September 26, 2007

Psalm 37

Category: Bible - OT - Psalms :: Permalink

A reminder: I’ve prepared these psalms for our liturgy, trying to be as accurate in my translation as possible. The alternation between plain text and bold is for responsive reading. I invite feedback on the translation!

By David.

א Do not rage at evildoers;
   Do not be envious of the doers of unrighteousness,
Because like grass they quickly dry out,
   And like a green plant they wither.

ב Trust in Yahweh and do good!
   Inhabit the land and feed on trustworthiness.
And delight in Yahweh
   And he will give you the requests of your heart.

ג Entrust to Yahweh your way,
  And rely on him, and he himself will do it.
  And he will bring out, like the light, your righteousness,
  And your justice like the noontime.

ד Be still before Yahweh
   And wait for him.
   Do not rage at one who prospers in his way,
   At one who does what he plots.

ה Desist from anger and abandon wrath.
   Do not rage only to do evil,
Because evildoers will be cut off,
   But those who wait for Yahweh — they will possess the land.

ו And still a little while and there will be no wicked man,
   And you will look carefully upon his place but he will not be there.
But the humble will possess the land,
   And they will delight in abundance of peace.

ז The wicked man plots against the righteous
   And gnashes at him with his teeth.
   My Lord laughs at him
   Because he sees that his day is coming.

ח A sword the wicked have drawn
   And they have bent their bow
   To make the oppressed and poor fall,
   To slaughter the upright in way.
   Their sword will enter into their heart,
   And their bows will be broken.

ט Better is a little belonging to a righteous man
   Than the wealth of many wicked men,
   Because the arms of the wicked will be broken,
   But Yahweh supports the righteous.

י Yahweh knows the days of the blameless,
   And their inheritance will be forever.
   They will not be shamed in a time of evil,
   And in days of famine they will be satisfied.

כ Indeed, the wicked — they will perish,
   And the enemies of Yahweh;
   Like the precious part of rams they are finished;
   In smoke they are finished.

ל A wicked man borrows and does not repay.
   But a righteous man is gracious and gives,
   Because his blessed ones will possess the land
   But his cursed ones will be cut off.

מ By Yahweh the steps of a young man are established
   And in his way he delights.
   Though he will fall he will not be thrown down
   Because Yahweh supports him by his hand.

נ A youth I have been; now I am old.
   But I have not seen a righteous man abandoned,
   Nor his seed begging bread.
   All the day he is gracious and lending,
And his seed is for blessing.

ס Turn from evil and do good
   And dwell forever,
   Because Yahweh loves justice,
   And he does not abandon his loyal ones.

ע Forever they are guarded,
   But the seed of the wicked will be cut off.
   The righteous will possess the land
   And dwell forever upon it.

פ The mouth of the righteous man proclaims wisdom,
   And his tongue speaks judgment.
   The instruction of his God is in his heart.
   His steps will not waver.

צ The wicked are watching for the righteous
   And are seeking to kill him.
   Yahweh will not abandon him in his hand
   And will not declare him guilty in his judgment.

ק Wait upon Yahweh
   And he will guard your way.
   And he will exalt you to possess the land.
   When the wicked are cut off you will see it.

ר I have seen the wicked man, a terrifying man
   And spreading himself like a native green tree.
   And he disappeared and — look! — he was not there.
   And I looked for him and he was not found.

ש Observe the blameless man and watch the upright,
Because there is a future for the man of peace.
   But the rebels will be destroyed together.
The future of the wicked will be cut off.

ת But the salvation of the righteous is from Yahweh,
Their fortress in a time of trouble.
   And Yahweh helps and delivers them.
He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
Because they seek refuge in him.

Some comments on this psalm:

(1) In the first line, I use the term “rage” to translate a word which appears again in stanzas four and five.  There, three different words are used for anger.  I’ve rendered them “rage,” “anger” and “wrath” in order to make the distinction, but it would be possible to use “be angry” for the word in the first line, which literally has to do with burning with anger, and save “rage” for the word I’ve translated “anger.”  Or something like that.

(2) In lines 11-12, “bringing out your righteousness” and “your justice” means vindication, showing that you’re in the right.

(3) In lines 20 and 23, it talks about “possessing” the land, which includes both inheriting the land (from God) and actually taking possession of it, as Israel inherited Canaan.  This is the basis of the Beatitude: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

(4) In line 36, the word for “wealth” actually refers to turmoil or a tumult, perhaps because it’s not just wealth but the noisy display that goes along with it.

