Psalm 118#sn Psalm 118. The psalmist thanks God for his deliverance and urges others to join him in praise.
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good
and his loyal love endures!#tn Or “is forever.”
2 Let Israel say,
“Yes, his loyal love endures!”
3 Let the family#tn Heb “house.” of Aaron say,
“Yes, his loyal love endures!”
4 Let the loyal followers of the Lord#tn Heb “fearers of the Lord.” See Ps 15:4. say,
“Yes, his loyal love endures!”
5 In my distress#tn Heb “from the distress.” The noun מֵצַר (metsar, “straits; distress”) occurs only here and in Lam 1:3. In Ps 116:3 מצר should probably be emended to מְצָדֵי (mÿtsadey, “snares of”). I cried out to the Lord.
The Lord answered me and put me in a wide open place.#tn Heb “the Lord answered me in a wide open place.”
6 The Lord is on my side,#tn Heb “for me.” I am not afraid!
What can people do to me?#tn The rhetorical question assumes the answer, “Nothing!” The imperfect is used in a modal sense here, indicating capability or potential. See Ps 56:11.
7 The Lord is on my side#tn Heb “for me.” as my helper.#tn Heb “among my helpers.” The preposition may indicate identity here, while the plural may be one of majesty or respect.
I look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take shelter#tn “Taking shelter” in the Lord is an idiom for seeking his protection. Seeking his protection presupposes and even demonstrates the subject’s loyalty to the Lord. In the psalms those who “take shelter” in the Lord are contrasted with the wicked and equated with those who love, fear, and serve the Lord (Pss 5:11-12; 31:17-20; 34:21-22). in the Lord
than to trust in people.
9 It is better to take shelter in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
10 All the nations surrounded me.#sn The reference to an attack by the nations suggests the psalmist may have been a military leader.
Indeed, in the name of the Lord#tn In this context the phrase “in the name of the Lord” means “by the Lord’s power.” I pushed them away.#tn Traditionally the verb has been derived from מוּל (mul, “to circumcise”) and translated “[I] cut [them] off” (see BDB 557-58 s.v. II מוּל). However, it is likely that this is a homonym meaning “to fend off” (see HALOT 556 s.v. II מול) or “to push away.” In this context, where the psalmist is reporting his past experience, the prefixed verbal form is best understood as a preterite. The phrase also occurs in vv. 11, 12.
11 They surrounded me, yes, they surrounded me.
Indeed, in the name of the Lord I pushed them away.
12 They surrounded me like bees.
But they disappeared as quickly#tn Heb “were extinguished.” as a fire among thorns.#tn The point seems to be that the hostility of the nations (v. 10) is short-lived, like a fire that quickly devours thorns and then burns out. Some, attempting to create a better parallel with the preceding line, emend דֹּעֲכוּ (do’akhu, “they were extinguished”) to בָּעֲרוּ (ba’aru, “they burned”). In this case the statement emphasizes their hostility.
Indeed, in the name of the Lord I pushed them away.
13 “You aggressively attacked me#tn Heb “pushing, you pushed me.” The infinitive absolute emphasizes the following verbal idea. The psalmist appears to address the nations as if they were an individual enemy. Some find this problematic and emend the verb form (which is a Qal perfect second masculine singular with a first person singular suffix) to נִדְחֵיתִי (nidkheti), a Niphal perfect first common singular, “I was pushed.” and tried to knock me down,#tn Heb “to fall,” i.e., “that [I] might fall.”
but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord gives me strength and protects me;#tn Heb “my strength and protection [is] the Lord.” The Hebrew term זִמְרָת (zimrat) is traditionally understood as meaning “song” (“my strength and song [is] the Lord”) in which case one might translate, “for the Lord gives me strength and joy” (i.e., a reason to sing). However, many recent commentators have argued that the noun זִמְרָת is here a homonym, meaning “protection” or “strength.” See HALOT 274 s.v.; cf. NEB “The Lord is my refuge and defence”; NRSV “my strength and my might.”
he has become my deliverer.”#tn Or “salvation.”
15 They celebrate deliverance in the tents of the godly.#tn Heb “the sound of a ringing shout and deliverance [is] in the tents of the godly.”
