 6:34, 78) and the attacks of enemies (Ps 6:8, 9, 11). The psalmist prays that the effects of personal and social sin be taken away.

* [6:1] Upon the eighth: apparently a musical notation, now lost.

* [6:4] How long?: elliptical for “How long will it be before you answer my prayer?” cf. Ps 13:23.

* [6:6] A motive for God to preserve the psalmist from death: in the shadowy world of the dead no one offers you praise. Sheol is the biblical term for the underworld where the insubstantial souls of dead human beings dwelt. It was similar to the Hades of Greek and Latin literature. In the second century B.C., biblical books begin to speak positively of life with God after death (Dn 12:13; Wis 3).

a. [6:2] Ps 38:2.

b. [6:3] Jer 17:1415.

c. [6:4] Ps 13:23; 74:10; 89:47.

d. [6:6] Ps 30:10; 88:11; 115:17; Is 38:18.

e. [6:8] Ps 31:10; 38:11; 40:13.

f. [6:9] Ps 119:115; Mt 7:23; Lk 13:27.

g. [6:11] Ps 35:4, 26; 40:15; 71:13.

PSALM 7*

God the Vindicator

1A plaintive song of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, the Benjaminite.

I

2LORD my God, in you I trusted;

save me; rescue me from all who pursue me,a

3Lest someone maul me like a lion,

tear my soul apart with no one to deliver.

II

4LORD my God, if I have done this,*

if there is guilt on my hands,

5If I have maltreated someone treating me equitably—

or even despoiled my oppressor without cause—

6Then let my enemy pursue and overtake my soul,

trample my life to the ground,

and lay my honor in the dust.b

Selah

III

7Rise up, LORD, in your anger;

be aroused against the outrages of my oppressors.c

Stir up the justice, my God, you have commanded.

8Have the assembly of the peoples gather about you;

and return on high above them,

9the LORD will pass judgment on the peoples.

Judge me, LORD, according to my righteousness,

and my integrity.

10Let the malice of the wicked end.

Uphold the just one,

O just God,d

who tries hearts and minds.

IV

11God is a shield above me

saving the upright of heart.e

12God is a just judge, powerful and patient,*

not exercising anger every day.

13If one does not repent,

God sharpens his sword,

strings and readies the bow,f

14Prepares his deadly shafts,

makes arrows blazing thunderbolts.g

V

15Consider how one conceives iniquity;

is pregnant with mischief,

and gives birth to deception.h

16He digs a hole and bores it deep,

but he falls into the pit he has made.i

17His malice turns back upon his head;

his violence falls on his own skull.

VI

18I will thank the LORD in accordance with his justice;

I will sing the name of the LORD Most High.j

* [Psalm 7] An individual lament. The psalmist flees to God’s presence in the sanctuary for justice and protection (Ps 7:23) and takes an oath that only the innocent can swear (Ps 7:46). The innocent psalmist can thus hope for the just God’s protection (Ps 7:714) and be confident that the actions of the wicked will come back upon their own heads (Ps 7:1517). The justice of God leads the psalmist to praise (Ps 7:18).

* [7:4] Have done this: in the accusation the enemies have made against the psalmist.

* [7:12] Powerful and patient: the inclusion of these words is drawn from the Septuagint tradition concerning this verse.

a. [7:2] Ps 6:5; 22:21.

b. [7:6] Ps 143:3.

c. [7:7] Ps 9:4; 19:20.

d. [7:10] Ps 17:3; 26:2; 35:24; 43:1; 139:23; Jer 17:10; 20:12.

e. [7:11] Ps 3:4.

f. [7:13] Ps 11:2.

g. [7:14] Is 50:11.

h. [7:15] Jb 15:35; Is 59:4.

i. [7:16] Ps 9:16; 35:8; 57:7; Prv 26:27; Eccl 10:8; Sir 27:26.

j. [7:18] Ps 18:50; 30:5; 135:3; 146:2.

PSALM 8*

Divine Majesty and Human Dignity

1For the leader; “upon the gittith.”* A psalm of David.

2O LORD, our Lord,

how awesome is your name through all the earth!

I will sing of your majesty above the heavens

3with the mouths of babesa and infants.*

You have established a bulwark* against your foes,

to silence enemy and avenger.*

4When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and stars that you set in place—

5*What is man that you are mindful of him,b

and a son of man that you care for him?c

6Yet you have made him little less than a god,*

crowned him with glory and honor.

7You have given him rule over the works of your hands,d

put all things at his feet:

8All sheep and oxen,

even the beasts of the field,

9The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,

and whatever swims the paths of the seas.

10O LORD, our Lord,

how awesome is your name through all the earth!

* [Psalm 8] While marvelling at the limitless grandeur of God (Ps 8:23), the psalmist is struck first by the smallness of human beings in creation (Ps 8:45), and then by the royal dignity and power that God has graciously bestowed upon them (Ps 8:69).

* [8:1] Upon the gittith: probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung or a musical instrument.

* [8:3] With the mouths of babes and infants: the psalmist realizes that his attempts to praise such an awesome God are hopelessly inadequate and amount to little more than the sounds made by infants. Established a bulwark: an allusion to lost myth telling how God built a fortress for himself in the heavens in primordial times in his battle with the powers of chaos. This “bulwark” is the firmament. Enemy and avenger: probably cosmic enemies. The primeval powers of watery chaos are often personified in poetic texts (Ps 74:1314; 89:11; Jb 9:13; 26:1213; Is 51:9).

* [8:5] Man…a son of man: the emphasis is on the fragility and mortality of human beings to whom God has given great dignity.

* [8:6] Little less than a god: Hebrew ‘elohim, the ordinary word for “God” or “the gods” or members of the heavenly court. The Greek version translated ‘elohim by “angel, messenger”; several ancient and modern versions so translate. The meaning seems to be that God created human beings almost at the level of the beings in the heavenly world. Heb 2:9, translating “for a little while,” finds the eminent fulfillment of this verse in Jesus Christ, who was humbled before being glorified, cf. also 1 Cor 15:27 where St. Paul applies to Christ the closing words of Ps 8:7.

a. [8:3] Mt 21:16; Wis 10:21.

b. [8:5] Ps 144:3; Jb 7:17.

c. [8:5] Heb 2:6ff.

d. [8:7ff] Gn 1:26, 28; Wis 9:2; 1 Cor 15:27.

PSALM 9*

Thanksgiving for Victory and Prayer for Justice

1For the leader; according to Muth Labben.* A psalm of David.

I

2I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart;

I will declare all your wondrous deeds.

3I will delight and rejoice in you;

I will sing hymns to your name, Most High.

4When my enemies turn back,

they stumble and perish before you.

II

5For you upheld my right and my cause,

seated on your throne, judging justly.

6You rebuked the nations, you destroyed the wicked;

their name you blotted out for all time.a

7The enemies have been ruined forever;

you destroyed their cities;

their memory has perished.

III

8The LORD rules forever,

has set up his throne for judgment.

9It is he who judges the world with justice,b

who judges the peoples with fairness.

10The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,

a stronghold in times of trouble.c

11Those who know your name trust in you;

you never forsake those who seek you, LORD.

IV

12Sing hymns to the LORD enthroned on Zion;

proclaim his deeds among the nations!

13For the avenger of bloodshed remembers,

does not forget the cry of the afflicted.d

V

14Be gracious to me, LORD;

see how my foes afflict me!

You alone can raise me from the gates of death.e

15Then I will declare all your praises,

sing joyously of your salvation

in the gates of daughter Zion.*

VI

16The nations fall into the pit they dig;

in the snare they hide, their own foot is caught.

17*The LORD is revealed in making judgments:

by the deeds they do the wicked are trapped.f

Higgaion. Selah*

VII

18To Sheol the wicked will depart,

all the nations that forget God.

19For the needy will never be forgotten,

nor will the hope of the afflicted ever fade.g

20Arise, LORD, let no mortal prevail;

let the nations be judged in your presence.

21Strike them with terror, LORD;

show the nations they are only human.

Selah

* [Psalms 910] Ps 9 and Ps 10 in the Hebrew text have been transmitted as separate poems but they actually form a single acrostic poem and are so transmitted in the Greek and Latin tradition. Each verse of the two Psalms begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet (though several letters have no corresponding stanza). The Psalm states loosely connected themes: the rescue of the helpless poor from their enemies, God’s worldwide judgment and rule over the nations, the psalmist’s own concern for rescue (Ps 9:1415).

* [9:1] Muth Labben: probably the melodic accompaniment of the Psalm, now lost.

* [9:15] Daughter Zion: an ancient Near Eastern city could sometimes be personified as a woman or a queen, the spouse of the god of the city.

* [9:17] The LORD is revealed in making judgments: God has so made the universe that the wicked are punished by the very actions they perform.

* [9:17] Selah: see note on Ps 3:3.

a. [9:6] Jb 18:17.

b. [9:9] Ps 96:10; 98:9.

c. [9:10] Ps 37:39; Is 25:4.

d. [9:13] Jb 16:18.

e. [9:14] Wis 16:13.

f. [9:17] Ps 35:8; Sir 27:26.

g. [9:19] Prv 23:18.

PSALM 10

I

1Why, LORD, do you stand afar

and pay no heed in times of trouble?

2Arrogant scoundrels pursue the poor;

they trap them by their cunning schemes.a

II

3The wicked even boast of their greed;

these robbers curse and scorn the LORD.b

4In their insolence the wicked boast:

“God does not care; there is no God.”c

5Yet their affairs always succeed;

they ignore your judgment on high;

they sneer at all who oppose them.

6They say in their hearts, “We will never fall;

never will we see misfortune.”

7Their mouths are full of oaths, violence, and lies;

discord and evil are under their tongues.d

8They wait in ambush near towns;

their eyes watch for the helpless

to murder the innocent in secret.e

9They lurk in ambush like lions in a thicket,

hide there to trap the poor,

snare them and close the net.f

10The helpless are crushed, laid low;

they fall into the power of the wicked,

11Who say in their hearts, “God has forgotten,

shows no concern, never bothers to look.”g

III

12Rise up, LORD! God, lift up your hand!

Do not forget the poor!

13Why should the wicked scorn God,

say in their hearts, “God does not care”?

14But you do see;

you take note of misery and sorrow;h

you take the matter in hand.

To you the helpless can entrust their cause;

you are the defender of orphans.i

15Break the arm of the wicked and depraved;

make them account for their crimes;

let none of them survive.

IV

16The LORD is king forever;j

the nations have vanished from his land.

17You listen, LORD, to the needs of the poor;

you strengthen their heart and incline your ear.

18You win justice for the orphaned and oppressed;k

no one on earth will cause terror again.

a. [10:2] Is 32:7.

b. [10:3] Ps 36:2.

c. [10:4] Ps 14:1; Jb 22:13; Is 29:15; Jer 5:12; Zep 1:12.

d. [10:7] Is 32:7; Rom 3:14.

e. [10:8] Ps 11:2; Jb 24:14.

f. [10:9] Ps 17:12; Prv 1:11; Jer 5:26.

g. [10:11] Ps 44:25; 64:6; 73:11; 94:7; Ez 9:9.

h. [10:14] Ps 31:8; 56:9; 2 Kgs 20:5; Is 25:8; Rev 7:17.

i. [10:14] Ex 22:2122.

j. [10:16] Ps 145:13; Jer 10:10.

k. [10:18] Dt 10:18.

PSALM 11*

Confidence in the Presence of God

1For the leader. Of David.

I

In the LORD I take refuge;

how can you say to me,

“Flee like a bird to the mountains!a

2See how the wicked string their bows,

fit their arrows to the string

to shoot from the shadows at the upright of heart.b

3*If foundations are destroyed,

what can the just one do?”

II

4The LORD is in his holy temple;

the LORD’s throne is in heaven.c

God’s eyes keep careful watch;

they test the children of Adam.

5The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked,

hates those who love violence,

6And rains upon the wicked

fiery coals and brimstone,

a scorching wind their allotted cup.*d

7The LORD is just and loves just deeds;

the upright will see his face.

* [Psalm 11] A song of trust. Though friends counsel flight to the mountain country (a traditional hideout) to escape trouble (Ps 11:13), the innocent psalmist reaffirms confidence in God, who protects those who seek asylum in the Temple (Ps 11:47).

* [11:3] Foundations: usually understood of public order, cf. Ps 82:5.

* [11:6] Their allotted cup: the cup that God gives people to drink is a common figure for their destiny, cf. Ps 16:5; 75:9; Mt 20:22; 26:39; Rev 14:10.

a. [11:1] Ps 55:7; 91:4.

b. [11:2] Ps 7:13; 37:14; 57:5; 64:4.

c. [11:4] Ps 14:2; 102:20; Hab 2:20; Dt 26:15; Is 66:1; Mt 5:34.

d. [11:6] Ps 120:4; 140:11; Prv 16:27; Ez 38:22; Rev 8:5; 20:10.

PSALM 12*

Prayer Against Evil Tongues

1For the leader; “upon the eighth.” A psalm of David.

I

2Help, LORD, for no one loyal remains;

the faithful have vanished from the children of men.a

3They tell lies to one another,

speak with deceiving lips and a double heart.b

II

4May the LORD cut off all deceiving lips,

and every boastful tongue,

5Those who say, “By our tongues we prevail;

when our lips speak, who can lord it over us?”c

III

6“Because they rob the weak, and the needy groan,

I will now arise,” says the LORD;

“I will grant safety to whoever longs for it.”d

IV

7The promises of the LORD are sure,

silver refined in a crucible,*

silver purified seven times.e

8You, O LORD, protect us always;

preserve us from this generation.

9On every side the wicked roam;

the shameless are extolled by the children of men.

* [Psalm 12] A lament. The psalmist, thrown into a world where lying and violent people persecute the just (Ps 12:23), prays that the wicked be punished (Ps 12:45). The prayer is not simply for vengeance but arises from a desire to see God’s justice appear on earth. Ps 12:6 preserves the word of assurance spoken by the priest to the lamenter; it is not usually transmitted in such Psalms. In Ps 12:78 the psalmist affirms the intention to live by the word of assurance.

* [12:7] A crucible: lit., “in a crucible in the ground.” The crucible was placed in the ground for support.

a. [12:2] Ps 14:3; 116:11; Is 59:15; Mi 7:2.

b. [12:3] Ps 28:3; 55:22; Is 59:34; Jer 9:7.

c. [12:5] Sir 5:3.

d. [12:6] Is 33:10.

e. [12:7] Ps 18:31; 19:8; Prv 30:5.

PSALM 13*

Prayer for Help

1For the leader. A psalm of David.

I

2How long, LORD? Will you utterly forget me?

How long will you hide your face from me?a

3How long must I carry sorrow in my soul,

grief in my heart day after day?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

II

4Look upon me, answer me, LORD, my God!

Give light to my eyes lest I sleep in death,

5Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed,”

lest my foes rejoice at my downfall.b

III

6But I trust in your mercy.

Grant my heart joy in your salvation,

I will sing to the LORD,

for he has dealt bountifully with me!c

* [Psalm 13] A typical lament, in which the psalmist feels forgotten by God (Ps 13:23)—note the force of the repetition of “How long.” The references to enemies may suggest some have wished evil on the psalmist. The heartfelt prayer (Ps 13:45) passes on a statement of trust (Ps 13:6a), intended to reinforce the prayer, and a vow to thank God when deliverance has come (Ps 13:6b).

a. [13:2] Ps 6:4; 44:25; 77:8; 79:5; 89:47; 94:3; Lam 5:20.

b. [13:5] Ps 38:17.

c. [13:6] Ps 116:7.

PSALM 14*

A Lament over Widespread Corruption

1For the leader. Of David.

I

The fool says in his heart,

“There is no God.”

Their deeds are loathsome and corrupt;

not one does what is good.a

2The LORD looks down from heaven

upon the children of men,b

To see if even one is wise,

if even one seeks God.c

3All have gone astray;

all alike are perverse.

Not one does what is good,

not even one.d

II

4Will these evildoers never learn?

They devour my people as they devour bread;e

they do not call upon the LORD.f

5They have good reason, then, to fear;

God is with the company of the just.

6They would crush the hopes of the poor,

but the poor have the LORD as their refuge.

III

7gOh, that from Zion might come

the salvation of Israel!

Jacob would rejoice, and Israel be glad

when the LORD restores his people!*

* [Psalm 14] The lament (duplicated in Ps 53) depicts the world as consisting of two types of people: “the fool” (equals the wicked, Ps 14:13) and “the company of the just” (Ps 14:46; also called “my people,” and “the poor”). The wicked persecute the just, but the Psalm expresses the hope that God will punish the wicked and reward the good.

* [14:7] Jacob…Israel…his people: the righteous poor are identified with God’s people.

a. [14:1] Ps 10:4; 36:2; Is 32:6; Jer 5:12.

b. [14:23] Rom 3:1112.

c. [14:2] Ps 11:4; 102:20.

d. [14:3] Ps 12:1.

e. [14:4] Ps 27:2; Is 9:11.

f. [14:4] Ps 79:6.

g. [14:7] Ps 85:2.

PSALM 15*

The Righteous Israelite

1aA psalm of David.

I

LORD, who may abide in your tent?*

Who may dwell on your holy mountain?*

II

2Whoever walks without blame,b

doing what is right,

speaking truth from the heart;

3Who does not slander with his tongue,

does no harm to a friend,

never defames a neighbor;

4Who disdains the wicked,

but honors those who fear the LORD;

Who keeps an oath despite the cost,

5lends no money at interest,*

accepts no bribe against the innocent.c

III

Whoever acts like this

shall never be shaken.

* [Psalm 15] The Psalm records a liturgical scrutiny at the entrance to the Temple court (cf. Ps 24:36; Is 33:14b16). The Israelite wishing to be admitted had to ask the Temple official what conduct was appropriate to God’s precincts. Note the emphasis on virtues relating to one’s neighbor.

* [15:1] Your tent: the Temple could be referred to as “tent” (Ps 61:5; Is 33:20), a reference to the tent of the wilderness period and the tent of David (2 Sm 6:17; 7:2), predecessors of the Temple. Holy mountain: a venerable designation of the divine abode (Ps 2:6; 3:5; 43:3; 48:2, etc.).

* [15:5] Lends no money at interest: lending money in the Old Testament was often seen as assistance to the poor in their distress, not as an investment; making money off the poor by charging interest was thus forbidden (Ex 22:24; Lv 25:3637; Dt 23:20).

a. [15:1] Is 56:7.

b. [15:2] Ps 119:1.

c. [15:5] Ex 22:24; 23:8.

PSALM 16*

God the Supreme Good

1aA miktam* of David.

I

Keep me safe, O God;

in you I take refuge.

2I say to the LORD,

you are my Lord,

you are my only good.

3As for the holy ones who are in the land,

they are noble,

in whom is all my delight.

4*They multiply their sorrows

who court other gods.

Blood libations to them I will not pour out,

nor will I take their names upon my lips.

5LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,

you have made my destiny secure.b

6*Pleasant places were measured out for me;

fair to me indeed is my inheritance.

II

7I bless the LORD who counsels me;

even at night my heart exhorts me.

8I keep the LORD always before me;

with him at my right hand, I shall never be shaken.c

9Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices;

my body also dwells secure,

10For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,

nor let your devout one see the pit.*d

11You will show me the path to life,

abounding joy in your presence,

the delights at your right hand forever.

* [Psalm 16] In the first section, the psalmist rejects the futile worship of false gods (Ps 16:25), preferring Israel’s God (Ps 16:1), the giver of the land (Ps 16:6). The second section reflects on the wise and life-giving presence of God (Ps 16:711).

* [16:1] Miktam: a term occurring six times in Psalm superscriptions, always with “David.” Its meaning is unknown.

* [16:4] Take their names: to use the gods’ names in oaths and hence to affirm them as one’s own gods.

* [16:6] Pleasant places were measured out for me: the psalmist is pleased with the plot of land measured out to the family, which was to be passed on to succeeding generations (“my inheritance”).

* [16:10] Nor let your devout one see the pit: Hebrew shahath means here the pit, a synonym for Sheol, the underworld. The Greek translation derives the word here and elsewhere from the verb shahath, “to be corrupt.” On the basis of the Greek, Acts 2:2532; 13:3537 apply the verse to Christ’s resurrection, “Nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.”

a. [16:1] Ps 25:20.

b. [16:5] Ps 23:5; 73:26; Nm 18:20; Lam 3:24.

c. [16:8] Ps 73:23; 121:5, 812; Acts 2:2528.

d. [16:10] Ps 28:1; 30:4; 49:16; 86:13; Jon 2:7; Acts 13:35.

PSALM 17*

Prayer for Rescue from Persecutors

1A prayer of David.

I

Hear, LORD, my plea for justice;

pay heed to my cry;

Listen to my prayer

from lips without guile.

2From you let my vindication come;

your eyes see what is right.

3You have tested my heart,

searched it in the night.a

You have tried me by fire,

but find no malice in me.

My mouth has not transgressed

4as others often do.

As your lips have instructed me,

I have kept from the way of the lawless.

5My steps have kept to your paths;

my feet have not faltered.b

II

6I call upon you; answer me, O God.

Turn your ear to me; hear my speech.

7Show your wonderful mercy,

you who deliver with your right arm

those who seek refuge from their foes.

8*Keep me as the apple of your eye;

hide me in the shadow of your wings

9from the wicked who despoil me.c

III

My ravenous enemies press upon me;d

10*they close their hearts,

they fill their mouths with proud roaring.

11Their steps even now encircle me;

they watch closely, keeping low to the ground,

12Like lions eager for prey,

like a young lion lurking in ambush.

13Rise, O LORD, confront and cast them down;

rescue my soul from the wicked.

14Slay them with your sword;

with your hand, LORD, slay them;

snatch them from the world in their prime.

Their bellies are being filled with your friends;

their children are satisfied too,

for they share what is left with their young.

15I am just—let me see your face;

when I awake, let me be filled with your presence.e

* [Psalm 17] A lament of an individual unjustly attacked. Confident of being found innocent, the psalmist cries out for God’s just judgment (Ps 17:15) and requests divine help against enemies (Ps 17:69a). Those ravenous lions (Ps 17:9b12) should be punished (Ps 17:1314). The Psalm ends with a serene statement of praise (Ps 17:15). The Hebrew text of Ps 17:34, 14 is uncertain.

* [17:8] Apple of your eye…shadow of your wings: images of God’s special care, cf. Dt 32:10; Prv 7:2; Is 49:2.

* [17:1012, 14] An extended metaphor: the enemies are lions.

a. [17:3] Ps 26:2; 139:23.

b. [17:5] Ps 18:36; Jb 23:1112.

c. [17:912] Ps 10:9; 22:14, 22; 35:17; 58:7; Jb 4:1011.

d. [17:9] Ps 36:8; 57:2; 61:5; 63:8; 91:4; Dt 32:10; Ru 2:12; Zec 2:12; Mt 23:37.

e. [17:15] Ps 4:7; 31:17; 67:2; 80:4; Nm 6:25; Dn 9:17.

PSALM 18*

A King’s Thanksgiving for Victory

1For the leader. Of David, the servant of the LORD, who sang to the LORD the words of this song after the LORD had rescued him from the clutches of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2He said:a

I

I love you, LORD, my strength,

3LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,

My God, my rock of refuge,

my shield, my saving horn,* my stronghold!b

4Praised be the LORD, I exclaim!

I have been delivered from my enemies.

II

5The cords of death encompassed me;

the torrents of destruction terrified me.

6The cords* of Sheol encircled me;

the snares of death lay in wait for me.c

7In my distress I called out: LORD!

I cried out to my God.d

From his temple he heard my voice;

my cry to him reached his ears.

8*The earth rocked and shook;

the foundations of the mountains trembled;

they shook as his wrath flared up.e

9Smoke rose from his nostrils,

a devouring fire from his mouth;

it kindled coals into flame.

10He parted the heavens and came down,

a dark cloud under his feet.f

11Mounted on a cherub* he flew,

borne along on the wings of the wind.

12He made darkness his cloak around him;

his canopy, water-darkened stormclouds.

13From the gleam before him, his clouds passed,

hail and coals of fire.g

14The LORD thundered from heaven;

the Most High made his voice resound.h

15He let fly his arrows* and scattered them;

shot his lightning bolts and dispersed them.i

16Then the bed of the sea appeared;

the world’s foundations lay bare,j

At your rebuke, O LORD,

at the storming breath of your nostrils.

17He reached down from on high and seized me;

drew me out of the deep waters.k

18He rescued me from my mighty enemy,

from foes too powerful for me.

19They attacked me on my day of distress,

but the LORD was my support.

20He set me free in the open;

he rescued me because he loves me.

III

21The LORD acknowledged my righteousness,

rewarded my clean hands.l

22For I kept the ways of the LORD;

I was not disloyal to my God.

23For his laws were all before me,

his decrees I did not cast aside.

24I was honest toward him;

I was on guard against sin.

25So the LORD rewarded my righteousness,

the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

26Toward the faithful you are faithful;

to the honest man you are honest;m

27Toward the pure, you are pure;

but to the perverse you are devious.

28For humble people you save;

haughty eyes you bring low.n

29For you, LORD, give light to my lamp;

my God brightens my darkness.o

30With you I can rush an armed band,

with my God to help I can leap a wall.

31God’s way is unerring;

the LORD’s promise is refined;

he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.p

IV

32Truly, who is God except the LORD?

Who but our God is the rock?q

33This God who girded me with might,

kept my way unerring,

34Who made my feet like a deer’s,

and set me on the heights,r

35Who trained my hands for war,

my arms to string a bow of bronze.*s

V

36You have given me your saving shield;

your right hand has upheld me;

your favor made me great.

37You made room for my steps beneath me;

my ankles never twisted.t

38I pursued my enemies and overtook them;

I did not turn back till I destroyed them.

39I decimated them; they could not rise;

they fell at my feet.

40You girded me with valor for war,

subjugated my opponents beneath me.

41You made my foes expose their necks to me;

those who hated me I silenced.

42They cried for help, but no one saved them;

cried to the LORD but received no answer.

43I ground them to dust before the wind;

I left them like mud in the streets.

44You rescued me from the strife of peoples;

you made me head over nations.

A people I had not known served me;

45as soon as they heard of me they obeyed.

Foreigners submitted before me;

46foreigners cringed;

they came cowering from their dungeons.u

VI

47The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock!v

Exalted be God, my savior!

48O God who granted me vengeance,

made peoples subject to me,w

49and saved me from my enemies,

Truly you have elevated me above my opponents,

from a man of lawlessness you have rescued me.

50Thus I will praise you, LORD, among the nations;

I will sing praises to your name.x

51You have given great victories to your king,

and shown mercy to his anointed,

to David and his posterity forever.y

* [Psalm 18] A royal thanksgiving for a military victory, duplicated in 2 Sm 22. Thanksgiving Psalms are in essence reports of divine rescue. The Psalm has two parallel reports of rescue, the first told from a heavenly perspective (Ps 18:520), and the second from an earthly perspective (Ps 18:3646). The first report adapts old mythic language of a cosmic battle between sea and rainstorm in order to depict God’s rescue of the Israelite king from his enemies. Each report has a short hymnic introduction (Ps 18:24, 3236) and conclusion (Ps 18:2131, 4750).

* [18:3] My saving horn: my strong savior. The horn referred to is the weapon of a bull and the symbol of fertility, cf. 1 Sm 2:10; Ps 132:17; Lk 1:69.

* [18:6] Cords: hunting imagery, the cords of a snare.

* [18:816] God appears in the storm, which in Palestine comes from the west. The introduction to the theophany (Ps 18:89) is probably a description of a violent, hot, and dry east-wind storm. In the fall transition period from the rainless summer to the rainy winter such storms regularly precede the rains, cf. Ex 14:2122.

* [18:11] Cherub: a winged creature, derived from myth, in the service of the deity (Gn 3:24; Ex 25:1820; 37:69). Cherubim were the throne bearers of the deity (Ps 80:2; 99:1; 1 Kgs 6:2328; 8:68).

* [18:15] Arrows: lightning.

* [18:35] Bow of bronze: hyperbole for a bow difficult to bend and therefore capable of propelling an arrow with great force.

a. [18:251] 2 Sm 22:251.

b. [18:3] Ps 3:4; 31:34; 42:10; Gn 49:24; Dt 32:4.

c. [18:6] Ps 88:8; 93:34; 116:34.

d. [18:7] Jon 2:3.

e. [18:8] Ps 97:34; 99:1; Jgs 5:45; Is 64:1; Heb 3:911.

f. [18:10] Ps 104:3; 144:5; Is 63:19.

g. [18:13] Ex 13:21; 19:16.

h. [18:14] Ps 29; 77:19; Ex 19:19; Jb 37:34.

i. [18:15] Ps 144:6; Wis 5:21.

j. [18:16] Ps 77:17; Zec 9:14.

k. [18:17] Ps 144:7.

l. [18:21] Ps 26; 1 Sm 26:23.

m. [18:26] Ps 125:4.

n. [18:28] Jb 22:29; Prv 3:34.

o. [18:29] Ps 27:1; 36:10; 43:3; 119:105; Jb 29:3; Mi 7:8.

p. [18:31] Ps 12:6; 77:13; Prv 30:5.

q. [18:32] Is 44:8; 45:21.

r. [18:34] Heb 3:19.

s. [18:35] Ps 144:1.

t. [18:37] Ps 17:5.

u. [18:46] Mi 7:17.

v. [18:47] Ps 144:1.

w. [18:48] Ps 144:2.

x. [18:50] Ps 7:18; 30:5; 57:9; 135:3; 146:2; Rom 15:9.

y. [18:51] Ps 89:2837; 144:10; 1 Sm 2:10.

PSALM 19*

God’s Glory in the Heavens and in the Law

1For the leader. A psalm of David.

I

2The heavens declare the glory of God;

the firmament proclaims the works of his hands.a

3Day unto day pours forth speech;

night unto night whispers knowledge.

4*There is no speech, no words;

their voice is not heard;

5A report goes forth through all the earth,

their messages, to the ends of the world.

He has pitched in them a tent for the sun;*

6it comes forth like a bridegroom from his canopy,

and like a hero joyfully runs its course.

7From one end of the heavens it comes forth;

its course runs through to the other;

nothing escapes its heat.

II

8The law of the LORD is perfect,

refreshing the soul.

The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,

giving wisdom to the simple.b

9The precepts of the LORD are right,

rejoicing the heart.

The command of the LORD is clear,

enlightening the eye.

10The fear of the LORD is pure,

enduring forever.

The statutes of the LORD are true,

all of them just;

11More desirable than gold,

than a hoard of purest gold,

Sweeter also than honey

or drippings from the comb.c

12By them your servant is warned;*

obeying them brings much reward.

III

13Who can detect trespasses?

Cleanse me from my inadvertent sins.

14Also from arrogant ones restrain your servant;

let them never control me.

Then shall I be blameless,

innocent of grave sin.

15Let the words of my mouth be acceptable,

the thoughts of my heart before you,

LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

* [Psalm 19] The heavenly elements of the world, now beautifully arranged, bespeak the power and wisdom of their creator (Ps 19:27). The creator’s wisdom is available to human beings in the law (Ps 19:811), toward which the psalmist prays to be open (Ps 19:1214). The themes of light and speech unify the poem.

* [19:4] No speech, no words: the regular functioning of the heavens and the alternation of day and night inform human beings without words of the creator’s power and wisdom.

* [19:5] The sun: in other religious literature the sun is a judge and lawgiver since it sees all in its daily course; Ps 19:5b7 form a transition to the law in Ps 19:811. The six synonyms for God’s revelation (Ps 19:811) are applied to the sun in comparable literature.

* [19:12] Warned: the Hebrew verb means both to shine and to warn, cf. Dn 12:3.

a. [19:2] Ps 8:1; 50:6; 97:6.

b. [19:8] Ps 12:7; 119.

c. [19:11] Sir 24:19.

PSALM 20*

Prayer for the King in Time of War

1For the leader. A psalm of David.

I

2The LORD answer you in time of distress;

the name of the God of Jacob defend you!

3May he send you help from the sanctuary,

from Zion be your support.a

4May he remember* your every offering,

graciously accept your burnt offering,

Selah

5Grant what is in your heart,

fulfill your every plan.

6May we shout for joy at your victory,*

raise the banners in the name of our God.

The LORD grant your every petition!

II

7Now I know the LORD gives victory

to his anointed.b

He will answer him from the holy heavens

with a strong arm that brings victory.

8Some rely on chariots, others on horses,

but we on the name of the LORD our God.c

9They collapse and fall,

but we stand strong and firm.d

10LORD, grant victory to the king;

answer when we call upon you.

* [Psalm 20] The people pray for the king before battle. The people ask for divine help (Ps 20:26) and express confidence that such help will be given (Ps 20:710). A solemn assurance of divine help may well have been given between the two sections in the liturgy, something like the promises of Ps 12:6; 21:913. The final verse (Ps 20:10) echoes the opening verse.

* [20:4] Remember: God’s remembering implies readiness to act, cf. Gn 8:1; Ex 2:24.

* [20:6] Victory: the Hebrew root is often translated “salvation,” “to save,” but in military contexts it can have the specific meaning of “victory.”

a. [20:3] Ps 128:5; 134:3.

b. [20:7] Ps 18:51; 144:10; 1 Sm 2:10.

c. [20:8] Ps 147:1011; 2 Chr 14:10; Prv 21:31; 1 Sm 17:45; Is 31:1; 36:9.

d. [20:9] Is 40:30.

PSALM 21*

Thanksgiving and Assurances for the King

1For the leader. A psalm of David.

I

2LORD, the king finds joy in your power;a

in your victory how greatly he rejoices!

3You have granted him his heart’s desire;

you did not refuse the request of his lips.

Selah

4For you welcomed him with goodly blessings;

you placed on his head a crown of pure gold.

5He asked life of you;

you gave it to him,

length of days forever.b

6Great is his glory in your victory;

majesty and splendor you confer upon him.

7You make him the pattern of blessings forever,

you gladden him with the joy of your face.

8For the king trusts in the LORD,

stands firm through the mercy of the Most High.

II

9Your hand will find all your enemies;

your right hand will find your foes!

10At the time of your coming

you will make them a fiery furnace.

Then the LORD in his anger will consume them,

devour them with fire.

11Even their descendants you will wipe out from the earth,

their offspring from the human race.

12Though they intend evil against you,

devising plots, they will not succeed,

13For you will put them to flight;

you will aim at their faces with your bow.

III

14Arise, LORD, in your power!c

We will sing and chant the praise of your might.

* [Psalm 21] The first part of this royal Psalm is a thanksgiving (Ps 21:28), and the second is a promise that the king will triumph over his enemies (Ps 21:913). The king’s confident prayer (Ps 21:35) and trust in God (Ps 21:8) enable him to receive the divine gifts of vitality, peace, and military success. Ps 21:14 reprises Ps 21:2. When kings ceased in Israel after the sixth century B.C., the Psalm was sung of a future Davidic king.

a. [21:2] Ps 63:12.

b. [21:5] 1 Kgs 3:14.

c. [21:14] Nm 10:35.

PSALM 22*

The Prayer of an Innocent Person

1For the leader; according to “The deer of the dawn.”* A psalm of David.

I

2My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Why so far from my call for help,

from my cries of anguish?a

3My God, I call by day, but you do not answer;

by night, but I have no relief.b

4Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;

you are the glory of Israel.c

5In you our fathers trusted;

they trusted and you rescued them.

6To you they cried out and they escaped;

in you they trusted and were not disappointed.d

7*But I am a worm, not a man,

scorned by men, despised by the people.e

8All who see me mock me;

they curl their lips and jeer;

they shake their heads at me:f

9“He relied on the LORD—let him deliver him;

if he loves him, let him rescue him.”g

10For you drew me forth from the womb,

made me safe at my mother’s breasts.

11Upon you I was thrust from the womb;

since my mother bore me you are my God.h

12Do not stay far from me,

for trouble is near,

and there is no one to help.i

II

13Many bulls* surround me;

fierce bulls of Bashan* encircle me.

14They open their mouths against me,

lions that rend and roar.j

15Like water my life drains away;

all my bones are disjointed.

My heart has become like wax,

it melts away within me.

16As dry as a potsherd is my throat;

my tongue cleaves to my palate;

you lay me in the dust of death.*

17Dogs surround me;

a pack of evildoers closes in on me.

They have pierced my hands and my feet

18I can count all my bones.k

They stare at me and gloat;

19they divide my garments among them;

for my clothing they cast lots.l

20But you, LORD, do not stay far off;

my strength, come quickly to help me.

21Deliver my soul from the sword,

my life from the grip of the dog.

22Save me from the lion’s mouth,

my poor life from the horns of wild bulls.m

III

23Then I will proclaim your name to my brethren;

in the assembly I will praise you:*n

24“You who fear the LORD, give praise!

All descendants of Jacob, give honor;

show reverence, all descendants of Israel!

25For he has not spurned or disdained

the misery of this poor wretch,

Did not turn away* from me,

but heard me when I cried out.

26I will offer praise in the great assembly;

my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him.

27The poor* will eat their fill;

those who seek the LORD will offer praise.

May your hearts enjoy life forever!”o

IV

28All the ends of the earth

will remember and turn to the LORD;

All the families of nations

will bow low before him.p

29For kingship belongs to the LORD,

the ruler over the nations.q

30*All who sleep in the earth

will bow low before God;

All who have gone down into the dust

will kneel in homage.

31And I will live for the LORD;

my descendants will serve you.

32The generation to come will be told of the Lord,

that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn

the deliverance you have brought.r

* [Psalm 22] A lament unusual in structure and in intensity of feeling. The psalmist’s present distress is contrasted with God’s past mercy in Ps 22:212. In Ps 22:1322 enemies surround the psalmist. The last third is an invitation to praise God (Ps 22:2327), becoming a universal chorus of praise (Ps 22:2831). The Psalm is important in the New Testament. Its opening words occur on the lips of the crucified Jesus (Mk 15:34; Mt 27:46), and several other verses are quoted, or at least alluded to, in the accounts of Jesus’ passion (Mt 27:35, 43; Jn 19:24).

* [22:1] The deer of the dawn: apparently the title of the melody.

* [22:7] I am a worm, not a man: the psalmist’s sense of isolation and dehumanization, an important motif of Ps 22, is vividly portrayed here.

* [22:1314] Bulls: the enemies of the psalmist are also portrayed in less-than-human form, as wild animals (cf. Ps 22:17, 2122). Bashan: a grazing land northeast of the Sea of Galilee, famed for its cattle, cf. Dt 32:14; Ez 39:18; Am 4:1.

* [22:16] The dust of death: the netherworld, the domain of the dead.

* [22:23] In the assembly I will praise you: the person who offered a thanksgiving sacrifice in the Temple recounted to the other worshipers the favor received from God and invited them to share in the sacrificial banquet. The final section (Ps 22:2432) may be a summary or a citation of the psalmist’s poem of praise.

* [22:25] Turn away: lit., “hides his face from me,” an important metaphor for God withdrawing from someone, e.g., Mi 3:4; Is 8:17; Ps 27:9; 69:18; 88:15.

* [22:27] The poor: originally the poor, who were dependent on God; the term (‘anawim) came to include the religious sense of “humble, pious, devout.”

* [22:30] Hebrew unclear. The translation assumes that all on earth (Ps 22:2728) and under the earth (Ps 22:29) will worship God.

a. [22:2] Is 49:14; 54:7; Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34.

b. [22:3] Sir 2:10.

c. [22:4] Is 6:3.

d. [22:6] Ps 25:3; Is 49:23; Dn 3:40.

e. [22:7] Is 53:3.

f. [22:8] Ps 109:25; Mt 27:39; Mk 15:29; Lk 23:35.

g. [22:9] Ps 71:11; Wis 2:1820; Mt 27:43.

h. [22:11] Ps 71:6; Is 44:2; 46:3.

i. [22:12] Ps 35:22; 38:22; 71:12.

j. [22:14] Ps 17:12; Jb 4:10; 1 Pt 5:8.

k. [22:18] Ps 109:24.

l. [22:19] Mt 27:35; Mk 15:24; Lk 23:34; Jn 19:24.

m. [22:22] Ps 7:23; 17:12; 35:17; 57:5; 58:7; 2 Tm 4:17.

n. [22:23] Ps 26:12; 35:18; 40:10; 109:30; 149:1; 2 Sm 22:50; Heb 2:12.

o. [22:27] Ps 23:5; 69:33.

p. [22:28] Ps 86:9; Tb 13:11; Is 45:22; 52:10; Zec 14:16.

q. [22:29] Ps 103:19; Ob 21; Zec 14:9.

r. [22:32] Ps 48:1415; 71:18; 78:6; 102:19; Is 53:10.

PSALM 23*

The Lord, Shepherd and Host

1A psalm of David.

I

The LORD is my shepherd;*

there is nothing I lack.a

2In green pastures he makes me lie down;

to still waters he leads me;

3bhe restores my soul.

He guides me along right paths*

for the sake of his name.

4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,c

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff comfort me.

II

5*You set a table before me

in front of my enemies;*

You anoint my head with oil;*d

my cup overflows.e

6Indeed, goodness and mercy* will pursue me

all the days of my life;

I will dwell in the house of the LORDf

for endless days.

* [Psalm 23] God’s loving care for the psalmist is portrayed under the figures of a shepherd for the flock (Ps 23:14) and a host’s generosity toward a guest (Ps 23:56). The imagery of both sections is drawn from traditions of the exodus (Is 40:11; 49:10; Jer 31:10).

* [23:1] My shepherd: God as good shepherd is common in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (Ez 34:1116; Jn 10:1118).

* [23:3] Right paths: connotes “right way” and “way of righteousness.”

* [23:5] You set a table before me: this expression occurs in an exodus context in Ps 78:19. In front of my enemies: my enemies see that I am God’s friend and guest. Oil: a perfumed ointment made from olive oil, used especially at banquets (Ps 104:15; Mt 26:7; Lk 7:37, 46; Jn 12:2).

* [23:6] Goodness and mercy: the blessings of God’s covenant with Israel.

a. [23:1] Ps 80:2; 95:7; 100:3; Dt 2:7.

b. [23:3] Prv 4:11.

c. [23:4] Jb 10:2122; Is 50:10.

d. [23:5] Ps 92:11.

e. [23:5] Ps 16:5.

f. [23:6] Ps 27:4.

PSALM 24*

The Glory of God in Procession to Zion

1A psalm of David.

I

The earth is the LORD’s and all it holds,a

the world and those who dwell in it.

2For he founded it on the seas,

established it over the rivers.b

II

3Who may go up the mountain of the LORD?c

Who can stand in his holy place?

4*“The clean of hand and pure of heart,

who has not given his soul to useless things,

what is vain.

5He will receive blessings from the LORD,

and justice from his saving God.

6Such is the generation that seeks him,

that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.”

Selah

III

7Lift up your heads, O gates;*

be lifted, you ancient portals,

that the king of glory may enter.d

8Who is this king of glory?

The LORD, strong and mighty,

the LORD, mighty in war.

9Lift up your heads, O gates;

rise up, you ancient portals,

that the king of glory may enter.

10Who is this king of glory?

The LORD of hosts, he is the king of glory.

Selah

* [Psalm 24] The Psalm apparently accompanied a ceremony of the entry of God (invisibly enthroned upon the ark), followed by the people, into the Temple. The Temple commemorated the creation of the world (Ps 24:12). The people had to affirm their fidelity before being admitted into the sanctuary (Ps 24:36; cf. Ps 15). A choir identifies the approaching God and invites the very Temple gates to bow down in obeisance (Ps 24:710).

* [24:45] Lit., “the one whose hands are clean.” The singular is used for the entire class of worshipers.

* [24:7, 9] Lift up your heads, O gates…you ancient portals: the literal meaning would involve disassembly of the gates, since the portcullis (a gate that moves up and down) was unknown in the ancient world. Extra-biblical parallels might also suggest a full personification of the circle of gate towers: they are like a council of elders, bowed down and anxious, awaiting the return of the army and the great warrior gone to battle.

a. [24:1] Ps 50:12; 89:12; Dt 10:14; 1 Cor 10:26.

b. [24:2] Ps 136:6; Is 42:5.

c. [24:3] Ps 15:1.

d. [24:7] Ps 118:1920.

PSALM 25*

Confident Prayer for Forgiveness and Guidance

1Of David.

I

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul,

2amy God, in you I trust;

do not let me be disgraced;b

do not let my enemies gloat over me.

3No one is disgraced who waits for you,c

but only those who are treacherous without cause.

4Make known to me your ways, LORD;

teach me your paths.d

5Guide me by your fidelity and teach me,

for you are God my savior,

for you I wait all the day long.

6Remember your compassion and your mercy, O LORD,

for they are ages old.e

7Remember no more the sins of my youth;f

remember me according to your mercy,

because of your goodness, LORD.

II

8Good and upright is the LORD,

therefore he shows sinners the way,

9 He guides the humble in righteousness,

and teaches the humble his way.

10All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth

toward those who honor his covenant and decrees.

11For the sake of your name, LORD,

pardon my guilt, though it is great.

12Who is the one who fears the LORD?

God shows him the way he should choose.g

13 He will abide in prosperity,

and his descendants will inherit the land.h

14The counsel of the LORD belongs to those who fear him;

and his covenant instructs them.

