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)

2 Responses to “Psalm 35”

  1. Mark Kodak Says:

    After listening to a sermon by Rich Bledsoe on praying through the Psalms, I remembered your blog, and the translations you have made thus far from the Hebrew. I find your translations fresh and challenging. They give me different aspects to pray and meditate upon.

    I would like to know if you could email me a document of all the Psalms you have translated so far. I could go page by page through your site to compile a collection, but I thought I might ask if you had that already. Also, I have a blog that is simply a repository of prayers. I would love to post your psalms there with links back to your site.

    As someone who does not have time to learn Hebrew themself, I really appreciate your skill in these interpretations.

  2. John Barach Says:

    Thanks for your comments, Mark. I’m glad that these psalm translations have been helpful for you. We’ve been reading them in church every Sunday, and eventually I would like to have us chanting them.

    I don’t have a single document with all the psalms in it. They’re either spread over the weekly bulletins or here on the web. You can find them all fairly easily, though, by going here.

    You’re also welcome to re-post them, with links, on your site. Thanks again, Mark! And if you see Rich, say hello from me. I haven’t seen him for four years, though I converse with him online occasionally.

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