The Lord’s right hand conquers,#tn Heb “does valiantly.” The statement refers here to military success (see Num 24:18; 1 Sam 14:48; Pss 60:12; 108:13).
16 the Lord’s right hand gives victory,#tn Heb “exalts.”
the Lord’s right hand conquers.
17 I will not die, but live,
and I will proclaim what the Lord has done.#tn Heb “the works of the Lord.”
18 The Lord severely#tn The infinitive absolute emphasizes the following verbal idea. punished me,
but he did not hand me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of the just king’s temple!#tn Heb “the gates of justice.” The gates of the Lord’s temple are referred to here, as v. 20 makes clear. They are called “gates of justice” because they are the entrance to the just king’s palace. This has been specified in the translation for clarity.
I will enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the Lord’s gate –
the godly enter through it.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me,
and have become my deliverer.
22 The stone which the builders discarded#tn Or “rejected.”
has become the cornerstone.#tn Heb “the head of the corner.”sn The metaphor of the stone…the builders discarded describes the way in which God’s deliverance reversed the psalmist’s circumstances. When he was in distress, he was like a stone which was discarded by builders as useless, but now that he has been vindicated by God, all can see that he is of special importance to God, like the cornerstone of the building.
23 This is the Lord’s work.
We consider it amazing!#tn Heb “it is amazing in our eyes.” The use of the plural pronoun here and in vv. 24-27 suggests that the psalmist may be speaking for the entire nation. However, it is more likely that vv. 22-27 are the people’s response to the psalmist’s thanksgiving song (see especially v. 26). They rejoice with him because his deliverance on the battlefield (see vv. 10-12) had national repercussions.
24 This is the day the Lord has brought about.#tn Heb “this is the day the Lord has made.” Though sometimes applied in a general way, this statement in its context refers to the day of deliverance which the psalmist and people celebrate.
We will be happy and rejoice in it.
25 Please Lord, deliver!
Please Lord, grant us success!#sn A petition for deliverance and success seems odd in a psalm thanking God for deliverance, but it is not unique (see Ps 9:19-20). The people ask God to continue to intervene for them as he has for the psalmist.
26 May the one who comes in the name of the Lord#sn The people refer here to the psalmist, who enters the Lord’s temple to thank him publicly (see vv. 19-21), as the one who comes in the name of the Lord. be blessed!
We will pronounce blessings on you#tn The pronominal suffix is second masculine plural, but the final mem (ם) is probably dittographic (note the mem [מ] at the beginning of the following form) or enclitic, in which case the suffix may be taken as second masculine singular, referring to the psalmist. in the Lord’s temple.#tn Heb “from the house of the Lord.”
27 The Lord is God and he has delivered us.#tn Heb “and he has given us light.” This may be an elliptical expression, with “his face” being implied as the object (see Num 6:25; Pss 31:16; 67:1; 80:3, 7, 19). In this case, “his face has given us light” = “he has smiled on us,” or “he has shown us his favor.” Another option (the one reflected in the translation) is that “light” here symbolizes divine blessing in the form of deliverance. “Light” is often used as a metaphor for deliverance and the life/blessings it brings. See Pss 37:6; 97:11; 112:4; Isa 49:6; 51:4; Mic 7:8. Some prefer to repoint the form וְיָאֵר (vÿya’er; vav [ו] conjunctive + jussive) and translate the statement as a prayer, “may he give us light.”
Tie the offering#tn The Hebrew noun חַג (khag) normally means “festival,” but here it apparently refers metonymically to an offering made at the festival. BDB 291 s.v. חַג 2 interprets the word in this way here, citing as comparable the use of later Hebrew חֲגִיגָה, which can refer to both a festival and a festival offering (see Jastrow 424 s.v. חֲגִיגָה). with ropes
to the horns of the altar!#tn The second half of v. 27 has been translated and interpreted in a variety of ways. For a survey of major views, see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 122.
28 You are my#sn You are my God. The psalmist speaks again (see v. 21), responding to the words of the worshipers (vv. 22-27). God and I will give you thanks!
You are my God and I will praise you!
29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good
and his loyal love endures!#tn Or “is forever.”
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