New American Bible (Revised Edition)
First Book—Psalms 1–41
True Happiness in God’s Law
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk
in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the way[b] of sinners,
nor sit in company with scoffers.(A)
2 Rather, the law of the Lord[c] is his joy;
and on his law he meditates day and night.(B)
3 He is like a tree(C)
planted near streams of water,
that yields its fruit in season;
Its leaves never wither;
whatever he does prospers.
4 But not so are the wicked,[d] not so!
They are like chaff driven by the wind.(D)
5 Therefore the wicked will not arise at the judgment,
nor will sinners in the assembly of the just.
6 Because the Lord knows the way of the just,(E)
but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.
A Psalm for a Royal Coronation
1 Why do the nations protest
and the peoples conspire in vain?(F)
2 Kings on earth rise up
and princes plot together
against the Lord and against his anointed one:[f](G)
3 “Let us break their shackles
and cast off their chains from us!”(H)
4 The one enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord derides them,(I)
5 Then he speaks to them in his anger,
in his wrath he terrifies them:
6 “I myself have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
7 I will proclaim the decree of the Lord,
he said to me, “You are my son;
today I have begotten you.(J)
8 Ask it of me,
and I will give you the nations as your inheritance,
and, as your possession, the ends of the earth.
9 With an iron rod you will shepherd them,
like a potter’s vessel you will shatter them.”(K)
10 And now, kings, give heed;
take warning, judges on earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear;
exult with trembling,
lest he become angry and you perish along the way
when his anger suddenly blazes up.(L)
Blessed are all who take refuge in him!
Threatened but Trusting
2 How many are my foes, Lord!
How many rise against me!
3 [i]How many say of me,
“There is no salvation for him in God.”(N)
4 But you, Lord, are a shield around me;
my glory, you keep my head high.(O)
5 With my own voice I will call out to the Lord,
and he will answer me from his holy mountain.
6 I lie down and I fall asleep,
[and] I will wake up, for the Lord sustains me.(P)
7 I do not fear, then, thousands of people
arrayed against me on every side.
Trust in God
1 For the leader;[k] with stringed instruments. A psalm of David.
2 Answer me when I call, my saving God.
When troubles hem me in, set me free;
take pity on me, hear my prayer.(S)
3 How long, O people, will you be hard of heart?
Why do you love what is worthless, chase after lies?[l](T)
4 Know that the Lord works wonders for his faithful one;
the Lord hears when I call out to him.
5 Tremble[m] and sin no more;
weep bitterly within your hearts,
wail upon your beds,(U)
6 Offer fitting sacrifices
and trust in the Lord.(V)
7 Many say, “May we see better times!
Lord, show us the light of your face!”(W)
8 But you have given my heart more joy
than they have when grain and wine abound.
9 (X)[n]In peace I will lie down and fall asleep,
for you alone, Lord, make me secure.
Prayer for Divine Help
1 For the leader; with wind instruments. A psalm of David.
2 Give ear to my words, O Lord;
understand my sighing.(Y)
3 Attend to the sound of my cry,
my king and my God!
For to you I will pray, Lord;
4 in the morning you will hear my voice;
in the morning I will plead before you and wait.(Z)
5 You are not a god who delights in evil;
no wicked person finds refuge with you;
6 the arrogant cannot stand before your eyes.
You hate all who do evil;
7 you destroy those who speak falsely.(AA)
A bloody and fraudulent man
the Lord abhors.
8 But I, through the abundance of your mercy,[p]
will enter into your house.
I will bow down toward your holy sanctuary
out of fear of you.(AB)
9 Lord, guide me in your justice because of my foes;
make straight your way before me.(AC)
10 For there is no sincerity in their mouth;
their heart is corrupt.
Their throat[q] is an open grave;(AD)
on their tongue are subtle lies.
11 Declare them guilty, God;
make them fall by their own devices.(AE)
Drive them out for their many sins;
for they have rebelled against you.
12 Then all who trust in you will be glad
and forever shout for joy.(AF)
You will protect them and those will rejoice in you
who love your name.
13 For you, Lord, bless the just one;
you surround him with favor like a shield.
Prayer in Distress
1 For the leader; with stringed instruments, “upon the eighth.”[s]
A psalm of David.
2 Do not reprove me in your anger, Lord,
nor punish me in your wrath.(AG)
3 Have pity on me, Lord, for I am weak;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are shuddering.(AH)
4 My soul too is shuddering greatly—
and you, Lord, how long…?[t](AI)
5 Turn back, Lord, rescue my soul;
save me because of your mercy.
6 For in death there is no remembrance of you.
Who praises you in Sheol?[u](AJ)
7 I am wearied with sighing;
all night long I drench my bed with tears;
I soak my couch with weeping.
8 My eyes are dimmed with sorrow,
worn out because of all my foes.(AK)
9 Away from me, all who do evil!(AL)
The Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
10 The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord will receive my prayer.
11 My foes will all be disgraced and will shudder greatly;
they will turn back in sudden disgrace.(AM)
God the Vindicator
1 A plaintive song of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, the Benjaminite.
2 Lord my God, in you I trusted;
save me; rescue me from all who pursue me,(AN)
3 Lest someone maul me like a lion,
tear my soul apart with no one to deliver.
4 Lord my God, if I have done this,[w]
if there is guilt on my hands,
5 If I have maltreated someone treating me equitably—
or even despoiled my oppressor without cause—
6 Then let my enemy pursue and overtake my soul,
trample my life to the ground,
and lay my honor in the dust.(AO)
7 Rise up, Lord, in your anger;
be aroused against the outrages of my oppressors.(AP)
Stir up the justice, my God, you have commanded.
8 Have the assembly of the peoples gather about you;
and return on high above them,
9 the Lord will pass judgment on the peoples.
Judge me, Lord, according to my righteousness,
and my integrity.
10 Let the malice of the wicked end.
Uphold the just one,
O just God,(AQ)
who tries hearts and minds.
11 God is a shield above me
saving the upright of heart.(AR)
12 God is a just judge, powerful and patient,[x]
not exercising anger every day.
13 If one does not repent,
God sharpens his sword,
strings and readies the bow,(AS)
14 Prepares his deadly shafts,
makes arrows blazing thunderbolts.(AT)
15 Consider how one conceives iniquity;
is pregnant with mischief,
and gives birth to deception.(AU)
16 He digs a hole and bores it deep,
but he falls into the pit he has made.(AV)
17 His malice turns back upon his head;
his violence falls on his own skull.
18 I will thank the Lord in accordance with his justice;
I will sing the name of the Lord Most High.(AW)
Divine Majesty and Human Dignity
1 For the leader; “upon the gittith.”[z] A psalm of David.
2 O Lord, our Lord,
how awesome is your name through all the earth!
4 When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and stars that you set in place—
5 [ab]What is man that you are mindful of him,(AY)
and a son of man that you care for him?(AZ)
6 Yet you have made him little less than a god,[ac]
crowned him with glory and honor.
7 You have given him rule over the works of your hands,(BA)
put all things at his feet:
8 All sheep and oxen,
even the beasts of the field,
9 The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
10 O Lord, our Lord,
how awesome is your name through all the earth!
Thanksgiving for Victory and Prayer for Justice
1 For the leader; according to Muth Labben.[ae] A psalm of David.
2 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will declare all your wondrous deeds.
3 I will delight and rejoice in you;
I will sing hymns to your name, Most High.
4 When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before you.
5 For you upheld my right and my cause,
seated on your throne, judging justly.
6 You rebuked the nations, you destroyed the wicked;
their name you blotted out for all time.(BB)
7 The enemies have been ruined forever;
you destroyed their cities;
their memory has perished.
8 The Lord rules forever,
has set up his throne for judgment.
9 It is he who judges the world with justice,(BC)
who judges the peoples with fairness.
10 The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.(BD)
11 Those who know your name trust in you;
you never forsake those who seek you, Lord.
12 Sing hymns to the Lord enthroned on Zion;
proclaim his deeds among the nations!
13 For the avenger of bloodshed remembers,
does not forget the cry of the afflicted.(BE)
14 Be gracious to me, Lord;
see how my foes afflict me!
You alone can raise me from the gates of death.(BF)
15 Then I will declare all your praises,
sing joyously of your salvation
in the gates of daughter Zion.[af]
16 The nations fall into the pit they dig;
in the snare they hide, their own foot is caught.
