August 28, 2006

Psalm 5

Category: Bible - OT - Psalms :: Permalink

Every Sunday, our congregation recites a psalm antiphonally.  I’ll say a line or two and the congregation responds with the next line or two.  Eventually, we’d like to learn to chant all the psalms (vigorously!), but that’s a long-term project.  For now, we’re reciting them responsively.

And every week, I’ve been trying to use a translation that’s as accurate as I can get and as close to the original syntax as I can get and still have it be understandable in English.  It’s been an interesting project so far.  I keep discovering that a lot of English translations miss things in the text or even mistranslate.  For instance, the NKJV, one of the most literal translations out there, frequently translates the word “rock” as “strength”!  Of course, all the translations I’ve looked at mistranslate the names of the offerings (e.g., “burnt offering” instead of “Ascension”) and have “LORD” (in capital letters) instead of “Yahweh.”

I certainly wouldn’t claim that my translations are necessarily the best.  But I appreciate what James Jordan wrote about his translation of Leviticus:

Of course, I’m not a Hebrew scholar, and I’m not the best person to do this.  But Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy has taught me that if I wait for the right person to do it, it will never be done, because the right persons generally don’t see the need to do it.  Thus, the thing to do is put out the best translation I can do, warts and all, and hope that it makes some “right person” irritated enough to do a better job himself!

So, imperfect though these translations are, I thought I would post them to invite your feedback so that I can make improvements for our next time through the Psalms.  Unfortunately, I can’t (at this moment, at least) seem to find my translations of Psalms 1-4.  But here is Psalm 5:


For the director.
For flutes.
A Psalm.
By David.

To my words give ear, Yahweh;
Consider my groaning.
Heed the voice of my cry, my King and my God,
For to you I pray.
Yahweh, in the morning you hear my voice;
In the morning I lay it before you — and I watch,

Because you are not a Mighty One who takes pleasure in wickedness;
Not with you will evil sojourn.
The arrogant will not stand before your eyes;
You hate all who make trouble.
You destroy those who speak falsehood;
A man of bloodshed and deceit Yahweh abhors.

But as for me, in the abundance of your loyalty I will enter your house;
I will bow toward your holy temple in fear of you.

Yahweh, lead me in your righteousness because of my enemies.
Make your way straight before my face,
Because there is in his mouth nothing reliable;
Their inward part is destruction.
An open tomb is their throat;
Their tongue they make smooth.
Hold them guilty, God!
Let them fall by their own schemes!
In the abundance of their transgressions, cast them out
Because they are rebellious against you.

And let all those who take refuge in you rejoice!
Forever let them shout for joy,
And cover them.
And let those who love your name exult in you,
Because you bless the righteous man, Yahweh;
Like a shield, with favor you surround him.

[Updated: February 2009]

Posted by John Barach @ 11:16 pm | Discuss (0)

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