Do not envy evildoers!
37:2 For they will quickly dry up like grass,
and wither away like plants. 4
37:3 Trust in the Lord and do what is right!
Settle in the land and maintain your integrity! 5
and he will answer your prayers. 7
Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf. 9
37:6 He will vindicate you in broad daylight,
and publicly defend your just cause. 10
Wait confidently 12 for him!
Do not fret over the apparent success of a sinner, 13
a man who carries out wicked schemes!
Do not fret! That only leads to trouble!
but those who rely on the Lord are the ones who will possess the land. 17
you will stare at the spot where they once were, but they will be gone. 19
37:11 But the oppressed will possess the land
and enjoy great prosperity. 20
and viciously attack them. 22
for he knows that their day is coming. 24
37:14 Evil men draw their swords
and prepare their bows,
to bring down 25 the oppressed and needy,
and to slaughter those who are godly. 26
and their bows will be broken.
37:16 The little bit that a godly man owns is better than
the wealth of many evil men, 28
but the Lord sustains 30 the godly.
and they possess a permanent inheritance. 32
when famine comes they will have enough to eat. 34
the Lord’s enemies will be incinerated 36 –
they will go up in smoke. 37
37:21 Evil men borrow, but do not repay their debt,
but the godly show compassion and are generous. 38
37:23 The Lord grants success to the one
whose behavior he finds commendable. 43
for the Lord holds 46 his hand.
37:25 I was once young, now I am old.
I have never seen a godly man abandoned,
and his children 50 are blessed.
Then you will enjoy lasting security. 52
and never abandons 54 his faithful followers.
They are permanently secure, 55
37:29 The godly will possess the land
and will dwell in it permanently.
37:30 The godly speak wise words
and promote justice. 58
their 60 feet do not slip.
37:32 Evil men set an ambush for the godly
and try to kill them. 61
37:33 But the Lord does not surrender the godly,
or allow them to be condemned in a court of law. 62
Then he will permit you 65 to possess the land;
you will see the demise of evil men. 66
growing in influence, like a green tree grows in its native soil. 68
I looked for them, but they could not be found.
For the one who promotes peace has a future. 71
evil men have no future. 73
he protects them in times of trouble. 75
37:40 The Lord helps them and rescues them;
he rescues them from evil men and delivers them, 76
for they seek his protection.
A psalm of David, written to get God’s attention. 78
38:1 O Lord, do not continue to rebuke me in your anger!
Do not continue to punish me in your raging fury! 79
and your hand presses me down. 81
I am deprived of health because of my sin. 83
like a heavy load, they are too much for me to bear.
because of my foolish sins. 87
all day long I walk around mourning.
and my whole body is sick. 91
I groan loudly because of the anxiety I feel. 93
my groaning is not hidden from you.
38:10 My heart beats quickly;
my strength leaves me;
I can hardly see. 95
my neighbors stand far away. 98
those who want to harm me speak destructive words;
all day long they say deceitful things.
38:13 But I am like a deaf man – I hear nothing;
I am like a mute who cannot speak. 100
38:14 I am like a man who cannot hear
and is incapable of arguing his defense. 101
You will respond, O Lord, my God!
when my foot slips they will arrogantly taunt me. 104
38:17 For I am about to stumble,
and I am in constant pain. 105
and I am concerned about my sins.
those who hate me without cause outnumber me. 108
38:20 They repay me evil for the good I have done;
though I have tried to do good to them, they hurl accusations at me. 109
38:21 Do not abandon me, O Lord!
My God, do not remain far away from me!
For the music director, Jeduthun; a psalm of David.
and make sure I do not sin with my tongue. 113
I will put a muzzle over my mouth
while in the presence of an evil man.” 114
I held back the urge to speak. 116
My frustration grew; 117
As I thought about it, I became impatient. 119
Finally I spoke these words: 120
39:4 “O Lord, help me understand my mortality
and the brevity of life! 121
Let me realize how quickly my life will pass! 122
and my life span is nothing from your perspective. 124
Surely all people, even those who seem secure, are nothing but vapor. 125
Surely they accumulate worthless wealth
without knowing who will eventually haul it away.” 127
39:7 But now, O Lord, upon what am I relying?