(5) In the eleventh stanza, the enemies are described as being finished (or even perishing) like “the precious part of rams” and “in smoke.”  This may be a reference to sacrificial animals being burned up on an altar and turning to smoke as the sacrifice is completed, as J. A. Alexander suggests.

Some translations have “the splendor of the meadows” (NKJV), while other render the word here “pastures.”  The word does seem to mean “pastures” in some passages, probably because pastures are places for rams and lambs.  But the word appears to be the plural of a word for a ram.  So even if we go with that translation, we ought to keep the rams in view and understand that it isn’t talking about the grass or flowers in the pasture, but instead is referring to the rams in the pasture, which means that even this alternate translation is still probably talking about rams being offered on the altar and turning into smoke which ascends.

(6) At the end of the nineteenth stanza, our translation says, “When the wicked are cut off you will see it.”  Since the word “see” in this sort of context may mean looking on something with delight, it’s possible to translate this line: “At the cutting off of the wicked you will gaze.”

(7) The second line of the twentieth stanza, uses a word has to do with uncovering oneself or making oneself naked, but that doesn‘t seem to fit well with the image of a leafy green tree in native soil.  “Spreading himself” is what several translations have, so I stuck with that.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, especially if they don’t involve emending the text.

[Updated, March 26, 2009.]

Posted by John Barach @ 2:44 pm | Discuss (2)
September 24, 2007

Liturgy and Life

Category: Theology - Liturgical :: Permalink

Today, Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe, Louisiana, announced the topic and speakers for their upcoming annual Pastors Conference, January 7-9, 2008.

This year our topic is “Liturgy and Life” and the speakers will explore the importance of worship not only for the church but for all of life. What is the role of liturgy in the life of the child of God? Why is the particular order of the service important? What is the relationship between liturgy and pastoral care? How do you bring liturgical reform in a congregation that has been heavily influenced by American, revivalistic Christianity? These and other questions will be addressed by our four main speakers in our conference this year: Dr. Peter Leithart, Pastor Douglas Wilson, Pastor Jeffrey Meyers, and Dr. James Jordan.

It should be a great conference, and the registration cost is very reasonable.  I wish I could go, though that doesn’t seem likely at this point.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:46 pm | Discuss (0)

Loving Your Wife and Planting a Church

Category: Theology - Ecclesiology,Theology - Pastoral :: Permalink

Here’s part of a Christianity Today article on Mark Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  Church planters, take heed:

Jonathan MacIntosh was one of those young, confident, immature pastors. As a new church planter in 2004, he showed up for an Acts 29 boot camp looking for guidance and funding. His church had struggled to grow past 40, despite strong lay leadership. Driscoll asked him why. MacIntosh blamed his over-churched town in Mississippi. Driscoll didn’t buy it.

“Then he looked at my wife and said, ‘Ashley, honey, you tell me what’s going on in your opinion. I want you to be honest with me. Look me in the eyes and tell me the truth,’” MacIntosh recounts. “At first she gave stock answers. But then she completely broke right there. ‘My husband is off doing this church-planting thing. I’m stuck in this job I hate, slaving away to support us. People are in and out of our apartment at all hours of the night. I’m losing my husband to this thing. I’m miserable. It’s sapping my joy for life, my love for God, and my respect for my husband.’”

At that point, MacIntosh was pretty sure Acts 29 would not subsidize his church. Then Driscoll unloaded on him. “You’re a good-looking, eloquent, hip, Bible-teaching, Jesus-loving [wimp].” MacIntosh remembers Driscoll telling him. “You think you can lead and love God’s bride when you can’t lead and love your own bride? The issue with your church is you and your marriage. Everyone knows it. You’re photocopying your marriage. That’s your church, and that’s why it’s jacked up. How dare you.”

“Man, it was beautiful,” MacIntosh says.

Driscoll told MacIntosh to take his wife to a nice restaurant, find a hotel room, and send him the bill. Now MacIntosh works for Acts 29 and evaluates church planters. When we met at Driscoll’s home, he opened his wallet and showed me a picture of his baby daughter.

“God used that day and that encounter to save my marriage,” he says. “It was a wake-up call from Jesus.”

