Psalm 31 Commentary2017-11-13T18:01:46+00:00

Biblical Commentary
(Bible study)

Psalm 31

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Psalm 31 Biblical Commentary:

CONTEXT:

This psalm is usually classified as an individual lament.  Verses 1-18 are a prayer.  Verses 19-24 express praise and thanksgiving.

PSALM 31:1-5.  IN YAHWEH I TAKE REFUGE

For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David.

1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge.
Let me never be disappointed.
Deliver me in your righteousness.

2 Bow down your ear to me.
Deliver me speedily.
Be to me a strong rock,
a house of defense to save me.

3 For you are my rock and my fortress,
therefore for your name’s sake lead me and guide me.

4 Pluck me out of the net that they have laid secretly for me,
for you are my stronghold.

5 Into your hand I commend my spirit.
You redeem me, Yahweh, God of truth.

“In you, Yahweh, I take refuge” (Hebrew hasah) (v. 1a).  The word hasah means refuge or security or protection.  There are many ways to pursue these things.  We can seek refuge in our home––behind locked doors––under the covers of our bed.  We can seek security in money or the things money can buy.  We can look to police or a strong friend for protection.

But the psalmist seeks Yahweh to provide refuge, security, and protection.  The psalms speak frequently of taking refuge in the Lord (2:12; 5:11; 7:1; 11:1; 14:6; etc.).  They speak of seeking refuge under Yahweh’s wings (17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4), as if Yahweh were the mother hen and they were the chicks.

The faith expressed here is that we can trust the Lord, who is both benevolent and powerful.  The reality is that people who seek the Lord’s help get sick and die, just as do those who never say a prayer.

A personal testimony:  I had colon cancer more than two decades ago.  The oncologist (cancer doctor) said, “Stage three––maybe stage three and a half.”  My chances of five year survival were considerably less than 50-50.  My wife and I had two young children, one still in diapers.

In that situation, I asked for prayers from friends around the world, and they responded.  I had taken out enough insurance that my wife could survive financially.  And––this is the most important part––I was confident that the Lord is with us in life and in death.  I believed, and still believe, that nothing can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

My family and I weathered that storm together, but I can say that I never felt terribly buffeted.  The medical/surgical treatments damaged my body, which has caused ongoing discomfort.  But death held no terror for me, because I felt sure that it would simply transport me from my place on earth to my place in heaven.  I slept well most nights.

“Let me never be disappointed” (Hebrew: bos) (v. 1b).  The word disappointed is inadequate translate the Hebrew word bos¸ which involves disgrace.

There are various reasons why a person might feel disgraced.  One would be the result of guilt that becomes public knowledge.  Another would be defeat or failure.  Verse 4 speaks of people who have laid a net or set a trap for the psalmist, so it seems likely that the author is praying not to be disgraced by his enemies.

 “Deliver me in your righteousness” (Hebrew: sedaqah) (v. 1c).   Righteousness (sedaqah) is life lived in accord with ethical principles –– life lived in accord with God’s law and God’s will.

But the righteousness cited in this verse is not that of the psalmist, but of Yahweh. Righteousness is one of the defining attributes of Yahweh’s character.  When Yahweh saves those with whom he is in relationship––when he does what is right for them––he is acting in accord with his sedaqah––his righteousness.

Yahweh’s righteousness is reflected in his covenant faithfulness.  He chose Israel and then remained in steadfast relationship with Israel through thick and thin.  Israel gave Yahweh ever so many reasons to cut the strings that bound him to them, but he never did.  He allowed them to suffer defeat and exile, but he never abandoned them.  Israel’s every setback was for the purpose of their eventual redemption.  Yahweh saves those who trust him.

“Bow down your ear to me. Deliver me speedily. Be to me a strong rock (Hebrew: sur), a house of defense to save me” (v. 2).  A sur is a large rock, a boulder.  A large rock can offer refuge to someone being besieged by enemies.  A rock is hard enough to deflect enemy arrows.  It can also provide a person a hiding place where his enemies cannot find him.

Rocks are also a symbol of stability.  A major insurance company uses an image of the Rock of Gibraltar as its logo to promote the idea that it is strong and stable and can help in times of trouble.

In the Song of Moses, Moses celebrated the fact that Israel’s enemies’ rock “is not like our Rock” (Deuteronomy 32:31).  Hannah prayed, “There is no rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2).

