Psalm 118


Psalm 118:1–22

Celebrate God for His Eternal Grace


Outline of Chapter 118:

 

       v.      1       Opening—the Theme of Psalm 118

       vv.    2–4        The Psalmist Exhorts those in the Age of Israel to Recognize God’s Grace

       vv.    5–9        It is Better to Trust in Jehovah than in Man

       vv.   10–14      God Delivers the Psalmist in National Disaster

       vv.   15–18      God Works in the Lives of Believers

       vv.   19–21      God has Opened up the Gates of Righteousness

       vv.   22–27      Jesus Christ is the Lord God of Israel

       v.     28–29      Closing—the Theme of the Psalm


Charts, Short Doctrines and Maps:

 

       Introduction    Differing Views on Who Authored Psalm 118 and When

       Introduction    Arguments which Favor David as the Author of Psalm 118

       Introduction    Arguments Against David Being the Author of Psalm 118

       Introduction    Which Arguments are Without Merit?

       Introduction    Why Do We Speculate at All?

       Introduction    Three General Interpretations of the NIV Study Bible

       Introduction    The Repetitions of Psalm 118

       Introduction    A Few Points on Grace

       v.      3           How Psalm 118 Might be Sung

       v.      4           The Repetitions found in Psalm 118:1–4

       v.      5           A Few Points on Prayer

       v.      5           Keil and Delitzsch Explain Psalm 118:5?

       v.      7           The Proper Interpretation of Psalm 118:7

       v.      8           Barnes Explains Psalm 118:8

       v.      8           Other Exegetes Comment on Psalm 118:8

       v.      8           Parallel Passages to Psalm 118:8

       v.      8           Psalm 118:8 is the Middle Verse of the Bible

       v.      9           Just what the Hell is he Talking About?

       v.     10           The Structure of Psalm 118

       v.     12           An Account of a Bee Attack

       v.     12           The Iliad Borrows from Scripture?

       v.     16           The Right Hand of Jehovah in Relation to the Trinity

       v.     19           To What do the Gates of Righteousness Refer?

       v.     20           How Should we Translate Psalm 118:20b?

       v.     22           What Makes a Psalm (or Any Portion of Scripture) Messianic?

       v.     22           Proper Interpretation of Messianic Passages

       v.     22           Scofield’s Notes on Messianic Psalms

       v.     22           “The Stone which the Builders Rejected has become the Chief Cornerstone” — as found in the New Testament

       v.     23           The Messianic Passages

       v.     23           Christ is Foreshadowed in the Old Testament

       v.     24           How Long is a Day?

       v.     25           The Jewish Use of Psalm 118 in Ceremony

       v.     27           Lame Commentary on Psalm 118:27

       v.     29           God’s Grace in Psalm 118


Doctrines Covered

Doctrines Alluded To

 

 

Horns

Prayer


I ntroduction: Psalm 118 is a psalm about grace and a psalm about God’s direct dealings with man in this life. Luther names this as his favorite psalm, adding, [it] had helped him out of troubles out of which neither emperor nor king, nor any other man on earth, could have helped him. Footnote Although, to the casual reader, this psalm appears to jump from topic to topic, the key to each stanza is God’s everlasting grace. Now, how can you speak of grace with mentioning Jesus Christ? Therefore, as we would expect, there will be a portion of this psalm which is Messianic.


Psalm 118 is one of the many psalms without an inscription. To me, it sounds so Davidic, that I want to called it a psalm of David; unfortunately, we do not know that to be true. No translation of this psalm gives us an inscription with David’s name. This does not mean that David did not write the psalm; but it does mean that we cannot unequivocally call Psalm 118 Davidic.

 

I write a great deal of the commentary before I ever look at what another commentator has written. However, concerning authorship, Barnes writes: Of the authorship of this psalm, and the occasion on which it was composed, nothing can now be ascertained with certainty. The common opinion has been that it is a psalm of David, and that it was composed when his troubles with Saul ceased, and when he was recognized as king. Some, however, have referred it to Hezekiah on the occasion of his restoration from sickness; others to the time of the return from the Babylonian exile; and others to the time of the Maccabees. It would be useless to examine these opinions, as they are all of them mere conjecture, and as no certainty can now be arrived at. Footnote For me, it is somewhat comforting to find that I have both identified the author and placed the psalm where others have done so in the past.

 

By the way, Barnes goes on to further state that this was a psalm designed to be used in the Temple prior to a sacrifice, based upon v. 27. Certainly, it may have been adapted and used for that purpose; and possibly not. One verse alone does not necessarily determine the final use of a psalm.


Several people weigh in on authorship and the time that the psalm is written, so I might as well organize this into an easy to follow format.

Differing Views on Who Authored Psalm 118 and When

Theologian

Viewpoint

Albert Barnes

Most see this psalm as having been written by David shortly after his troubles with Saul had ceased. Footnote However, Barnes later writes: It would seem from this that the psalm [based upon v. 10] was composed by someone who was at the head of the government, and whose government had been attacked by surrounding nations. This would accord well with many things that occurred in the life of David; but there were also other times in the Jewish history to which it would be applicable, and there is nothing that necessarily confines it to the time of David. Footnote

Adam Clarke

Clarke also sees this as a psalm of David, although he adds that some place this psalm after the captivity. Footnote This [v. 10] is by some supposed to relate to David, at the commencement of his reign, when all the neighboring Philistine nations endeavored to prevent him from establishing himself in the kingdom. Others suppose it may refer to the Samaritans, Idumeans, Ammonites, and others, who endeavored to prevent the Jews from rebuilding their city and their temple after their return from captivity in Babylon. Footnote

John Gill

Gill tells us that this psalm is commonly attributed to David, but after the Ark was brought to Jerusalem. Footnote

Matthew Henry

It is probable that David penned this psalm when he had, after many a story, weathered his point at last, and gained a full possession of the kingdom to which he had been anointed. He then invites and stirs up his friends to join with him, not only in a cheerful acknowledgment of God's goodness and a cheerful dependence upon that goodness for the future, but in a believing expectation of the promised Messiah, of whose kingdom and his exaltation to it his were typical. Footnote

Keil and Delitzsch

[A] festival psalm at the dedication of the new Temple...It is without any doubt a post-exilic song....[this psalm belongs in] the history of the period after the Exile, without any necessity for our coming down to the Maccabean period. Footnote

Spurgeon

Spurgeon presents, Footnote perhaps, the most reasoned position, and backs it up with Scripture. This psalm was sung at the building of the second Temple after the exile because we find the first and last line quoted in Ezra 3:11: And they sang, praising and giving thanks to Jehovah, because He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised Jehovah, because the foundation of the house of Jehovah was laid. Furthermore, he suggests that this psalm is Davidic, as the people were following David’s directions, as Ezra 3:10 reads: And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of Jehovah, they set the priests in their robes with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise Jehovah, according to David king of Israel. That this psalm and/or Psalm 136 were sung at the building and completion of the Temple, I have no doubt. However, a careful reading of v. 10 does not indicate that David is definitely the author.

Bear in mind that all of this is just speculation, despite the dogmatism of some.

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This naturally leads us to...

Arguments which Favor David as the Author of Psalm 118

1.    This just seems to be a Davidic psalm.

2.    Even though David’s name is not affixed to this psalm, this does not mean that he did not author the psalm.

3.    Some say that this must be a post-exilic psalm, quoting Ezra 3:10–11. Just because this psalm was probably sung at the building of the new Temple does not mean that it was written during that time.

4.    We find half of this first verse quoted in a David psalm, Psalm 52:1.

5.    Probably the strongest argument that David wrote this psalm is that we find an unusual word in v. 5: merechâb (בָחר∵מ) [pronounced mere-KHAWBV]. We find this same word used in a very similar fashion in Psalm 18:19 31:8, both Davidic psalms. This is not a completely rare word—it is also found in 2Sam. 22:20 Hosea 4:16 Habak. 1:6—but it only occurs thrice in the psalms, two of those psalms being Davidic.

6.    Psalm 118:6 expresses the same sentiment as we find in Psalm 56:4, 9, 11 (a Davidic psalm). However, other writers of Scripture have expressed the same sentiments (Psalm 146:5 Isa. 51:12 Jer. 20:11 Mic. 7:8-10 Heb. 13:6).

7.    In vv. 10–12, it is clear that the man speaking is a man of great power in Israel. This, combined with the use of the name Israel in v. 2 (without a reference to Judah) indicates that the nation is not yet divided. This would make the psalm more than likely written during the united kingdom under a monarchy, with the most likely authors being Saul, David or Solomon. We can probably eliminate Saul, as we have no indication that he wrote anything of spiritual value; and we can eliminate Solomon, as Israel enjoyed great peace under his rule (contrary to vv. 10–12). Given the large number of psalms that we know are written by David, this further suggests that David is the author.

8.    V. 13 sounds so much like a personal attack, one of great intensity and repetition, and is very reminiscent of Saul’s many assaults upon David.

 

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And, of course...

Arguments Against David Being the Author of Psalm 118

1.    Psalm 118:1 is almost exactly the same as Psalm 106:1 107:1 136:1; and none of these psalms are attributed to David (no author is named for any of those psalms).

2.    This psalm was certainly read during the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra 3:10–11).

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And, of course...

Which Arguments are Without Merit?

1.    That Psalm 118:1 is almost exactly the same as Psalm 106:1 107:1 136:1; and none of these psalms name their authors is not a good argument for or against Davidic authorship.

2.    That this psalm was read during the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra 3:10–11) does not mean that it was written at that time.

3.    Even though we find the Psalm 118:1 repeated in 1Chron. 16:36, it is unclear whether David or Asaph wrote this psalm which is written there (see 1Chron. 16:7).

4.    The fact that we find the phrase His grace [is] forever in a Davidic psalm (Psalm 52:1) does not mean that David wrote every psalm with that line in it.

5.    Even though it is clear that the verse Psalm 118:1 was commonly used during the time of David (1Chron. 16:36, 41) and shortly thereafter (2Chron. 5:13), this does not mean that David wrote that line; and, even if he wrote that line, it does not mean that he wrote the psalm.

6.    Bear in mind, God the Holy Spirit is properly the author of all of the psalms; so we know that this psalm is God-breathed—the fact that we cannot nail down the human author is immaterial, as it is the message, not the man, which is important.

As you see, there are surprisingly few arguments for or against David writing this psalm, making the very strong opinions of some theologians without merit. The few arguments which favor David as the author are, at best, moderately persuasive. The key here is the last point: it is not the man, but the message.

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There are those who have listened to both R. B. Thieme Jr. and his son teach, and they definitely have different personalities; however, what is more striking is their different teaching styles. Bob is strongly authoritative and he presents every subject with great dogmatism, whereas Bobby sometimes offers an array of possibilities. Some may be confused by this; some may have rejected Bob’s ministry because of his dogmatism and others may not be able to adjust to Bobby because he sometimes seems wishy-washy. The key is, dogmatism is appropriate when we are dealing with a key element in theology. For instance, is Jesus Christ God? Absolutely and unequivocally yes! Can works be a factor in our salvation? Absolutely and unequivocally no! Did David write this psalm? Well, we don’t know for certain. So, about some things, we will speculate; however, whether David wrote this psalm or not is not going to effect any essential doctrine.

Why Do We Speculate at All?

1.    Speculation is fun (for some).

2.    Speculation tests one’s powers of logic; there is nothing wrong with approaching Scripture logically.

3.    Speculation can lead us to an historical perspective which enriches our understanding of a passage.

4.    Speculation can sometimes help to implant other doctrinal principles more firmly in our minds.

5.    With this particular psalm, our speculation may help to determine when this psalm should be taught.

6.    Sometimes, speculation combined with logic can lead to important doctrinal principles.

Here is what is important: it is always right to use your brain when examining and studying Scripture. You do not go to sleep with your head resting on a Bible, hoping for great theological points to seep into your mind; you do not ask yourself, how do I feel about this passage or that. God gave us a mind and there is nothing in Scripture which indicates that we should shut our brains down after we believe in Jesus Christ. If you ever walk into a church and they suggest that you slip your brain into neutral, then quickly and immediately walk toward the door, walk out and do not look back. You may think I am kidding here, but the first thing charismatic groups will ask you to do when they want you to get the ghost and speak in tongues is to stop thinking so much and open your mouth and make some sounds and let it happen to you.

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According to the NIV Study Bible, there are 3 general interpretations of this psalm: in general, this psalm is a hymn of thanksgiving for deliverance from enemies. Footnote

Three General Interpretations as per the NIV Study Bible

Theory

Commentary, Pro and Con:

A Davidic king leads the nation in a liturgy of thanksgiving for deliverance and victory after a hard-fought battle with a powerful confederacy of nations. 2Chron. 20:27–28 describes such a situation with Jehoshaphat.

The problem with this interpretation is a reference to Israel in v. 2; we would expect to read Judah instead, as that is the name of the southern kingdom over which Jehoshaphat ruled (the same criticism could be applied to any king after the time of Solomon). Footnote

Israel celebrates—probably the Feast of Tabernacles—her deliverance from Egypt and victory over the Canaanites. The speaker, according to the NIV Study Bible, would have to be a Levitical or priestly leader speaking (representatively) on behalf of the people.

There is good support for this: the mention of Aaron (v. 3) as well as the protrusions (horns) of the altar (v. 27). The problem is, who would the author be? In vv. 10–12, this has to be written by a military leader of Israel—yet we find in v. 18 severe discipline laid upon this same person, almost to the point of death. We know nothing of this sort of experience with Moses, Joshua or Caleb, our only real possible authors from this time period. Furthermore, suggesting that Aaron or another priest wrote this ignores the military leadership indicated by vv. 10–12 and the severe discipline of v. 18—which we are unable to match up with any Levite of that time period.

The postexilic Jews celebrate deliverance from their enemies, either at the dedication of the second temple (see Ezra 6:16) or at the dedication of the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem (see Neh. 12:37–43). Again, the NIV Study Bible says that the writer is a Levite or a priestly leader.

All of this would properly take place in Judah, and therefore, the reference to Israel in v. 2 would not fit. Secondly, we do not know of an author from this time period who would have been under the severe discipline of v. 18. And again, a military leader is what we find in vv. 10–12, not a Levite or priestly leader.

A 4th interpretation, not found in the NIV Study Bible is, this is a Davidic psalm celebrating victories against Israel’s many enemies which surrounded her.

David fits the bill as the author quite well. He is a military leader, which fits with vv.  10–12. He was severely disciplined, which fits with v. 18. David did lead the united nation known as Israel, which fits with v. 2. And, although we find few references to the family of Aaron during the time of David, he does gather them in 1Chron. 15:4.

I know that I have kicked the authorship of David around for some time, before we have even begun this psalm, and I think it is clear that, the alternatives to Davidic authorship do not stand up to scrutiny. I have spent about a month so far on this psalm, and have finally convinced myself of its Davidic authorship.

