Psalms 89


מַשְׂכִּיל לְאֵיתָן הָאֶזְרָחִי׃   89:1

Psal. 89:1   A contemplative poem of Ethan's, the Ezrahite:

This psalm sounds very much like it was composed during the siege and/or fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.  In this psalm after many verses that recall God’s awesome power and His faithfulness and mercy to David (Israel?), in verse 39 the psalmist pictures the then current situation of adversity and prays for the return of God’s mercy and faithfulness.

חַסְדֵי יְהוָה עוֹלָם אָשִׁירָה לְדֹר וָדֹר אוֹדִיעַ אֱמוּנָתְךָ בְּפִי׃   89:2

Psal. 89:2   I shall sing of the mercies of the Lord forever;

                             to all generations with my mouth I shall declare Your faithfulness.

כִּי־אָמַרְתִּי עוֹלָם חֶסֶד יִבָּנֶה שָׁמַיִם תָּכִן אֱמוּנָתְךָ בָהֶם׃   89:3

Psal. 89:3   For I say, forever shall Mercy be established.

                             The heavens, in them You shall establish Your faithfulness.

כָּרַתִּי בְרִית לִבְחִירִי נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְדָוִד עַבְדִּי׃   89:4

Psal. 89:4   “I have made a covenant concerning My chosen one,

                               I have sworn to David, My servant:

עַד־עוֹלָם אָכִין זַרְעֶךָ וּבָנִיתִי לְדֹר־וָדוֹר כִּסְאֲךָ סֶלָה׃   89:5

Psal. 89:5   I will establish your seed forever,

                               and build your throne for all generations.”            Selah.

וְיוֹדוּ שָׁמַיִם פִּלְאֲךָ יְהוָה אַף־אֱמוּנָתְךָ בִּקְהַל קְדֹשִׁים׃   89:6

Psal. 89:6   So the heavens praise Your wonders, O Lord,

                               also Your faithfulness with the assembly of the holy.

כִּי מִי בַשַּׁחַק יַעֲרֹךְ לַיהוָה יִדְמֶה לַיהוָה בִּבְנֵי אֵלִים׃   89:7

Psal. 89:7   For who in the clouds can be compared to the Lord,

                               could be likened to the Lord among the sons of mighty men,

אֵל נַעֲרָץ בְּסוֹד־קְדֹשִׁים רַבָּה וְנוֹרָא עַל־כָּל־סְבִיבָיו׃   89:8

Psal. 89:8   an awesome God to the great council of the holy,

                               and revered by all those around Him?

יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי צְבָאוֹת מִי־כָמוֹךָ חֲסִין יָהּ וֶאֱמוּנָתְךָ סְבִיבוֹתֶיךָ׃   89:9

Psal. 89:9   O Lord, God of hosts!  Who is as mighty as You, Lord,

                               with Your faithfulness surrounding You?

אַתָּה מוֹשֵׁל בְּגֵאוּת הַיָּם בְּשׂוֹא גַלָּיו אַתָּה תְשַׁבְּחֵם׃   89:10

Psal. 89:10   You are Ruler over the swellings of the sea;

                                with the rising of its waves You can command them.

אַתָּה דִכִּאתָ כֶחָלָל רָהַב בִּזְרוֹעַ עֻזְּךָ פִּזַּרְתָּ אוֹיְבֶיךָ׃   89:11

Psal. 89:11   You crushed Rahab as one slain;

                                 with the “arm” of Your strength You scattered Your enemies.

You may recall that Rahab is another name for Egypt.  See Psal. 87:4.

לְךָ שָׁמַיִם אַף־לְךָ אָרֶץ תֵּבֵל וּמְלֹאָהּ אַתָּה יְסַדְתָּם׃   89:12

Psal. 89:12   The heavens are Yours, the earth is also Yours.

                                 The world and what fills it -- You established them.

צָפוֹן וְיָמִין אַתָּה בְרָאתָם תָּבוֹר וְחֶרְמוֹן בְּשִׁמְךָ יְרַנֵּנוּ׃   89:13

Psal. 89:13   The north and the south -- You created them.

                                 Tabor and Hermon must rejoice in Your name.