15My eyes are ever upon the LORD,

who frees my feet from the snare.i

III

16Look upon me, have pity on me,

for I am alone and afflicted.j

17Relieve the troubles of my heart;

bring me out of my distress.

18 Look upon my affliction and suffering;

take away all my sins.

19See how many are my enemies,

see how fiercely they hate me.

20Preserve my soul and rescue me;

do not let me be disgraced, for in you I seek refuge.

21Let integrity and uprightness preserve me;

I wait for you, O LORD.

22*Redeem Israel, O God,

from all its distress!

* [Psalm 25] A lament. Each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Such acrostic Psalms are often a series of statements only loosely connected. The psalmist mixes ardent pleas (Ps 25:12, 1622) with expressions of confidence in God who forgives and guides.

* [25:22] A final verse beginning with the Hebrew letter pe is added to the normal 22-letter alphabet. Thus the letters aleph, lamed, and pe open the first, middle (Ps 25:11), and last lines of the Psalm. Together, they spell aleph, the first letter of the alphabet, from a Hebrew root that means “to learn.”

a. [25:2] Ps 86:4; 143:8.

b. [25:2] Ps 71:1.

c. [25:3] Ps 22:6; Is 49:23; Dn 3:40.

d. [25:4] Ps 27:11; 86:11; 119:12, 35; 143:8, 10.

e. [25:6] Sir 51:8.

f. [25:7] Jb 13:26; Is 64:8.

g. [25:12] Prv 19:23.

h. [25:13] Ps 37:9, 29.

i. [25:15] Ps 123:1, 2; 141:8.

j. [25:16] Ps 86:16; 119:132.

PSALM 26*

Prayer of Innocence

1Of David.

I

Judge me, LORD!

For I have walked in my integrity.a

In the LORD I trust;

I do not falter.

2Examine me, Lord, and test me;

search my heart and mind.b

3Your mercy is before my eyes;

I walk guided by your faithfulness.c

II

4I do not sit with worthless men,

nor with hypocrites do I mingle.

5I hate an evil assembly;

with the wicked I do not sit.

6I will wash my hands* in innocenced

so that I may process around your altar, Lord,

7To hear the sound of thanksgiving,

and recount all your wondrous deeds.

8Lord, I love the refuge of your house,

the site of the dwelling-place of your glory.e

III

9Do not take me away with sinners,

nor my life with the men of blood,f

10In whose hands there is a plot,

their right hands full of bribery.

11But I walk in my integrity;g

redeem me, be gracious to me!h

12My foot stands on level ground;*

in assemblies I will bless the LORD.i

* [Psalm 26] Like a priest washing before approaching the altar (Ex 30:1721), the psalmist seeks God’s protection upon entering the Temple. Ps 26:13, matched by Ps 26:1112, remind God of past integrity while asking for purification; Ps 26:45, matched by Ps 26:910, pray for inclusion among the just; Ps 26:68, the center of the poem, express the joy in God at the heart of all ritual.

* [26:6] I will wash my hands: the washing of hands was a liturgical act (Ex 30:19, 21; 40:3132), symbolic of inner as well as outer cleanness, cf. Is 1:16.

* [26:12] On level ground: in safety, where there is no danger of tripping and falling. In assemblies: at the Temple. Having walked around the altar, the symbol of God’s presence, the psalmist blesses God.

a. [26:1] Ps 7:9.

b. [26:2] Ps 17:3; 139:23.

c. [26:3] Ps 86:11.

d. [26:6] Ps 73:13.

e. [26:8] Ps 29:9; 63:3; Ex 24:16; 25:8.

f. [26:9] Ps 28:3.

g. [26:11] Ps 101:6.

h. [26:11] Ps 25:16.

i. [26:12] Ps 22:23; 35:18; 149:1.

PSALM 27*

Trust in God

1aOf David.

A

I

The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom should I fear?

The LORD is my life’s refuge;

of whom should I be afraid?

2When evildoers come at me

to devour my flesh,*b

These my enemies and foes

themselves stumble and fall.

3Though an army encamp against me,

my heart does not fear;

Though war be waged against me,

even then do I trust.

II

4One thing I ask of the LORD;

this I seek:

To dwell in the LORD’s house

all the days of my life,

To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,

to visit his temple.c

5For God will hide me in his shelter

in time of trouble,d

He will conceal me in the cover of his tent;

and set me high upon a rock.

6Even now my head is held high

above my enemies on every side!

I will offer in his tent

sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing and chant praise to the LORD.

B

I

7Hear my voice, LORD, when I call;

have mercy on me and answer me.

8“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;*

your face, LORD, do I seek!e

9Do not hide your face from me;

do not repel your servant in anger.

You are my salvation; do not cast me off;

do not forsake me, God my savior!

10Even if my father and mother forsake me,

the LORD will take me in.f

II

11LORD, show me your way;

lead me on a level path

because of my enemies.g

12Do not abandon me to the desire of my foes;

malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me.

13I believe I shall see the LORD’s goodness

in the land of the living.*h

14Wait for the LORD, take courage;

be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!

* [Psalm 27] Tradition has handed down the two sections of the Psalm (Ps 27:16; 714) as one Psalm, though each part could be understood as complete in itself. Asserting boundless hope that God will bring rescue (Ps 27:13), the psalmist longs for the presence of God in the Temple, protection from all enemies (Ps 27:46). In part B there is a clear shift in tone (Ps 27:712); the climax of the poem comes with “I believe” (Ps 27:13), echoing “I trust” (Ps 27:3).

* [27:2] To devour my flesh: the psalmist’s enemies are rapacious beasts (Ps 7:3; 17:12; 22:14, 17).

* [27:8] Seek his face: to commune with God in the Temple. The idiom is derived from the practice of journeying to sacred places, cf. Hos 5:15; 2 Sm 21:1; Ps 24:6.

* [27:13] In the land of the living: or “in the land of life,” an epithet of the Jerusalem Temple (Ps 52:7; 116:9; Is 38:11), where the faithful had access to the life-giving presence of God.

a. [27:1] Ps 18:29; 36:10; 43:3; Is 10:17; Mi 7:8.

b. [27:2] Ps 14:4.

c. [27:4] Ps 23:6; 61:5.

d. [27:5] Ps 31:21.

e. [27:8] Ps 24:6; Hos 5:15.

f. [27:10] Is 49:15.

g. [27:11] Ps 25:4; 86:11.

h. [27:13] Ps 116:9; Is 38:11.

PSALM 28*

Petition and Thanksgiving

1Of David.

I

To you, LORD, I call;

my Rock, do not be deaf to me,a

Do not be silent toward me,

so that I join those who go down to the pit.b

2Hear the sound of my pleading when I cry to you for help

when I lift up my hands toward your holy place.*c

3Do not drag me off with the wicked,

with those who do wrong,d

Who speak peace to their neighbors

though evil is in their hearts.e

4Repay them for their deeds,

for the evil that they do.

For the work of their hands repay them;

give them what they deserve.f

5Because they do not understand the LORD’s works,

the work of his hands,g

He will tear them down,

never to rebuild them.

II

6*Blessed be the LORD,

who has heard the sound of my pleading.

7The LORD is my strength and my shield,

in whom my heart trusts.

I am helped, so my heart rejoices;

with my song I praise him.

III

8* LORD, you are a strength for your people,

the saving refuge of your anointed.

9Save your people, bless your inheritance;

pasture and carry them forever!

* [Psalm 28] A lament asking that the psalmist, who has taken refuge in the Temple (Ps 28:2), not be punished with the wicked, who are headed inevitably toward destruction (Ps 28:1, 35). The statement of praise is exceptionally lengthy and vigorous (Ps 28:67). The Psalm ends with a prayer (Ps 28:89).

* [28:2] Your holy place: the innermost part of the Temple, the holy of holies, containing the ark, cf. 1 Kgs 6:16, 1923; 8:68.

* [28:6] The psalmist shifts to fervent thanksgiving, probably responding to a priestly or prophetic oracle in Ps 28:5cd (not usually transmitted) assuring the worshiper that the prayer has been heard.

* [28:8] Your people…your anointed: salvation is more than individual, affecting all the people and their God-given leader.

a. [28:1] Ps 18:2.

b. [28:1] Ps 30:4; 88:5; 143:7; Prv 1:12.

c. [28:2] Ps 134:2.

d. [28:3] Ps 26:9.

e. [28:3] Ps 12:2; 55:22; 62:5; Prv 26:2428.

f. [28:4] 2 Sm 3:39.

g. [28:5] Is 5:12.

PSALM 29*

The Lord of Majesty Acclaimed as King of the World

1A psalm of David.

I

Give to the LORD, you sons of God,*

give to the LORD glory and might;

2Give to the LORD the glory due his name.

Bow down before the LORD’s holy splendor!a

II

3The voice of the LORD* is over the waters;

the God of glory thunders,

the LORD, over the mighty waters.

4The voice of the LORD is power;

the voice of the LORD is splendor.b

5The voice of the LORD cracks the cedars;

the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon,

6Makes Lebanon leap like a calf,

and Sirion* like a young bull.

7The voice of the LORD strikes with fiery flame;

8the voice of the LORD shakes the desert;

the LORD shakes the desert of Kadesh.

9*The voice of the LORD makes the deer dance

and strips the forests bare.

All in his Temple say, “Glory!”

III

10The LORD sits enthroned above the flood!*c

The LORD reigns as king forever!

11May the LORD give might to his people;*

may the LORD bless his people with peace!d

* [Psalm 29] The hymn invites the members of the heavenly court to acknowledge God’s supremacy by ascribing glory and might to God alone (Ps 29:12a, 9b). Divine glory and might are dramatically visible in the storm (Ps 29:39a). The storm apparently comes from the Mediterranean onto the coast of Syria-Palestine and then moves inland. In Ps 29:10 the divine beings acclaim God’s eternal kingship. The Psalm concludes with a prayer that God will impart the power just displayed to the Israelite king and through the king to Israel.

* [29:1] Sons of God: members of the heavenly court who served Israel’s God in a variety of capacities.

* [29:3] The voice of the LORD: the sevenfold repetition of the phrase imitates the sound of crashing thunder and may allude to God’s primordial slaying of Leviathan, the seven-headed sea monster of Canaanite mythology.

* [29:6] Sirion: the Phoenician name for Mount Hermon, cf. Dt 3:9.

* [29:9b10] Having witnessed God’s supreme power (Ps 29:39a), the gods acknowledge the glory that befits the king of the divine and human world.

* [29:10] The flood: God defeated the primordial waters and made them part of the universe, cf. Ps 89:1013; 93:34.

* [29:11] His people: God’s people, Israel.

a. [29:2] Ps 68:35; 96:79.

b. [29:4] Ps 46:7; 77:1819; Jb 37:4; Is 30:30.

c. [29:10] Bar 3:3.

d. [29:11] Ps 68:36.

PSALM 30*

Thanksgiving for Deliverance

1A psalm. A song for the dedication of the Temple.* Of David.

I

2I praise you, LORD, for you raised me up

and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.

3O LORD, my God,

I cried out to you for help and you healed* me.

4LORD, you brought my soul up from Sheol;

you let me live, from going down to the pit.*a

II

5Sing praise to the LORD, you faithful;

give thanks to his holy memory.

6For his anger lasts but a moment;

his favor a lifetime.

At dusk weeping comes for the night;

but at dawn there is rejoicing.

III

7Complacent,* I once said,

“I shall never be shaken.”

8LORD, you showed me favor,

established for me mountains of virtue.

But when you hid your face

I was struck with terror.b

9To you, LORD, I cried out;

with the Lord I pleaded for mercy:

10*“What gain is there from my lifeblood,

from my going down to the grave?

Does dust give you thanks

or declare your faithfulness?

11Hear, O LORD, have mercy on me;

LORD, be my helper.”

IV

12You changed my mourning into dancing;

you took off my sackcloth

and clothed me with gladness.c

13So that my glory may praise you

and not be silent.

O LORD, my God,

forever will I give you thanks.

* [Psalm 30] An individual thanksgiving in four parts: praise and thanks for deliverance and restoration (Ps 30:24); an invitation to others to join in (Ps 30:56); a flashback to the time before deliverance (Ps 30:711); a return to praise and thanks (Ps 30:12). Two sets of images recur: 1) going down, death, silence; 2) coming up, life, praising. God has delivered the psalmist from one state to the other.

* [30:1] For the dedication of the Temple: a later adaptation of the Psalm to celebrate the purification of the Temple in 164 B.C. during the Maccabean Revolt.

* [30:3] Healed: for God as healer, see also Ps 103:3; 107:20; Hos 6:1; 7:1; 11:3; 14:5.

* [30:4] Sheol…pit: the shadowy underworld residence of the spirits of the dead, here a metaphor for near-death.

* [30:7] Complacent: untroubled existence is often seen as a source of temptation to forget God, cf. Dt 8:1018; Hos 13:6; Prv 30:9.

* [30:10] In the stillness of Sheol no one gives you praise; let me live and be among your worshipers, cf. Ps 6:6; 88:1113; 115:17; Is 38:18.

a. [30:4] Ps 28:1; Jon 2:7.

b. [30:8] Ps 104:29.

c. [30:12] Is 61:3; Jer 31:13.

PSALM 31*

Prayer in Distress and Thanksgiving for Escape

1For the leader. A psalm of David.

I

2In you, LORD, I take refuge;a

let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness deliver me;

3incline your ear to me;

make haste to rescue me!

Be my rock of refuge,

a stronghold to save me.

4For you are my rock and my fortress;b

for your name’s sake lead me and guide me.

5Free me from the net they have set for me,

for you are my refuge.

6*Into your hands I commend my spirit;c

you will redeem me, LORD, God of truth.

7You hate those who serve worthless idols,

but I trust in the LORD.

8I will rejoice and be glad in your mercy,

once you have seen my misery,

[and] gotten to know the distress of my soul.d

9You will not abandon me into enemy hands,

but will set my feet in a free and open space.

II

10Be gracious to me, LORD, for I am in distress;

affliction is wearing down my eyes,

my throat and my insides.

11My life is worn out by sorrow,

and my years by sighing.

My strength fails in my affliction;

my bones are wearing down.e

12To all my foes I am a thing of scorn,

and especially to my neighbors

a horror to my friends.

When they see me in public,

they quickly shy away.f

13I am forgotten, out of mind like the dead;

I am like a worn-out tool.*

14I hear the whispers of the crowd;

terrors are all around me.*

They conspire together against me;

they plot to take my life.

15But I trust in you, LORD;

I say, “You are my God.”g

16My destiny is in your hands;

rescue me from my enemies,

from the hands of my pursuers.

17Let your face shine on your servant;h

save me in your mercy.

18Do not let me be put to shame,

for I have called to you, LORD.

Put the wicked to shame;

reduce them to silence in Sheol.

19Strike dumb their lying lips,

which speak arrogantly against the righteous

in contempt and scorn.i

III

20How great is your goodness, Lord,

stored up for those who fear you.

You display it for those who trust you,

in the sight of the children of Adam.

21You hide them in the shelter of your presence,

safe from scheming enemies.

You conceal them in your tent,

away from the strife of tongues.j

22Blessed be the LORD,

marvelously he showed to me

his mercy in a fortified city.

23Though I had said in my alarm,

“I am cut off from your eyes.”k

Yet you heard my voice, my cry for mercy,

when I pleaded with you for help.

24Love the LORD, all you who are faithful to him.

The LORD protects the loyal,

but repays the arrogant in full.

25Be strong and take heart,

all who hope in the LORD.

* [Psalm 31] A lament (Ps 31:219) with a strong emphasis on trust (Ps 31:4, 6, 1516), ending with an anticipatory thanksgiving (Ps 31:2024). As is usual in laments, the affliction is couched in general terms. The psalmist feels overwhelmed by evil people but trusts in the “God of truth” (Ps 31:6).

* [31:6] Into your hands I commend my spirit: in Lk 23:46 Jesus breathes his last with this Psalm verse. Stephen in Acts 7:59 alludes to these words as he is attacked by enemies. The verse is used as an antiphon in the Divine Office at Compline, the last prayer of the day.

* [31:13] Like a worn-out tool: a common comparison for something ruined and useless, cf. Is 30:14; Jer 19:11; 22:28.

* [31:14] Terrors are all around me: a cry used in inescapable danger, cf. Jer 6:25; 20:10; 46:5; 49:29.

a. [31:24] Ps 71:13.

b. [31:4] Ps 18:2.

c. [31:6] Lk 23:46; Acts 7:59.

d. [31:8] Ps 10:14.

e. [31:11] Ps 32:3; 38:1011.

f. [31:12] Jb 19:1319.

g. [31:15] Ps 140:7; Is 25:1.

h. [31:17] Ps 67:1; Nm 6:24.

i. [31:19] Ps 12:4.

j. [31:21] Ps 27:5.

k. [31:23] Jon 2:5.

PSALM 32*

Remission of Sin

1aOf David. A maskil.

I

Blessed is the one whose fault is removed,

whose sin is forgiven.

2Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes no guilt,

in whose spirit is no deceit.

II

3Because I kept silent,* my bones wasted away;

I groaned all day long.b

4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;

my strength withered as in dry summer heat.

Selah

5Then I declared my sin to you;

my guilt I did not hide.c

I said, “I confess my transgression to the LORD,”

and you took away the guilt of my sin.

Selah

6Therefore every loyal person should pray to you

in time of distress.

Though flood waters* threaten,

they will never reach him.d

7You are my shelter; you guard me from distress;

with joyful shouts of deliverance you surround me.

Selah

III

8I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk,

give you counsel with my eye upon you.

9Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding;

with bit and bridle their temper is curbed,

else they will not come to you.

IV

10Many are the sorrows of the wicked one,

but mercy surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.

11Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous;

exult, all you upright of heart.e

* [Psalm 32] An individual thanksgiving and the second of the seven Penitential Psalms (cf. Ps 6). The opening declaration—the forgiven are blessed (Ps 32:12)—arises from the psalmist’s own experience. At one time the psalmist was stubborn and closed, a victim of sin’s power (Ps 32:34), and then became open to the forgiving God (Ps 32:57). Sin here, as often in the Bible, is not only the personal act of rebellion against God but also the consequences of that act—frustration and waning of vitality. Having been rescued, the psalmist can teach others the joys of justice and the folly of sin (Ps 32:811).

* [32:3] I kept silent: did not confess the sin before God.

* [32:6] Flood waters: the untamed waters surrounding the earth, a metaphor for danger.

a. [32:1] Is 1:18; Ps 65:3; Rom 4:78.

b. [32:3] Ps 31:11.

c. [32:5] Ps 38:19; 51:5.

d. [32:6] Ps 18:5.

e. [32:11] Ps 33:1.

PSALM 33*

Praise of God’s Power and Providence

I

1Rejoice, you righteous, in the LORD;

praise from the upright is fitting.a

2Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;

on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.b

3Sing to him a new song;

skillfully play with joyful chant.

4For the LORD’s word is upright;

all his works are trustworthy.

5He loves justice and right.

The earth is full of the mercy of the LORD.c

II

6By the LORD’s word the heavens were made;

by the breath of his mouth all their host.*d

7*He gathered the waters of the sea as a mound;

he sets the deep into storage vaults.e

III

8Let all the earth fear the LORD;

let all who dwell in the world show him reverence.

9For he spoke, and it came to be,

commanded, and it stood in place.f

10The LORD foils the plan of nations,

frustrates the designs of peoples.

11But the plan of the LORD stands forever,

the designs of his heart through all generations.g

12Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,

the people chosen as his inheritance.h

IV

13From heaven the LORD looks down

and observes the children of Adam,i

14From his dwelling place he surveys

all who dwell on earth.

15The One who fashioned together their hearts

is the One who knows all their works.

V

16A king is not saved by a great army,

nor a warrior delivered by great strength.

17Useless is the horse for safety;

despite its great strength, it cannot be saved.

18Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him,

upon those who count on his mercy,

19To deliver their soul from death,

and to keep them alive through famine.

VI

20Our soul waits for the LORD,

he is our help and shield.j

21For in him our hearts rejoice;

in his holy name we trust.

22May your mercy, LORD, be upon us;

as we put our hope in you.

* [Psalm 33] A hymn in which the just are invited (Ps 33:13) to praise God, who by a mere word (Ps 33:45) created the three-tiered universe of the heavens, the cosmic waters, and the earth (Ps 33:69). Human words, in contrast, effect nothing (Ps 33:1011). The greatness of human beings consists in God’s choosing them as a special people and their faithful response (Ps 33:1222).

* [33:6] All their host: the stars of the sky are commonly viewed as a vast army, e.g., Neh 9:6; Is 40:26; 45:12; Jer 33:22.

* [33:7] The waters…as a mound: ancients sometimes attributed the power keeping the seas from overwhelming land to a primordial victory of the storm-god over personified Sea.

a. [33:1] Ps 32:11; 147:1.

b. [33:2] Ps 92:4; 144:9.

c. [33:5] Ps 119:64.

d. [33:6] Gn 2:1.

e. [33:7] Ps 78:13; Gn 1:910; Ex 15:8; Jos 3:16.

f. [33:9] Ps 148:5; Gn 1:3f; Jdt 16:14.

g. [33:11] Prv 19:21; Is 40:8.

h. [33:12] Ps 144:15; Ex 19:6; Dt 7:6.

i. [33:13] Jb 34:21; Sir 15:19; Jer 16:17; 32:19.

j. [33:20] Ps 115:9.

PSALM 34*

Thanksgiving to God Who Delivers the Just

1Of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech,* who drove him out and he went away.

I

2I will bless the LORD at all times;

his praise shall be always in my mouth.a

3My soul will glory in the LORD;

let the poor hear and be glad.

4Magnify the LORD with me;

and let us exalt his name together.

II

5I sought the LORD, and he answered me,

delivered me from all my fears.

6Look to him and be radiant,

and your faces may not blush for shame.

7This poor one cried out and the LORD heard,

and from all his distress he saved him.

8The angel of the LORD encamps

around those who fear him, and he saves them.b

9Taste and see that the LORD is good;

blessed is the stalwart one who takes refuge in him.c

10Fear the LORD, you his holy ones;

nothing is lacking to those who fear him.d

11The rich grow poor and go hungry,

but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

III

12Come, children,* listen to me;e

I will teach you fear of the LORD.

13Who is the man who delights in life,f

who loves to see the good days?

14Keep your tongue from evil,

your lips from speaking lies.

15Turn from evil and do good;g

seek peace and pursue it.

16The eyes of the LORD are directed toward the righteoush

and his ears toward their cry.

17The LORD’s face is against evildoers

to wipe out their memory from the earth.

18The righteous cry out, the LORD hears

and he rescues them from all their afflictions.

19The LORD is close to the brokenhearted,

saves those whose spirit is crushed.

20Many are the troubles of the righteous,

but the LORD delivers him from them all.

21He watches over all his bones;

not one of them shall be broken.i

22Evil will slay the wicked;

those who hate the righteous are condemned.

23The LORD is the redeemer of the souls of his servants;

and none are condemned who take refuge in him.

* [Psalm 34] A thanksgiving in acrostic form, each line beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In this Psalm one letter is missing and two are in reverse order. The psalmist, fresh from the experience of being rescued (Ps 34:5, 7), can teach the “poor,” those who are defenseless, to trust in God alone (Ps 34:4, 12). God will make them powerful (Ps 34:511) and give them protection (Ps 34:1222).

* [34:1] Abimelech: a scribal error for Achish. In 1 Sm 21:1316, David feigned madness before Achish, not Abimelech.

* [34:12] Children: the customary term for students in wisdom literature.

a. [34:2] Ps 145:2.

b. [34:8] Ex 14:19.

c. [34:9] Ps 2:12.

d. [34:10] Prv 3:7.

e. [34:12] Prv 1:8; 4:1.

f. [34:1317] 1 Pt 3:1012.

g. [34:15] Ps 37:27.

h. [34:16] Ps 33:18.

i. [34:21] Jn 19:36.

PSALM 35*

Prayer for Help Against Unjust Enemies

1Of David.

I

*Oppose, O LORD, those who oppose me;

war upon those who make war upon me.

2Take up the shield and buckler;

rise up in my defense.

3Brandish lance and battle-ax

against my pursuers.

Say to my soul,

“I am your salvation.”

4Let those who seek my life

be put to shame and disgrace.

Let those who plot evil against mea

be turned back and confounded.

5Make them like chaff before the wind,b

with the angel of the LORD driving them on.

6Make their way slippery and dark,

with the angel of the LORD pursuing them.

II

7Without cause they set their snare for me;

without cause they dug a pit for me.

8Let ruin overtake them unawares;

let the snare they have set catch them;

let them fall into the pit they have dug.c

9Then I will rejoice in the LORD,

exult in God’s salvation.

10My very bones shall say,

“O LORD, who is like you,d

Who rescue the afflicted from the powerful,

the afflicted and needy from the despoiler?”

III

11Malicious witnesses rise up,

accuse me of things I do not know.

12They repay me evil for good;

my soul is desolate.e

13*Yet I, when they were ill, put on sackcloth,

afflicted myself with fasting,

sobbed my prayers upon my bosom.

14I went about in grief as for my brother,

bent in mourning as for my mother.

15Yet when I stumbled they gathered with glee,

gathered against me and I did not know it.

They slandered me without ceasing;

16without respect they mocked me,

gnashed their teeth against me.

IV

17O Lord, how long will you look on?

Restore my soul from their destruction,

my very life from lions!f

18Then I will thank you in the great assembly;

I will praise you before the mighty throng.g

19Do not let lying foes rejoice over me,

my undeserved enemies wink knowingly.h

20They speak no words of peace,

but against the quiet in the land

they fashion deceitful speech.i

21They open wide their mouths against me.

They say, “Aha! Good!

Our eyes have seen it!”j

22You see this, LORD; do not be silent;k

Lord, do not withdraw from me.

23Awake, be vigilant in my defense,

in my cause, my God and my Lord.

24Defend me because you are just, LORD;

my God, do not let them rejoice over me.

25Do not let them say in their hearts,

“Aha! Our soul!”*

Do not let them say,

“We have devoured that one!”

26Put to shame and confound

all who relish my misfortune.

Clothe with shame and disgrace

those who lord it over me.

27But let those who favor my just cause

shout for joy and be glad.

May they ever say, “Exalted be the LORD

who delights in the peace of his loyal servant.”

28Then my tongue shall recount your justice,

declare your praise, all the day long.l

* [Psalm 35] A lament of a person betrayed by friends. The psalmist prays that the evildoers be publicly exposed as unjust (Ps 35:18), and gives thanks in anticipation of vindication (Ps 35:910). Old friends are the enemies (Ps 35:1116). May their punishment come quickly (Ps 35:1721)! The last part (Ps 35:2226) echoes the opening in praying for the destruction of the psalmist’s persecutors. The Psalm may appear vindictive, but one must keep in mind that the psalmist is praying for public redress now of a public injustice. There is at this time no belief in an afterlife in which justice will be redressed.

* [35:16] The mixture of judicial, martial, and hunting images shows that the language is figurative. The actual injustice is false accusation of serious crimes (Ps 35:11, 15, 2021). The psalmist seeks lost honor through a trial before God.

* [35:13, 1517] The Hebrew is obscure.

* [35:25] Aha! Our soul!: an ancient idiomatic expression meaning that we have attained what we wanted.

a. [35:4] Ps 40:15; 71:13.

b. [35:5] Ps 1:4; 83:14; Jb 21:18.

c. [35:8] Ps 7:16; 9:16; 57:7; Prv 26:27; Eccl 10:8; Sir 27:26.

d. [35:10] Ps 86:8; 89:7, 9; Ex 15:11.

e. [35:12] Ps 27:12; 38:2021; 109:5; Jer 18:20.

f. [35:17] Ps 17:12; 22:22; 58:7.

g. [35:18] Ps 22:23; 26:12; 35:18; 40:10; 149:1.

h. [35:19] Ps 38:17.

i. [35:20] Ps 120:67.

j. [35:21] Ps 40:16; Lam 2:16.

k. [35:22] Ps 22:12; 38:21; 109:1.

l. [35:28] Ps 71:1516.

PSALM 36*

Human Wickedness and Divine Providence

1For the leader. Of David, the servant of the LORD.

I

2Sin directs the heart of the wicked man;

his eyes are closed to the fear of God.a

3For he lives with the delusion:

his guilt will not be known and hated.*

4Empty and false are the words of his mouth;

he has ceased to be wise and do good.

5On his bed he hatches plots;

he sets out on a wicked way;

he does not reject evil.b

II

6*LORD, your mercy reaches to heaven;

your fidelity, to the clouds.c

7Your justice is like the highest mountains;

your judgments, like the mighty deep;

human being and beast you sustain, LORD.

8How precious is your mercy, O God!

The children of Adam take refuge in the shadow of your wings.*d

9They feast on the rich food of your house;

from your delightful streame you give them drink.

10For with you is the fountain of life,f

and in your light we see light.g

11Show mercy on those who know you,

your just defense to the upright of heart.

12Do not let the foot of the proud overtake me,

nor the hand of the wicked disturb me.

13There make the evildoers fall;

thrust them down, unable to rise.

* [Psalm 36] A Psalm with elements of wisdom (Ps 36:25), the hymn (Ps 36:610), and the lament (Ps 36:1113). The rule of sin over the wicked (Ps 36:25) is contrasted with the rule of divine love and mercy over God’s friends (Ps 36:610). The Psalm ends with a prayer that God’s guidance never cease (Ps 36:1112).

* [36:3] Hated: punished by God.

* [36:67] God actively controls the entire world.

* [36:8] The shadow of your wings: metaphor for divine protection. It probably refers to the winged cherubim in the holy of holies in the Temple, cf. 1 Kgs 6:2328, 32; 2 Chr 3:1013; Ez 1:49.

a. [36:2] Rom 3:18.

b. [36:5] Mi 2:1.

c. [36:6] Ps 57:11; 71:19.

d. [36:8] Ps 17:8.

e. [36:9] Gn 2:8, 10.

f. [36:10] Is 55:1; Jn 4:14.

g. [36:10] Ps 80:4, 8, 20.

PSALM 37*

The Fate of Sinners and the Reward of the Just

1Of David.

Aleph

Do not be provoked by evildoers;

do not envy those who do wrong.a

2Like grass they wither quickly;

like green plants they wilt away.b

Beth

3Trust in the LORD and do good

that you may dwell in the land* and live secure.c

4Find your delight in the LORD

who will give you your heart’s desire.d

Gimel

5Commit your way to the LORD;

trust in him and he will acte

6And make your righteousness shine like the dawn,

your justice like noonday.f

Daleth

7Be still before the LORD;

wait for him.

Do not be provoked by the prosperous,

nor by malicious schemers.

He

8Refrain from anger; abandon wrath;

do not be provoked; it brings only harm.

9Those who do evil will be cut off,

but those who wait for the LORD will inherit the earth.g

Waw

10Wait a little, and the wicked will be no more;

look for them and they will not be there.

11But the poor will inherit the earth,h

will delight in great prosperity.

Zayin

12The wicked plot against the righteous

and gnash their teeth at them;

13But my Lord laughs at them,i

because he sees that their day is coming.

Heth

14The wicked unsheath their swords;

they string their bows

To fell the poor and oppressed,

to slaughter those whose way is upright.j

15Their swords will pierce their own hearts;

their bows will be broken.

Teth

16Better the meagerness of the righteous one

than the plenty of the wicked.k

17The arms of the wicked will be broken,

while the LORD will sustain the righteous.

Yodh

18The LORD knows the days of the blameless;

their heritage lasts forever.

19They will not be ashamed when times are bad;

in days of famine they will be satisfied.

Kaph

20The wicked perish,

enemies of the LORD;

They shall be consumed like fattened lambs;

like smoke they disappear.l

Lamedh

21The wicked one borrows but does not repay;

the righteous one is generous and gives.

22For those blessed by the Lord will inherit the earth,

but those accursed will be cut off.

Mem

23The valiant one whose steps are guided by the LORD,

who will delight in his way,m

24May stumble, but he will never fall,

for the LORD holds his hand.

Nun

25Neither in my youth, nor now in old age

have I seen the righteous one abandonedn

or his offspring begging for bread.

26 All day long he is gracious and lends,

and his offspring become a blessing.

Samekh

27Turn from evil and do good,

that you may be settled forever.o

28For the LORD loves justice

and does not abandon the faithful.

Ayin

When the unjust are destroyed,

and the offspring of the wicked cut off,

29The righteous will inherit the earth

and dwell in it forever.p

Pe

30The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom;q

his tongue speaks what is right.

31God’s teaching is in his heart;r

his steps do not falter.

Sadhe

32The wicked spies on the righteous

and seeks to kill him.

33But the LORD does not abandon him in his power,

nor let him be condemned when tried.

Qoph

34Wait eagerly for the LORD,

and keep his way;s

He will raise you up to inherit the earth;

you will see when the wicked are cut off.

Resh

35I have seen a ruthless scoundrel,

spreading out like a green cedar.t

36When I passed by again, he was gone;

though I searched, he could not be found.

Shin

37Observe the person of integrity and mark the upright;

Because there is a future for a man of peace.u

38Sinners will be destroyed together;

the future of the wicked will be cut off.

Taw

39The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD,

their refuge in a time of distress.v

40The LORD helps and rescues them,

rescues and saves them from the wicked,

because they take refuge in him.

* [Psalm 37] The Psalm responds to the problem of evil, which the Old Testament often expresses as a question: why do the wicked prosper and the good suffer? The Psalm answers that the situation is only temporary. God will reverse things, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked here on earth. The perspective is concrete and earthbound: people’s very actions place them among the ranks of the good or wicked. Each group or “way” has its own inherent dynamism—eventual frustration for the wicked, eventual reward for the just. The Psalm is an acrostic, i.e., each section begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each section has its own imagery and logic.

* [37:3] The land: the promised land, Israel, which became for later interpreters a type or figure of heaven, cf. Heb 11:910, 1316. The New Testament Beatitudes (Mt 5:312; Lk 6:2026) have been influenced by the Psalm, especially their total reversal of the present and their interpretation of the happy future as possession of the land.

a. [37:1] Prv 3:31; 23:17; 24:1, 19.

b. [37:2] Ps 90:56; 102:12; 103:1516; Jb 14:2; Is 40:7.

c. [37:3] Ps 128:2.

d. [37:4] Prv 10:24.

e. [37:5] Ps 55:23; Prv 3:5; 16:3.

f. [37:6] Wis 5:6; Is 58:10.

g. [37:9] Ps 25:13; Prv 2:21; Is 57:13.

h. [37:11] Mt 5:4.

i. [37:13] Ps 2:4; 59:9; Wis 4:18.

j. [37:14] Ps 11:2; 57:5; 64:4.

k. [37:16] Prv 15:16; 16:8.

l. [37:20] Wis 5:14.

m. [37:23] Prv 20:24.

n. [37:25] Jb 4:7; Sir 2:10.

o. [37:27] Ps 34:1415; Am 5:14.

p. [37:29] Ps 25:13; Prv 2:21; Is 57:13.

q. [37:30] Prv 10:31.

r. [37:31] Ps 40:9; Dt 6:6; Is 51:7; Jer 31:33.

s. [37:34] Ps 31:24.

t. [37:35] Ps 92:89; Is 2:13; Ez 31:1011.

u. [37:37] Prv 23:18; 24:14.

v. [37:39] Ps 9:10; Is 25:4.

PSALM 38*

Prayer of an Afflicted Sinner

1A psalm of David. For remembrance.

I

2LORD, do not punish me in your anger;

in your wrath do not chastise me!a

3Your arrows have sunk deep in me;b

your hand has come down upon me.

4There is no wholesomeness in my flesh because of your anger;

there is no health in my bones because of my sin.c

5My iniquities overwhelm me,

a burden too heavy for me.d

II

6Foul and festering are my sores

because of my folly.

7I am stooped and deeply bowed;e

every day I go about mourning.

8My loins burn with fever;

there is no wholesomeness in my flesh.

9I am numb and utterly crushed;

I wail with anguish of heart.f

10My Lord, my deepest yearning is before you;

my groaning is not hidden from you.

11My heart shudders, my strength forsakes me;

the very light of my eyes has failed.g

12Friends and companions shun my disease;

my neighbors stand far off.

13Those who seek my life lay snares for me;

they seek my misfortune, they speak of ruin;

they plot treachery every day.

III

14But I am like the deaf, hearing nothing,

like the mute, I do not open my mouth,

15I am even like someone who does not hear,

who has no answer ready.

16LORD, it is for you that I wait;

O Lord, my God, you respond.h

17For I have said that they would gloat over me,

exult over me if I stumble.

IV

18I am very near to falling;

my wounds are with me always.

19I acknowledge my guilt

and grieve over my sin.i

20My enemies live and grow strong,

those who hate me grow numerous fraudulently,

21Repaying me evil for good,

accusing me for pursuing good.j

22Do not forsake me, O LORD;

my God, be not far from me!k

23Come quickly to help me,l

my Lord and my salvation!

* [Psalm 38] In this lament, one of the Penitential Psalms (cf. Ps 6), the psalmist acknowledges the sin that has brought physical and mental sickness and social ostracism. There is no one to turn to for help; only God can undo the past and restore the psalmist.

a. [38:2] Ps 6:2.

b. [38:3] Jb 6:4; Lam 3:12; Ps 31:11; 64:7.

c. [38:4] Is 1:56.

d. [38:5] Ps 40:13; Ezr 9:6.

e. [38:7] Ps 35:14.

f. [38:9] Ps 102:46.

g. [38:11] Ps 6:8; 31:10.

h. [38:16] Ps 13:4.

i. [38:19] Ps 32:5; 51:5.

j. [38:21] Ps 109:5.

k. [38:22] Ps 22:2, 12, 20; 35:22.

l. [38:23] Ps 40:14.

PSALM 39*

The Vanity of Life

1For the leader, for Jeduthun.a A psalm of David.

I

2I said, “I will watch my ways,

lest I sin with my tongue;

I will keep a muzzle on my mouth.”

3Mute and silent before the wicked,

I refrain from good things.

But my sorrow increases;

4my heart smolders within me.b

In my sighing a fire blazes up,

and I break into speech:

II

5LORD, let me know my end, the number of my days,

that I may learn how frail I am.

6To be sure, you establish the expanse of my days;

indeed, my life is as nothing before you.

Every man is but a breath.c

Selah

III

7Man goes about as a mere phantom;

they hurry about, although in vain;

he heaps up stores without knowing for whom.

8And now, LORD, for what do I wait?

You are my only hope.

9From all my sins deliver me;

let me not be the taunt of fools.

10I am silent and do not open my mouth

because you are the one who did this.

11Take your plague away from me;

I am ravaged by the touch of your hand.

12You chastise man with rebukes for sin;

like a moth you consume his treasures.

Every man is but a breath.

Selah

13Listen to my prayer, LORD, hear my cry;

do not be deaf to my weeping!

For I am with you like a foreigner,

a refugee, like my ancestors.d

14Turn your gaze from me, that I may smile

before I depart to be no more.

* [Psalm 39] The lament of a mortally ill person who at first had resolved to remain silently submissive (Ps 39:24). But the grief was too much and now the psalmist laments the brevity and vanity of life (Ps 39:57), yet remaining hopeful (Ps 39:810). The psalmist continues to express both acceptance of the illness and hope for healing in Ps 39:1113.

a. [39:1] 1 Chr 16:41; Ps 62:1; 77:1.

b. [39:4] Jer 20:9.

c. [39:6] Ps 62:10; 90:910; 144:4; Jb 7:6, 16; 14:1, 5; Eccl 6:12; Wis 2:5.

d. [39:13] Ps 119:19; Gn 23:4; Heb 11:13; 1 Pt 2:11.

PSALM 40*

Gratitude and Prayer for Help

1For the leader. A psalm of David.

A

2Surely, I wait for the LORD;

who bends down to me and hears my cry,a

3Draws me up from the pit of destruction,

out of the muddy clay,b

Sets my feet upon rock,

steadies my steps,

4And puts a new song* in my mouth,c

a hymn to our God.

Many shall look on in fear

and they shall trust in the LORD.

5Blessed the man who sets

his security in the LORD,

who turns not to the arrogant

or to those who stray after falsehood.d

6You, yes you, O LORD, my God,

have done many wondrous deeds!

And in your plans for us

there is none to equal you.e

Should I wish to declare or tell them,

too many are they to recount.f

7*Sacrifice and offering you do not want;g

you opened my ears.

Holocaust and sin-offering you do not request;

8so I said, “See; I come

with an inscribed scroll written upon me.

9I delight to do your will, my God;

your law is in my inner being!”h

10When I sing of your righteousness

in a great assembly,

See, I do not restrain my lips;

as you, LORD, know.i

11I do not conceal your righteousness

within my heart;

I speak of your loyalty and your salvation.

I do not hide your mercy or faithfulness from a great assembly.

12LORD, may you not withhold

your compassion from me;

May your mercy and your faithfulness

continually protect me.j

B

13But evils surround me

until they cannot be counted.

My sins overtake me,

so that I can no longer see.

They are more numerous than the hairs of my head;

my courage fails me.k

14LORD, graciously rescue me!l

Come quickly to help me, LORD!

15May those who seek to destroy my life

be shamed and confounded.

Turn back in disgrace

those who desire my ruin.m

16Let those who say to me “Aha!”n

Be made desolate on account of their shame.

17While those who seek you

rejoice and be glad in you.

May those who long for your salvation

always say, “The LORD is great.”o

18Though I am afflicted and poor,

my Lord keeps me in mind.

You are my help and deliverer;

my God, do not delay!

* [Psalm 40] A thanksgiving (Ps 40:213) has been combined with a lament (Ps 40:1417) that appears also in Ps 70. The psalmist describes the rescue in spatial terms—being raised up from the swampy underworld to firm earth where one can praise God (Ps 40:24). All who trust God will experience like protection (Ps 40:56)! The Psalm stipulates the precise mode of thanksgiving: not animal sacrifice but open and enthusiastic proclamation of the salvation just experienced (Ps 40:711). A prayer for protection concludes (Ps 40:1217).

* [40:4] A new song: a song in response to the new action of God (cf. Ps 33:3; 96:1; 144:9; 149:1; Is 42:10). Giving thanks is not purely a human response but is itself a divine gift.

* [40:79] Obedience is better than sacrifice (cf. 1 Sm 15:22; Is 1:1020; Hos 6:6; Am 5:2225; Mi 6:68; Acts 7:4243 [quoting Am 5:2526]). Heb 10:59 quotes the somewhat different Greek version and interprets it as Christ’s self-oblation.

a. [40:2] Lam 3:25.

b. [40:3] Ps 28:1; 30:4; 69:3, 1516; 88:5; Prv 1:12; Jon 2:7.

c. [40:4] Ps 33:3.

d. [40:5] Ps 1:1; Prv 16:20; Jer 17:7.

e. [40:6] Ps 35:10.

f. [40:6] Ps 71:15; 139:1718.

g. [40:79] Heb 10:57; Ps 51:1819; Am 5:22; Hos 6:6; Is 1:1115.

h. [40:9] Ps 37:31.

i. [40:10] Ps 22:23; 26:12; 35:18; 149:1.

j. [40:12] Ps 89:34.

k. [40:13] Ps 38:5, 11; Ezr 9:6.

l. [40:1418] Ps 70:26; 71:12.

m. [40:15] Ps 35:4, 26.

n. [40:16] Ps 35:21, 25.

o. [40:17] Ps 35:27.

PSALM 41*

Thanksgiving After Sickness

1For the leader. A psalm of David.

I

2Blessed the one concerned for the poor;*

on a day of misfortune, the LORD delivers him.a

3The LORD keeps and preserves him,

makes him blessed in the land,

and does not betray him to his enemies.

4The LORD sustains him on his sickbed,

you turn down his bedding whenever he is ill.*

II

5Even I have said, “LORD, take note of me;

heal me, although I have sinned against you.

6My enemies say bad things against me:

‘When will he die and his name be forgotten?’

7When someone comes to visit me, he speaks without sincerity.

His heart stores up malice;

when he leaves, he gossips.b

8All those who hate me whisper together against me;

they imagine the worst about me:

9’He has had ruin poured over him;

that one lying down will never rise again.’

10*Even my trusted friend,

who ate my bread,

has raised his heel against me.c

III

11“But you, LORD, take note of me to raise me up

that I may repay them.”*

12By this I will know you are pleased with me,

that my enemy no longer shouts in triumph over me.

13In my integrity may you support me

and let me stand in your presence forever.

14*Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,

from all eternity and forever.

Amen. Amen.d

* [Psalm 41] A thanksgiving for rescue from illness (Ps 41:4, 5, 9). Many people, even friends, have interpreted the illness as a divine punishment for sin and have ostracized the psalmist (Ps 41:511). The healing shows the return of God’s favor and rebukes the psalmist’s detractors (Ps 41:1213).

* [41:2] Blessed the one concerned for the poor: cf. Ps 32:12; 34:9; 40:5; 65:5. The psalmist’s statement about God’s love of the poor is based on the experience of being rescued (Ps 41:13).

* [41:4] You turn down his bedding whenever he is ill: the Hebrew is obscure. It suggests ongoing attentive care of the one who is sick.

* [41:10] Even my trusted friend…has raised his heel against me: Jn 13:18 cites this verse to characterize Judas as a false friend. Raised his heel against me: an interpretation of the unclear Hebrew, “made great the heel against me.”

