May 29, 2007

Psalm 22

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.
According to “The Doe of the Dawn.”
A Psalm.
By David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,
Far from my salvation, the words of my roaring?
My God, I call in the day but you do not answer,
And in the night and I am not silent.

But you are holy,
Enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you trusted our fathers;
They trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were delivered;
In you they trusted and were not shamed.

But I myself am a worm and not a man,
A reproach of man and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
They open the lip; they shake the head:
“Trust in Yahweh! Let him deliver him;
Let him rescue him, since he delights in him.”

Indeed you yourself are the one who drew me out of the womb,
Who made me trust upon the breasts of my mother.
Upon you I was cast from the womb;
From the belly of my mother, you were my God.

Do not be far from me because trouble is near,
Because there is no helper.
Many bulls have surrounded me;
Strong ones of Bashan have encircled me.
They open their mouth against me,
A lion tearing and roaring.
Like water I am poured out,
And all my bones are dislocated.
My heart has become like wax,
Melted in the midst of my bowels.
Dried like the potsherd is my strength;
And my tongue is fastened to my jaws,
And into the dust of death you place me,
Because dogs have surrounded me,
A crowd of the wicked have encircled me,
Piercing my hands and my feet.
I count all my bones;
They themselves gaze, they look upon me.
They divide my garments among themselves
And for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, Yahweh, do not be far from me!
My strength, to my help hasten!
Deliver from the sword my soul,
From the hand of the dog my only one!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
And from the horns of the wild oxen you have answered me!

I will declare your name to my brothers;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise you.
Fearers of Yahweh, praise him!
All the seed of Jacob, glorify him!
And be afraid of him, all you seed of Israel,
Because he has not despised
And he has not detested the affliction of the afflicted;
And he has not hid his face from him;
But when he cried to him, he heard.

From you is my praise in the great assembly;
My vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The afflicted will eat and be satisfied;
They will praise Yahweh, those who seek him.
May your hearts live forever!

They will remember and return to Yahweh,
All the ends of the earth!
They will bow before you,
All the families of the nations!
Because to Yahweh belongs the kingdom,
And he rules in the nations!

They have eaten and bowed, all the fats ones of the earth;
Before him shall bend all those going down to the dust,
Even he who cannot keep his soul alive.

A seed will serve him;
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation.
They will come and declare his righteousness
To a people to be born, that he has done this.

A couple comments about this psalm:

In the third stanza, the people tell the sufferer, “Trust in Yahweh!”  This is often translated as a statement: “He trusted in Yahweh,” but the verb here appears to be imperative, as Alexander notes in his commentary.  In that case, it’s a summons to the sufferer to trust in Yahweh.  But it’s not meant seriously as the subsequent comments show: “Let him deliver him….”

The word I’ve translated “trust” here is actually a word having to do with rolling.  You could put it this way: “Roll upon Yahweh!”  The same phrase appears in Psalm 37:5 and Proverbs 16:3.  This wording sounds strange to us, but presumably the idea is that of rolling a burden you can’t bear onto Yahweh who will bear it for you.  It’s the same thought that we find in the exhortation to cast our cares on Yahweh because he cares for us.

At the end of the sixth stanza, there’s a sudden switch.  We’ve been hearing David’s cry for help, culminating in “Save me from the mouth of the lion.”  The next line starts in reverse order, putting the danger first: “From the horns of the wild oxen.”  But it ends up, not with a cry for help as we expect, but with the declaration, “You have answered me!”  This is the turning point in the psalm, so that from this point on there is praise.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:35 pm | Discuss (0)

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