“For you are my rock and my fortress, therefore for your name’s sake lead me and guide me” (v. 3).  In that culture, people considered a person’s name to be more than a label to identify that person.  They believed that something of the person’s identity is tied up in the name––that the name expresses something of the person’s essential character.

God is holy, and takes seriously his holy name:

  • “He saved (Israel) for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power known” (Psalm 106:8).
  • He explained, “I don’t do this for your sake, house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations, where you went. I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am Yahweh, says the Lord Yahweh, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes” (Ezekiel 36:22-23).
  • The Third Commandment says, “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7).

It makes sense then that Yahweh should save the person who has accepted Yahweh as his rock and fortress.  Yahweh’s name is at stake if a faithful person falls.

“Pluck me out of the net that they have laid secretly for me, for you are my stronghold” (Hebrew:  ma’oz) (v. 4).  This is the verse that makes it appear that the psalmist’s adversity is an enemy who is threatening him.

A ma’oz is a refuge or fortress or stronghold.  The psalmist regards The psalmist regards Yahweh as the place where he can find refuge.

“Into your hand I commend my spirit” (Hebrew: ruah) (v. 5a).  The Hebrew word ruah means spirit, wind, or breath––much like the Greek word pneuma, used often in the New Testament, meaning spirit or wind.

We are familiar with this verse, because Jesus’ dying words were, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46).  Stephen’s dying words were, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” (Acts 7:59).

But these are not the psalmist’s dying words.  They are instead an expression of his faith that, if he commends his spirit to Yahweh, Yahweh will save him from his enemies.

 “You redeem (Hebrew: padah) me” (v. 5a).  The word padah means ransom, redeem, or deliver.

Redemption involves bringing liberty to a captive, usually through the payment of a price (a ransom).  Levitical law required Israelites to buy back (redeem) a family member who had been forced to sell himself into slavery (Leviticus 25:47-49).  It also required them to buy back (redeem) family land that had fallen into other hands due to poverty (Leviticus 25:25, 33).

The New Testament presents Jesus’ death on the cross as a redemptive act for humanity––as a “ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  Paul speaks of “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).  He tells us that “we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7)––and that Jesus Christ is the one “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).

“Yahweh, God of truth” (Hebrew: emet) (v. 5b).  Truth (emet) is that which is real, dependable, stable––that which a person can count on.  The psalmist is saying that Yahweh is the one who will give his life a solid foundation––a foundation based on what is real and dependable rather than what would shift under his feet unexpectedly––a foundation on which he can base his life without fear of failure.

PSALM 31:6-8.  I TRUST IN YAHWEH

6 I hate those who regard lying vanities,
but I trust in Yahweh.

7 I will be glad and rejoice in your loving kindness,
for you have seen my affliction.
You have known my soul in adversities.

8 You have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy.
You have set my feet in a large place.

“I hate those who regard (Hebrew: samar) lying vanities” (Hebrew: hebel) (v. 6a).  The word samar has a variety of meanings.  Here it means to attach oneself to something.  The psalmist hates those who ally themselves with lying vanities.

The word hebel (vanity) is difficult to translate exactly.  It carries the idea of brevity or insubstantial or without value.  Our phrase, “Here today; gone tomorrow,” has something of that sense.

The King James Version translated hebel as vanity, from the Latin vanitas, which carries the idea of fleeting or useless.  Some translations have persisted in using vanity to translate hebel, even though the way we commonly use vanity today has shifted.  We usually use vanity to mean excessive pride, although it does have a secondary meaning of worthless or futile.  This secondary meaning is close to the meaning of the Biblical hebel.

Some translations use the word idols to translate hebel, which reflects the belief “that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one” (1 Corinthians 8: 4; see also Jeremiah 10:3-5, 14-15; Daniel 5:23; Habakkuk 2:18).

Since idols are illusory rather than real, it seems appropriate to translate hebel as idols.

but I trust in Yahweh” (v. 6).   The Hebrew word batah means to feel secure or to have confidence.  In relationship with God, that kind of confidence is circular.  (1) People trust, and God vindicates their trust.  (2) God’s response then gives the people all the more reason to trust.

“I will be glad and rejoice in your loving kindness (Hebrew: hesed) (v. 7a).  The word hesed has a variety of meanings ––lovingkindness, mercy, or faithfulness. Yahweh has demonstrated his hesed (loving kindness) by his faithful adherence to the covenant promises.  Yahweh’s love for humanity is definitely of the “for better, for worse” variety.  God is in the covenant relationship for the long term.