* [41:11] That I may repay them: the healing itself is an act of judgment through which God decides for the psalmist and against the false friends. The prayer is not necessarily for strength to punish enemies.

* [41:14] The doxology, not part of the Psalm, marks the end of the first of the five books of the Psalter, cf. Ps 72:1820; 89:53; 106:48.

a. [41:2] Tb 4:711.

b. [41:7] Ps 31:12; 38:1213; 88:8; Jb 19:1319; Jer 20:10.

c. [41:10] Ps 55:1415; Jn 13:18.

d. [41:14] Neh 9:5.

Second Book—Psalms 4272

PSALM 42*

Longing for God’s Presence in the Temple

1For the leader. A maskil of the Korahites.*

I

2As the deer longs for streams of water,a

so my soul longs for you, O God.

3My soul thirsts for God, the living God.

When can I enter and see the face of God?*b

4My tears have been my bread day and night,c

as they ask me every day, “Where is your God?”d

5Those times I recall

as I pour out my soul,e

When I would cross over to the shrine of the Mighty One,*

to the house of God,

Amid loud cries of thanksgiving,

with the multitude keeping festival.f

6Why are you downcast, my soul;

why do you groan within me?

Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,

my savior and my God.

II

7My soul is downcast within me;

therefore I remember you

From the land of the Jordan* and Hermon,

from Mount Mizar,g

8*Deep calls to deep

in the roar of your torrents,

and all your waves and breakers

sweep over me.h

9 By day may the LORD send his mercy,

and by night may his righteousness be with me!

I will pray* to the God of my life,

10I will say to God, my rock:

“Why do you forget me?i

Why must I go about mourning

with the enemy oppressing me?”

11It shatters my bones, when my adversaries reproach me,

when they say to me every day: “Where is your God?”

12Why are you downcast, my soul,

why do you groan within me?

Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,

my savior and my God.

* [Psalms 4243] Ps 4243 form a single lament of three sections, each section ending in an identical refrain (Ps 42:6, 12; 43:5). The psalmist is far from Jerusalem, and longs for the divine presence that Israel experienced in the Temple liturgy. Despite sadness, the psalmist hopes once again to join the worshiping crowds.

* [42:1] The Korahites: a major guild of Temple singers (2 Chr 20:19) whose name appears in the superscriptions of Ps 42; 4449; 8485; 8788.

* [42:3] See the face of God: “face” designates a personal presence (Gn 33:10; Ex 10:2829; 2 Sm 17:11). The expressions “see God/God’s face” occur elsewhere (Ps 11:7; 17:15; cf. Ex 24:10; 33:711; Jb 33:26) for the presence of God in the Temple.

* [42:5] The shrine of the Mighty One: this reading follows the tradition of the Septuagint and the Vulgate.

* [42:7] From the land of the Jordan: the sources of the Jordan are in the foothills of Mount Hermon in present-day southern Lebanon. Mount Mizar is presumed to be a mountain in the same range.

* [42:8] Deep calls to deep: to the psalmist, the waters arising in the north are overwhelming and far from God’s presence, like the waters of chaos (Ps 18:5; 69:23, 15; Jon 2:36).

* [42:910] I will pray…I will say: in the midst of his depression the psalmist turns to prayer. Despite his situation he trusts the Lord to deliver him from his sorrow so that he may enter the Temple precincts and praise him once again (43:34, 5b).

a. [42:23] Ps 63:2; 84:3; 143:6; Is 26:9.

b. [42:3] Ps 27:4.

c. [42:4] Ps 80:6; 102:10.

d. [42:4] Ps 79:10; Jl 2:17.

e. [42:5] Lam 3:20.

f. [42:5] Ps 122:5.

g. [42:7] Ps 43:3.

h. [42:8] Ps 18:5; 32:6; 69:2; 88:8; Jon 2:4.

i. [42:10] Ps 18:2; 31:34.

PSALM 43

1Grant me justice, O God;

defend me from a faithless people;

from the deceitful and unjust rescue me.a

2You, O God, are my strength.

Why then do you spurn me?

Why must I go about mourning,

with the enemy oppressing me?

3bSend your light and your fidelity,*

that they may be my guide;c

Let them bring me to your holy mountain,

to the place of your dwelling,

4That I may come to the altar of God,

to God, my joy, my delight.

Then I will praise you with the harp,

O God, my God.

5Why are you downcast, my soul?

Why do you groan within me?

Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,

my savior and my God.

* [43:3] Your light and your fidelity: a pair of divine attributes personified as guides for the pilgrimage. As in Ps 42:9 the psalmist prays that these divine attributes lead him back to Jerusalem and ultimately to God’s presence in the Temple.

a. [43:1] Ps 119:154.

b. [43:3] Ps 18:29; 27:1; 36:10; Mi 7:8.

c. [43:3] Ps 122:1.

PSALM 44*

God’s Past Favor and Israel’s Present Need

1For the leader. A maskil of the Korahites.

I

2O God, we have heard with our own ears;

our ancestors have told usa

The deeds you did in their days,

with your own hand in days of old:

3You rooted out nations to plant them,b

crushed peoples and expelled them.

4Not with their own swords did they conquer the land,c

nor did their own arms bring victory;

It was your right hand, your own arm,

the light of your face for you favored them.d

5You are my king and my God,e

who bestows victories on Jacob.

6Through you we batter our foes;

through your name we trample our adversaries.

7Not in my bow do I trust,

nor does my sword bring me victory.

8You have brought us victory over our enemies,

shamed those who hate us.

9In God we have boasted all the day long;

your name we will praise forever.

Selah

II

10fBut now you have rejected and disgraced us;

you do not march out with our armies.g

11You make us retreat* before the foe;

those who hate us plunder us at will.h

12You hand us over like sheep to be slaughtered,

scatter us among the nations.i

13You sell your people for nothing;

you make no profit from their sale.j

14You make us the reproach of our neighbors,k

the mockery and scorn of those around us.

15You make us a byword among the nations;

the peoples shake their heads at us.

16All day long my disgrace is before me;

shame has covered my face

17At the sound of those who taunt and revile,

at the sight of the enemy and avenger.

III

18All this has come upon us,

though we have not forgotten you,

nor been disloyal to your covenant.

19*Our hearts have not turned back,

nor have our steps strayed from your path.

20Yet you have left us crushed,

desolate in a place of jackals;*l

you have covered us with a shadow of death.

21If we had forgotten the name of our God,

stretched out our hands to another god,

22Would not God have discovered this,

God who knows the secrets of the heart?

23For you we are slain all the day long,

considered only as sheep to be slaughtered.m

IV

24Awake! Why do you sleep, O Lord?

Rise up! Do not reject us forever!n

25Why do you hide your face;o

why forget our pain and misery?

26For our soul has been humiliated in the dust;p

our belly is pressed to the earth.

27Rise up, help us!

Redeem us in your mercy.

* [Psalm 44] In this lament the community reminds God of past favors which it has always acknowledged (Ps 44:29). But now God has abandoned Israel to defeat and humiliation (Ps 44:1017), though the people are not conscious of any sin against the covenant (Ps 44:1823). They struggle with being God’s special people amid divine silence; yet they continue to pray (Ps 44:2426).

* [44:11] You make us retreat: the corollary of Ps 44:3. Defeat, like victory, is God’s doing; neither Israel nor its enemies can claim credit (Ps 44:23).

* [44:19] Our hearts have not turned back: Israel’s defeat was not caused by its lack of fidelity.

* [44:20] A place of jackals: following Israel’s defeat and exile (Ps 44:1112), the land lies desolate, inhabited only by jackals, cf. Is 13:22; Jer 9:10; 10:22. Others take tannim as “sea monster” (cf. Ez 29:3; 32:2) and render: “you crushed us as you did the sea monster.”

a. [44:2] Ps 78:3.

b. [44:3] Ps 78:55; 80:9f.

c. [44:4] Dt 8:17f; Jos 24:12.

d. [44:4] Ps 4:7; 31:17; 67:2; 80:4; Nm 6:25; Dn 9:17.

e. [44:5] Ps 145:1.

f. [44:1027] Ps 89:3952.

g. [44:10] Ps 60:12.

h. [44:11] Lv 26:17; Dt 28:25.

i. [44:12] Lv 26:33; Dt 28:64.

j. [44:13] Dt 32:30; Is 52:3.

k. [44:1417] Ps 79:4; 80:7; 123:34; Jb 12:4; Dn 9:16.

l. [44:20] Jer 9:10.

m. [44:23] Rom 8:36.

n. [44:24] Ps 10:1; 74:1; 77:8; 79:5; 83:2.

o. [44:25] Ps 10:11; 89:47; Jb 13:24.

p. [44:26] Ps 119:25.

PSALM 45*

Song for a Royal Wedding

1For the leader; according to “Lilies.” A maskil of the Korahites. A love song.

I

2My heart is stirred by a noble theme,

as I sing my ode to the king.

My tongue is the pen of a nimble scribe.

II

3You are the most handsome of men;

fair speech has graced your lips,

for God has blessed you forever.a

4Gird your sword upon your hip, mighty warrior!

In splendor and majesty ride on triumphant!b

5In the cause of truth, meekness, and justice

may your right hand show your wondrous deeds.

6Your arrows are sharp;

peoples will cower at your feet;

the king’s enemies will lose heart.

7Your throne, O God,* stands forever;c

your royal scepter is a scepter for justice.

8You love justice and hate wrongdoing;

therefore God, your God, has anointed you

with the oil of gladness above your fellow kings.

9With myrrh, aloes, and cassia

your robes are fragrant.

From ivory-paneled palaces*

stringed instruments bring you joy.

10Daughters of kings are your lovely wives;

a princess arrayed in Ophir’s gold*

comes to stand at your right hand.

III

11Listen, my daughter, and understand;

pay me careful heed.

Forget your people and your father’s house,*

12that the king might desire your beauty.

He is your lord;

13dhonor him, daughter of Tyre.

Then the richest of the people

will seek your favor with gifts.

14All glorious is the king’s daughter as she enters,e

her raiment threaded with gold;

15In embroidered apparel she is led to the king.

The maids of her train are presented to the king.

16They are led in with glad and joyous acclaim;

they enter the palace of the king.

IV

17The throne of your fathers your sons will have;

you shall make them princes through all the land.f

18I will make your name renowned through all generations;

thus nations shall praise you forever.g

* [Psalm 45] A song for the Davidic king’s marriage to a foreign princess from Tyre in Phoenicia. The court poet sings (Ps 45:2, 18) of God’s choice of the king (Ps 45:3, 8), of his role in establishing divine rule (Ps 45:48), and of his splendor as he waits for his bride (Ps 45:910). The woman is to forget her own house when she becomes wife to the king (Ps 45:1113). Her majestic beauty today is a sign of the future prosperity of the royal house (Ps 45:1417). The Psalm was retained in the collection when there was no reigning king, and came to be applied to the king who was to come, the messiah.

* [45:7] O God: the king, in courtly language, is called “god,” i.e., more than human, representing God to the people. Heb 1:89 applies Ps 45:78 to Christ.

* [45:9] Ivory-paneled palaces: lit., “palaces of ivory.” Ivory paneling and furniture decoration have been found in Samaria and other ancient Near Eastern cities, cf. Am 3:15.

* [45:10] Ophir’s gold: uncertain location, possibly a region on the coast of southern Arabia or eastern Africa, famous for its gold, cf. 1 Kgs 9:28; 10:11; Jb 22:24.

* [45:11] Forget your people and your father’s house: the bride should no longer consider herself a daughter of her father’s house, but the wife of the king—the queen.

a. [45:3] Sg 5:1016.

b. [45:4] Ps 21:5.

c. [45:78] Heb 1:89.

d. [45:13] Ps 72:1011; Is 60:5f.

e. [45:1416] Ez 16:1013.

f. [45:17] Gn 17:6.

g. [45:18] Is 60:15.

PSALM 46*

God, the Protector of Zion

1For the leader. A song of the Korahites. According to alamoth.*

I

2God is our refuge and our strength,

an ever-present help in distress.a

3*Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken

and mountains quake to the depths of the sea,

4Though its waters rage and foam

and mountains totter at its surging.b

Selah

II

5*Streams of the river gladden the city of God,

the holy dwelling of the Most High.c

6God is in its midst; it shall not be shaken;

God will help it at break of day.d

7Though nations rage and kingdoms totter,

he utters his voice and the earth melts.e

8*The LORD of hosts is with us;

our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

Selah

III

9Come and see the works of the LORD,

who has done fearsome deeds on earth;f

10Who stops wars to the ends of the earth,

breaks the bow, splinters the spear,

and burns the shields with fire;g

11h“Be still and know that I am God!

I am exalted among the nations,

exalted on the earth.”

12The LORD of hosts is with us;

our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

Selah

* [Psalm 46] A song of confidence in God’s protection of Zion with close parallels to Ps 48. The dominant note in Ps 46 is sounded by the refrain, The LORD of hosts is with us (Ps 46:8, 12). The first strophe (Ps 46:24) sings of the security of God’s presence even in utter chaos; the second (Ps 46:58), of divine protection of the city from its enemies; the third (Ps 46:911), of God’s imposition of imperial peace.

* [46:1] Alamoth: the melody of the Psalm, now lost.

* [46:34] Figurative ancient Near Eastern language to describe social and political upheavals.

* [46:5] Jerusalem is not situated on a river. This description derives from mythological descriptions of the divine abode and symbolizes the divine presence as the source of all life (cf. Is 33:21; Ez 47:112; Jl 4:18; Zec 14:8; Rev 22:12).

* [46:8] The first line of the refrain is similar in structure and meaning to Isaiah’s name for the royal child, Emmanuel, With us is God (Is 7:14; 8:8, 10).

a. [46:2] Ps 48:4; Is 33:2.

b. [46:4] Ps 93:34; Jb 9:56; Is 24:1820; 54:10.

c. [46:5] Ps 48:23; 76:3.

d. [46:6] Is 7:14.

e. [46:7] Ps 2:15; 48:58; 76:79; Is 17:1214.

f. [46:9] Ps 48:910.

g. [46:10] Ps 76:4.

h. [46:11] Ps 48:11.

PSALM 47*

The Ruler of All the Nations

1For the leader. A psalm of the Korahites.

I

2All you peoples, clap your hands;

shout to God with joyful cries.a

3For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,

the great king over all the earth,b

4Who made people subject to us,

nations under our feet,c

5*Who chose our heritage for us,

the glory of Jacob, whom he loves.d

Selah

II

6*God has gone up with a shout;

the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.e

7Sing praise to God, sing praise;

sing praise to our king, sing praise.

III

8For God is king over all the earth;f

sing hymns of praise.

9God rules over the nations;

God sits upon his holy throne.

10The princes of the peoples assemble

with the people of the God of Abraham.

For the shields of the earth belong to God,

highly exalted.g

* [Psalm 47] A hymn calling on the nations to acknowledge the universal rule of Israel’s God (Ps 47:25) who is enthroned as king over Israel and the nations (Ps 47:69).

* [47:5] Our heritage…the glory: the land of Israel (cf. Is 58:14), which God has given Israel in an act of sovereignty.

* [47:6] God has gone up: Christian liturgical tradition has applied the verse to the Ascension of Christ.

a. [47:2] Ps 89:16; Zep 3:14.

b. [47:3] Ps 95:3; Ex 15:18; Is 24:23; 52:7.

c. [47:4] Ps 2:8.

d. [47:5] Is 58:14.

e. [47:6] Ps 24:8, 10; 68:1819; 98:6.

f. [47:89] Ps 72:11; 93:1; 96:10; 97:1; 99:1; Jer 10:7.

g. [47:10] Ps 89:19; Ex 3:6; Is 2:24.

PSALM 48*

The Splendor of the Invincible City

1A psalm of the Korahites.* A song.

I

2Great is the LORD and highly praised

in the city of our God:a

His holy mountain,

3fairest of heights,

the joy of all the earth,b

Mount Zion, the heights of Zaphon,*c

the city of the great king.

II

4God is in its citadel,

renowned as a stronghold.

5See! The kings assembled,

together they advanced.

6*When they looked they were astounded;

terrified, they were put to flight!d

7Trembling seized them there,

anguish, like a woman’s labor,e

8As when the east wind wrecks

the ships of Tarshish!*

III

9*What we had heard we have now seen

in the city of the LORD of hosts,

In the city of our God,

which God establishes forever.

Selah

10We ponder, O God, your mercy

within your temple

11Like your name, O God,

so is your praise to the ends of the earth.f

Your right hand is fully victorious.

12Mount Zion is glad!

The daughters of Judah rejoice

because of your judgments!g

IV

13Go about Zion, walk all around it,

note the number of its towers.

14Consider the ramparts, examine its citadels,

that you may tell future generations:h

15That this is God,

our God for ever and ever.*

He will lead us until death.

* [Psalm 48] A Zion hymn, praising the holy city as the invincible dwelling place of God. Unconquerable, it is an apt symbol of God who has defeated all enemies. After seven epithets describing the city (Ps 48:23), the Psalm describes the victory by the Divine Warrior over hostile kings (Ps 48:48). The second half proclaims the dominion of the God of Zion over all the earth (Ps 48:912) and invites pilgrims to announce that God is eternally invincible like Zion itself (Ps 48:1314).

* [48:1] Korahites: see note on Ps 42:1.

* [48:3] The heights of Zaphon: the mountain abode of the Canaanite storm-god Baal in comparable texts. To speak of Zion as if it were Zaphon was to claim for Israel’s God what Canaanites claimed for Baal. Though topographically speaking Zion is only a hill, viewed religiously it towers over other mountains as the home of the supreme God (cf. Ps 68:1617).

* [48:6] When they looked: the kings are stunned by the sight of Zion, touched by divine splendor. The language is that of holy war, in which the enemy panics and flees at the sight of divine glory.

* [48:8] The ships of Tarshish: large ships, named after the distant land or port of Tarshish, probably ancient Tartessus in southern Spain, although other identifications have been proposed, cf. Is 2:16; 60:9; Jon 1:3.

* [48:9] What we had heard we have now seen: the glorious things that new pilgrims had heard about the holy city—its beauty and awesomeness—they now see with their own eyes. The seeing here contrasts with the seeing of the hostile kings in Ps 48:6.

* [48:15] Our God for ever and ever: Israel’s God is like Zion in being eternal and invincible. The holy city is therefore a kind of “sacrament” of God.

a. [48:2] Ps 96:4; 145:3.

b. [48:3] Ps 50:2; Lam 2:15.

c. [48:3] Is 14:13.

d. [48:6] Jgs 5:19.

e. [48:7] Ex 15:14; Jer 4:31.

f. [48:11] Mal 1:11.

g. [48:12] Ps 97:8.

h. [48:14] Ps 22:3132; 71:18.

PSALM 49*

Confidence in God Rather than in Riches

1For the leader. A psalm of the Korahites.*

2Hear this, all you peoples!

Give ear, all who inhabit the world,

3You of lowly birth or high estate,

rich and poor together.

4My mouth shall speak words of wisdom,

my heart shall offer insights.a

5I will turn my ear to a riddle,*

expound my question on a lyre.

I

6Why should I fear in evil days,

with the iniquity of my assailants surrounding me,

7Of those who trust in their wealth

and boast of their abundant riches?b

8*No man can ransom even a brother,

or pay to God his own ransom.c

9The redemption of his soul is costly;

and he will pass away forever.

10Will he live on forever, then,

and never see the Pit of Corruption?

11Indeed, he will see that the wise die,

and the fool will perish together with the senseless,d

and they leave their wealth to others.e

12Their tombs are their homes forever,

their dwellings through all generations,

“They named countries after themselves”

13—but man does not abide in splendor.

He is like the beasts—they perish.f

II

14This is the way of those who trust in themselves,

and the end of those who take pleasure in their own mouth.

Selah

15Like a herd of sheep they will be put into Sheol,

and Death will shepherd them.

Straight to the grave they descend,

where their form will waste away,

Sheol will be their palace.

16But God will redeem my life,

will take me* from the hand of Sheol.g

Selah

17Do not fear when a man becomes rich,

when the wealth of his house grows great.

18At his death he will not take along anything,

his glory will not go down after him.h

19During his life his soul uttered blessings;

“They will praise you, for you do well for yourself.”

20But he will join the company of his fathers,

never again to see the light.i

21In his prime, man does not understand.

He is like the beasts—they perish.

* [Psalm 49] The Psalm affirms confidence in God (cf. Ps 23; 27:16; 62) in the face of the apparent good fortune of the unjust rich, cf. Ps 37; 73. Reliance on wealth is misplaced (Ps 49:810) for it is of no avail in the face of death (Ps 49:1820). After inviting all to listen to this axiom of faith (Ps 49:25), the psalmist depicts the self-delusion of the ungodly (Ps 49:613), whose destiny is to die like ignorant beasts (Ps 49:13, 18; cf. Prv 7:2123). Their wealth should occasion no alarm, for they will come to nought, whereas God will save the just (Ps 49:1420).

* [49:1] Korahites: see note on Ps 42:1.

* [49:5] Riddle: the psalmist’s personal solution to the perennial biblical problem of the prosperity of the wicked. Question: parallel in meaning to problem; in wisdom literature it means the mysterious way of how the world works.

* [49:8] No man can ransom even a brother: an axiom. For the practice of redemption, cf. Jb 6:2123. A play on the first Hebrew word of Ps 49:8, 16 relates the two verses.

* [49:16] Will take me: the same Hebrew verb is used of God “taking up” a favored servant: Enoch in Gn 5:24; Elijah in 2 Kgs 2:1112; the righteous person in Ps 73:24. The verse apparently states the hope that God will rescue the faithful psalmist in the same manner.

a. [49:4] Ps 78:2; Mt 13:35.

b. [49:7] Jb 31:24.

c. [49:8] Prv 10:15; 11:4; Ez 7:19; Mt 16:26.

d. [49:11] Eccl 2:16.

e. [49:11] Ps 39:7; Sir 11:1819.

f. [49:13] Eccl 3:1821.

g. [49:16] Ps 16:10; 86:13; 103:4; 116:8.

h. [49:18] Sir 11:1819; Eccl 5:15; 1 Tm 6:7.

i. [49:20] Jb 10:2122.

PSALM 50*

The Acceptable Sacrifice

1A psalm of Asaph.

I

The God of gods, the LORD,

has spoken and summoned the earth

from the rising of the sun to its setting.a

2From Zion, the perfection of beauty,

God shines forth.b

3Our God comes and will not be silent!

Devouring fire precedes him,

it rages strongly around him.c

4He calls to the heavens above

and to the earth to judge his people:

5“Gather my loyal ones to me,

those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”

6The heavens proclaim his righteousness,

for God himself is the judge.d

Selah

II

7“Listen, my people, I will speak;

Israel, I will testify against you;

God, your God, am I.

8Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,

your burnt offerings are always before me.

9I will not take a bullock from your house,

or he-goats from your folds.e

10For every animal of the forest is mine,

beasts by the thousands on my mountains.

11I know every bird in the heights;

whatever moves in the wild is mine.

12Were I hungry, I would not tell you,

for mine is the world and all that fills it.f

13Do I eat the flesh of bulls

or drink the blood of he-goats?

14Offer praise as your sacrifice to God;g

fulfill your vows to the Most High.

15Then call on me on the day of distress;h

I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.”

III

16But to the wicked God says:

“Why do you recite my commandments

and profess my covenant with your mouth?

17You hate discipline;

you cast my words behind you!

18If you see a thief, you run with him;

with adulterers you throw in your lot.

19You give your mouth free rein for evil;

you yoke your tongue to deceit.

20You sit and speak against your brother,

slandering your mother’s son.

21When you do these things should I be silent?

Do you think that I am like you?

I accuse you, I lay out the matter before your eyes.

IV

22“Now understand this, you who forget God,

lest I start ripping apart and there be no rescuer.

23Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me;

I will let him whose way is steadfast

look upon the salvation of God.”i

* [Psalm 50] A covenant lawsuit stating that the sacrifice God really wants is the sacrifice of praise accompanied by genuine obedience (cf. Mi 6:18). It begins with a theophany and the summoning of the court (Ps 50:16). Then in direct address God explains what is required of the faithful (Ps 50:715), rebukes the hypocritical worshiper (Ps 50:1621), and concludes with a threat and a promise (Ps 50:2223; cf. Is 1:1920).

a. [50:1] Dt 10:17; Jos 22:22.

b. [50:2] Ps 48:2.

c. [50:3] Ps 97:3; Dn 7:10.

d. [50:6] Ps 19:2; 97:6.

e. [50:9] Ps 69:32; Am 5:2122.

f. [50:12] Ps 24:1; 89:12; Dt 10:14; 1 Cor 10:26.

g. [50:14] Heb 13:15.

h. [50:15] Ps 77:3.

i. [50:23] Ps 91:16.

PSALM 51*

The Miserere: Prayer of Repentance

1For the leader. A psalm of David, 2when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.a

I

3Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;

in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.

4Thoroughly wash away my guilt;

and from my sin cleanse me.

5For I know my transgressions;

my sin is always before me.b

6Against you, you alone have I sinned;

I have done what is evil in your eyes

So that you are just in your word,

and without reproach in your judgment.c

7Behold, I was born in guilt,

in sin my mother conceived me.*d

8Behold, you desire true sincerity;

and secretly you teach me wisdom.

9Cleanse me with hyssop,* that I may be pure;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.e

10You will let me hear gladness and joy;

the bones you have crushed will rejoice.

II

11Turn away your face from my sins;

blot out all my iniquities.

12A clean heart create for me, God;

renew within me a steadfast spirit.f

13Do not drive me from before your face,

nor take from me your holy spirit.g

14Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;

uphold me with a willing spirit.

15I will teach the wicked your ways,

that sinners may return to you.

16Rescue me from violent bloodshed, God, my saving God,

and my tongue will sing joyfully of your justice.h

17Lord, you will open my lips;

and my mouth will proclaim your praise.

18For you do not desire sacrifice* or I would give it;

a burnt offering you would not accept.i

19My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;

a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.

III

20*Treat Zion kindly according to your good will;

build up the walls of Jerusalem.j

21Then you will desire the sacrifices of the just,

burnt offering and whole offerings;

then they will offer up young bulls on your altar.

* [Psalm 51] A lament, the most famous of the seven Penitential Psalms, prays for the removal of the personal and social disorders that sin has brought. The poem has two parts of approximately equal length: Ps 51:310 and Ps 51:1119, and a conclusion in Ps 51:2021. The two parts interlock by repetition of “blot out” in the first verse of each section (Ps 51:3, 11), of “wash (away)” just after the first verse of each section (Ps 51:4) and just before the last verse (Ps 51:9) of the first section, and of “heart,” “God,” and “spirit” in Ps 51:12, 19. The first part (Ps 51:310) asks deliverance from sin, not just a past act but its emotional, physical, and social consequences. The second part (Ps 51:1119) seeks something more profound than wiping the slate clean: nearness to God, living by the spirit of God (Ps 51:1213), like the relation between God and people described in Jer 31:3334. Nearness to God brings joy and the authority to teach sinners (Ps 51:1516). Such proclamation is better than offering sacrifice (Ps 51:1719). The last two verses express the hope that God’s good will toward those who are cleansed and contrite will prompt him to look favorably on the acts of worship offered in the Jerusalem Temple (Ps 51:19 [2021]).

* [51:7] In sin my mother conceived me: lit., “In iniquity was I conceived,” an instance of hyperbole: at no time was the psalmist ever without sin, cf. Ps 88:15, “I am mortally afflicted since youth,” i.e., I have always been afflicted. The verse does not imply that the sexual act of conception is sinful.

* [51:9] Hyssop: a small bush whose many woody twigs make a natural sprinkler. It was prescribed in the Mosaic law as an instrument for sprinkling sacrificial blood or lustral water for cleansing, cf. Ex 12:22; Lv 14:4; Nm 19:18.

* [51:18] For you do not desire sacrifice: the mere offering of the ritual sacrifice apart from good dispositions is not acceptable to God, cf. Ps 50.

* [51:2021] Most scholars think that these verses were added to the Psalm some time after the destruction of the Temple in 587 B.C. The verses assume that the rebuilt Temple will be an ideal site for national reconciliation.

a. [51:2] 2 Sm 12.

b. [51:5] Ps 32:5; 38:19; Is 59:12.

c. [51:6] Rom 3:4.

d. [51:7] Jb 14:4.

e. [51:9] Jb 9:30; Is 1:18; Ez 36:25.

f. [51:12] Ez 11:19.

g. [51:13] Wis 1:5; 9:17; Is 63:11; Hg 2:5; Rom 8:9.

h. [51:16] Ps 30:10.

i. [51:18] Ps 40:7; 50:8; Am 5:2122; Hos 6:6; Is 1:1115; Heb 10:57.

j. [51:20] Jer 31:4; Ez 36:33.

PSALM 52*

The Deceitful Tongue

1For the leader. A maskil of David, 2when Doeg the Edomite entered and reported to Saul, saying to him: “David has entered the house of Ahimelech.”a

I

3Why do you glory in what is evil, you who are mighty by the mercy of God?

All day long

4you are thinking up intrigues;

your tongue is like a sharpened razor,

you worker of deceit.b

5You love evil more than good,

lying rather than saying what is right.c

Selah

6You love all the words that create confusion,

you deceitful tongue.d

II

7God too will strike you down forever,

he will lay hold of you and pluck you from your tent,

uproot you from the land of the living.e

Selah

8The righteous will see and they will fear;

but they will laugh at him:f

9“Behold the man! He did not take God as his refuge,

but he trusted in the abundance of his wealth,

and grew powerful through his wickedness.”g

III

10But I, like an olive tree* flourishing in the house of God,h

I trust in God’s mercy forever and ever.

11I will thank you forever

for what you have done.

I will put my hope in your name—for it is good,i

—in the presence of those devoted to you.

* [Psalm 52] A condemnation of the powerful and arrogant (Ps 52:36), who bring down upon themselves God’s judgment (Ps 52:7). The just, those who trust in God alone, are gladdened and strengthened by the downfall of their traditional enemies (Ps 52:89).

* [52:10] Like an olive tree: the righteous will flourish in the house of God like a well-watered olive tree, cf. Ps 92:14; 128:3.

a. [52:2] 1 Sm 21:8; 22:6ff.

b. [52:4] Ps 12:3; 59:8; 120:23; Sir 51:3.

c. [52:5] Jer 4:22; Jn 3:1920.

d. [52:6] Jer 9:4.

e. [52:7] Ps 27:13; 28:5; 56:14; Jb 18:14; Prv 2:22; Is 38:11.

f. [52:8] Ps 44:14; 64:9.

g. [52:9] Jb 31:24; Prv 11:28.

h. [52:10] Ps 1:3; 92:1214; Jer 11:16; 17:8.

i. [52:11] Ps 22:23; 26:12; 35:18; 149:1.

PSALM 53*

A Lament over Widespread Corruption

1For the leader; according to Mahalath. A maskil of David.

I

2The fool says in his heart,a

“There is no God.”b

They act corruptly and practice injustice;

there is none that does good.

3God looks out from the heavens

upon the children of Adam,c

To see if there is a discerning persond

who is seeking God.

4All have gone astray;

each one is altogether perverse.

There is not one who does what is good, not even one.e

II

5fDo they not know better, those who do evil,

who feed upon my people as they feed upon bread?g

Have they not called upon God?

6They are going to fear his name with great fear,

though they had not feared it before.

For God will scatter the bones

of those encamped against you.

They will surely be put to shame,

for God has rejected them.

III

7Who will bring forth from Zion

the salvation of Israel?

When God reverses the captivity of his people

Jacob will rejoice and Israel will be glad.h

* [Psalm 53] A lament of an individual, duplicated in Ps 14, except that “God” is used for “the LORD,” and Ps 53:6 is different, cf. Ps 14.

a. [53:26a] Ps 14:15a.

b. [53:2] Ps 10:4; 36:2; Is 32:6; Jer 5:12.

c. [53:2b3] Rom 3:1112.

d. [53:3] Ps 11:4; 102:20.

e. [53:4] Ps 12:2.

f. [53:5] Ps 79:6.

g. [53:5] Ps 27:2; Is 9:11.

h. [53:7] Ps 85:2.

PSALM 54*

Confident Prayer in Great Peril

1For the leader. On stringed instruments. A maskil of David, 2when the Ziphites came and said to Saul, “David is hiding among us.”a

I

3O God, by your name* save me.

By your strength defend my cause.

4O God, hear my prayer.

Listen to the words of my mouth.

5Strangers have risen against me;

the ruthless seek my life;

they do not keep God before them.b

Selah

II

6God is present as my helper;c

the Lord sustains my life.

7Turn back the evil upon my foes;

in your faithfulness, destroy them.d

8Then I will offer you generous sacrifice

and give thanks to your name, LORD, for it is good.

9Because it has rescued me from every trouble,

and my eyes look down on my foes.e

* [Psalm 54] A lament in which the person under attack calls directly upon God for help (Ps 54:35). Refusing to despair, the psalmist hopes in God, who is active in history and just (Ps 54:67). The Psalm ends with a serene promise to return thanks (Ps 54:89).

* [54:3] By your name: one is present in one’s name, hence God as revealed to human beings.

a. [54:2] 1 Sm 23:19; 26:1.

b. [54:5] Ps 86:14.

c. [54:6] Ps 118:7.

d. [54:7] Ps 143:12.

e. [54:9] Ps 59:11; 91:8; 92:12.

PSALM 55*

A Lament over Betrayal

1For the leader. On stringed instruments. A maskil of David.

I

2Listen, God, to my prayer;a

do not hide from my pleading;

3hear me and give answer.

I rock with grief; I groan

4at the uproar of the enemy,

the clamor of the wicked.

They heap trouble upon me,

savagely accuse me.

5My heart pounds within me;

death’s terrors fall upon me.

6Fear and trembling overwhelm me;

shuddering sweeps over me.

7I say, “If only I had wings like a dove

that I might fly away and find rest.b

8Far away I would flee;

I would stay in the desert.c 9“I would soon find a shelter

Selah

from the raging wind and storm.”

II

10Lord, check and confuse their tongues.

For I see violence and strife in the city

11making rounds on its walls day and night.

Within are mischief and trouble;

12treachery is in its midst;

oppression and fraud never leave its streets.d

13For it is not an enemy that reviled me –

that I could bear –

Not a foe who viewed me with contempt,

from that I could hide.

14But it was you, my other self,

my comrade and friend,e

15You, whose company I enjoyed,

at whose side I walked

in the house of God.

III

16Let death take them;

let them go down alive to Sheol,f

for evil is in their homes and bellies.

17But I will call upon God,

and the LORD will save me.

18At dusk, dawn, and noon

I will grieve and complain,

and my prayer will be heard.g

19He will redeem my soul in peace

from those who war against me,

though there are many who oppose me.

20God, who sits enthroned forever,h

will hear me and afflict them.

Selah

For they will not mend their ways;

they have no fear of God.

21He stretched out his hand at his friends

and broke his covenant.

22Softer than butter is his speech,

but war is in his heart.

Smoother than oil are his words,

but they are unsheathed swords.i

23Cast your care upon the LORD,

who will give you support.

He will never allow

the righteous to stumble.j

24But you, God, will bring them down

to the pit of destruction.k

These bloodthirsty liars

will not live half their days,

but I put my trust in you.l

* [Psalm 55] The psalmist, betrayed by intimate friends (Ps 55:1415, 2021), prays that God punish those oath breakers and thus be acknowledged as the protector of the wronged. The sufferings of the psalmist include both ostracism (Ps 55:4) and mental turmoil (Ps 55:56), culminating in the wish to flee society (Ps 55:79). The wish for a sudden death for one’s enemies (Ps 55:16) occurs elsewhere in the Psalms; an example of such a death is the earth opening under the wicked Dathan and Abiram (Nm 16:3132). The psalmist, confident of vindication, exhorts others to a like trust in the God of justice (Ps 55:23). The Psalm is not so much for personal vengeance as for a public vindication of God’s righteousness now. There was no belief in an afterlife where such vindication could take place.

a. [55:23] Ps 5:23; 86:6; 130:12; Lam 3:56; Jon 2:3.

b. [55:7] Ps 11:1.

c. [55:8] Jer 9:1; Rev 12:6.

d. [55:12] Jer 5:1; 6:6; Ez 22:2; Heb 1:3; Zep 3:1.

e. [55:14] Ps 41:10; Jer 9:3; Mt 26:2124 par.

f. [55:16] Ps 49:15; Nm 16:33; Prv 1:2; Is 5:14.

g. [55:18] Dn 6:11.

h. [55:20] Ps 29:10; 93:2; Bar 3:3.

i. [55:22] Ps 12:3; 28:3; 57:5; 62:5; 64:4; Prv 26:2428; Jer 9:7.

j. [55:23] Ps 37:5; Prv 3:5; 16:3; 1 Pt 5:7.

k. [55:24] Ps 28:1; 30:4; 40:3; 88:5; 143:7; Prv 1:12; Jon 2:7.

l. [55:24] Ps 25:2; 56:4; 130:5.

PSALM 56*

Trust in God

1For the director. According to Yonath elem rehoqim.* A miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him at Gath.a

I

2Have mercy on me, God,

for I am treated harshly;

attackers press me all the day.

3My foes treat me harshly all the day;

yes, many are my attackers.

O Most High, 4when I am afraid,

in you I place my trust.

5I praise the word of God;

I trust in God, I do not fear.b

What can mere flesh do to me?c

II

6All the day they foil my plans;

their every thought is of evil against me.

7They hide together in ambush;

they watch my every step;

they lie in wait for my life.d

8They are evil; watch them, God!

Cast the nations down in your anger!

9My wanderings you have noted;

are my tears not stored in your flask,*

recorded in your book?e

10My foes turn back when I call on you.

This I know: God is on my side.

11I praise the word of God,

I praise the word of the LORD.

12In God I trust, I do not fear.

What can man do to me?

III

13I have made vows to you, God;

with offerings I will fulfill them,f

14For you have snatched me from death,

kept my feet from stumbling,

That I may walk before God

in the light of the living.

* [Psalm 56] Beset physically (Ps 56:23) and psychologically (Ps 56:67), the psalmist maintains a firm confidence in God (Ps 56:5, 910). Nothing will prevent the psalmist from keeping the vow to give thanks for God’s gift of life (Ps 56:13). A refrain (Ps 56:5, 1112) divides the Psalm in two equal parts.

* [56:1] Yonath elem rehoqim: Hebrew words probably designating the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung.

* [56:9] Are my tears not stored in your flask: a unique saying in the Old Testament. The context suggests that the tears are saved because they are precious; God puts a high value on each of the psalmist’s troubles.

a. [56:1] 1 Sm 21:10.

b. [56:5] Ps 130:5.

c. [56:5] Ps 118:6; Heb 13:6.

d. [56:7] Ps 140:56.

e. [56:9] Ps 10:14; 2 Kgs 20:5; Is 25:8; Rev 7:17.

f. [56:13] Nm 30:3.

PSALM 57*

Confident Prayer for Deliverance

1For the director. Do not destroy.* A miktam of David, when he fled from Saul into a cave.a

I

2Have mercy on me, God,

have mercy on me.

In you I seek refuge.

In the shadow of your wings* I seek refuge

till harm pass by.b

3I call to God Most High,

to God who provides for me.

4May God send help from heaven to save me,

shame those who trample upon me.

May God send fidelity and mercy.

Selah

5I must lie down in the midst of lions

hungry for human prey.c

Their teeth are spears and arrows;

their tongue, a sharpened sword.d

6Be exalted over the heavens, God;

may your glory appear above all the earth.e

II

7They have set a trap for my feet;

my soul is bowed down;

They have dug a pit before me.

May they fall into it themselves!f

Selah

8My heart is steadfast, God,

my heart is steadfast.

I will sing and chant praise.g

9Awake, my soul;

awake, lyre and harp!

I will wake the dawn.*h

10I will praise you among the peoples, Lord;

I will chant your praise among the nations.i

11For your mercy towers to the heavens;

your faithfulness reaches to the skies.j

12Exalt yourself over the heavens, God;

may your glory appear above all the earth.

* [Psalm 57] Each of the two equal strophes contains a prayer for rescue from enemies, accompanied by joyful trust in God (Ps 57:25, 711). The refrain prays that God be manifested as saving (Ps 57:6, 12). Ps 108 is nearly identical to part of this Psalm (cf. Ps 57:811, Ps 108:26).

* [57:1] Do not destroy: probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung.

* [57:2] The shadow of your wings: probably refers to the wings of the cherubim (powerful winged animals) whose wings spread over the ark in the inner chamber of the Temple (1 Kgs 6:2328).

* [57:9] I will wake the dawn: by a bold figure the psalmist imagines the sound of music and singing will waken a new day.

a. [57:1] 1 Sm 22:1.

b. [57:2] Ps 17:8; 36:8.

c. [57:5] Ps 17:1112; 22:22; 58:7.

d. [57:5] Ps 11:2; 64:4.

e. [57:6] Ps 72:19; Nm 14:21.

f. [57:7] Ps 7:15; 9:1617; 140:56.

g. [57:8] Ps 108:2.

h. [57:9] Jb 38:12.

i. [57:10] Ps 9:12; 18:50.

j. [57:11] Ps 36:6; 71:19.

PSALM 58*

The Dethroning of Unjust Rulers

1For the leader. Do not destroy.* A miktam of David.

I

2Do you indeed pronounce justice, O gods;*

do you judge fairly you children of Adam?a

3No, you freely engage in crime;

your hands dispense violence to the earth.

II

4The wicked have been corrupt since birth;

liars from the womb, they have gone astray.

5*Their venom is like the venom of a snake,

like that of a serpent stopping its ears,b

6So as not to hear the voice of the charmer

or the enchanter with cunning spells.

III

7O God, smash the teeth in their mouths;

break the fangs of these lions, LORD!c

8Make them vanish like water flowing away;d

trodden down, let them wither like grass.e

9Let them dissolve like a snail that oozes away,*

like an untimely birth that never sees the sun.f

10Suddenly, like brambles or thistles,

have the whirlwind snatch them away.g

11Then the just shall rejoice to see the vengeance

and bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.h

12Then people will say:

“Truly there is a reward for the just;

there is a God who is judge on earth!”

* [Psalm 58] A lament expressing trust in God’s power to dethrone all powers obstructing divine rule of the world. First condemned are “the gods,” the powers that were popularly imagined to control human destinies (Ps 58:23), then “the wicked,” the human instruments of these forces (Ps 58:46). The psalmist prays God to prevent them from harming the just (Ps 58:710). The manifestation of justice will gladden the just; they will see that their God is with them (Ps 58:11). The Psalm is less concerned with personal vengeance than with public vindication of God’s justice now.

* [58:1] Do not destroy: probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung.

* [58:2] Gods: the Bible sometimes understands pagan gods to be lesser divine beings who are assigned by Israel’s God to rule the foreign nations. Here they are accused of injustice, permitting the human judges under their patronage to abuse the righteous, cf. Ps 82.

* [58:56] The image is that of a poisonous snake that is controlled by the voice or piping of its trainer.

* [58:9] A snail that oozes away: empty shells suggested to ancients that snails melted away as they left a slimy trail.

a. [58:2] Ps 82:2; Dt 16:19.

b. [58:5] Ps 64:4; 140:3; Rom 3:13.

c. [58:7] Ps 3:7.

d. [58:8] Wis 16:29.

e. [58:8] Ps 37:2.

f. [58:9] Jb 3:16.

g. [58:10] Jb 21:18; Hos 13:3; Na 1:10.

h. [58:11] Ps 68:24; Is 63:16.

PSALM 59*

Complaint Against Bloodthirsty Enemies

1For the director. Do not destroy.* A miktam of David, when Saul sent people to watch his house and kill him.a

I

2Rescue me from my enemies, my God;

lift me out of reach of my foes.

3Deliver me from evildoers;

from the bloodthirsty save me.

4They have set an ambush for my life;

the powerful conspire against me.

For no offense or misdeed of mine, LORD,

5for no fault they hurry to take up arms.

Come near and see my plight!

6You, LORD God of hosts, are the God of Israel!

Awake! Punish all the nations.

Have no mercy on these worthless traitors.

Selah

7Each evening they return,

growling like dogs, prowling the city.b

8Their mouths pour out insult;

sharp words are on their lips.

They say: “Who is there to hear?”*

9But you, LORD, laugh at them;

you deride all the nations.c

10My strength, for you I watch;

you, God, are my fortress,

11my loving God.

II

May God go before me,

and show me my fallen foes.

12Slay them, God,

lest they deceive my people.

Shake them by your power;

Lord, our shield, bring them down.

13For the sinful words of their mouths and lips

let them be caught in their pride.

For the lies they have told under oathd

14destroy them in anger,

destroy till they are no more.

Then people will know God rules over Jacob,

yes, even to the ends of the earth.e

Selah

15Each evening they return,

growling like dogs, prowling the city.

16They roam about as scavengers;

if they are not filled, they howl.

III

17But I shall sing of your strength,

extol your mercy at dawn,

For you are my fortress,

my refuge in time of trouble.

18My strength, your praise I will sing;

you, God, are my fortress, my loving God.