You are my only hope! 128
39:8 Deliver me from all my sins of rebellion!
Do not make me the object of fools’ insults!
39:9 I am silent and cannot open my mouth
because of what you have done. 129
You have almost beaten me to death! 131
like a moth you slowly devour their strength. 133
Surely all people are a mere vapor. (Selah)
39:12 Hear my prayer, O Lord!
Listen to my cry for help!
Do not ignore my sobbing! 134
For I am dependent on you, like one residing outside his native land;
I am at your mercy, just as all my ancestors were. 135
39:13 Turn your angry gaze away from me, so I can be happy
before I pass away. 136
1 sn Psalm 37. The psalmist urges his audience not to envy the wicked, but to trust in and obey the Lord, for he will destroy sinners and preserve the godly. When the smoke of judgment clears, the wicked will be gone, but the godly will remain and inherit God’s promised blessings. The psalm is an acrostic; every other verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
2 tn The verb form is singular (see vv. 3-10 as well, where the second person verbs and pronouns are also singular). The psalmist’s exhortation has a wisdom flavor to it; it is personalized for each member of his audience.
4 tn Heb “like green vegetation.”
5 tn Heb “tend integrity.” The verb רָעָה (ra’ah, “tend, shepherd”) is probably used here in the sense of “watch over, guard.” The noun אֱמוּנָה (’emunah, “faithfulness, honesty, integrity”) is understood as the direct object of the verb, though it could be taken as an adverbial accusative, “[feed] securely,” if the audience is likened to a flock of sheep.
7 tn Or “and he will give you what you desire most.” Heb “and he will grant to you the requests of your heart.”
8 tn Heb “roll your way upon the
9 tn Heb “he will act.” Verse 6 explains what is meant; the
10 tn Heb “and he will bring out like light your vindication, and your just cause like noonday.”
11 tn Heb “Be quiet before the
12 tc The Hebrew text has וְהִתְחוֹלֵל (v˙hitkholel, Hitpolel of חִיל, khil, “writhe with fear, suffer”) but this idea fits awkwardly here. The text should be changed to וְתוֹחֵל (v˙tokhel; Hiphil of יָחַל, yakhal, “wait”). It appears that the Hebrew text is the product of dittography: (1) the initial וה (vav-he) is accidentally repeated from the preceding word (יְהוָה, y˙hvah) and (2) the final lamed (ל) is accidentally repeated (note the preceding lamed and the initial lamed on the following form, לו).
13 tn Heb “over one who causes his way to be successful.”
14 tn Heb “Refrain from anger! Abandon rage!”
16 tn Or “cut off, removed.”
17 tn Heb “and those who wait on the
18 tn Heb “and yet, a little, there will be no wicked [one].”
19 tn Heb “and you will carefully look upon his place, but he will not be [there].” The singular is used here in a representative sense; the typical evildoer is in view.
21 tn Or “innocent.” The singular is used here in a representative sense; the typical evildoer and the typical godly individual are in view.
23 tn Heb “laughs.” As the next line indicates, this refers to derisive laughter (see 2:4). The Hebrew imperfect verbal form describes the action from the perspective of an eye-witness who is watching the divine response as it unfolds before his eyes.
25 tn Heb “to cause to fall.”
26 tn Heb “the upright in way,” i.e., those who lead godly lives.
27 tn Heb “enter into.”
28 tn Heb “Better [is] a little to the godly one than the wealth of many evil ones.” The following verses explain why this is true. Though a godly individual may seem to have only meager possessions, he always has what he needs and will eventually possess the land. The wicked may prosper for a brief time, but will eventually be destroyed by divine judgment and lose everything.
29 tn Heb “for the arms of the evil ones will be broken.”
30 tn The active participle here indicates this is characteristically true.
31 tn Heb “the
32 tn Heb “and their inheritance is forever.”
33 tn Heb “in a time of trouble.”
34 tn Heb “in days of famine they will be satisfied.”