Everything found in this introduction might make more sense after you have studied the psalm in its entirety.


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As is quite obvious, so far, this psalm is filled with tables. For me, I insert tables for two similar reasons: (1) some information just organizes better if put into a table. It is easier to read, easier to remember, and the points made are more clearly made (as compared to the same points being made within a paragraph of explanation. (2) Tables break up the monotony of paragraph after paragraph of text. In a novel, this may not be as important; however, in works of nonfiction, a table not only helps to organize information, but it draws your attention to that information in a way that simple text would not.


This psalm seems to be able to be easily broken down into 6 sections of uneven length—besides and opening and a closing—and, in many ways, what appear to be almost completely unrelated topics. It is as though one sat down, wrote a few verses; then came back to this psalm a year or two later, and added a half dozen verses, and continued that way over a decade or so. That was at first glance. Upon a more careful read, this psalm appears to be, in some ways, a history of Israel, leading up to the first advent of Jesus Christ, with the continued theme of God’s eternal grace applied in all situations.


I think the psalmist knew that we might have trouble tying everything together; therefore, he begins and closes with the same lines, exhorting us to praise and celebrate God because He is absolute good and because His grace is forever. If we keep this in mind, then each section of this psalm will present that common theme, but from a different point of view or situation. It is as though the psalmist takes us by the hand and says, “In case you don’t get it, this is what this psalm is all about.” As to its disparate sense, Keil and Delitzsch comment: each verse has of itself its completed sense, its own scent and hue; one thought is joined to another as branch to branch and flower to flower. Footnote May I add, the trunk of this plant is grace and God’s dealings in our lives, and each section is an offshoot of these two things.


This psalm is clearly written in the Age of Israel, as the psalmist calls to Israel, to the house of Aaron and to those who fear/respect God to acknowledge that God’s grace is forever (vv. 2–4). Again, the theme of this psalm is beat into our heads, in case we don’t get it at first.


The psalmist himself has been in a spot of trouble, which is not clearly defined at first. He calls out to God and God hears and answers him. The psalmist finds out firsthand that one may trust God more than one can trust man (vv. 5–9). In v. 10, the problems of the psalmist are defined, and it becomes clear that this psalmist is not just some Joe Schmo selling squash at the local farmer’s market. Nations surround him, which has always been the case for little Israel, and, even though these nations surround him like bees, because of God’s faithfulness and character, the psalmist will cut them off (which would make him probably a king-general, which suggests that this is David) (vv. 11–12). Even though there were times when the psalmist felt he was knocked down, God then became his strength (vv. 13–14).


The psalmist celebrates what God has done. Those who have been justified shout with joy that God’s right hand (His strength—one might even refer here to Jesus Christ) has accomplished His will (vv. 15–16). The psalmist was in a place where it appeared that he might die, but he praises God because he will live. Then he admits that he has been under severe discipline, which he responded to (vv. 17–18).


In vv. 19–21, the psalmist enters in through the gates of righteousness, because he has been justified and God has become his salvation.


Then we come to an incredible place in this psalm where the psalmist begins to speak of the stone, Jesus Christ, which the builders rejected—that that stone has because the chief cornerstone, the essential component to God’s salvation (v. 22). The psalmist calls out to the Lord to deliver him and to give him prosperity (vv. 23–25).


Interestingly enough, Dr. Kennicott places vv. 22–27 with the chorus. Footnote This is an interesting thought which I will have to ponder. Perhaps if this psalm were sung, this would be sung by the choir, whereas the rest of the psalm would be sung by a solo performer. It is a thought; but I don’t know whether I agree, or whether it makes a difference when it comes to interpreting the psalm.


In the final section, the psalmist blesses God for what He has done, that God has enlightened them and this is associated with the animal sacrifice, which, again, is Jesus Christ. Again, gratitude is expressed, and God is exalted in all of this. Vv. 26–28. Then the psalmist closes, exhorting us to give thanks to God, because God is absolute good and because God’s grace lasts forever (v. 29).


What stands out in this psalm is the continual repetitions:

The Repetitions of Psalm 118

Scripture

Text

Psalm 118:1–3

O give thanks to Jehovah; for He is good; because His mercy endures forever.

Let Israel now say that His mercy endures forever.

Let the house of Aaron now say that His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 118:6–7

[Because] Yehowah [is] for me, I am not afraid; what can man do to me?

Yehowah [is] for me in helping me, that I look upon the one hating me.

Psalm 118:8–9

It is better to trust in Jehovah than to trust in man.

It is better to trust in Jehovah than to trust in princes.

Psalm 118:10–12

All the nations surround me,

but in the name of Jehovah I will destroy them.

They surround me; yea, they surround me,

but in the name of Jehovah I will destroy them.

They surround me like bees; they are put out like the fire of thorns;

for in the name of Jehovah I will cut them off.

Psalm 118:14, 21

Jehovah is my strength and song, and He is my salvation.

I will praise You; for You have heard me, and You are my salvation.

Psalm 118:15–16

The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; the right hand of Jehovah does mighty things.

The right hand of Jehovah is lifted up;

the right hand of Jehovah does mighty things.

Psalm 118:1, 29

O give thanks to Jehovah; for He is good; because His mercy endures forever. Oh give thanks to Jehovah; for He is good; for His mercy endures forever.

Because this is a psalm, we should expect some repetition; repetition lends itself to music much more than does a collection of disparate verses. However, I think we find more repetition here than in the average psalm.

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The key which unlocks Psalm 118 is grace; therefore, we should examine...

A Few Points on Grace

1.    Grace is God’s unmerited favor.

       a.    Although this is accurate, this is also an anemic definition.

       b.    That God gives us what we do not deserve is grace; but this definition tells us little or nothing about grace. That is, we have no idea where is comes from, or why it is given to us.

2.    Grace is all that God is able to do for us based upon the cross.

       a.    God is perfect and His character is perfect. All that can be depended upon depends upon His perfect character and consistency.

       b.    Man is imperfect and inconsistent. What is against the law one day, is not against the law the next. What is considered obvious in the realm of right and wrong one day is questioned the next. There is no one person that you can depend upon in all instances; there is nothing devised by man which can be depended upon in all instances.

       c.     We depend upon God’s perfection for our very existence; therefore, we would not want God to be anything other than perfect.

       d.    Because God is perfect, He cannot have a relationship with imperfection. God cannot have fellowship with those who are in rebellion against Him. God cannot heap eternal rewards upon those who violate His perfect norms and standards again and again.

       e.    It is God’s very perfection and perfect righteousness and perfect dependability which makes it impossible for us to have an eternal relationship with Him. Therefore, it is God’s character, on the one hand, is the only thing in this life upon which we can depend; but, His perfection, is the one thing which prevents us from enjoying a relationship with Him.

       f.     Therefore, we are dependent upon the cross.

3.    Why the cross of Jesus Christ is the basis of grace:

       a.    There are three things which stand between us and God.

               i.      First of all, at birth, we have Adam’s imputed sin. Adam, as the federal head of the human race, sinned, and, therefore, he sinned for all of us. When the Declaration of Independence was approved and signed, the people of the United States were officially declared independent from England, the motherland; and most certainly, there were those in the United States who opposed this decision. Apart from joining the other side, this placed all Americans against England. Those who signed the Declaration of Independence acted as federal heads for Americans and plunged us into war against England. Adam, as our federal head, plunged us into war against God. We were all in Adam when he sinned; therefore, his sin was imputed to all of us. God cannot have fellowship with those who are at war with Him.

               ii.     We are all born with an old sin nature. That is, we all have a genetic propensity to sin. We each have our own individual weaknesses, and there are some Christians who manage to parlay their weaknesses into what appear to be a Christian life (e.g., self righteousness); but we all have a propensity to sin. There are dozens of sins in Scripture which we can usually point to and admit that we are tempted to commit those sins. God cannot have fellowship with one, who, by his very nature, is prone to sin.

               iii.    We have all commit personal sins. From the earliest years, when we first have the slightest inkling of right and wrong, have done things which are against God. This is something which we continue to do, every day, each and every day of our lives. God cannot have an eternal relationship with those who do that which is abhorrent to His nature.

       b.    Therefore, God, not man, did something about these problems; God did something about the natural barrier between man and Himself. That is the cross.

       c.     On the cross, as Jesus hung between heaven and hell, God took the punishment which all men deserve for their rebellion against Him and poured this punishment upon Jesus Christ. We would each deserve eternal separation from God in a place of judgment (the Lake of Fire). This is what we deserve. Therefore, because God’s justice is perfect, He demands that of us. Jesus Christ stood between God and man and took this punishment upon Himself.

               i.      Jesus Christ did not endure the suffering for the sins of one person. God took all of the punishment due every single person who has ever lived and who will live and poured those sins out on Jesus Christ.

               ii.     God administered judgment for those millions of millions of sins on Jesus Christ.

               iii.    In mathematics, we learn to take the sum of an infinite number of things so that they add up to equal a finite sum. For instance, 0.1 + 0.01 + 0.001 + 0.0001 + ... = 1/9. Even though it is impossible to actually sit down and add these continual series of numbers together individually, as we are adding an infinite number of numbers together, mathematics allows us to add them up in a matter of seconds, as though we have spent an infinite amount of time adding them together. God has the ability to take the sins of billions of people, the punishment which these people deserve, which would last into eternity for each person, and add that punishment together and pour it all upon Jesus Christ for 3 hours of the cross.

               iv.    Because God’s perfect justice was satisfied on the cross, there is no longer anything which stands between us and God in eternity.

               v.     At this point, God gives us the choice of spending eternity with Him or without Him. That is what life is all about. We get to make this choice in life. It is a choice and we all make this choice (apart from those who die to young to have any real concept of God or fellowship with Him).

               vi.    Because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, we can choose, in time, what will happen to us in eternity. The work of Jesus Christ on the cross removed all barriers between God and us, so once we are separated from our body of sin at death, our choice in life determines our eternal relationship with God—that is, whether we have a relationship or not.

       d.    This is the very essence of grace. The fact that, even though we spend our lives doing that which God has told us is wrong, we are still allowed fellowship with Him—based upon the cross. Because Jesus Christ took upon Himself the punishment for our sins, God’s perfect justice and righteousness are satisfied. In the human realm, if there is a fine assessed against someone by a court, the court could care less who pays that fine—if it gets paid, then the offense of that person is forgiven. When someone is convicted of a crime, whether he committed the crime or not, all investigations of that crime cease, because the crime is being paid for (this is an analogy, so don’t push it; all analogies break down if you push them too far).

       e.    Because Jesus Christ took upon Himself the punishment for our sins, the three things which stood between ourselves and God—Adam’s imputed sin, our old sin nature, and our personal sins—are no longer issues. But, because we have freewill and because God is a gentleman, at that point, we get to choose between eternity with God or eternity without God. God made that choice simple: believe in Jesus Christ, and we have eternal life; reject Jesus Christ, and God’s wrath is upon us for rejection of Him (John 3:16, 18, 36). What we believe in, is a choice. However, that is the topic of a whole other set of points.

4.    Because of the cross, God is no longer at enmity with us. Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man (1Tim. 2:5 Heb. 8:6). Jesus Christ mediated peace between God and man (Luke 2:14 John 14:27 16:33 Acts 10:36 Rom. 1:17 5:1 10:15). Peace, by the way, is one of the great words of theology, which is rarely studied and rarely given the time it deserves. The fact that there is peace between God and man is a matter of grace.

5.    Because there is nothing theoretically which stands between man and God, God blesses us on the basis of the cross. God has given me great blessing and has shown great faithfulness to me; and I guarantee you that I would never hold myself up at the epitome of what a believer should be. I do not deserve anything which God has given me. I have not earned anything which God has given me. I have received multifarious blessings, and I do not deserve them. This is grace.

6.    God’s grace in eternity and in time is available to all men (and women, of course). It begins by believing in Jesus Christ. This is your non-meritorious act of positive volition. If you depend upon what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross; if you are willing to accept that as the basis of your relationship to God, then you will become a recipient of grace in time and in eternity. Bear in mind, the alternative is standing upon your own works and good deeds in order to deserve God’s favor (I don’t know about you, but no way do I present God with my meager set of accomplishments and good deeds and say, “Yep, here I am, God. I am pretty damn good, don’t You think?”).

7.    God’s grace in time:

       a.    God allows us to live on this earth after salvation because God has a plan for us.

       b.    Let’s go to the analogy: Team A is going to win a football game, no matter what. God gives us the opportunity to be on Team A, and to run this or that play. Now, we can sit on the bench and watch the game and know we are going to win, and share in that win; or we can play a quarter of the game and enjoy playing the game. That is God’s grace—He gives us the opportunity to participate in His plan or the choice not to.

       c.     There are certain basics in this life. First of all, after salvation, after you believe in Jesus Christ, you are going to sin. You might sin within 1 minute of being saved. This breaks up your relationship with God in time. God has provided a simple and easy way to restore that fellowship: you name your sin to God (1Cor. 11:31 1John 1:9). You might feel good about the sin; you might even want to do it again. You might feel ashamed and despondent. You might not have any emotional reaction to having committed this sin. These things are not issues. You simply acknowledge that sin to God; you simply name that sin to God. Like salvation, this takes a few seconds, it involves no works and no actual effort on your part. There is no penance, there is nothing you must do which is meritorious in order to restore your fellowship with God. You simply name your sin to Him, and God forgives you for that sin and for any other sin that you have committed which you did not realize was a sin (1John 1:9). That is grace. This allows us to function in God’s plan; to play our quarter of the game.

       d.    The second basic in life is Bible doctrine. You must have some idea as to what is going on. God has made it possible for you personally to get all of the good Bible teaching that you need. What you do in life depends upon what you know. You can be in fellowship with God, but not have a clue as to what to do. That is the believer who has no doctrine. That sort of believer often imitates other Christians he admires; or he does his very best to not sin; or he does what he believes to be nice and good things. At best, what this kind of a believer does is neutral. Not good, not bad; simply neutral, with no eternal repercussions. With doctrine, you have some initial training; you have an idea as to what you can do. Let’s go back to the analogy of the football game. Without doctrine, if you are sent out on the field, you have no idea what to do. At best, you can stand there in the middle of the field and watch what everyone else does, or you can imitate those on your team, who may or may not be executing the correct game plan. However, the more you know about football, the more you are able to participate. The more you have trained, the more help you are to your team. So it is in time with God’s plan for your life. The more you know about God’s plan and God’s purpose, the more of a contribution you can make. Now, don’t misunderstand me. You can get saved and never get back into fellowship after that first sin. You can never learn an iota of God’s Word. This will not affect your eternal salvation. It simply affects your life in time; and your life in time is merely a drop in the bucket when it comes to eternity. In any case, it is God’s grace which allows you the opportunity to get Bible doctrine; and it is God’s grace which allows you to participate in the game. It is your choice as to what you will do in time.

       e.    A third basic is the application of doctrine. You learn God’s Word, so now you get to apply God’s Word. This can be extremely simple: naming your sins to God is an application of doctrine. Dropping a dollar (or whatever) in the collection plate can be an application of doctrine. When someone unleashes a verbal tirade against you, and you maintain your composure and choose not to respond in kind; that can be an application of doctrine. When someone gossips about you and maligns you behind you don’t respond with thoughts of bitterness or hatred; you don’t run around and find everyone they speak to, and give your side of the story. This can be an application of doctrine.

       f.     A fourth basic is training. God trains you in life. We face testing, so that we can strengthen our faith in Him. For anyone who has trained in any sport, this is easy to understand. The first time you run a mile, you might run and walk that distance and do it in 10 minutes (or, who knows, maybe 30 minutes). However, as you train more and more, you might bring it down to 8 minutes, and then to 6. It takes training, doing the same thing over and over, in order to get better. God gives us the opportunity to train in this life. We will find our faith tested again and again. God starts out simple and progressively increases the pressure. The idea is, we get better and better at it. We get to learn how to apply our faith. We get to learn how to apply principles of doctrine. All of this glorifies God and all of this is His grace. Again, we get to participate if we so choose.

       g.    God has also given us basic problem solving devices. I will cover these at another time, but they are taught at Berachah as being the faith-rest technique, personal and impersonal love, etc. Again, the opportunity to use these problem solving devices is God’s grace.

