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Psalm 140[a]

For the music director, a psalm of David.

140 O Lord, rescue me from wicked men.[b]
Protect me from violent men,[c]
who plan ways to harm me.[d]
All day long they stir up conflict.[e]
Their tongues wound like a serpent;[f]
a viper’s[g] venom is behind[h] their lips. (Selah)
O Lord, shelter me from the power[i] of the wicked.
Protect me from violent men,
who plan to knock me over.[j]
Proud men hide a snare for me;
evil men[k] spread a net by the path.
They set traps for me. (Selah)
I say to the Lord, “You are my God.”
O Lord, pay attention to my plea for mercy.
O Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer,[l]
you shield[m] my head in the day of battle.
O Lord, do not let the wicked have their way.[n]
Do not allow their[o] plan to succeed when they attack.[p] (Selah)
As for the heads of those who surround me—
may the harm done by[q] their lips overwhelm them.
10 May he rain down[r] fiery coals upon them.
May he throw them into the fire.
From bottomless pits they will not escape.[s]
11 A slanderer[t] will not endure on[u] the earth;
calamity will hunt down a violent man and strike him down.[v]
12 I know[w] that the Lord defends the cause of the oppressed
and vindicates the poor.[x]
13 Certainly the godly will give thanks to your name;
the morally upright will live in your presence.


  1. Psalm 140:1 sn Psalm 140. The psalmist asks God to deliver him from his deadly enemies, calls judgment down upon them, and affirms his confidence in God’s justice.
  2. Psalm 140:1 tn Heb “from a wicked man.” The Hebrew uses the singular in a representative or collective sense (note the plural verbs in v. 2).
  3. Psalm 140:1 tn Heb “a man of violent acts.” The Hebrew uses the singular in a representative or collective sense (note the plural verbs in v. 2).
  4. Psalm 140:2 tn Heb “they devise wicked [plans] in [their] mind.”
  5. Psalm 140:2 tc Heb “they attack [for] war.” Some revocalize the verb (which is a Qal imperfect from גּוּר, gur, “to attack”) as יְגָרוּ (yegaru), a Piel imperfect from גָרָה (garah, “stir up strife”). This is followed in the present translation.
  6. Psalm 140:3 tn Heb “they sharpen their tongue like a serpent.” Ps 64:3 reads, “they sharpen their tongues like sword.” Perhaps Ps 140:3 uses a mixed metaphor, the point being that “they sharpen their tongues [like a sword],” as it were, so that when they speak, their words wound like a serpent’s bite. Another option is that the language refers to the pointed or forked nature of a serpent’s tongue, which is viewed metaphorically as “sharpened.”
  7. Psalm 140:3 tn The Hebrew term is used only here in the OT.
  8. Psalm 140:3 tn Heb “under.”
  9. Psalm 140:4 tn Heb “hands.”
  10. Psalm 140:4 tn Heb “to push down my steps.”
  11. Psalm 140:5 tn Heb “and ropes,” but many prefer to revocalize the noun as a participle (חֹבְלִים, khovelim) from the verb חָבַל (khaval, “act corruptly”).
  12. Psalm 140:7 tn Heb “the strength of my deliverance.”
  13. Psalm 140:7 tn Heb “cover.”
  14. Psalm 140:8 tn Heb “do not grant the desires of the wicked.”
  15. Psalm 140:8 tn Heb “his.” The singular is used in a representative sense (see v. 1).
  16. Psalm 140:8 tn Heb “his plot do not promote, they rise up.” The translation understands the final verb as being an unmarked temporal clause. Another option is to revocalize the verb as a Hiphil and take the verb with the next verse, “those who surround me lift up [their] head,” which could refer to their proud attitude as they anticipate victory (see Ps 27:6).
  17. Psalm 140:9 tn Heb “harm of their lips.” The genitive here indicates the source or agent of the harm.
  18. Psalm 140:10 tn The verb form in the Kethib (consonantal Hebrew text) appears to be a Hiphil imperfect from the root מוּט (mut, “to sway”), but the Hiphil occurs only here and in Ps 55:3, where it is preferable to read יַמְטִירוּ (yamtiru, “they rain down”). In Ps 140:10 the form יַמְטֵר (yamter, “let him rain down”) should probably be read.
  19. Psalm 140:10 tn Heb “into bottomless pits, they will not arise.” The translation assumes that the preposition ב (bet) has the nuance “from” here. Another option is to connect the line with what precedes, take the final clause as an asyndetic relative clause, and translate, “into bottomless pits [from which] they cannot arise.” The Hebrew noun מַהֲמֹרָה (mahamorah, “bottomless pit”) occurs only here in the OT.
  20. Psalm 140:11 tn Heb “a man of a tongue.”
  21. Psalm 140:11 tn Heb “be established in.”
  22. Psalm 140:11 tn Heb “for blows.” The Hebrew noun מַדְחֵפֹה (madkhefoh, “blow”) occurs only here in the OT.
  23. Psalm 140:12 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading a first person verb form here. The Kethib reads the second person.
  24. Psalm 140:12 tn Heb “and the just cause of the poor.”