Tabor and Herman were the two most prominent mountains in Israel.

לְךָ זְרוֹעַ עִם־גְּבוּרָה תָּעֹז יָדְךָ תָּרוּם יְמִינֶךָ׃   89:14

Psal. 89:14   Yours is an “arm” with might.

                                 Your “hand” shall prevail,

                        Your right “hand” shall be uplifted.

צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט מְכוֹן כִּסְאֶךָ חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת יְקַדְּמוּ פָנֶיךָ׃   89:15

Psal. 89:15   Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;

                                 mercy and truth must go before Your presence.

אַשְׁרֵי הָעָם יוֹדְעֵי תְרוּעָה יְהוָה בְּאוֹר־פָּנֶיךָ יְהַלֵּכוּן׃   89:16

Psal. 89:16   Happy are the people, those familiar with the joyful shout;

                                 O Lord, by the light of Your countenance they can walk.

בְּשִׁמְךָ יְגִילוּן כָּל־הַיּוֹם וּבְצִדְקָתְךָ יָרוּמוּ׃   89:17

Psal. 89:17   In Your name they can rejoice all the time

                                  that by Your righteousness they may be exalted.

כִּי־תִפְאֶרֶת עֻזָּמֹו אָתָּה וּבִרְצֹנְךָ (תָּרִים) [תָּרוּם] קַרְנֵנוּ׃   89:18

Psal. 89:18   For You are the Glory of their strength,

                                  and by Your favor our horn may be raised.

The word in the parentheses is thought to be misspelled.  The yad should be a vav, as shown in the brackets.  The error would make the translation be “and by Your favor You will raise our horn.”  Either translation would be appropriate, however, so I think the correction is unnecessary.

כִּי לַיהוָה מָגִנֵּנוּ וְלִקְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל מַלְכֵּנוּ׃   89:19

Psal. 89:19   For our Shield is the Lord's,

                                  and the Holy One of Israel's is our King.

אָז דִּבַּרְתָּ־בְחָזוֹן לַחֲסִידֶיךָ וַתֹּאמֶר שִׁוִּיתִי עֵזֶר עַל־גִּבּוֹר הֲרִימוֹתִי בָחוּר מֵעָם׃   89:20

Psal. 89:20   At that time You spoke by vision to Your saintly ones and said,

                                  “I have set help upon a strong man;

                         I have raised him up, a young man, out of the people.”

מָצָאתִי דָּוִד עַבְדִּי בְּשֶׁמֶן קָדְשִׁי מְשַׁחְתִּיו׃   89:21

Psal. 89:21   “I have found David, My servant;

                                   with the oil of My holiness I have anointed him,

אֲשֶׁר יָדִי תִּכּוֹן עִמּוֹ אַף־זְרוֹעִי תְאַמְּצֶנּוּ׃   89:22

Psal. 89:22   with whom My “hand” will be established;

                                  My “arm” also will strengthen him.”

לֹא־יַשִּׁא אוֹיֵב בּוֹ וּבֶן־עַוְלָה לֹא יְעַנֶּנּוּ׃   89:23

Psal. 89:23   “No enemy shall act the creditor with him,

                                  or any son of wickedness afflict him.”

וְכַתּוֹתִי מִפָּנָיו צָרָיו וּמְשַׂנְאָיו אֶגּוֹף׃   89:24

Psal. 89:24   “And I shall beat away from before him his adversaries,

                                  and smite those hating him.”

וֶאֶמוּנָתִי וְחַסְדִּי עִמּוֹ וּבִשְׁמִי תָּרוּם קַרְנוֹ׃   89:25

Psal. 89:25   “And My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him,

                                  and through My name shall his horn be raised.”

וְשַׂמְתִּי בַיָּם יָדוֹ וּבַנְּהָרוֹת יְמִינוֹ׃   89:26

Psal. 89:26   “And I shall set his hand on the sea,

                                  and his right hand on the rivers.”