8.    Grace in eternity:

       a.    No matter what kind of a life you lead here as a believer; no matter how lame it is—even if you spend your entire Christian life out of fellowship—God will provide for you in eternity and you will live in perfect blessing and prosperity in eternity. That is grace. It is completely undeserved.

       b.    Even though an eternal relationship with God is promised to all of us in eternity, something which in itself is beyond our imagination, God gives even more to other believers. That is, going back to the analogy of the football team: we all share in the glory of winning; however, some of us will be in the victory parade; some of us will get to ride in convertibles in this parade; and some of us will be carried on the shoulders of our teammates in victory. That is, God gives even greater grace to the humble (grace-oriented).

9.    As this psalm says, God’s grace is everlasting; it endures forever. It is an essential part of God’s character, just as justice and righteousness.

10.  To sum up, grace is all that God is able to do for us on the basis of the cross. We are, by our very nature and our actions, at enmity with God—and Jesus Christ is able to establish peace between God and us and to give us an eternal relationship with God, even though we have not earned or deserved that relationship.


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Opening—the Theme of Psalm 118


Slavishly literal:

 

Moderately literal:

Give thanks to Yehowah

for [He is] good;

for to perpetuity [is] His grace.

Psalm

118:1

Give thanks to Yehowah

because [He is] good;

[and] because His grace [is] forever.

Give thanks to Jehovah, for He is good;

His grace endures forever.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Give thanks to Yehowah

for [He is] good;

for to perpetuity [is] His grace.

Peshitta                                 O, give thanks to the Lord; for He is good and His mercy endures forever.

Septuagint                             Alleluia. Give thanks to the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endures forever. [This is Psalm 117 in the Septuagint].

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Tell the LORD how thankful you are, because he is kind and always merciful.

The Message                         Thank GOD because he's good, because his love never quits.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Give thanks to the LORD because he is good, because his mercy endures forever.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

HCSB                                    Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.

Young’s Updated LT             Give thanks to Jehovah, For [He is] good, for to the age is His kindness.


What is the gist of this verse? The opening and closing lines of this psalm invoke us to give thanks to Jehovah God for two reasons: He is good and His grace lasts forever.


Psalm 118:1a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

yâdâh (הָדָי) [pronounced yaw-AWH]

give thanks, praise, celebrate; confess

2nd person masculine plural, Hiphil imperative

Strong’s #3034 BDB #392

lâmed (ל) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: Give thanks to Yehowah... The psalm begins like a prayer; the writer begins his prayer by thanking Jehovah, the God of Israel, which is the most reasonable beginning for any prayer.


Psalm 118:1b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

ţôwb (בט) [pronounced tohbv]

pleasant, pleasing, agreeable, good, better; approved

masculine singular adjective which acts like a substantive

Strong’s #2896 BDB #373


Translation: ...because [He is] good;... There are actually only two words here; however, attributing good to Jehovah God is the most reasonable interpretation here. The idea is, God’s plan and purposes are for absolute good, something which is difficult for our finite minds to comprehend, given what we find in this world. However, in the light of eternity, it will become clear to us that God is good, and are His purposes, motives, and plan.


Psalm 118:1c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

׳ôwlâm (םָלע) [pronounced ģo-LAWM]

long duration, forever, perpetuity, antiquity, futurity

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #5769 BDB #761

׳ôwlâm together with the lâmed preposition mean forever

cheçed (דסח) [pronounced KHEH-sed]

grace, benevolence, mercy, kindness

masculine singular noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #2617 BDB #338


Translation: ...[and] because His grace [is] forever. This verse frames the psalm; it is the first and final verse; God’s grace is eternal; it is a part of His nature forever. We only His grace as sinners. It is impossible to even begin to fathom what His grace will mean to us when we are completely cleansed. However, this psalm tells us that His grace is forever. That would indicate that we be beneficiaries of that grace forever as well.


This psalm may be closely associated with Psalm 136: in the first half of the first 3 verses of Psalm 136, we are told, in various ways, to give thanks to God. In the second half of every verse of Psalm 136, we are told that God’s grace is eternal. Psalm 136:1 = Psalm 118:1 = Psalm 118:29; and the second half of every verse in Psalm 136 exactly matches the second half of Psalm 118:1, 29. Both psalms may be associated with Ezra 3:10–11, as it is clear that either or both of these psalms were sung at this time. Apart from the similarity of theme, these psalms diverge greatly in subject matter. Psalm 136 is an historical perspective beginning with God’s creation of the earth and taken to the Jews’ trek through the desert toward the Land of Promise. Psalm 118 is a more personal psalm, written by one man, concerning his own experiences (although he takes the subject matter beyond his direct experience).


I should also mention that, Psalm 118:1 is almost identical to Psalm 106:1 107:1 136:1, 26 1Chron. 16:34, 41 2Chron. 5:13 7:3, 6 20:21 Jer. 33:11 and part of it may be found in Psalm 52:1 136:2–25 138:8. That we should be thankful to God on the basis of His grace, which lasts forever, is certainly a sentiment worth repeating throughout Scripture. I’ve spoken earlier that this could perhaps be a Davidic psalm—well, none of the psalms named have David’s name attached to them.


We have a better understanding of God’s grace today than David did; however, even from our perspective, it is not by any means a complete and full understanding. However, we see God’s grace in salvation. To God, we are completely unlovable. Take the human being from this earth, living or dead, whom you see as the worst, most absolute hateful human you can imagine. Some may choose a recent serial killer-rapists; others may choose Hitler—and repulsive as we find that person, God finds us even more repulsive. As far apart from that person we have chosen as our moral opposite, God finds us even further away from His perfect character. And yet, even with all of this, God took on the form of a man, suffered every indignity possible as a man, never sinned, never even had a mental attitude sin, and, not only did He endure all of this, but then He took upon Himself the punishment that we deserve for the sins that we have committed. Everyone of us deserves eternal damnation—eternal separation from God—it is in our nature to be against God; it is a part of our daily choice to be against God. And yet, while we were sinners, Christ died for us. I don’t think there is a person alive who even has a clue as to how far we are from God and how undeserving we are. On the other hand, this world is filled with millions of people who see themselves as standing at the gates of heaven, and God looking them over and saying, “Oh, yeah; Charlie Brown—you’re alright; come on in and let’s hang!” Do you see how blissfully arrogant that is? And yet, even with us being filled with such arrogance, Christ died for us. That’s grace; and that is only grace with regards to salvation—that is but the tip of the iceberg.


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The Psalmist Exhorts those in the Age of Israel to Recognize God's Grace


Says, I pray, Israel, that,

“For to perpetuity His grace.”

Psalm

118:2

Let Israel proclaim,

“His grace [is] forever.”

Let Israel also proclaim,

“His grace is forever.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Says, I pray, Israel, that,

“For to perpetuity His grace.”

Septuagint                             Let now the house of Israel say, that He is good: for his mercy endures for ever.

 

Significant differences:          In the LXX, in both the 2nd through 4th verses, that God is good is repeated; however, we do not find this in the MT or the Peshitta. Interestingly enough, in the Latin, we find this addition in v. 2 but not in v. 3 or v. 4.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Let Israel shout, "God is always merciful!"

The Message                         Tell the world, Israel, "His love never quits."

NLT                                Let the congregation of Israel repeat:

“His faithful love endures forever.”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Israel should say, "His mercy endures forever."

JPS (Tanakh)                        Let Israel declare,

“His steadfast love is eternal.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

HCSB                                    Let Israel say, "His faithful love endures forever."

MKJV                                     Let Israel now say that His mercy endures forever.

Young's Literal Translation     I pray you, let Israel say, That, to the age is His kindness.


What is the gist of this verse? The psalmist calls for Israel to say that God’s grace lasts forever.


Psalm 118:2a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

nâ (אָנ) [pronounced naw]

please, I pray you, I respectfully implore (ask, or request of) you, I urge you

particle of entreaty

Strong's #4994 BDB #609

Nâ is used to express a wish (Job 32:21: “Oh, that I may not respect any man’s person”); to incite or to urge (Jer. 5:24); it is depreciatory when affixed to the 2nd person with a particle of negation (do not, I implore you—see Gen. 33:10 19:18); with the it expresses a wish or request (Psalm 124 129:1 SOS 7:9), a challenge (Jer. 17:15), asking leave (Gen. 18:4), and depreciation with a negation (Gen. 18:32). In many of these examples, we would express this with the addition of the word let.

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471


Translation: Let Israel proclaim,... The nation Israel is to proclaim the same thing as we find in the previous verse. It is important to recognize that Israel is a part of this psalm. We need to bear that in mind when we get down to v. 22 when we speak of the stone which the builder’s rejected.


Psalm 118:2b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

׳ôwlâm (םָלע) [pronounced ģo-LAWM]

long duration, forever, perpetuity, antiquity, futurity

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #5769 BDB #761

׳ôwlâm together with the lâmed preposition mean forever

cheçed (דסח) [pronounced KHEH-sed]

grace, benevolence, mercy, kindness

masculine singular noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #2617 BDB #338


Translation: ...“His grace [is] forever.” Israel is to proclaim that God’s grace is forever. God’s character is immutable; so there are things about God upon which we can depend, and one of those things is His grace. The fact that Israel is told to proclaim this should speak to Jews everywhere. If God the Holy Spirit calls upon Israel to proclaim that His grace is forever, then there must be something to that. That is, God is not going to abandon Israel and God is not going to abandon the Jew, even though that seems to be the case to some people.


Now, there is a lot of legalism associated with the Jew and God. The Jews have abandoned God; they have turned their back on Him. When Jesus came, they were instrumental in that day to his illegal trials and execution. So, of course, many say that we Christians are the true Jews. God ripped out all the Jewish branches, grafted in Christian branches, and that is the way it is. So, maybe this verse should read, Let Israel proclaim, “His grace is for a pretty long time!” Or, perhaps it should read, Let Israel proclaim, “His grace is forever, as long as you don’t screw up too badly.” But that is not how this verse reads; instead, it reads: Let Israel proclaim, “His grace is forever!” Do you understand? Are you so arrogant as to think, “I’m pretty hot stuff; God likes me; too bad about those Jews, with their failures and everything.” One of the reasons that we study David and Saul is we get a better understanding of their failures and how their failures impact their individual lives. David failed on several occasions, and still, he is known as a man after God’s own heart. Saul seemed to fail as well, and Saul was taken out by the sin unto death. Here is God grace: Samuel, from the Abraham’s bosom, tells Saul, “Tomorrow, you and your sons will be with me.” That is grace. God is not done with the Jew. The Jews have not fallen so far as to be out of the reach of God’s grace. Let Israel proclaim, “God’s grace is forever!” This is meaningful. The Jews were God’s people and they will be God’s people. Why do you think there are Jews today? There are no Philistines; no Amalekites, no real Romans even. But Jews? In every country. God is not done with His people. God’s grace is forever. In the book of the last days, in the book of Revelation, why do you think God is calling 12,000 out of this Jewish tribe, and 12,000 out of that Jewish tribe? Now maybe you are too damn perfect and you don’t grasp the need for God’s grace. I have do not have these illusions about myself. At the first and at the last, I will have to stand on God’s grace. When it comes to my salvation and my being face to face with Jesus Christ at death, that is completely based upon God’s grace. No matter what I do from hereon in, whether I act like a great Christian or act like a degenerate unbeliever, I depend upon God’s grace, and I will until the day I die.


Now, has Israel screwed up? Most assuredly. Has Israel turned away from God? Absolutely. Is Israel blind to her own sin? Of course. But, let Israel proclaim, “God’s grace is forever!” God is not done with Israel. We are not the new Israel. We are a different entity. Now, we picked up where Israel should have left off; but this was all in the power of God the Holy Spirit, as we model ourselves after Jesus Christ, who pioneered the Christian walk. And so that you are not confused, Israel does have a future with God; it is no accident that there are Jews scattered throughout the earth in almost every nation. Now, what has happened is, Israel has been set aside for a little time. They are not completely in the dark, as any Jews which believes in Jesus Christ is saved and becomes a part of the church. However, the Jews as a nation and the Jews as a people scattered throughout the earth in every nation will have a future with God.


Allow me a tangent which is related to all of this: in times when my grasp of theology was weak, I wondered about my freewill in the future. I know how tempted and how many times I fail now—what about in eternity? My freewill will still be in tact. What then? In eternity, we will be without the urging of the old sin nature, and we will not have the temptation of the world. How should I explain? There must be one or two sins which you do not ever do. You just do not have a temptation to do them. For some of you, you might not be prone to jealousy; for others, power lust or materialism lust really don’t grab you; some have no interest in getting drunk or taking drugs; and for others, you just do not have the urge to commit murder. Now, imagine the sin you are least likely to commit and then place yourself in an environment where committing that sin is even less of a temptation—that is akin to our eternal state with respect to all sin. Now, I am not saying that, in this world, in this life, that there are sins that you would not commit. I think for many, but not all, circumstances could be arranged to where you would commit sins that would shock even you. However, the eternal state is very far removed from that scenario. That is one minor aspect of God’s grace in eternity—freewill, yet we will be without sin. Our lives would be a lot better if we could manage that now.


Say, I pray, a house of Aaron, that,

“For to perpetuity His grace.”

Psalm

118:3

Let the house of Aaron proclaim,

“His grace [is] forever.”

Let the house of Aaron also proclaim,

“His grace is everlasting!”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:


 

Masoretic Text                       Say, I pray, a house of Aaron, that,

“For to perpetuity His grace.”

