PSALM 59 - Silly Translation? 30 Dec 2019
Sometimes a psalm is hard to understand. In psalm 59:5 and 8 I read: Punish the "nations". I do not understand that. Because it is Saul who sends out people to kill David. The Hebrew word for nations also has other meanings: A foreign nation, a Gentile, a troop of animals, a flight of locusts. My first impression is that Nation is a silly translation in the context of the rest of the psalm. But I politely assume that the translators are more wise than I am. David may consider his enemies as traitors, heathen, not true or good Jews. If they were, they would not kill a brother.
Suffering Applied to Christ
St. Augustine applies the suffering/persecution of David to Christ. Then still my comment: is nations not an illegal interpretation instead of a translation. Because it hides the original meaning and it kills the story.
Translating old Hebrew
It is really not easy to translate the biblical Hebrew of 1000 BC till 500 BC. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit may minister to bible translators.
1 [For the choirmaster Tune: 'Do not destroy'
Of David. In a quiet voice.
When Saul sent men to watch David's house
in order to have him killed]
Rescue me from my enemies, my God,
be my stronghold from my assailants,
2 rescue me from evil-doers,
from men of violence save me.
3 Look at them, lurking to ambush me,
violent men are attacking me,
for no fault, no sin of mine, Yahweh,
4 for no guilt, they come running to take up position.
Wake up, stand by me and keep watch,
5 Yahweh, God of Sabaoth, God of Israel,
rise up, to punish all the nations,
show no mercy to all these malicious traitors. Pause
6 Back they come at nightfall,
snarling like curs, prowling through the town.
7 Look how they rant in speech with swords on their lips,
'Who is there to hear us?'
8 For your part, Yahweh, you laugh at them,
you make mockery of all nations.
9 My strength, I keep my eyes fixed on you.
For my stronghold is God,
10 the God who loves me faithfully is coming to meet me,
God will let me feast my eyes on those who lie in wait for me.
11 Do not annihilate them, or my people may forget;
shake them in your power, bring them low, Lord, our shield.
12 Sin is in their mouths, sin on their lips,
so let them be trapped in their pride
for the curses and lies that they utter.
13 Destroy them in your anger,
destroy them till they are no more,
and let it be known that God is Master in Jacob
and the whole wide world. Pause
14 Back they come at nightfall,
snarling like curs, prowling through the town,
15 scavenging for something to eat,
growling unless they have their fill.
16 And so I will sing of your strength,
in the morning acclaim your faithful love;
you have been a stronghold for me,
a refuge when I was in trouble.
17 My strength, I will make music for you,
for my stronghold is God,
the God who loves me faithfully.
Excerpt from THE NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright (c) 1985 by
Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division
of Penguin Random House, Inc. Reprinted by Permission.
An interpretation process