17 [ag]The Lord is revealed in making judgments:
by the deeds they do the wicked are trapped.(BG)
18 To Sheol the wicked will depart,
all the nations that forget God.
19 For the needy will never be forgotten,
nor will the hope of the afflicted ever fade.(BH)
20 Arise, Lord, let no mortal prevail;
let the nations be judged in your presence.
21 Strike them with terror, Lord;
show the nations they are only human.
1 Why, Lord, do you stand afar
and pay no heed in times of trouble?
2 Arrogant scoundrels pursue the poor;
they trap them by their cunning schemes.(BI)
3 The wicked even boast of their greed;
these robbers curse and scorn the Lord.(BJ)
4 In their insolence the wicked boast:
“God does not care; there is no God.”(BK)
5 Yet their affairs always succeed;
they ignore your judgment on high;
they sneer at all who oppose them.
6 They say in their hearts, “We will never fall;
never will we see misfortune.”
7 Their mouths are full of oaths, violence, and lies;
discord and evil are under their tongues.(BL)
8 They wait in ambush near towns;
their eyes watch for the helpless
to murder the innocent in secret.(BM)
9 They lurk in ambush like lions in a thicket,
hide there to trap the poor,
snare them and close the net.(BN)
10 The helpless are crushed, laid low;
they fall into the power of the wicked,
11 Who say in their hearts, “God has forgotten,
shows no concern, never bothers to look.”(BO)
12 Rise up, Lord! God, lift up your hand!
Do not forget the poor!
13 Why should the wicked scorn God,
say in their hearts, “God does not care”?
14 But you do see;
you take note of misery and sorrow;(BP)
you take the matter in hand.
To you the helpless can entrust their cause;
you are the defender of orphans.(BQ)
15 Break the arm of the wicked and depraved;
make them account for their crimes;
let none of them survive.
16 The Lord is king forever;(BR)
the nations have vanished from his land.
17 You listen, Lord, to the needs of the poor;
you strengthen their heart and incline your ear.
18 You win justice for the orphaned and oppressed;(BS)
no one on earth will cause terror again.
Confidence in the Presence of God
1 For the leader. Of David.
In the Lord I take refuge;
how can you say to me,
“Flee like a bird to the mountains!(BT)
2 See how the wicked string their bows,
fit their arrows to the string
to shoot from the shadows at the upright of heart.(BU)
3 [ai]If foundations are destroyed,
what can the just one do?”
4 The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven.(BV)
God’s eyes keep careful watch;
they test the children of Adam.
5 The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
hates those who love violence,
6 And rains upon the wicked
fiery coals and brimstone,
a scorching wind their allotted cup.[aj](BW)
7 The Lord is just and loves just deeds;
the upright will see his face.
Prayer Against Evil Tongues
1 For the leader; “upon the eighth.” A psalm of David.
4 May the Lord cut off all deceiving lips,
and every boastful tongue,
5 Those who say, “By our tongues we prevail;
when our lips speak, who can lord it over us?”(BZ)
6 “Because they rob the weak, and the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the Lord;
“I will grant safety to whoever longs for it.”(CA)
7 The promises of the Lord are sure,
silver refined in a crucible,[al]
silver purified seven times.(CB)
8 You, O Lord, protect us always;
preserve us from this generation.
9 On every side the wicked roam;
the shameless are extolled by the children of men.
Prayer for Help
1 For the leader. A psalm of David.
2 How long, Lord? Will you utterly forget me?
How long will you hide your face from me?(CC)
3 How long must I carry sorrow in my soul,
grief in my heart day after day?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
4 Look upon me, answer me, Lord, my God!
Give light to my eyes lest I sleep in death,
5 Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed,”
lest my foes rejoice at my downfall.(CD)
6 But I trust in your mercy.
Grant my heart joy in your salvation,
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has dealt bountifully with me!(CE)
A Lament over Widespread Corruption
1 For the leader. Of David.
The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
Their deeds are loathsome and corrupt;
not one does what is good.(CF)
2 The Lord looks down from heaven
upon the children of men,(CG)
To see if even one is wise,
if even one seeks God.(CH)
3 All have gone astray;
all alike are perverse.
Not one does what is good,
not even one.(CI)
4 Will these evildoers never learn?
They devour my people as they devour bread;(CJ)
they do not call upon the Lord.(CK)
5 They have good reason, then, to fear;
God is with the company of the just.
6 They would crush the hopes of the poor,
but the poor have the Lord as their refuge.
The Righteous Israelite
1 (CM)A psalm of David.
Lord, who may abide in your tent?[aq]
Who may dwell on your holy mountain?
2 Whoever walks without blame,(CN)
doing what is right,
speaking truth from the heart;
3 Who does not slander with his tongue,
does no harm to a friend,
never defames a neighbor;
4 Who disdains the wicked,
but honors those who fear the Lord;
Who keeps an oath despite the cost,
5 lends no money at interest,[ar]
accepts no bribe against the innocent.(CO)
Whoever acts like this
shall never be shaken.
God the Supreme Good
Keep me safe, O God;
in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord,
you are my Lord,
you are my only good.
3 As for the holy ones who are in the land,
they are noble,
in whom is all my delight.
4 [au]They multiply their sorrows
who court other gods.
Blood libations to them I will not pour out,
nor will I take their names upon my lips.
5 Lord, my allotted portion and my cup,
you have made my destiny secure.(CQ)
6 [av]Pleasant places were measured out for me;
fair to me indeed is my inheritance.
7 I bless the Lord who counsels me;
even at night my heart exhorts me.
8 I keep the Lord always before me;
with him at my right hand, I shall never be shaken.(CR)
9 Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure,
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
nor let your devout one see the pit.[aw](CS)
11 You will show me the path to life,
abounding joy in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
Prayer for Rescue from Persecutors
1 A prayer of David.
Hear, Lord, my plea for justice;
pay heed to my cry;
Listen to my prayer
from lips without guile.
2 From you let my vindication come;
your eyes see what is right.
3 You have tested my heart,
searched it in the night.(CT)
You have tried me by fire,
but find no malice in me.
My mouth has not transgressed
4 as others often do.
As your lips have instructed me,
I have kept from the way of the lawless.
5 My steps have kept to your paths;
my feet have not faltered.(CU)
6 I call upon you; answer me, O God.
Turn your ear to me; hear my speech.
7 Show your wonderful mercy,
you who deliver with your right arm
those who seek refuge from their foes.
8 [ay]Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
9 from the wicked who despoil me.(CV)
My ravenous enemies press upon me;(CW)
10 [az]they close their hearts,
they fill their mouths with proud roaring.
11 Their steps even now encircle me;
they watch closely, keeping low to the ground,
12 Like lions eager for prey,
like a young lion lurking in ambush.
13 Rise, O Lord, confront and cast them down;
rescue my soul from the wicked.
14 Slay them with your sword;
with your hand, Lord, slay them;
snatch them from the world in their prime.
Their bellies are being filled with your friends;
their children are satisfied too,
for they share what is left with their young.
15 I am just—let me see your face;
when I awake, let me be filled with your presence.(CX)
A King’s Thanksgiving for Victory
1 For the leader. Of David, the servant of the Lord, who sang to the Lord the words of this song after the Lord had rescued him from the clutches of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said:(CY)
I love you, Lord, my strength,
3 Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,
My God, my rock of refuge,
my shield, my saving horn,[bb] my stronghold!(CZ)
4 Praised be the Lord, I exclaim!
I have been delivered from my enemies.
5 The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction terrified me.
6 The cords[bc] of Sheol encircled me;
the snares of death lay in wait for me.(DA)
7 In my distress I called out: Lord!
I cried out to my God.(DB)
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry to him reached his ears.
8 [bd]The earth rocked and shook;
the foundations of the mountains trembled;
they shook as his wrath flared up.(DC)
9 Smoke rose from his nostrils,
a devouring fire from his mouth;
it kindled coals into flame.
10 He parted the heavens and came down,
a dark cloud under his feet.(DD)
11 Mounted on a cherub[be] he flew,
borne along on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his cloak around him;
his canopy, water-darkened stormclouds.
13 From the gleam before him, his clouds passed,
hail and coals of fire.(DE)
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the Most High made his voice resound.(DF)
15 He let fly his arrows[bf] and scattered them;
shot his lightning bolts and dispersed them.(DG)
16 Then the bed of the sea appeared;
the world’s foundations lay bare,(DH)
At your rebuke, O Lord,
at the storming breath of your nostrils.
