August 13, 2007

Psalm 32

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.

Happy is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose impurity is covered up.
Happy is the man to whom Yahweh does not impute liability,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away
In my groaning all the day,
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me.
My best oil was turned into the droughts of summer.  Selah.


My impurity I acknowledged to you,
And my liability I did not cover up.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh”;
And you forgave the liability of my impurity.  Selah.

For this, let every loyal one pray to you in a time for finding you;
Surely when many waters rise they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; from oppression you preserve me;
With songs of deliverance you surround me.  Selah.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should walk;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse, like a mule, having no understanding.
By bit and bridle he is harnessed for control;
He does not come near you.

Many are the pains of the wicked one;
But he who trusts in Yahweh: loyalty surrounds him.
Be glad in Yahweh and rejoice, you righteous ones,
And sing out, all you who are upright in heart!

A few comments about this psalm:

(1) In the title, maskil may mean “understanding, insight, wisdom.”  Here, it may refer to a song of instruction or may be a musical term.

(2) The word in line 8 translated “best oil” appears in only one other place, Num. 11:8, where manna is said to taste like “____ of oil.”  Many versions take it to be a cake of oil, but that doesn’t fit here in this Psalm.  Perhaps, as James Jordan suggests, it’s the best part of the olive oil pressing (“best oil”).  Here, it describes the man as a plant and the best oil is his own moisture.

(3) In his notes on this psalm, James Jordan points out that there are three different terms used for sin in the first and third sections of the psalm: transgression, which is basic sin or disobedience; the word may refer to rebellion; impurity, uusally translated “sin,” but “really meaning the defiling, death-result of sin”; and liability, usually translated “iniquity,” but “actually meaning the legal guilt incurred by sin.”

I haven’t studied the use of these terms sufficiently to be sure that they always have the sense that Jordan gives them, but it does seem, for instance, that the word translated “liability” does have to do with not only the sin itself (“iniquity”) but also with the guilt incurred by it.  So for now at least, I’ve followed Jordan in my translation of these terms.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:49 pm | Discuss (0)

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