הוּא יִקְרָאֵנִי אָבִי אָתָּה אֵלִי וְצוּר יְשׁוּעָתִי׃   89:27

Psal. 89:27   “He shall call to Me, ‘You are my Father,

                                 my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’”

אַף־אָנִי בְּכוֹר אֶתְּנֵהוּ עֶלְיוֹן לְמַלְכֵי־אָרֶץ׃   89:28

Psal. 89:28   “I shall also make him the first born,

                                  highest in regard to the kings of the earth.”

לְעֹולָם (אֶשְׁמֹור) [אֶשְׁמָר]־לֹו חַסְדִּי וּבְרִיתִי נֶאֱמֶנֶת לֹו׃   89:29

Psal. 89:29   “I shall preserve My mercy for him forever,

                                  and My covenant shall be faithful to him.”

I have a problem with the “error” in this verse as well.  The verb in the parentheses, which is  translated as I shall preserve, is regular, and its imperfect (roughly future tense) first-person conjugation is correct as spelled.  I believe the correction in the brackets is not necessary.

וְשַׂמְתִּי לָעַד זַרְעוֹ וְכִסְאוֹ כִּימֵי שָׁמָיִם׃   89:30

Psal. 89:30   “And I shall establish his seed forever,

                                  and his throne as are the days of heaven.”

אִם־יַעַזְבוּ בָנָיו תּוֹרָתִי וּבְמִשְׁפָּטַי לֹא יֵלֵכוּן׃   89:31

Psal. 89:31   “Should his children forsake My Torah,

                                  and not walk in My ordinances,

אִם־חֻקֹּתַי יְחַלֵּלוּ וּמִצְוֺתַי לֹא יִשְׁמֹרוּ׃   89:32

Psal. 89:32   should they profane My statutes

                                  and not observe My commandments,

וּפָקַדְתִּי בְשֵׁבֶט פִּשְׁעָם וּבִנְגָעִים עֲוֺנָם׃   89:33

Psal. 89:33   then I will attend to their transgression with a rod,

                                  and their iniquity with strokes.”

וְחַסְדִּי לֹא־אָפִיר מֵעִמּוֹ וְלֹא־אֲשַׁקֵּר בֶּאֱמוּנָתִי׃   89:34

Psal. 89:34   “Yet My mercy I will not break off from him,

                                  or be false in My faithfulness.”

לֹא־אֲחַלֵּל בְּרִיתִי וּמוֹצָא שְׂפָתַי לֹא אֲשַׁנֶּה׃   89:35

Psal. 89:35   “I will not profane My covenant,

                                  and the utterance of My lips I will not alter.”

אַחַת נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי בְקָדְשִׁי אִם־לְדָוִד אֲכַזֵּב׃   89:36

Psal. 89:36   “Once I swore by My holiness I would not lie to David.”

זַרְעוֹ לְעוֹלָם יִהְיֶה וְכִסְאוֹ כַשֶּׁמֶשׁ נֶגְדִּי׃   89:37

Psal. 89:37   “His seed shall exist forever,

                                  and his throne as the sun before Me.”

כְּיָרֵחַ יִכּוֹן עוֹלָם וְעֵד בַּשַּׁחַק נֶאֱמָן סֶלָה׃   89:38

Psal. 89:38   “Like the moon, it shall be ever established,

                                  and the Witness in the cloud is faithful.”            Selah.

וְאַתָּה זָנַחְתָּ וַתִּמְאָס הִתְעַבַּרְתָּ עִם־מְשִׁיחֶךָ׃   89:39

Psal. 89:39   Yet You have cast off and rejected,

                                  have become alienated against Your anointed.

נֵאַרְתָּה בְּרִית עַבְדֶּךָ חִלַּלְתָּ לָאָרֶץ נִזְרוֹ׃   89:40

Psal. 89:40   You have spurned the covenant of Your servant,

                                 desecrated his crown to the ground.

פָּרַצְתָּ כָל־גְּדֵרֹתָיו שַׂמְתָּ מִבְצָרָיו מְחִתָּה׃   89:41

Psal. 89:41   You have broken down all his fences,

                                  made his strongholds a ruin.

שַׁסֻּהוּ כָּל־עֹבְרֵי דָרֶךְ הָיָה חֶרְפָּה לִשְׁכֵנָיו׃   89:42

Psal. 89:42   All passers of the ways spoil him;

                                  he is a taunt for his neighbors.