17 He reached down from on high and seized me;
drew me out of the deep waters.(DI)
18 He rescued me from my mighty enemy,
from foes too powerful for me.
19 They attacked me on my day of distress,
but the Lord was my support.
20 He set me free in the open;
he rescued me because he loves me.
21 The Lord acknowledged my righteousness,
rewarded my clean hands.(DJ)
22 For I kept the ways of the Lord;
I was not disloyal to my God.
23 For his laws were all before me,
his decrees I did not cast aside.
24 I was honest toward him;
I was on guard against sin.
25 So the Lord rewarded my righteousness,
the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
26 Toward the faithful you are faithful;
to the honest man you are honest;(DK)
27 Toward the pure, you are pure;
but to the perverse you are devious.
28 For humble people you save;
haughty eyes you bring low.(DL)
29 For you, Lord, give light to my lamp;
my God brightens my darkness.(DM)
30 With you I can rush an armed band,
with my God to help I can leap a wall.
31 God’s way is unerring;
the Lord’s promise is refined;
he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.(DN)
32 Truly, who is God except the Lord?
Who but our God is the rock?(DO)
33 This God who girded me with might,
kept my way unerring,
34 Who made my feet like a deer’s,
and set me on the heights,(DP)
35 Who trained my hands for war,
my arms to string a bow of bronze.[bg](DQ)
36 You have given me your saving shield;
your right hand has upheld me;
your favor made me great.
37 You made room for my steps beneath me;
my ankles never twisted.(DR)
38 I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
I did not turn back till I destroyed them.
39 I decimated them; they could not rise;
they fell at my feet.
40 You girded me with valor for war,
subjugated my opponents beneath me.
41 You made my foes expose their necks to me;
those who hated me I silenced.
42 They cried for help, but no one saved them;
cried to the Lord but received no answer.
43 I ground them to dust before the wind;
I left them like mud in the streets.
44 You rescued me from the strife of peoples;
you made me head over nations.
A people I had not known served me;
45 as soon as they heard of me they obeyed.
Foreigners submitted before me;
46 foreigners cringed;
they came cowering from their dungeons.(DS)
47 The Lord lives! Blessed be my rock!(DT)
Exalted be God, my savior!
48 O God who granted me vengeance,
made peoples subject to me,(DU)
49 and saved me from my enemies,
Truly you have elevated me above my opponents,
from a man of lawlessness you have rescued me.
50 Thus I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing praises to your name.(DV)
51 You have given great victories to your king,
and shown mercy to his anointed,
to David and his posterity forever.(DW)
God’s Glory in the Heavens and in the Law
1 For the leader. A psalm of David.
2 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the firmament proclaims the works of his hands.(DX)
3 Day unto day pours forth speech;
night unto night whispers knowledge.
4 [bi]There is no speech, no words;
their voice is not heard;
5 A report goes forth through all the earth,
their messages, to the ends of the world.
He has pitched in them a tent for the sun;[bj]
6 it comes forth like a bridegroom from his canopy,
and like a hero joyfully runs its course.
7 From one end of the heavens it comes forth;
its course runs through to the other;
nothing escapes its heat.
8 The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The decree of the Lord is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.(DY)
9 The precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eye.
10 The fear of the Lord is pure,
The statutes of the Lord are true,
all of them just;
11 More desirable than gold,
than a hoard of purest gold,
Sweeter also than honey
or drippings from the comb.(DZ)
12 By them your servant is warned;[bk]
obeying them brings much reward.
13 Who can detect trespasses?
Cleanse me from my inadvertent sins.
14 Also from arrogant ones restrain your servant;
let them never control me.
Then shall I be blameless,
innocent of grave sin.
15 Let the words of my mouth be acceptable,
the thoughts of my heart before you,
Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Prayer for the King in Time of War
1 For the leader. A psalm of David.
2 The Lord answer you in time of distress;
the name of the God of Jacob defend you!
3 May he send you help from the sanctuary,
from Zion be your support.(EA)
4 May he remember[bm] your every offering,
graciously accept your burnt offering,
5 Grant what is in your heart,
fulfill your every plan.
6 May we shout for joy at your victory,[bn]
raise the banners in the name of our God.
The Lord grant your every petition!
7 Now I know the Lord gives victory
to his anointed.(EB)
He will answer him from the holy heavens
with a strong arm that brings victory.
8 Some rely on chariots, others on horses,
but we on the name of the Lord our God.(EC)
9 They collapse and fall,
but we stand strong and firm.(ED)
10 Lord, grant victory to the king;
answer when we call upon you.
Thanksgiving and Assurances for the King
1 For the leader. A psalm of David.
2 Lord, the king finds joy in your power;(EE)
in your victory how greatly he rejoices!
3 You have granted him his heart’s desire;
you did not refuse the request of his lips.
4 For you welcomed him with goodly blessings;
you placed on his head a crown of pure gold.
5 He asked life of you;
you gave it to him,
length of days forever.(EF)
6 Great is his glory in your victory;
majesty and splendor you confer upon him.
7 You make him the pattern of blessings forever,
you gladden him with the joy of your face.
8 For the king trusts in the Lord,
stands firm through the mercy of the Most High.
9 Your hand will find all your enemies;
your right hand will find your foes!
10 At the time of your coming
you will make them a fiery furnace.
Then the Lord in his anger will consume them,
devour them with fire.
11 Even their descendants you will wipe out from the earth,
their offspring from the human race.
12 Though they intend evil against you,
devising plots, they will not succeed,
13 For you will put them to flight;
you will aim at their faces with your bow.
14 Arise, Lord, in your power!(EG)
We will sing and chant the praise of your might.
The Prayer of an Innocent Person
1 For the leader; according to “The deer of the dawn.”[bq] A psalm of David.
2 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why so far from my call for help,
from my cries of anguish?(EH)
3 My God, I call by day, but you do not answer;
by night, but I have no relief.(EI)
4 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the glory of Israel.(EJ)
5 In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted and you rescued them.
6 To you they cried out and they escaped;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.(EK)
7 [br]But I am a worm, not a man,
scorned by men, despised by the people.(EL)
8 All who see me mock me;
they curl their lips and jeer;
they shake their heads at me:(EM)
9 “He relied on the Lord—let him deliver him;
if he loves him, let him rescue him.”(EN)
10 For you drew me forth from the womb,
made me safe at my mother’s breasts.
11 Upon you I was thrust from the womb;
since my mother bore me you are my God.(EO)
12 Do not stay far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is no one to help.(EP)
13 Many bulls[bs] surround me;
fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.
14 They open their mouths against me,
lions that rend and roar.(EQ)
15 Like water my life drains away;
all my bones are disjointed.
My heart has become like wax,
it melts away within me.
16 As dry as a potsherd is my throat;
my tongue cleaves to my palate;
you lay me in the dust of death.[bt]
17 Dogs surround me;
a pack of evildoers closes in on me.
They have pierced my hands and my feet
18 I can count all my bones.(ER)
They stare at me and gloat;
19 they divide my garments among them;
for my clothing they cast lots.(ES)
20 But you, Lord, do not stay far off;
my strength, come quickly to help me.
21 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the grip of the dog.
22 Save me from the lion’s mouth,
my poor life from the horns of wild bulls.(ET)
23 Then I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the assembly I will praise you:[bu](EU)
24 “You who fear the Lord, give praise!
All descendants of Jacob, give honor;
show reverence, all descendants of Israel!
25 For he has not spurned or disdained
the misery of this poor wretch,
Did not turn away[bv] from me,
but heard me when I cried out.
26 I will offer praise in the great assembly;
my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him.
27 The poor[bw] will eat their fill;
those who seek the Lord will offer praise.
May your hearts enjoy life forever!”(EV)
28 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord;
All the families of nations
will bow low before him.(EW)
29 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
the ruler over the nations.(EX)
30 [bx]All who sleep in the earth
will bow low before God;
All who have gone down into the dust
will kneel in homage.
31 And I will live for the Lord;
my descendants will serve you.
32 The generation to come will be told of the Lord,
that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn
the deliverance you have brought.(EY)
The Lord, Shepherd and Host
1 A psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd;[bz]
there is nothing I lack.(EZ)
2 In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
3 (FA)he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths[ca]
for the sake of his name.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,(FB)
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.
5 [cb]You set a table before me
in front of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;(FC)
my cup overflows.(FD)
6 Indeed, goodness and mercy[cc] will pursue me
all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of the Lord(FE)
for endless days.