Septuagint                             Let now the house of Aaron say, that He is good; for his mercy endures for ever.

 

Significant differences:          See comments with v. 2.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Let the family of Aaron the priest shout, "God is always merciful!"

The Message                         And you, clan of Aaron, tell the world, "His love never quits."

NLT                                Let Aaron’s descendants, the priests, repeat:

“His faithful love endures forever.”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         The descendants of Aaron should say, "His mercy endures forever."

JPS (Tanakh)                        Let the house of Aaron declare,

“His steadfast love is eternal.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

ESV                                       Let the house of Aaron say, "His steadfast love endures forever."

HCSB                                    Let the house of Aaron say, "His faithful love endures forever."

WEB                                      Let the house of Aaron now say That his loving kindness endures forever.

Young's Literal Translation    I pray you, let the house of Aaron say, That, to the age is His kindness.


What is the gist of this verse? The house of Aaron, the priests to Israel, are to also proclaim that God’s grace is forever.


Psalm 118:3a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

nâ (אָנ) [pronounced naw]

please, I pray you, I respectfully implore (ask, or request of) you, I urge you

particle of entreaty

Strong's #4994 BDB #609

Nâ is used to express a wish (Job 32:21: “Oh, that I may not respect any man’s person”); to incite or to urge (Jer. 5:24); it is depreciatory when affixed to the 2nd person with a particle of negation (do not, I implore you—see Gen. 33:10 19:18); with the it expresses a wish or request (Psalm 124 129:1 SOS 7:9), a challenge (Jer. 17:15), asking leave (Gen. 18:4), and depreciation with a negation (Gen. 18:32). In many of these examples, we would express this with the addition of the word let.

bayith (ת̣י ַ) [pronounced BAH-yith]

house, household, habitation as well as inward

masculine singular construct

Strong's #1004 BDB #108

Ahărôn (ןֹרֲה-א) [pronounced ah-huh-ROHN]

transliterated Aaron

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #175 BDB #14

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471


Translation: Let the house of Aaron proclaim, ... The house of Aaron refers to the priests of the Age of Israel. These were the men who represented man to God, and were a shadow of our great High Priest to come. Like most psalms, this is firmly entrenched in the Age of Israel.


This has further application to us, as we are a nation of priests—we believers in the Church Age (1Peter 2:5). We are able to represent ourselves before God, because our true sacrifice, Jesus Christ, has gone to the cross and paid the debt for our sins. In Him, we have access to God. Furthermore, as priests, we should proclaim, “God’s grace is forever!”


Psalm 118:3b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

׳ôwlâm (םָלע) [pronounced ģo-LAWM]

long duration, forever, perpetuity, antiquity, futurity

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #5769 BDB #761

׳ôwlâm together with the lâmed preposition mean forever

cheçed (דסח) [pronounced KHEH-sed]

grace, benevolence, mercy, kindness

masculine singular noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #2617 BDB #338


Translation: ...“His grace [is] forever.” Again, God’s grace is everlasting. This is a proclamation that the psalmist urges be made by the Aaronic priesthood.


I have read through several commentators who even ascribe this verse or that to a chorus, or to an individual soloist. I am not going to go through the entire, psalm, as this is really more appropriate to the interpretation of a choir leader.

How Psalm 118 Might be Sung

Scripture

The Divisions of Labor

Psalm 117

The Conqueror and his attendants sing Psalm 117:1, an introductory hymn, inviting all, Jews and Gentiles, to share in the merciful kindness of God, and to sing his praises. It is a gathering together of all the Lord's people, to be witnesses and partakers of his glory.

Psalm 118:1–3

 Psalm 118:1-3 are sung by single voices. As the procession moves along, the theme of rejoicing is announced. The first voice repeats, “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good, because his mercy endures for ever.” Another single voice calls on Israel to acknowledge this great truth; and a third invites the house of Aaron, the priesthood. to acknowledge their share in Jehovah's love.

Psalm 118:4

Psalm 118:4 is a chorus; the whole procession, the living, and the dead who are raised to meet Christ (1Th. 4:16)

This was offered up by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, A Treasury of David; e-Sword, Psalm 118. However, the ultimate source appears to be R. H. Ryland, in “The Psalms restored to Messiah,” 1853. I quoted this almost verbatim. If you desire to see how the entire psalm was divided up in order to be sung to an audience, please see Spurgeon’s A Treasury of David. Footnote

You may wonder, why I even bother to list something like this. Although we are assured that we can understand whatever doctrines we need to understand, keeping this in the forefront of our minds is not guaranteed to us. If that were the case, then there would be no reason for repetition. Everyone learns in a variety of ways as well as remembers in a number of ways—if one can picture a choir singing this psalm, with one set introducing it by singing Psalm 117; with three soloists out of the chorus singing vv. 1–3; and the entire choir singing v. 4, then the subject matter of what is being sung might be more clearly held in one’s mind. However, do not be confused into thinking that, this is the only way this psalm should be sung.


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Saying, I pray, those fearing of Yehowah that,

“For to perpetuity His grace.”

Psalm

118:4

Let those fearing Yehowah say,

“His grace [is] forever.”

Let those who fear and respect Jehovah proclaim, “His grace is forever.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Saying, I pray, those fearing of Yehowah that,

“For to perpetuity His grace.”

Septuagint                             Let now all that fear the Lord say, that He is good; for his mercy endures for ever.

 

Significant differences:          See v. 2.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Let every true worshiper of the LORD shout, "God is always merciful!"

The Message                         And you who fear GOD, join in, "His love never quits."

 

NLT                                Let all who fear the Lord repeat:

“His faithful love endures forever.”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Those who fear the LORD should say, "His mercy endures forever."

JPS (Tanakh)                        Let those who fear the Lord declare,

“His steadfast love is eternal.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

HCSB                                    Let those who fear the LORD say, "His faithful love endures forever."

Young's Literal Translation    I pray you, let those fearing Jehovah say, That, to the age is His kindness.


What is the gist of this verse? All believers of that Age (those who fear Jehovah) are to proclaim that God’s grace is forever.


Psalm 118:4a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

nâ (אָנ) [pronounced naw]

please, I pray you, I respectfully implore (ask, or request of) you, I urge you

particle of entreaty

Strong's #4994 BDB #609

Nâ is used to express a wish (Job 32:21: “Oh, that I may not respect any man’s person”); to incite or to urge (Jer. 5:24); it is depreciatory when affixed to the 2nd person with a particle of negation (do not, I implore you—see Gen. 33:10 19:18); with the it expresses a wish or request (Psalm 124 129:1 SOS 7:9), a challenge (Jer. 17:15), asking leave (Gen. 18:4), and depreciation with a negation (Gen. 18:32). In many of these examples, we would express this with the addition of the word let.

yârê (א ֵר ָי) [pronounced yaw-RAY]

to fear, to fear-respect, to reverence, to have a reverential respect

masculine plural construct, Qal active participle

Strong’s #3372 BDB #431

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471


Translation: Let those fearing Yehowah say,... In the Old Testament, this is the way a mature believer was referred to, as one who fears and respects God. You cannot fear and respect someone that you do not believe exists; and you cannot fear and respect the character of a person that you do not know. Therefore, only a believer who knows some doctrine could be called one who feared Jehovah.


Psalm 118:4b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

׳ôwlâm (םָלע) [pronounced ģo-LAWM]

long duration, forever, perpetuity, antiquity, futurity

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #5769 BDB #761

׳ôwlâm together with the lâmed preposition mean forever

cheçed (דסח) [pronounced KHEH-sed]

grace, benevolence, mercy, kindness

masculine singular noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #2617 BDB #338


Translation: ...“His grace [is] forever.” What the mature believer is to proclaim is, the grace of God is forever.


Since I cover each verse separately, it is easy to lose the rhythm and flow of these first few verses:

The Repetitions found in Psalm 118:1–4

Psalm 118:1–4

Cœnotes

Give thanks to Yehowah

because [He is] good;

[and] because His grace [is] forever.

Let Israel proclaim,

“His grace [is] forever.”

Let the house of Aaron proclaim,

“His grace [is] forever.”

Let those fearing Yehowah proclaim,

“His grace [is] forever.”

This is known as a cœnotes [pronounced CEE-noh-tees], which comes from a Greek word meaning sharing in common. A cœnotes occurs when two separate phrases are repeated, one at the beginning and one at the eend of successive sentences or paragraphs. In the Hebrew, this is even more pronounced, as each verse begins with let proclaim.

We will find such a repetition in vv. 8 & 9 as well as vv. 15 & 16.


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It is Better to Trust in Jehovah than in Man


From the distress I called Yah;

answered me in a in the wide expanse Yah.

Psalm

118:5

When in [lit., from] distress, I called upon Yah;

[and] Yah answered me from [lit., in] a wide expanse [or, from freedom].

I called upon Jehovah when in distress

and He answered me from his place in the heavens.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         In my trouble I called upon the Lord: and the Lord heard me, and enlarged me.

Masoretic Text                       From the distress I called Yah;

answered me in a in the wide expanse Yah.

Peshitta                                 Out of my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and relieved me.

Septuagint                             I called on the Lord out of affliction: and he hearkened to me, so as to bring me into a wide place.

 

Significant differences:          I think the problem is, the ancient texts did not really know how to understand and therefore translate the second sentence.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       When I was really hurting, I prayed to the LORD. He answered my prayer, and took my worries away.

The Message                         Pushed to the wall, I called to GOD; from the wide open spaces, he answered.

NLT                                In my distress I prayed to the Lord,

And the Lord answered me and rescued me.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         During times of trouble I called on the LORD. The LORD answered me and set me free from all of them.

JPS (Tanakh)                        In distress I called on the Lord;

the Lord answered me and brought me relief.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                Out of my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me, and set me free and in a large place.

Updated Emphasized Bible   <Out of a strait>, I called on Yah,

He answered me with enlargement [so the Western School of Massorites in one early printed edition; the Eastern Massorites with many manuscripts, 9 early printed editions and the Aramaic have “the enlargement (= deliverance) of Yah.”].

HCSB                                    I called to the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and put me in a spacious place.

LTHB                                     I called Jehovah from the distress; He answered me in the large place of Jehovah.

MKJV                                     I called on Jehovah in distress; Jehovah answered me, and set me in a large place.

WEB                                      Out of my distress, I called on Yah. Yah answered me with freedom.

Young's Literal Translation    From the straitness I called Jah, Jah answered me in a broad place.


What is the gist of this verse? The psalmist has called upon God and God has answered him (the final word will require some explanation).


Psalm 118:5a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, off, out from, out of, away from, on account of, since, than, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

mêtsar (ר-צ̤מ) [pronounced may-TSAR]

distress, pain, straits

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4712 BDB #865

qârâ (א ָר ָק) [pronounced kaw-RAW]

to call, to proclaim, to read, to call to, to call out to, to assemble, to summon

1st person singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #7121 BDB #894

This is a homonym; the other qârâ means to encounter, to befall, to meet, to assemble.

Yâh (ָי) [pronounced yaw]

an abbreviated form of YHWH, the proper name for God in the Old Testament

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #3050 BDB #219


Translation: When in [lit., from] distress, I called upon Yah;... Although to my way of thinking, I would expect the psalmist to call upon God when in distress, the idea is, from this place, the place of distress and pain, the psalmist called upon God. This is the perfect tense, which indicates that this happened in the past; i.e., it is a done deal. The psalmist is not in pain and distress right now; or, if he is, this is not what he is indicating.


Now, in the past, I have knocked prayer, and for several reasons. It is but one tool in our toolbox, one weapon in our arsenal. We do not use a hammer to fix everything, but that is how some use prayer. Many people pray to God, because they would rather do all the talking and none of the listening. I experience a similar thing when I talk to someone else about the Bible; now, I know the Bible much better than the average person; in fact, much better than the average Christian (although there is a great deal which I do not know). However, in talking to many people about Scripture, they prefer to do 90% of the talking about a topic which they know little or nothing about. People pray the same way. No real interest in what God would have them know; no real interest in what God would have them do. They just want to pour out their troubles and fears on God and then expect God to make all of their problems suddenly disappear. I’ve known some who are not even Christians, and they will ask several people of various faiths to pray for them, figuring that one of them might be able to get through to God (which really is not too bad of a plan). I’ve named as the main problem with prayers from Christians, is that most of them pray while out of fellowship, and the Bible tells us that God does not listen and respond to those prayers (if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me).


On the other hand, even though I do knock prayer—or, more correctly, the misuse of prayer, when a person prays, they are acknowledging the existence of God—which is not enough to save them, but a step in the right direction. For a believer, he is turning his attention, as limited as it might be, toward God. Furthermore, the Bible speaks of prayer often: Gen. 32:7–11 1Sam. 30:6-8 Psalm 18:6, Psalm 40:1-3 77:2 107:13, 19 116:3–4 120:1 130:1–2 Mark 14:31-36. We are even admonished to pray without ceasing (1Thess. 5:17). We covered the Doctrine of Prayer back in Psalm 78, if you would like to go back and re-examine it.


Now might be a good time to examine...

A Few Points on Prayer

1.    Prayer is encouraged by God for us to speak to Him. Gen. 32:7–11 1Sam. 30:6-8 Psalm 18:6, Psalm 40:1-3 77:2 107:13, 19 116:3–4 120:1 130:1–2 Mark 14:31-36

2.    Prayer is man communicating directly to God.

3.    Prayer should be addressed to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ the Son. It is God the Father who deals with our prayer; it is because of Jesus Christ that we can communicate with God the Father. Matt. 6:9 John 14:13–14

4.    All prayer must be done while in fellowship—in our dispensation, while being filled with the Holy Spirit.

5.    Prayer does not reach God when we are out of fellowship.

       a.    Now for the 1%: God is omniscient, so God is everywhere. Therefore, God can hear my prayer, regardless.

       b.    Perhaps a better analogy should be given to the 1%: if you have children, you know that there are times when you call them, they hear you, but they ignore you. They are outside having fun, it’s time for dinner, you call them, and they ignore you. They are watching TV, you tell them to take out the trash, they say, “Yeah, Mom” and 20 minutes later, they are still watching TV and they have not moved. It is not that they could not hear you; they simply chose not to hear you.

       c.     The key is, God of course can hear every person who talks to Him or talks to anyone else. God can also choose to respond to any prayer, whether initiated by a believer or unbeliever; by a believer in or out of fellowship. However, God does not have to listen to a believer out of fellowship. God does not have to have any contact with a believer out of fellowship. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me (Psalm 66:18).

       d.    Getting back into fellowship is a matter of grace—you simply name your sins to God; therefore, that should be the beginning of any and all prayers to God (assuming that you start while being out of fellowship). 1John 1:9

6.    God hears us immediately in prayer, even though the Throne Room of God is millions of light years away. Isa. 65:24: And it will be, before they call I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.