הֲרִימוֹתָ יְמִין צָרָיו הִשְׂמַחְתָּ כָּל־אוֹיְבָיו׃   89:43

Psal. 89:43   You have raised the right hand of his adversaries,

                                 made all his enemies rejoice.

אַף־תָּשִׁיב צוּר חַרְבּוֹ וְלֹא הֲקֵימֹתוֹ בַּמִּלְחָמָה׃   89:44

Psal. 89:44   You would also hold back the edge of his sword,

                                 and You have not allowed him to stand up in battle.

הִשְׁבַּתָּ מִטְּהָרוֹ וְכִסְאוֹ לָאָרֶץ מִגַּרְתָּה׃   89:45

Psal. 89:45   You have made more than his luster cease

                                 that You have hurled his throne to the ground.

הִקְצַרְתָּ יְמֵי עֲלוּמָיו הֶעֱטִיתָ עָלָיו בּוּשָׁה סֶלָה׃   89:46

Psal. 89:46   You have shortened the days of his youth,

                                 wrapped shame about him.            Selah.

A strange thing in the Hebrew of this verse:  The third word is spelled as a plural noun, but is almost universally translated as a singular noun, his youth, or in some bibles, his youthful vigor.  In Job 20:11 the word appears in the singular in a similar phrase and there it is corrected to plural, why I haven’t been able to figure out.  The above word also is found in Job 33:25 and is translated as singular there as well.  Very odd.

This verse represents the fourth exception to my theory of the meaning of Selah.  See Psal. 3:3.

עַד־מָה יְהוָה תִּסָּתֵר לָנֶצַח תִּבְעַר כְּמוֹ־אֵשׁ חֲמָתֶךָ׃   89:47

Psal. 89:47   O Lord, until when shall You continually conceal Yourself,

                                  shall Your “wrath” burn as if it were fire?

זְכָר־אֲנִי מֶה־חָלֶד עַל־מַה־שָּׁוְא בָּרָאתָ כָל־בְּנֵי־אָדָם׃   89:48

Psal. 89:48   Remember me, how short life is!

                                  By what vanity did You create all the children of Adam?

As I translate and interpret the question asked here by the psalmist, it is truly remarkable.  He seems to be attributing vanity to the Lord.  Other translators have “For what vanity did You create ...?”  This is an equally valid translation, and it implies that it is the vanity of humans, not God’s vanity.  But in this context, I believe it less correct.  The next verse below seems to provide a subtle clue to the psalmist’s intent, and it points to my translation as being more accurate.  These two verses seem to be saying it is due to God’s vanity that He made humans mortal.

מִי גֶבֶר יִחְיֶה וְלֹא יִרְאֶה־מָּוֶת יְמַלֵּט נַפְשׁוֹ מִיַּד־שְׁאוֹל סֶלָה׃   89:49

Psal. 89:49   Would that a man could remain alive and not see death,

                                  could his soul escape from the hand of the grave!            Selah.

אַיֵּה חֲסָדֶיךָ הָרִאשֹׁנִים אֲדֹנָי נִשְׁבַּעְתָּ לְדָוִד בֶּאֱמוּנָתֶךָ׃   89:50

Psal. 89:50   O Master, Where are Your earlier mercies

                                  You swore to David in Your faithfulness?

זְכֹר אֲדֹנָי חֶרְפַּת עֲבָדֶיךָ שְׂאֵתִי בְחֵיקִי כָּל־רַבִּים עַמִּים׃   89:51

Psal. 89:51   Remember, Master, the disgrace of Your servants I bear in my bosom,

                                  of so many people,

אֲשֶׁר חֵרְפוּ אוֹיְבֶיךָ יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר חֵרְפוּ עִקְּבוֹת מְשִׁיחֶךָ׃   89:52

Psal. 89:52   whom Your enemies have taunted, O Lord,

                                  when they taunted the footsteps of Your anointed.

בָּרוּךְ יְהוָה לְעוֹלָם אָמֵן וְאָמֵן׃   89:53

Psal. 89:53   Blessed be the Lord forever!

                                  Amen and amen!


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