The Glory of God in Procession to Zion
1 A psalm of David.
3 Who may go up the mountain of the Lord?(FH)
Who can stand in his holy place?
4 [ce]“The clean of hand and pure of heart,
who has not given his soul to useless things,
what is vain.
5 He will receive blessings from the Lord,
and justice from his saving God.
6 Such is the generation that seeks him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.”
7 Lift up your heads, O gates;[cf]
be lifted, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may enter.(FI)
8 Who is this king of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in war.
9 Lift up your heads, O gates;
rise up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may enter.
10 Who is this king of glory?
The Lord of hosts, he is the king of glory.
Confident Prayer for Forgiveness and Guidance
1 Of David.
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul,
2 (FJ)my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be disgraced;(FK)
do not let my enemies gloat over me.
3 No one is disgraced who waits for you,(FL)
but only those who are treacherous without cause.
4 Make known to me your ways, Lord;
teach me your paths.(FM)
5 Guide me by your fidelity and teach me,
for you are God my savior,
for you I wait all the day long.
6 Remember your compassion and your mercy, O Lord,
for they are ages old.(FN)
7 Remember no more the sins of my youth;(FO)
remember me according to your mercy,
because of your goodness, Lord.
8 Good and upright is the Lord,
therefore he shows sinners the way,
9 He guides the humble in righteousness,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth
toward those who honor his covenant and decrees.
11 For the sake of your name, Lord,
pardon my guilt, though it is great.
12 Who is the one who fears the Lord?
God shows him the way he should choose.(FP)
13 He will abide in prosperity,
and his descendants will inherit the land.(FQ)
14 The counsel of the Lord belongs to those who fear him;
and his covenant instructs them.
15 My eyes are ever upon the Lord,
who frees my feet from the snare.(FR)
16 Look upon me, have pity on me,
for I am alone and afflicted.(FS)
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart;
bring me out of my distress.
18 Look upon my affliction and suffering;
take away all my sins.
19 See how many are my enemies,
see how fiercely they hate me.
20 Preserve my soul and rescue me;
do not let me be disgraced, for in you I seek refuge.
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me;
I wait for you, O Lord.
22 [ch]Redeem Israel, O God,
from all its distress!
Prayer of Innocence
1 Of David.
Judge me, Lord!
For I have walked in my integrity.(FT)
In the Lord I trust;
I do not falter.
2 Examine me, Lord, and test me;
search my heart and mind.(FU)
3 Your mercy is before my eyes;
I walk guided by your faithfulness.(FV)
4 I do not sit with worthless men,
nor with hypocrites do I mingle.
5 I hate an evil assembly;
with the wicked I do not sit.
6 I will wash my hands[cj] in innocence(FW)
so that I may process around your altar, Lord,
7 To hear the sound of thanksgiving,
and recount all your wondrous deeds.
8 Lord, I love the refuge of your house,
the site of the dwelling-place of your glory.(FX)
9 Do not take me away with sinners,
nor my life with the men of blood,(FY)
10 In whose hands there is a plot,
their right hands full of bribery.
11 But I walk in my integrity;(FZ)
redeem me, be gracious to me!(GA)
12 My foot stands on level ground;[ck]
in assemblies I will bless the Lord.(GB)
Trust in God
1 (GC)Of David.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The Lord is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
2 When evildoers come at me
to devour my flesh,[cm](GD)
These my enemies and foes
themselves stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart does not fear;
Though war be waged against me,
even then do I trust.
4 One thing I ask of the Lord;
this I seek:
To dwell in the Lord’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the Lord’s beauty,
to visit his temple.(GE)
5 For God will hide me in his shelter
in time of trouble,(GF)
He will conceal me in the cover of his tent;
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Even now my head is held high
above my enemies on every side!
I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and chant praise to the Lord.
7 Hear my voice, Lord, when I call;
have mercy on me and answer me.
8 “Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;[cn]
your face, Lord, do I seek!(GG)
9 Do not hide your face from me;
do not repel your servant in anger.
You are my salvation; do not cast me off;
do not forsake me, God my savior!
10 Even if my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will take me in.(GH)
11 Lord, show me your way;
lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.(GI)
12 Do not abandon me to the desire of my foes;
malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me.
13 I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.[co](GJ)
14 Wait for the Lord, take courage;
be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!
Petition and Thanksgiving
1 Of David.
To you, Lord, I call;
my Rock, do not be deaf to me,(GK)
Do not be silent toward me,
so that I join those who go down to the pit.(GL)
2 Hear the sound of my pleading when I cry to you for help
when I lift up my hands toward your holy place.[cq](GM)
3 Do not drag me off with the wicked,
with those who do wrong,(GN)
Who speak peace to their neighbors
though evil is in their hearts.(GO)
4 Repay them for their deeds,
for the evil that they do.
For the work of their hands repay them;
give them what they deserve.(GP)
5 Because they do not understand the Lord’s works,
the work of his hands,(GQ)
He will tear them down,
never to rebuild them.
6 [cr]Blessed be the Lord,
who has heard the sound of my pleading.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield,
in whom my heart trusts.
I am helped, so my heart rejoices;
with my song I praise him.
8 [cs]Lord, you are a strength for your people,
the saving refuge of your anointed.
9 Save your people, bless your inheritance;
pasture and carry them forever!
The Lord of Majesty Acclaimed as King of the World
1 A psalm of David.
3 The voice of the Lord[cv] is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is power;
the voice of the Lord is splendor.(GS)
5 The voice of the Lord cracks the cedars;
the Lord splinters the cedars of Lebanon,
6 Makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
and Sirion[cw] like a young bull.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes with fiery flame;
8 the voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the desert of Kadesh.
9 [cx]The voice of the Lord makes the deer dance
and strips the forests bare.
All in his Temple say, “Glory!”
Thanksgiving for Deliverance
1 A psalm. A song for the dedication of the Temple.[db] Of David.
2 I praise you, Lord, for you raised me up
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
3 O Lord, my God,
I cried out to you for help and you healed[dc] me.
4 Lord, you brought my soul up from Sheol;
you let me live, from going down to the pit.[dd](GV)
5 Sing praise to the Lord, you faithful;
give thanks to his holy memory.
6 For his anger lasts but a moment;
his favor a lifetime.
At dusk weeping comes for the night;
but at dawn there is rejoicing.
7 Complacent,[de] I once said,
“I shall never be shaken.”
8 Lord, you showed me favor,
established for me mountains of virtue.
But when you hid your face
I was struck with terror.(GW)
9 To you, Lord, I cried out;
with the Lord I pleaded for mercy:
10 [df]“What gain is there from my lifeblood,
from my going down to the grave?
Does dust give you thanks
or declare your faithfulness?
11 Hear, O Lord, have mercy on me;
Lord, be my helper.”
12 You changed my mourning into dancing;
you took off my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness.(GX)
13 So that my glory may praise you
and not be silent.
O Lord, my God,
forever will I give you thanks.
Prayer in Distress and Thanksgiving for Escape
1 For the leader. A psalm of David.
2 In you, Lord, I take refuge;(GY)
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me;
3 incline your ear to me;
make haste to rescue me!
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to save me.
4 For you are my rock and my fortress;(GZ)
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me.
5 Free me from the net they have set for me,
for you are my refuge.
6 [dh]Into your hands I commend my spirit;(HA)
you will redeem me, Lord, God of truth.
7 You hate those who serve worthless idols,
but I trust in the Lord.
8 I will rejoice and be glad in your mercy,
once you have seen my misery,
[and] gotten to know the distress of my soul.(HB)
9 You will not abandon me into enemy hands,
but will set my feet in a free and open space.
10 Be gracious to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
affliction is wearing down my eyes,
my throat and my insides.
11 My life is worn out by sorrow,
and my years by sighing.
My strength fails in my affliction;
my bones are wearing down.(HC)
12 To all my foes I am a thing of scorn,
and especially to my neighbors
a horror to my friends.
When they see me in public,
they quickly shy away.(HD)
13 I am forgotten, out of mind like the dead;
I am like a worn-out tool.[di]
14 I hear the whispers of the crowd;
terrors are all around me.[dj]
They conspire together against me;
they plot to take my life.
15 But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”(HE)
16 My destiny is in your hands;
rescue me from my enemies,
from the hands of my pursuers.
17 Let your face shine on your servant;(HF)
save me in your mercy.
18 Do not let me be put to shame,
for I have called to you, Lord.
Put the wicked to shame;
reduce them to silence in Sheol.