Like the Greek word, agape (love), in the New Testament, hesed (loving kindness)  is a word that involves action––expressed through kind or loving actions rather than just feelings.

 “for you have seen my affliction (Hebrew: ‘oniy).  You have known my soul (Hebrew: nepes) in adversities” (Hebrew: sarah) (v. 7b).   The word ‘oniy means affliction.  The word sarah means trouble or distress.  They are similar in meaning, and intended to reinforce each other.

Yahweh has seen the psalmist’s affliction, and knows the depths of the psalmist’s soul (nepes) in the midst of his adversity.

The Israelites thought of the person holistically, and would never have divided the person into body and soul, as the Greeks were later to do.  They could not have conceived of a soul apart from a body.  When the psalmists says that Yahweh has known his soul, he is saying that Yahweh knows him wholly, completely, to the core of his being.

“You have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy. You have set my feet in a large place” (v. 8).   Many people live their lives feeling trapped: (1) by enemies or (2) in a small space.  The small space could be a small town or remote place––or it could be the result of limited education or discrimination or poor choices.  Regardless of the cause, feeling trapped is miserable.

But the psalmist doesn’t feel trapped.  Yahweh has “set (the psalmist’s) feet in a large place.”  A large space offers running room––options––opportunity.

PSALM 31:9-13.  HAVE MERCY ON ME, YAHWEH

9 Have mercy on me, Yahweh, for I am in distress.
My eye, my soul, and my body waste away with grief.

10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
my years with sighing.
My strength fails because of my iniquity.
My bones are wasted away.

11 Because of all my adversaries I have become utterly contemptible to my neighbors,
A fear to my acquaintances.
Those who saw me on the street fled from me.

12 I am forgotten from their hearts like a dead man.
I am like broken pottery.

13 For I have heard the slander of many, terror on every side,
while they conspire together against me,
they plot to take away my life.

“Have mercy (Heb. hanan) on me, Yahweh, for I am in distress” (Hebrew: sarar) (v. 9a).  The word hanan means to show mercy.  The psalmist is pleading with Yahweh to show him mercy, because he is in distress (sarar).

The word sarar has a variety of meanings, but its various meanings harken back to bound up or tied up.  Perhaps our phrase “Between a rock and a hard place” best captures the idea. We become anxious when we feel bound up or trapped.  That is what the psalmist is feeling.

“My eye, my soul, and my body waste away with grief” (Hebrew: ka’as) (v. 9b).   The word ka’as means anger.  Because he is in distress (v. 9a), the psalmist is consumed by anger. His whole being, his eye, his soul (life) and his body, are being consumed by his poisonous anger.

In his book Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner talks about how we enjoy anger––how we savor the prospect of revenge.  He says that “in may ways (anger) is a feast fit for a king.”  But he warns, “The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself.  The skeleton at the feast is you.”

“For my life is spent (Hebrew: kalah) with sorrow” (Hebrew: yagon) (v. 11a).  The word kalah (spent) has the idea of being complete or finished.  The word yagon (sorrow) means sorrow or despair.  In this verse, the psalmist sees his life as awash with sorrow and despair.  In verse 9, he spoke of being in distress and anger.  Now he adds sorrow to the mix.

“Because of all my adversaries I have become utterly contemptible to my neighbors, a fear to my acquaintances. Those who saw me on the street fled from me” (v. 11b).  The psalmist has become a pariah, an outcast––shunned by his neighbors and acquaintances, those who have been his friends in the past.  They cross over to the other side of the street when they see him coming, because they are afraid that the psalmist’s enemies might become their enemies.  His terror has become theirs.

We have to acknowledge how different these verses feel from verse 8, where the psalmist spoke of Yahweh’s lovingkindness.  Yahweh had not given the psalmist over to his enemies, but had given him the privilege of being in a large place.  Now he feels trapped in despair.

“I am forgotten from their hearts like a dead man” (v. 12a).   The psalmist’s friends and neighbors no longer have room in their hearts for him.  They know the danger posed by his enemies, so have written him off as dead.  If they had kept him in their hearts, they wouldn’t cross to the other side of the street when they see him.  They would have to stop and greet him––ask how he was doing––offer to do what they could.  But that would move them into the danger zone that surrounds him, and they cannot muster the courage to do that.

“I am like broken pottery” (v. 12b).  To those people pottery was what pots and pans and dishes are to us.  Clay jars allowed water to evaporate slowly, cooling the water inside––a blessing in a hot climate.  A master potter was an artist whose work was prized for its beauty.  A woman would find great pleasure in the two or three decorated clay vessels that she had managed to acquire for her kitchen.  An especially good piece of pottery would fetch a handsome price.