* [Psalm 59] A lament in two parts (Ps 59:29, 11b17), each ending in a refrain (Ps 59:10, 18). Both parts alternate prayer for vindication (Ps 59:23, 4b5, 11b14) with vivid depictions of the psalmist’s enemies (Ps 59:45a, 78, 1516). The near curse in Ps 59:1213 is not a crude desire for revenge but a wish that God’s just rule over human affairs be recognized now.

* [59:1] Do not destroy: probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung.

* [59:8] Who is there to hear?: a sample of the enemies’ godless reflection. The answer is that God hears their blasphemies.

a. [59:1] 1 Sm 19:11.

b. [59:7] Ps 55:11.

c. [59:9] Ps 2:4; 37:13; Wis 4:18.

d. [59:13] Prv 12:13; 18:7.

e. [59:14] Ps 83:1819; Ez 5:13.

PSALM 60*

Lament After Defeat in Battle

1For the leader; according to “The Lily of.…” A miktam of David (for teaching), 2when he fought against Aram-Naharaim and Aram-Zobah; and Joab, coming back, killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.a

I

3O God, you rejected us, broke our defenses;

you were angry but now revive us.

4You rocked the earth, split it open;b

repair the cracks for it totters.

5You made your people go through hardship,

made us stagger from the wine you gave us.c

6Raise up a banner for those who revere you,

a refuge for them out of bow shot.

Selah

7*Help with your right hand and answer us

that your loved ones may escape.

II

8*In the sanctuary God promised:

“I will exult, will apportion Shechem;

the valley of Succoth* I will measure out.

9Gilead is mine, mine is Manasseh;

Ephraim is the helmet for my head,

Judah, my own scepter.*

10*Moab is my washbowl;

upon Edom I cast my sandal.*d

I will triumph over Philistia.”

III

11Who will bring me to the fortified city?*

Who will lead me into Edom?

12Was it not you who rejected us, God?

Do you no longer march with our armies?e

13Give us aid against the foe;

worthless is human help.

14We will triumph with the help of God,

who will trample down our foes.

* [Psalm 60] The community complains that God has let the enemy win the battle (Ps 60:35) and asks for an assurance of victory (Ps 60:67). In the oracle God affirms ownership of the land; the invasion of other nations is not permanent and will be reversed ultimately (Ps 60:810). With renewed confidence, the community resolves to fight again (Ps 60:11). The opening lament is picked up again (Ps 60:12), but this time with new awareness of God’s power and human limitation.

* [60:712] These verses occur again as the second half of Ps 108.

* [60:8] I will…apportion…measure out: God lays claim to these places. The valley of Succoth: probably the lower stretch of the Jabbok valley.

* [60:9] Judah, my own scepter: an allusion to the Testament of Jacob, Gn 49:10.

* [60:10] Moab is my washbowl: Moab borders the Dead Sea, hence a metaphor for the country. Upon Edom I cast my sandal: an ancient legal gesture of taking possession of land.

* [60:11] The fortified city: perhaps Bozrah, the fortified capital of Edom, cf. Is 34:6; 63:1; Am 1:12.

a. [60:2] 2 Sm 8:2, 3, 13; 1 Chr 18:2, 3, 12.

b. [60:4] Ps 75:4; Is 24:19.

c. [60:5] Ps 75:9; Is 51:17, 2122; Jer 25:15.

d. [60:10] Ru 4:78.

e. [60:12] Ps 44:10.

PSALM 61*

Prayer of the King in Time of Danger

1For the leader; with stringed instruments. Of David.

I

2Hear my cry, O God,

listen to my prayer!

3From the ends of the earth* I call;

my heart grows faint.

Raise me up, set me on a rock,

4for you are my refuge,

a tower of strength against the foe.a

5Let me dwell in your tent forever,

take refuge in the shelter of your wings.b

Selah

II

6For you, O God, have heard my vows,

you have granted me the heritage of those who revere your name.

7Add days to the life of the king;

may his years be as from generation to generation;c

8dMay he reign before God forever;

send your love and fidelity* to preserve him—e

9I will duly sing to your name forever,

fulfill my vows day after day.

* [Psalm 61] A lament of the king who feels himself at the brink of death (Ps 61:3) and cries out for the strong and saving presence of God (Ps 61:3b5). The king cites the prayer being made for him (Ps 61:78), and promises to give thanks to God.

* [61:3] Ends of the earth: “earth” being taken in its occasional meaning “the underworld,” cf. Jon 2:3.

* [61:8] Send your love and fidelity: as in Ps 43:3 the psalmist asks God to send these two divine attributes like angels to protect the king.

a. [61:4] Ps 46:2.

b. [61:5] Ps 17:8; 36:8; 57:2.

c. [61:7] Ps 21:5.

d. [61:8] Ps 72:5; 89:5, 30, 37.

e. [61:8] Ps 85:11; 89:15, 25; Prv 20:28.

PSALM 62*

Trust in God Alone

1For the leader; ‘al Jeduthun.* A psalm of David.

I

2My soul rests in God alone,a

from whom comes my salvation.

3God alone is my rock and salvation,

my fortress; I shall never fall.

4How long will you set yourself against a man?

You shall all be destroyed,

Like a sagging wall

or a tumbled down fence!

5Even highly placed people

plot to overthrow him.

They delight in lies;

they bless with their mouths,

but inwardly they curse.b

Selah

II

6My soul, be at rest in God alone,

from whom comes my hope.

7God alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not fall.

8My deliverance and honor are with God,c

my strong rock;

my refuge is with God.

9Trust God at all times, my people!

Pour out your hearts to God our refuge!

Selah

III

10Mortals are a mere breath,

the sons of man but an illusion;d

On a balance they rise;*

together they weigh nothing.

11Do not trust in extortion;

in plunder put no empty hope.

On wealth that increases,

do not set your heart.e

12*One thing God has said;

two things I have heard:f

Strength belongs to God;

13so too, my Lord, does mercy,

For you repay each man

according to his deeds.g

* [Psalm 62] A song of trust displaying serenity from experiencing God’s power (the refrains of Ps 62:23 and Ps 62:67) and anger toward unjust enemies (Ps 62:45). From the experience of being rescued, the psalmist can teach others to trust in God (Ps 62:912).

* [62:1] ‘Al Jeduthun: apparently the Hebrew name for the melody.

* [62:10] On a balance they rise: precious objects were weighed by balancing two pans suspended from a beam. The lighter pan rises.

* [62:12] One thing…two things: parallelism of numbers for the sake of variation, a common device in Semitic poetry. One should not literally add up the numbers, cf. Am 1:3; Prv 6:1619; 30:15, 18, 21.

a. [62:23, 67] Ps 18:3; 31:34; 42:10; 118:8; 146:3.

b. [62:5] Ps 12:3; 28:3; 55:22; Prv 26:2425.

c. [62:8] Ps 3:3; Is 26:4; 60:19.

d. [62:10] Ps 39:67; 144:4; Jb 7:16; Wis 2:5.

e. [62:11] Jb 31:25; Eccl 5:9; Jer 17:11; Mt 6:1921, 24.

f. [62:12] Jb 40:5.

g. [62:13] Ps 28:4; 31:24; 2 Sm 3:39; Jb 34:11; Jer 17:10; Mt 16:27; Rom 2:6; 2 Tm 4:14.

PSALM 63*

Ardent Longing for God

1A psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.a

I

2O God, you are my God—

it is you I seek!

For you my body yearns;

for you my soul thirsts,

In a land parched, lifeless,

and without water.b

3I look to you in the sanctuary

to see your power and glory.

4For your love is better than life;*

my lips shall ever praise you!

II

5I will bless you as long as I live;

I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.

6My soul shall be sated as with choice food,

with joyous lips my mouth shall praise you!

7I think of you upon my bed,

I remember you through the watches of the night

8You indeed are my savior,

and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.c

9My soul clings fast to you;

your right hand upholds me.

III

10But those who seek my life will come to ruin;

they shall go down to the depths of the netherworld!

11Those who would hand over my life to the sword shall

become the prey of jackals!

12 But the king shall rejoice in God;

all who swear by the Lord shall exult,*

but the mouths of liars will be shut!d

* [Psalm 63] A Psalm expressing the intimate relationship between God and the worshiper. Separated from God (Ps 63:2), the psalmist longs for the divine life given in the Temple (Ps 63:36), which is based on a close relationship with God (Ps 63:79). May all my enemies be destroyed and God’s true worshipers continue in giving praise (Ps 63:1011)!

* [63:4] For your love is better than life: only here in the Old Testament is anything prized above life—in this case God’s love.

* [63:12] All who swear by the Lord: to swear by a particular god meant that one was a worshiper of that god (Is 45:23; 48:1; Zep 1:5).

a. [63:1] 1 Sm 24.

b. [63:2] Ps 42:2; 143:6; Is 26:9.

c. [63:8] Ps 17:8; 36:8.

d. [63:12] Ps 107:42.

PSALM 64*

Treacherous Conspirators Punished by God

1For the leader. A psalm of David.

I

2O God, hear my anguished voice;

from a dreadful foe protect my life.

3Hide me from the malicious crowd,

the mob of evildoers.

4They sharpen their tongues like swords,

bend their bows of poison words.a

5They shoot at the innocent from ambush,

they shoot him in a moment and do not fear.

6They resolve on their wicked plan;

they conspire to set snares;

they say: “Who will see us?”

7They devise wicked schemes,

conceal the schemes they devise;

the designs of their hearts are hidden.b

II

8God shoots an arrow at them;

in a moment they are struck down.c

9They are brought down by their own tongues;

all who see them flee.d

10Every person fears and proclaims God’s actions,

they ponder his deeds.

11The righteous rejoices and takes refuge in the LORD;

all the upright give praise.e

* [Psalm 64] A lament of a person overwhelmed by the malice of the wicked who are depicted in the Psalms as the enemies of the righteous (Ps 64:27). When people see God bringing upon the wicked the evil they intended against others, they will know who is the true ruler of the world (Ps 64:810). The final verse is a vow of praise (Ps 64:11).

a. [64:4] Ps 11:2; 37:14; 55:22; 57:5.

b. [64:7] Ps 140:3; Prv 6:14.

c. [64:8] Ps 7:1314; 38:3; Dt 32:42.

d. [64:9] Ps 5:11; 44:14; 52:6.

e. [64:11] Ps 36:8; 57:2.

PSALM 65*

Thanksgiving for God’s Blessings

1For the leader. A psalm of David. A song.

I

2To you we owe our hymn of praise,

O God on Zion;

To you our vows* must be fulfilled,

3*you who hear our prayers.

To you all flesh must comea

4with its burden of wicked deeds.

We are overcome by our sins;

only you can pardon them.b

5Blessed the one whom you will choose and bring

to dwell in your courts.

May we be filled with the good things of your house,

your holy temple!

II

6You answer us with awesome deeds* of justice,

O God our savior,

The hope of all the ends of the earth

and of those far off across the sea.c

7You are robed in power,

you set up the mountains by your might.

8You still the roaring of the seas,d

the roaring of their waves,

the tumult of the peoples.e

9Distant peoples stand in awe of your marvels;

the places of morning and evening you make resound with joy.

10*You visit the earth and water it,

make it abundantly fertile.f

God’s stream* is filled with water;

you supply their grain.

Thus do you prepare it:

11you drench its plowed furrows,

and level its ridges.

With showers you keep it soft,

blessing its young sprouts.

12You adorn the year with your bounty;

your paths* drip with fruitful rain.

13The meadows of the wilderness also drip;

the hills are robed with joy.

14The pastures are clothed with flocks,

the valleys blanketed with grain;

they cheer and sing for joy.g

* [Psalm 65] The community, aware of its unworthiness (Ps 65:34), gives thanks for divine bounty (Ps 65:5), a bounty resulting from God’s creation victory (Ps 65:69). At God’s touch the earth comes alive with vegetation and flocks (Ps 65:1013).

* [65:2] Vows: the Israelites were accustomed to promising sacrifices in the Temple if their prayers were heard.

* [65:3] To you all flesh must come: all must have recourse to God’s mercy.

* [65:6] Awesome deeds: the acts of creating—installing mountains, taming seas, restraining nations (Ps 65:78)—that are visible worldwide (Ps 65:6, 9).

* [65:1014] Apparently a description of the agricultural year, beginning with the first fall rains that soften the hard sun-baked soil (Ps 65:910).

* [65:10] God’s stream: the fertile waters of the earth derive from God’s fertile waters in the heavenly world.

* [65:12] Paths: probably the tracks of God’s storm chariot dropping rain upon earth.

a. [65:3] Is 66:23.

b. [65:4] Ps 32:12; 78:38; Is 1:18.

c. [65:6] Is 66:19.

d. [65:8] Ps 89:10; 107:29; Jb 38:11; Mt 8:26.

e. [65:8] Is 17:12.

f. [65:10] Lv 26:4; Is 30:23, 25; Jl 2:2223.

g. [65:14] Is 44:23.

PSALM 66*

Praise of God, Israel’s Deliverer

1For the leader. A song; a psalm.

I

2Shout joyfully to God, all the earth;

sing of his glorious name;

give him glorious praise.a

3Say to God: “How awesome your deeds!

Before your great strength your enemies cringe.

4All the earth falls in worship before you;b

they sing of you, sing of your name!”

Selah

II

5*Come and see the works of God,

awesome in deeds before the children of Adam.

6He changed the sea to dry land;

through the river they passed on foot.c

There we rejoiced in him,

7who rules by his might forever,

His eyes are fixed upon the nations.

Let no rebel rise to challenge!

Selah

8Bless our God, you peoples;

loudly sound his praise,

9Who has kept us alive

and not allowed our feet to slip.d

10You tested us, O God,

tried us as silver tried by fire.e

11You led us into a snare;

you bound us at the waist as captives.

12*You let captors set foot on our neck;

we went through fire and water;

then you led us out to freedom.f

III

13I will bring burnt offerings* to your house;

to you I will fulfill my vows,

14Which my lips pronounced

and my mouth spoke in my distress.

15Burnt offerings of fatlings I will offer you

and sacrificial smoke of rams;

I will sacrifice oxen and goats.

Selah

16Come and hear, all you who fear God,

while I recount what has been done for me.

17I called to him with my mouth;

praise was upon my tongue.

18Had I cherished evil in my heart,

the Lord would not have heard.

19But God did hear

and listened to my voice in prayer.

20Blessed be God, who did not reject my prayer

and refuse his mercy.

* [Psalm 66] In the first part (Ps 66:112), the community praises God for powerful acts for Israel, both in the past (the exodus from Egypt and the entry into the land [Ps 66:6]) and in the present (deliverance from a recent but unspecified calamity [Ps 66:812]). In the second part (Ps 66:1320), an individual from the rescued community fulfills a vow to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving. As often in thanksgivings, the rescued person steps forward to teach the community what God has done (Ps 66:1620).

* [66:56] cf. the events described in Ex 14:115, 21; Jos 3:114:24 and Ps 114.

* [66:12] You let captors set foot on our neck: lit., “you let men mount our heads.” Conquerors placed their feet on the neck of their enemies as a sign of complete defeat, cf. Jos 10:24. A ceremonial footstool of the Egyptian king Tutankhamen portrays bound and prostrate bodies of enemies ready for the king’s feet on their heads, and one of Tutankhamen’s ceremonial chariots depicts the king as a sphinx standing with paw atop the neck of an enemy.

* [66:13] Burnt offerings: cf. Lv 1:313; 6:14; 22:1720.

a. [66:2] Ps 65:14; Is 44:23.

b. [66:34] Ps 18:45; Mi 7:17.

c. [66:6] Ps 74:15; 114:3; Ex 14:21f; Jos 3:14ff; Is 44:27; 50:2.

d. [66:9] Ps 91:12; 121:3; 1 Sm 2:9; Prv 3:23.

e. [66:10] Is 48:10.

f. [66:12] Is 43:2.

PSALM 67*

Harvest Thanks and Petition

1For the leader; with stringed instruments. A psalm; a song.

I

2May God be gracious to us* and bless us;

may his face shine upon us.a

Selah

3So shall your way be known upon the earth,

your victory among all the nations.b

4May the peoples praise you, God;

may all the peoples praise you!

II

5May the nations be glad and rejoice;

for you judge the peoples with fairness,

you guide the nations upon the earth.c

Selah

6May the peoples praise you, God;

may all the peoples praise you!

III

7The earth has yielded its harvest;

God, our God, blesses us.d

8May God bless us still;

that the ends of the earth may revere him.

* [Psalm 67] A petition for a bountiful harvest (Ps 67:7), made in the awareness that Israel’s prosperity will persuade the nations to worship its God.

* [67:2] May God be gracious to us: the people’s petition echoes the blessing pronounced upon them by the priests, cf. Nm 6:2227.

a. [67:2] Ps 4:7; 31:17; 44:4; 80:4; Dn 9:17.

b. [67:3] Jer 33:9.

c. [67:5] Ps 98:9.

d. [67:7] Ps 85:13; Lv 26:4; Ez 34:27; Hos 2:2324.

PSALM 68*

The Exodus and Conquest, Pledge of Future Help

1For the leader. A psalm of David; a song.

I

2*May God arise;

may his enemies be scattered;

may those who hate him flee before him.a

3As the smoke is dispersed, disperse them;

as wax is melted by fire,

so may the wicked perish before God.b

4Then the just will be glad;

they will rejoice before God;

they will celebrate with great joy.

II

5Sing to God, praise his name;

exalt the rider of the clouds.*

Rejoice before him

whose name is the LORD.c

6Father of the fatherless, defender of widowsd

God in his holy abode,

7God gives a home to the forsaken,

who leads prisoners out to prosperity,

while rebels live in the desert.*

III

8God, when you went forth before your people,e

when you marched through the desert,

Selah

9The earth quaked, the heavens poured,

before God, the One of Sinai,

before God, the God of Israel.

10You poured abundant rains, God,

your inheritance was weak and you repaired it.

11Your creatures dwelt in it;

you will establish it in your goodness for the poor, O God.

IV

12The Lord announced:

“Those bringing news are a great Army.

13The kings of the armies are in desperate flight.f

Every household will share the spoil,

14though you lie down among the sheepfolds,g

you shall be covered with silver as the wings of a dove,

her feathers bright as fine gold.”

15When the Almighty routs the kings there,

it will be as when snow fell on Zalmon.*

V

16You mountain of God, mountain of Bashan,

you rugged mountain, mountain of Bashan,

17You rugged mountains, why look with envy

at the mountain* where God has chosen to dwell,

where the LORD resides forever?h

18God’s chariots were myriad, thousands upon thousands;

from Sinai the Lord entered the holy place.

19You went up to its lofty height;

you took captives, received slaves as tribute,i

even rebels, for the LORD God to dwell.

VI

20Blessed be the Lord day by day,

God, our salvation, who carries us.j

Selah

21Our God is a God who saves;

escape from death is the LORD God’s.

22God will crush the heads of his enemies,

the hairy scalp of the one who walks in sin.k

23The Lord has said:

“Even from Bashan I will fetch them,

fetch them even from the depths of the sea.*

24You will wash your feet in your enemy’s blood;

the tongues of your dogs will lap it up.”l

VII

25*Your procession comes into view, O God,

your procession into the holy place, my God and king.

26The singers go first, the harpists follow;

in their midst girls sound the timbrels.m

27In your choirs, bless God;

LORD, Israel’s fountain.

28In the lead is Benjamin, few in number;

there the princes of Judah, a large throng,

the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali, too.n

VIII

29Summon again, O God, your power,

the divine power you once showed for us,

30From your temple on behalf of Jerusalem,

that kings may bring you tribute.

31Roar at the wild beast of the reeds,*

the herd of mighty bulls, the calves of the peoples;

trampling those who lust after silver

scatter the peoples that delight in war.

32Let bronze be brought from Egypt,o

Ethiopia hurry its hands to God.p

IX

33You kingdoms of the earth, sing to God;q

chant the praises of the Lord,

Selah

34Who rides the heights of the ancient heavens,

Who sends forth his voice as a mighty voice?

35Confess the power of God,

whose majesty protects Israel,

whose power is in the sky.

36Awesome is God in his holy place,

the God of Israel,

who gives power and strength to his people.r

Blessed be God!

* [Psalm 68] The Psalm is extremely difficult because the Hebrew text is badly preserved and the ceremony that it describes is uncertain. The translation assumes the Psalm accompanied the early autumn Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth), which included a procession of the tribes (Ps 68:2528). Israel was being oppressed by a foreign power, perhaps Egypt (Ps 68:3132)—unless Egypt stands for any oppressor. The Psalm may have been composed from segments of ancient poems, which would explain why the transitions are implied rather than explicitly stated. At any rate, Ps 68:2 is based on Nm 10:3536, and Ps 68:89 are derived from Jgs 5:45. The argument develops in nine stanzas (each of three to five poetic lines): 1. confidence that God will destroy Israel’s enemies (Ps 68:24); 2. call to praise God as savior (Ps 68:57); 3. God’s initial rescue of Israel from Egypt (Ps 68:8), the Sinai encounter (Ps 68:9), and the settlement in Canaan (Ps 68:1011); 4. the defeat of the Canaanite kings (Ps 68:1215); 5. the taking of Jerusalem, where Israel’s God will rule the world (Ps 68:1619); 6. praise for God’s past help and for the future interventions that will be modeled on the ancient exodus-conquest (Ps 68:2024); 7. procession at the Feast of Tabernacles (Ps 68:2528); 8. prayer that the defeated enemies bring tribute to the Temple (Ps 68:2932); 9. invitation for all kingdoms to praise Israel’s God (Ps 68:3335).

* [68:2] The opening line alluding to Nm 10:35 makes clear that God’s assistance in the period of the exodus and conquest is the model and assurance of all future divine help.

* [68:5] Exalt the rider of the clouds: God’s intervention is in the imagery of Canaanite myth in which the storm-god mounted the storm clouds to ride to battle. Such theophanies occur throughout the Psalm: Ps 68:23, 810, 1215, 1819, 2224, 2932, 3435. See Dt 33:26; Ps 18:816; Is 19:1.

* [68:7] While rebels live in the desert: rebels must live in the arid desert, whereas God’s people will live in the well-watered land (Ps 68:811).

* [68:15] Zalmon: generally taken as the name of a mountain where snow is visible in winter, perhaps to be located in the Golan Heights or in the mountains of Bashan or Hauran east of the Sea of Galilee.

* [68:17] The mountain: Mount Zion, the site of the Temple.

* [68:23] Even from Bashan…from the depths of the sea: the heights and the depths, the farthest places where enemies might flee.

* [68:2528] Your procession: the procession renews God’s original taking up of residence on Zion, described in Ps 68:1619.

* [68:31] The wild beast of the reeds: probably the Nile crocodile, a symbol for Egypt; see Ps 68:32 and Ez 29:25.

a. [68:2] Nm 10:35.

b. [68:3] Ps 97:5; Jdt 16:15; Wis 5:14; Mi 1:4.

c. [68:5] Ps 18:10; 104:3; Dt 33:26; Is 19:1.

d. [68:67] Ps 103:6; 146:7, 9; Ex 22:2022; Bar 6:37.

e. [68:89] Ps 44:10; 114:4, 7; Jgs 5:45; Heb 12:26.

f. [68:13] Jgs 5:19, 22.

g. [68:14] Jgs 5:16.

h. [68:17] Ps 132:1314; Ez 43:7.

i. [68:19] Ps 47:8; Eph 4:810.

j. [68:20] Ps 34:2; 145:2; Is 46:34; 63:9.

k. [68:22] Dt 32:42.

l. [68:24] Ps 58:11; 1 Kgs 21:19; 22:38; Is 63:16.

m. [68:26] Ps 81:23; 87:7; 149:3; 150:35; 2 Sm 6:5.

n. [68:28] Is 8:23.

o. [68:32] Ez 29:2ff.

p. [68:32] Is 18:7; 45:14.

q. [68:33] Ps 138:4.

r. [68:36] Ps 28:8; 29:11.

PSALM 69*

A Cry of Anguish in Great Distress

1For the leader; according to “Lilies.”* Of David.

I

2Save me, God,

for the waters* have reached my neck.a

3I have sunk into the mire of the deep,

where there is no foothold.

I have gone down to the watery depths;

the flood overwhelms me.b

4I am weary with crying out;

my throat is parched.

My eyes fail,

from looking for my God.c

5More numerous than the hairs of my head

are those who hate me without cause.d

Those who would destroy me are mighty,

my enemies without reason.

Must I now restore

what I did not steal?*

II

6God, you know my folly;

my faults are not hidden from you.

7Let those who wait in hope for you, LORD of hosts,

not be shamed because of me.

Let those who seek you, God of Israel,e

not be disgraced because of me.

8For it is on your account I bear insult,

that disgrace covers my face.f

9I have become an outcast to my kindred,

a stranger to my mother’s children.g

10Because zeal for your house has consumed me,*

I am scorned by those who scorn you.*h

11When I humbled my spirit with fasting,i

this led only to scorn.

12When I clothed myself in sackcloth;

I became a byword for them.

13Those who sit in the gate gossip about me;

drunkards make me the butt of songs.

III

14But I will pray to you, LORD,

at a favorable time.

God, in your abundant kindness, answer me

with your sure deliverance.j

15Rescue me from the mire,k

and do not let me sink.

Rescue me from those who hate me

and from the watery depths.

16Do not let the flood waters overwhelm me,

nor the deep swallow me,

nor the pit close its mouth over me.

17Answer me, LORD, in your generous love;

in your great mercy turn to me.

18Do not hide your face from your servant;

hasten to answer me, for I am in distress.l

19Come and redeem my life;

because of my enemies ransom me.

20You know my reproach, my shame, my disgrace;

before you stand all my foes.

21Insult has broken my heart, and I despair;

I looked for compassion, but there was none,m

for comforters, but found none.

22Instead they gave me poison for my food;

and for my thirst they gave me vinegar.n

IV

23May their own table be a snare for them,

and their communion offerings a trap.o

24Make their eyes so dim they cannot see;

keep their backs ever feeble.

25Pour out your wrath upon them;

let the fury of your anger overtake them.

26Make their camp desolate,

with none to dwell in their tents.p

27For they pursued the one you struck,

added to the pain of the one you wounded.

28Heap punishment upon their punishment;

let them gain from you no vindication.

29May they be blotted from the book of life;

not registered among the just!q

V

30But here I am miserable and in pain;

let your saving help protect me, God,

31*That I may praise God’s name in song

and glorify it with thanksgiving.

32That will please the LORD more than oxen,

more than bulls with horns and hooves:r

33“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;

you who seek God, take heart!s

34For the LORD hears the poor,

and does not spurn those in bondage.

35Let the heaven and the earth praise him,

the seas and whatever moves in them!”

VI

36For God will rescue Zion,

and rebuild the cities of Judah.t

They will dwell there and possess it;

37the descendants of God’s servants will inherit it;

those who love God’s name will dwell in it.u

* [Psalm 69] A lament complaining of suffering in language both metaphorical (Ps 69:23, 1516, the waters of chaos) and literal (Ps 69:4, 5, 9, 1113, exhaustion, alienation from family and community, false accusation). In the second part the psalmist prays with special emphasis that the enemies be punished for all to see (Ps 69:2329). Despite the pain, the psalmist does not lose hope that all be set right, and promises public praise (Ps 69:3036). The Psalm, which depicts the suffering of the innocent just person vividly, is cited often by the New Testament especially in the passion accounts, e.g., Ps 69:5 in Jn 15:25; Ps 69:22 in Mk 15:23, 36 and parallels and in Jn 19:29. The Psalm prays not so much for personal vengeance as for public vindication of God’s justice. There was, at this time, no belief in an afterlife where such vindication could take place. Redress had to take place now, in the sight of all.

* [69:1] “Lilies”: apparently the name of the melody.

* [69:2] Waters: the waters of chaos from which God created the world are a common metaphor for extreme distress, cf. Ps 18:5; 42:8; 88:8; Jon 2:36.

* [69:5] What I did not steal: the psalmist, falsely accused of theft, is being forced to make restitution.

* [69:10] Zeal for your house has consumed me: the psalmist’s commitment to God’s cause brings only opposition, cf. Jn 2:17. I am scorned by those who scorn you: Rom 15:3 uses the verse as an example of Jesus’ unselfishness.

* [69:31] That I may praise God’s name in song: the actual song is cited in Ps 69:3335, the word “praise” in Ps 69:35 referring back to “praise” in Ps 69:31.

a. [69:2] Ps 18:5; 93:34; Jb 22:11.

b. [69:3] Ps 40:2; 124:45.

c. [69:4] Ps 25:15; 119:82; 123:2; 141:8; Is 38:14.

d. [69:5] Ps 40:13; Lam 3:52; Jn 15:25.

e. [69:7] Ps 40:17.

f. [69:8] Jer 15:15.

g. [69:9] Jb 19:1315.

h. [69:10] Ps 119:139; Jn 2:17; Rom 15:3.

i. [69:1113] Ps 109:2425; Jb 30:9; Lam 3:14.

j. [69:14] Is 49:8.

k. [69:1516] Ps 28:1; 30:4; 32:6; 40:3; 88:5; Prv 1:12.

l. [69:18] Ps 102:3; 143:7.

m. [69:21] Lam 1:2.

n. [69:22] Lam 3:15; Mt 27:34, 48; Mk 15:23.

o. [69:23] Rom 11:910.

p. [69:26] Acts 1:20.

q. [69:29] Ps 139:16; Ex 32:32; Is 4:3; Dn 12:1; Mal 3:16; Rev 3:5.

r. [69:32] Ps 40:7; 50:89, 14; 51:18; Is 1:1115; Hos 6:6; Am 5:2122; Heb 10:58.

s. [69:33] Ps 22:27; 35:27; 70:5.

t. [69:36] Is 44:26; Ez 36:10.

u. [69:37] Ps 102:29; Is 65:9.

PSALM 70*

Prayer for Divine Help

1For the leader; of David. For remembrance.

2Graciously rescue me, God!a

Come quickly to help me, LORD!b

3Let those who seek my life

be confused and put to shame.c

Let those who desire my ruin

turn back in disgrace.

4Let those who say “Aha!”d

turn back in their shame.

5But may all who seek you

rejoice and be glad in you,

Those who long for your help

always say, “God be glorified!”e

6I am miserable and poor.

God, come to me quickly!

You are my help and deliverer.

LORD, do not delay!

* [Psalm 70] A lament of a poor and afflicted person (Ps 70:6) who has no resource except God, and who cries out to be saved from the enemy. The Psalm is almost identical to Ps 40:1417.

a. [70:26] Ps 40:1418.

b. [70:2] Ps 71:12.

c. [70:3] Ps 35:4, 26.

d. [70:4] Ps 35:21, 25.

e. [70:5] Ps 35:27.

PSALM 71*

Prayer in Time of Old Age

I

1In you, LORD, I take refuge;a

let me never be put to shame.b

2In your justice rescue and deliver me;

listen to me and save me!

3Be my rock of refuge,

my stronghold to give me safety;

for you are my rock and fortress.c

4My God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked,

from the clutches of the evil and violent.d

5You are my hope, Lord;

my trust, GOD, from my youth.

6On you I have depended since birth;

from my mother’s womb you are my strength;e

my hope in you never wavers.

7*I have become a portent to many,

but you are my strong refuge!

8My mouth shall be filled with your praise,

shall sing your glory every day.

II

9Do not cast me aside in my old age;

as my strength fails, do not forsake me.

10For my enemies speak against me;

they watch and plot against me.f

11They say, “God has abandoned him.

Pursue, and seize him!

No one will come to the rescue!”

12God, be not far from me;

my God, hasten to help me.g

13Bring to a shameful end

those who attack me;

Cover with contempt and scorn

those who seek my ruin.h

14I will always hope in you

and add to all your praise.

15My mouth shall proclaim your just deeds,

day after day your acts of deliverance,

though I cannot number them all.i

16I will speak of the mighty works of the Lord;

O GOD, I will tell of your singular justice.

III

17God, you have taught me from my youth;

to this day I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

18Now that I am old and gray,j

do not forsake me, God,

That I may proclaim your might

to all generations yet to come,k

Your power 19and justice, God,

to the highest heaven.

You have done great things;l

O God, who is your equal?m

20Whatever bitter afflictions you sent me,

you would turn and revive me.

From the watery depths of the earth

once more raise me up.

21Restore my honor;

turn and comfort me,

22That I may praise you with the lyre

for your faithfulness, my God,

And sing to you with the harp,

O Holy One of Israel!

23My lips will shout for joy as I sing your praise;

my soul, too, which you have redeemed.

24Yes, my tongue shall recount

your justice day by day.

For those who sought my ruin

have been shamed and disgraced.

* [Psalm 71] A lament of an old person (Ps 71:9, 18) whose afflictions are interpreted by enemies as a divine judgment (Ps 71:11). The first part of the Psalm pleads for help (Ps 71:14) on the basis of a hope learned from a lifetime’s experience of God; the second part describes the menace (Ps 71:913) yet remains buoyant (Ps 71:1416); the third develops the theme of hope and praise.

* [71:7] A portent to many: the afflictions of the sufferer are taken as a manifestation of God’s anger, cf. Dt 28:46; Ps 31:12.

a. [71:13] Ps 31:24.

b. [71:1] Ps 25:2.

c. [71:3] Ps 18:3.

d. [71:4] Ps 140:2.

e. [71:6] Ps 22:11.

f. [71:10] Ps 3:2; 22:8.

g. [71:12] Ps 22:20.

h. [71:13] Ps 35:4; 40:15; 70:3.

i. [71:15] Ps 35:28.

j. [71:18] Is 46:34.

k. [71:18] Ps 22:3132; 48:1415; 145:4.

l. [71:19] Ps 72:18.

m. [71:19] Ps 86:8.

PSALM 72*

A Prayer for the King

1Of Solomon.a

I

2O God, give your judgment to the king;

your justice to the king’s son;*

That he may govern your people with justice,

your oppressed with right judgment,b

3That the mountains may yield their bounty for the people,

and the hills great abundance,c

4That he may defend the oppressed among the people,

save the children of the poor and crush the oppressor.

II

5May they fear you with the sun,

and before the moon, through all generations.d

6May he be like rain coming down upon the fields,

like showers watering the earth,e

7That abundance may flourish in his days,

great bounty, till the moon be no more.

III

8*May he rule from sea to sea,

from the river to the ends of the earth.f

9May his foes kneel before him,

his enemies lick the dust.g

10May the kings of Tarshish and the islands* bring tribute,

the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.h

11May all kings bow before him,

all nations serve him.i

12For he rescues the poor when they cry out,

the oppressed who have no one to help.

13He shows pity to the needy and the poorj

and saves the lives of the poor.

14From extortion and violence he redeems them,

for precious is their blood* in his sight.

IV

15Long may he live, receiving gold from Sheba,

prayed for without cease, blessed day by day.

16*May wheat abound in the land,

flourish even on the mountain heights.

May his fruit be like that of Lebanon,

and flourish in the city like the grasses of the land.k

17May his name be forever;

as long as the sun, may his name endure.l

May the tribes of the earth give blessings with his name;*

may all the nations regard him as favored.m

18*Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel,

who alone does wonderful deeds.n

19Blessed be his glorious name forever;

may he fill all the earth with his glory.o

Amen and amen.

20The end of the psalms of David, son of Jesse.

* [Psalm 72] A royal Psalm in which the Israelite king, as the representative of God, is the instrument of divine justice (Ps 72:14, 1214) and blessing (Ps 72:57, 1517) for the whole world. The king is human, giving only what he has received from God. Hence intercession must be made for him. The extravagant language is typical of oriental royal courts.

* [72:2] The king…the king’s son: the crown prince is the king’s son; the prayer envisages the dynasty.

* [72:8] From sea to sea…the ends of the earth: the boundaries of the civilized world known at the time: from the Mediterranean Sea (the western sea) to the Persian Gulf (the eastern sea), and from the Euphrates (the river) to the islands and lands of southwestern Europe, “the ends of the earth.” The words may also have a mythic nuance—the earth surrounded by cosmic waters, hence everywhere.

* [72:10] Tarshish and the islands: the far west (Ps 48:6); Arabia and Seba: the far south (1 Kgs 10:1).

* [72:14] Their blood: cf. Ps 116:15.

* [72:16] The translation of the difficult Hebrew is tentative.

* [72:17] May the tribes of the earth give blessings with his name: an echo of the promise to the ancestors (Gn 12:3; 26:4; 28:14), suggesting that the monarchy in Israel fulfilled the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

* [72:1819] A doxology marking the end of Book II of the Psalter.

a. [72:1] Ps 99:4; Jer 23:5.

b. [72:2] Prv 31:89.

c. [72:3] Is 52:7; 55:12.

d. [72:5] Ps 89:3738; Jer 31:35.

e. [72:6] Dt 32:2; Is 45:8; Hos 6:3.

f. [72:8] Dt 11:24; Zec 9:10.

g. [72:9] Is 49:23; Mi 7:17.

h. [72:10] Ps 68:30; Is 60:56; 1 Kgs 10:1ff.

i. [72:11] Ps 47:8.

j. [72:13] Prv 31:9.

k. [72:16] Is 27:6; Hos 14:68; Am 9:13.

l. [72:17] Ps 21:7.

m. [72:17] Gn 12:3; 22:18; 26:4; Zec 8:13.

n. [72:18] Ps 41:14; 89:53; 106:48; 136:4.

o. [72:19] Ps 57:5; Nm 14:21.

Third Book—Psalms 7389

PSALM 73*

The Trial of the Just

1A psalm of Asaph.

How good God is to the upright,

to those who are pure of heart!

I

2But, as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;

my steps had nearly slipped,

3Because I was envious of the arrogant

when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.a

4For they suffer no pain;

their bodies are healthy and sleek.

5They are free of the burdens of life;

they are not afflicted like others.

6Thus pride adorns them as a necklace;

violence clothes them as a robe.

7Out of such blindness comes sin;

evil thoughts flood their hearts.b

8They scoff and spout their malice;

from on high they utter threats.c

9*They set their mouths against the heavens,

their tongues roam the earth.

10*So my people turn to them

and drink deeply of their words.

11They say, “Does God really know?”

“Does the Most High have any knowledge?”d

12Such, then, are the wicked,

always carefree, increasing their wealth.

II

13Is it in vain that I have kept my heart pure,

washed my hands in innocence?e

14For I am afflicted day after day,

chastised every morning.

15Had I thought, “I will speak as they do,”

I would have betrayed this generation of your children.

16Though I tried to understand all this,

it was too difficult for me,

17Till I entered the sanctuary of God

and came to understand their end.*

III

18You set them, indeed, on a slippery road;

you hurl them down to ruin.

19How suddenly they are devastated;

utterly undone by disaster!

20They are like a dream after waking, Lord,

dismissed like shadows when you arise.f

IV

21Since my heart was embittered

and my soul deeply wounded,

22I was stupid and could not understand;

I was like a brute beast in your presence.

23Yet I am always with you;

you take hold of my right hand.g

24With your counsel you guide me,

and at the end receive me with honor.*

25Whom else have I in the heavens?

None beside you delights me on earth.

26Though my flesh and my heart fail,

God is the rock of my heart, my portion forever.

27But those who are far from you perish;

you destroy those unfaithful to you.

28As for me, to be near God is my good,

to make the Lord GOD my refuge.

I shall declare all your works

in the gates of daughter Zion.*

* [Psalm 73] The opening verse of this probing poem (cf. Ps 37; 49) is actually the psalmist’s hard-won conclusion from personal experience: God is just and good! The psalmist describes near loss of faith (Ps 73:23), occasioned by observing the wicked who blasphemed God with seeming impunity (Ps 73:412). Feeling abandoned despite personal righteousness, the psalmist could not bear the injustice until an experience of God’s nearness in the Temple made clear how deluded the wicked were. Their sudden destruction shows their impermanence (Ps 73:1320). The just can thus be confident, for, as the psalmist now knows, their security is from God (Ps 73:1, 2328).

* [73:9] They set their mouths against the heavens: in an image probably derived from mythic stories of half-divine giants, the monstrous speech of the wicked is likened to enormous jaws gaping wide, devouring everything in sight.

* [73:10] The Hebrew is obscure.

* [73:17] And came to understand their end: the psalmist receives a double revelation in the Temple: 1) the end of the wicked comes unexpectedly (Ps 73:1820); 2) God is with me.

* [73:24] And at the end receive me with honor: a perhaps deliberately enigmatic verse. It is understood by some commentators as reception into heavenly glory, hence the traditional translation, “receive me into glory.” The Hebrew verb can indeed refer to mysterious divine elevation of a righteous person into God’s domain: Enoch in Gn 5:24; Elijah in 2 Kgs 2:1112; the righteous psalmist in Ps 49:16. Personal resurrection in the Old Testament, however, is clearly attested only in the second century B.C. The verse is perhaps best left unspecified as a reference to God’s nearness and protection.

* [73:28] In the gates of daughter Zion: this reading follows the tradition of the Septuagint and Vulgate.

a. [73:3] Ps 37:1; Jb 21:13.

b. [73:7] Jb 15:27.

c. [73:8] Ps 17:10.

d. [73:11] Ps 10:11; Jb 22:13.

e. [73:13] Ps 26:6; Mal 3:14.

f. [73:20] Jb 20:8.

g. [73:23] Ps 121:5.

PSALM 74*

Prayer at the Destruction of the Temple

1A maskil of Asaph.

I

Why, God, have you cast us off forever?*a

Why does your anger burn against the sheep of your pasture?b

2Remember your people, whom you acquired of old,

the tribe you redeemed as your own heritage,

Mount Zion where you dwell.c

3Direct your steps toward the utter destruction,

everything the enemy laid waste in the sanctuary.

4Your foes roared triumphantly in the place of your assembly;

they set up their own tokens of victory.

5They hacked away like a forester gathering boughs,

swinging his ax in a thicket of trees.

6They smashed all its engraved work,

struck it with ax and pick.

7They set your sanctuary on fire,

profaned your name’s abode by razing it to the ground.d

8They said in their hearts, “We will destroy them all!

Burn all the assembly-places of God in the land!”

9*Even so we have seen no signs for us,

there is no prophet any more,e

no one among us who knows for how long.

10How long, O God, will the enemy jeer?f

Will the enemy revile your name forever?

11Why draw back your hand,

why hold back your right hand within your bosom?*

II

12*Yet you, God, are my king from of old,

winning victories throughout the earth.

13You stirred up the sea by your might;g

you smashed the heads of the dragons on the waters.h

14You crushed the heads of Leviathan,i

gave him as food to the sharks.

15You opened up springs and torrents,

brought dry land out of the primeval waters.*

16Yours the day and yours the night too;

you set the moon and sun in place.

17You fixed all the limits of the earth;

summer and winter you made.j

18Remember how the enemy has jeered, LORD,

how a foolish people has reviled your name.

19Do not surrender to wild animals those who praise you;

do not forget forever the life of your afflicted.

20Look to your covenant,

for the recesses of the land

are full of the haunts of violence.

21Let not the oppressed turn back in shame;

may the poor and needy praise your name.

22Arise, God, defend your cause;

remember the constant jeering of the fools.

23Do not forget the clamor of your foes,

the unceasing uproar of your enemies.

* [Psalm 74] A communal lament sung when the enemy invaded the Temple; it would be especially appropriate at the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. Israel’s God is urged to look upon the ruined sanctuary and remember the congregation who worshiped there (Ps 74:111). People and sanctuary are bound together; an attack on Zion is an attack on Israel. In the second half of the poem, the community brings before God the story of their origins—their creation (Ps 74:1217)—in order to move God to reenact that deed of creation now. Will God allow a lesser power to destroy the divine project (Ps 74:1823)?

* [74:1] Forever: the word implies that the disaster is already of long duration, cf. Ps 74:9 and note.

* [74:9] Even so we have seen no signs…: ancients often asked prophets to say for how long a divine punishment was to last, cf. 2 Sm 24:13. Here no prophet has arisen to indicate the duration.

* [74:11] Why hold back…within your bosom: i.e., idle beneath your cloak.

* [74:1217] Comparable Canaanite literature describes the storm-god’s victory over all-encompassing Sea and its allies (dragons and Leviathan) and the subsequent peaceful arrangement of the universe, sometimes through the placement of paired cosmic elements (day and night, sun and moon), cf. Ps 89:1213. The Psalm apparently equates the enemies attacking the Temple with the destructive cosmic forces already tamed by God. Why then are those forces now raging untamed against your own people?

* [74:15] Waters: lit., “rivers” (cf. Ps 24:7; Isa 50:2) upon which, or from which, in primordial times the earth is created.

a. [74:1] Ps 10:1; 44:24; 77:8.

b. [74:1] Ps 80:5.

c. [74:2] Ps 68:17; 132:13; Ex 15:17; Jer 10:16; 51:19.

d. [74:7] Ps 79:1; Is 64:10.

e. [74:9] Lam 2:9.

f. [74:10] Ps 89:47.

g. [74:13] Ps 89:10.

h. [74:13] Is 51:910.

i. [74:14] Jb 3:8; 40:25; Is 27:1.

j. [74:1617] Gn 1.

PSALM 75*

God the Judge of the World

1For the leader. Do not destroy! A psalm of Asaph; a song.

I

2We thank you, God, we give thanks;

we call upon your name,

we declare your wonderful deeds.

[You said:]*

3“I will choose the time;

I will judge fairly.

