December 4, 2009

Psalm 63

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!

A psalm.
By David,
When he was in the wilderness of Judah.

God, my Mighty One you are.
Early I will seek you.
For you thirsts my soul,
For you longs my flesh
In a dry land,
Weary without water.

Thus in the holy place I have perceived you,
To see your strength and your glory.
Because better is your loyalty than life,
My lips will praise you.

Thus I will bless you in my life;
In your name I will lift up my palms.
When with fat and grease my soul is satisfied,
With joyous lips my mouth will praise.

When I remember you upon my bed,
In the night-watches I will meditate upon you,
Because you are a help to me,
And in the shadow of your wings I will shout joyously.
My soul clings after you;
On me your right hand holds fast.

And they, to ruin, are seeking my soul;
They will go into the depths of the earth.
They would give him over to the power of the sword;
The prey of jackals they will be.
But the king will rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by him will boast,
Because the mouth of the speakers of falsehood will be shut.

A few comments on the translation of this psalm:

(1) In line 2, there isn’t a separate word for “early” and another for “seek.”  Rather, the word for seeking is related to the word for early dawn, so the word has the sense of seeking at early dawn, just before daybreak, which indicates extremely urgent, eager seeking.  “Dawn-seeking” isn’t really a word in English, though it’s tempting to use it here.

(2) In line 13, “fat and grease” is my attempt to translate two words that really both mean “fat.”  To us “grease” sounds a bit bad, not like something that satisfies our heart, but think of good greasy fries or the greasy drippings in the bottom of the roast pan.

(3) In line 19, “clings after” sounds awkward.  “Clings” is the same word that’s used in Genesis 2 for the man clinging to his wife.  But David is not saying just that his soul is clinging to God but also that, while clinging to God, he is also following after him.

(4) Line 23 is tough to translate.  The verb seems to mean “pour out.”  Here it’s a man being poured out, and literally that’s “upon the hand of the sword,” but “hand” often is used for power.  My translation here is the best paraphrase I can come up with.

Posted by John Barach @ 4:30 pm | Discuss (0)

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