19 Strike dumb their lying lips,
which speak arrogantly against the righteous
in contempt and scorn.(HG)
20 How great is your goodness, Lord,
stored up for those who fear you.
You display it for those who trust you,
in the sight of the children of Adam.
21 You hide them in the shelter of your presence,
safe from scheming enemies.
You conceal them in your tent,
away from the strife of tongues.(HH)
22 Blessed be the Lord,
marvelously he showed to me
his mercy in a fortified city.
23 Though I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your eyes.”(HI)
Yet you heard my voice, my cry for mercy,
when I pleaded with you for help.
24 Love the Lord, all you who are faithful to him.
The Lord protects the loyal,
but repays the arrogant in full.
25 Be strong and take heart,
all who hope in the Lord.
Remission of Sin
1 (HJ)Of David. A maskil.
Blessed is the one whose fault is removed,
whose sin is forgiven.
2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 Because I kept silent,[dl] my bones wasted away;
I groaned all day long.(HK)
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength withered as in dry summer heat.
5 Then I declared my sin to you;
my guilt I did not hide.(HL)
I said, “I confess my transgression to the Lord,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore every loyal person should pray to you
in time of distress.
Though flood waters[dm] threaten,
they will never reach him.(HM)
7 You are my shelter; you guard me from distress;
with joyful shouts of deliverance you surround me.
8 I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk,
give you counsel with my eye upon you.
9 Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding;
with bit and bridle their temper is curbed,
else they will not come to you.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked one,
but mercy surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous;
exult, all you upright of heart.(HN)
Praise of God’s Power and Providence
1 Rejoice, you righteous, in the Lord;
praise from the upright is fitting.(HO)
2 Give thanks to the Lord on the harp;
on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.(HP)
3 Sing to him a new song;
skillfully play with joyful chant.
4 For the Lord’s word is upright;
all his works are trustworthy.
5 He loves justice and right.
The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord.(HQ)
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all who dwell in the world show him reverence.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be,
commanded, and it stood in place.(HT)
10 The Lord foils the plan of nations,
frustrates the designs of peoples.
11 But the plan of the Lord stands forever,
the designs of his heart through all generations.(HU)
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people chosen as his inheritance.(HV)
13 From heaven the Lord looks down
and observes the children of Adam,(HW)
14 From his dwelling place he surveys
all who dwell on earth.
15 The One who fashioned together their hearts
is the One who knows all their works.
16 A king is not saved by a great army,
nor a warrior delivered by great strength.
17 Useless is the horse for safety;
despite its great strength, it cannot be saved.
18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear him,
upon those who count on his mercy,
19 To deliver their soul from death,
and to keep them alive through famine.
20 Our soul waits for the Lord,
he is our help and shield.(HX)
21 For in him our hearts rejoice;
in his holy name we trust.
22 May your mercy, Lord, be upon us;
as we put our hope in you.
Thanksgiving to God Who Delivers the Just
1 Of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech,[dr] who drove him out and he went away.
2 I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall be always in my mouth.(HY)
3 My soul will glory in the Lord;
let the poor hear and be glad.
4 Magnify the Lord with me;
and let us exalt his name together.
5 I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
delivered me from all my fears.
6 Look to him and be radiant,
and your faces may not blush for shame.
7 This poor one cried out and the Lord heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
8 The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and he saves them.(HZ)
9 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the stalwart one who takes refuge in him.(IA)
10 Fear the Lord, you his holy ones;
nothing is lacking to those who fear him.(IB)
11 The rich grow poor and go hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
12 Come, children,[ds] listen to me;(IC)
I will teach you fear of the Lord.
13 Who is the man who delights in life,(ID)
who loves to see the good days?
14 Keep your tongue from evil,
your lips from speaking lies.
15 Turn from evil and do good;(IE)
seek peace and pursue it.
16 The eyes of the Lord are directed toward the righteous(IF)
and his ears toward their cry.
17 The Lord’s face is against evildoers
to wipe out their memory from the earth.
18 The righteous cry out, the Lord hears
and he rescues them from all their afflictions.
19 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,
saves those whose spirit is crushed.
20 Many are the troubles of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him from them all.
21 He watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.(IG)
22 Evil will slay the wicked;
those who hate the righteous are condemned.
23 The Lord is the redeemer of the souls of his servants;
and none are condemned who take refuge in him.
Prayer for Help Against Unjust Enemies
1 Of David.
[du]Oppose, O Lord, those who oppose me;
war upon those who make war upon me.
2 Take up the shield and buckler;
rise up in my defense.
3 Brandish lance and battle-ax
against my pursuers.
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”
4 Let those who seek my life
be put to shame and disgrace.
Let those who plot evil against me(IH)
be turned back and confounded.
5 Make them like chaff before the wind,(II)
with the angel of the Lord driving them on.
6 Make their way slippery and dark,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
7 Without cause they set their snare for me;
without cause they dug a pit for me.
8 Let ruin overtake them unawares;
let the snare they have set catch them;
let them fall into the pit they have dug.(IJ)
9 Then I will rejoice in the Lord,
exult in God’s salvation.
10 My very bones shall say,
“O Lord, who is like you,(IK)
Who rescue the afflicted from the powerful,
the afflicted and needy from the despoiler?”
11 Malicious witnesses rise up,
accuse me of things I do not know.
12 They repay me evil for good;
my soul is desolate.(IL)
13 [dv]Yet I, when they were ill, put on sackcloth,
afflicted myself with fasting,
sobbed my prayers upon my bosom.
14 I went about in grief as for my brother,
bent in mourning as for my mother.
- Psalm 1 A preface to the whole Book of Psalms, contrasting with striking similes the destiny of the good and the wicked. The Psalm views life as activity, as choosing either the good or the bad. Each “way” brings its inevitable consequences. The wise through their good actions will experience rootedness and life, and the wicked, rootlessness and death.
- 1:1 The way: a common biblical term for manner of living or moral conduct (Ps 32:8; 101:2, 6; Prv 2:20; 1 Kgs 8:36).
- 1:2 The law of the Lord: either the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, or, more probably, divine teaching or instruction.
- 1:4 The wicked: those who by their actions distance themselves from God’s life-giving presence.
- Psalm 2 A royal Psalm. To rebellious kings (Ps 2:1–3) God responds vigorously (Ps 2:4–6). A speaker proclaims the divine decree (in the legal adoption language of the day), making the Israelite king the earthly representative of God (Ps 2:7–9) and warning kings to obey (Ps 2:10–11). The Psalm has a messianic meaning for the Church; the New Testament understands it of Christ (Acts 4:25–27; 13:33; Hb 1:5).
- 2:2 Anointed: in Hebrew mashiah, “anointed”; in Greek christos, whence English Messiah and Christ. In Israel kings (Jgs 9:8; 1 Sm 9:16; 16:12–13) and high priests (Lv 8:12; Nm 3:3) received the power of their office through anointing.
- Psalm 3 An individual lament complaining of enemies who deny that God will come to the rescue (Ps 3:2–3). Despite such taunts the psalmist hopes for God’s protection even in sleep (Ps 3:4–7). The Psalm prays for an end to the enemies’ power to speak maliciously (Ps 3:8) and closes peacefully with an expression of trust (Ps 3:9).
- 3:1 The superscription, added later, relates the Psalm to an incident in the life of David.
- 3:3, 3:5, 3:9 Selah: the term is generally considered a direction to the cantor or musicians but its exact meaning is not known. It occurs seventy-one times in thirty-nine Psalms.
- Psalm 4 An individual lament emphasizing trust in God. The petition is based upon the psalmist’s vivid experience of God as savior (Ps 4:2). That experience of God is the basis for the warning to the wicked: revere God who intervenes on the side of the faithful (Ps 4:3–6). The faithful psalmist exemplifies the blessings given to the just (Ps 4:7–8).
- 4:1 For the leader: many Psalm headings contain this rubric. Its exact meaning is unknown but may signify that such Psalms once stood together in a collection of “the choirmaster,” cf. 1 Chr 15:21.
- 4:3 Love what is worthless…lies: these expressions probably refer to false gods worshiped by those the psalmist is addressing.
- 4:5 Tremble: be moved deeply with fear for failing to worship the true God. The Greek translation understood the emotion to be anger, and it is so cited in Eph 4:26. Weep bitterly…wail: weeping within one’s heart and wailing upon one’s bed denote sincere repentance because these actions are not done in public or with the community but in the privacy of one’s heart and one’s home. The same idiom is found in Hos 7:14.