4Though the earth and all its inhabitants quake,

I make steady its pillars.”a

Selah

II

5So I say to the boastful: “Do not boast!”b

to the wicked: “Do not raise your horns!*

6Do not raise your horns against heaven!

Do not speak with a stiff neck!”c

7For judgment comes not from east or from west,

not from the wilderness or the mountains,d

8But from God who decides,

who brings some low and raises others high.e

9Yes, a cup* is in the LORD’s hand,

foaming wine, fully spiced.*

When God pours it out,

they will drain it even to the dregs;

all the wicked of the earth will drink.f

10But I will rejoice forever;

I will sing praise to the God of Jacob,

11g[Who has said:]

“I will cut off all the horns of the wicked,

but the horns of the righteous will be exalted.”

* [Psalm 75] The psalmist gives thanks and rejoices (Ps 75:2, 10) for the direct intervention of God, which is promised in two oracles (Ps 75:34, 11). Expecting that divine intervention, the psalmist warns evildoers to repent (Ps 75:59).

* [75:2] You said: supplied for clarity here and in Ps 75:11. The translation assumes in both places that the psalmist is citing an oracle of God.

* [75:5] Do not raise your horns!: the horn is the symbol of strength; to raise one’s horn is to exalt one’s own power as Ps 75:5 explains.

* [75:9] A cup: “the cup of God’s wrath” is the punishment inflicted on the wicked, cf. Is 51:17; Jer 25:1529; 49:12; Eze 23:3133. Spiced: lit., “a mixed drink”; spices or drugs were added to wine, cf. Prv 9:2, 5.

a. [75:4] Ps 46:3; 60:4; 93:1; 96:10; 104:5; 1 Sm 2:8; Is 24:19.

b. [75:5] 1 Sm 2:3; Zec 2:14.

c. [75:6] Jb 15:25.

d. [75:7] Mt 24:2327.

e. [75:8] Jb 5:11; 1 Sm 2:7.

f. [75:9] Ps 60:5; Jb 21:20; Is 51:17, 2122; Jer 25:15ff; Hab 2:16.

g. [75:11] Ps 92:11.

PSALM 76*

God Defends Zion

1For the leader; a psalm with stringed instruments. A song of Asaph.

I

2Renowned in Judah is God,a

whose name is great in Israel.

3On Salem* is God’s tent, his shelter on Zion.

4There the flashing arrows were shattered,

shield, sword, and weapons of war.b

Selah

II

5Terrible and awesome are you,

stronger than the ancient mountains.*

6Despoiled are the stouthearted;

they sank into sleep;

the hands of all the men of valor have failed.c

7At your roar, O God of Jacob,

chariot and steed lay still.

8You, terrible are you;

who can stand before you and your great anger?d

9From the heavens you pronounced sentence;

the earth was terrified and reduced to silence,

10When you arose, O God, for judgment

to save the afflicted of the land.

Selah

11Surely the wrath of man will give you thanks;

the remnant of your furor will keep your feast.

III

12Make and keep vows to the LORD your God.e

May all around him bring gifts to the one to be feared,

13Who checks the spirit of princes,

who is fearful to the kings of earth.

* [Psalm 76] A song glorifying Zion, the mountain of Jerusalem where God destroyed Israel’s enemies. Zion is thus the appropriate site to celebrate the victory (Ps 76:34), a victory described in parallel scenes (Ps 76:57, 811). Israel is invited to worship its powerful patron deity (Ps 76:12).

* [76:3] Salem: an ancient name for Jerusalem, used here perhaps on account of its allusion to the Hebrew word for peace, shalom, cf. Gn 14:18; Heb 7:13.

* [76:5] Ancient mountains: conjectural translation of a difficult Hebrew phrase on the basis of Gn 49:26. The mountains are part of the structure of the universe (Ps 89:1213).

a. [76:2] Heb 3:2.

b. [76:4] Ps 46:10; 122:69.

c. [76:6] 2 Kgs 19:35; Jer 51:39; Na 3:18.

d. [76:8] Dt 7:21; 1 Sm 6:20; Na 1:6; Mal 3:2.

e. [76:12] Nm 30:3.

PSALM 77*

Confidence in God During National Distress

1For the leader; According to Jeduthun. A psalm of Asaph.

I

2I cry aloud to God,

I cry to God to hear me.

3On the day of my distress I seek the Lord;

by night my hands are stretched out unceasingly;a

I refuse to be consoled.

4When I think of God, I groan;

as I meditate, my spirit grows faint.b

Selah

5You have kept me from closing my eyes in sleep;

I am troubled and cannot speak.

6I consider the days of old;

the years long past 7I remember.c

At night I ponder in my heart;

and as I meditate, my spirit probes:

8“Will the Lord reject us forever,d

never again show favor?

9Has God’s mercy ceased forever?

The promise to go unfulfilled for future ages?

10Has God forgotten how to show mercy,

in anger withheld his compassion?”

Selah

11* I conclude: “My sorrow is this,

the right hand of the Most High has abandoned us.”e

II

12*I will recall the deeds of the LORD;

yes, recall your wonders of old.f

13I will ponder all your works;

on your exploits I will meditate.

14Your way, God, is holy;

what god is as great as our God?g

15You are the God who does wonders;

among the peoples you have revealed your might.h

16With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,

the children of Jacob and Joseph.i

Selah

17The waters saw you, God;

the waters saw you and lashed about,

even the deeps of the sea* trembled.j

18The clouds poured down their rains;

the thunderheads rumbled;

your arrows flashed back and forth.k

19The thunder of your chariot wheels resounded;

your lightning lit up the world;

the earth trembled and quaked.l

20Through the sea was your way;

your path, through the mighty waters,

though your footsteps were unseen.m

21You led your people like a flock

by the hand of Moses and Aaron.n

* [Psalm 77] A community lament in which the speaker (“I”) describes the anguish of Israel at God’s silence when its very existence is at stake (Ps 77:211). In response the speaker recites the story of how God brought the people into existence (Ps 77:1220). The question is thus posed to God: Will you allow the people you created to be destroyed?

* [77:11] I conclude: lit., “I said.” The psalmist, after pondering the present distress and God’s promises to Israel, has decided that God has forgotten the people.

* [77:12] I will recall: the verb sometimes means to make present the great deeds of Israel’s past by reciting them, cf. Ps 78:42; 105:5; 106:7.

* [77:17] The deeps of the sea: Heb. tehom; the same word is used in Gn 1:2, where it alludes to the primeval seas which in ancient Semitic cosmography are tamed by God in creation, cf. Ps 74:1217; 89:1213 and notes.

a. [77:3] Ps 50:15; 88:2.

b. [77:4] Jon 2:8.

c. [77:7] Ps 143:5; Dt 32:7.

d. [77:810] Ps 13:2; 44:24; 74:1; 80:5; 89:47; Lam 3:31.

e. [77:11] Ps 17:7; 18:36; Ex 15:6, 12.

f. [77:12] Ps 143:5.

g. [77:14] Ps 18:31; Ex 15:11.

h. [77:15] Ps 86:10; 89:6.

i. [77:16] Gn 46:2627; Neh 1:10.

j. [77:17] Ps 18:16; 114:3; Na 1:4.

k. [77:18] Ps 18:1415; 29; 144:6; Jb 37:34; Wis 5:21; Hab 3:1011; Zec 9:14.

l. [77:19] Ps 18:8; 97:4; 99:1; Ex 19:16; Jgs 5:45.

m. [77:20] Neh 9:11; Wis 14:3; Is 51:10; Hab 3:15.

n. [77:21] Ps 78:52; Is 63:1114; Hos 12:14; Mi 6:4.

PSALM 78*

A New Beginning in Zion and David

1A maskil of Asaph.

I

Attend, my people, to my teaching;

listen to the words of my mouth.

2I will open my mouth in a parable,*

unfold the puzzling events of the past.a

3What we have heard and know;

things our ancestors have recounted to us.b

4We do not keep them from our children;

we recount them to the next generation,

The praiseworthy deeds of the LORD and his strength,

the wonders that he performed.c

5God made a decree in Jacob,

established a law in Israel:d

Which he commanded our ancestors,

they were to teach their children;

6That the next generation might come to know,

children yet to be born.e

In turn they were to recount them to their children,

7that they too might put their confidence in God,

And not forget God’s deeds,

but keep his commandments.

8They were not to be like their ancestors,

a rebellious and defiant generation,f

A generation whose heart was not constant,g

and whose spirit was not faithful to God.

9The ranks of Ephraimite archers,*

retreated on the day of battle.

10They did not keep God’s covenant;

they refused to walk according to his law.

11They forgot his deeds,

the wonders that he had shown them.

II

A

12In the sight of their ancestors God did wonders,

in the land of Egypt, the plain of Zoan.*h

13He split the sea and led them across,i

making the waters stand like walls.j

14He led them with a cloud by day,

all night with the light of fire.k

15He split rocks in the desert,

gave water to drink, abundant as the deeps of the sea.l

16He made streams flow from crags,

caused rivers of water to flow down.

B

17But they went on sinning against him,

rebelling against the Most High in the desert.m

18They tested God in their hearts,

demanding the food they craved.n

19They spoke against God, and said,

“Can God spread a table in the wilderness?o

20True, when he struck the rock,

water gushed forth,

the wadies flooded.

But can he also give bread,

or provide meat to his people?”

C

21The LORD heard and grew angry;p

fire blazed up against Jacob;

anger flared up against Israel.

22For they did not believe in God,

did not trust in his saving power.

23*So he commanded the clouds above;

and opened the doors of heaven.

24God rained manna upon them for food;

grain from heaven he gave them.q

25 Man ate the bread of the angels;*

food he sent in abundance.

26He stirred up the east wind in the skies;

by his might God brought on the south wind.

27He rained meat upon them like dust,

winged fowl like the sands of the sea,

28They fell down in the midst of their camp,

all round their dwellings.

29They ate and were well filled;

he gave them what they had craved.

30But while they still wanted more,

and the food was still in their mouths,

31God’s anger flared up against them,

and he made a slaughter of their strongest,

laying low the youth of Israel.r

32In spite of all this they went on sinning,

they did not believe in his wonders.

D

33God ended their days abruptly,

their years in sudden death.

34When he slew them, they began to seek him;

they again looked for God.s

35They remembered* that God was their rock,

God Most High, their redeemer.

36But they deceived him with their mouths,

lied to him with their tongues.

37Their hearts were not constant toward him;

they were not faithful to his covenant.t

38*But God being compassionate forgave their sin;

he did not utterly destroy them.

Time and again he turned back his anger,

unwilling to unleash all his rage.u

39He remembered that they were flesh,

a breath that passes on and does not return.

III

A

40How often they rebelled against God in the wilderness,

grieved him in the wasteland.

41Again and again they tested God,

provoked the Holy One of Israel.

42They did not remember his power,

the day he redeemed them from the foe,v

43*When he performed his signs in Egypt,

his wonders in the plain of Zoan.w

44God turned their rivers to blood;

their streams they could not drink.

45He sent swarms of insects that devoured them,x

frogs that destroyed them.

46He gave their harvest to the caterpillar,

the fruits of their labor to the locust.

47He killed their vines with hail,y

their sycamores with frost.

48He exposed their cattle to plague,

their flocks to pestilence.z

49He let loose against them the heat of his anger,

wrath, fury, and distress,

a band of deadly messengers.

50He cleared a path for his anger;

he did not spare them from death,

but delivered their animals to the plague.

51He struck all the firstborn of Egypt,a

the first fruits of their vigor in the tents of Ham.

52Then God led forth his people like sheep,

guided them like a flock through the wilderness.b

53He led them on secure and unafraid,

while the sea enveloped their enemies.c

54And he brought them to his holy mountain,

the hill his right hand had won.d

55He drove out the nations before them,

allotted them as their inherited portion,

and settled in their tents the tribes of Israel.

B

56But they tested and rebelled against God Most High,

his decrees they did not observe.

57They turned disloyal, faithless like their ancestors;

they proved false like a slack bow.

58They enraged him with their high places,

and with their idols provoked him* to jealous anger.e

C

59God heard and grew angry;

he rejected Israel completely.

60He forsook the shrine at Shiloh,*f

the tent he set up among human beings.

61He gave up his might into captivity,

his glorious ark into the hands of the foe.g

62God delivered his people to the sword;

he was enraged against his heritage.

63Fire consumed their young men;

their young women heard no wedding songs.h

64Their priests fell by the sword;

their widows made no lamentation.

D

65Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,

like a warrior shouting from the effects of wine.

66He put his foes to flight;

everlasting shame he dealt them.

67He rejected the tent of Joseph,

chose not the tribe of Ephraim.

68*God chose the tribe of Judah,

Mount Zion which he loved.i

69He built his shrine like the heavens,

like the earth which he founded forever.

70He chose David his servant,

took him from the sheepfolds.j

71From tending ewes God brought him,

to shepherd Jacob, his people,

Israel, his heritage.k

72He shepherded them with a pure heart;

with skilled hands he guided them.

* [Psalm 78] A recital of history to show that past generations did not respond to God’s gracious deeds and were punished by God making the gift into a punishment. Will Israel fail to appreciate God’s act—the choosing of Zion and of David? The tripartite introduction invites Israel to learn the lessons hidden in its traditions (Ps 78:14, 57, 811); each section ends with the mention of God’s acts. There are two distinct narratives of approximately equal length: the wilderness events (Ps 78:1239) and the movement from Egypt to Canaan (Ps 78:4072). The structure of both is parallel: gracious act (Ps 78:1216, 4055), rebellion (Ps 78:1720, 5658), divine punishment (Ps 78:2131, 5964), God’s readiness to forgive and begin anew (Ps 78:3239, 6572). While the Psalm has been thought to reflect the reunification program of either King Hezekiah (late eighth century) or King Josiah (late seventh century) in that the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim, Joseph) is especially invited to accept Zion and the Davidic king, a postexilic setting is also possible. Notable is the inclusion of the David-Zion tradition into the history of Israel recounted in the sources of the Pentateuch.

* [78:2] Parable: Hebrew mashal literally refers to some sort of relationship of comparison and can signify a story whose didactic potential becomes clear in the telling, as here in the retrospective examination of the history of Israel. Mt 13:35 cites the verse to explain Jesus’ use of parables.

* [78:9] Ephraimite archers: Ephraim was the most important tribe of the Northern Kingdom. Its military defeat (here unspecified) demonstrates its infidelity to God, who otherwise would have protected it.

* [78:12, 43] Zoan: a city on the arm of the Nile, a former capital of Egypt.

* [78:2331] On the manna and the quail, see Ex 16 and Nm 11. Unlike Ex 16, here both manna and quail are instruments of punishment, showing that a divine gift can become deadly because of Israel’s apostasy.

* [78:25] Bread of the angels: The translation “angels” comports with the supernatural origin of the manna, though the Hebrew lechem ‘abbirim is more literally translated as “bread of the strong ones” or “bread of the mighty.” In the context of the manna event, this phrase cannot possibly mean the Israelites or any human being.

* [78:35] Remembered: invoked God publicly in worship. Their words were insincere (Ps 78:36).

* [78:38] God is always ready to forgive and begin anew, as in choosing Zion and David (Ps 78:6572).

* [78:4355] Ex 712 records ten plagues. Here there are six divine attacks upon Egypt; the seventh climactic act is God’s bringing Israel to the holy land.

* [78:58] Provoked him: lit., “made him jealous.”

* [78:60] Shiloh: an important shrine in the north prior to Jerusalem. Despite its holy status, it was destroyed (Ps 78:6064; cf. Jer 7:12, 14).

* [78:68, 70] God’s ultimate offer of mercy to the sinful, helpless people is Zion and the Davidic king.

a. [78:2] Ps 49:5; Mt 13:35.

b. [78:3] Ps 44:2.

c. [78:4] Ex 10:2; Dt 4:9; Jb 8:8.

d. [78:5] Ps 147:19; Dt 33:4.

e. [78:6] Ps 22:3132; Dt 4:9; 6:7.

f. [78:8] Dt 31:27; 32:5.

g. [78:8] Ps 95:10.

h. [78:12] Ps 106:7.

i. [78:1314] Ps 136:13; Ex 1415.

j. [78:13] Ex 14:22; 15:8.

k. [78:14] Ps 105:39; Ex 13:21; Wis 18:3.

l. [78:15] Ps 105:41; 114:8; Ex 17:17; Nm 20:213; Dt 8:15; Wis 11:4; Is 48:21.

m. [78:17] Dt 9:7; Ez 20:13.

n. [78:18] Ps 106:14; Ex 16:236.

o. [78:19] Ps 23:5.

p. [78:21f] Nm 11; Dt 32:22.

q. [78:24] Ps 105:40; Ex 16:4, 14; Dt 8:3; Wis 16:20; Jn 6:31.

r. [78:31] Nm 14:29.

s. [78:34] Dt 32:15, 18; Is 26:16.

t. [78:37] Ps 95:10; Is 29:13.

u. [78:38] Ps 85:4; Ex 32:14; Is 48:9; Ez 20:22.

v. [78:42] Ps 106:21.

w. [78:43f] Ps 105:2736; 135:9; Ex 7:1411:10; 12:2936; Wis 1618.

x. [78:45] Ex 8:17.

y. [78:47] Wis 16:16.

z. [78:48] Ex 9:3.

a. [78:51] Ps 105:36; 136:10; Ex 12:29.

b. [78:52] Ps 77:21.

c. [78:53] Ex 14:2628.

d. [78:54] Ex 15:17.

e. [78:58] Dt 32:16, 21.

f. [78:60] Jos 18:1; 1 Sm 1:3; Jer 7:12; 26:6.

g. [78:61] 1 Sm 4:11, 22.

h. [78:63] Dt 32:25; Jer 7:34.

i. [78:68] Ps 48:2; 50:2; Lam 2:15.

j. [78:70] Ps 89:21; Ez 34:23; 37:24; 2 Chr 6:6.

k. [78:71] 1 Sm 16:1113; 2 Sm 7:8.

PSALM 79*

A Prayer for Jerusalem

1A psalm of Asaph.

I

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance;

they have defiled your holy temple;

they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.a

2They have left the corpses of your servants

as food for the birds of the sky,

the flesh of those devoted to you for the beasts of the earth.b

3They have poured out their blood like water

all around Jerusalem,

and no one is left to do the burying.c

4We have become the reproach of our neighbors,

the scorn and derision of those around us.d

II

5How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever?

Will your jealous anger keep burning like fire?e

6Pour out your wrath on nations that do not recognize you,

on kingdoms that do not call on your name,f

7For they have devoured Jacob,

laid waste his dwelling place.

8Do not remember against us the iniquities of our forefathers;

let your compassion move quickly ahead of us,

for we have been brought very low.g

III

9Help us, God our savior,

on account of the glory of your name.

Deliver us, pardon our sins

for your name’s sake.h

10Why should the nations say,

“Where is their God?”i

Before our eyes make known to the nations

that you avenge the blood of your servants which has been poured out.j

IV

11Let the groaning of the imprisoned come in before you;

in accord with the greatness of your arm

preserve those doomed to die.k

12Turn back sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors

the insult with which they insulted you, Lord.l

13Then we, your people, the sheep of your pasture,

will give thanks to you forever;

from generation to generation

we will recount your praise.

* [Psalm 79] A communal lament complaining that the nations have defiled the Temple and murdered the holy people, leaving their corpses unburied (Ps 79:14). The occasion is probably the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army in 587 B.C. The people ask how long the withdrawal of divine favor will last (Ps 79:5), pray for action now (Ps 79:67), and admit that their own sins have brought about the catastrophe (Ps 79:89). They seek to persuade God to act for reasons of honor: the nations who do not call upon the Name are running amok (Ps 79:6); the divine honor is compromised (Ps 79:1, 10, 12); God’s own servants suffer (Ps 79:24, 11).

a. [79:1] 2 Kgs 25:910; Lam 1:10.

b. [79:2] Jer 7:33.

c. [79:3] 1 Mc 7:17; Jer 14:16.

d. [79:4] Ps 44:14; 80:7; 123:34; Jb 12:4; Dn 9:16; Zep 2:8.

e. [79:5] Ps 13:2; 44:24; 89:47; Dt 4:24.

f. [79:6] Ps 14:4; Jer 10:25.

g. [79:8] Ps 142:7.

h. [79:9] Ez 20:44; 36:22.

i. [79:10] Ps 42:4; 115:2; Jl 2:17.

j. [79:10] Jl 4:21.

k. [79:11] Ps 102:21.

l. [79:12] Ps 89:5152.

PSALM 80*

Prayer to Restore God’s Vineyard

1For the leader; according to “Lilies.” Eduth.* A psalm of Asaph.

I

2O Shepherd of Israel, lend an ear,

you who guide Joseph like a flock!

Seated upon the cherubim, shine fortha

3upon Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.

Stir up your power, and come to save us.

4bO God, restore us;

light up your face and we shall be saved.

II

5LORD of hosts,

how long will you smolder in anger

while your people pray?c

6You have fed them the bread of tears,

made them drink tears in great measure.*d

7You have left us to be fought over by our neighbors;

our enemies deride us.e

8O God of hosts, restore us;

light up your face and we shall be saved.

III

9You brought a vine* out of Egypt;

you drove out nations and planted it.

10You cleared out what was before it;

it took deep root and filled the land.

11The mountains were covered by its shadow,

the cedars of God by its branches.

12 It sent out its boughs as far as the sea,*

its shoots as far as the river.*

13Why have you broken down its walls,

so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?f

14The boar from the forest strips the vine;

the beast of the field feeds upon it.g

15Turn back again, God of hosts;

look down from heaven and see;

Visit this vine,

16the stock your right hand has planted,

and the son* whom you made strong for yourself.

17Those who would burn or cut it down—

may they perish at your rebuke.

18May your hand be with the man on your right,*

with the son of man whom you made strong for yourself.

19Then we will not withdraw from you;

revive us, and we will call on your name.

20LORD God of hosts, restore us;

light up your face and we shall be saved.

* [Psalm 80] A community lament in time of military defeat. Using the familiar image of Israel as a vineyard, the people complain that God has broken down the wall protecting the once splendid vine brought from Egypt (Ps 80:914). They pray that God will again turn to them and use the Davidic king to lead them to victory (Ps 80:1519).

* [80:1] Lilies…. Eduth: the first term is probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung; the second is unexplained.

* [80:6] Both the Septuagint and the Vulgate translate this verse in the first person, i.e., “You have fed us the bread of tears.”

* [80:9] A vine: a frequent metaphor for Israel, cf. Is 5:17; 27:25; Jer 2:21; Hos 10:1; Mt 21:33.

* [80:12] The sea: the Mediterranean. The river: the Euphrates, cf. Gn 15:18; 1 Kgs 5:1. The terms may also have a mythic nuance—the seas that surround the earth; sea and river are sometimes paralleled in poetry.

* [80:16] The Vulgate and Septuagint use “son of man.”

* [80:18] The man on your right: the Davidic king who will lead the army in battle.

a. [80:2] Ps 23:13; 95:7; 100:3; Gn 48:15; Ex 25:22; 1 Sm 4:4; 2 Sm 6:2; Mi 7:14.

b. [80:4, 8, 20] Ps 4:7; 31:17; 67:2; 85:5; Nm 6:25; Dn 9:17.

c. [80:5] Ps 13:2; 44:24; 74:1; 79:5; 89:47; Dt 4:24.

d. [80:6] Ps 42:4; 102:10.

e. [80:7] Ps 44:14; 79:4; 123:34; Jb 12:4; Dn 9:16; Zep 2:8.

f. [80:13] Ps 89:41.

g. [80:14] Hos 2:14.

PSALM 81*

An Admonition to Fidelity

1For the leader; “upon the gittith.”* Of Asaph.

I

2Sing joyfully to God our strength;a

raise loud shouts to the God of Jacob!

3Take up a melody, sound the timbrel,

the pleasant lyre with a harp.

4*Blow the shofar at the new moon,

at the full moon, on our solemn feast.b

5For this is a law for Israel,

an edict of the God of Jacob,c

6He made it a decree for Joseph

when he came out of the land of Egypt.

II

7*I heard a tongue I did not know:

“I removed his shoulder from the burden;*

his hands moved away from the basket.*d

8In distress you called and I rescued you;

I answered you in secret with thunder;

At the waters of Meribah* I tested you:e 9‘Listen, my people, I will testify against you

Selah

If only you will listen to me, Israel!f

10There shall be no foreign god among you;*g

you shall not bow down to an alien god.

11“I am the LORD your God,

who brought you up from the land of Egypt.

Open wide your mouth that I may fill it.’

12But my people did not listen to my words;

Israel would not submit to me.

13So I thrust them away to the hardness of their heart;

‘Let them walk in their own machinations.’h

14O that my people would listen to me,

that Israel would walk in my ways,i

15In a moment I would humble their foes,

and turn back my hand against their oppressors.j

16Those who hate the LORD will try flattering him,

but their fate is fixed forever.

17But Israel I will feed with the finest wheat,

I will satisfy them with honey from the rock.”k

* [Psalm 81] At a pilgrimage feast, probably harvest in the fall, the people assemble in the Temple in accord with the Sinai ordinances (Ps 81:26). They hear a divine word (mediated by a Temple speaker) telling how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt (Ps 81:79), gave them the fundamental commandment of fidelity (Ps 81:911), which would bring punishment if they refused to obey (Ps 81:1213). But if Israel repents, God will be with them once again, bestowing protection and fertility (Ps 81:1416).

* [81:1] Upon the gittith: probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung or a musical instrument.

* [81:4] New moon…full moon: the pilgrimage feast of harvest began with a great assembly (Lv 23:24; Nm 29:1), used the new moon as a sign (Nm 29:6), and included trumpets (Lv 23:24).

* [81:7] I heard a tongue I did not know: a Temple official speaks the word of God (Ps 81:5b16), which is authoritative and unlike merely human words (cf. Nm 24:4, 16).

* [81:7] I removed his shoulder from the burden: A reference to the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The basket: for carrying clay to make bricks, cf. Ex 1:14.

* [81:8] Meribah: place of rebellion in the wilderness; cf. Ex 17:7; Nm 20:13.

* [81:10] There shall be no foreign god among you: as in Ps 50 and 95, Israel is challenged to obey the first commandment of fidelity to God after the proclamation of the exodus.

a. [81:2] Ps 43:4; 68:26; 149:3; 150:34; Jdt 16:1.

b. [81:4] Lv 23:24; Nm 29:1.

c. [81:5] Ex 23:14ff.

d. [81:7] Ex 1:14; 6:6.

e. [81:8] Ps 95:8; Ex 2:23ff; 17:7; 19:16; Nm 20:13; 27:14.

f. [81:9] Ex 1:14; 6:6.

g. [81:1011] Ex 20:26; Dt 5:610.

h. [81:13] Jer 3:17; 7:24.

i. [81:14] Is 48:18.

j. [81:15] Lv 26:78.

k. [81:17] Ps 147:14; Dt 32:1314.

PSALM 82*

The Downfall of Unjust Gods

1A psalm of Asaph.

I

God takes a stand in the divine council,

gives judgment in the midst of the gods.a

2“How long will you judge unjustly

and favor the cause of the wicked?b

Selah

3“Defend the lowly and fatherless;

render justice to the afflicted and needy.

4Rescue the lowly and poor;

deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”c

II

5*The gods neither know nor understand,

wandering about in darkness,

and all the world’s foundations shake.

6I declare: “Gods though you be,*d

offspring of the Most High all of you,

7Yet like any mortal you shall die;

like any prince you shall fall.”

8Arise, O God, judge the earth,*

for yours are all the nations.

* [Psalm 82] As in Ps 58, the pagan gods are seen as subordinate divine beings to whom Israel’s God had delegated oversight of the foreign countries in the beginning (Dt 32:89). Now God arises in the heavenly assembly (Ps 82:1) to rebuke the unjust “gods” (Ps 82:24), who are stripped of divine status and reduced in rank to mortals (Ps 82:57). They are accused of misruling the earth by not upholding the poor. A short prayer for universal justice concludes the Psalm (Ps 82:8).

* [82:5] The gods are blind and unable to declare what is right. Their misrule shakes earth’s foundations (cf. Ps 11:3; 75:4), which God made firm in creation (Ps 96:10).

* [82:6] I declare: “Gods though you be”: in Jn 10:34 Jesus uses the verse to prove that those to whom the word of God is addressed can fittingly be called “gods.”

* [82:8] Judge the earth: according to Dt 32:89, Israel’s God had originally assigned jurisdiction over the foreign nations to the subordinate deities, keeping Israel as a personal possession. Now God will directly take over the rulership of the whole world.

a. [82:1] Is 3:1314.

b. [82:2] Ps 58:2.

c. [82:4] Dt 1:17.

d. [82:6] 2 Pt 1:4.

PSALM 83*

Prayer Against a Hostile Alliance

1A song; a psalm of Asaph.

I

2God, do not be silent;

God, do not be deaf or remain unmoved!a

3See how your enemies rage;

your foes proudly raise their heads.

4They conspire against your people,

plot against those you protect.b

5They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation;

let Israel’s name be remembered no more!”

6They scheme with one mind,

they have entered into a covenant against you:c

7*The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,

of Moab and the Hagrites,d

8Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek,e

Philistia and the inhabitants of Tyre.f

9Assyria, too, in league with them,

backs the descendants of Lot.

Selah

II

10*Deal with them as with Midian;

as with Sisera and Jabin at the wadi Kishon,g

11Those destroyed at Endor,

who became dung for the ground.h

12Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,

all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,

13Who made a plan together,

“Let us take for ourselves the pastures of God.”

14My God, make them like tumbleweed,

into chaff flying before the wind.i

15As a fire raging through a forest,

a flame setting mountains ablaze,j

16Pursue them with your tempest;

terrify them with your storm-wind.

17Cover their faces with shame,

till they seek your name,* LORD.

18Let them be ashamed and terrified forever;

let them perish in disgrace.

19Let them know that your name is LORD,

you alone are the Most High over all the earth.k

* [Psalm 83] The community lament complains to God of the nations’ attempts to wipe out the name of Israel (Ps 83:18). The psalmist sees all Israel’s enemies throughout its history united in a conspiracy (Ps 83:28). May God destroy the current crop of enemies as the enemies of old were destroyed (Ps 83:912), and may they be pursued until they acknowledge the name of Israel’s God (Ps 83:1318).

* [83:79] Apart from the Assyrians, all the nations listed here were neighbors of Israel. The Hagrites are a tribe of the desert regions east of Ammon and Moab (1 Chr 5:10, 1922). Gebal is the Phoenician city of Byblos or perhaps a mountain region south of the Dead Sea. The descendants of Lot are Moab and Edom (Gn 19:3638 and Dt 2:9). These nations were never united against Israel in the same period; the Psalm has lumped them all together.

* [83:1013] For the historical events, see Jgs 48.

* [83:17] Seek your name: a variant of the more typical phrase “to seek the face of God” (Ps 24:6; 27:8; 105:4). Seeking the face of God refers to the worshiper having recourse to a temple or sanctuary where in non-Jewish contexts a statue embodies the physical presence of the Deity. In Israel’s aniconic tradition no visible image or statue can represent God. This understanding is conveyed here concretely by use of the term “your name” rather than the more typical “your face.”

a. [83:2] Ps 10:1; 44:24; 109:1.

b. [83:4] Jer 11:9.

c. [83:6] Ps 2:2.

d. [83:7] Nm 20:23; 1 Chr 5:10, 19.

e. [83:8] Ex 17:8.

f. [83:8] Jos 13:2.

g. [83:10] Ex 2:15; Is 9:3; 10:26.

h. [83:11] Jer 8:2.

i. [83:14] Ps 1:4; 35:5; 58:10; Is 5:24; 10:17; 17:13; 29:5; Ez 21:3.

j. [83:15] Ps 50:3.

k. [83:19] Ps 97:9; Dt 4:39; Dn 3:45.

PSALM 84*

Prayer of a Pilgrim to Jerusalem

1For the leader; “upon the gittith.” A psalm of the Korahites.

I

2How lovely your dwelling,

O LORD of hosts!a

3My soul yearns and pines

for the courts of the LORD.b

My heart and flesh cry out

for the living God.

4*As the sparrow finds a home

and the swallow a nest to settle her young,

My home is by your altars,

LORD of hosts, my king and my God!c

5Blessed are those who dwell in your house!

They never cease to praise you.

Selah

II

6Blessed the man who finds refuge in you,

in their hearts are pilgrim roads.

7As they pass through the Baca valley,*

they find spring water to drink.

The early rain covers it with blessings.

8They will go from strength to strength*

and see the God of gods on Zion.

III

9LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;

listen, God of Jacob.

Selah

10*O God, watch over our shield;

look upon the face of your anointed.d

IV

11Better one day in your courts

than a thousand elsewhere.

Better the threshold of the house of my God

than a home in the tents of the wicked.

12For a sun and shield is the LORD God,

bestowing all grace and glory.

The LORD withholds no good thing

from those who walk without reproach.

13O LORD of hosts,

blessed the man who trusts in you!

* [Psalm 84] Israelites celebrated three pilgrimage feasts in Jerusalem annually. The Psalm expresses the sentiments of the pilgrims eager to enjoy the divine presence.

* [84:4] The desire of a restless bird for a secure home is an image of the desire of a pilgrim for the secure house of God, cf. Ps 42:23, where the image for the desire of the pilgrim is the thirst of the deer for water.

* [84:7] Baca valley: Hebrew obscure; probably a valley on the way to Jerusalem.

* [84:8] Strength to strength: pass through outer and inner wall.

* [84:10] Our shield…your anointed: the king had a role in the liturgical celebration. For the king as shield, cf. Ps 89:19.

a. [84:2] Ps 43:34; 122:1.

b. [84:3] Ps 42:23; 63:23; 143:6; Is 26:9.

c. [84:4] Ps 5:3.

d. [84:10] Ps 89:19.

PSALM 85*

Prayer for Divine Favor

1For the leader. A psalm of the Korahites.

I

2You once favored, LORD, your land,

restored the captives of Jacob.a

3You forgave the guilt of your people,

pardoned all their sins.

Selah

4You withdrew all your wrath,

turned back from your burning anger.b

II

5Restore us, God of our salvation;

let go of your displeasure with us.c

6Will you be angry with us forever,

prolong your anger for all generations?d

7Certainly you will again restore our life,

that your people may rejoice in you.

8Show us, LORD, your mercy;

grant us your salvation.

III

9*I will listen for what God, the LORD, has to say;

surely he will speak of peace

To his people and to his faithful.

May they not turn to foolishness!

10Near indeed is his salvation for those who fear him;

glory will dwell in our land.

11*Love and truth will meet;

justice and peace will kiss.e

12Truth will spring from the earth;

justice will look down from heaven.f

13Yes, the LORD will grant his bounty;

our land will yield its produce.g

14Justice will march before him,

and make a way for his footsteps.

* [Psalm 85] A national lament reminding God of past favors and forgiveness (Ps 85:24) and begging for forgiveness and grace now (Ps 85:58). A speaker represents the people who wait humbly with open hearts (Ps 85:910): God will be active on their behalf (Ps 85:1113). The situation suggests the conditions of Judea during the early postexilic period, the fifth century B.C.; the thoughts are similar to those of postexilic prophets (Hg 1:511; 2:69).

* [85:9] The prophet listens to God’s revelation, cf. Heb 2:1.

* [85:1113] Divine activity is personified as pairs of virtues.

a. [85:2] Ps 14:7; 126:4.

b. [85:4] Ps 78:38; Ex 32:14; Is 48:9.

c. [85:5] Ps 80:4.

d. [85:6] Ps 79:5; 89:47.

e. [85:11] Ps 89:15; 97:2.

f. [85:12] Is 45:8.

g. [85:13] Ps 67:7; Lv 26:4; Ez 34:27; Hos 2:2324; Zec 8:12.

PSALM 86*

Prayer in Time of Distress

1A prayer of David.

I

Incline your ear, LORD, and answer me,

for I am poor and oppressed.

2Preserve my life, for I am devoted;

save your servant who trusts in you.

You are my God; 3be gracious to me, Lord;

to you I call all the day.

4Gladden the soul of your servant;

to you, Lord, I lift up my soul.a

5Lord, you are good and forgiving,

most merciful to all who call on you.b

6LORD, hear my prayer;

listen to my cry for help.c

7On the day of my distress I call to you,

for you will answer me.

II

8None among the gods can equal you, O Lord;

nor can their deeds compare to yours.d

9All the nations you have made shall come

to bow before you, Lord,

and give honor to your name.e

10For you are great and do wondrous deeds;

and you alone are God.

III

11Teach me, LORD, your way

that I may walk in your truth,f

single-hearted and revering your name.

12I will praise you with all my heart,

glorify your name forever, Lord my God.

13Your mercy to me is great;

you have rescued me from the depths of Sheol.g

14O God, the arrogant have risen against me;

a ruthless band has sought my life;

to you they pay no heed.

15But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,

slow to anger, abounding in mercy and truth.h

16Turn to me, be gracious to me;

give your strength to your servant;

save the son of your handmaid.i

17Give me a sign of your favor:

make my enemies see, to their confusion,

that you, LORD, help and comfort me.

* [Psalm 86] An individual lament. The psalmist, “poor and oppressed” (Ps 86:1), “devoted” (Ps 86:2), “your servant” (Ps 86:2, 4, 16), “rescued…from the depths of Sheol” (Ps 86:13), attacked by the ruthless (Ps 86:14), desires only God’s protection (Ps 86:17, 1117).

a. [86:4] Ps 25:1; 143:8.

b. [86:5] Jl 2:13.

c. [86:6] Ps 5:2; 130:12.

d. [86:8] Ps 35:10; 89:9; Ex 15:11; Dt 3:24; Jer 10:6.

e. [86:9] Ps 22:28; Zec 14:16; Rev 15:4.

f. [86:11] Ps 25:4; 26:3; 27:11; 119:12, 35; 143:8, 10.

g. [86:13] Ps 30:4; 40:3; Jon 2:7.

h. [86:15] Ps 103:8; 130:7; 145:8; Ex 34:6.

i. [86:16] Ps 25:16; 116:16; Wis 9:5.

PSALM 87*

Zion the True Birthplace

1aA psalm of the Korahites. A song.

I

His foundation is on holy mountains,

2The LORD loves the gates* of Zion

more than any dwelling in Jacob.

3Glorious things are said of you,

O city of God!

Selah

II

4Rahab and Babylon I count

among those who know me.

See, Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia,

“This one was born there.”

5*And of Zion it will be said:

“Each one was born in it.”b

The Most High will establish it;c

6the LORD notes in the register of the peoples:

“This one was born there.”d

Selah

7So singers and dancers:

“All my springs are in you.”e

* [Psalm 87] A song of Zion, like Ps 46; 48; 76; 132.

* [87:2] The gates: the city itself, a common Hebrew idiom.

* [87:56] The bond between the exile and the holy city was so strong as to override the exile’s citizenship of lesser cities.

a. [87:12] Ps 76:23; 78:6869.

b. [87:5] Gal 4:26.

c. [87:5] Ps 48:9.

d. [87:6] Is 4:3.

e. [87:7] Ps 68:26; 149:3.

PSALM 88*

A Despairing Lament

1A song; a psalm of the Korahites. For the leader; according to Mahalath. For singing; a maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.

I

2LORD, the God of my salvation, I call out by day;

at night I cry aloud in your presence.a

3Let my prayer come before you;

incline your ear to my cry.b

4*For my soul is filled with troubles;c

my life draws near to Sheol.

5I am reckoned with those who go down to the pit;

I am like a warrior without strength.

6My couch is among the dead,

like the slain who lie in the grave.

You remember them no more;

they are cut off from your influence.

7You plunge me into the bottom of the pit,

into the darkness of the abyss.

8Your wrath lies heavy upon me;

all your waves crash over me.d

Selah

II

9Because of you my acquaintances shun me;

you make me loathsome to them;e

Caged in, I cannot escape;

10my eyes grow dim from trouble.

All day I call on you, LORD;

I stretch out my hands to you.

11*Do you work wonders for the dead?

Do the shades arise and praise you?f

Selah

III

12Is your mercy proclaimed in the grave,

your faithfulness among those who have perished?*

13Are your marvels declared in the darkness,

your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

IV

14But I cry out to you, LORD;

in the morning my prayer comes before you.

15Why do you reject my soul, LORD,

and hide your face from me?

16I have been mortally afflicted since youth;

I have borne your terrors and I am made numb.

17Your wrath has swept over me;

your terrors have destroyed me.g

18All day they surge round like a flood;

from every side they encircle me.

19Because of you friend and neighbor shun me;h

my only friend is darkness.

* [Psalm 88] A lament in which the psalmist prays for rescue from the alienation of approaching death. Each of the three stanzas begins with a call to God (Ps 88:2, 10, 14) and complains of the death that separates one from God. The tone is persistently grim.

* [88:48] In imagination the psalmist already experiences the alienation of Sheol.

* [88:1113] The psalmist seeks to persuade God to act out of concern for divine honor: the shades give you no worship, so keep me alive to offer you praise.

* [88:12] Perished: lit., “Abaddon,” the deepest part of Sheol.

a. [88:2] Ps 77:3.

b. [88:3] Ps 119:170.

c. [88:47] Ps 28:1; 30:4; 40:3; 86:13; 143:7; Nm 16:33; Jb 17:1; Jon 2:7.

d. [88:8] Ps 18:5; 32:6; 42:8; 69:2; Jon 2:4.

e. [88:9] Ps 38:12; 79:4; 80:7; 123:34; 142:8; Jb 12:4; 19:13; Lam 3:7; Dn 9:16.

f. [88:11] Ps 6:6; 30:10; 38:18; 115:17.

g. [88:17] Jb 6:4; 20:25.

h. [88:19] Jb 19:13.

PSALM 89*

A Lament over God’s Promise to David

1A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

A

I

2I will sing of your mercy forever, LORDa

proclaim your faithfulness through all ages.

3*For I said, “My mercy is established forever;

my faithfulness will stand as long as the heavens.

4I have made a covenant with my chosen one;

I have sworn to David my servant:

5I will make your dynasty stand forever

and establish your throne through all ages.”b

Selah

II

6The heavens praise your marvels, LORD,

your loyalty in the assembly of the holy ones.c

7Who in the skies ranks with the LORD?

Who is like the LORD among the sons of the gods?*d

8A God dreaded in the council of the holy ones,

greater and more awesome than all those around him!

9LORD, God of hosts, who is like you?

Mighty LORD, your faithfulness surrounds you.

10You rule the raging sea;e

you still its swelling waves.

11You crush Rahab* with a mortal blow;

with your strong arm you scatter your foes.

12Yours are the heavens, yours the earth;

you founded the world and everything in it.f

13*Zaphon and Amanus you created;

Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your name.

14You have a mighty arm.

Your hand is strong; your right hand is ever exalted.

15Justice and judgment are the foundation of your throne;

mercy and faithfulness march before you.g

16Blessed the people who know the war cry,

who walk in the radiance of your face, LORD.

17In your name they sing joyfully all the day;

they rejoice in your righteousness.h

18You are their majestic strength;

by your favor our horn* is exalted.i

19Truly the LORD is our shield,

the Holy One of Israel, our king!j

III

20Then you spoke in vision;k

to your faithful ones you said:

“I have set a leader over the warriors;

I have raised up a chosen one from the people.

21I have chosen David, my servant;

with my holy oil I have anointed him.

22My hand will be with him;l

my arm will make him strong.

23No enemy shall outwit him,

nor shall the wicked defeat him.

24I will crush his foes before him,

strike down those who hate him.

25My faithfulness and mercy will be with him;

through my name his horn will be exalted.

26*I will set his hand upon the sea,

his right hand upon the rivers.

27He shall cry to me, ‘You are my father,m

my God, the Rock of my salvation!’

28I myself make him the firstborn,

Most High* over the kings of the earth.

29Forever I will maintain my mercy for him;n

my covenant with him stands firm.

30I will establish his dynasty forever,

his throne as the days of the heavens.

31If his descendants forsake my teaching,o

do not follow my decrees,

32If they fail to observe my statutes,

do not keep my commandments,

33I will punish their crime with a rod

and their guilt with blows.

34But I will not take my mercy from him,

nor will I betray my bond of faithfulness.p

35I will not violate my covenant;

the promise of my lips I will not alter.q

36By my holiness I swore once for all:r

I will never be false to David.

37*His dynasty will continue forever,s

his throne, like the sun before me.

38Like the moon it will stand eternal,

forever firm like the sky!”

Selah

B

IV

39But now you have rejected and spurned,t

been enraged at your anointed.

40You renounced the covenant with your servant,

defiled his crown in the dust.

41You broke down all city walls,u

left his strongholds in ruins.

42All who pass through seize plunder;

his neighbors deride him.

43You have exalted the right hand of his foes,

have gladdened all his enemies.v

44You turned back his sharp sword,

did not support him in battle.

45You brought to an end his splendor,

hurled his throne to the ground.

46You cut short the days of his youth,

covered him with shame.

Selah

V

47How long, LORD? Will you hide forever?

Must your wrath smolder like fire?w

48Remember how brief life is,

how frail the sons of man you have created!x

49What is man, that he should live and not see death?

Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?y

Selah

VI

50Where are your former mercies, Lord,

that you swore to David in your faithfulness?

51Remember, Lord, the insults to your servants,

how I have borne in my bosom the slander of the nations.z

52Your enemies, LORD, insult;

they insult each step of your anointed.