Posted by John Barach @ 2:08 pm | Discuss (1)
September 20, 2007

Sons or Tools

Category: Literature,Theology :: Permalink

In a chapter comparing John Milton’s theology with that of St. Augustine, C. S. Lewis points out that Milton and Augustine both shared a belief in God’s sovereignty.  That’s particularly interesting because Milton himself was, if I understand things correctly, no Calvinist.  Nor, for that matter, was Lewis, though he quite seems to approve the doctrine he’s describing here which is nothing short of a doctrine of God’s complete sovereignty even over evil.  It’s really the last line that made me want to quote it here:

Though God has made all creatures good He foreknows that some will voluntarily make themselves bad (De Civ. Dei, XIV, II) and also foreknows the good use which He will then make of their badness (ibid.).  For as He shows His benevolence in creating good Natures, He shows His justice in exploiting evil wills.  (Sicut naturarum bonarum optimus creator, ita voluntatum malarum justissimus ordinator, XI, 17.)

All this is repeatedly shown at work in the poem [Paradise Lost].  God sees Satan coming to pervert man; “and shall pervert,” He observes (III, 92).  He knows that Sin and Death “impute folly” to Him for allowing them so easily to enter the universe, but Sin and Death do not know that God “called and drew them thither, His hell-hounds to lick up the draff and filth” (X, 620 et seq.).  Sin, in pitiable ignorance, had mistaken this Divine “calling” for “sympathie or som connatural force” between herself and Satan (X, 246).

The same doctrine is enforced in Book I when Satan lifts his head from the burning lake by “high permission of all-ruling Heaven” (I, 212).  As the angels point out, whoever tries to rebel against God produces the result opposite to his intention (VII, 613).  At the end of the poem Adam is astonished at the power “that all this good of evil shall produce” (XII, 470).  This is the exact reverse of the programme Satan had envisaged in Book I, when he hoped, if God attempted any good through him, to “pervert that end” (164); instead he is allowed to do all the evil he wants and finds that he has produced good.  Those who will not be God’s sons become His tools (A Preface to Paradise Lost 67-68, with added paragraph breaks).

Posted by John Barach @ 3:35 pm | Discuss (2)
September 19, 2007

The Nursery of the Kingdom

Category: Politics,Theology - Ecclesiology :: Permalink

In Trees and Thorns, James Jordan points out that on the Sixth Day God creates man first and then plants the Garden.  God did not create Adam already in the Garden.  He didn’t create the Garden first and then create the man and move him into the Garden.  He created Adam first and then He planted the Garden.  That order must be significant.

It appears that God wanted Adam to see Him planting the Garden.  After all, Adam was himself going to be a gardener and would start out “serving and guarding” Yahweh’s own Garden.  Later, when Adam went out into the world, he would serve the ground, growing grain.  But later still, he would be able to plant his own garden, his own orchard, where he would grow his own fruit.  First God builds His sanctuary-house; later, Adam would build a house for himself.  By creating Adam first and then planting the Garden while Adam watched, God was establishing patterns for Adam to follow.

Jordan writes:

So, God sets up the garden-sanctuary and puts Adam into it, just as God sets up the Church and puts us into it.  Adam watched God build His garden-house, and learned something about building his own garden-house.  Similarly, from studying how God has set up the church — her structure, government, financing, etc. — we learn how to set up our own domestic and national governments.  This is why the Bible spends so much time on Church government and law, and comparatively little on national government and law.  The Church is the nursery of the Kingdom, and the principles we learn in the Church are to be carried forth in the transformation of family, state, and other institutions (p. 27).

Posted by John Barach @ 3:42 pm | Discuss (0)

Psalms or Greek Poetry?

Category: Bible - OT - Psalms,Literature :: Permalink

In his preface to The Reason of Church Government, Book II, John Milton talks about the choice that confronted him when he set out to write a great poem and that led eventually to the writing of Paradise Lost.  The basic choice was whether to write an epic, a tragedy or drama, or lyric poetry.  In each of these categories, Milton mentions a Greek or Latin example and then a biblical example.  Interestingly, following David Paraeus, Milton includes the Song of Songs and Revelation as examples of biblical drama.

As for the third category, lyric poetry, which includes the Greek poets Pindar and Callimachus, as well as the Psalms and passages in the Prophets, Milton adds something interesting.  Here’s C. S. Lewis’s summary:

Almost as if he had foreseen an age in which “Puritanism” shouild be the bear seen in every bush, he has given his opinion that Hebrew lyrics are better than Greek “not in their divine argument alone, but in the very critical art of composition.”  That is, he has told us that his preference for the Hebrew is not only moral and religious, but aesthetic also.  I once had a pupil, innocent alike of the Greek and of the Hebrew tongue, who did not think himself thereby disqualified from pronouncing this judgement a proof of Milton’s bad taste; the rest of us, whose Greek is amateurish and who have no Hebrew, must leave Milton to discuss the question with his peers.  But if any man will read aloud on alternate mornings for a single month a page of Pindar and a page of the Psalms in any translation he chooses, I think I can guess which he will first grow tired of (A Preface to Paradise Lost, pp. 4-5).

