September 17, 2007

Psalm 36

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.
By the servant of Yahweh.
By David.

An oracle of the rebellion of a wicked man is within my heart:
There is no fear of God before his eyes,
Because he flatters himself in his own eyes
With regard to finding his liability and hating it.
The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
He has ceased to act wisely, to do good.
Trouble he plots on his bed;
He sets himself upon a path that is not good;
Evil he does not reject.

Yahweh, in the heavens is your loyalty,
Your trustworthiness is up to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of the Mighty One;
Your judgments are a great deep.
Man and cattle you save, Yahweh.
How precious is your loyalty, God.

And the sons of man —
In the shadow of your wings they take refuge.
They drink their fill of the fat of your house;
And the river of your pleasures you give them to drink,
Because with you is a fountain of life;
In your light we see light.

Extend your loyalty to those who know you;
And your righteousness to the upright of heart.

Let not the foot of pride come to me;
And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
There they have fallen — the troublemakers!
They are struck down and cannot rise.

Some comments on this psalm:

(1) In the title, “for” and “by” are the same word in Hebrew, so it isn’t clear if this psalm is for Yahweh’s servant (the chief musician) or by Yahweh’s servant (David).

(2) The opening line may mean that this is a declaration about the wicked man’s rebellion or that Rebellion itself is speaking in the man’s heart. It’s also possible, as James Jordan suggests, that “an oracle” should actually be seen as part of the title, so that the opening line is “The rebellion of the wicked man is within my heart” (i.e., something I’m meditating on).

(3) The fourth line may mean that the wicked man flatters himself so that he doesn’t bother hating his own sin or that he flatters himself into thinking that God won’t deal with his sin or, perhaps, that he flatters himself and hates to find his own liability. There is no fear of God before his eyes, and so, because he doesn’t fear God, he doesn’t see his guilt.

(4) In lines 15-16, instead of having “God” at the end of line 15, as the one being addressed, it might be possible to put it at the start of line 16 (which is how it appears in the Hebrew text): “Gods and the sons of man…” In that case, the “gods” would probably be human rulers, who are called by that name elsewhere in the psalms.

[Revised, March 9, 2009.]

Posted by John Barach @ 3:30 pm | Discuss (1)

One Response to “Psalm 36”

  1. Saturday Psalter « Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam Says:

    […] is John Barach’s translation: For the director. By the servant of Yahweh. By […]

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