But broken pottery was worthless.  Breaking an attractive piece of pottery would break a woman’s heart––but her heart would heal while the pottery would not.  She would learn to get along without the broken vessel.  Over time she would find a replacement.  With more time, the broken vessel would be pass from her mind.

The psalmist feels like that broken pot––tragic yes, but yesterday’s tragedy.  People are already beginning to forget him and to find new friends.  They are moving on, but he is stuck in place––alone, lonely, isolated, and miserable.

“For I have heard the slander (Hebrew:  dibbah) of many, terror on every side” (v. 13a).  The word dibbah means any negative report, truthful or not.  In this instance, the psalmist is talking about untruthful slander, spread maliciously by his enemies and intended to defame him unfairly.

One of the Ten Commandments states, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16; see also Leviticus 19:16; Psalm 105:6; 140:11; Proverbs 30:10; Jeremiah 20:10).  Slander is an especially insidious sin, because it has the power to destroy a good person’s reputation––and because it is so difficult to defend oneself against slander.

The psalmist is feeling the effects of the slander that his enemies have spread against him.  His friends are avoiding him and treating him like a dead man (vv. 11-12).  He feels helpless to set things right.  He feels surrounded by terror.  No wonder he is despairing and depressed!

“while they conspire (Hebrew:  yasad) together against me” (v. 13b).  The word yasad is often used for laying a foundation.  In this case, the psalmist’s enemies are conspiring against him––secretly planning their strategy to destroy him––laying the foundation for his destruction.

 “they plot (Hebrew:  zamam) to take away my life” (v. 13c).  Plot is a good translation for zamam in this verse.  That word has to do with planning how to do something––in this case, how to destroy the psalmist’s life.

The threat to the psalmist’s life could be just an attempt to destroy his reputation.  That would leave him alive, but would ruin him .  However, these plotters could be planning murder.

As I am writing this, news reports are full of conspiracies and plotting of politicians against politicians.  In Washington, the primary goal of politicians seems no longer to be the welfare of the people but the gaining and holding of power.  The politicians are playing a zero-sum game (where you can gain something only by taking it from someone else).  It’s a nasty game.  Some politicians will win and others will lose––but the real losers will be the country and its citizens.  Like the psalmist, we feel besieged and helpless.

PSALM 31:14.  YOU ARE MY GOD

14 But I trust in you, Yahweh.
I said, “You are my God.”

“But I trust (Hebrew: batah) in you, Yahweh. I said, ‘You are my God'” (v. 14).  The Hebrew word batah means “to feel secure” or “to have confidence in.”  Even in the face of deadly opposition, the psalmist reaches down to a place deep in his being where he finds a reservoir of faith.  He affirms that Yahweh is his God, which means that the psalmist is in good hands.  Yahweh is mightier than the psalmist’s opponents.

PSALM 31:15-18.  DELIVER ME FROM MY ENEMIES

15 My times are in your hand.
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.

16 Make your face to shine on your servant.
Save me in your loving kindness.

17 Let me not be disappointed, Yahweh, for I have called on you.
Let the wicked be disappointed.
Let them be silent in Sheol.

18 Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak against the righteous insolently, with pride and contempt.

“My times are in your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me” (v. 15).  Reminding Yahweh that the psalmist’s fate is in Yahweh’s hands, the psalmist prays for deliverance from his enemies.

“Make your face to shine on your servant” (v. 16a).  Light and darkness are used in both Old and New Testaments as metaphors for good and evil––order and chaos––security and danger––joy and sorrow––truth and untruth––life and death––salvation and condemnation.  Light is regarded as a blessing.

After Moses encountered Yahweh on Mount Sinai, his face shone with the reflected glory of God (Exodus 34:29-35).  Yahweh gave Aaron a blessing for Israel that includes, “Yahweh make his face to shine on you” (Numbers 6:25).

If the shining of light is considered a blessing, which it is, the shining of Yahweh’s face is a much greater blessing.  The psalmist prays that Yahweh will bestow on him this great blessing––a blessing that will insure the psalmist’s well being.

Save me in your loving kindness” (Hebrew: hesed) (v. 16b).   For the meaning of hesed, see the comments on verse 7 above.

“Let me not be disappointed” (Hebrew: bos) (v. 17a).  The word bos goes beyond disappointment.  It involves shame or disgrace.