7.    Thanksgiving should be a part of prayer. After all, if you cannot find anything in your life for which you can be thankful, how do you think you will recognize God’s answer to your prayer?

8.    By the way, don’t forget to listen to God—God speaks to us through His Word, and many times, the answers to our prayers are found in knowing His Word.

9.    Public prayers should generally be short and to the point. You might go a little longer during a prayer meeting. However, long prayers are generally a part of private prayer. Matt. 6:5–7

10.  Intercession should be a part of your prayers—that is, you need to be mindful of others and be willing to pray for others as well. Eph. 6:18

11.  The final portion of your prayers, which is perhaps the only one that you are aware of, is petition on behalf of yourself. This is where you pray for your own needs.

12.  Why your prayer is not heard (or, if you want to be picky about it, heard but not answered):

       a.    The primary reason is that you are out of fellowship. This is expressed in a number of ways in Scripture.

               i.      If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me (Psalm 66:18).

               ii.     You ask, but you do not receive, because you ask amiss, so that you may consume it on your lusts (James 4:2–3). You’ve got to realize, you can pray till doomsday about that lotto ticket that you just bought, but that does not mean God is going to make it a winner.

               iii.    Marital problems can hinder prayer (and, esentially, the idea is, you are both out of fellowship because of mental attitude sins toward one another—1Peter 3:7).

               iv.    God does not listen because you are filled with pride (Job 35:12–13).

               v.     You ask God for blessing on the one hand, and disobey His commandments on the other. 1John 3:22.

               vi.    Simply speaking, you just need to be in fellowship, which is why confession of sin is at the top of the list when you pray to God. Eph. 6:18 1John 1:9

       b.    You pray to God without any faith. “I know you don’t exist, but, just in case you do, this is what I want...I don’t really think You answer prayer, but, just in case You do, here are the things I want.” Matt. 18:19 21:22 Mark 11:24

       c.     You pray without compassion for others. Prov. 21:13

       d.    You pray for that which is not in God’s will (1John 5:14). There are a number of things which happened in my life that, quite frankly at the time, I wish that they had not happened—and I prayed often for deliverance from these things. It was God’s will for me to go through these things; almost everything that God had me go through, I can look back and see why. At the time of the pressure, I often did not understand why. Therefore, sometimes when you pray and you don’t get what you want, you have to wait and have a little faith in God—He knows exactly what He is doing. When His answer to your prayer is no, there is a reason for that.

* Several of these points were taken from R. B. Thieme, Jr., Prayer; ©1973 by R. B. Thieme, Jr. (taken from the 1961 Basic Series, Lesson 19). Many others were taken from memory, mostly from Bible class at Berachah.


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Psalm 118:5b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

׳ânâh (הָנָע) [pronounced ģaw-NAWH]

to answer, to respond; to speak loudly, to speak up [in a public forum]; to testify; to sing, to chant, to sing responsively

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #6030 BDB #772

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

merechâb (בָחר∵מ) [pronounced mere-KHAWBV]

broad or roomy place, wide expanse, large and open area; [metaphorically] freedom, liberty, welfare

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #4800 BDB #932

The Western School of Massorites, along with one early printed edition lacks the definite article. However, the Eastern School along with many manuscripts, 9 early printed editions, and the Aramaic all have the definite article. Footnote

These latter meanings refer to having many options in a large area. Merechâb can be used in a negative sense, as a lamb in a large area, insofar as the lamb may stray from the herd (Hosea 4:16).

By the way, we have two unusual nouns in this verse; this particular one is found in two Davidic psalms (Psalm 18:19 31:8). The other word, distress, is only found thrice in Scripture, and not in any Davidic psalm. Footnote

Yâh (ָי) [pronounced yaw]

an abbreviated form of YHWH, the proper name for God in the Old Testament

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #3050 BDB #219


Translation: ... [and] Yah answered me from [lit., in] a wide expanse [or, from freedom]. God, in His heaven, in his wide expanse, answers the psalmist. The idea is, God is in an area so huge that we cannot comprehend it. We cannot even comprehend space; and yet, God in heaven, is even beyond space. However, even from there, God answered the psalmist. Do you recall the continuous mention of grace? This is grace—the psalmist is in trouble, he calls to God, and even from heaven, God answers him.


Now, the words distress and wide expanse are arranged to be in opposition to one another—as polar opposites, possibly. They describe the place of the psalmist as opposed to the place of God; both words as masculine singular nouns with definite articles; both are used in parallel portions of this verse. Therefore, we may reasonably assume that one is almost the direct opposite of the other. That is, the psalmist is in a place on constraints, where there is little freedom, where he has few if any choices, where he is backed into a corner, and he appears to have no options. God, on the other hand, answers from a place of great freedom and expanse.


I don’t know how to quite grasp the use of the prepositions here. I would have expected them to be switched. That is, I would expect for the psalmist to call upon God when he (the psalmist) is in distress; similarly, I would expect God to answer the psalmist from the great expanse (i.e., heaven, which is even greater than space itself). However, the prepositions are set up in the opposite manner, meaning that I am not necessarily convinced of my own interpretation.


What the KJV, the MKJV and the NKJV do is insert the words set me; the psalmist calls to God from a place of distress, a place of constraints, a place where his options seem to have been limited; God places him in a place where his choices are seemingly unlimited; God sets him in a place of freedom. So the psalmist calls from a place of constraint and God places him in a place of freedom. This interpretation would explain the prepositions; however, the problem is, the words and set me are not there and are difficult to infer from the bêyth preposition. Therefore, I must side with my explanation instead.


We do find this word used in a couple of other psalms: Psalm 18:17–19: He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too strong for me. They went before me in the day of my calamity; but Jehovah was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. Psalm 31:7–8: I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy; for You have looked on my affliction; You have known my soul in troubles; and have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a broad place. In all three instances, the psalmist is in a bad place, either under the attack of an enemy or in distress (which is, reasonably, the attack of an enemy). God delivers him Footnote from his enemy to a large place, indicating that he has more options than he had before. An enemy limits your options and your freedom; being placed in a large area indicates that you suddenly have a great many options and a great deal of freedom. This understanding of our own passage, and allowing for the insertions which we find in the various King James Versions is probably the most reasonable way to interpret this passage.


I had hoped that Keil and Delitzsch would shed some light on this, offer some alternatives, and, it appears as though they do discuss this verse, but, to be quite frank with you, I don’t know what the hell they are saying this time. Footnote

Keil and Delitzsch Explain Psalm 118:5?

In Psalm 118:5, Israel too then begins as one man to praise the ever-gracious goodness of God הי, the Jod of which might easily become inaudible after יחארק, has an emphatic Dagesh as in Psalm 118:18, and רצפה has the orthophonic stroke beside רצ (the so-called לקמ), which points to the correct tone-syllable of the word that has Dechî.


(Note: Vid., Baer's Thorath Emeth, p. 7 note, and p. 21, end of note 1.)



Instead of יננע it is here pointed יננע, which also occurs in other instances not only with distinctive, but also (though not uniformly) with conjunctive accents.


[Note: Hitzig on Pro. 8:22 considers the pointing יננע to be occasioned by Dechî, and in fact יננע in the passage before us has Tarcha, and in 1Sam. 28:15 Munach; but in the passage before us, if we read היבחרמב as one word according to the Masora, יננע is rather to be accented with Mugrash; and in 1Sam. 28:15 the reading יננע is found side by side with יננע (e.g., in Bibl. Bomberg. 1521). Nevertheless ינתפרצ Psalm 17:3, and ינרה Job 30:19 (according to Kimchi's Michlol, 30a), beside Mercha, show that the pointing beside conjunctive as beside disjunctive accents wavers between a& and a4, although a4 is properly only justified beside disjunctive accents, and ינצ also really only occurs in pause.]


The constructions is a pregnant one (as in Psalm 22:22; Psalm 28:1; Psalm 74:7; 2Sam. 18:19; Ezra 2:62; 2Chron. 32:1): He answered me by removing me to a free space (Psalm 18:20). Both lines end with י; nevertheless the reading היבחב is attested by the Masora (vid., Baer's Psalterium, pp. 132f.), instead of יבח. It has its advocates even in the Talmud (B. Pesachim 117a), and signifies a boundless extent, הי expressing the highest degree of comparison, like הילאמ in Jer. 2:31, the deepest darkness. Even the LXX appears to have read היבחמ thus as one word (εἰς πλατυσμόν, Symmachus εἰς εὐρυχωρίαν). The Targum and Jerome, however, render it as we do; it is highly improbable that in one and the same verse the divine name should not be intended to be used in the same force of meaning. Psalm 56:1-13 (Psalm 56:10; Psalm 56:5, Psalm 56:12) echoes in Psalm 118:6; and in Psalm 118:7 Psalm 54:1-7 (Psalm 54:6) is in the mind of the later poet. In that passage it is still more clear than in the passage before us that by the Beth of ירזע Jahve is not meant to be designated as unus e multis, but as a helper who outweighs the greatest multitude of helpers. The Jewish people had experienced this helpful succour of Jahve in opposition to the persecutions of the Samaritans and the satraps during the building of the Temple; and had at the same time learned what is expressed in Psalm 118:7-8 (cf. Psalm 146:3), that trust in Jahve (for which הסח ב is the proper word) proves true, and trust in men, on the contrary, and especially in princes, is deceptive; for under Pseudo-Smerdis the work, begun under Cyrus, and represented as open to suspicion even in the reign of Cambyses, was interdicted. But in the reign of Darius it again became free: Jahve showed that He disposes events and the hearts of men in favour of His people, so that out of this has grown up in the minds of His people the confident expectation of a world-subduing supremacy expressed in Psalm 118:10.

Normally, I can sort through Keil and Delitzsch and figure out what it is they are saying. At this point, I am pretty sure that they are mostly talking about v. 5, and that the final word and its meaning and maybe some other things are in question, but that is about all I can get out of this. I have included this for whoever else can read this and make sense of it.


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Yehowah [is] for me,

I do not fear;

what can do to me man?

Psalm

118:6

[Because] Yehowah [is] for me, I am not afraid;

what can man do to me?

Because Jehovah is for me, I am not afraid;

what can man do to me?


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic text                Yehowah [is] for me,

I do not fear;

what can do to me man?

Peshitta                                 The Lord is my help, I will not fear; what can man do to me?

Septuagint                             The Lord is my helper; and I will not fear what man can do to me.

 

Significant differences:          None, apart from the MT states a question.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       The LORD is on my side, and I am not afraid of what others can do to me.

The Message                         GOD's now at my side and I'm not afraid; who would dare lay a hand on me?

NJB                                        With Yahweh on my side I fear nothing;

what can human beings do to me?


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         The LORD is on my side. I am not afraid. What can mortals do to me?


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

LTHB                                     Jehovah is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?

WEB                                      Yahweh is on my side. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Young’s Updated LT             Jehovah is for me, I do not fear what man does to me.


What is the gist of this verse? There is no reason to fear man because God is with us.


Psalm 118:6a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: [Because] Yehowah [is] for me,... It is normal for a psalm to be elliptical; that is, there will be verbs missing now and again, because the psalmist is excited or speaking from great emotion, or making a strong emphasis. Generally speaking, when a verb is missing, it is often the verb to be, which is what we have inserted here. God is for the psalmist; the idea is, God is on the side of the psalmist.


Psalm 118:6b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

yârê (א ֵר ָי) [pronounced yaw-RAY]

to fear, to fear-respect, to reverence, to have a reverential respect

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3372 BDB #431

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why; what [thing]; anything, something, whatever

interrogative; exclamatory particle; indefinite pronoun; relative pronoun

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552


Translation: ...I am not afraid;... The psalmist indicates here and in vv. 10–14 that the straits he was in involved fear; he was not only in a tight spot, but, very likely, his life and that which he held dear was in jeopardy. That is, he had good reason, from human viewpoint, to be afraid of what could be done. However, because God is with him, the psalmist is not afraid of man or anything that man can do.


Psalm 118:6c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why; what [thing]; anything, something, whatever

interrogative; exclamatory particle; indefinite pronoun; relative pronoun

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

׳âsâh (הָָע) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #6213 BDB #793

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

âdâm (ם ָד ָא) [pronounced aw-DAWM]

a man, a human being, mankind, Adam

masculine singular noun

Strong's #120 BDB #9


Translation: ...what can man do to me? The psalmist asks, “What can man do to me?” Note the repetition of the lâmed preposition with the 1st person singular suffix. The psalmist does this for contrast. God is for us, so how can man do anything to us? When studying poetry, expect there to be a great many words and phrases which are in apposition to one another, or which compliment one another, or which parallel one another. This is the essence of poetry.


In Psalm 56 (a Davidic psalm), this same thought is expressed several times: In God I will praise His Word; in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do to me (Psalm 56:4). When I cry, then my enemies will be turned back. This I know, for God is with me (Psalm 56:9). In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid of what man can do to me (Psalm 56:11). David also wrote: I am not afraid of ten thousands of people who have set against me all around (Psalm 3:6). And: Jehovah is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Jehovah is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, my enemies and my foes, came on me to eat my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an army should camp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this I am trusting (Psalm 27:1–3). Paul gives us a New Testament update on this point of doctrine: Rom. 8:31: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Of course, other writers of Scripture have expressed the same sentiments (Psalm 146:5 Isa. 51:12 Jer. 20:11 Mic. 7:8-10 Heb. 13:6).


God is in control; God is sovereign. There is nothing that anyone does to you without the express permission of God. Does that mean that everyone you meet is going to be nice to you and tell you ten nice things about yourself? Certainly not! Here’s the deal: God will not test us beyond what we can endure, and people are often put in our periphery as tests. I could give you a long list, if you wanted, from my own life—and I am not a contrary or difficult person to get along with. I don’t go out of my way to get into someone else’s way—however, I could still give you a long list from my own personal experience of people who have tried to do evil to me in one way or another. God does allow this; but there is nothing that they can do to me—not with God on my side; because God is for me. So, the damage that some intend to do, the cheating and financial evil which some perpetrate against me, their personal attacks, their plots and machinations—their effects upon me are temporary at best. Now, sometimes I pass the test and sometimes I don’t; but, when all is said and done, I have walked away from evil again and again untouched.

 

Jesus Christ, Who operated in the power of the Holy Spirit during His time on earth, also behaved without fear of men. Gill: He was not afraid of Herod when He was told he would kill Him; nor of the high priests, Scribes and Pharisees, though He knew He should fall into their hands, and they would deliver Him to the Gentiles, to be scourged and crucified; nor of Judas and his band of men, who came to take Him; nor of Pilate His judge, who had no power against Him but what was given him. Footnote


Application: Satan is after us to make us sin, to get us out of fellowship, to provoke us to anger. When someone does wrong to you, you need not respond in kind. There is no reason to get angry, no reason to gossip about them, no reason to plot revenge against them, no reason for hatred. Since God is on our side, the easiest thing to do is to allow God to take care of it. By the way, when do you want God to take care of it? Next month? Next year? No, you want God to take care of it now; or, awhile ago. So, at what point do you need to back off and let God take care of it? Immediately. If you want God to deal with something, then hand it over to him. Do not sin against your enemy, don’t plot their revenge, don’t carry mental attitude sins against them—back off and let God take care of them. The sooner you back away, the sooner God can go to work. Now, I cannot guarantee that God is going to take care of them right then and there—that you will see a bolt of lightning, and then all that remains are their smoking shoes—but God is not going to deal with the problem while you are in the way.