- 4:9 In peace I will…fall asleep: the last verse repeats two themes in the Psalm. One is the security of one who trusts in the true God; the other is the interior peace of those who sincerely repent (“on [their] beds”), whose sleep is not disturbed by a guilty conscience.
- Psalm 5 A lament contrasting the security of the house of God (Ps 5:8–9, 12–13) with the danger of the company of evildoers (Ps 5:5–7, 10–11). The psalmist therefore prays that God will hear (Ps 5:2–4) and grant the protection and joy of the Temple.
- 5:8 Mercy: used to translate the Hebrew word, hesed. This term speaks to a relationship between persons. It is manifested in concrete actions to persons with some need or desire. The one who offers hesed has the ability to respond to that need of the other person. Other possible ways to translate hesed include “steadfast love” and “loving kindness.”
- 5:10 Their throat: their speech brings harm to their hearers (cf. Jer 5:16). The verse mentions four parts of the body, each a source of evil to the innocent.
- Psalm 6 The first of the seven Penitential Psalms (Ps 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143), a designation dating from the seventh century A.D. for Psalms suitable to express repentance. The psalmist does not, as in many laments, claim to be innocent but appeals to God’s mercy (Ps 6:5). Sin here, as often in the Bible, is both the sinful act and its injurious consequences; here it is physical sickness (Ps 6:3–4, 7–8) and the attacks of enemies (Ps 6:8, 9, 11). The psalmist prays that the effects of personal and social sin be taken away.
- 6:1 Upon the eighth: apparently a musical notation, now lost.
- 6:4 How long?: elliptical for “How long will it be before you answer my prayer?” cf. Ps 13:2–3.
- 6:6 A motive for God to preserve the psalmist from death: in the shadowy world of the dead no one offers you praise. Sheol is the biblical term for the underworld where the insubstantial souls of dead human beings dwelt. It was similar to the Hades of Greek and Latin literature. In the second century B.C., biblical books begin to speak positively of life with God after death (Dn 12:1–3; Wis 3).
- Psalm 7 An individual lament. The psalmist flees to God’s presence in the sanctuary for justice and protection (Ps 7:2–3) and takes an oath that only the innocent can swear (Ps 7:4–6). The innocent psalmist can thus hope for the just God’s protection (Ps 7:7–14) and be confident that the actions of the wicked will come back upon their own heads (Ps 7:15–17). The justice of God leads the psalmist to praise (Ps 7:18).
- 7:4 Have done this: in the accusation the enemies have made against the psalmist.
- 7:12 Powerful and patient: the inclusion of these words is drawn from the Septuagint tradition concerning this verse.
- Psalm 8 While marvelling at the limitless grandeur of God (Ps 8:2–3), the psalmist is struck first by the smallness of human beings in creation (Ps 8:4–5), and then by the royal dignity and power that God has graciously bestowed upon them (Ps 8:6–9).
- 8:1 Upon the gittith: probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung or a musical instrument.
- 8:3 With the mouths of babes and infants: the psalmist realizes that his attempts to praise such an awesome God are hopelessly inadequate and amount to little more than the sounds made by infants. Established a bulwark: an allusion to lost myth telling how God built a fortress for himself in the heavens in primordial times in his battle with the powers of chaos. This “bulwark” is the firmament. Enemy and avenger: probably cosmic enemies. The primeval powers of watery chaos are often personified in poetic texts (Ps 74:13–14; 89:11; Jb 9:13; 26:12–13; Is 51:9).
- 8:5 Man…a son of man: the emphasis is on the fragility and mortality of human beings to whom God has given great dignity.
- 8:6 Little less than a god: Hebrew ‘elohim, the ordinary word for “God” or “the gods” or members of the heavenly court. The Greek version translated ‘elohim by “angel, messenger”; several ancient and modern versions so translate. The meaning seems to be that God created human beings almost at the level of the beings in the heavenly world. Hb 2:9, translating “for a little while,” finds the eminent fulfillment of this verse in Jesus Christ, who was humbled before being glorified, cf. also 1 Cor 15:27 where St. Paul applies to Christ the closing words of Ps 8:7.
- Psalms 9–10 Ps 9 and Ps 10 in the Hebrew text have been transmitted as separate poems but they actually form a single acrostic poem and are so transmitted in the Greek and Latin tradition. Each verse of the two Psalms begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet (though several letters have no corresponding stanza). The Psalm states loosely connected themes: the rescue of the helpless poor from their enemies, God’s worldwide judgment and rule over the nations, the psalmist’s own concern for rescue (Ps 9:14–15).
- 9:1 Muth Labben: probably the melodic accompaniment of the Psalm, now lost.
- 9:15 Daughter Zion: an ancient Near Eastern city could sometimes be personified as a woman or a queen, the spouse of the god of the city.
- 9:17 The Lord is revealed in making judgments: God has so made the universe that the wicked are punished by the very actions they perform. Selah: see note on Ps 3:3.
- Psalm 11 A song of trust. Though friends counsel flight to the mountain country (a traditional hideout) to escape trouble (Ps 11:1–3), the innocent psalmist reaffirms confidence in God, who protects those who seek asylum in the Temple (Ps 11:4–7).
- 11:3 Foundations: usually understood of public order, cf. Ps 82:5.
- 11:6 Their allotted cup: the cup that God gives people to drink is a common figure for their destiny, cf. Ps 16:5; 75:9; Mt 20:22; 26:39; Rev 14:10.
- Psalm 12 A lament. The psalmist, thrown into a world where lying and violent people persecute the just (Ps 12:2–3), prays that the wicked be punished (Ps 12:4–5). The prayer is not simply for vengeance but arises from a desire to see God’s justice appear on earth. Ps 12:6 preserves the word of assurance spoken by the priest to the lamenter; it is not usually transmitted in such Psalms. In Ps 12:7–8 the psalmist affirms the intention to live by the word of assurance.
- 12:7 A crucible: lit., “in a crucible in the ground.” The crucible was placed in the ground for support.
- Psalm 13 A typical lament, in which the psalmist feels forgotten by God (Ps 13:2–3)—note the force of the repetition of “How long.” The references to enemies may suggest some have wished evil on the psalmist. The heartfelt prayer (Ps 13:4–5) passes on a statement of trust (Ps 13:6a), intended to reinforce the prayer, and a vow to thank God when deliverance has come (Ps 13:6b).
- Psalm 14 The lament (duplicated in Ps 53) depicts the world as consisting of two types of people: “the fool” (equals the wicked, Ps 14:1–3) and “the company of the just” (Ps 14:4–6; also called “my people,” and “the poor”). The wicked persecute the just, but the Psalm expresses the hope that God will punish the wicked and reward the good.
- 14:7 Jacob…Israel…his people: the righteous poor are identified with God’s people.
- Psalm 15 The Psalm records a liturgical scrutiny at the entrance to the Temple court (cf. Ps 24:3–6; Is 33:14b–16). The Israelite wishing to be admitted had to ask the Temple official what conduct was appropriate to God’s precincts. Note the emphasis on virtues relating to one’s neighbor.
- 15:1 Your tent: the Temple could be referred to as “tent” (Ps 61:5; Is 33:20), a reference to the tent of the wilderness period and the tent of David (2 Sm 6:17; 7:2), predecessors of the Temple. Holy mountain: a venerable designation of the divine abode (Ps 2:6; 3:5; 43:3; 48:2, etc.).
- 15:5 Lends no money at interest: lending money in the Old Testament was often seen as assistance to the poor in their distress, not as an investment; making money off the poor by charging interest was thus forbidden (Ex 22:24; Lv 25:36–37; Dt 23:20).
- Psalm 16 In the first section, the psalmist rejects the futile worship of false gods (Ps 16:2–5), preferring Israel’s God (Ps 16:1), the giver of the land (Ps 16:6). The second section reflects on the wise and life-giving presence of God (Ps 16:7–11).
- 16:1 Miktam: a term occurring six times in Psalm superscriptions, always with “David.” Its meaning is unknown.
- 16:4 Take their names: to use the gods’ names in oaths and hence to affirm them as one’s own gods.
- 16:6 Pleasant places were measured out for me: the psalmist is pleased with the plot of land measured out to the family, which was to be passed on to succeeding generations (“my inheritance”).
