New English Translation
6 Look at them shake uncontrollably,[a]
like a woman writhing in childbirth.[b]
7 With an east wind
you shatter[c] the large ships.[d]
8 We heard about God’s mighty deeds; now we have seen them,[e]
in the city of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,[f]
in the city of our God.
God makes it permanently secure.[g] (Selah)
- Psalm 48:6 tn Heb “trembling seizes them there.” The adverb שָׁם (sham, “there”) is used here, as often in poetic texts, to point “to a spot in which a scene is localized vividly in the imagination” (BDB 1027 s.v.).
- Psalm 48:6 tn Heb “[with] writhing like one giving birth.”sn The language of vv. 5-6 is reminiscent of Exod 15:15.
- Psalm 48:7 tn The switch to the imperfect, as well as the introduction of the ship metaphor, perhaps signals a change to a generalizing tone; the Lord typically shatters these large ships, symbolic of the human strength of hostile armies (see the following note on “large ships”). The verb שָׁבַר (shavar, “break”) appears in the Piel here (see Pss 29:5; 46:9). In the OT it occurs thirty-six times in the Piel, always with multiple objects (the object is either a collective singular or grammatically plural or dual form). The Piel may highlight the repetition of the pluralative action, or it may suggest an intensification of action, indicating repeated action comprising a whole, perhaps with the nuance “break again and again, break in pieces.” Another option is to understand the form as resultative: “make broken” (see IBHS 404-7 §24.3).
- Psalm 48:7 tn Heb “the ships of Tarshish.” This probably refers to large ships either made in or capable of traveling to and from the distant western port of Tarshish. These ships, which were the best of their class, here symbolize the mere human strength of hostile armies, which are incapable of withstanding the Lord’s divine power (see Isa 2:16).
- Psalm 48:8 tn Heb “As we have heard, so we have seen.” The community had heard about God’s mighty deeds in the nation’s history. Having personally witnessed his saving power with their own eyes, they could now affirm that the tradition was not exaggerated or inaccurate.
- Psalm 48:8 tn Heb “the Lord of hosts.” The title “Lord of hosts” here pictures the Lord as a mighty warrior-king who leads armies into battle (see Pss 24:10; 46:7, 11).
- Psalm 48:8 tn Or “God makes it secure forever.” The imperfect highlights the characteristic nature of the generalizing statement.