Yehowah for me in helping me;

and I see in [the] one hating me.

Psalm

118:7

Yehowah [is] on my side [lit., to me] in helping me,

that I look upon the one hating me.

Jehovah is on my side, helping me;

and I look upon those who hate me.


You will note that I display more translations than usual here; that is because, of course, this is a more difficult verse to exegete, and therefore, to interpret. Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Dead Sea Scrolls                   The Lord is on my side among those who help me; I will look in triumph on those who hate me. [Unfortunately, I do not have the Dead Sea Scrolls hanging around my house, but simply an English translation of them; which translation is probably reasonably literal]. Footnote

Latin Vulgate                         The Lord is my helper: and I will look over my enemies.

Masoretic Text                       Yehowah for me in helping me;

and I see [the] one hating me.

Peshitta                                 The Lord is my helper; there I will see my desire upon them that hate me.

Septuagint                             The Lord is my helper; and I shall see my desire upon mine enemies.

 

Significant differences:          We have the addition of to me in the Hebrew, which is not found in the Greek. It is not clear whether this is found in the Aramaic or not, as I work from an English translation which may not always be literal. Apart from this, these are identical. There are some problems with the Hebrew which I will discuss in the exegesis.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       With the LORD on my side, I will defeat all of my hateful enemies.

The Message                         GOD's my strong champion; I flick off my enemies like flies.

NJB                                        With Yahweh on my side as my help,

I gloat over my enemies.

NLT                                Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me.

I will look in triumph at those who hate me.

REB                                       With the Lord on my side, as my helper,

I shall see the downfall of my enemies.

TEV                                       It is the Lord who helps me,

and I will see my enemies defeated.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         The LORD is on my side as my helper. I will see the defeat of those who hate me.

JPS (Tanakh)                        With the Lord on my side as my helper,

I will see the downfall of my foes.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                ║Yahweh║ is on my side [or, is mine], with them who help me,

║I║ therefore will gaze upon them who hate me. When you examine the exegesis, you will note that only Rotherham followed the Hebrew completely and consistently.

LTHB                                     Jehovah is for me among those who help me, and I shall see my desire on those who hate me.

WEB                                      Yahweh is on my side among those who help me. Therefore I will look in triumph at those who hate me.

Young’s Updated LT             Jehovah is for me among my helpers, And I—I look on those hating me.


What is the gist of this verse? Jehovah is on the side of the psalmist as his helper; and the psalmist looks over his enemies.


Psalm 118:7a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

I must say, I am having quite a difficult time with this short verse. Most translators completely ignore the bêyth preposition here, which is found twice in this verse.

There are a couple of ways the bêyth preposition might be understood here: it can be taken as a causal preposition, meaning through, on account of; or it may be taken as a concessive conjunction, and rendered when, though. Footnote Neither of these uses is common.

׳âzar (רַזָע) [pronounced ģaw-ZAHR]

helper, one who aids; an ally

Qal active participle with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5826 BDB #740

Owen lists this as a masculine plural, but I believe that is a typo. See remarks in the next exegesis table.


Translation: Yehowah [is] on my side [lit., to me] in helping me,... Zeroing in on the exact translation, as you can see from what I have written above, was difficult for me. I think it is clear that Jehovah God is on the side of the psalmist and that He aids the psalmist—God is an ally of the psalmist.


Psalm 118:7b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ânîy (י.נָא) [pronounced aw-NEE]

I, me; in answer to a question, it means I am, it is I

1st person singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #589 BDB #58

rââh (ה ָאָר) [pronounced raw-AWH]

to see, to look, to look at, to view, to behold; to perceive, to understand, to learn, to know

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #7200 BDB #906

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

The bêyth preposition here is easier to understand than the one in v. 7a. Here, with a verb of perception, it simply means to look upon. Footnote This gives us the exact same grammatical construction for the two participles at the end of each line; but, apparently, with very different uses.

sânê (אֵנָ) [pronounced saw-NAY]

hating one, the one hating, the hater

Qal active participle with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #8130 BDB #971

Again, Owen lists this verb as a masculine plural, Qal active participle with the 1st person singular suffix. I have several books on Hebrew grammar and not a single one of them clearly listed a masculine singular, Qal active participle with a 1st person singular suffix next to one which was masculine plural. This simply appears to be the participle with the 1st person singular suffix. Both of these verbs are in the exact same form; that is, whatever you want to say about one, is also true of the other.

Another option, which is apparently the one which every single translator took, is the masculine singular and the masculine plural are a matter of interpretation here; so, even though the verbs are identical in form, the first one is generally interpreted as a masculine singular and the second as a masculine plural. For a mathematical mind like mine, I find this completely unsatisfactory.


Translation: ...that I look upon the one hating me. As you can see, there are two primary ways in which this phrase was understood. One school of thought understands the psalmist to see his desire [done] against the one (s) who hate him. This would mean, no matter what the psalmist wants done to his enemies (taking the psalmist to be a mature believer), this is essentially granted to him. Now, for me, this is reading far too much into the translation. I think it is more accurate for the psalmist to look down upon those who hate him. Not in the sense of feeling all superior and much cooler than his enemies, but more in the sense of being at a safe vantage point, safety not necessarily meaning a far proximity from. That is, God is the helper and aid of the psalmist. He can look upon those who hate him with confidence and in safety, even if that person stands right next to him. This is completely inline with doctrine, that God is the ultimate source of our safety and salvation, and I believe is the proper way to understand what we have here.


I need to tell you that I examined the comments of a dozen commentators and not one of them understood this verse and therefore, not one of them properly explained it. The key is, this verse is parallel to the previous verse. You understand v. 7b (difficult to understand) by comparing it to v. 6b (much easier to understand).

The Proper Interpretation of Psalm 118:7

Psalm 118:6

Psalm 118:7

Comments

[Because] Yehowah [is] for me, I am not afraid;...

Yehowah [is] on my side [lit., to me] in helping me,...

The parallelism is obvious; both of these verses begin exactly the same way: Yehowah to me... Many translators render this Jehovah [is] for me or Jehovah is on my side; both understandings are reasonable. We will find a similar parallelism in vv. 8–9.

...what can man do to me?

...that I look upon the one hating me.

In v. 6, Jehovah is on the side of the psalmist, so he knows that man can do nothing to him apart from God’s allowance. Therefore, he psalmist is safe and secure from enemy attacks—that is, God will regulate those attacks; therefore, he can look upon his enemies from a position of safety and security.

Although understanding the latter half of v. 7 is not easy; carefully comparing it to its parallel verse clears up the meaning for us.


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Another interpretation is, the psalmist simply sees his enemies; the psalmist recognizes his enemies. I had problems at one job, and one of those involved in causing me those problems, I would have never known. In fact, apart from her, my problems would have simply been no more than a personality conflict with another employee. The psalmist is able to clearly recognize those who are against him. There are some benefits in knowing who your enemies are. However, even though I offer this interpretation, I stand by the previous interpretation.


In either case, we have several verses which are very similar to this verse: For He has delivered me out of all trouble; and my eye has gazed upon my enemies (Psalm 54:7). My faithful God will come to meet me; God will let me look down on my adversaries (Psalm 59:10). And my eye shall look on my enemies; my ears shall hear the evildoers who rise up against me (Psalm 92:11). His heart is upheld; he shall not be afraid though he looks on his foes (Psalm 112:8). I want you to notice something here: it is easier to understand Psalm 118:7b by taking it in context and comparing it to its parallel verse than it is to line up similar passages and determine its meaning from them. Both are valid approaches and sometimes they complement each other enough to determine the meaning of a difficult verse. However, in this case, the parallelism is the key which unlocks the door.


Good to take refuge in Yehowah

from a putting of trust in a man.

Psalm

118:8

[It is] better to take refuge in Yehowah

than [to] put trust in man.

It is better to take refuge in Jehovah

than it is to put your trust in man.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Good to take refuge in Yehowah

from a putting of trust in a man.

Septuagint                             Better to trust in the Lord than to trust in man.

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       It is better to trust the LORD for protection than to trust anyone else,...

The Message                         Far better to take refuge in GOD than trust in people;...

NLT                                It is better to trust the Lord

than to put confidence in people.

REB                                       It is better to seek refuge in the Lord

than to trust in any mortal,...

TEV                                       It is better to trust in the Lord

than to depend on man.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         It is better to depend on the LORD than to trust mortals.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

ESV                                       It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.

Young's Literal Translation    Better to take refuge in Jehovah than to trust in man.


What is the gist of this verse? It is better to trust in Jehovah God than it is to trust in any man.


Psalm 118:8a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ţôwb (בט) [pronounced tohbv]

pleasant, pleasing, agreeable, good, better; approved

masculine singular adjective which acts like a substantive

Strong’s #2896 BDB #373

Here, the adjective is used in its comparative sense.

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

châçâh (הָס ָח) [pronounced khaw-SAW]

to take refuge, and hence to trust [in]

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #2620 BDB #340

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: [It is] better to take refuge in Yehowah... These verses are all related; that is, what we find in this verse is related to what we find in the previous verse. However, this verse and the next are paired, just as vv. 6–7 are paired. The meaning is quite simple: it is better to trust in Jehovah God than it is to trust in any man.


Psalm 118:8b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, off, out from, out of, away from, on account of, since, than, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

bâţach (חַטָ) [pronounced baw-TAHKH]

to trust, to rely upon, to have confidence in, to be secure in

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #982 BDB #105

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

âdâm (ם ָד ָא) [pronounced aw-DAWM]

a man, a human being, mankind, Adam

masculine singular noun

Strong's #120 BDB #9


Translation: ...than [to] put trust in man. I have translated this as a comparative, and that is more or less correct. Actually, the deal is, it reads, It is good to take refuge in Jehovah; more than [to] put trust in man. There is actually no comparative in the Hebrew. Bullinger explains: The use of the positive declares that the one case is so, rather than the other, which is not so. Footnote


It is common to look to those around you, friends, family members, loved ones, and even business associates, and to depend upon them. The Bible tells us quite clearly, again and again, that it is better to depend upon God than it is to depend upon man.


Application: I had what I felt was a good relationship with a previous boss. He gave me a certain amount of freedom generally supported me. However, this man later cut me off at the knees, so to speak. Now, was I shocked and surprised? Not in the least. Did I feel my life is over or that I had been betrayed? Well, certainly, I felt betrayed; however, God took care of all of the resultant problems. Did I need to seek revenge against this person? Not at all; my clumsy attempts to take vengeance would have been a waste of my time, and without satisfactory results. It was a simple object lesson for me—God is trustworthy and God has my back; and that this person, someone I would have considered to be a friend, was not a person that I could trust or depend upon.


Application: You will be betrayed by someone close to you. It might be a lifelong friend; it might be a co-worker who has always taken your side; it might be a close family member—but someone that you trust will violate that trust. I can pretty much guarantee that is in your future (and I am not even a psychic). Don’t fear, don’t be upset, don’t fall into mental attitude sins. This person can do nothing to you which God has not allowed; God is at your side, so you can look upon this person from a place of ultimate safety and security; it is better to trust God than it is to trust man. Quite obviously, I simply paraphrased the last three verses.


Application: This is one form of people testing and we all face it. Some of us might face it bit by bit; a close friend says something untoward behind our backs. We walk away without anger or disappointment. Later, someone even closer costs us our job, a huge financial investment, something big—you deal with this problem the same as the other—with vindictiveness and without rancor. As Thieme used to describe it, the first is the example of the attack of the mosquito and the second is the charge of the elephant. One gets you prepared for the other. In some cases, when you have doctrine, you go right into the charge of the elephant. However, do not think that you are going to exit this life without facing this sort of testing. When you do, go back, reread vv. 6–8; if need be, reread the exegesis of these verses. God has taken care of this problem in eternity past, for his grace is everlasting.


Application: Trusting in God rather than man has another application: do not look to any Christian that you know as the epitome of what a believer should be. The more you know about that person, the more you will realize just how flawed they are. Every believer is flawed, so to depend upon another believer as your spiritual model is a mistake (except in the basics of naming your sins to God and pursuing the Word of God—this is what Paul meant when he said we should imitate him).


Although commentators made a mess of v. 7, they did a much better job with this verse. Barnes’ comments Footnote are below:

Barnes Explains Psalm 118:8

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man—This is stated apparently as the result of his own experience. He had found people weak and faithless; he had not so found God. Compare Psalm 40:4 (How happy is the man who has put his trust in the LORD and has not turned to the proud or to those who run after lies!); Psalm 62:8-9 (My salvation and glory depend on God; my strong rock, my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge. Selah). Literally, “Good is it to trust in Yahweh more than to confide in man.” This is the Hebrew form of comparison, and is equivalent to what is stated in our version, “It is better,” etc. It is better,

(1) because man is weak - but God is Almighty;

(2) because man is selfish - but God is benevolent;

(3) because man is often faithless and deceitful - God never;

(4) because there are emergencies, as death, in which man cannot aid us, however faithful, kind, and friendly he may be - but there are no circumstances in this life, and none in death, where God cannot assist us; and

(5) because the ability of man to help us pertains at best only to this present life - the power of God will be commensurate with eternity.

Other comments:

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Allow me to add the comments of other exegetes:

Other Exegetes Comment on Psalm 118:8

Commentator

Comments

Calvin Footnote

“It is better to trust in the Lord.” All make this acknowledgment, and yet there is scarcely one among a hundred who is fully persuaded that God alone can afford him sufficient help. That man has attained a high rank among the faithful, who resting satisfied in God, never ceases to entertain a lively hope, even when he finds no help upon earth.

Clarke Footnote

Man is feeble, ignorant, fickle, and capricious; it is better to trust in Jehovah than in such.

Gill Footnote

It is not good to put confidence in man at all; it is trusting to a broken staff, to a mere shadow, which can yield no support or relief: it is best to trust in the Lord; he is able to help, as well as willing; he is faithful to his word, and unchangeable in his promises; whereas man, though he may have a will to help, oftentimes has it not in his power; and when it is in his power, and has promised it, he disappoints, being changeable or unfaithful.