- 16:10 Nor let your devout one see the pit: Hebrew shahath means here the pit, a synonym for Sheol, the underworld. The Greek translation derives the word here and elsewhere from the verb shahath, “to be corrupt.” On the basis of the Greek, Acts 2:25–32; 13:35–37 apply the verse to Christ’s resurrection, “Nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.”
- Psalm 17 A lament of an individual unjustly attacked. Confident of being found innocent, the psalmist cries out for God’s just judgment (Ps 17:1–5) and requests divine help against enemies (Ps 17:6–9a). Those ravenous lions (Ps 17:9b–12) should be punished (Ps 17:13–14). The Psalm ends with a serene statement of praise (Ps 17:15). The Hebrew text of Ps 17:3–4, 14 is uncertain.
- 17:8 Apple of your eye…shadow of your wings: images of God’s special care, cf. Dt 32:10; Prv 7:2; Is 49:2.
- 17:10–12, 14 An extended metaphor: the enemies are lions.
- Psalm 18 A royal thanksgiving for a military victory, duplicated in 2 Sm 22. Thanksgiving Psalms are in essence reports of divine rescue. The Psalm has two parallel reports of rescue, the first told from a heavenly perspective (Ps 18:5–20), and the second from an earthly perspective (Ps 18:36–46). The first report adapts old mythic language of a cosmic battle between sea and rainstorm in order to depict God’s rescue of the Israelite king from his enemies. Each report has a short hymnic introduction (Ps 18:2–4, 32–36) and conclusion (Ps 18:21–31, 47–50).
- 18:3 My saving horn: my strong savior. The horn referred to is the weapon of a bull and the symbol of fertility, cf. 1 Sm 2:10; Ps 132:17; Lk 1:69.
- 18:6 Cords: hunting imagery, the cords of a snare.
- 18:8–16 God appears in the storm, which in Palestine comes from the west. The introduction to the theophany (Ps 18:8–9) is probably a description of a violent, hot, and dry east-wind storm. In the fall transition period from the rainless summer to the rainy winter such storms regularly precede the rains, cf. Ex 14:21–22.
- 18:11 Cherub: a winged creature, derived from myth, in the service of the deity (Gn 3:24; Ex 25:18–20; 37:6–9). Cherubim were the throne bearers of the deity (Ps 80:2; 99:1; 1 Kgs 6:23–28; 8:6–8).
- 18:15 Arrows: lightning.
- 18:35 Bow of bronze: hyperbole for a bow difficult to bend and therefore capable of propelling an arrow with great force.
- Psalm 19 The heavenly elements of the world, now beautifully arranged, bespeak the power and wisdom of their creator (Ps 19:2–7). The creator’s wisdom is available to human beings in the law (Ps 19:8–11), toward which the psalmist prays to be open (Ps 19:12–14). The themes of light and speech unify the poem.
- 19:4 No speech, no words: the regular functioning of the heavens and the alternation of day and night inform human beings without words of the creator’s power and wisdom.
- 19:5 The sun: in other religious literature the sun is a judge and lawgiver since it sees all in its daily course; Ps 19:5b–7 form a transition to the law in Ps 19:8–11. The six synonyms for God’s revelation (Ps 19:8–11) are applied to the sun in comparable literature.
- 19:12 Warned: the Hebrew verb means both to shine and to warn, cf. Dn 12:3.
- Psalm 20 The people pray for the king before battle. The people ask for divine help (Ps 20:2–6) and express confidence that such help will be given (Ps 20:7–10). A solemn assurance of divine help may well have been given between the two sections in the liturgy, something like the promises of Ps 12:6; 21:9–13. The final verse (Ps 20:10) echoes the opening verse.
- 20:4 Remember: God’s remembering implies readiness to act, cf. Gn 8:1; Ex 2:24.
- 20:6 Victory: the Hebrew root is often translated “salvation,” “to save,” but in military contexts it can have the specific meaning of “victory.”
- Psalm 21 The first part of this royal Psalm is a thanksgiving (Ps 21:2–8), and the second is a promise that the king will triumph over his enemies (Ps 21:9–13). The king’s confident prayer (Ps 21:3–5) and trust in God (Ps 21:8) enable him to receive the divine gifts of vitality, peace, and military success. Ps 21:14 reprises Ps 21:2. When kings ceased in Israel after the sixth century B.C., the Psalm was sung of a future Davidic king.
- Psalm 22 A lament unusual in structure and in intensity of feeling. The psalmist’s present distress is contrasted with God’s past mercy in Ps 22:2–12. In Ps 22:13–22 enemies surround the psalmist. The last third is an invitation to praise God (Ps 22:23–27), becoming a universal chorus of praise (Ps 22:28–31). The Psalm is important in the New Testament. Its opening words occur on the lips of the crucified Jesus (Mk 15:34; Mt 27:46), and several other verses are quoted, or at least alluded to, in the accounts of Jesus’ passion (Mt 27:35, 43; Jn 19:24).
- 22:1 The deer of the dawn: apparently the title of the melody.
- 22:7 I am a worm, not a man: the psalmist’s sense of isolation and dehumanization, an important motif of Ps 22, is vividly portrayed here.
- 22:13–14 Bulls: the enemies of the psalmist are also portrayed in less-than-human form, as wild animals (cf. Ps 22:17, 21–22). Bashan: a grazing land northeast of the Sea of Galilee, famed for its cattle, cf. Dt 32:14; Ez 39:18; Am 4:1.
- 22:16 The dust of death: the netherworld, the domain of the dead.
- 22:23 In the assembly I will praise you: the person who offered a thanksgiving sacrifice in the Temple recounted to the other worshipers the favor received from God and invited them to share in the sacrificial banquet. The final section (Ps 22:24–32) may be a summary or a citation of the psalmist’s poem of praise.
- 22:25 Turn away: lit., “hides his face from me,” an important metaphor for God withdrawing from someone, e.g., Mi 3:4; Is 8:17; Ps 27:9; 69:18; 88:15.
- 22:27 The poor: originally the poor, who were dependent on God; the term (‘anawim) came to include the religious sense of “humble, pious, devout.”
- 22:30 Hebrew unclear. The translation assumes that all on earth (Ps 22:27–28) and under the earth (Ps 22:29) will worship God.
- Psalm 23 God’s loving care for the psalmist is portrayed under the figures of a shepherd for the flock (Ps 23:1–4) and a host’s generosity toward a guest (Ps 23:5–6). The imagery of both sections is drawn from traditions of the exodus (Is 40:11; 49:10; Jer 31:10).
- 23:1 My shepherd: God as good shepherd is common in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (Ez 34:11–16; Jn 10:11–18).
- 23:3 Right paths: connotes “right way” and “way of righteousness.”
- 23:5 You set a table before me: this expression occurs in an exodus context in Ps 78:19. In front of my enemies: my enemies see that I am God’s friend and guest. Oil: a perfumed ointment made from olive oil, used especially at banquets (Ps 104:15; Mt 26:7; Lk 7:37, 46; Jn 12:2).
- 23:6 Goodness and mercy: the blessings of God’s covenant with Israel.
- Psalm 24 The Psalm apparently accompanied a ceremony of the entry of God (invisibly enthroned upon the ark), followed by the people, into the Temple. The Temple commemorated the creation of the world (Ps 24:1–2). The people had to affirm their fidelity before being admitted into the sanctuary (Ps 24:3–6; cf. Ps 15). A choir identifies the approaching God and invites the very Temple gates to bow down in obeisance (Ps 24:7–10).
- 24:4–5 Lit., “the one whose hands are clean.” The singular is used for the entire class of worshipers.
- 24:7, 9 Lift up your heads, O gates…you ancient portals: the literal meaning would involve disassembly of the gates, since the portcullis (a gate that moves up and down) was unknown in the ancient world. Extra-biblical parallels might also suggest a full personification of the circle of gate towers: they are like a council of elders, bowed down and anxious, awaiting the return of the army and the great warrior gone to battle.
- Psalm 25 A lament. Each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Such acrostic Psalms are often a series of statements only loosely connected. The psalmist mixes ardent pleas (Ps 25:1–2, 16–22) with expressions of confidence in God who forgives and guides.
- 25:22 A final verse beginning with the Hebrew letter pe is added to the normal twenty-two-letter alphabet. Thus the letters aleph, lamed, and pe open the first, middle (Ps 25:11), and last lines of the Psalm. Together, they spell aleph, the first letter of the alphabet, from a Hebrew root that means “to learn.”