36 tc The meaning of the MT (כִּיקַר כָּרִים [kiqar karim], “like what is precious among the pastures/rams”) is uncertain. One possibility is to take the noun כָּרִים as “pastures” and interpret “what is precious” as referring to flowers that blossom but then quickly disappear (see v. 2 and BDB 430 s.v. יָקָר 3). If כָּרִים is taken as “rams,” then “what is precious” might refer to the choicest portions of rams. The present translation follows a reading in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpPs37), כיקוד כורם (“like the burning of an oven”). The next line, which pictures the
37 tn Heb “they perish in smoke, they perish.” In addition to repeating the verb for emphasis, the psalmist uses the perfect form of the verb to picture the enemies’ demise as if it had already taken place. In this way he draws attention to the certitude of their judgment.
38 tn Heb “an evil [man] borrows and does not repay; but a godly [man] is gracious and gives.” The singular forms are used in a representative sense; the typical evildoer and godly individual are in view. The three active participles and one imperfect (“repay”) draw attention to the characteristic behavior of the two types.
39 tn The particle כִּי is best understood as asseverative or emphatic here.
41 tn Heb “cursed.”
43 tn Heb “from the
44 tn Other translation options for כִּי in this context are “when” (so NASB) or “though” (so NEB, NIV, NRSV).
45 tn Heb “be hurled down.”
47 tn Or “offspring”; Heb “seed.”
48 tn Heb “or his offspring searching for food.” The expression “search for food” also appears in Lam 1:11, where Jerusalem’s refugees are forced to search for food and to trade their valuable possessions for something to eat.
49 tn The active participles describe characteristic behavior.
50 tn Or “offspring”; Heb “seed.”
52 tn Heb “and dwell permanently.” The imperative with vav (ו) is best taken here as a result clause after the preceding imperatives.
53 tn Heb “loves.” The verb “loves” is here metonymic; the
54 tn The imperfect verbal form draws attention to this generalizing statement.
55 tn Or “protected forever.”
56 tn Or “offspring”; Heb “seed.”
58 tn Heb “The mouth of the godly [one] utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.” The singular form is used in a representative sense; the typical godly individual is in view. The imperfect verbal forms draw attention to the characteristic behavior of the godly.
59 tn Heb “the law of his God [is] in his heart.” The “heart” is here the seat of one’s thoughts and motives.
61 tn Heb “an evil [one] watches the godly [one] and seeks to kill him.” The singular forms are used in a representative sense; the typical evildoer and godly individual are in view. The active participles describe characteristic behavior.
62 tn Heb “the
63 tn Or “wait.”
64 tn Heb “keep his way.” The
65 tn Heb “and he will lift you up.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) is best taken here as a result clause following the imperatives in the preceding lines.
66 tn Heb “when evil men are cut off you will see.”
67 tn The Hebrew uses the representative singular again here.
68 tn Heb “being exposed [?] like a native, luxuriant.” The Hebrew form מִתְעָרֶה (mit’areh) appears to be a Hitpael participle from עָרָה (’arah, “be exposed”), but this makes no sense in this context. Perhaps the form is a dialectal variant of מִתְעָלָה (“giving oneself an air of importance”; see Jer 51:3), from עָלָה (’alah, “go up”; see P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 [WBC], 296). The noun אֶזְרָח (’ezrakh, “native, full citizen”) refers elsewhere to people, but here, where it is collocated with “luxuriant, green,” it probably refers to a tree growing in native soil.
69 tn Heb “and he passes by and, look, he is not [there].” The subject of the verb “passes by” is probably indefinite, referring to any passerby. Some prefer to change the form to first person, “and I passed by” (cf. NEB; note the first person verbal forms in preceding verse and in the following line).
70 tn Or “upright.”
72 tn Or “destroyed together.” In this case the psalmist pictures judgment sweeping them away as a group.
73 tn Heb “the end of evil men is cut off.” As in v. 37, some interpret אַחֲרִית (’akharit, “end”) as referring to offspring (see Ps 109:13). The perfect verbal forms in v. 38 probably express general truths. Another option is that they are used emphatically to state with certitude that the demise of the wicked is as good as done.