“Yahweh, for I have called on you” (v. 17b).  The psalmist has called on Yahweh––has pled for help.

Calling on the name of the Lord has power:

  • Elsewhere the psalmist says, “Yahweh is near to all those who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).
  • Yahweh said, “They will call on my name, and I will hear them. I will say, ‘It is my people;’ and they will say, ‘Yahweh is my God'” (Zechariah 13:9).
  • Paul quotes Joel 2:32, promising, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

 Let the wicked be disappointed (Hebrew: bos––shamed or disgraced).  Let them be silent (Hebrew: damam) in Sheol” (v. 17c).   The word damam (be silent) is used in Exodus 15:16 to describe the terror and dread that fell on the Canaanites, causing them to become “still as a stone.”

The meaning of Sheol is somewhat uncertain.  That word appears in the Old Testament about 60 times.  It means the grave or death (Genesis 37:35; 42:38, etc.).  Nowhere in the Old Testament is it described as a place of punishment.  For the most part, the Old Testament holds out no promise of an afterlife or resurrection.  That began to change in the two or three centuries before Jesus.

The Septuagint (the LXX, the Greek translation of the Old Testament) translates Sheol as Hades.  The New Testament uses the word Hades ten times, where it is the abode of dead who are awaiting their final judgment.  Jesus contrasts being “exalted to heaven” and “brought down to Hades” (Matthew 11:23), making clear that the former is much to be preferred.

“Let the lying lips be mute, which speak against the righteous insolently (Hebrew:  ataq), with pride and contempt” (v. 18).  In verse 13, the psalmist spoke of hearing “the slander of many.”  Now he asks Yahweh to silence his critics––the ones who have been spreading malicious lies against him.

The word ataq means arrogant or insolent.  We don’t like arrogant or insolent people, even if we are not the butt of their arrogance or insolence.  But it is especially difficult to be in the right and to have to suffer their barbs.  That’s the kind of suffering that the psalmist described in verses 11-13.  Because of their slanders, he felt “terror on every side” (v. 13).

PSALM 31:19-24.  OH HOW GREAT IS YOUR GOODNESS

19 Oh how great is your goodness,
which you have laid up for those who fear you,
which you have worked for those who take refuge in you,
before the sons of men!

20 In the shelter of your presence you will hide them from the plotting of man.
You will keep them secretly in a dwelling away from the strife of tongues.

21 Praise be to Yahweh,
for he has shown me his marvelous loving kindness in a strong city.

22 As for me, I said in my haste, “I am cut off from before your eyes.”
Nevertheless you heard the voice of my petitions when I cried to you.

23 Oh love Yahweh, all you his saints!
Yahweh preserves the faithful,
and fully recompenses him who behaves arrogantly.

24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who hope in Yahweh.

“Oh how great is your goodness, (Hebrew: tob)
which you have laid up for those who fear you,
which you have worked for those who take refuge in you!” (v. 19).

The Hebrew word tob has a variety of meanings, such as good or moral. In using tob to describe Yahweh, the psalmist is ascribing those positive characteristics to him.

But the tob (goodness) characteristics do not belong to Yahweh alone, for Yahweh has laid them up for those who fear him and take refuge in him.  Yahweh’s followers are also tob (good, moral, profitable).

See the comments in verse 1 for the meaning of refuge.

“In the shelter (Hebrew: seter) of your presence you will hide them from the plotting of man” (v. 20a).  The word seter means hiding place.  It suggests secrecy, and thus suggests a secure retreat, a place where those who fear Yahweh and take refuge in him (v. 19) can find comfort and security from both adversaries and adversities.

But the place of refuge is not a fortress or a hidden cave.  It is Yahweh himself.  Yahweh’s presence provides the comfort and security that we all need.  Walking with Yahweh, we can go through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil.  His rod and staff comfort us.  He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies.  Our cup overflows (Psalm 23).

 You will keep them secretly in a dwelling away from the strife of tongues” (v. 20b).   In verse 13, the psalmist spoke of slander and conspiracy by those who “plot to take my life.”  But here he affirms his faith that Yahweh will protect those who fear him (v. 19) by secreting them to a safe place.

“Praise be to Yahweh, for he has shown me his marvelous loving kindness (Hebrew: hesed) in a strong city” (Hebrew: masor) (v. 21).

For the meaning of hesed, see the comments on verse 7 above.