- Psalm 26 Like a priest washing before approaching the altar (Ex 30:17–21), the psalmist seeks God’s protection upon entering the Temple. Ps 26:1–3, matched by Ps 26:11–12, remind God of past integrity while asking for purification; Ps 26:4–5, matched by Ps 26:9–10, pray for inclusion among the just; Ps 26:6–8, the center of the poem, express the joy in God at the heart of all ritual.
- 26:6 I will wash my hands: the washing of hands was a liturgical act (Ex 30:19, 21; 40:31–32), symbolic of inner as well as outer cleanness, cf. Is 1:16.
- 26:12 On level ground: in safety, where there is no danger of tripping and falling. In assemblies: at the Temple. Having walked around the altar, the symbol of God’s presence, the psalmist blesses God.
- Psalm 27 Tradition has handed down the two sections of the Psalm (Ps 27:1–6; 7–14) as one Psalm, though each part could be understood as complete in itself. Asserting boundless hope that God will bring rescue (Ps 27:1–3), the psalmist longs for the presence of God in the Temple, protection from all enemies (Ps 27:4–6). In part B there is a clear shift in tone (Ps 27:7–12); the climax of the poem comes with “I believe” (Ps 27:13), echoing “I trust” (Ps 27:3).
- 27:2 To devour my flesh: the psalmist’s enemies are rapacious beasts (Ps 7:3; 17:12; 22:14, 17).
- 27:8 Seek his face: to commune with God in the Temple. The idiom is derived from the practice of journeying to sacred places, cf. Hos 5:15; 2 Sm 21:1; Ps 24:6.
- 27:13 In the land of the living: or “in the land of life,” an epithet of the Jerusalem Temple (Ps 52:7; 116:9; Is 38:11), where the faithful had access to the life-giving presence of God.
- Psalm 28 A lament asking that the psalmist, who has taken refuge in the Temple (Ps 28:2), not be punished with the wicked, who are headed inevitably toward destruction (Ps 28:1, 3–5). The statement of praise is exceptionally lengthy and vigorous (Ps 28:6–7). The Psalm ends with a prayer (Ps 28:8–9).
- 28:2 Your holy place: the innermost part of the Temple, the holy of holies, containing the ark, cf. 1 Kgs 6:16, 19–23; 8:6–8.
- 28:6 The psalmist shifts to fervent thanksgiving, probably responding to a priestly or prophetic oracle in Ps 28:5cd (not usually transmitted) assuring the worshiper that the prayer has been heard.
- 28:8 Your people…your anointed: salvation is more than individual, affecting all the people and their God-given leader.
- Psalm 29 The hymn invites the members of the heavenly court to acknowledge God’s supremacy by ascribing glory and might to God alone (Ps 29:1–2a, 9b). Divine glory and might are dramatically visible in the storm (Ps 29:3–9a). The storm apparently comes from the Mediterranean onto the coast of Syria-Palestine and then moves inland. In Ps 29:10 the divine beings acclaim God’s eternal kingship. The Psalm concludes with a prayer that God will impart the power just displayed to the Israelite king and through the king to Israel.
- 29:1 Sons of God: members of the heavenly court who served Israel’s God in a variety of capacities.
- 29:3 The voice of the Lord: the sevenfold repetition of the phrase imitates the sound of crashing thunder and may allude to God’s primordial slaying of Leviathan, the seven-headed sea monster of Canaanite mythology.
- 29:6 Sirion: the Phoenician name for Mount Hermon, cf. Dt 3:9.
- 29:9b–10 Having witnessed God’s supreme power (Ps 29:3–9a), the gods acknowledge the glory that befits the king of the divine and human world.
- 29:10 The flood: God defeated the primordial waters and made them part of the universe, cf. Ps 89:10–13; 93:3–4.
- 29:11 His people: God’s people, Israel.
- Psalm 30 An individual thanksgiving in four parts: praise and thanks for deliverance and restoration (Ps 30:2–4); an invitation to others to join in (Ps 30:5–6); a flashback to the time before deliverance (Ps 30:7–11); a return to praise and thanks (Ps 30:12). Two sets of images recur: 1) going down, death, silence; 2) coming up, life, praising. God has delivered the psalmist from one state to the other.
- 30:1 For the dedication of the Temple: a later adaptation of the Psalm to celebrate the purification of the Temple in 164 B.C. during the Maccabean Revolt.
- 30:3 Healed: for God as healer, see also Ps 103:3; 107:20; Hos 6:1; 7:1; 11:3; 14:5.
- 30:4 Sheol…pit: the shadowy underworld residence of the spirits of the dead, here a metaphor for near-death.
- 30:7 Complacent: untroubled existence is often seen as a source of temptation to forget God, cf. Dt 8:10–18; Hos 13:6; Prv 30:9.
- 30:10 In the stillness of Sheol no one gives you praise; let me live and be among your worshipers, cf. Ps 6:6; 88:11–13; 115:17; Is 38:18.
- Psalm 31 A lament (Ps 31:2–19) with a strong emphasis on trust (Ps 31:4, 6, 15–16), ending with an anticipatory thanksgiving (Ps 31:20–24). As is usual in laments, the affliction is couched in general terms. The psalmist feels overwhelmed by evil people but trusts in the “God of truth” (Ps 31:6).
- 31:6 Into your hands I commend my spirit: in Lk 23:46 Jesus breathes his last with this Psalm verse. Stephen in Acts 7:59 alludes to these words as he is attacked by enemies. The verse is used as an antiphon in the Divine Office at Compline, the last prayer of the day.
- 31:13 Like a worn-out tool: a common comparison for something ruined and useless, cf. Is 30:14; Jer 19:11; 22:28.
- 31:14 Terrors are all around me: a cry used in inescapable danger, cf. Jer 6:25; 20:10; 46:5; 49:29.
- Psalm 32 An individual thanksgiving and the second of the seven Penitential Psalms (cf. Ps 6). The opening declaration—the forgiven are blessed (Ps 32:1–2)—arises from the psalmist’s own experience. At one time the psalmist was stubborn and closed, a victim of sin’s power (Ps 32:3–4), and then became open to the forgiving God (Ps 32:5–7). Sin here, as often in the Bible, is not only the personal act of rebellion against God but also the consequences of that act—frustration and waning of vitality. Having been rescued, the psalmist can teach others the joys of justice and the folly of sin (Ps 32:8–11).
- 32:3 I kept silent: did not confess the sin before God.
- 32:6 Flood waters: the untamed waters surrounding the earth, a metaphor for danger.
- Psalm 33 A hymn in which the just are invited (Ps 33:1–3) to praise God, who by a mere word (Ps 33:4–5) created the three-tiered universe of the heavens, the cosmic waters, and the earth (Ps 33:6–9). Human words, in contrast, effect nothing (Ps 33:10–11). The greatness of human beings consists in God’s choosing them as a special people and their faithful response (Ps 33:12–22).
- 33:6 All their host: the stars of the sky are commonly viewed as a vast army, e.g., Neh 9:6; Is 40:26; 45:12; Jer 33:22.
- 33:7 The waters…as a mound: ancients sometimes attributed the power keeping the seas from overwhelming land to a primordial victory of the storm-god over personified Sea.
- Psalm 34 A thanksgiving in acrostic form, each line beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In this Psalm one letter is missing and two are in reverse order. The psalmist, fresh from the experience of being rescued (Ps 34:5, 7), can teach the “poor,” those who are defenseless, to trust in God alone (Ps 34:4, 12). God will make them powerful (Ps 34:5–11) and give them protection (Ps 34:12–22).
- 34:1 Abimelech: a scribal error for Achish. In 1 Sm 21:13–16, David feigned madness before Achish, not Abimelech.
- 34:12 Children: the customary term for students in wisdom literature.
- Psalm 35 A lament of a person betrayed by friends. The psalmist prays that the evildoers be publicly exposed as unjust (Ps 35:1–8), and gives thanks in anticipation of vindication (Ps 35:9–10). Old friends are the enemies (Ps 35:11–16). May their punishment come quickly (Ps 35:17–21)! The last part (Ps 35:22–26) echoes the opening in praying for the destruction of the psalmist’s persecutors. The Psalm may appear vindictive, but one must keep in mind that the psalmist is praying for public redress now of a public injustice. There is at this time no belief in an afterlife in which justice will be redressed.
- 35:1–6 The mixture of judicial, martial, and hunting images shows that the language is figurative. The actual injustice is false accusation of serious crimes (Ps 35:11, 15, 20–21). The psalmist seeks lost honor through a trial before God.
- 35:13, 15–17 The Hebrew is obscure.