74 tn Heb “and the deliverance of the godly [ones] [is] from the
75 tn Heb “[he is] their place of refuge in a time of trouble.”
76 tn The prefixed verbal forms with vav (ו) consecutive carry on the generalizing tone of the preceding verse.
77 sn Psalm 38. The author asks the Lord to deliver him from his enemies. He confesses his sin and recognizes that the crisis he faces is the result of divine discipline. Yet he begs the Lord not to reject him.
78 tn The Hebrew text reads simply, “to cause to remember.” The same form, the Hiphil infinitive of זָכַר (zakhar, “remember”), also appears in the heading of Ps 70. Some understand this in the sense of “for the memorial offering,” but it may carry the idea of bringing one’s plight to God’s attention (see P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 [WBC], 303).
79 tn The words “continue to” are supplied in the translation of both lines. The following verses make it clear that the psalmist is already experiencing divine rebuke/punishment. He asks that it might cease.
80 tn The verb Hebrew נָחַת (nakhat) apparently here means “penetrate, pierce” (note the use of the Qal in Prov 17:10). The psalmist pictures the
81 tn Heb “and your hand [?] upon me.” The meaning of the verb נָחַת (nakhat) is unclear in this context. It is preferable to emend the form to וַתָּנַח (vattanakh) from the verb נוּחַ (nuakh, “rest”). In this case the text would read literally, “and your hand rests upon me” (see Isa 25:10, though the phrase is used in a positive sense there, unlike Ps 38:2).
82 tn Heb “there is no soundness in my flesh from before your anger.” “Anger” here refers metonymically to divine judgment, which is the practical effect of God’s anger at the psalmist’s sin.
83 tn Heb “there is no health in my bones from before my sin.”
84 tn Heb “pass over my head.”
86 tn Heb “my wounds stink, they are festering” (cf. NEB).
87 tn Heb “from before my foolishness.”
88 tn The verb’s precise shade of meaning in this context is not entirely clear. The verb, which literally means “to bend,” may refer to the psalmist’s posture. In Isa 21:3 it seems to mean “be confused, dazed.”
89 tn Heb “I am bowed down to excess.”
90 tn Heb “for my loins are filled with shame.” The “loins” are viewed here as the seat of the psalmist’s emotions. The present translation assumes that נִקְלֶה (niqleh) is derived from קָלָה (qalah, “be dishonored”). Some derive it instead from a homonymic root קָלָה (qalah), meaning “to roast.” In this case one might translate “fever” (cf. NEB “my loins burn with fever”).
92 tn Heb “I am numb and crushed to excess.”
93 tn Heb “I roar because of the moaning of my heart.”
94 tn Heb “O Lord, before you [is] all my desire.”
95 tn Heb “and the light of my eyes, even they, there is not with me.” The “light of the eyes” may refer to physical energy (see 1 Sam 14:27, 29), life itself (Ps 13:3), or the ability to see (Prov 29:23).
96 tn Or “wound,” or “illness.”
97 tn Heb “stand [aloof].”
98 tn Heb “and the ones near me off at a distance stand.”
99 tn Heb “lay snares.”
101 tn Heb “and there is not in his mouth arguments.”
102 tn Or perhaps “surely.”
103 tn Heb “For I said, ‘Lest they rejoice over me.’” The psalmist recalls the motivating argument of his petition. He probably prefaced this statement with a prayer for deliverance (see Pss 7:1-2; 13:3-4; 28:1).
105 tn Heb “and my pain [is] before me continually.”
106 tn Or “for.” The translation assumes that כִּי (ki) is asseverative here.
107 tn Heb “and my enemies, life, are many.” The noun חַיִּים (khayyim, “life”) fits very awkwardly here. The translation assumes an emendation to חִנָּם (khinam, “without reason”; note the parallelism with שֶׁקֶר [sheqer, “falsely”] and see Pss 35:19; 69:4; Lam 3:52). The verb עָצַם (’atsam) can sometimes mean “are strong,” but here it probably focuses on numerical superiority (note the parallel verb רָבַב, ravav, “be many”).