53*Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and amen!a

* [Psalm 89] The community laments the defeat of the Davidic king, to whom God promised kingship as enduring as the heavens (Ps 89:25). The Psalm narrates how God became king of the divine beings (Ps 89:69) and how the Davidic king became king of earthly kings (Ps 89:2038). Since the defeat of the king calls into question God’s promise, the community ardently prays God to be faithful to the original promise to David (Ps 89:3952).

* [89:35] David’s dynasty is to be as long-lasting as the heavens, a statement reinforced by using the same verbs (establish, stand) both of the divine love and loyalty and of the Davidic dynasty and throne, cf. Ps 89:2930.

* [89:7] The sons of the gods: “the holy ones” and “courtiers” of Ps 89:6, 8. These heavenly spirits are members of God’s court.

* [89:11] Rahab: a mythological sea monster whose name is used in the Bible mainly as a personification of primeval chaos, cf. Jb 9:13; 26:12; Ps 74:1314; Is 51:9.

* [89:13] Zaphon and Amanus: two sacred mountains in northern Syria which came to designate the directions of north and south. Tabor: a high hill in the valley of Jezreel in northern Israel. Hermon: a mountain in Lebanon, forming the southern spur of the Anti-Lebanon range.

* [89:18, 25] Horn: a concrete noun for an abstract quality; horn is a symbol of strength.

* [89:26] The sea…the rivers: geographically the limits of the Davidic empire (the Mediterranean and the Euphrates); mythologically, the traditional forces of chaos. See note on Ps 89:11.

* [89:28] Most High: a divine title, which is here extended to David as God’s own king, cf. Ps 2:79; Is 9:5. As God rules over the members of the heavenly council (Ps 89:69), so David, God’s surrogate, rules over earthly kings.

* [89:3738] Like the sun before me…like the sky: as enduring as the heavenly lights, cf. Ps 89:25 and Ps 72:5, 17.

* [89:53] The doxology at the end of the third book of the Psalms; it is not part of Ps 89.

a. [89:2] Is 63:7.

b. [89:5] Ps 61:78; 132:11; 2 Sm 7:816.

c. [89:6] Ps 29:1; 82:1; Jb 1:6; 5:1.

d. [89:79] Ps 35:10; 86:8; 113:5; Ex 15:11; Jer 10:6.

e. [89:1011] Ps 65:8; 74:1315; 107:29; Jb 7:12; Is 51:910.

f. [89:12] Ps 24:12; 50:12; Dt 10:14; 1 Cor 10:26.

g. [89:15] Ps 85:1112; 97:2.

h. [89:17] Ps 47:2; Zep 3:14.

i. [89:18] Ps 112:9; 148:14.

j. [89:19] Ps 47:9; 96:10; 97:1; 99:1; Is 6:3.

k. [89:2021] Ps 78:70; 132:1112; 2 Sm 7:4, 816; 1 Chr 17:3, 714; Is 42:1; Acts 13:22.

l. [89:2225] 1 Sm 2:910.

m. [89:2728] Ps 2:7; 110:23; 2 Sm 7:9, 14; Col 1:15, 18; Rev 1:5.

n. [89:2930] Ps 18:51; 61:8; 144:10; 2 Sm 7:11; Is 55:3.

o. [89:3133] Lv 26:1433.

p. [89:34] Ps 40:12; Sir 47:22.

q. [89:35] Jer 33:2021.

r. [89:36] Am 4:2.

s. [89:3738] Ps 61:8; 72:5; Sir 43:6.

t. [89:3947] Ps 44:1025.

u. [89:4142] Ps 80:1314.

v. [89:43] Lam 1:5.

w. [89:47] Ps 13:2; 44:25; 74:10; 79:5; Dt 4:24.

x. [89:48] Ps 39:56; 62:10; 90:910; 144:4; Jb 7:6, 16; 14:1, 5; Eccl 6:12; Wis 2:5.

y. [89:49] Ps 90:3.

z. [89:51] Ps 79:12.

a. [89:53] Ps 41:14; 72:18; 106:48.

Fourth Book—Psalms 90106

PSALM 90*

God’s Eternity and Human Frailty

1A prayer of Moses, the man of God.

I

Lord, you have been our refuge

through all generations.

2Before the mountains were born,

the earth and the world brought forth,

from eternity to eternity you are God.a

3You turn humanity back into dust,*

saying, “Return, you children of Adam!”b

4A thousand years in your eyes

are merely a day gone by,c

Before a watch passes in the night,

5*you wash them away;d

They sleep,

and in the morning they sprout again like an herb.

6In the morning it blooms only to pass away;

in the evening it is wilted and withered.*e

II

7Truly we are consumed by your anger,

filled with terror by your wrath.

8You have kept our faults before you,

our hidden sins in the light of your face.f

9Our life ebbs away under your wrath;g

our years end like a sigh.

10Seventy is the sum of our years,

or eighty, if we are strong;

Most of them are toil and sorrow;

they pass quickly, and we are gone.

11Who comprehends the strength of your anger?

Your wrath matches the fear it inspires.

12Teach us to count our days aright,

that we may gain wisdom of heart.

III

13Relent, O LORD! How long?

Have pity on your servants!

14Fill us at daybreak with your mercy,h

that all our days we may sing for joy.

15Make us glad as many days as you humbled us,

for as many years as we have seen trouble.i

16Show your deeds to your servants,

your glory to their children.

17May the favor of the Lord our God be ours.j

Prosper the work of our hands!

Prosper the work of our hands!

* [Psalm 90] A communal lament that describes only in general terms the cause of the community’s distress. After confidently invoking God (Ps 90:1), the Psalm turns to a complaint contrasting God’s eternity with the brevity of human life (Ps 90:26) and sees in human suffering the punishment for sin (Ps 90:712). The Psalm concludes with a plea for God’s intervention (Ps 90:1317).

* [90:3] Dust: one word of God is enough to return mortals to the dust from which they were created. Human beings were created from earth in Gn 2:7; 3:19.

* [90:5] You wash them away: the Hebrew of Ps 90:45 is unclear.

* [90:6] It is wilted and withered: the transitory nature of the grass under the scorching sun was proverbial, cf. Ps 129:6; Is 40:68.

a. [90:2] Ps 48:15; 55:20; 93:2; 102:13; Heb 1:12.

b. [90:3] Ps 103:14; 104:29; 146:4; Gn 3:19; 1 Mc 2:63; Jb 34:1415; Eccl 3:20; 12:7; Sir 40:11.

c. [90:4] 2 Pt 3:8.

d. [90:5] Ps 89:48.

e. [90:6] Ps 37:2; 102:11; 103:1516; Jb 14:12; Is 40:68.

f. [90:8] Ps 109:1415; Hos 7:2.

g. [90:910] Ps 39:57; 62:10; 102:2425; 144:4; Gn 6:3; Jb 7:6, 16; 14:5; Prv 10:27; Eccl 6:12; Wis 2:5; Sir 18:8; Is 65:20.

h. [90:14] Ps 17:15.

i. [90:15] Nm 14:34; Jer 31:13.

j. [90:17] Ps 33:22.

PSALM 91*

Security Under God’s Protection

I

1You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,*

who abide in the shade of the Almighty,*

2Say to the LORD, “My refuge and fortress,

my God in whom I trust.”a

3He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare,

from the destroying plague,

4He will shelter you with his pinions,

and under his wings you may take refuge;b

his faithfulness is a protecting shield.

5You shall not fear the terror of the night

nor the arrow that flies by day,c

6Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness,

nor the plague that ravages at noon.d

7Though a thousand fall at your side,

ten thousand at your right hand,

near you it shall not come.

8You need simply watch;

the punishment of the wicked you will see.e

9Because you have the LORD for your refuge

and have made the Most High your stronghold,

10No evil shall befall you,

no affliction come near your tent.f

11*For he commands his angels with regard to you,g

to guard you wherever you go.h

12With their hands they shall support you,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.i

13You can tread upon the asp and the viper,

trample the lion and the dragon.j

II

14Because he clings to me I will deliver him;

because he knows my name I will set him on high.k

15He will call upon me and I will answer;l

I will be with him in distress;m

I will deliver him and give him honor.

16With length of days I will satisfy him,

and fill him with my saving power.n

* [Psalm 91] A prayer of someone who has taken refuge in the Lord, possibly within the Temple (Ps 91:12). The psalmist is confident that God’s presence will protect the people in every dangerous situation (Ps 91:313). The final verses are an oracle of salvation promising salvation to those who trust in God (Ps 91:1416).

* [91:1] The shelter of the Most High: basically “hiding place” but in the Psalms a designation for the protected Temple precincts, cf. Ps 27:5; 31:21; 61:5. The shade of the Almighty: lit., “the shadow of the wings of the Almighty,” cf. Ps 17:8; 36:8; 57:2; 63:8. Ps 91:4 makes clear that the shadow is an image of the safety afforded by the outstretched wings of the cherubim in the holy of holies.

* [91:1112] The words are cited in Lk 4:1011; Mt 4:6, as Satan tempts Jesus in the desert.

a. [91:2] Ps 18:3; 31:34; 42:10; 142:6; 2 Sm 22:3.

b. [91:4] Ps 17:8; 36:8; 57:2; 63:8; Dt 32:11; Ru 2:12; Mt 23:37.

c. [91:5] Prv 3:25; Sg 3:8.

d. [91:6] Dt 32:24.

e. [91:8] Ps 92:12.

f. [91:10] Prv 12:21; Dt 7:15.

g. [91:1112] Mt 4:6; Lk 4:10f.

h. [91:11] Heb 1:14.

i. [91:12] Ps 121:3; Prv 3:23.

j. [91:13] Is 11:8; Lk 10:19.

k. [91:14] Ps 9:11; 119:132.

l. [91:15] Jer 33:3; Zec 13:9.

m. [91:15] Is 43:2.

n. [91:16] Prv 3:2.

PSALM 92*

A Hymn of Thanksgiving for God’s Fidelity

1A psalm. A sabbath song.

I

2It is good to give thanks to the LORD,

to sing praise to your name, Most High,a

3To proclaim your love at daybreak,

your faithfulness in the night,

4With the ten-stringed harp,

with melody upon the lyre.b

5For you make me jubilant, LORD, by your deeds;

at the works of your hands I shout for joy.

II

6How great are your works, LORD!c

How profound your designs!

7A senseless person cannot know this;

a fool cannot comprehend.

8Though the wicked flourish like grassd

and all sinners thrive,

They are destined for eternal destruction;

9but you, LORD, are forever on high.

10Indeed your enemies, LORD,

indeed your enemies shall perish;

all sinners shall be scattered.e

III

11You have given me the strength of a wild ox;f

you have poured rich oil upon me.g

12My eyes look with glee on my wicked enemies;

my ears shall hear what happens to my wicked foes.h

13The just shall flourish like the palm tree,

shall grow like a cedar of Lebanon.i

14*Planted in the house of the LORD,

they shall flourish in the courts of our God.

15They shall bear fruit even in old age,

they will stay fresh and green,

16To proclaim: “The LORD is just;

my rock, in whom there is no wrong.”j

* [Psalm 92] A hymn of praise and thanks for God’s faithful deeds (Ps 92:25). The wicked, deluded by their prosperity (Ps 92:69), are punished (Ps 92:10), whereas the psalmist has already experienced God’s protection (Ps 92:1115).

* [92:14] Planted: the just are likened to trees growing in the sacred precincts of the Temple, which is often seen as the source of life and fertility because of God’s presence, cf. Ps 36:9, 10; Ez 47:112.

a. [92:2] Ps 33:1; 147:1.

b. [92:4] Ps 33:2; 144:9.

c. [92:67] Ps 131:1; 139:6, 17; Wis 13:1; 17:1.

d. [92:8] Ps 37:35.

e. [92:10] Ps 68:12; 125:5.

f. [92:11] Ps 75:11; Dt 33:17.

g. [92:11] Ps 23:5.

h. [92:12] Ps 91:8.

i. [92:13] Ps 1:3; 52:10; Jer 17:8.

j. [92:16] Dt 32:4.

PSALM 93*

God Is a Mighty King

1The LORD is king,* robed with majesty;

the LORD is robed, girded with might.a

The world will surely stand in place,

never to be moved.b

2Your throne stands firm from of old;

you are from everlasting.c

3*The flood has raised up, LORD;

the flood has raised up its roar;

the flood has raised its pounding waves.

4More powerful than the roar of many waters,

more powerful than the breakers of the sea,

powerful in the heavens is the LORD.

5Your decrees are firmly established;

holiness befits your house, LORD,

for all the length of days.

* [Psalm 93] A hymn celebrating the kingship of God, who created the world (Ps 93:12) by defeating the sea (Ps 93:34). In the ancient myth that is alluded to here, Sea completely covered the land, making it impossible for the human community to live. Sea, or Flood, roars in anger against God, who is personified in the storm. God’s utterances or decrees are given authority by the victory over Sea (Ps 93:5).

* [93:1] The LORD is king: lit., “the LORD reigns.” This Psalm, and Ps 47; 9699, are sometimes called enthronement Psalms. They may have been used in a special liturgy during which God’s ascent to the throne was ritually reenacted. They have also been interpreted eschatologically, pointing to the coming of God as king at the end-time.

* [93:3] The flood: the primordial sea was tamed by God in the act of creation. It is a figure of chaos and rebellion, cf. Ps 46:4.

a. [93:1] Ps 47:8; 96:10; 97:1; 99:1.

b. [93:1] Ps 75:23; 104:5.

c. [93:2] Ps 55:20; 90:2; 102:13; Heb 1:12.

PSALM 94*

A Prayer for Deliverance from the Wicked

I

1LORD, avenging God,

avenging God, shine forth!a

2Rise up, O judge of the earth;

give the proud what they deserve!b

II

3How long, LORD, shall the wicked,

how long shall the wicked glory?c

4How long will they mouth haughty speeches,

go on boasting, all these evildoers?d

5They crush your people, LORD,

torment your very own.

6They kill the widow and alien;

the orphan they murder.e

7They say, “The LORD does not see;

the God of Jacob takes no notice.”f

III

8Understand, you stupid people!

You fools, when will you be wise?g

9Does the one who shaped the ear not hear?

The one who formed the eye not see?h

10Does the one who guides nations not rebuke?

The one who teaches man not have knowledge?

11The LORD knows the plans of man;

they are like a fleeting breath.i

IV

12Blessed the one whom you guide, LORD,j

whom you teach by your instruction,

13To give rest from evil days,

while a pit is being dug for the wicked.

14For the LORD will not forsake his people,

nor abandon his inheritance.k

15Judgment shall again be just,

and all the upright of heart will follow it.

V

16Who will rise up for me against the wicked?

Who will stand up for me against evildoers?

17If the LORD were not my help,

I would long have been silent in the grave.l

18When I say, “My foot is slipping,”

your mercy, LORD, holds me up.m

19When cares increase within me,

your comfort gives me joy.

VI

20Can unjust judges be your allies,

those who create burdens by decree,

21Those who conspire against the just

and condemn the innocent to death?

22No, the LORD is my secure height,

my God, my rock of refuge,

23nWho will turn back their evil upon themo

and destroy them for their wickedness.

Surely the LORD our God will destroy them!

* [Psalm 94] A lament of an individual who is threatened by wicked people. The danger affects the whole community. Calling upon God as judge (Ps 94:12), the Psalm complains about oppression of the holy community by people within (Ps 94:37). Bold declarations of faith follow: denunciation of evildoers (Ps 94:811) and assurance to the just (Ps 94:1215). The Psalm continues with further lament (Ps 94:1619) and ends with strong confidence in God’s response (Ps 94:2023).

a. [94:1] Na 1:2.

b. [94:2] Jer 51:56; Lam 3:64.

c. [94:3] Ps 13:2; 75:5; Jer 12:1.

d. [94:4] Ps 73; Mal 2:17; 3:14.

e. [94:6] Ex 22:2122; Dt 24:1722.

f. [94:7] Ps 10:11; 64:6; 73:11; Jb 22:1314; Ez 9:9.

g. [94:8] Prv 1:22; 8:5.

h. [94:9] Ex 4:11; Prv 20:12.

i. [94:11] Ps 33:15; 1 Cor 3:20.

j. [94:12] Ps 119:71; Jb 5:17.

k. [94:14] 1 Sm 12:22; Sir 47:22.

l. [94:17] Ps 6:6; 115:17.

m. [94:18] Ps 145:14.

n. [94:23] Ps 107:42.

o. [94:23] Ps 7:16; 9:16; 35:8; 57:7; Prv 26:27; Eccl 10:8; Sir 27:26.

PSALM 95*

A Call to Praise and Obedience

I

1Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;

cry out to the rock of our salvation.a

2Let us come before him with a song of praise,

joyfully sing out our psalms.

3For the LORD is the great God,

the great king over all gods,b

4Whose hand holds the depths of the earth;

who owns the tops of the mountains.

5The sea and dry land belong to God,

who made them, formed them by hand.c

II

6Enter, let us bow down in worship;

let us kneel before the LORD who made us.

7For he is our God,

we are the people he shepherds,

the sheep in his hands.d

III

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:e

8Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah,

as on the day of Massah in the desert.*

9There your ancestors tested me;

they tried me though they had seen my works.f

10Forty years I loathed that generation;

I said: “This people’s heart goes astray;

they do not know my ways.”g

11Therefore I swore in my anger:

“They shall never enter my rest.”*

* [Psalm 95] Twice the Psalm calls the people to praise and worship God (Ps 95:12, 6), the king of all creatures (Ps 95:35) and shepherd of the flock (Ps 95:7a, 7b). The last strophe warns the people to be more faithful than were their ancestors in the journey to the promised land (Ps 95:7c11). This invitation to praise God regularly opens the Church’s official prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours.

* [95:8] Meribah: lit., “contention”; the place where the Israelites quarreled with God. Massah: “testing,” the place where they put God to the trial, cf. Ex 17:7; Nm 20:13.

* [95:11] My rest: the promised land as in Dt 12:9. Heb 4 applies the verse to the eternal rest of heaven.

a. [95:1] Dt 32:15.

b. [95:3] Ps 47:2; 135:5.

c. [95:5] Ps 24:12.

d. [95:711] Ps 81:8; 106:32; Heb 3:711, 15; 4:3, 5, 7.

e. [95:7] Ps 23:13; 100:3; Mi 7:14.

f. [95:9] Nm 14:22; 20:213; Dt 6:16; 33:8.

g. [95:10] Ps 78:8; Nm 14:34; Dt 32:5.

PSALM 96*

God of the Universe

I

1Sing to the LORD a new song;a

sing to the LORD, all the earth.

2Sing to the LORD, bless his name;

proclaim his salvation day after day.

3Tell his glory among the nations;

among all peoples, his marvelous deeds.b

II

4*For great is the LORD and highly to be praised,

to be feared above all gods.c

5For the gods of the nations are idols,

but the LORD made the heavens.d

6Splendor and power go before him;

power and grandeur are in his holy place.

III

7Give to the LORD, you families of nations,

give to the LORD glory and might;

8give to the LORD the glory due his name!e

Bring gifts and enter his courts;

9bow down to the LORD, splendid in holiness.

Tremble before him, all the earth;

10fdeclare among the nations: The LORD is king.

The world will surely stand fast, never to be shaken.

He rules the peoples with fairness.

IV

11Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;

let the sea and what fills it resound;g

12let the plains be joyful and all that is in them.

Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice

13before the LORD who comes,

who comes to govern the earth,h

To govern the world with justice

and the peoples with faithfulness.

* [Psalm 96] A hymn inviting all humanity to praise the glories of Israel’s God (Ps 96:13), who is the sole God (Ps 96:46). To the just ruler of all belongs worship (Ps 96:710); even inanimate creation is to offer praise (Ps 96:1113). This Psalm has numerous verbal and thematic contacts with Is 4055, as does Ps 98. Another version of the Psalm is 1 Chr 16:2333.

* [96:4] For references to other gods, see comments on Ps 58 and 82.

a. [96:1] Ps 98:1; Is 42:10.

b. [96:3] Ps 98:4; 105:1.

c. [96:4] Ps 48:2; 95:3; 145:3.

d. [96:5] Ps 97:7; 115:48; Is 40:17; 1 Cor 8:4.

e. [96:8] Ps 29:2.

f. [96:10] Ps 75:4; 93:1.

g. [96:11] Ps 98:7.

h. [96:13] Ps 98:9.

PSALM 97*

The Divine Ruler of All

I

1The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;

let the many islands be glad.a

2Cloud and darkness surround him;

justice and right are the foundation of his throne.b

3Fire goes before him,

consuming his foes on every side.

4His lightening illumines the world;

the earth sees and trembles.c

5The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,

before the Lord of all the earth.d

6The heavens proclaim his justice;

all peoples see his glory.e

II

7All who serve idols are put to shame,

who glory in worthless things;

all gods* bow down before him.f

8Zion hears and is glad,

and the daughters of Judah rejoice

because of your judgments, O LORD.g

9For you, LORD, are the Most High over all the earth,h

exalted far above all gods.

10You who love the LORD, hate evil,

he protects the souls of the faithful,i

rescues them from the hand of the wicked.

11Light dawns for the just,

and gladness for the honest of heart.j

12Rejoice in the LORD, you just,

and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.k

* [Psalm 97] The hymn begins with God appearing in a storm, a traditional picture of some ancient Near Eastern gods (Ps 97:16); cf. Ps 18:816; Mi 1:34; Heb 3:315. Israel rejoices in the overthrowing of idol worshipers and their gods (Ps 97:79) and the rewarding of the faithful righteous (Ps 97:1012).

* [97:7] All gods: divine beings thoroughly subordinate to Israel’s God. The Greek translates “angels,” an interpretation adopted by Heb 1:6.

a. [97:1] Ps 75:4; 93:1; 96:10.

b. [97:2] Ps 85:11; 89:15; Ex 19:6; Dt 4:11; 5:22; 1 Kgs 8:12.

c. [97:4] Ps 18:8; 50:3; 77:18; 99:1; Jgs 5:45.

d. [97:5] Jdt 16:15; Mi 1:4.

e. [97:6] Ps 50:6.

f. [97:7] Ps 96:5.

g. [97:8] Ps 48:12.

h. [97:9] Ps 83:19.

i. [97:10] Ps 121:7.

j. [97:11] Ps 112:4.

k. [97:12] Ps 30:5.

PSALM 98*

The Coming of God

1A psalm.

I

Sing a new song to the LORD,

for he has done marvelous deeds.a

His right hand and holy arm

have won the victory.*b

2The LORD has made his victory known;

has revealed his triumph in the sight of the nations,

3He has remembered his mercy and faithfulness

toward the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen

the victory of our God.

II

4Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth;

break into song; sing praise.

5Sing praise to the LORD with the lyre,

with the lyre and melodious song.

6With trumpets and the sound of the horn

shout with joy to the King, the LORD.c

III

7Let the sea and what fills it resound,d

the world and those who dwell there.

8Let the rivers clap their hands,

the mountains shout with them for joy,e

9fBefore the LORD who comes,

who comes to govern the earth,g

To govern the world with justice

and the peoples with fairness.

* [Psalm 98] A hymn, similar to Ps 96, extolling God for Israel’s victory (Ps 98:13). All nations (Ps 98:46) and even inanimate nature (Ps 98:78) are summoned to welcome God’s coming to rule over the world (Ps 98:9).

* [98:1] Marvelous deeds…victory: the conquest of all threats to the peaceful existence of Israel, depicted in the Psalms variously as a cosmic force such as sea, or nations bent on Israel’s destruction, or evildoers seemingly triumphant. His right hand and holy arm: God is pictured as a powerful warrior.

a. [98:1] Ps 96:1; Is 42:10.

b. [98:1] Is 59:16; 63:5.

c. [98:6] Ps 47:67.

d. [98:7] Ps 96:11.

e. [98:8] Is 44:23; 55:12.

f. [98:9] Ps 96:13.

g. [98:9] Ps 67:5.

PSALM 99*

The Holy King

I

1The LORD is king, the peoples tremble;

he is enthroned on the cherubim,* the earth quakes.a

2Great is the LORD in Zion,

exalted above all the peoples.

3Let them praise your great and awesome name:

Holy is he!b

II

4O mighty king, lover of justice,

you have established fairness;

you have created just rule in Jacob.c

5Exalt the LORD, our God;

bow down before his footstool;*d

holy is he!

III

6Moses and Aaron were among his priests,

Samuel among those who called on his name;

they called on the LORD, and he answered them.e

7From the pillar of cloud he spoke to them;

they kept his decrees, the law he had given them.f

8O LORD, our God, you answered them;

you were a forgiving God to them,

though you punished their offenses.g

9Exalt the LORD, our God;

bow down before his holy mountain;

holy is the LORD, our God.

* [Psalm 99] A hymn to God as the king whose grandeur is most clearly seen on Mount Zion (Ps 99:2) and in the laws given to Israel (Ps 99:4). Israel is special because of God’s word of justice, which was mediated by the revered speakers, Moses, Aaron, and Samuel (Ps 99:68). The poem is structured by the threefold statement that God is holy (Ps 99:3, 5, 9) and by the twice-repeated command to praise (Ps 99:5, 9).

* [99:1] Enthroned on the cherubim: cherubim were composite beings with animal and human features, common in ancient Near Eastern art. Two cherubim were placed on the ark (or box) of the covenant in the holy of holies. Upon them God was believed to dwell invisibly, cf. Ex 25:2022; 1 Sm 4:4; 2 Sm 6:2; Ps 80:2.

* [99:5] Footstool: a reference to the ark, cf. 1 Chr 28:2; Ps 132:7.

a. [99:1] Ps 18:811; 80:2; 93:1; Ex 25:22; 1 Sm 4:4; 2 Sm 6:2.

b. [99:3] Is 6:3.

c. [99:4] Ps 72:1; Jer 23:5.

d. [99:5] Ps 132:7.

e. [99:6] Jer 15:1.

f. [99:7] Ex 33:9; Nm 12:5.

g. [99:8] Ex 32:11; Nm 20:12.

PSALM 100*

Processional Hymn

1A psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;

2serve the LORD with gladness;

come before him with joyful song.

3*Know that the LORD is God,

he made us, we belong to him,

we are his people, the flock he shepherds.a

4Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him, bless his name;b

5good indeed is the LORD,

His mercy endures forever,

his faithfulness lasts through every generation.

* [Psalm 100] A hymn inviting the people to enter the Temple courts with thank offerings for the God who created them.

* [100:3] Although the people call on all the nations of the world to join in their hymn, they are conscious of being the chosen people of God.

a. [100:3] Ps 23:1; 95:7; Mi 7:14; Is 64:7.

b. [100:45] Ps 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; 136:1; 138:8; Jer 33:11.

PSALM 101*

Norm of Life for Rulers

1A psalm of David.

I

I sing of mercy and justice;

to you, LORD, I sing praise.

2I study the way of integrity;a

when will you come to me?

I act with integrity of heart

within my household.*b

3I do not allow into my presence anything base.

I hate wrongdoing;

I will have no part of it.c

4May the devious heart keep far from me;

the wicked I will not acknowledge.

5Whoever slanders a neighbor in secret

I will reduce to silence.d

Haughty eyes and arrogant heartse

I cannot endure.

II

6I look to the faithful of the land*

to sit at my side.

Whoever follows the way of integrityf

is the one to enter my service.

7No one who practices deceit

can remain within my house.

No one who speaks falsely

can last in my presence.g

8*Morning after morning I clear all the wicked from the land,

to rid the city of the LORD of all doers of evil.

* [Psalm 101] The king, grateful at being God’s chosen (Ps 101:1), promises to be a ruler after God’s own heart (Ps 101:23), allowing into the royal service only the God-fearing (Ps 101:38).

* [101:2] Within my household: the king promises to make his own household, i.e., the royal court, a model for Israel, banning all officials who abuse their power.

* [101:6] I look to the faithful of the land: the king seeks companions only among those faithful to God.

* [101:8] Morning after morning: the morning is the normal time for the administration of justice (2 Sm 15:2; Jer 21:12) and for the arrival of divine aid (Ps 59:17; 143:8; Is 33:2). I clear all the wicked from the land: the king, as God’s servant, is responsible for seeing that divine justice is carried out.

a. [101:2] Ps 26:11; Is 33:15.

b. [101:2] 1 Kgs 9:4.

c. [101:3] Prv 11:20.

d. [101:5] Prv 17:20; 30:10.

e. [101:5] Prv 21:4.

f. [101:6] Ps 26:11; Prv 20:7.

g. [101:7] Ps 5:5; Prv 25:5.

PSALM 102*

Prayer in Time of Distress

1The prayer of one afflicted and wasting away whose anguish is poured out before the LORD.

I

2LORD, hear my prayer;

let my cry come to you.

3Do not hide your face from me

in the day of my distress.a

Turn your ear to me;

when I call, answer me quickly.

4For my days vanish like smoke;b

my bones burn away as in a furnace.

5My heart is withered, dried up like grass,

too wasted to eat my food.

6From my loud groaning

I become just skin and bones.

7I am like a desert owl,

like an owl among the ruins.

8I lie awake and moan,

like a lone sparrow on the roof.

9All day long my enemies taunt me;

in their rage, they make my name a curse.*

10I eat ashes like bread,

mingle my drink with tears.c

11Because of your furious wrath,

you lifted me up just to cast me down.

12dMy days are like a lengthening shadow;e

I wither like the grass.

II

13But you, LORD, are enthroned forever;

your renown is for all generations.f

14You will again show mercy to Zion;

now is the time for pity;

the appointed time has come.

15Its stones are dear to your servants;

its dust moves them to pity.

16The nations shall fear your name, LORD,

all the kings of the earth, your glory,g

17Once the LORD has rebuilt Zion

and appeared in glory,

18Heeding the plea of the lowly,

not scorning their prayer.

19Let this be written for the next generation,

for a people not yet born,

that they may praise the LORD:h

20*“The LORD looked down from the holy heights,

viewed the earth from heaven,i

21To attend to the groaning of the prisoners,

to release those doomed to die.”j

22Then the LORD’s name will be declared on Zion,

his praise in Jerusalem,

23When peoples and kingdoms gather

to serve the LORD.k

III

24He has shattered my strength in mid-course,

has cut short my days.

25I plead, O my God,

do not take me in the midst of my days.*l

Your years last through all generations.

26Of old you laid the earth’s foundations;m

the heavens are the work of your hands.

27They perish, but you remain;

they all wear out like a garment;

Like clothing you change them and they are changed,

28but you are the same, your years have no end.

29May the children of your servants live on;

may their descendants live in your presence.n

* [Psalm 102] A lament, one of the Penitential Psalms. The psalmist, experiencing psychological and bodily disintegration (Ps 102:412), cries out to God (Ps 102:13). In the Temple precincts where God has promised to be present, the psalmist recalls God’s venerable promises to save the poor (Ps 102:1323). The final part (Ps 102:2428) restates the original complaint and prayer, and emphasizes God’s eternity.

* [102:9] They make my name a curse: enemies use the psalmist’s name in phrases such as, “May you be as wretched as this person!”

* [102:2023] Both Ps 102:2021 and Ps 102:2223 depend on Ps 102:19.

* [102:25] In the midst of my days: when the normal span of life is but half completed, cf. Is 38:10; Jer 17:11.

a. [102:3] Ps 69:18; 143:7.

b. [102:46] Ps 38:79.

c. [102:10] Ps 42:4; 80:6.

d. [102:12] Ps 109:23; 144:4; Jb 8:9; 14:2; Eccl 6:12; Wis 2:5.

e. [102:12] Ps 90:56.

f. [102:13] Ps 55:20; 90:2; 93:2; 135:13; 145:13; Lam 5:19; Heb 1:12.

g. [102:16] Is 59:19; 66:18.

h. [102:19] Ps 22:3132.

i. [102:20] Ps 11:4; 14:2.

j. [102:21] Ps 79:11.

k. [102:23] Is 60:34; Zec 2:15; 8:22.

l. [102:25] Ps 39:5; 90:10; Jb 14:5.

m. [102:2628] Heb 1:1012.

n. [102:29] Ps 69:3637.

PSALM 103*

Praise of Divine Goodness

1Of David.

I

Bless the LORD, my soul;

all my being, bless his holy name!

2Bless the LORD, my soul;

and do not forget all his gifts,

3Who pardons all your sins,

and heals all your ills,

4Who redeems your life from the pit,a

and crowns you with mercy and compassion,

5Who fills your days with good things,

so your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.*

II

6The LORD does righteous deeds,

brings justice to all the oppressed.b

7He made known his ways to Moses,

to the Israelites his deeds.

8Merciful and gracious is the LORD,

slow to anger, abounding in mercy.c

9He will not always accuse,

and nurses no lasting anger;

10He has not dealt with us as our sins merit,

nor requited us as our wrongs deserve.

III

11For as the heavens tower over the earth,

so his mercy towers over those who fear him.d

12As far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our sins from us.

13As a father has compassion on his children,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.

14For he knows how we are formed,

remembers that we are dust.e

15As for man, his days are like the grass;

he blossoms like a flower in the field.f

16A wind sweeps over it and it is gone;

its place knows it no more.

17But the LORD’s mercy is from age to age,

toward those who fear him.

His salvation is for the children’s children

18of those who keep his covenant,

and remember to carry out his precepts.

IV

19The LORD has set his throne in heaven;

his dominion extends over all.

20Bless the LORD, all you his angels,g

mighty in strength, acting at his behest,

obedient to his command.

21Bless the LORD, all you his hosts,

his ministers who carry out his will.

22Bless the LORD, all his creatures,

everywhere in his domain.

Bless the LORD, my soul!

* [Psalm 103] The speaker in this hymn begins by praising God for personal benefits (Ps 103:15), then moves on to God’s mercy toward all the people (Ps 103:618). Even sin cannot destroy that mercy (Ps 103:1113), for the eternal God is well aware of the people’s human fragility (Ps 103:1418). The psalmist invites the heavenly beings to join in praise (Ps 103:1922).

* [103:5] Your youth is renewed like the eagle’s: because of the eagle’s long life it was a symbol of perennial youth and vigor, cf. Is 40:31.

a. [103:4] Ps 28:1; 30:4; 40:3; 69:16; 88:5; 143:7; Prv 1:12; Jon 2:7.

b. [103:6] Ps 146:67.

c. [103:8] Ps 86:15; 145:8; Ex 34:67; Nm 14:18; Jer 3:12; Jl 2:13; Jon 4:2.

d. [103:11] Is 55:9.

e. [103:14] Ps 90:3.

f. [103:15] Ps 37:2; 90:56; Is 40:7.

g. [103:20] Ps 148:2; Dn 3:58.

PSALM 104*

Praise of God the Creator

I

1Bless the LORD, my soul!

LORD, my God, you are great indeed!

You are clothed with majesty and splendor,

2robed in light as with a cloak.

You spread out the heavens like a tent;a

3setting the beams of your chambers upon the waters.*

You make the clouds your chariot;

traveling on the wings of the wind.

4You make the winds your messengers;

flaming fire, your ministers.b

II

5*You fixed the earth on its foundation,

so it can never be shaken.

6The deeps covered it like a garment;

above the mountains stood the waters.

7At your rebuke they took flight;

at the sound of your thunder they fled.c

8They rushed up the mountains, down the valleys

to the place you had fixed for them.

9You set a limit they cannot pass;

never again will they cover the earth.d

III

10You made springs flow in wadies

that wind among the mountains.

11They give drink to every beast of the field;e

here wild asses quench their thirst.

12Beside them the birds of heaven nest;

among the branches they sing.

13You water the mountains from your chambers;

from the fruit of your labor the earth abounds.

14You make the grass grow for the cattle

and plants for people’s work

to bring forth food from the earth,

15wine to gladden their hearts,

oil to make their faces shine,

and bread to sustain the human heart.

16*The trees of the LORD drink their fill,

the cedars of Lebanon, which you planted.

17There the birds build their nests;

the stork in the junipers, its home.f

18The high mountains are for wild goats;

the rocky cliffs, a refuge for badgers.

IV

19You made the moon to mark the seasons,g

the sun that knows the hour of its setting.

20You bring darkness and night falls,

then all the animals of the forest wander about.

21Young lions roar for prey;

they seek their food from God.h

22When the sun rises, they steal away

and settle down in their dens.

23People go out to their work,

to their labor till evening falls.

V

24How varied are your works, LORD!

In wisdom you have made them all;

the earth is full of your creatures.i

25There is the sea, great and wide!

It teems with countless beings,

living things both large and small.j

26There ships ply their course

and Leviathan,* whom you formed to play with.k

VI

27All of these look to you

to give them food in due time.l

28When you give it to them, they gather;

when you open your hand, they are well filled.

29*When you hide your face, they panic.

Take away their breath, they perish

and return to the dust.m

30Send forth your spirit, they are created

and you renew the face of the earth.

VII

31May the glory of the LORD endure forever;

may the LORD be glad in his works!

32Who looks at the earth and it trembles,

touches the mountains and they smoke!n

33I will sing to the LORD all my life;

I will sing praise to my God while I live.o

34May my meditation be pleasing to him;

I will rejoice in the LORD.

35May sinners vanish from the earth,

and the wicked be no more.

Bless the LORD, my soul! Hallelujah!*

* [Psalm 104] A hymn praising God who easily and skillfully made rampaging waters and primordial night into a world vibrant with life. The psalmist describes God’s splendor in the heavens (Ps 104:14), how the chaotic waters were tamed to fertilize and feed the world (Ps 104:518), and how primordial night was made into a gentle time of refreshment (Ps 104:1923). The picture is like Gn 1:12: a dark and watery chaos is made dry and lighted so that creatures might live. The psalmist reacts to the beauty of creation with awe (Ps 104:2434). May sin not deface God’s work (Ps 104:35)!

* [104:3] Your chambers upon the waters: God’s heavenly dwelling above the upper waters of the sky, cf. Gn 1:67; Ps 29:10.

* [104:59] God places the gigantic disk of the earth securely on its foundation and then, as a warrior, chases away the enveloping waters and confines them under, above, and around the earth.

* [104:1618] Even the exotic flora and fauna of the high mountains of the Lebanon range receive adequate water.

* [104:26] Leviathan: a sea monster symbolizing primeval chaos, cf. Ps 74:14; Is 27:1; Jb 40:25. God does not destroy chaos but makes it part of the created order.

* [104:2930] On one level, the spirit (or wind) of God is the fall and winter rains that provide food for all creatures. On another, it is the breath (or spirit) of God that makes beings live.

* [104:35] Hallelujah: a frequent word in the last third of the Psalter. The word combines the plural imperative of praise (hallelu) with an abbreviated form of the divine name Yah(weh).

a. [104:2] Prv 8:2728; Jb 9:8; Is 40:22; Gn 1:67; Am 9:6.

b. [104:4] Heb 1:7.

c. [104:7] Ps 29:3.

d. [104:9] Jer 5:22; Gn 9:1115.

e. [104:1114] Ps 147:89.

f. [104:17] Ez 31:6.

g. [104:19] Sir 43:6.

h. [104:21] Jb 38:39.

i. [104:24] Ps 92:6; Sir 39:16.

j. [104:25] Sir 43:26.

k. [104:26] Jb 3:8; 40:25, 29.

l. [104:27] Ps 136:25; 145:1516.

m. [104:29] Ps 90:3; Jb 34:1415; Eccl 3:20.

n. [104:32] Ps 144:5.

o. [104:33] Ps 146:2.

PSALM 105*

God’s Fidelity to the Promise

I

1Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;a

make known among the peoples his deeds!b

2Sing praise to him, play music;

proclaim all his wondrous deeds!

3Glory in his holy name;

let hearts that seek the LORD rejoice!

4Seek out the LORD and his might;

constantly seek his face.c

5Recall the wondrous deeds he has done,

his wonders and words of judgment,

6You descendants of Abraham his servant,

offspring of Jacob the chosen one!

II

7He the LORD, is our God

whose judgments reach through all the earth.

8He remembers forever his covenant,

the word he commanded for a thousand generations,

9Which he made with Abraham,

and swore to Isaac,d

10And ratified in a statute for Jacob,

an everlasting covenant for Israel:

11“To you I give the land of Canaan,

your own allotted inheritance.”e

III

12When they were few in number,f

a handful, and strangers there,

13Wandering from nation to nation,

from one kingdom to another people,

14He let no one oppress them;

for their sake he rebuked kings:*

15*“Do not touch my anointed ones,

to my prophets do no harm.”

IV

16Then he called down a famine on the land,

destroyed the grain that sustained them.*g

17He had sent a man ahead of them,

Joseph, sold as a slave.h

18They shackled his feet with chains;

collared his neck in iron,i

19Till his prediction came to pass,

and the word of the LORD proved him true.j

20The king sent and released him;

the ruler of peoples set him free.k

21He made him lord over his household,

ruler over all his possessions,l

22To instruct his princes as he desired,

to teach his elders wisdom.

V

23Then Israel entered Egypt;m

Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.*

24God greatly increased his people,

made them more numerous than their foes.n

25He turned their hearts to hate his people,

to treat his servants deceitfully.o

26He sent his servant Moses,

and Aaron whom he had chosen.p

27*They worked his signs in Egyptq

and wonders in the land of Ham.

28He sent darkness and it grew dark,

but they rebelled against his word.

29He turned their waters into blood

and killed their fish.

30Their land swarmed with frogs,

even the chambers of their kings.

31He spoke and there came swarms of flies,

gnats through all their country.

32For rain he gave them hail,

flashes of lightning throughout their land.

33He struck down their vines and fig trees,

shattered the trees of their country.

34He spoke and the locusts came,

grasshoppers without number.r

35They devoured every plant in the land;

they devoured the crops of their fields.

36He struck down every firstborn in the land,

the first fruits of all their vigor.

37He brought his people out,

laden with silver and gold;s

no one among the tribes stumbled.

38Egypt rejoiced when they left,

for fear had seized them.

VI

39He spread a cloud out as a cover,

and made a fire to light up the night.t

40They asked and he brought them quail;

with bread from heaven he filled them.u

41He split the rock and water gushed forth;

it flowed through the desert like a river.v

42For he remembered his sacred promise

to Abraham his servant.

43He brought his people out with joy,

his chosen ones with shouts of triumph.

44He gave them the lands of the nations,

they took possession of the wealth of the peoples,w

45That they might keep his statutes

and observe his teachings.x

Hallelujah!

* [Psalm 105] A hymn to God who promised the land of Canaan to the holy people, cf. Ps 78; 106; 136. Israel is invited to praise and seek the presence of God (Ps 105:16), who is faithful to the promise of land to the ancestors (Ps 105:711). In every phase of the national story—the ancestors in the land of Canaan (Ps 105:1215), Joseph in Egypt (Ps 105:1622), Israel in Egypt (Ps 105:2338), Israel in the desert on the way to Canaan (Ps 105:3945)—God remained faithful, reiterating the promise of the land to successive servants.

* [105:14] Kings: Pharaoh and Abimelech of Gerar, cf. Gn 12:17; 20:67.

* [105:15] My anointed ones…my prophets: the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were “anointed” in the sense of being consecrated and recipients of God’s revelation.

* [105:16] The grain that sustained them: lit., every “staff of bread.”

* [105:23, 27] The land of Ham: a synonym for Egypt, cf. Gn 10:6.

* [105:2738] This Psalm and Ps 78:4351 have an account of the plagues differing in number or in order from Ex 7:1412:30. Several versions of the exodus story were current.

a. [105:115] 1 Chr 16:822.

b. [105:1] Ps 18:50; 96:3; 145:5; Is 12:45.

c. [105:4] Ps 24:6; 27:8.

d. [105:9] Gn 15:1ff; 26:3.

e. [105:11] Gn 12:7; 15:18.

f. [105:1213] Dt 4:27; 26:5.

g. [105:16] Gn 41:54, 57.

h. [105:17] Gn 37:28, 36; 45:5.

i. [105:18] Gn 39:20.

j. [105:19] Gn 4041.

k. [105:20] Gn 41:14.

l. [105:21] Gn 41:4144.

m. [105:23] Gn 46:147:12; Acts 7:15.

n. [105:24] Ex 1:7; Acts 7:17.

o. [105:25] Ex 1:814.

p. [105:26] Ex 3:10; 4:27.

q. [105:2736] Ps 78:4351; Ex 712.

r. [105:34] Jl 1:4.

s. [105:37] Ex 12:3336.

t. [105:39] Ps 78:14; Ex 13:2122; Wis 18:3.

u. [105:40] Ps 78:2428; Ex 16:1315; Nm 11:31ff; Wis 16:20.

v. [105:41] Ps 78:1516; Ex 17:17; Nm 20:11.

w. [105:44] Dt 4:3740.

x. [105:45] Dt 6:2025; 7:811.

PSALM 106*

Israel’s Confession of Sin

1Hallelujah!

A

Give thanks to the LORD, who is good,

whose mercy endures forever.a

2Who can recount the mighty deeds of the LORD,

proclaim in full God’s praise?

3Blessed those who do what is right,

whose deeds are always just.b

4Remember me, LORD, as you favor your people;

come to me with your saving help,c

5That I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,

rejoice in the joy of your people,

and glory with your heritage.

B

6We have sinned like our ancestors;d

we have done wrong and are guilty.

I

7Our ancestors in Egypt

did not attend to your wonders.

They did not remember your manifold mercy;

they defied the Most High at the Red Sea.