Posted by John Barach @ 3:31 pm | Discuss (1)
September 18, 2007

Highest Form of Theology

Category: Theology - Liturgical,Theology - Pastoral :: Permalink

In the comments on a post on the De Regno Christi blog, James Jordan writes something that’s worth a blog entry of its own:

When I was in school, long ago, it was commonly thought that Systematics was the queen of theology. Exegesis led to Biblical Theology and finally climaxed in Systematics. Well, I submit that this is very seriously wrong. For me, this is a form of gnosticism. The true goal is Practical and Liturgical Theology. Systematics gives us boundaries (it’s really Polemical theology), and this helps Biblical Theology, but the goal of all of it is Exegesis, the ability to explain a given pericope to PEOPLE so that PEOPLE are transformed. To do full justice to a given text, not explain it away because it does not seem to fit our tiny systems. Jesus came to save and to glorify people, not to bring an ideology. Way too often Reformed people take our great Confessions as ideologies, ignoring their many fuzzy edges, and forgetting that the men who wrote them were Bible-centered, not Confession-centered. They expected more Confessions to be written in the future, and the Covenanters and Associates were faithful to this notion. The State churches and later American denominations were not. My own study was in Systematics, and I still do plenty of it in my writing and teaching. But the highest form of theology is preaching and liturgics.

Personally, I’ve always disliked the idea that the highest pinnacle of a pastor’s success would be to be appointed to teach at a seminary: “Sure, you’re pastoring now for a few years.  But I think one day, pastor, they’re going to hire you at the seminary!” they say, as if they’re saying, “You’re going to go places, boy!”  But the seminary exists to serve the church and to serve by training pastors for the churches, and they could do a better job in teaching seminarians the Word and training them in liturgy.  Jordan is right: “The highest form of theology is preaching and liturgics.”

Posted by John Barach @ 11:31 am | Discuss (1)
September 17, 2007

Psalm 36

Category: Bible - OT - Psalms :: Permalink

A reminder: I’ve prepared these psalms for our liturgy, trying to be as accurate in my translation as possible. The alternation between plain text and bold is for responsive reading. I invite feedback on the translation!

For the director.
By the servant of Yahweh.
By David.

An oracle of the rebellion of a wicked man is within my heart:
There is no fear of God before his eyes,
Because he flatters himself in his own eyes
With regard to finding his liability and hating it.
The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
He has ceased to act wisely, to do good.
Trouble he plots on his bed;
He sets himself upon a path that is not good;
Evil he does not reject.

Yahweh, in the heavens is your loyalty,
Your trustworthiness is up to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of the Mighty One;
Your judgments are a great deep.
Man and cattle you save, Yahweh.
How precious is your loyalty, God.

And the sons of man –
In the shadow of your wings they take refuge.
They drink their fill of the fat of your house;
And the river of your pleasures you give them to drink,
Because with you is a fountain of life;
In your light we see light.

Extend your loyalty to those who know you;
And your righteousness to the upright of heart.

Let not the foot of pride come to me;
And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
There they have fallen — the troublemakers!
They are struck down and cannot rise.

Some comments on this psalm:

(1) In the title, “for” and “by” are the same word in Hebrew, so it isn’t clear if this psalm is for Yahweh’s servant (the chief musician) or by Yahweh’s servant (David).

(2) The opening line may mean that this is a declaration about the wicked man’s rebellion or that Rebellion itself is speaking in the man’s heart. It’s also possible, as James Jordan suggests, that “an oracle” should actually be seen as part of the title, so that the opening line is “The rebellion of the wicked man is within my heart” (i.e., something I’m meditating on).

(3) The fourth line may mean that the wicked man flatters himself so that he doesn’t bother hating his own sin or that he flatters himself into thinking that God won’t deal with his sin or, perhaps, that he flatters himself and hates to find his own liability. There is no fear of God before his eyes, and so, because he doesn’t fear God, he doesn’t see his guilt.