108 tn Heb “are many.”
109 tn Heb “the ones who repay evil instead of good accuse me, instead of my pursuing good.”
112 tn Heb “I said.”
113 tn Heb “I will watch my ways, from sinning with my tongue.”
114 sn The psalmist wanted to voice a lament to the
115 tn Heb “I was mute [with] silence.”
116 tn Heb “I was quiet from good.” He kept quiet, resisting the urge to find emotional release and satisfaction by voicing his lament.
sn I held back the urge to speak. For a helpful discussion of the relationship (and tension) between silence and complaint in ancient Israelite lamentation, see E. S. Gerstenberger, Psalms, Part I (FOTL), 166-67.
117 tn Heb “and my pain was stirred up.” Emotional pain is in view here.
118 tn Heb “my heart was hot within me.”
119 tn Heb “In my reflection fire burned.” The prefixed verbal form is either a preterite (past tense) or an imperfect being used in a past progressive or customary sense (“fire was burning”).
120 tn Heb “I spoke with my tongue.” The phrase “these words” is supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.
121 tn Heb “Cause me to know, O
122 tn Heb “Let me know how transient I am!”
123 tn Heb “Look, handbreadths you make my days.” The “handbreadth” (equivalent to the width of four fingers) was one of the smallest measures used by ancient Israelites. See P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC), 309.
124 tn Heb “is like nothing before you.”
125 tn Heb “surely, all vapor [is] all mankind, standing firm.” Another option is to translate, “Surely, all mankind, though seemingly secure, is nothing but a vapor.”
126 tn Heb “surely, as an image man walks about.” The preposition prefixed to “image” indicates identity here.
sn People go through life (Heb “man walks about”). “Walking” is here used as a metaphor for living. The point is that human beings are here today, gone tomorrow. They have no lasting substance and are comparable to mere images or ghosts.
127 tc Heb “Surely [in] vain they strive, he accumulates and does not know who gathers them.” The MT as it stands is syntactically awkward. The verb forms switch from singular (“walks about”) to plural (“they strive”) and then back to singular (“accumulates and does not know”), even though the subject (generic “man”) remains the same. Furthermore there is no object for the verb “accumulates” and no plural antecedent for the plural pronoun (“them”) attached to “gathers.” These problems can be removed if one emends the text from הֶבֶל יֶהֱמָיוּן (hevel yehemaun, “[in] vain they strive”) to הֶבְלֵי הָמוֹן (hevley hamon, “vain things of wealth”). This assumes a misdivision in the MT and a virtual dittography of vav (ו) between the mem and nun of המון. The present translation follows this emendation.
128 tn Heb “my hope, for you it [is].”
130 tn Heb “remove from upon me your wound.”
131 tn Heb “from the hostility of your hand I have come to an end.”
132 tn “with punishments on account of sin you discipline a man.”
133 tc Heb “you cause to dissolve, like a moth, his desired [thing].” The translation assumes an emendation of חֲמוּדוֹ (khamudo, “his desirable [thing]”) to חֶמְדוֹ (khemdo, “his loveliness” [or “beauty”]), a reading that is supported by a few medieval Hebrew
134 tn Heb “do not be deaf to my tears.”
135 tn Heb “For a resident alien [am] I with you, a sojourner like all my fathers.”
136 tn Heb “Gaze away from me and I will smile before I go and am not.” The precise identification of the initial verb form (הָשַׁע, hasha’) is uncertain. It could be from the root שָׁעָע (sha’a’, “smear”), but “your eyes” would be the expected object in this case (see Isa 6:10). The verb may be an otherwise unattested Hiphil form of שָׁעָה (sha’ah, “to gaze”) meaning “cause your gaze to be.” Some prefer to emend the form to the Qal שְׁעֵה (sh˙’eh, “gaze”; see Job 14:6). If one does read a form of the verb “to gaze,” the angry divine “gaze” of discipline would seem to be in view (see vv. 10-11). For a similar expression of this sentiment see Job 10:20-21.