July 16, 2007

Psalm 28

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.

To you, Yahweh, I cry,
My rock, do not be silent toward me,
Lest, if you are quiet toward me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.

Hear the sound of my supplications when I cry to you,
When I lift my hands to your most holy place.

Do not drag me away with wicked men
And with workers of iniquity,
Who speak peace with their neighbors
And evil is in their hearts.

Give to them according to their act,
And according to the evil of their deeds.
According to the work of their hands give to them;
Return their doings to them.

Because they do not attend to Yahweh’s acts,
Or to the work of his hands,
He will tear them down
And not build them up.

Blessed be Yahweh,
Because he has heard the sound of my supplications.
Yahweh, my strength and my shield!
In him my heart trusted
And I was helped, and my heart exults,
And with my song I will thank him.

Yahweh is strength to them;
And a saving refuge for his Anointed one is he.

Save your people,
And bless your inheritance,
And shepherd them,
And lift them up unto eternity.

A few comments about this psalm.

1.  In the opening stanza, I’ve translated a couple phrases as “be silent toward me” and “are quiet toward me.”  The Hebrew actually has “from me” both times.  That sounds strange to our ears, but perhaps the idea is that silence would mean that Yahweh is keeping his distance: if he’s silent when I cry, that means he’s staying away from me.

2.  At the end of that first stanza, David speaks about lifting his hands to the debir of Yahweh’s holiness.  Commentaries and dictionaries say that word applies to the Most Holy Place and that’s probably correct.  But it’s interesting to notice that this word is derived from dabar, which means “to speak,” perhaps because the Most Holy Place is where Yahweh’s earthly throne is, the place from which he speaks and where his Law is kept.  For that reason, James Jordan suggests that we understand this as “the holy room of your enthroned word.”

David wants Yahweh not to be silent.  He wants him to speak.  And so he lifts his hands in prayer toward the place from which Yahweh speaks.

3.  In the second last stanza, “them” comes as a surprise (“Yahweh is a strength to them“) especially since David has been talking about himself (“I,” “me”) in contrast to the wicked (“them”).  But here, “them” seems to refer to the righteous in general, to God’s people (as in the next stanza: “Save your people.”

There’s a close connection, therefore, between David and Israel.  If Yahweh stays silent and keeps his distance from David, allowing him to be dragged away with the wicked, then Israel will not be saved either.  David is “the Anointed One” (the Hebrew word here is the source of our word”Messiah”) and the “Anointed One” represents his people.  That is especially true of Jesus: Yahweh is a strength to us because he is the saving refuge of our Messiah, Jesus Christ.

4.  In the last stanza, “lift them up” has the sense of carrying them, too.  Yahweh lifts us up in his arms and carries us into the future.

Posted by John Barach @ 5:01 pm | Discuss (0)

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