The word masor suggests a city under siege rather than a strong city.  Such a city is vulnerable, because the attacking enemy has the initiative and the citizenry is on the defense.  The idea of a siege is that the attackers can wear down the inhabitants––perhaps reducing them to starvation.

The psalmist has felt like a city under attack.  But he also has experienced Yahweh’s loving kindness  (hesed) in the midst of the attack.  For the meaning of hesed, see the comments on verse 7 above.

“As for me, I said in my haste, ‘I am cut off from before your eyes.’
Nevertheless you heard the voice of my petitions when I cried to you”
(v. 22).  The psalmist judged hastily that he had been cut off by Yahweh––abandoned by the only one who could save him.

But then he acknowledges that Yahweh listened and heard when the psalmist called.  Regardless of how difficult things seemed, Yahweh was there and Yahweh cared.

“Oh love Yahweh, all you his saints!” (Hebrew: hasiyd) (v. 23a).  Hasiyd means kind, merciful, or pious––i.e., those whose lives manifest their deep faith in Yahweh––those who have determined to allow Yahweh and Yahweh’s law to shape their lives.

The psalmist calls the faithful to love Yahweh.

“Yahweh preserves the faithful” (v. 23b).  This is the justification for the psalmist’s call to love Yahweh.  Yahweh is faithful.  He preserves the faithful.

“and fully recompenses him who behaves arrogantly” (v. 23c).  On the other hand, Yahweh repays the arrogant––gives them their due.  The psalmist doesn’t spell out what that will be, but we can guess.  Yahweh hates arrogance (Proverbs 8:13).  “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).  “The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low” (Isaiah 2:17).

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in Yahweh” (v. 24).  The psalmist also calls the faithful, those who place their hope in Yahweh, to be strong and to take courage.

It would seem that no such call would be necessary.  Wouldn’t those who place their hope in Yahweh just naturally be strong and courageous?  But the psalmist, who has exhibited both breat pain and great faith, knows differently.  In this psalm, he has moved from pole to pole and back again––pleading for deliverance, affirming great faith, acknowledging his distress, and asserting his faith in Yahweh’s goodness.

So it is with all the faithful.  As the father of an epileptic child cried to Jesus, “I believe. Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).  So pray we all.

SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

COMMENTARIES:

Anderson, A.A., The New Century Bible Commentary: Psalms 1-72 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972)

Broyles, Craig C., New International Biblical Commentary: Psalms (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999

Brueggemann, Walter, The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary (Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 1984)

Clifford, Richard J., Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002)

Craigie, Peter C., Word Biblical Commentary, Psalms 1-50, Vol. 19 (Dallas: Word Books, 1983)

DeClaisse-Walford, Nancy; Jacobson, Rolf A.; Tanner, Beth Laneel, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament:  The Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014)

Gower, Ralph, The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times (Chicago: Moody Press, 1987)

Kidner, Derek, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72, Vol. 14a (Downers Grove, Illinois:  Inter-Varsity Press, 1973)

Limburg, James, Westminster Bible Companion: Psalms (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000

Mays, James Luther, Interpretation: Psalms (Louisville: John Knox, 1994)

McCann, J. Clinton, Jr., The New Interpreter’s Bible: The Book of Psalms, Vol. 4 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996)

Ross, Allen P., A Commentary on the Psalms, 1-41, Vol. 1  (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2012)

Waltner, James H., Believers Church Bible Commentary: Psalms (Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 2006)

 

DICTIONARIES, ENCYCLOPEDIAS & LEXICONS:

Baker, Warren (ed.), The Complete WordStudy Old Testament (Chattanooga; AMG Publishers, 1994)

Baker, Warren and Carpenter, Eugene, The Complete WordStudy Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003)

Bromiley, Geoffrey (General Editor), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979-1988)

Brown, Francis; Driver, S.R.; and Briggs, Charles A., The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1906, 2004)

Doniach, N.S. and Kahane, Ahuvia, The Oxford English-Hebrew Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 1998)

Fohrer, Georg, Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary of the Old Testament (SCM Press, 2012)

Freedman, David Noel (ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, 6 vol. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007)

Freedman, David Noel (Ed.), Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000)

Mounce, William D., (ed.), Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2006)

Renn, Stephen D., Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words: Word Studies for Key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2005)

Richards, Lawrence O., Encyclopedia of Bible Words (Zondervan, 1985, 1991)

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob (ed.), The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 5 vol.  (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006-2009)

VanGemeren, Willem A. (General Editor), New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, 5 vol., (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997)

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