Spurgeon Footnote

It is better in all ways, for first of all it is wiser: God is infinitely more able to help, and more likely to help, than man, and therefore prudence suggests that we put our confidence in him above all others. It is also morally better to do so, for it is the duty of the creature to trust in the Creator. God has a claim upon his creatures: faith, he deserves to be trusted; and to place our reliance upon another rather than upon himself, is a direct insult to his faithfulness. It is better in the sense of safer, since we can never be sure of our ground if we rely upon mortal man, but we are always secure in the hands of our God. It is better in its effect upon ourselves: to trust in man tends to make us mean, crouching, dependent; but confidence in God elevates, produces a sacred quiet of spirit, and sanctifies the soul. It is, moreover, much better to trust in God, as far as the result is concerned; for in many cases the human object of our trust fails from want of ability, from want of generosity, from want of affection, or from want of memory; but the Lord, so far from failing, does for us exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or even think. This verse is written out of the experience of many who have first of all found the broken reeds of the creature break under them, and have afterwards joyfully found the Lord to be a solid pillar sustaining all their weight.

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And, as we would expect, there is a myriad of Scripture related to this exact same principle:

Parallel Passages to Psalm 118:8

Scripture

Quotation

Psalm 40:4

How happy is the man who has put his trust in the LORD and has not turned to the proud or to those who run after lies! Notice here that happiness is part of having trust in God rather than in man.

Psalm 62:8

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge.

Psalm 62:9

Men are only a vapor; exalted men, an illusion. On a balance scale, they go up; together they weigh less than a vapor.

Jer. 17:5-7

This is what the LORD says: Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind, who makes human flesh his strength and turns his heart from the LORD. He will be like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence indeed is the LORD.

Micah 7:5-7

Do not rely on a friend; don't trust in a close companion. Seal your mouth from the woman who lies in your arms. For a son considers his father a fool, a daughter opposes her mother, and a daughter-in-law is against her mother-in-law; a person's enemies are the people in his own home. But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.

Now, I know what you are thinking—I have said the same thing over and over again; first with the comments of several exegetes and then with this list of Scripture. You are very perceptive. I want you to recognize that this is not some minor doctrine of moderate importance; this is a principle which must guide our lives.

However, I do not want you to misapply this. There are many cults out there who isolate you from friends and family and quote passages like these. They go to Jesus and distorts His words, “A man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Let me make this clear: you do not declare war on every person you know after becoming a Christian. You do not isolate yourself from every person that you know after becoming a believer. You do not hook up with some cult, call them your new family, and do whatever they socially intimidate you into doing. That is a complete and total misapplication of Scripture (for which Satan is legend). The last thing that you should be a part of is some cult wherein everyone who ever knew you as an unbeliever now thinks you are a freak (and they are right, by the way).

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Application: There are several common characteristics of a cult is a leader who has a strong personality that, apart from this leader (or a very similar replacement), it is unlikely that this cult will exist. The second characteristic is, this cult will determine your behavior, generally through social pressures. Thirdly, much of your behavior will be guided by imitation rather than by principles. Or, if there are principles involved, then they are based upon a few proof texts, which are often repeated again and again, always out of context. A fourth characteristic is, everyone else is wrong; you, in this very small, select cult, has it right. Or, this cult has a very small number of theologians upon whom they draw (like 2 or 3 at the most). So, yes, you depend and trust in God rather than man; but, no, you do not become some kind of a freak and separate yourself socially from everyone that you have ever known in the past. Furthermore, you cannot separate yourself from historical Christian doctrine. Never ever think that suddenly, you have the truth, 2000 years after our Lord. Do you have any clue as to just how arrogant that is? In fact, any group, denomination or church organization which has just popped up in the past 100–200 years, with doctrines which, essentially, have no historical foundation beyond a few decades (or a couple of centuries) is probably a cult. But, it is even easier to pin this down: if the organization to which you belong adds anything to faith; or, if they tell you that, as a Christian, you are going to automatically act better (otherwise, your faith did not really take); then you belong to an apostate organization. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone; everything else is bullcrap.


And one more thing—let me offer this more as a matter of interest than anything else:

Psalm 118:8 is the Middle Verse of the Bible

It may perhaps be considered beneath the dignity and solemnity of our subject to remark, that this Psalm 118:8 of this Psalm is the middle verse of the Bible. There are, I believe, 31,174 verses in all, and this is the 15,587th. I do not wish, nor would I advise you to occupy your time in counting for yourselves, nor should I indeed have noticed the subject at all, but that I wish to suggest one remark upon it, and that is, that though we may generally look upon such calculations as only laborious idleness, —and they certainly have been carried to the most minute dissection of every part of Scripture, such as to how many times the word “Lord,” the word “God,” and even the word “and,” occurs, —yet I believe that the integrity of the holy volume owes a vast deal to this scruple-weighing of these calculators. I do not say, nor do I think, that they had such motives in their minds; but whatever their reasons were, I cannot but think that there was an overruling Providence in thus converting these trifling and apparently useless investigations into additional guards and fences around the sacred text. —Barton Bouchier

In the Tanakh, the Psalms is near the end of the Bible, so in the original Hebrew arrangement, this would not be the middle verse. However, in the Greek arrangement, this is, I assume, the center verse of the Old Testament. There is nothing inspired or magic about the arrangement of the books of the Bible.

This is taken from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, A Treasury of David; e-Sword, Psalm 118 introduction; he is quoting Barton Bouchier.


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Good to take refuge in Yehowah

from a putting of trust in princes.

Psalm

118:9

[It is better to take refuge in Yehowah

than [it is] to put [your] trust in rich [and successful] ones.

It is better to take refuge in Jehovah

than it is to put your trust in the rich and successful.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Good to take refuge in Yehowah

from a putting of trust in princes.

Septuagint                             Better to hope in the Lord, than to hope in princes.

 

Significant differences:          No significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       ...including strong leaders.

The Message                         Far better to take refuge in GOD than trust in celebrities.

NJB                                        ...better to take refuge in Yahweh

than to rely on princes.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         It is better to depend on the LORD than to trust influential people.

JPS (Tanakh)                        It is better to take refuge in the Lord

than to trust in the great.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

HCSB                                    It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in nobles.

Young's Literal Translation    Better to take refuge in Jehovah,

Than to trust in princes.


What is the gist of this verse? Our dependence should be upon God, not upon those with power or influence.


Psalm 118:9a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ţôwb (בט) [pronounced tohbv]

pleasant, pleasing, agreeable, good, better; approved

masculine singular adjective which acts like a substantive

Strong’s #2896 BDB #373

Here, the adjective is used in its comparative sense.

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

châçâh (הָס ָח) [pronounced khaw-SAW]

to take refuge, and hence to trust [in]

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #2620 BDB #340

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: [It is] better to take refuge in Yehowah... This verse is clearly parallel with the previous verse; the first several words are exactly the same. It is much better for one to take refuge in Jehovah God; it is much better to trust in Him.


Psalm 118:9b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, off, out from, out of, away from, on account of, since, than, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

bâţach (חַטָ) [pronounced baw-TAHKH]

to trust, to rely upon, to have confidence in, to be secure in

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #982 BDB #105

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

nâdîyb (בי ̣דָנ) [pronounced naw-DEEBV]

a noble [person], a noble race [or station]; a prince; an aristocrat

masculine plural noun (also used as an adjective)

Strong's #5081 BDB #622

There is another word often rendered prince or leader, and that is nâgîyd (די̣גָנ) [pronounced naw-GEED], which focuses more on the virtues of a prince. Strong's #5057 BDB #617. Our word looks more at the richness of a noble person. Aristocracy might be a good rendering of the noun.


Translation: ...than [it is] to put [your] trust in rich [and successful] ones. The alternative to putting one’s trust in God, is to put it in those who are rich and successful. Although the words used in 9a and 9b for trust are different; it is not clear which one is stronger (although some commentators have claimed that the verb used in 9a is weaker than the one use in 9b).


Practical application: Here, aristocrats or those who are rich and successful, can refer to a huge number of people; this could be your boss; this could be those who are the higher echelon of your company; this can refer to polical leaders; this can refer to those who are wealthy and help to fund this charity or that. This is anyone to whom you look up to; your trust in God is far better placed, than in those men whom you admire and look up to.


Practical application: I see people with connections to all different kinds of political parties and persuasions get all worked up over an election, or a movement, this bill or that bill, or this initiative or that initiative. Since we live in a democratic society, it is okay to vote; it is okay to be behind this candidate or that; it is okay to be enthusiastic and to even debate your positions with someone else. However, when your candidate gets elected, do not think that the Millennium has suddenly been ushered in; or, when the opposition gets a foothold that it is time to wear sackcloth and to sit on ash heaps. The reactions I heard from liberals when George W. Bush came into office, and the reactions of conservatives prior to this with Bill Clinton were impassioned and heartfelt, but often way too extreme. I’ve known people who even remarked when Bush was elected, “I just don’t know if I can continue living in America any more.” It was almost laughable, if these people were not so sincere (the people who made these statements, of course, never took even the first step to actually move).


Let me see if I can approach this a different way: any man with money or with power or with political power also has an old sin nature and also has a lust pattern. They are damaged goods, just as we are. There are times they will give in to their old sin nature, and times when they won’t. But, they are not God. These men do not have God’s character. They are not perfect righteous; they are not perfectly just. You cannot depend upon them to be fair and not to play favorites. They are fallen men, just as we are. Therefore, we can respect the office and even respect the man in office; but, when it comes to depending upon man or God, you depend upon God. When it comes to character and power, no man can even approach God. Therefore, we are foolish to depend upon any person.


We live in a society, and God deals with this society in a number of ways—God looks at whether there is spiritual regeneration taking place and whether or not spiritual growth is taking place. God looks to see how the missionary activity is going. Now, certainly, God takes an interest in the morality of a society, but that is often more of a reflection of that society’s spiritual condition rather than what God deals with directly. Immorality is going to have certain results, just as morality will result in certain things—this will be automatic, even if God is hands off entirely. That is easy to trace with individuals. When someone is cut-throat and dishonest in business, greedy, sexually promiscuous, unfaithful, hateful, and vindictive, then there will be natural results which come with that behavior. God does not even have to step in and do anything.


The constraints of society and individual freedom is a delicate balance. Society or religion or an organization might be able to get Charlie Brown off drugs, and, as a result, Charlie Brown is going to have a better life on this earth. However, this does not guarantee that Charlie Brown will believe in Jesus Christ; and this, therefore, does not insure that Charlie Brown will not spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. What happens in this life is just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity. In the New Testament, things have changed from the Old Testament. Israel had been a Theocracy, a nation ruled by God. However, this is no longer the case; and in the New Testament, there are no patterns for government. We are not told that we need to have a socialistic society where everyone is promised a minimal subsistence; we are not told to have a completely free enterprise system where anything goes. We are not told what kind of a government should be in control. There are no political views espoused and no economic systems recommended. To my way of reading, if the government allows for evangelization and for believers to meet and to learn, that is great. If the government does not, then that is the only area where a believer may disobey the law, as we ought to obey God rather than man.

 

Barnes: Even in the most mighty of the human race; in those who of all people may be supposed to have the most ability to aid us; in those whose favor is often sought more than the favor of God. Princes are only men; often as faithless and deceitful as other men; often less reliable in their character than those in more humble life. and in the great matters where we most need aid - in sickness, in danger, in death, in the eternal world - as absolutely powerless as men in the lowest condition of poverty, or in the most humble rank. Footnote Clarke: Men of high estate are generally proud, vainglorious, self-confident, and rash: it is better to trust in God than in them. Often they cannot deliver, and often they will not when they can. However, in the concerns of our salvation, and in matters which belong to Providence, they can do nothing. Footnote Robert Bellarmine “It is better to trust in the Load than to put confidence in princes.” David knew that by experience, for he confided in Saul his king, at another time in Achish, the Philistine, at another time in Ahithophel his own most prudent minister, besides some others; and they all failed him; but he never confided in God without feeling the benefit of it. Footnote


We find an illustration of this principle in Isa. 36. Sennacherib is about to invade Israel and the Rabshakeh is sent ahead to shake up the Israelites. One of Israel’s options is to turn to Egypt for assistance, however, even the Rabshakeh, of all men, correctly counsels against this: “Look, you are trusting in Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which will enter and pierce the hand of anyone who leans on it. This is how Pharaoh king of Egypt is to all who trust in him” (Isa. 36:6).


I have heard again and again from people who really do not know, who suggest that the Bible is an outdated book with no practical application to today. It was written too long ago to have an impact. This is said by people who are negative and who have no actual basis for their thoughts. They are simply expressing and rationalizing their own negative volition. Since the invention of the printing press, the Bible has been the top-selling book, month after month, year after year. At no time has any book during any month ever outsold the Bible. Yet, people will look you straight in the eye and say with all due sincerity, “The Bible is just some old book, a collection of myths which have no application to today’s world.”


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Okay, I just have to add this quotation, and file it under...

Just what the Hell is he Talking About?

“Than to put confidence in princes.” Great men's words, said one man, are like dead men's shoes; he may go barefoot that waits for them. —John Trapp*

* Taken from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, A Treasury of David; e-Sword, Psalm 118 introduction. I updated the comment into modern English, and still don’t quite have a clue as to what he is saying. Who is waiting on these shoes, the dead man or some friend of the dead guy?


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God Delivers the Psalmist in National Disaster


All gentiles [or, nations] have surrounded me

in a name of Yehowah, that I will cut them off.

Psalm

118:10

All the nations have surrounded me;

by the name of Yehowah, I will cut them off [or, cause them to be circumcised].

All the nations have surrounded me;

I will cut them off by Jehovah’s name.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       All gentiles [or, nations] have surrounded me

in a name of Yehowah, I will cut them off.

Peshitta                                 All nations surrounded me; but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

Septuagint                             All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I repulsed them.

 

Significant differences:          None which are significant.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Nations surrounded me, but I got rid of them by the power of the LORD.

The Message                         Hemmed in by barbarians, in GOD's name I rubbed their faces in the dirt;...

NAB                                       All the nations surrounded me;

in the Lord’s name I crushed them.

NLT                                Though hostile nations surrounded me,

I destroyed them all in the name of the Lord.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         All the nations surrounded me, but armed with the name of the LORD, I defeated them.

JPS (Tanakh)                        All nations have beset me;

by the name of the Lord I will surely cut them down. [The meaning of this final verb is uncertain in this verse and the next two].


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Updated Emphasized Bible   All nations have surrounded me,

<In the Name of Yahweh> surely I will circumcise them;... [or, cut them down].

LTHB                                     All the nations surround me; but surely I will destroy them in the name of Jehovah.

Young's Literal Translation    All nations have compassed me about,

In the name of Jehovah I surely cut them off.


What is the gist of this verse? The writer says that he is surrounded by nations, and that he will cut them down by the name of Jehovah.