8Yet he saved them for his name’s sake

to make his power known.e

9He roared at the Red Sea and it dried up.

He led them through the deep as through a desert.f

10He rescued them from hostile hands,

freed them from the power of the enemy.

11The waters covered their oppressors;

not one of them survived.

12Then they believed his words

and sang his praise.g

II

13But they soon forgot all he had done;

they had no patience for his plan.

14In the desert they gave in to their cravings,

tempted God in the wasteland.h

15So he gave them what they asked

and sent a wasting disease against them.i

III

16In the camp they challenged Mosesj

and Aaron, the holy one of the LORD.

17The earth opened and swallowed Dathan,

it closed on the followers of Abiram.

18Against their company the fire blazed;

flames consumed the wicked.

IV

19At Horeb they fashioned a calf,k

worshiped a metal statue.

20They exchanged their glory*

for the image of a grass-eating bull.

21They forgot the God who had saved them,

who had done great deeds in Egypt,l

22Amazing deeds in the land of Ham,

fearsome deeds at the Red Sea.

23He would have decreed their destruction,

had not Moses, his chosen one,

Withstood him in the breach*

to turn back his destroying anger.m

V

24Next they despised the beautiful land;n

they did not believe the promise.

25In their tents they complained;

they did not heed the voice of the LORD.

26So with raised hand he swore

he would destroy them in the desert,

27And scatter their descendants among the nations,

disperse them in foreign lands.

VI

28They joined in the rites of Baal of Peor,o

ate food sacrificed to the dead.

29They provoked him by their actions,

and a plague broke out among them.

30Then Phinehas rose to intervene,

and the plague was brought to a halt.

31This was counted for him as a righteous deed

for all generations to come.

VII

32At the waters of Meribah they angered God,p

and Moses suffered because of them.*

33They so embittered his spirit

that rash words crossed his lips.

VIII

34They did not destroy the peoples

as the LORD had commanded them,q

35But mingled with the nations

and imitated their ways.r

36They served their idols

and were ensnared by them.s

37They sacrificed to demons*

their own sons and daughters,

38Shedding innocent blood,

the blood of their own sons and daughters,

Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,

desecrating the land with bloodshed.

39They defiled themselves by their actions,

became adulterers by their conduct.

40So the LORD grew angry with his people,

abhorred his own heritage.

41He handed them over to the nations,

and their adversaries ruled over them.t

42Their enemies oppressed them,

kept them under subjection.

43Many times did he rescue them,

but they kept rebelling and scheming

and were brought low by their own guilt.u

44Still God had regard for their affliction

when he heard their wailing.

45For their sake he remembered his covenant

and relented in his abundant mercy,v

46Winning for them compassion

from all who held them captive.

C

47Save us, LORD, our God;

gather us from among the nations

That we may give thanks to your holy name

and glory in praising you.w

48*Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,

from everlasting to everlasting!

Let all the people say, Amen!x

Hallelujah!

* [Psalm 106] Israel is invited to praise the God whose mercy has always tempered judgment of Israel (Ps 106:13). The speaker, on behalf of all, seeks solidarity with the people, who can always count on God’s fidelity despite their sin (Ps 106:45). Confident of God’s mercy, the speaker invites national repentance (Ps 106:6) by reciting from Israel’s history eight instances of sin, judgment, and forgiveness. The sins are the rebellion at the Red Sea (Ps 106:612; see Ex 1415), the craving for meat in the desert (Ps 106:1315; see Nm 11), the challenge to Moses’ authority (Ps 106:1618; see Nm 16), the golden calf episode (Ps 106:1923; see Ex 3234), the refusal to take Canaan by the southern route (Ps 106:2427; see Nm 1314 and Dt 12), the rebellion at Baal-Peor (Ps 106:2831; see Nm 25:110), the anger of Moses (Ps 106:3233; see Nm 20:113), and mingling with the nations (Ps 106:3447). The last, as suggested by its length and generalized language, may be the sin that invites the repentance of the present generation. The text gives the site of each sin: Egypt (Ps 106:7), the desert (Ps 106:14), the camp (Ps 106:16), Horeb (Ps 106:19), in their tents (Ps 106:25), Baal-Peor (Ps 106:28), the waters of Meribah (Ps 106:32), Canaan (Ps 106:38).

* [106:20] Their glory: meant as a reference to God.

* [106:23] Withstood him in the breach: the image is that of Moses standing in a narrow break made in the wall to keep anyone from entering.

* [106:32] Moses suffered because of them: Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land because of his rash words (Nm 20:12). According to Dt 1:37, Moses was not allowed to cross because of the people’s sin, not his own.

* [106:37] Demons: Hebrew shedim occurs in parallelism with “gods” in an important inscription from Transjordan and hence can also be translated “the gods.”

* [106:48] A doxology ending Book IV of the Psalter. It is not part of the Psalm.

a. [106:1] Ps 100:5; 107:1; 1 Chr 16:34; Jer 33:11; Dn 3:89.

b. [106:3] Is 56:12.

c. [106:4] Ps 25:7; Neh 5:19.

d. [106:67] Ps 78:1117; Ex 14:11; Lv 26:40; 1 Kgs 8:47; Bar 2:12; Dn 9:5.

e. [106:8] Ez 36:2022.

f. [106:9] Ex 14:2131; Is 50:2; 63:1114; Na 1:4.

g. [106:12] Ex 15:121.

h. [106:14] Ps 78:18; Ex 15:24; 16:3; Nm 11:16.

i. [106:15] Ps 78:2631; Nm 11:33.

j. [106:1618] Nm 16; Dt 11:6; Is 26:11.

k. [106:1920] Ex 32; Dt 9:821; Jer 2:11; Acts 7:41; Rom 1:23.

l. [106:21] Ps 78:4258; Dt 32:18; Jer 2:32.

m. [106:23] Ex 32:11; Dt 9:25; Ez 22:30.

n. [106:2427] Lv 26:33; Nm 14; Dt 1:2536; Ez 20:15, 23.

o. [106:2831] Nm 25; Dt 26:14; Sir 45:2324.

p. [106:3233] Ps 95:89; Ex 17:17; Nm 20:213; Dt 6:16; 33:8.

q. [106:34] Dt 7:1; Jgs 2:15.

r. [106:35] Lv 18:3; Jgs 1:2735; 3:5.

s. [106:3638] Lv 18:21; Nm 35:33; Dt 32:17; Jgs 2:1113, 17, 19; 2 Kgs 16:3; Bar 4:7; 1 Cor 10:20.

t. [106:41] Jgs 2:1423.

u. [106:43] Is 63:79.

v. [106:45] Lv 26:42.

w. [106:47] 1 Chr 16:35.

x. [106:48] Ps 41:14; 72:18; 89:53; 1 Chr 16:36; Neh 9:5.

Fifth Book—Psalms 107150

PSALM 107*

God the Savior of Those in Distress

1“Give thanks to the LORD for he is good,

his mercy endures forever!”a

2Let that be the prayer of the LORD’s redeemed,

those redeemed from the hand of the foe,b

3Those gathered from foreign lands,

from east and west, from north and south.c

I

4Some had lost their way in a barren desert;

found no path toward a city to live in.

5They were hungry and thirsty;

their life was ebbing away.d

6In their distress they cried to the LORD,

who rescued them in their peril,

7eGuided them by a direct path

so they reached a city to live in.f

8Let them thank the LORD for his mercy,

such wondrous deeds for the children of Adam.

9For he satisfied the thirsty,

filled the hungry with good things.g

II

10Some lived in darkness and gloom,

imprisoned in misery and chains.

11Because they rebelled against God’s word,

and scorned the counsel of the Most High,h

12He humbled their hearts through hardship;

they stumbled with no one to help.i

13In their distress they cried to the LORD,

who saved them in their peril;

14He brought them forth from darkness and the shadow of death

and broke their chains asunder.j

15Let them thank the LORD for his mercy,

such wondrous deeds for the children of Adam.

16For he broke down the gates of bronze

and snapped the bars of iron.

III

17Some fell sick from their wicked ways,

afflicted because of their sins.

18They loathed all manner of food;k

they were at the gates of death.

19In their distress they cried to the LORD,

who saved them in their peril,

20Sent forth his word to heal them,l

and snatched them from the grave.

21Let them thank the LORD for his mercy,

such wondrous deeds for the children of Adam.

22Let them offer a sacrifice in thanks,

recount his works with shouts of joy.

IV

23Some went off to sea in ships,

plied their trade on the deep waters.m

24They saw the works of the LORD,

the wonders of God in the deep.

25He commanded and roused a storm wind;

it tossed the waves on high.n

26They rose up to the heavens, sank to the depths;

their hearts trembled at the danger.

27They reeled, staggered like drunkards;

their skill was of no avail.o

28In their distress they cried to the LORD,

who brought them out of their peril;

29He hushed the storm to silence,

the waves of the sea were stilled.p

30They rejoiced that the sea grew calm,

that God brought them to the harbor they longed for.

31Let them thank the LORD for his mercy,

such wondrous deeds for the children of Adam.

32Let them extol him in the assembly of the people,

and praise him in the council of the elders.

V

33*God changed rivers into desert,

springs of water into thirsty ground,q

34Fruitful land into a salty waste,

because of the wickedness of its people.r

35He changed the desert into pools of water,

arid land into springs of water,s

36And settled the hungry there;

they built a city to live in.t

37They sowed fields and planted vineyards,

brought in an abundant harvest.u

38vGod blessed them, and they increased greatly,

and their livestock did not decrease.w

39But he poured out contempt on princes,

made them wander trackless wastes,

40Where they were diminished and brought low

through misery and cruel oppression.

41While he released the poor man from affliction,

and increased their families like flocks.x

42The upright saw this and rejoiced;y

all wickedness shut its mouth.

43Whoever is wise will take note of these things,z

and ponder the merciful deeds of the LORD.

* [Psalm 107] A hymn inviting those who have been rescued by God to give praise (Ps 107:13). Four archetypal divine rescues are described, each ending in thanksgiving: from the sterile desert (Ps 107:49), from imprisonment in gloom (Ps 107:1016), from mortal illness (Ps 107:1722), and from the angry sea (Ps 107:2332). The number four connotes totality, all the possible varieties of rescue. The same saving activity of God is shown in Israel’s history (Ps 107:3341); whenever the people were endangered God rescued them. The last verses invite people to ponder the persistent saving acts of God (Ps 107:4243).

* [107:3341] God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah in Gn 1819, which the Psalm sees as the destruction of the wicked inhabitants of Canaan to prepare the way for Israel (Ps 107:3334). God then led Israel through the desert to give them a fertile land (Ps 107:3538) and protected them from every danger (Ps 107:3941).

a. [107:1] Ps 100:45; 106:1; Jer 33:11.

b. [107:2] Is 63:12.

c. [107:3] Is 43:56; 49:12; Zec 8:7.

d. [107:5] Dt 8:15; 32:10; Is 49:10.

e. [107:7] Is 35:8; 40:3; 43:19.

f. [107:7] Dt 6:10.

g. [107:9] Lk 1:53.

h. [107:11] Is 42:7, 22; Jb 36:89; Prv 1:25.

i. [107:12] Ps 106:43.

j. [107:14] Is 42:7; 49:9; 51:14.

k. [107:18] Jb 6:67; 33:20.

l. [107:20] Ps 147:15; Wis 16:12; Is 55:11; Mt 8:8.

m. [107:23] Sir 43:25.

n. [107:25] Jon 1:4.

o. [107:27] Is 29:9.

p. [107:29] Ps 65:8; 89:10; Mt 8:26 par.

q. [107:33] Is 35:7; 42:15; 50:2.

r. [107:34] Gn 19:2328; Dt 29:22; Sir 39:23.

s. [107:35] Ps 114:8; Is 41:8.

t. [107:36] Ez 36:35.

u. [107:37] Is 65:21; Jer 31:5.

v. [107:38] Jb 12:2325.

w. [107:38] Dt 7:1314.

x. [107:41] Ps 113:7.

y. [107:42] Ps 58:11; 63:12.

z. [107:43] Hos 14:10.

PSALM 108*

Prayer for Victory

1A song; a psalm of David.

I

2My heart is steadfast, God;a

my heart is steadfast.

Let me sing and chant praise.

3Awake, lyre and harp!

I will wake the dawn.b

4I will praise you among the peoples, LORD;

I will chant your praise among the nations.c

5For your mercy is greater than the heavens;

your faithfulness, to the skies.d

II

6Appear on high over the heavens, God;

your glory above all the earth.

7Help with your right hand and answer us

that your loved ones may escape.

8God speaks in his holiness:*e

“I will exult, I will apportion Shechem;

the valley of Succoth I will measure out.

9Gilead is mine, mine is Manasseh;

Ephraim is the helmet for my head,

Judah, my scepter.

10Moab is my washbowl;

upon Edom I cast my sandal;f

I will shout in triumph over Philistia.”

11Who will bring me to the fortified city?

Who will lead me into Edom?

12Was it not you who rejected us, God?

Do you no longer march with our armies?g

13Give us aid against the foe;

worthless is human help.

14We will triumph with the help of God,

who will trample down our foes.

* [Psalm 108] A prayer compiled from two other Psalms: Ps 108:26 are virtually the same as Ps 57:812; Ps 108:714 are the same as Ps 60:714. An old promise of salvation (Ps 108:810) is combined with a confident assurance (Ps 108:26, 13) and petition (Ps 108:7, 1213).

* [108:8] Holiness: may also be translated as “sanctuary” or as referring to God’s heavenly abode.

a. [108:26] Ps 57:812.

b. [108:3] Jb 38:12.

c. [108:4] Ps 9:12; 18:50; 148:13.

d. [108:5] Ps 36:6; 71:19.

e. [108:814] Ps 60:814.

f. [108:10] Ru 4:78.

g. [108:12] Ps 44:10.

PSALM 109*

Prayer of a Person Falsely Accused

1For the leader. A psalm of David.

I

2O God, whom I praise, do not be silent,a

for wicked and treacherous mouths attack me.

They speak against me with lying tongues;

3with hateful words they surround me,

attacking me without cause.

4In return for my love they slander me,

even though I prayed for them.

5They repay me evil for good,

hatred for my love.b

II

6Appoint an evil one over him,

an accuser* to stand at his right hand,

7That he may be judged and found guilty,

that his plea may be in vain.

8May his days be few;

may another take his office.c

9May his children be fatherless,

his wife, a widow.d

10May his children wander and beg,

driven from their hovels.

11May the usurer snare all he owns,

strangers plunder all he earns.

12May no one treat him with mercy

or pity his fatherless children.

13May his posterity be destroyed,e

their name rooted out in the next generation.

14May his fathers’ guilt be mentioned to the LORD;

his mother’s sin not rooted out.f

15May their guilt be always before the LORD,g

till their memory is banished from the earth,h

16For he did not remember to show mercy,

but hounded the wretched poor

and brought death to the brokenhearted.

17He loved cursing; may it come upon him;

he hated blessing; may none come to him.

18May cursing clothe him like a robe;

may it enter his belly like water,

his bones like oil.

19May it be near as the clothes he wears,

as the belt always around him.

20*May this be the reward for my accusers from the LORD,

for those speaking evil against me.

III

21But you, LORD, are my Lord,

deal kindly with me for your name’s sake;

in your great mercy rescue me.

22For I am poor and needy;

my heart is pierced within me.

23Like a lengthening shadow I am gone,

I am shaken off like the locust.

24My knees totter from fasting;i

my flesh has wasted away.

25I have become a mockery to them;

when they see me, they shake their heads.

26Help me, LORD, my God;

save me in your mercy.

27Make them know this is your hand,

that you, LORD, have done this.

28Though they curse, may you bless;

arise, shame them, that your servant may rejoice.

29Clothe my accusers with disgrace;

make them wear their shame like a mantle.

30I will give fervent thanks to the LORD;

before a crowd I will praise him.j

31For he stands at the right hand of the poor

to save him from those who pass judgment on him.

* [Psalm 109] A lament notable for the length and vehemence of its prayer against evildoers (Ps 109:620); the cry to God (Ps 109:1) and the complaint (Ps 109:2225) are brief in comparison. The psalmist is apparently the victim of a slander campaign, potentially devastating in a society where reputation and honor are paramount. In the emotional perspective of the Psalm, there are only two types of people: the wicked and their poor victims. The psalmist is a poor victim (Ps 109:22, 31) and by that fact a friend of God and enemy of the wicked. The psalmist seeks vindication not on the basis of personal virtue but because of God’s promise to protect the poor.

* [109:6] An accuser: Hebrew satan, a word occurring in Job 12 and Zec 3:12. In the latter passage Satan stands at the right hand of the high priest to bring false accusations against him before God. Here the accuser is human.

* [109:20] May this be the reward…from the LORD: the psalmist prays that God ratify the curses of Ps 109:619 and bring them upon the wicked.

a. [109:2] Ps 35:22; 83:1.

b. [109:5] Ps 35:12; 38:21; Prv 17:13; Jer 18:20.

c. [109:8] Acts 1:20.

d. [109:9] Ex 22:23; Jer 18:21.

e. [109:13] Ps 21:11; Prv 10:7.

f. [109:14] Ex 20:5.

g. [109:15] Ps 90:8.

h. [109:15] Ps 34:16.

i. [109:2425] Ps 69:1113.

j. [109:30] Ps 111:1.

PSALM 110*

God Appoints the King both King and Priest

1A psalm of David.

The LORD says to my lord:*

“Sit at my right hand,

while I make your enemies your footstool.”*a

2The scepter of your might:

the LORD extends your strong scepter from Zion.

Have dominion over your enemies!

3Yours is princely power from the day of your birth.

In holy splendor before the daystar,

like dew I begot you.b

4The LORD has sworn and will not waver:

“You are a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek.”*c

5At your right hand is the Lord,

who crushes kings on the day of his wrath,d

6Who judges nations, heaps up corpses,

crushes heads across the wide earth,

7*Who drinks from the brook by the wayside

and thus holds high his head.e

* [Psalm 110] A royal Psalm in which a court singer recites three oracles in which God assures the king that his enemies are conquered (Ps 110:12), makes the king “son” in traditional adoption language (Ps 110:3), gives priestly status to the king and promises to be with him in future military ventures (Ps 110:47).

* [110:1] The LORD says to my lord: a polite form of address of an inferior to a superior, cf. 1 Sm 25:25; 2 Sm 1:10. The court singer refers to the king. Jesus in the synoptic gospels (Mt 22:4146 and parallels) takes the psalmist to be David and hence “my lord” refers to the messiah, who must be someone greater than David. Your footstool: in ancient times victorious kings put their feet on the prostrate bodies of their enemies.

* [110:4] Melchizedek: Melchizedek was the ancient king of Salem (Jerusalem) who blessed Abraham (Gn 14:1820); like other kings of the time he performed priestly functions. Heb 7 sees in Melchizedek a type of Christ.

* [110:7] Who drinks from the brook by the wayside: the meaning is uncertain. Some see an allusion to a rite of royal consecration at the Gihon spring (cf. 1 Kgs 1:33, 38). Others find here an image of the divine warrior (or king) pursuing enemies so relentlessly that he does not stop long enough to eat and drink.

a. [110:1] Mt 22:44; Acts 2:3435; 1 Cor 15:25; Heb 1:13; 8:1; 10:1213; 1 Pt 3:22.

b. [110:3] Ps 2:7; 89:27; Is 49:1.

c. [110:4] Ps 89:35; 132:11; Gn 14:18; Heb 5:6; 7:21.

d. [110:5] Ps 2:9; Rev 2:27; 12:5; 19:15.

e. [110:7] Ps 3:4.

PSALM 111*

Praise of God for Goodness to Israel

1Hallelujah!

I will praise the LORD with all my hearta

in the assembled congregation of the upright.*

2Great are the works of the LORD,

studied by all who delight in them.

3Majestic and glorious is his work,

his righteousness endures forever.

4He won renown for his wondrous deeds;

gracious and merciful is the LORD.b

5He gives food to those who fear him,*

he remembers his covenant forever.

6He showed his powerful deeds to his people,

giving them the inheritance of the nations.

7The works of his hands are true and just,

reliable all his decrees,

8Established forever and ever,

to be observed with truth and equity.

9He sent release to his people,

decreed his covenant forever;

holy and fearsome is his name.

10*The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;c

prudent are all who practice it.

His praise endures forever.

* [Psalm 111] A Temple singer (Ps 111:1) tells how God is revealed in Israel’s history (Ps 111:210). The deeds reveal God’s very self, powerful, merciful, faithful. The poem is an acrostic, each verse beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

* [111:1] In the assembled congregation of the upright: in the Temple, cf. Ps 149:1.

* [111:5] Food to those who fear him: probably a reference to the manna in the desert, which elsewhere is seen as a type of the Eucharist, cf. Jn 6:3133, 4951.

* [111:10] The fear of the LORD: reverence for God.

a. [111:1] Ps 138:1.

b. [111:4] Ps 103:8; 112:4.

c. [111:10] Prv 1:7; 9:10; Sir 1:16.

PSALM 112*

The Blessings of the Just

1Hallelujah!

Blessed the man who fears the LORD,

who greatly delights in his commands.a

2His descendants shall be mighty in the land,

a generation of the upright will be blessed.

3Wealth and riches shall be in his house;

his righteousness* shall endure forever.

4Light shines through the darkness for the upright;b

gracious, compassionate, and righteous.

5It is good for the man gracious in lending,

who conducts his affairs with justice.

6For he shall never be shaken;

the righteous shall be remembered forever.c

7He shall not fear an ill report;

his heart is steadfast, trusting the LORD.

8His heart is tranquil, without fear,

till at last he looks down on his foes.

9Lavishly he gives to the poor;

his righteousness shall endure forever;d

his horn* shall be exalted in honor.

10The wicked sees and is angry;

gnashes his teeth and wastes away;

the desire of the wicked come to nothing.

* [Psalm 112] An acrostic poem detailing the blessings received by those who remain close to God by obedience to the commandments. Among their blessings are children (Ps 112:2), wealth that enables them to be magnanimous (Ps 112:3, 5, 9), and virtue by which they encourage others (Ps 112:4). The just person is an affront to the wicked, whose hopes remain unfulfilled (Ps 112:10). The logic resembles Ps 1; 111.

* [112:3] Righteousness: in the Second Temple period the word acquired the nuance of liberality and almsgiving, cf. Sir 3:30; 7:10; Mt 6:14.

* [112:9] His horn: the symbol for vitality and honor.

a. [112:1] Ps 1:12; 119:12; 128:1.

b. [112:4] Ps 37:6; 97:11; Prv 13:9; Is 58:10.

c. [112:6] Prv 10:7; Wis 8:13.

d. [112:9] Prv 22:9; 2 Cor 9:9.

PSALM 113*

Praise of God’s Care for the Poor

1Hallelujah!

I

Praise, you servants of the LORD,

praise the name of the LORD.a

2Blessed be the name of the LORD

both now and forever.

3From the rising of the sun to its settingb

let the name of the LORD be praised.

II

4High above all nations is the LORD;

above the heavens his glory.c

5Who is like the LORD our God,

enthroned on high,

6dlooking down on heaven and earth?

7He raises the needy from the dust,

lifts the poor from the ash heap,e

8Seats them with princes,

the princes of the people,

9Gives the childless wife a home,

the joyful mother of children.f

Hallelujah!

* [Psalm 113] A hymn exhorting the congregation to praise God’s name, i.e., the way in which God is present in the world; the name is mentioned three times in Ps 113:13. The divine name is especially honored in the Temple (Ps 113:1) but its recognition is not limited by time (Ps 113:2) and space (Ps 113:3), for God is everywhere active (Ps 113:45) especially in rescuing the lowly faithful (Ps 113:79).

a. [113:1] Ps 135:1.

b. [113:3] Mal 1:11.

c. [113:4] Ps 148:13.

d. [113:6] Ps 89:79.

e. [113:7] Ps 107:41; 1 Sm 2:78.

f. [113:9] 1 Sm 2:5; Is 54:1.

PSALM 114*

The Lord’s Wonders at the Exodus

1When Israel came forth from Egypt,

the house of Jacob from an alien people,

2Judah became God’s sanctuary,

Israel, God’s domain.a

3*The sea saw and fled;

the Jordan turned back.b

4The mountains skipped like rams;

the hills, like lambs.c

5Why was it, sea, that you fled?

Jordan, that you turned back?

6Mountains, that you skipped like rams?

You hills, like lambs?

7Tremble, earth, before the Lord,d

before the God of Jacob,

8*Who turned the rock into pools of water,

flint into a flowing spring.e

* [Psalm 114] A hymn celebrating Israel’s escape from Egypt, journey through the wilderness, and entry into the promised land, and the miracles of nature that bore witness to God’s presence in their midst. In the perspective of the Psalm, the people proceed directly from Egypt into the promised land (Ps 114:12). Sea and Jordan, which stood like soldiers barring the people from their land, flee before the mighty God as the earth recoils from the battle (Ps 114:34). The poet taunts the natural elements as one taunts defeated enemies (Ps 114:56).

* [114:34] Pairs of cosmic elements such as sea and rivers, mountains and hills, are sometimes mentioned in creation accounts. Personified here as warriors, the pairs tremble in fear before the Divine Warrior. The quaking also recalls the divine appearance in the storm at Sinai (Ex 19:1619) and elsewhere (Jgs 5:45; Ps 18:715).

* [114:8] The miracles of giving drink to the people in the arid desert, cf. Ex 17:17; Is 41:1718.

a. [114:2] Ex 19:6.

b. [114:3] Ps 66:6; 74:15; Ex 14:21f; Jos 3:14ff.

c. [114:4] Ps 29:6; Wis 19:9.

d. [114:7] Ps 68:9.

e. [114:8] Ex 17:6; Nm 20:11.

PSALM 115*

The Greatness of the True God

I

1Not to us, LORD, not to us

but to your name give glory

because of your mercy and faithfulness.a

2Why should the nations say,

“Where is their God?”*b

3Our God is in heaven

and does whatever he wills.c

II

4Their idols are silver and gold,d

the work of human hands.e

5They have mouths but do not speak,

eyes but do not see.

6They have ears but do not hear,

noses but do not smell.

7They have hands but do not feel,

feet but do not walk;

they produce no sound from their throats.

8Their makers will be like them,

and anyone who trusts in them.

III

9*The house of Israel trusts in the LORD,f

who is their help and shield.g

10The house of Aaron trusts in the LORD,

who is their help and shield.

11Those who fear the LORD trust in the LORD,

who is their help and shield.

12The LORD remembers us and will bless us,

will bless the house of Israel,

will bless the house of Aaron,

13Will bless those who fear the LORD,

small and great alike.

14May the LORD increase your number,

yours and your descendants.

15May you be blessed by the LORD,

maker of heaven and earth.

16*The heavens belong to the LORD,

but he has given the earth to the children of Adam.h

17*The dead do not praise the LORD,

not all those go down into silence.i

18It is we who bless the LORD,

both now and forever.

Hallelujah!

* [Psalm 115] A response to the enemy taunt, “Where is your God?” This hymn to the glory of Israel’s God (Ps 115:13) ridicules the lifeless idols of the nations (Ps 115:48), expresses in a litany the trust of the various classes of the people in God (Ps 115:911), invokes God’s blessing on them as they invoke the divine name (Ps 115:1215), and concludes as it began with praise of God. Ps 135:1518 similarly mocks the Gentile gods and has a similar litany and hymn (Ps 135:1921).

* [115:2] Where is their God?: implies that God cannot help them.

* [115:911] The house of Israel…the house of Aaron…those who fear the LORD: the laity of Israelite birth, the priests, and the converts to Judaism, cf. Ps 118:24; 135:1921. In the New Testament likewise “those who fear the Lord” means converts to Judaism (cf. Acts 10:2, 22, 35; 13:16, 26).

* [115:16] The heavens: the Septuagint reads here “the heaven of heavens” or “the highest heavens,” i.e., above the firmament. See note on Ps 148:4.

* [115:17] See note on Ps 6:5.

a. [115:1] Ez 36:2223.

b. [115:2] Ps 79:10.

c. [115:3] Ps 135:6.

d. [115:410] Ps 135:1519; Wis 15:1516; Is 44:9f; Jer 10:15.

e. [115:4] Is 40:19.

f. [115:9] Ps 118:24.

g. [115:9] Ps 33:20.

h. [115:16] Gn 1:28.

i. [115:17] Ps 6:6; 88:11ff; Sir 17:22f; Is 38:18.

PSALM 116*

Thanksgiving to God Who Saves from Death

I

1I love the LORD, who listened

to my voice in supplication,

2Who turned an ear to me

on the day I called.

3I was caught by the cords of death;*a

the snares of Sheol had seized me;

I felt agony and dread.

4Then I called on the name of the LORD,

“O LORD, save my life!”

II

5Gracious is the LORD and righteous;

yes, our God is merciful.b

6The LORD protects the simple;

I was helpless, but he saved me.

7Return, my soul, to your rest;

the LORD has been very good to you.c

8For my soul has been freed from death,

my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.d

9I shall walk before the LORD

in the land of the living.*e

III

10*I kept faith, even when I said,

“I am greatly afflicted!”f

11I said in my alarm,

“All men are liars!”g

12How can I repay the LORD

for all the great good done for me?

13I will raise the cup of salvation*

and call on the name of the LORD.

14I will pay my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people.

15*Dear in the eyes of the LORD

is the death of his devoted.h

16LORD, I am your servant,

your servant, the child of your maidservant;i

you have loosed my bonds.

17I will offer a sacrifice of praise

and call on the name of the LORD.j

18I will pay my vows to the LORDk

in the presence of all his people,

19In the courts of the house of the LORD,

in your midst, O Jerusalem.

Hallelujah!

* [Psalm 116] A thanksgiving in which the psalmist responds to divine rescue from mortal danger (Ps 116:34) and from near despair (Ps 116:1011) with vows and Temple sacrifices (Ps 116:1314, 1719). The Greek and Latin versions divide the Psalm into two parts: Ps 116:19 and Ps 116:1019, corresponding to its two major divisions.

* [116:3] The cords of death: death is personified here; it attempts to capture the psalmist with snares and nets, cf. Ps 18:6.

* [116:9] The land of the living: the phrase elsewhere is an epithet of the Jerusalem Temple (cf. Ps 27:13; 52:5; Is 38:11). Hence the psalmist probably refers to being present to God in the Temple.

* [116:10] I kept faith, even when I said: even in the days of despair, the psalmist did not lose all hope.

* [116:13] The cup of salvation: probably the libation of wine poured out in gratitude for rescue, cf. Ex 25:29; Nm 15:5, 7, 10.

* [116:15] Dear in the eyes of the LORD: the meaning is that the death of God’s faithful is grievous to God, not that God is pleased with the death, cf. Ps 72:14. In Wis 3:56, God accepts the death of the righteous as a sacrificial burnt offering.

a. [116:3] Ps 18:5; Jon 2:3.

b. [116:5] Ex 34:6.

c. [116:7] Ps 13:6.

d. [116:8] Ps 56:14; Is 25:8; Rev 21:4.

e. [116:9] Ps 27:13; 56:14; Is 38:11.

f. [116:10] 2 Cor 4:13.

g. [116:11] Ps 12:2.

h. [116:15] Ps 72:14; Is 43:4.

i. [116:16] Ps 86:16; 143:12; Wis 9:5.

j. [116:17] Lv 7:12ff.

k. [116:18] Jon 2:10.

PSALM 117*

The Nations Called To Praise

1Praise the LORD, all you nations!

Extol him, all you peoples!a

2His mercy for us is strong;

the faithfulness of the LORD is forever.

Hallelujah!

* [Psalm 117] This shortest of hymns calls on the nations to acknowledge God’s supremacy. The supremacy of Israel’s God has been demonstrated to them by the people’s secure existence, which is owed entirely to God’s gracious fidelity.

a. [117:1] Rom 15:11.

PSALM 118*

Hymn of Thanksgiving

I

1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,a

his mercy endures forever.

2Let Israel say:

his mercy endures forever.

3Let the house of Aaron say,

his mercy endures forever.

4Let those who fear the LORD say,b

his mercy endures forever.

II

5In danger I called on the LORD;

the LORD answered me and set me free.

6The LORD is with me; I am not afraid;

what can mortals do against me?c

7The LORD is with me as my helper;

I shall look in triumph on my foes.

8Better to take refuge in the LORDd

than to put one’s trust in mortals.

9Better to take refuge in the LORD

than to put one’s trust in princes.

III

10All the nations surrounded me;

in the LORD’s name I cut them off.

11They surrounded me on every side;

in the LORD’s name I cut them off.

12They surrounded me like bees;e

they burned up like fire among thorns;

in the LORD’s name I cut them off.

13I was hard pressed and falling,

but the LORD came to my help.f

14The LORD, my strength and might,

has become my savior.g

IV

15The joyful shout of deliverance

is heard in the tents of the righteous:

“The LORD’s right hand works valiantly;

16the LORD’s right hand is raised;

the LORD’s right hand works valiantly.”

17I shall not die but live

and declare the deeds of the LORD.

18The LORD chastised me harshly,

but did not hand me over to death.

V

19Open the gates of righteousness;

I will enter and thank the LORD.h

20This is the LORD’s own gate,

through it the righteous enter.

21I thank you for you answered me;

you have been my savior.

22*The stone the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.i

23By the LORD has this been done;

it is wonderful in our eyes.

24This is the day the LORD has made;

let us rejoice in it and be glad.

25LORD, grant salvation!*

LORD, grant good fortune!

VI

26Blessed is he

who comes in the name of the LORD.j

We bless you from the house of the LORD.

27The LORD is God and has enlightened us.

Join in procession with leafy branches

up to the horns of the altar.

VII

28You are my God, I give you thanks;

my God, I offer you praise.

29Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

his mercy endures forever.

* [Psalm 118] A thanksgiving liturgy accompanying a procession of the king and the people into the Temple precincts. After an invocation in the form of a litany (Ps 118:14), the psalmist (very likely speaking in the name of the community) describes how the people confidently implored God’s help (Ps 118:59) when hostile peoples threatened its life (Ps 118:1014); vividly God’s rescue is recounted (Ps 118:1518). Then follows a possible dialogue at the Temple gates between the priests and the psalmist as the latter enters to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice (Ps 118:1925). Finally, the priests impart their blessing (Ps 118:2627), and the psalmist sings in gratitude (Ps 118:2829).

* [118:22] The stone the builders rejected: a proverb: what is insignificant to human beings has become great through divine election. The “stone” may originally have meant the foundation stone or capstone of the Temple. The New Testament interpreted the verse as referring to the death and resurrection of Christ (Mt 21:42; Acts 4:11; cf. Is 28:16 and Rom 9:33; 1 Pt 2:7).

* [118:25] Grant salvation: the Hebrew for this cry has come into English as “Hosanna.” This cry and the words in Ps 118:26 were used in the gospels to welcome Jesus entering the Temple on Palm Sunday (Mk 11:910).

a. [118:1] Ps 100:5; 136:1f.

b. [118:4] Ps 115:911.

c. [118:6] Ps 27:1; Heb 13:6.

d. [118:8f] Ps 146:3.

e. [118:12] Dt 1:44.

f. [118:13] Ps 129:12.

g. [118:14] Ex 15:2; Is 12:2.

h. [118:19] Is 26:2.

i. [118:22] Mt 21:42; Lk 20:17; Acts 4:11; Rom 9:33; 1 Pt 2:7.

j. [118:26] Mt 21:9; 23:39.

PSALM 119*

A Prayer to God, the Lawgiver

Aleph

1Blessed those whose way is blameless,

who walk by the law of the LORD.a

2Blessed those who keep his testimonies,

who seek him with all their heart.b

3They do no wrong;

they walk in his ways.

4You have given them the command

to observe your precepts with care.

5May my ways be firm

in the observance of your statutes!

6Then I will not be ashamed

to ponder all your commandments.

7I will praise you with sincere heart

as I study your righteous judgments.

8I will observe your statutes;

do not leave me all alone.

Beth

9How can the young keep his way without fault?

Only by observing your words.

10With all my heart I seek you;

do not let me stray from your commandments.

11In my heart I treasure your promise,

that I may not sin against you.

12Blessed are you, O LORD;

teach me your statutes.c

13With my lips I recite

all the judgments you have spoken.

14I find joy in the way of your testimonies

more than in all riches.

15I will ponder your precepts

and consider your paths.

16In your statutes I take delight;

I will never forget your word.

Gimel

17Be kind to your servant that I may live,

that I may keep your word.

18Open my eyes to see clearly

the wonders of your law.

19I am a sojourner in the land;*d

do not hide your commandments from me.

20At all times my soul is stirred

with longing for your judgments.

21With a curse you rebuke the proud

who stray from your commandments.

22Free me from disgrace and contempt,

for I keep your testimonies.

23Though princes meet and talk against me,

your servant meditates on your statutes.

24Your testimonies are my delight;

they are my counselors.

Daleth

25My soul clings to the dust;e

give me life in accord with your word.

26I disclosed my ways and you answered me;

teach me your statutes.

27Make me understand the way of your precepts;

I will ponder your wondrous deeds.

28My soul is depressed;

lift me up acccording to your word.

29Lead me from the way of deceit;

favor me with your law.

30The way of loyalty I have chosen;

I have kept your judgments.

31I cling to your testimonies, LORD;

do not let me come to shame.

32I will run the way of your commandments,

for you will broaden my heart.

He

33LORD, teach me the way of your statutes;

I shall keep them with care.f

34Give me understanding to keep your law,

to observe it with all my heart.

35Lead me in the path of your commandments,g

for that is my delight.

36Direct my heart toward your testimonies

and away from gain.

37Avert my eyes from what is worthless;

by your way give me life.

38For your servant, fulfill your promise

made to those who fear you.

39Turn away from me the taunts I dread,

for your judgments are good.

40See how I long for your precepts;

in your righteousness give me life.

Waw

41Let your mercy come to me, LORD,

salvation in accord with your promise.

42Let me answer my taunters with a word,

for I trust in your word.

43Do not take the word of truth from my mouth,

for in your judgments is my hope.

44I will keep your law always,

for all time and forever.

45I will walk freely in an open space

because I cherish your precepts.

46I will speak openly of your testimonies

without fear even before kings.

47I delight in your commandments,

which I dearly love.

48*I lift up my hands to your commandments;

I study your statutes, which I love.

Zayin

49Remember your word to your servant

by which you give me hope.

50This is my comfort in affliction,

your promise that gives me life.

51Though the arrogant utterly scorn me,

I do not turn from your law.

52When I recite your judgments of old

I am comforted, LORD.

53Rage seizes me because of the wicked;

they forsake your law.

54Your statutes become my songs

wherever I make my home.

55Even at night I remember your name

in observance of your law, LORD.

56This is my good fortune,

for I have kept your precepts.

Heth

57My portion is the LORD;

I promise to observe your words.

58I entreat you with all my heart:

have mercy on me in accord with your promise.

59I have examined my ways

and turned my steps to your testimonies.

60I am prompt, I do not hesitate

in observing your commandments.

61Though the snares of the wicked surround me,

your law I do not forget.

62At midnight I rise to praise you

because of your righteous judgments.

63I am the friend of all who fear you,

of all who observe your precepts.

64The earth, LORD, is filled with your mercy;h

teach me your statutes.

Teth

65You have treated your servant well,

according to your word, O LORD.

66Teach me wisdom and knowledge,

for in your commandments I trust.

67Before I was afflicted I went astray,

but now I hold to your promise.

68You are good and do what is good;

teach me your statutes.

69The arrogant smear me with lies,

but I keep your precepts with all my heart.

70Their hearts are gross and fat;i

as for me, your law is my delight.

71It was good for me to be afflicted,

in order to learn your statutes.

72The law of your mouth is more precious to me

than heaps of silver and gold.

Yodh

73Your hands made me and fashioned me;

give me understanding to learn your commandments.

74Those who fear you rejoice to see me,

because I hope in your word.

75I know, LORD, that your judgments are righteous;

though you afflict me, you are faithful.

76May your mercy comfort me

in accord with your promise to your servant.

77Show me compassion that I may live,

for your law is my delight.

78Shame the proud for leading me astray with falsehood,

that I may study your testimonies.

79Let those who fear you turn to me,

those who acknowledge your testimonies.

80May I be wholehearted toward your statutes,

that I may not be put to shame.

Kaph

81My soul longs for your salvation;

I put my hope in your word.j

82My eyes long to see your promise.k

When will you comfort me?

83I am like a wineskin shriveled by smoke,l

but I have not forgotten your statutes.

84How long can your servant survive?

When will your judgment doom my foes?

85The arrogant have dug pits for me;

defying your law.

86All your commandments are steadfast.

Help me! I am pursued without cause.

87They have almost put an end to me on earth,

but I do not forsake your precepts.

88In your mercy give me life,

to observe the testimonies of your mouth.

Lamedh

89*Your word, LORD, stands forever;m

it is firm as the heavens.

90Through all generations your truth endures;

fixed to stand firm like the earth.

91By your judgments they stand firm to this day,

for all things are your servants.

92Had your law not been my delight,

I would have perished in my affliction.

93I will never forget your precepts;

through them you give me life.

94I am yours; save me,

for I cherish your precepts.

95The wicked hope to destroy me,

but I seek to understand your testimonies.

96I have seen the limits of all perfection,

but your commandment is without bounds.

Mem

97How I love your law, Lord!*

I study it all day long.

98Your commandment makes me wiser than my foes,

as it is forever with me.

99I have more insight than all my teachers,

because I ponder your testimonies.

100I have more understanding than my elders,

because I keep your precepts.n

101I keep my steps from every evil path,

that I may observe your word.

102From your judgments I do not turn,

for you have instructed me.

103How sweet to my tongue is your promise,

sweeter than honey to my mouth!o

104Through your precepts I gain understanding;

therefore I hate all false ways.

Nun

105Your word is a lamp for my feet,

a light for my path.p

106I make a solemn vow

to observe your righteous judgments.

107I am very much afflicted, LORD;

give me life in accord with your word.

108Accept my freely offered praise;q

LORD, teach me your judgments.

109My life is always at risk,

but I do not forget your law.

110The wicked have set snares for me,

but from your precepts I do not stray.

111Your testimonies are my heritage forever;

they are the joy of my heart.

112My heart is set on fulfilling your statutes;

they are my reward forever.

Samekh

113I hate every hypocrite;

your law I love.

114You are my refuge and shield;

in your word I hope.

115Depart from me, you wicked,r

that I may keep the commandments of my God.

116Sustain me by your promise that I may live;

do not disappoint me in my hope.

117Strengthen me that I may be safe,

ever to contemplate your statutes.

118You reject all who stray from your statutes,

for vain is their deceit.

119Like dross you regard all the wicked on earth;

therefore I love your testimonies.

120My flesh shudders with dread of you;

I fear your judgments.

Ayin

121I have fulfilled your righteous judgment;

do not abandon me to my oppressors.

122Guarantee your servant’s welfare;

do not let the arrogant oppress me.

123My eyes long to see your salvation

and the promise of your righteousness.

124Act with mercy toward your servant;

teach me your statutes.

125I am your servant; give me discernment

that I may know your testimonies.

126It is time for the LORD to act;

they have disobeyed your law.

127Truly I love your commandments

more than gold, more than the finest gold.

128Thus, I follow all your precepts;

every wrong way I hate.

Pe

129Wonderful are your testimonies;

therefore I keep them.

130The revelation of your words sheds light,

gives understanding to the simple.

131I sigh with open mouth,

yearning for your commandments.

132Turn to me and be gracious,s

according to your judgment for those who love your name.

133Steady my feet in accord with your promise;

do not let iniquity lead me.

134Free me from human oppression,

that I may observe your precepts.

135Let your face shine upon your servant;

teach me your statutes.

136My eyes shed streams of tears

because your law is not observed.

Sadhe

137You are righteous, LORD,

and just are your judgments.t

138You have given your testimonies in righteousness

and in surpassing faithfulness.

139I am consumed with rage,

because my foes forget your words.

140Your servant loves your promise;

it has been proved by fire.

141Though belittled and despised,

I do not forget your precepts.

142Your justice is forever right,

your law true.

143Though distress and anguish come upon me,

your commandments are my delight.

144Your testimonies are forever righteous;

give me understanding that I may live.

145I call with all my heart, O LORD;

answer me that I may keep your statutes.

146I call to you to save me

that I may observe your testimonies.

147I rise before dawn and cry out;

I put my hope in your words.

148My eyes greet the night watches

as I meditate on your promise.u

149Hear my voice in your mercy, O LORD;

by your judgment give me life.

150Malicious persecutors draw near me;

they are far from your law.

151You are near, O LORD;

reliable are all your commandments.

152Long have I known from your testimonies

that you have established them forever.

Resh

153Look at my affliction and rescue me,

for I have not forgotten your law.

154Take up my cause and redeem me;v

for the sake of your promise give me life.

155Salvation is far from sinners

because they do not cherish your statutes.

156Your compassion is great, O LORD;

in accord with your judgments, give me life.

157Though my persecutors and foes are many,

I do not turn from your testimonies.

158I view the faithless with loathingw

because they do not heed your promise.

159See how I love your precepts, LORD;

in your mercy give me life.

160Your every word is enduring;

all your righteous judgments are forever.

Shin

161Princes persecute me without reason,

but my heart reveres only your word.

