November 20, 2007

Psalm 45

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.
On lilies.
By the sons of Korah.
A song of loved ones.

My heart is boiling with a good word;
I myself am saying, “My works are for the king.”
My tongue is a pen of a skilled scribe.

You are handsome, more than the sons of Adam.
Grace is poured out on your lips.
Therefore God has blessed you forever.

Gird your sword on your thigh, warrior,
Your majesty and your splendor.
And in your splendor, advance!
Ride forth for the sake of trustworthiness and humble righteousness.
And your right hand will teach you fearful deeds.
Your arrows are sharp —
Nations under you will fall! —
In the heart of the king’s enemies.

Your throne, God, is forever and ever.
A scepter of rectitude is the scepter of your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness.
Therefore God your God has anointed you
With oil of gladness more than your companions.
Myrrh and aloes and cassias are all your garments,
From palaces of ivory, from them they have made you rejoice.
Daughters of kings are among your honored women;
The queen stands at your right hand in gold from Ophir.

Hear, daughter, and consider and incline your ear,
And forget your people and your father’s house,
And the king will desire your beauty.
Indeed, he is your lord.
And bow to him!

And Daughter Tyre will come with tribute
Your face they will appease —  the rich of the people.

All glorious is the king’s daughter inside;
Of gold embroideries is her clothing.
In variegated garments she is brought to the king;
With virgins behind her, her companions, being brought to you.
They will be brought with rejoicings and joyful shouts;
They will come into the palace of the king.

Instead of your fathers will be your sons;
You will make them rulers in all the earth.
I will make your name to be memorialized generation after generation.
Therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever.

A few comments about the translation of this psalm, which I’ll preface by saying “skilled scribe” at the beginning is right: there’s a lot of skill here that isn’t so easy to convey in English.

(1) In the title, we have the words “upon lilies,” which may refer to the song’s tune or perhaps (somehow) to the contents of the song.  We don’t know what the word maschil means.

(2) In lines 12-13, the sentence seems to be “Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies,” but in the middle of the sentence there’s an interjection (“Nations will fall under you!”).

(3) In line 16, the king’s scepter is described as “a scepter of rectitude,” which means that the king’s rule, represented by the scepter, is characterized by rectitude, uprightness, fairness, and justice.

(4) It’s possible that line 21 should be translated “From palaces of ivory, stringed instruments have made you rejoice.”

(5) In line 29, some translations have “Daughter of Tyre,” but I suspect that this is a genitive of apposition like “Daughter Zion,” where Zion is herself the daughter.  Here, this is Tyre, spoken of as a daughter.  I’ve supplied the words “will come” in this line, which may be what’s implied, though it’s also possible that the thought goes like this: “Daughter Tyre with tribute will appease your face” (which means: give you a gift that makes you favorable), and in particular “the rich of the people” will do that.”  It’s not unheard of for the Psalms to switch between singular (“Daughter Tyre”) and plural (“they”).

Posted by John Barach @ 5:11 pm | Discuss (0)

Leave a Reply