(4) In lines 15-16, instead of having “God” at the end of line 15, as the one being addressed, it might be possible to put it at the start of line 16 (which is how it appears in the Hebrew text): “Gods and the sons of man…” In that case, the “gods” would probably be human rulers, who are called by that name elsewhere in the psalms.

[Revised, March 9, 2009.]

Posted by John Barach @ 3:30 pm | Discuss (1)
September 15, 2007

C. S. Lewis’s School Schedule

Category: History :: Permalink

For some time now, I’ve been reading through the first volume of C. S. Lewis’s Collected Letters.  They are fascinating reading for anyone who has enjoyed Lewis’s works.  I was interested to discover what his educational schedule was during the time he was studying with his tutor, Mr. Kirkpatrick, in 1915, when he was sixteen or seventeen years old.  This is from a letter he wrote to his best (one might well say, his only) friend, Arthur Greeves:

You ask me how I spend my time, and though I am more interested in thoughts and feelings, we’ll come down to facts.  I am awakened in the morning by Kirk splashing in his bath, about 20 minutes after which I get up myself and come down.  After breakfast & a short walk we start work on Thucydides — a desperately dull and tedious Greek historian (I daresay tho’, you’d find him interesting) and on Homer whom I worship.  After quarter of an hour’s rest we go on with Tacitus till lunch at 1.  I am then free till tea at 4:30: of course I am always anxious at this meal to see if Mrs. K. is out, for Kirk never takes it.  If she is I lounge in an arm chair with my book by the fire, reading over a leisurely and bountiful meal.  If she’s in, or worse still has “some people” to tea, it means sitting on a rigiht angled chair and sipping a meagrue allowance of tea and making intelligent remarks about the war, the parish, and the shortcomings of everyones servants.  At 5, we do Plato and Horace, who are both charming, till supper at 7.30, after which comes German and French till about 9.  Then I am free to go to bed whenever I like which is usually about 10.20 (p. 145).

What I find most interesting about that schedule is that it is focused almost entirely on languages and on the classics.  This is a “high school” curriculum, but with no math or science or English literature or even any history besides the history in the books that Lewis was translating (of course, when he says he’s “working on” Thucydides or “going on” with Tacitus or “doing” Plato and Horace, he means he’s reading them in the original Greek and Latin).

People complain today sometimes that certain homeschoolers aren’t teaching a complete curriculum.  That may be, and maybe that isn’t good for every child.  On the other hand, Lewis seems to have done fairly well with the education he received.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:54 pm | Discuss (6)
September 11, 2007

Beast, Woman, & Man

Category: Bible - NT - Romans,Bible - OT - Genesis :: Permalink

In a footnote in The Gospel in Genesis (p. 101n6), Warren Austin Gage points out that when Paul traces the revelation of God’s wrath against ungodliness in Romans 1:18-32, he follows the order of God’s judgments in Genesis 3:14-19: first the beast (Rom. 1:23, 25; Gen. 3:14-15), then the woman (Rom. 1:26; Gen. 3:16), and finally the man (Rom. 1:27ff.; Gen. 3:17-19).

Posted by John Barach @ 2:27 pm | Discuss (1)

Gifts & Gratitude

Category: Theology :: Permalink

Another old parable from Doug Wilson‘s blog:

There was once a father who was very kind to His little daughter. But she was introspective, and tended to condemn herself for anything, and did not really think her father’s kindness to her was warranted. One morning her father gave her a beautiful gift — a wonderful doll. She thanked him profusely, and told him that she did not understand why he was so good to her. He asked that evening if she had enjoyed playing with her doll, and she replied that she had not felt worthy enough to enjoy the gift. Her father only nodded.

The next morning, he gave her a second gift — a whole box of doll clothes that went with the doll. Again, she thanked him over and over, and almost wept at the kindness he was showing to her. That second evening he asked how she had enjoyed her gift. She confessed again that she had not played with the doll — it was too wonderful a gift.

The third morning — you can see now that the father had prepared all three gifts beforehand — he gave her a complete dollhouse, completely furnished. This time she did cry, and thanked him as best she knew how to do. That night, he asked if she had enjoyed playing with the doll, the clothes, and the doll house.

She shook her head, and said that she was entirely unworthy of such gifts. She was very thankful, full of thanksgiving, but she was not worthy of his kindness. At this, her father sat down to admonish and teach her, for this was his intent all along. He took her on his lap and said, “Darling, the reason I gave you these gifts was to show you something that you do not yet see. You really are not worthy, and this can be seen in how you have not received my gifts. You are being a very ungrateful daughter. But you think you are being grateful because you say so, and not because you enjoy what I give you. You must learn that gratitude does not consist of rejecting gifts.”

