Psalms 71


בְּךָ־יְהוָה חָסִיתִי אַל־אֵבוֹשָׁה לְעוֹלָם׃   71:1

Psal. 71:1   Lord, in You I seek refuge, let me never be ashamed.

Almost nothing is known or even guessed at about this psalm.  One of only a few without a superscription, it reveals nothing about its origin or its time.  Some have assumed that the anonymous psalmist was an old man, basing this  on three verses, 9, 17, and 18.  I believe this could be a mistake, and I’ll discuss why I believe this when we get to those verses.

בְּצִדְקָתְךָ תַּצִּילֵנִי וּתְפַלְּטֵנִי הַטֵּה־אֵלַי אָזְנְךָ וְהוֹשִׁיעֵנִי׃   71:2

Psal. 71:2   In Your righteousness may You rescue me and deliver me;

                              incline Your “ear” to me and save me.

הֱיֵה לִי לְצוּר מָעוֹן לָבוֹא תָּמִיד צִוִּיתָ לְהוֹשִׁיעֵנִי כִּי־סַלְעִי וּמְצוּדָתִי אָתָּה׃   71:3

Psal. 71:3   Be as a rock of refuge for me, to come continually;

                              You have appointed to save me,

                     for You are my Rock and my Stronghold.

אֱלֹהַי פַּלְּטֵנִי מִיַּד רָשָׁע מִכַּף מְעַוֵּל וְחֹומֵץ׃   71:4

Psal. 71:4   O my God, deliver me from the hand of wickedness,

                              from the grasp of injustice and ruthlessness.

כִּי־אַתָּה תִקְוָתִי אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה מִבְטַחִי מִנְּעוּרָי׃   71:5

Psal. 71:5   For You are my Hope, O Master, O Lord,

                              my Trust from my youth.

עָלֶיךָ נִסְמַכְתִּי מִבֶּטֶן מִמְּעֵי אִמִּי אַתָּה גוֹזִי בְּךָ תְהִלָּתִי תָמִיד׃   71:6

Psal. 71:6   I have leaned on You from the womb

                               -- You were Who severed me from the womb of my mother;

                     my praise concerning You is continual.

כְּמוֹפֵת הָיִיתִי לְרַבִּים וְאַתָּה מַחֲסִי־עֹז׃   71:7

Psal. 71:7   I am like a wonder to many,

                                that You are my Refuge of strength.

יִמָּלֵא פִי תְּהִלָּתֶךָ כָּל־הַיּוֹם תִּפְאַרְתֶּךָ׃   71:8

Psal. 71:8   My mouth will be full of Your praise, Your glory, all the time.

אַל־תַּשְׁלִיכֵנִי לְעֵת זִקְנָה כִּכְלוֹת כֹּחִי אַל־תַּעַזְבֵנִי׃   71:9

Psal. 71:9   May You not cast me off in the time of old age,

                                when my strength is failing, may You not forsake me.

The common translation of this verse disregards much of its grammar.  It goes something similar to this:  “Cast me not off in the time of old age; when my strength fails, forsake me not.”  Translated this way, it does sound like the psalmist is an old man.  But the reality is that the two imperatives Cast me not and forsake me not are actually second-person imperfect verbs that should be properly translated as I have above.  As translated, the psalmist seems to be speaking of a future time, not the time in which he was composing.  So he may have been mature, but he wasn’t old, at least not as based on this verse.

כִּי־אָמְרוּ אוֹיְבַי לִי וְשֹׁמְרֵי נַפְשִׁי נוֹעֲצוּ יַחְדָּו׃   71:10

Psal. 71:10   For my enemies speak concerning me,

                                and the watchers of my soul consult together,

לֵאמֹר אֱלֹהִים עֲזָבוֹ רִדְפוּ וְתִפְשׂוּהוּ כִּי־אֵין מַצִּיל׃   71:11

Psal. 71:11   saying, “God has forsaken him;

                                pursue and seize him,

                        for there is no rescuer.”

אֱלֹהִים אַל־תִּרְחַק מִמֶּנִּי אֱלֹהַי לְעֶזְרָתִי (חִישָׁה) [חוּשָׁה]׃   71:12

Psal. 71:12   O God, may You not be far from me;

                                O my God, hasten to help me.

The word in the parentheses is considered to be misspelled.  I fail to see why this is so.  Maybe I’m naive, but according to my dictionary the word is spelled correctly.

יֵבֹשׁוּ יִכְלוּ שֹׂטְנֵי נַפְשִׁי יַעֲטוּ חֶרְפָּה וּכְלִמָּה מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתִי׃   71:13

Psal. 71:13   Let the adversaries of my soul be shamed,

                                 let them be finished,

                        let reproach and dishonor cover the seekers of my injury.

וַאֲנִי תָּמִיד אֲיַחֵל וְהוֹסַפְתִּי עַל־כָּל־תְּהִלָּתֶךָ׃   71:14

Psal. 71:14   So I will hope continually,

                                 and I will add onto all Your praise.