162I rejoice at your promise,

as one who has found rich spoil.

163Falsehood I hate and abhor;

your law I love.

164Seven times a day I praise you

because your judgments are righteous.

165Lovers of your law have much peace;x

for them there is no stumbling block.

166I look for your salvation, LORD,

and I fulfill your commandments.

167I observe your testimonies;

I love them very much.

168I observe your precepts and testimonies;

all my ways are before you.

Taw

169Let my cry come before you, LORD;y

in keeping with your word, give me understanding.

170Let my prayer come before you;

rescue me according to your promise.

171May my lips pour forth your praise,

because you teach me your statutes.

172May my tongue sing of your promise,

for all your commandments are righteous.

173Keep your hand ready to help me,

for I have chosen your precepts.

174I long for your salvation, LORD;

your law is my delight.

175Let my soul live to praise you;

may your judgments give me help.

176I have wandered like a lost sheep;

seek out your servant,

for I do not forget your commandments.z

* [Psalm 119] This Psalm, the longest by far in the Psalter, praises God for giving such splendid laws and instruction for people to live by. The author glorifies and thanks God for the Torah, prays for protection from sinners enraged by others’ fidelity to the law, laments the cost of obedience, delights in the law’s consolations, begs for wisdom to understand the precepts, and asks for the rewards of keeping them. Several expected elements do not appear in the Psalm: Mount Sinai with its story of God’s revelation and gift to Israel of instruction and commandments, the Temple and other institutions related to revelation and laws (frequent in other Psalms). The Psalm is fascinated with God’s word directing and guiding human life. The poem is an acrostic; its twenty-two stanzas (of eight verses each) are in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the eight verses within a stanza begins with the same letter. Each verse contains one word for “instruction.” The translation here given attempts to translate each Hebrew word for “instruction” with the same English word. There are, however, nine words for “instruction,” not eight, so the principle of a different word for “instruction” in each verse cannot be maintained with perfect consistency. The nine words for “instruction” in the translation are: law, statute, commandment, precept, testimony, word, judgment, way, and promise.

* [119:19] A sojourner in the land: like someone without the legal protection of a native inhabitant, the psalmist has a special need for the guidance of God’s teaching.

* [119:48] I lift up my hands to your commandments: to lift up the hands was an ancient gesture of reverence to God. Here the picture is applied to God’s law.

* [119:8991] God’s word creates the world, which manifests that word by its permanence and reliability.

* [119:97] Lord: the inclusion of “Lord” follows the tradition of the Septuagint and the Vulgate.

a. [119:1] Ps 1:12; 15:2; 112:1.

b. [119:2] Dt 4:29.

c. [119:12] Ps 25:4; 27:11; 86:11; 143:8, 10.

d. [119:19] Ps 39:13.

e. [119:25] Ps 44:26.

f. [119:33] Ps 19:12.

g. [119:35] Ps 25:4; 27:11; 86:11; 143:8, 10.

h. [119:64] Ps 33:5.

i. [119:70] Ps 17:10; 73:7; Jb 15:27.

j. [119:81] Ps 130:6.

k. [119:82] Ps 25:15; 123:12; 141:8.

l. [119:83] Jb 30:30.

m. [119:89] Is 40:8.

n. [119:100] Jb 32:6; Wis 4:89.

o. [119:103] Ps 19:11.

p. [119:105] Ps 18:29; Prv 6:23.

q. [119:108] Ps 50:14, 23; Heb 13:15.

r. [119:115] Ps 6:9; 139:19; Jb 21:14.

s. [119:132] Ps 25:16; 86:16.

t. [119:137] Tb 3:2.

u. [119:148] Ps 63:7; 77:7.

v. [119:154] Ps 43:1.

w. [119:158] Ps 139:22.

x. [119:165] Ps 72:7.

y. [119:169] Ps 88:3.

z. [119:176] Is 53:6; Jer 50:6; Lk 15:17.

PSALM 120*

Prayer of a Returned Exile

1A song of ascents.*

The LORD answered me

when I called in my distress:a

2LORD, deliver my soul from lying lips,

from a treacherous tongue.b

3What will he inflict on you,

O treacherous tongue,

and what more besides?*

4A warrior’s arrows

sharpened with coals of brush wood!*c

5*Alas, I am a foreigner in Meshech,

I live among the tents of Kedar!

6Too long do I live

among those who hate peace.

7When I speak of peace,

they are for war.d

* [Psalm 120] A thanksgiving, reporting divine rescue (Ps 120:1) yet with fervent prayer for further protection against lying attackers (Ps 120:24). The psalmist is acutely conscious of living away from God’s own land where divine peace prevails (Ps 120:57).

* [120:1] A song of ascents: Ps 120134 all begin with this superscription. Most probably these fifteen Psalms once formed a collection of Psalms sung when pilgrims went to Jerusalem, since one “ascended” to Jerusalem (1 Kgs 12:28; Ps 24:3; 122:4; Lk 2:42) or to the house of God or to an altar (1 Kgs 12:33; 2 Kgs 23:2; Ps 24:3). Less probable is the explanation that these Psalms were sung by the exiles when they “ascended” to Jerusalem from Babylonia (cf. Ezr 7:9). The idea, found in the Mishnah, that the fifteen steps on which the Levites sang corresponded to these fifteen Psalms (Middot 2:5) must underlie the Vulgate translation canticum graduum, “song of the steps” or “gradual song.”

* [120:3] More besides: a common curse formula in Hebrew was “May the Lord do such and such evils to you [the evils being specified], and add still more to them,” cf. 1 Sm 3:17; 14:44; 25:22. Here the psalmist is at a loss for a suitable malediction.

* [120:4] Coals of brush wood: coals made from the stalk of the broom plant burn with intense heat. The psalmist thinks of lighted coals cast at his enemies.

* [120:5] Meshech was in the far north (Gn 10:2) and Kedar was a tribe of the north Arabian desert (Gn 25:13). The psalmist may be thinking generally of all aliens living among inhospitable peoples.

a. [120:1] Jon 2:3.

b. [120:2] Ps 12:35; Sir 51:3.

c. [120:4] Ps 11:6; 140:11; Prv 16:27.

d. [120:7] Ps 35:20; 140:34.

PSALM 121*

The Lord My Guardian

1A song of ascents.

I raise my eyes toward the mountains.*

From whence shall come my help?a

2My help comes from the LORD,

the maker of heaven and earth.b

3He will not allow your foot to slip;c

or your guardian to sleep.

4Behold, the guardian of Israel

never slumbers nor sleeps.

5*The LORD is your guardian;

the LORD is your shade

at your right hand.d

6By day the sun will not strike you,

nor the moon by night.e

7The LORD will guard you from all evil;

he will guard your soul.f

8The LORD will guard your coming and going

both now and forever.g

* [Psalm 121] A blessing given to someone embarking on a dangerous journey whether a soldier going on a campaign or a pilgrim returning home from the Temple. People look anxiously at the wooded hills. Will God protect them on their journey (Ps 121:1)? The speaker declares that God is not confined to a place or a time (Ps 121:2), that every step is guarded (Ps 121:34); night and day (Ps 121:56) God watches over their every movement (Ps 121:78).

* [121:1] The mountains: possibly Mount Zion, the site of the Temple and hence of safety, but more probably mountains as a place of dangers, causing anxiety to the psalmist.

* [121:56] The image of shade, a symbol of protection, is apt: God as shade protects from the harmful effects that ancients believed were caused by the sun and moon.

a. [121:1] Jer 3:23.

b. [121:2] Ps 124:8; 146:6.

c. [121:3] Ps 66:9; 91:12; 1 Sm 2:9; Prv 3:23.

d. [121:5] Ps 16:8; 73:23.

e. [121:6] Wis 18:3; Is 25:4; 49:10.

f. [121:7] Ps 97:10.

g. [121:8] Dt 28:6.

PSALM 122*

A Pilgrim’s Prayer for Jerusalem

1A song of ascents. Of David.

I

I rejoiced when they said to me,

“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”a

2And now our feet are standing

within your gates, Jerusalem.

3Jerusalem, built as a city,

walled round about.*b

4There the tribes go up,

the tribes of the LORD,

As it was decreed for Israel,

to give thanks to the name of the LORD.c

5There are the thrones of justice,

the thrones of the house of David.

II

6For the peace of Jerusalem pray:

“May those who love you prosper!

7May peace be within your ramparts,

prosperity within your towers.”d

8For the sake of my brothers and friends I say,

“Peace be with you.”e

9For the sake of the house of the LORD, our God,

I pray for your good.

* [Psalm 122] A song of Zion, sung by pilgrims obeying the law to visit Jerusalem three times on a journey. The singer anticipates joining the procession into the city (Ps 122:13). Jerusalem is a place of encounter, where the people praise God (Ps 122:4) and hear the divine justice mediated by the king (Ps 122:5). The very buildings bespeak God’s power (cf. Ps 48:1315). May the grace of this place transform the people’s lives (Ps 122:69)!

* [122:3] Walled round about: lit., “which is joined to it,” probably referring both to the density of the buildings and to the dense population.

a. [122:1] Ps 43:34; 84:25.

b. [122:3] Ps 48:1314.

c. [122:4] Dt 16:16.

d. [122:7] Ps 128:5.

e. [122:8] Jn 20:19ff.

PSALM 123*

Reliance on the Lord

1A song of ascents.

To you I raise my eyes,

to you enthroned in heaven.a

2Yes, like the eyes of servants

on the hand of their masters,

Like the eyes of a maid

on the hand of her mistress,

So our eyes are on the LORD our God,

till we are shown favor.

3Show us favor, LORD, show us favor,

for we have our fill of contempt.b

4Our souls are more than sated

with mockery from the insolent,

with contempt from the arrogant.

* [Psalm 123] A lament that begins as a prayer of an individual (Ps 123:1), who expresses by a touching comparison exemplary confidence in God (Ps 123:2). The Psalm ends in prayer that God relieve the people’s humiliation at the hands of the arrogant (Ps 123:34).

a. [123:1] Ps 25:15; 119:82; 141:8.

b. [123:3] Ps 44:1314; Jb 12:4.

PSALM 124*

God, the Rescuer of the People

1A song of ascents. Of David.

Had not the LORD been with us,

let Israel say,a

2Had not the LORD been with us,

when people rose against us,

3Then they would have swallowed us alive,b

for their fury blazed against us.

4Then the waters would have engulfed us,

the torrent overwhelmed us;c

5then seething water would have drowned us.

6Blessed is the LORD, who did not leave us

to be torn by their teeth.

7We escaped with our lives like a bird

from the fowler’s snare;

the snare was broken,

and we escaped.

8*Our help is in the name of the LORD,

the maker of heaven and earth.d

* [Psalm 124] A thanksgiving which teaches that Israel’s very existence is owed to God who rescues them. In the first part Israel’s enemies are compared to the mythic sea dragon (Ps 124:2b3a; cf. Jer 51:34) and Flood (Ps 124:3b5; cf. Is 51:910). The Psalm heightens the malice of human enemies by linking them to the primordial enemies of God’s creation. Israel is a bird freed from the trapper’s snare (Ps 124:68)—freed originally from Pharaoh and now from the current danger.

* [124:8] Our help is in the name: for the idiom, see Ex 18:4.

a. [124:1] Ps 129:1.

b. [124:3] Prv 1:12.

c. [124:4] Ps 18:5; 69:2.

d. [124:8] Ps 121:2; 146:6.

PSALM 125*

Israel’s Protector

1A song of ascents.

Those trusting in the LORD are like Mount Zion,

unshakable, forever enduring.a

2As mountains surround Jerusalem,

the LORD surrounds his people

both now and forever.b

3The scepter of the wicked will not prevail

in the land allotted to the just,*

Lest the just themselves

turn their hands to evil.

4Do good, LORD, to the good,

to those who are upright of heart.c

5But those who turn aside to crooked ways

may the LORD send down with the evildoers.d

Peace upon Israel!e

* [Psalm 125] In response to exilic anxieties about the ancient promises of restoration, the Psalm expresses confidence that God will surround the people as the mountains surround Zion (Ps 125:12). The just will not be contaminated by the wicked (Ps 125:3). May God judge between the two groups (Ps 125:45).

* [125:3] The land allotted to the just: lit., “the lot of the righteous.” The promised land was divided among the tribes of Israel by lot (Nm 26:55; Jos 18). The righteous are the members of the people who are obedient to God. If the domination of the wicked were to continue in the land, even the just would be infected by their evil attitudes.

a. [125:1] Prv 10:25.

b. [125:2] Dt 32:11.

c. [125:4] Ps 18:25ff.

d. [125:5] Prv 3:32.

e. [125:5] Ps 128:6.

PSALM 126*

The Reversal of Zion’s Fortunes

1A song of ascents.

I

When the LORD restored the captives of Zion,a

we thought we were dreaming.

2Then our mouths were filled with laughter;

our tongues sang for joy.b

Then it was said among the nations,

“The LORD had done great things for them.”

3The LORD has done great things for us;

Oh, how happy we were!

4Restore our captives, LORD,

like the dry stream beds of the Negeb.*

II

5Those who sow in tears

will reap with cries of joy.c

6Those who go forth weeping,

carrying sacks of seed,

Will return with cries of joy,

carrying their bundled sheaves.

* [Psalm 126] A lament probably sung shortly after Israel’s return from exile. The people rejoice that they are in Zion (Ps 126:13) but mere presence in the holy city is not enough; they must pray for the prosperity and the fertility of the land (Ps 126:4). The last verses are probably an oracle of promise: the painful work of sowing will be crowned with life (Ps 126:56).

* [126:4] Like the dry stream beds of the Negeb: the psalmist prays for rain in such abundance that the dry riverbeds will run.

a. [126:1] Ps 14:7.

b. [126:2] Jb 8:21.

c. [126:5] Bar 4:23; Is 65:19.

PSALM 127*

The Need of God’s Blessing

1A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

I

Unless the LORD build the house,

they labor in vain who build.

Unless the LORD guard the city,

in vain does the guard keep watch.

2It is vain for you to rise early

and put off your rest at night,

To eat bread earned by hard toil—

all this God gives to his beloved in sleep.a

II

3Certainly sons are a gift from the LORD,

the fruit of the womb, a reward.b

4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior

are the sons born in one’s youth.

5Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them.

He will never be shamed

for he will destroy his foes at the gate.*

* [Psalm 127] The Psalm puts together two proverbs (Ps 127:12, 35) on God establishing “houses” or families. The prosperity of human groups is not the work of human beings but the gift of God.

* [127:5] At the gate: the reference is not to enemies besieging the walls of a city but to adversaries in litigation. Law courts functioned in the open area near the main city gate. The more adult sons a man had, the more forceful he would appear in disputes, cf. Prv 31:23.

a. [127:2] Eccl 2:24.

b. [127:3] Ps 115:14; 128:3; Dt 28:11; Prv 17:6.

PSALM 128*

The Blessed Home of the Just

1A song of ascents.

I

Blessed are all who fear the LORD,

and who walk in his ways.a

2What your hands provide you will enjoy;

you will be blessed and prosper:b

3Your wife will be like a fruitful vine

within your home,

Your children like young olive plants

around your table.c

4Just so will the man be blessed

who fears the LORD.

II

5May the LORD bless you from Zion;

may you see Jerusalem’s prosperity

all the days of your life,d

6and live to see your children’s children.e

Peace upon Israel!f

* [Psalm 128] A statement that the ever-reliable God will bless the reverent (Ps 128:1). God’s blessing is concrete: satisfaction and prosperity, a fertile spouse and abundant children (Ps 128:24). The perspective is that of the adult male, ordinarily the ruler and representative of the household to the community. The last verses extend the blessing to all the people for generations to come (Ps 128:56).

a. [128:1] Ps 112:1.

b. [128:2] Ps 112:3.

c. [128:3] Ps 144:12; Jb 29:5.

d. [128:5] Ps 20:3; 134:3.

e. [128:6] Jb 42:16; Prv 17:6.

f. [128:6] Ps 125:5.

PSALM 129*

Against Israel’s Enemies

1A song of ascents.

I

Viciously have they attacked me from my youth,

let Israel say now.a

2Viciously have they attacked me from my youth,b

yet they have not prevailed against me.

3Upon my back the plowers plowed,

as they traced their long furrows.c

4But the just LORD cut me free

from the ropes of the wicked.*

II

5May they recoil in disgrace,

all who hate Zion.

6May they be like grass on the rooftopsd

withered in early growth,*

7Never to fill the reaper’s hands,

nor the arms of the binders of sheaves,

8And with none passing by to call out:

“The blessing of the LORD be upon you!*

We bless you in the name of the LORD!”e

* [Psalm 129] A Psalm giving thanks for God’s many rescues of Israel over the long course of their history (Ps 129:14); the people pray that their oppressors never know the joy of harvest (Ps 129:58).

* [129:4] The ropes of the wicked: usually understood as the rope for yoking animals to the plow. If it is severed, the plowing (cf. Ps 129:3) comes to a halt.

* [129:6] Like grass on the rooftops: after the spring rains, grass would sprout from the coat of mud with which the flat roofs of simple houses were covered, but when the dry summer began there was no moisture in the thin roof-covering to sustain the grass.

* [129:8] The blessing of the LORD be upon you: harvesters greeted one another with such blessings, cf. Ru 2:4.

a. [129:1] Ps 124:1.

b. [129:2] Ps 118:13.

c. [129:3] Is 51:23.

d. [129:6] Is 37:27.

e. [129:8] Ps 118:26.

PSALM 130*

Prayer for Pardon and Mercy

1A song of ascents.

I

Out of the depths* I call to you, LORD;

2Lord, hear my cry!

May your ears be attentive

to my cry for mercy.a

3If you, LORD, keep account of sins,

Lord, who can stand?b

4But with you is forgiveness

and so you are revered.*

II

5I wait for the LORD,

my soul waits

and I hope for his word.c

6My soul looks for the Lord

more than sentinels for daybreak.d

More than sentinels for daybreak,

7let Israel hope in the LORD,

For with the LORD is mercy,

with him is plenteous redemption,e

8And he will redeem Israel

from all its sins.f

* [Psalm 130] This lament, a Penitential Psalm, is the De profundis used in liturgical prayers for the faithful departed. In deep sorrow the psalmist cries to God (Ps 130:12), asking for mercy (Ps 130:34). The psalmist’s trust (Ps 130:56) becomes a model for the people (Ps 130:78).

* [130:1] The depths: Sheol here is a metaphor of total misery. Deep anguish makes the psalmist feel “like those descending to the pit” (Ps 143:7).

* [130:4] And so you are revered: the experience of God’s mercy leads one to a greater sense of God.

a. [130:2] Ps 5:23; 55:23; 86:6; Lam 3:5556; Jon 2:3.

b. [130:3] Na 1:6.

c. [130:5] Ps 119:81.

d. [130:6] Is 21:11; 26:9.

e. [130:7] Ps 86:15; 100:5; 103:8.

f. [130:8] Ps 25:22; Mt 1:21.

PSALM 131*

Humble Trust in God

1A song of ascents. Of David.

LORD, my heart is not proud;

nor are my eyes haughty.

I do not busy myself with great matters,

with things too sublime for me.a

2Rather, I have stilled my soul,

Like a weaned child to its mother,

weaned is my soul.b

3Israel, hope in the LORD,

now and forever.

* [Psalm 131] A song of trust, in which the psalmist gives up self-sufficiency (Ps 131:1), like a babe enjoying the comfort of its mother’s lap (Ps 131:2), thus providing a model for Israel’s faith (Ps 131:3).

a. [131:1] Ps 139:6.

b. [131:2] Is 66:1213.

PSALM 132*

The Covenant Between David and God

1A song of ascents.

I

Remember, O LORD, for David

all his hardships;

2How he swore an oath to the LORD,

vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob:*

3“I will not enter the house where I live,a

nor lie on the couch where I sleep;

4I will give my eyes no sleep,

my eyelids no rest,

5Till I find a place for the LORD,

a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

6“We have heard of it in Ephrathah;*

we have found it in the fields of Jaar.*

7Let us enter his dwelling;

let us worship at his footstool.”b

8“Arise, LORD, come to your resting place,c

you and your mighty ark.

9Your priests will be clothed with justice;

your devout will shout for joy.”

10For the sake of David your servant,

do not reject your anointed.

II

11The LORD swore an oath to David in truth,

he will never turn back from it:d

“Your own offspringe I will set upon your throne.

12If your sons observe my covenant,

and my decrees I shall teach them,

Their sons, in turn,

shall sit forever on your throne.”

13Yes, the LORD has chosen Zion,

desired it for a dwelling:

14“This is my resting place forever;

here I will dwell, for I desire it.

15I will bless Zion with provisions;

its poor I will fill with bread.

16I will clothe its priests with salvation;

its devout shall shout for joy.f

17There I will make a horn sprout for David;*g

I will set a lamp for my anointed.

18His foes I will clothe with shame,

but on him his crown shall shine.”

* [Psalm 132] A song for a liturgical ceremony in which the ark, the throne of Israel’s God, was carried in procession to the Temple. The singer asks that David’s care for the proper housing of the ark be regarded with favor (Ps 132:15), and tells how it was brought to Jerusalem (Ps 132:610). There follows God’s promise of favor to the Davidic dynasty (Ps 132:1112) and to Zion (Ps 132:1317). The transfer of the ark to the tent in Jerusalem is described in 2 Sm 6.

* [132:2, 132:5] Mighty One of Jacob: one of the titles of Israel’s God, cf. Gn 49:24; Is 49:26; 60:16.

* [132:6] Ephrathah: the homeland of David, cf. Ru 4:11. The fields of Jaar: poetic for Kiriath-jearim, a town west of Jerusalem, where the ark remained for several generations, cf. 1 Sm 7:12; 2 Sm 6:2; 1 Chr 13:56.

* [132:17] A horn sprout for David: the image of the horn, a symbol of strength, is combined with that of a “sprout,” a term used for the Davidic descendant (cf. Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zec 3:8; 6:12). Early Christians referred the latter designation to Christ as son of David (Lk 1:69).

a. [132:3] 2 Sm 7; 1 Chr 28:2.

b. [132:7] Ps 99:5.

c. [132:810] Ps 2:2; 89:21; 95:11; Nm 10:35; 2 Chr 6:4142; Sir 24:7.

d. [132:1114] Ps 68:17; 1 Kgs 8:13; Sir 24:7.

e. [132:11] Ps 110:4; 2 Sm 7:12.

f. [132:16] 2 Chr 6:41; Is 61:10.

g. [132:17] Is 11:1; Jer 33:15; Ez 29:21; Zec 3:8; Lk 1:69.

PSALM 133*

A Vision of a Blessed Community

1A song of ascents. Of David.

How good and how pleasant it is,

when brothers* dwell together as one!

2Like fine oil on the head,*a

running down upon the beard,

Upon the beard of Aaron,

upon the collar of his robe.

3Like dew* of Hermon* coming down

upon the mountains of Zion.b

There the LORD has decreed a blessing,

life for evermore!c

* [Psalm 133] A benediction over a peaceful community, most probably the people Israel, but appropriate too for Israelite families (Ps 133:1). The history of Israel, whether of its ancestors in the Book of Genesis or of later periods, was a history of distinct groups struggling to live in unity. Here that unity is declared blessed, like the holy oils upon the priest Aaron or the dew of the rainless summer that waters the crops (Ps 133:23).

* [133:1] Brothers: in biblical Hebrew this word includes both the male and female members of a group united by blood relationships or by shared experiences and values. In this Psalm, the term could be applied most appropriately to the people of Israel, those privileged by God to be his chosen children.

* [133:2] Oil on the head: oil was used at the consecration of the high priest (Ex 30:2233).

* [133:3] Dew: dew was an important source of moisture in the dry climate (Gn 27:28; Hos 14:6). Hermon: the majestic snow-capped mountain visible in the north of Palestine.

a. [133:2] Ex 30:25, 30.

b. [133:3] Hos 14:6.

c. [133:3] Dt 28:8; 30:20.

PSALM 134*

Exhortation to the Night Watch to Bless God

1A song of ascents.

O come, bless the LORD,

all you servants of the LORD*

You who stand in the house of the LORD

throughout the nights.a

2Lift up your hands toward the sanctuary,b

and bless the LORD.

3May the LORD bless you from Zion,

the Maker of heaven and earth.c

* [Psalm 134] A brief liturgy exhorting all those who serve in the Jerusalem Temple during the night (cf. Is 30:29) to praise God with words and gestures. Although he is the Creator of the whole universe, God’s blessings emanate in a unique way from Zion, the city of Jerusalem.

* [134:1] Servants of the LORD: priests and Levites, cf. Dt 10:8; Ps 113:1; 135:1; Dn 3:85.

a. [134:1] Ps 135:12; 1 Chr 9:33.

b. [134:2] Ps 28:2; 141:2.

c. [134:3] Ps 20:3; 128:5; Nm 6:24.

PSALM 135*

Praise of God, the Ruler and Benefactor of Israel

1Hallelujah!

I

Praise the name of the LORD!

Praise, you servants of the LORD,a

2Who stand in the house of the LORD,

in the courts of the house of our God!b

3Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good!

Sing to his name, for it brings joy!

4*For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself,

Israel as his treasured possession.c

II

5For I know that the LORD is great,

that our Lord is greater than all gods.d

6Whatever the LORD desires

he does in heaven and on earth,

in the seas and all the depths.e

7It is he who raises storm clouds from the end of the earth,

makes lightning for the rain,

and brings forth wind from his storehouse.f

III

8He struck down Egypt’s firstborn,g

of human being and beast alike,

9And sent signs and wonders against you, Egypt,

against Pharaoh and all his servants.

10It is he who struck down many nations,h

and slew mighty kings—

11Sihon, king of the Amorites,

and Og, king of Bashan,

all the kings of Canaan—

12And made their land a heritage,

a heritage for Israel his people.

13O LORD, your name is forever,

your renown, from generation to generation!i

14For the LORD defends his people,

shows mercy to his servants.j

IV

15The idols of the nations are silver and gold,k

the work of human hands.

16They have mouths but do not speak;

they have eyes but do not see;

17They have ears but do not hear;

nor is there breath in their mouths.

18Their makers will become like them,

and anyone who trusts in them.

V

19House of Israel, bless the LORD!l

House of Aaron, bless the LORD!

20House of Levi, bless the LORD!

You who fear the LORD, bless the LORD!

21Blessed be the LORD from Zion,

who dwells in Jerusalem!

Hallelujah!

* [Psalm 135] The hymn begins and ends with an invitation to praise God (Ps 135:13, 1920) for the great act of choosing Israel (Ps 135:4). The story of Israel’s emergence as a people is told in Ps 135:514; God created and redeemed the people, easily conquering all opposition. God’s defeat of hostile powers means that the powers themselves and their images are useless (Ps 135:1518). The last three verses appear also in Ps 115:48.

* [135:4] Though all nations are God’s, Israel has a special status as God’s “treasured” people: Ex 19:5; Dt 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Mal 3:17.

a. [135:1] Ps 113:1.

b. [135:2] Ps 134:1.

c. [135:4] Ps 33:12; 144:15; Ex 19:6; Dt 7:6.

d. [135:5] Ps 95:3; Ex 18:11.

e. [135:6] Ps 115:3.

f. [135:7] Ps 148:8; Jer 10:13; 51:16; Jb 37:9.

g. [135:89] Ps 78:51; 105:27, 36; 136:10; Ex 12:29.

h. [135:1012] Ps 136:1722; Nm 21:2135; Dt 2:243:17.

i. [135:13] Ps 102:13; Ex 3:15.

j. [135:14] Dt 32:36.

k. [135:1518] Ps 115:46, 8.

l. [135:1920] Ps 118:24.

PSALM 136*

Hymn of Thanksgiving for God’s Everlasting Mercy

I

1Praise the LORD, for he is good;a

for his mercy endures forever;

2Praise the God of gods;

for his mercy endures forever;

3Praise the Lord of lords;

for his mercy endures forever;

II

4Who alone has done great wonders,b

for his mercy endures forever;

5Who skillfully made the heavens,c

for his mercy endures forever;

6Who spread the earth upon the waters,d

for his mercy endures forever;

7Who made the great lights,

for his mercy endures forever;

8The sun to rule the day,

for his mercy endures forever;

9The moon and stars to rule the night,e

for his mercy endures forever;

III

10Who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,f

for his mercy endures forever;

11And led Israel from their midst,

for his mercy endures forever;

12With mighty hand and outstretched arm,g

for his mercy endures forever;

13Who split in two the Red Sea,

for his mercy endures forever;

14And led Israel through its midst,

for his mercy endures forever;

15But swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea,h

for his mercy endures forever;

16Who led the people through the desert,i

for his mercy endures forever;

IV

17Who struck down great kings,j

for his mercy endures forever;

18Slew powerful kings,

for his mercy endures forever;

19Sihon, king of the Amorites,

for his mercy endures forever;

20Og, king of Bashan,

for his mercy endures forever;

21And made their lands a heritage,

for his mercy endures forever;

22*A heritage for Israel, his servant,

for his mercy endures forever.

V

23The Lord remembered us in our low estate,

for his mercy endures forever;

24Freed us from our foes,

for his mercy endures forever;

25And gives bread to all flesh,

for his mercy endures forever.

VI

26Praise the God of heaven,

for his mercy endures forever.

* [Psalm 136] The hymn praises Israel’s God (“the God of gods,” Ps 136:2), who has created the world in which Israel lives. The refrain occurring after every line suggests that a speaker and chorus sang the Psalm in antiphonal fashion. A single act of God is described in Ps 136:425. God arranges the heavens and the earth as the environment for human community, and then creates the community by freeing them and giving them land. In the final section (Ps 136:2325) God, who created the people and gave them land, continues to protect and nurture them.

* [136:22] A heritage for Israel: the land was given to Israel by God to be handed on to future generations.

a. [136:1] Ps 100:5; 118:1.

b. [136:4] Ps 72:18.

c. [136:5] Gn 1:919.

d. [136:6] Ps 24:2.

e. [136:9] Jer 31:35.

f. [136:10] Ex 12:29, 51; 14:22, 27; 15:22; Ps 78:5152; 135:8.

g. [136:12] Dt 4:34.

h. [136:15] Ex 14:21f.

i. [136:16] Dt 8:2, 15.

j. [136:1722] Ps 135:1012.

PSALM 137*

Sorrow and Hope in Exile

I

1By the rivers of Babylon

there we sat weeping

when we remembered Zion.a

2On the poplars in its midst

we hung up our harps.b

3For there our captors asked us

for the words of a song;

Our tormentors, for joy:

“Sing for us a song of Zion!”

4But how could we sing a song of the LORD

in a foreign land?

II

5If I forget you, Jerusalem,

may my right hand forget.c

6May my tongue stick to my palate

if I do not remember you,

If I do not exalt Jerusalem

beyond all my delights.

III

7Remember, LORD, against Edom

that day at Jerusalem.

They said: “Level it, level it

down to its foundations!”d

8Desolate Daughter Babylon, you shall be destroyed,

blessed the one who pays you back

what you have done us!e

9*Blessed the one who seizes your children

and smashes them against the rock.f

* [Psalm 137] A singer refuses to sing the people’s sacred songs in an alien land despite demands from Babylonian captors (Ps 137:14). The singer swears an oath by what is most dear to a musician—hands and tongue—to exalt Jerusalem always (Ps 137:56). The Psalm ends with a prayer that the old enemies of Jerusalem, Edom and Babylon, be destroyed (Ps 137:79).

* [137:9] Blessed the one who seizes your children and smashes them against the rock: the children represent the future generations, and so must be destroyed if the enemy is truly to be eradicated.

a. [137:1] Ez 3:15; Lam 3:48.

b. [137:2] Is 24:8; Lam 5:14.

c. [137:5] Jer 51:50.

d. [137:7] Jer 49:7; Lam 4:2122; Ez 25:1214.

e. [137:8] Is 47:13; Jer 5051.

f. [137:9] Hos 14:1.

PSALM 138*

Hymn of a Grateful Heart

1Of David.

I

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart;a

in the presence of the angels* to you I sing.

2I bow low toward your holy temple;

I praise your name for your mercy and faithfulness.

For you have exalted over all

your name and your promise.

3On the day I cried out, you answered;

you strengthened my spirit.

II

4All the kings of earth will praise you, LORD,

when they hear the words of your mouth.

5They will sing of the ways of the LORD:

“How great is the glory of the LORD!”

6The LORD is on high, but cares for the lowlyb

and knows the proud from afar.

7Though I walk in the midst of dangers,

you guard my life when my enemies rage.

You stretch out your hand;

your right hand saves me.

8The LORD is with me to the end.

LORD, your mercy endures forever.

Never forsake the work of your hands!

* [Psalm 138] A thanksgiving to God, who came to the rescue of the psalmist. Divine rescue was not the result of the psalmist’s virtues but of God’s loving fidelity (Ps 138:13). The act is not a private transaction but a public act that stirs the surrounding nations to praise God’s greatness and care for the people (Ps 138:46). The psalmist, having experienced salvation, trusts that God will always be there in moments of danger (Ps 138:78).

* [138:1] In the presence of the angels: heavenly beings who were completely subordinate to Israel’s God. The earthly Temple represents the heavenly palace of God.

a. [138:1] Ps 9:1.

b. [138:6] Lk 1:5152.

PSALM 139*

The All-knowing and Ever-present God

1For the leader. A psalm of David.

I

LORD, you have probed me, you know me:

2you know when I sit and stand;*a

you understand my thoughts from afar.

3You sift through my travels and my rest;

with all my ways you are familiar.

4Even before a word is on my tongue,

LORD, you know it all.

5Behind and before you encircle me

and rest your hand upon me.

6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

far too lofty for me to reach.b

7Where can I go from your spirit?

From your presence, where can I flee?

8If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;

if I lie down in Sheol, there you are.c

9If I take the wings of dawn*

and dwell beyond the sea,*

10Even there your hand guides me,

your right hand holds me fast.

11If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me,

and night shall be my light”*

12Darkness is not dark for you,

and night shines as the day.

Darkness and light are but one.d

II

13You formed my inmost being;

you knit me in my mother’s womb.e

14I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;

wonderful are your works!

My very self you know.

15My bones are not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret,

fashioned in the depths of the earth.*

16Your eyes saw me unformed;

in your book all are written down;f

my days were shaped, before one came to be.

III

17How precious to me are your designs, O God;

how vast the sum of them!

18Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sands;

when I complete them, still you are with me.g

19When you would destroy the wicked, O God,

the bloodthirsty depart from me!h

20Your foes who conspire a plot against you

are exalted in vain.

IV

21Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you?

Those who rise against you, do I not loathe?i

22With fierce hatred I hate them,

enemies I count as my own.

23Probe me, God, know my heart;

try me, know my thoughts.j

24See if there is a wicked path in me;

lead me along an ancient path.*

* [Psalm 139] A hymnic meditation on God’s omnipresence and omniscience. The psalmist is keenly aware of God’s all-knowing gaze (Ps 139:16), of God’s presence in every part of the universe (Ps 139:712), and of God’s control over the psalmist’s very self (Ps 139:1316). Summing up Ps 139:116, 1718 express wonder. There is only one place hostile to God’s rule—wicked people. The psalmist prays to be removed from their company (Ps 139:1924).

* [139:2] When I sit and stand: in all my physical movement.

* [139:9] Take the wings of dawn: go to the extremities of the east. Beyond the sea: uttermost bounds of the west; the sea is the Mediterranean.

* [139:11] Night shall be my light: night to me is what day is to others.

* [139:15] The depths of the earth: figurative language for the womb, stressing the hidden and mysterious operations that occur there.

* [139:24] Lead me along an ancient path: the manner of living of our ancestors, who were faithful to God’s will, cf. Jer 6:16.

a. [139:2] 2 Kgs 19:27; Jb 12:3.

b. [139:6] Ps 131:1.

c. [139:8] Jb 23:89; Jer 23:2324.

d. [139:12] Jb 12:22.

e. [139:13] Wis 7:1; Eccl 11:5; Jb 1:21.

f. [139:16] Mal 3:16.

g. [139:18] Jb 11:7.

h. [139:19] Jb 21:14.

i. [139:21] Ps 119:158.

j. [139:23] Ps 17:3; 26:2.

PSALM 140*

Prayer for Deliverance from the Wicked

1For the leader. A psalm of David.

I

2Deliver me, LORD, from the wicked;

preserve me from the violent,a

3From those who plan evil in their hearts,

who stir up conflicts every day,

4*Who sharpen their tongue like a serpent,

venom of asps upon their lips.b

Selah

II

5Keep me, LORD, from the clutches of the wicked;

preserve me from the violent,

who plot to trip me up.c

6*The arrogant have set a trap for me;

they have spread out ropes for a net,

laid snares for me by the wayside.

Selah

7I say to the LORD: You are my God;d

listen, LORD, to the words of my pleas.

8LORD, my master, my strong deliverer,

you cover my head on the day of armed conflict.

9LORD, do not grant the desires of the wicked one;

do not let his plot succeed.

Selah

III

10Those who surround me raise their heads;

may the mischief they threaten overwhelm them.

11Drop burning coals upon them;e

cast them into the watery pit never more to rise.

12Slanderers will not survive on earth;

evil will hunt down the man of violence to overthrow him.

13For I know the LORD will take up the cause of the needy,

justice for the poor.

14Then the righteous will give thanks to your name;

the upright will dwell in your presence.f

* [Psalm 140] A lament seeking rescue from violent and treacherous foes (Ps 140:26). The psalmist remains trusting (Ps 140:78), vigorously praying that the plans of the wicked recoil upon themselves (Ps 140:912). A serene statement of praise ends the Psalm (Ps 140:13). The psalmist is content to be known as one of “the needy,” “the poor,” “the just,” “the upright” (Ps 140:13), a class of people expecting divine protection.

* [140:4] Similar metaphors for a wicked tongue are used in Ps 52:2; 55:20; 58:3.

* [140:6] Have set a trap…have spread out ropes for a net: the same figure, of hunters setting traps, occurs in Ps 9:16; 31:5; 35:7; 64:6, cf. Mt 22:15; Lk 11:54.

a. [140:2] Ps 71:4.

b. [140:4] Ps 64:4; Rom 3:13.

c. [140:5] Jer 18:22; Ps 56:7; 57:7.

d. [140:7] Ps 31:15.

e. [140:11] Ps 11:6; 120:4; Gn 19:24.

f. [140:14] Ps 11:7; 16:11; 17:15.

PSALM 141*

Prayer for Deliverance from the Wicked

1A psalm of David.

LORD, I call to you; hasten to me;

listen to my plea when I call.

2Let my prayer be incense* before you;

my uplifted hands* an evening offering.a

3Set a guard, LORD, before my mouth,

keep watch over the door of my lips.b

4Do not let my heart incline to evil,

to perform deeds in wickedness.

On the delicacies of evildoers

let me not feast.

5*Let a righteous person strike me; it is mercy if he reproves me.

Do not withhold oil from my headc

while my prayer opposes their evil deeds.

6May their leaders be cast over the cliff,

so that they hear that my speeches are pleasing.

7Like the plowing and breaking up of the earth,

our bones are strewn at the mouth of Sheol.

8For my eyes are upon you, O LORD, my Lord;d

in you I take refuge; do not take away my soul.

9Guard me from the trap they have set for me,

from the snares of evildoers.e

10Let the wicked fall into their own nets,

while only I pass over them safely.

* [Psalm 141] A lament of an individual (Ps 141:12) who is keenly aware that only the righteous can worship God properly and who therefore prays to be protected from the doomed wicked (Ps 141:310).

* [141:2] Incense: lit., “smoke,” i.e., the fragrant fumes arising from the altar at the burning of sacrificial animals or of aromatic spices; also used in Rev 5:8 as a symbol of prayer. My uplifted hands: the gesture of supplication, cf. Ps 28:2; 63:5; 88:10; 119:48; 134:2; 143:6.

* [141:57] The Hebrew text is obscure.

a. [141:2] Ps 134:2; Ex 30:8.

b. [141:3] Sir 22:27.

c. [141:5] Prv 9:8; 25:12.

d. [141:8] Ps 25:15; 123:12.

e. [141:9] Ps 142:4.

PSALM 142*

A Prayer in Time of Trouble

1A maskil of David, when he was in the cave.* A prayer.

2With my own voice I cry to the LORD;

with my own voice I beseech the LORD.

3Before him I pour out my complaint,

tell of my distress in front of him.

4When my spirit is faint within me,a

you know my path.b

As I go along this path,

they have hidden a trap for me.c

5I look to my right hand to seed

that there is no one willing to acknowledge me.

My escape has perished;

no one cares for me.

6I cry out to you, LORD,

I say, You are my refuge,e

my portion in the land of the living.f

7Listen to my cry for help,

for I am brought very low.g

Rescue me from my pursuers,

for they are too strong for me.

8Lead my soul from prison,

that I may give thanks to your name.

Then the righteous shall gather around me*

because you have been good to me.

* [Psalm 142] In this lament imploring God for help (Ps 142:24), the psalmist tells how enemies have set a trap (Ps 142:45), and prays for rescue (Ps 142:68). The speaker feels utterly alone (Ps 142:5), exhausted (Ps 142:7), and may even be imprisoned (Ps 142:7). Prison is possibly a metaphor for general distress. The last two verses are the vow of praise, made after receiving an assurance of divine help (Ps 142:7).

* [142:1] In the cave: cf. 1 Sm 22:1; 24:13; Ps 57:1.

* [142:8] Then the righteous shall gather around me: in the Temple, when the psalmist offers a thanksgiving sacrifice.

a. [142:4] Ps 143:4.

b. [142:4] Ps 139:24.

c. [142:4] Ps 141:9.

d. [142:5] Ps 16:8; 73:23; 121:5.

e. [142:6] Ps 91:2, 9.

f. [142:6] Ps 16:5; 27:13; 116:9; Is 38:11.

g. [142:7] Ps 79:8.

PSALM 143*

A Prayer in Distress

1A psalm of David.

LORD, hear my prayer;

in your faithfulness listen to my pleading;

answer me in your righteousness.

2Do not enter into judgment with your servant;

before you no one can be just.a

3The enemy has pursued my soul;

he has crushed my life to the ground.b

He has made me dwell in darkness

like those long dead.c

4My spirit is faint within me;

my heart despairs.d

5I remember the days of old;

I ponder all your deeds;

the works of your hands I recall.e

6I stretch out my hands toward you,

my soul to you like a parched land.f

Selah

7Hasten to answer me, LORD;

for my spirit fails me.

Do not hide your face from me,

lest I become like those descending to the pit.g

8In the morning let me hear of your mercy,

for in you I trust.

Show me the path I should walk,

for I entrust my life to you.h

9Rescue me, LORD, from my foes,

for I seek refuge in you.

10Teach me to do your will,

for you are my God.

May your kind spirit guide me

on ground that is level.

11For your name’s sake, LORD, give me life;

in your righteousness lead my soul out of distress.

12In your mercy put an end to my foes;

all those who are oppressing my soul,

for I am your servant.i

* [Psalm 143] One of the Church’s seven Penitential Psalms, this lament is a prayer to be freed from death-dealing enemies. The psalmist addresses God, aware that there is no equality between God and human beings; salvation is a gift (Ps 143:12). Victimized by evil people (Ps 143:34), the psalmist recites (“remembers”) God’s past actions on behalf of the innocent (Ps 143:56). The Psalm continues with fervent prayer (Ps 143:79) and a strong desire for guidance and protection (Ps 143:1012).

a. [143:2] Eccl 7:20; Jb 4:17; Rom 3:20.

b. [143:3] Ps 7:6.

c. [143:3] Lam 3:6.

d. [143:4] Ps 142:4; Jb 17:1.

e. [143:5] Ps 77:6, 12.

f. [143:6] Ps 42:2; 63:2.

g. [143:7] Ps 28:1; 30:4; 88:5; Prv 1:12.

h. [143:8] Ps 25:4; 27:11; 86:11; 119:12, 35.

i. [143:12] Ps 116:16.

PSALM 144*

A Prayer for Victory and Prosperity

1Of David.

I

*Blessed be the LORD, my rock,

who trains my hands for battle,

my fingers for war;

2My safeguard and my fortress,

my stronghold, my deliverer,

My shield, in whom I take refuge,

who subdues peoples under me.

II

3*LORD, what is man that you take notice of him;

the son of man, that you think of him?a

4*Man is but a breath,

his days are like a passing shadow.b

5*LORD, incline your heavens and come down;

touch the mountains and make them smoke.c

6Flash forth lightning and scatter my foes;

shoot your arrows and rout them.

7Reach out your hand from on high;

deliver me from the many waters;

rescue me from the hands of foreign foes.

8Their mouths speak untruth;

their right hands are raised in lying oaths.*

9O God, a new song I will sing to you;

on a ten-stringed lyre I will play for you.d

10You give victory to kings;

you delivered David your servant.e

From the menacing sword 11deliver me;

rescue me from the hands of foreign foes.

Their mouths speak untruth;

their right hands are raised in lying oaths.

III

12May our sons be like plantsf

well nurtured from their youth,

Our daughters, like carved columns,

shapely as those of the temple.

13May our barns be full

with every kind of store.

May our sheep increase by thousands,

by tens of thousands in our fields;

may our oxen be well fattened.

14May there be no breach in the walls,

no exile, no outcry in our streets.g