But she was a stubborn little girl, and so it took her a long time to learn this lesson.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:18 pm | Discuss (0)
September 10, 2007

Psalm 35

Category: Bible - OT - Psalms :: Permalink

A reminder: I’ve prepared these psalms for our liturgy, trying to be as accurate in my translation as possible. The alternation between plain text and bold is for responsive reading. I invite feedback on the translation!

By David.

Dispute, Yahweh, against my disputers!
Devour my devourers!
Seize buckler and shield
And arise as my help.
And draw the spear and barrier against my pursuers;
Say to my soul, “Your salvation am I.”

Shamed and dismayed be the seekers of my soul;
Turned back and humiliated be those who plan my hurt.
Let them be like chaff before wind,
And let the angel of Yahweh be pushing them down.
Let their path be dark and slippery;
And let the angel of Yahweh be pursuing them,
Because without cause they hid for me their net-pit;
Without cause they dug it for my soul.
Let destruction he does not know come upon him;
And his net which he hid — let it take him;
To his destruction let him fall into it.

But my soul will exult in Yahweh
And be glad in his salvation.
All my bones will say,”Yahweh, who is like you,
Delivering the oppressed from the one stronger than himself,
And the oppressed and the needy from his despoiler?”

Violent witnesses rise up;
What I do not know they ask me.
They repay me evil instead of good,
Bereavement to my soul.

And as for me, when they were sick my clothing was sackcloth;
I humbled my soul with fasting;
And my prayer was returning into my bosom.
As if it were a friend, my brother, I went about;
As one who mourns a mother, I stooped in squalor.

But when I limped they rejoiced and were gathered together;
They were gathered together against me,
Stricken ones — and I did not know it!
They tore and did not cease.
Among the ungodly mockers at a pastry feast,
They gnashed their teeth against me.

My Lord, how long will you see?
Restore my soul from their destructions,
From the young lions my only one.
I will thank you in the great assembly;
Among the numerous people I will praise you!

Do not let them rejoice over me, my lying enemies;
Nor let those who hate me without cause wink the eye,
Because they do not speak peace;
But against the quiet of the land they plan deceitful words,
And they have widened their mouth against me,
Saying, “Aha!  Aha!  Our eye has seen.”

You have seen, Yahweh.  Do not be silent.
My Lord, do not be far from me.
Rouse yourself and wake up for my judgment,
My God and my Lord, for my dispute!
Judge me according to your righteousness, Yahweh my God,
And do not let them rejoice over me!
Do not let them say in their heart, “Aha!  Our soul’s desire!”
Do not let them say, “We have swallowed him up!”
Let them be shamed and humiliated together –
Those who rejoice in my evil.
Let them be clothed with shame and dismay –
Those who magnify themselves against me.

Let them shout and rejoice who desire my righteousness,
And let them say continually,
“Great is Yahweh,
Who desires the peace of his servant.”
And my tongue will declare your righteousness,
Your praise all the day.

A few comments about this psalm:

(1) The word translated “dispute” in the first verse refers primarily to a legal dispute, a lawsuit.  The psalmist is asking that God would plead his cause against those who are arguing their case against him.  But that metaphor could be applied to a battle or some other situation, too.

(2) “Evil” in this Psalm isn’t always sin.  Toward the end of the psalm, “my evil” is the adversity that the psalmist is experiencing at the hands of others (see “evil for me” in line 8 ).

(3) In line 9, “wind” could be “Spirit,” a reference to the Holy Spirit pursuing His enemies.

(4) In line 34, many translations turn “stricken ones” into “attackers” to try to make more sense out of it, and there are some arguments in favor.  It may be, though, that even the ones who are limping and wounded are making fun of David when he limps and is struck down.  Even though they are suffering, they rejoice to see that David is suffering.

(5) In line 36, “Among the ungodly mockers at a pastry feast” is something of a guess.  See Hirsch for this translation.

(6) In line 40, “my only one” refers to the psalmist’s soul.  He has only one soul, only one life, and he wants it rescued.

(7) In line 55, David prays that the enemies won’t say, “Aha!  Our soul’s desire!”  The word translated “soul’s desire” here is the word that elsewhere is just translated “soul,” but here it has the connotation of a deep desire.

[Revised March 2, 2009.]

Posted by John Barach @ 1:48 pm | Discuss (2)