פִּי יְסַפֵּר צִדְקָתֶךָ כָּל־הַיּוֹם תְּשׁוּעָתֶךָ כִּי לֹא יָדַעְתִּי סְפֹרוֹת׃   71:15

Psal. 71:15   My mouth will recount Your righteousness,

                                 Your salvation, all the time, for I do not know of numbers.

I believe the psalmist was expressing here that he couldn’t count the instances of God’s righteousness that he’d witnessed.

אָבוֹא בִּגְבֻרוֹת אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה אַזְכִּיר צִדְקָתְךָ לְבַדֶּךָ׃   71:16

Psal. 71:16   I will come with mighty acts. O Master, O Lord,

                                   I will mention Your righteousness, Yours alone.

The prevailing assumption is that the mighty acts with which the psalmist will come must be those the Lord will perform on his behalf.

אֱלֹהִים לִמַּדְתַּנִי מִנְּעוּרָי וְעַד־הֵנָּה אַגִּיד נִפְלְאוֹתֶיךָ׃   71:17

Psal. 71:17   O God, You have taught me from my youth,

                                   and until now I must declare Your wondrous works,

וְגַם עַד־זִקְנָה וְשֵׂיבָה אֱלֹהִים אַל־תַּעַזְבֵנִי עַד־אַגִּיד זְרוֹעֲךָ לְדוֹר לְכָל־יָבוֹא גְּבוּרָתֶךָ׃   71:18

Psal. 71:18   and even until old age and gray hair.

                                   O God, may You not forsake me

                        until I can declare Your strength to the generation,

                                   Your might to each one to come.

These two verses, 17 and 18, could imply that the psalmist was old.  However, I believe they could also be interpreted to mean that he was conjecturing about the future.  If we took v. 17 in isolation, we might assume that the psalmist was at least quite mature -- he was probably past his youth.  But when the first part of v. 18 is added to the thought expressed there, we should be able to see that he might have been in his 30s perhaps, and was saying that he would continue to declare God’s wondrous works into old age.  Thus I see no valid reason to conclude that he was old.

וְצִדְקָתְךָ אֱלֹהִים עַד־מָרוֹם אֲשֶׁר־עָשִׂיתָ גְדֹלוֹת אֱלֹהִים מִי כָמוֹךָ׃   71:19

Psal. 71:19   Your righteousness, O God, is up to the highest,

                                   by which You do great things.

                        O God, who is like You,

אֲשֶׁר (הִרְאִיתַנוּ) [הִרְאִיתַנִי] צָרֹות רַבֹּות וְרָעֹות תָּשׁוּב (תְּחַיֵּינוּ) [תְּחַיֵּינִי] וּמִתְּהֹמֹות הָאָרֶץ   71:20

תָּשׁוּב תַּעֲלֵנִי׃

Psal. 71:20   Who causes us to see many troubles and calamities?

                                  May You return, may You restore us;

                        may You return, and from the depths of the earth may You bring me up.

The alleged errors in the two sets of parentheses both have to do with a vav suffix.  The vav suffix is often associated with the first-person plural pronoun, us.  The yad suffix in the corrections changes the pronoun to singular, me, which the sages must have assumed the psalmist intended.  I think this is another rather tenuous assumption on their part.  There is ample reason to assume the psalmist intended the plural suffix in the two places where it is found.  He included all the people here in his prayer, and there’s nothing inappropriate or even unusual about that.  Moreover, it sounds to me as if the psalmist is again assuming the person of Israel.

תֶּרֶב גְּדֻלָּתִי וְתִסֹּב תְּנַחֲמֵנִי׃   71:21

Psal. 71:21   May You increase my greatness

                                   and may You turn around, may You comfort me.

גַּם־אֲנִי אוֹדְךָ בִכְלִי־נֶבֶל אֲמִתְּךָ אֱלֹהָי אֲזַמְּרָה לְךָ בְכִנּוֹר קְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל׃   71:22

Psal. 71:22   I will indeed thank You with stringed instruments, Your faithfulness, O my God;

                                   I will sing praises to You with harp, O Holy One of Israel.

תְּרַנֵּנָּה שְׂפָתַי כִּי אֲזַמְּרָה־לָּךְ וְנַפְשִׁי אֲשֶׁר פָּדִיתָ׃   71:23

Psal. 71:23   My lips will sing out when I sing praises to You,

                                  and my soul, which You have redeemed.

גַּם־לְשׁוֹנִי כָּל־הַיּוֹם תֶּהְגֶּה צִדְקָתֶךָ כִּי־בֹשׁוּ כִי־חָפְרוּ מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתִי׃   71:24

Psal. 71:24   My tongue also will speak of Your righteousness all the time,

                                  for the seekers of my injury have been put to shame,

                         for they are confounded.


[Return to Psalms Chapters]   [Prev.:  Psal. 70]   [Next:  Psal. 72]