Psalm 118:10a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kôl (לֹ) [pronounced kohl]

with a plural noun, it is rendered all of; any of

masculine singular construct with a masculine plural noun

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

gôwyîm (ם̣י) [pronounced goh-YEEM]

Gentiles, [Gentile] nation, people, peoples, nations

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #1471 BDB #156

çâbab (ב ַב ָס) [pronounced sawb-VAHBV]

to turn oneself, to go around, to surround, to encompass

3rd person plural, Qal imperfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5437 BDB #685


Translation: All the nations have surrounded me;... This is a sudden change; the writer is surrounded by Genitle nations, indicating barbaric, godless men. However, I think it is this key which may help to pull the psalm together. We seem to jump from topic to topic, almost randomly; however, the psalm’s first 4 verses sets us up for that. The first 4 verses of this psalm appear to give us an outline for the 4 sections of the psalm which follow those verse.


At this point, I am going to suggest a structure for this psalm, which I have not found anywhere else. Although it does fit together to some degree, there are places (e.g., in the third section) where it feels a little forced.

The Structure of Psalm 118

Psalm 118:1–4

Summary of Next 4 Sections of Psalm 118

Give thanks to Yehowah

because [He is] good;

[and] because His grace [is] forever (v. 1)

vv. 5–9: This is an individual who knows to put his trust in God rather than in God.

Let Israel proclaim,

“His grace [is] forever” (v. 2)

vv. 10–14: Israel is surrounded by other nations—they are like a swarm of bees surrounding Israel—and God will deliver Israel (either personified or led by the psalmist).

Let the house of Aaron proclaim,

“His grace [is] forever” (v. 3)

vv. 15–18: The house of Aaron refers to the priesthood of Israel (the term Levitical priesthood is a misnomer, as only a small subset of the Levites were actually priests). The priests actually represent all believers, who will have, at some point future from this psalm, access to God. That is, believers will be able to go to God directly—something which was not generally true in the Old Testament (the purpose, by the way, was not simply restrictive, but to better give us a shadow of the good things to come). So, we speak of the tents of the righteous in vv. 15–18, who are believers spawned by being evangelized by the house of Aaron, which represents them.

Let those fearing Yehowah say,

“His grace [is] forever” (v. 4)

vv. 19–21: Those who fear Jehovah are the mature believers, and they will enter in through the gates of righteousness—and my thinking here is, this refers more to those who are experientially righteous (that is, post salvation).

As I mentioned, the third and fourth sections feel a little forced; and, I must admit that nothing bothers me more than to come across a commentator who gets this bug up his butt (I meant to say, an idea in his head) that this is how a psalm should be outlined, and then he forces that psalm into the mold, even though there is little justification for that.


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If this is David writing the psalm, then there is no significant change of topic. He is still speaking of God’s grace; he is just looking at it from the perspective of a king. In vv. 5–9, the psalmist could pretty much be any man (or woman) who is a believer. He belongs to God, therefore, what can man do to him. He has enemies, but he are able to observe his enemies from a place of safety and security. He knows that he is better off trusting in God than trusting in man. Then, as the king of Israel and as Israel’s commander-in-chief, David goes from his personal and political enemies to his enemies on a larger scale—Israel’s enemies. For King David to write this, it is not a great jump in topics—he has gone from personal and political enemies to national enemies. For someone else—even Asaph—to write this, such a change of topics would seem out of place.

 

Barnes makes a similar comment, but with a caveat: They surrounded me; they hemmed me in on every side, so that I seemed to have no chance to escape. It would seem from this that the psalm was composed by someone who was at the head of the government, and whose government had been attacked by surrounding nations. This would accord well with many things that occurred in the life of David; but there were also other times in the Jewish history to which it would be applicable, and there is nothing that necessarily confines it to the time of David. Footnote Clarke makes some similar comments: All nations compassed me about - This is by some supposed to relate to David, at the commencement of his reign, when all the neighboring Philistine nations endeavored to prevent him from establishing himself in the kingdom. Others suppose it may refer to the Samaritans, Idumeans, Ammonites, and others, who endeavored to prevent the Jews from rebuilding their city and their temple after their return from captivity in Babylon. Footnote However, what Barnes and Clarke fail to mention is, the writer of this psalm does not appear to refer to Israel as divided, and uses the name which is applied to the nation of the people of God prior to the division: Israel. This would indicate that this psalm is probably written during the monarchies of Saul, David or Solomon. Given that Saul probably wrote no Scripture and that things were relatively peaceful under Solomon, David appears to be the most likely writer.


Psalm 118:10b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

shêm (ם ֵש) [pronounced shame]

name, reputation, character

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #8034 BDB #1027

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

mûwl (למ) [pronounced mool]

to cause to be circumcised; to cause to be cut off; to destroy

1st person singular, Hiphil imperfect with the 3rd person plural suffix

Strong's #4135 BDB #557

Most of the time that we find this verb, in its various stems, it means to circumcise. In fact, apart from Psalm 58:7 90:6, we might have assumed this meant to circumcise in every case. However, this does mean to cut down in the Polel, so we may assume it means that here as well. The Polel, by the way, is an intensive stem; and the Hiphil is a causative stem (and this word in the Hiphil is found only in this psalm).


Translation: ...by the name of Yehowah, I will cut them off [or, cause them to be circumcised]. Rotherham, in the Emphasized Bible, renders the latter portion of this and the next two verses as surely I will make them be circumcised. However, bear in mind, the meaning of a verb is determined by its stem in the Hebrew. The Piel and Hiphil stems can be somewhat different from the Qal stem. Furthermore, the meaning of a verb is often determined by its context; therefore, to cut off is appropriate in some instances; to circumcise is appropriate in others. It goes against God’s nature to force us into salvation (which is what circumcision often represents). Salvation is something which we must appropriate from our own freewill. However, Israel had two approaches to the unbelieving heathen—to cut them down or to convert them.


It is quite reasonable that the psalmist took this verb because of its double meaning. There were two approaches to the vicious Gentile; one is to convert them, which is conveyed by the idea of circumcising them (circumcision is not a requirement for salvation; it is indicative of salvation—the circumcised Gentile is one who has believed in Jesus Christ, the God of the Jews). The other approach to the antagonistic Gentile is to cut them off. It is not abnormal in poetry to sometimes say two different things in the same sentence.

 

I should mention that there is no little discussion as to the meaning of this verb: Dr. Kennicott renders ם-לי.מֲא ămîlam, “I shall disappoint them;” Bishop Horsley, “I cut them to pieces;” Mr. N. Berlin, repuli eas, “I have repelled them.” “I will cut them off;” Chaldee. Ultus sum in eos, “I am avenged on them;” Vulgate. So the Septuagint. Footnote I should add that Keil and Delitzsch call this and the next couple verses hypothetical rather than factual Footnote (the psalmist is not really surrounded by Gentile nations, but if he were, then he would cut them off?). No matter what meaning is taken for the verb, this just doesn’t make sense to me.


At least one commentator (Spurgeon) tries to make this verse personal—the psalmist is surrounded by his personal enemies; Footnote but this does not really seem to fit with the ones who are surrounding him, which are Goiim—Gentiles nations (e.g., Philistines, Syrians, Ammonites, Moabites). There are several words used for enemies, but this is not generally used for a personal enemy. Furthermore, this would make little sense, apart from a scenario where David lived in a Gentile nation (e.g., Gath) where he would be surrounded by Gentiles who are his personal enemies. However, in our study of David’s two trips to Gath, this was not the case. In the first case, he came into town, acted crazy, and left. In the second case, he was given a place to live apart from the Philistines of Gath; and, even though he did go out and wipe out several Gentiles groups, as we noted in our study, David spent a great deal of this time out of fellowship—which means, he is not going to be writing any divinely inspired psalms.


Israel, the nation, has already been mentioned (v. 2); this particular section seems much more suited to a leader of Israel, the nation, as surrounded by Gentile nations who are filled with hatred toward Israel. This is a much better fit than calling these verse hypothetical or treating this as a bunch of personal enemies who just happen to be Gentile. Okay, let’s explore another option: these are personal enemies of the psalmist and he calls them Gentiles, meaning they are negative unbelievers. Now for some people, this is the light at the end of the tunnel—they are surrounded by personal enemies, so they are going to cut them down. That is quite a deal! However, God is not giving us permission here to cut down our personal enemies.


Please allow me to go off on a tangent here: there is nothing wrong with applying logic to Scripture in order to determine what the meaning of a passage is. In fact, one of the biggest problems with many pastor teachers is, they (1) are not filled with the Holy Spirit when they study (so many pastor-teachers have no idea even how to be filled with the Spirit; and (2) they use no logic whatsoever. The logic which I used in the previous two or three paragraphs is known as indirect logic—we make an assumption and then follow this assumption out until it leads us to a conclusion which is clearly false. This indicates that the assumption was wrong. For instance, we made the assumption, Gentiles here simply is a general term for negative unbelievers who surround the psalmist. Well, in the second half of the verse, we have the psalmist saying he’s going to cut these Gentiles down. Does God give us permission to wipe out our personal enemies? Of course not; we are to love our enemies and do good to them who despitefully use us. God does not give us permission to wipe out our personal enemies. Therefore, taking that approach to this verse leads us to a conclusion which does not match what we know. Now, God does allow for Israel, as a nation, to destroy her enemies, and specifically requires her to do so. So, you see how one fits and one does not?


Despite the difficulties with this verb, our conclusions as to who the Gentile nations are tells us that the psalmist here is not simply some Joe Schmo who has a job at McDonald’s in downtown Ramah sweeping the floors and policing the parking lot. This is a man with great power, as he speaks of cutting off the Gentile nations which surround him. At the very least, this is a soldier—probably a general—and more than likely, this psalm is written by a king—and probably by David (refer back to Arguments which Favor David as the Author of Psalm 118). Although this is not necessarily an argument which unequivocally determines that David is the author, it is, nevertheless, a strong argument in favor of Davidic authorship. When we get into the second half of the book of Samuel, we will find that David successfully battles Philistines (2Sam. 5:17–6:1); Moabites, Syrians and others (2Sam. 6:2–18); Ammonites and Syrians (2Sam. 10); and Ammonites (David had more than one major war against some of these people—2Sam. 12:26–31).


Application: Bear in mind that we are in the Old Testament, and there was a special relationship between God and the nation Israel. There were times when God required Israel to cut down specific groups of people, whose degeneracy had reached a point of no return. We are not a nation with these same specific commands by God. We will engage in war now and again, and it is proper to support our nation in this way; but we, as a nation, have not received direct commands from God to destroy this or that nation. You, as a believer, have not received any direct commands from God to destroy this or that person. That is not the urging of God, but psychosis or demon-influence (like Saul was under).


Application: You will notice that Christianity is more often associated with vicious and violent behavior more than other religions (although, as of late, Islam has come into its own when it comes to hatred and vicious attacks on those they do not like). Satan needs to discredit Christianity; therefore, many psychos and fanatics who kill their families, kill abortion doctors, or kill whoever else they don’t like (e.g., the famous witch trials of Salem) are often associated with Christianity. These people are not necessarily believers (although some might be); but they are certainly under demon influence (and, in some cases, possession). We have seen how Saul suddenly will get a little crazy and go after David—and we are told that he is demon-influenced (1Sam. 16:23 18:10)—we have people here and now whose behavior is similar (I am thinking of Andrea Yates who killed her children and attributed this to saving these children from going to hell, as she was killing them at a young age). We have recently had the Branch Davidians, a cultic offshoot of the 7th Day Adventist (which is another Christian cult) who were willing to die in a standoff against the FBI. People who read and hear about this—particularly unbelievers—think to themselves that this is just another group of crazy Christians. They do not see the demonic influence.


Now, I have mentioned radical Islam—why would Satan influence this group, since he would rather discredit Christianity? Through this group, Satan can militarily attack a client nation Footnote to God. Let me be prophetic here, for a moment. There are several nations which are outright antagonistic toward the US—North Korea and Iran for instance. Even though neither of these nations will probably never directly attack us, once they develop nuclear capabilities, then they will very likely sell these to Islamic terrorists who will, in turn, use them against the US (as long as these terrorist groups are able to put together the funding to make such a purchase). In this way, Satan can wipe out thousands, if not millions, of believers, and severely disrupt missionary activity.


Application: That being said, does this mean you need to become actively involved in conservative politics in order to stave off this threat? Not necessarily; and, in most cases, no. This is spiritual warfare. No matter which faction in government chooses to take aggressive action against military Islam factions, that will not necessarily stave off such an attack. God is in control. As a believer, your primary focus should be upon the Word of God; spiritual growth. You need to stay in fellowship and you need to grow spiritually. The influence of one mature believer who prays on behalf of our nation is much greater than ten immature believers who are heavily involved in US politics.


Application: Now you may ask, what about David? Wasn’t he a mature believer? Was he not the king of Israel? Absolutely; and, there may be times when a mature believer may hold high office in the United States (although this is tragically difficult). The difference is, David lived in the Age of Israel; we live in the Church Age. Not only was Israel a client nation in those days, but it was a theocracy—a nation ruled by God. Therefore, what occurred in Israel then is much different than what we have today. During the Age of Israel, we had a small percentage of believers who were empowered by God the Holy Spirit. These believers led notable lives, had direct communication with God at times, and their actions are recorded in history for us. We live in an age where every believer’s life counts. Every believer can potentially be filled with God the Holy Spirit. Every believer can potentially have a spiritual impact. Do you grasp just how different that is? You might have the most menial job there is, so far detached from political power that your individual political influence is nil. However, what counts is your spiritual impact, not your political influence. God is going to look out for a city with a dozen or so mature believers. He may not be as protective of a city where there are believers, but only a small handful are mature. Jesus Christ controls history. Whether the candidates you voted for are in office or not has very little impact. As I write this, George W. Bush, a believer, is president. He has a number of good ideas which he is attempting to put into law. This does not mean that, our focus should be on vigorously supporting everything that Bush does. There is graft and corruption in politics; and, whereas I believe that Bush is sincere, this does not mean that this graft and corruption cannot be found even in the upper echelon of those in Bush’s cabinet. Since bills go through the Congress, a bill can be passed which appears to model Bush’s ideals, but its end result is something which is grossly corrupted. The key is the spiritual condition of the nation; not how many great ideas that George Bush comes up with. He could be the greatest president of all time with the greatest agenda ever seen; and all of this could result in an even more corrupt system than we have now—because the key is not politics, but the spiritual maturity of the citizens of the United States.


Application: Let me give you an example of a good idea that has become corrupted. There is nothing wrong with a nation which takes care of its sick, poor and helpless. That part of our budget is spent to keep a certain segment of our population from dying of starvation and disease is admirable. However, what we actually have nowadays is a voting block paid for by our taxes. Women in the past were much more careful about the men that they associated with. It was not to a woman’s benefit to carry on a relationship with a man who could not be trusted or a man who was lazy and indigent. That is no longer the case. Women today will breed with anyone and, no matter what the status of the man, the government will take care of them. They do not have to think about whether this man has integrity or not because the government will up the slack for the husband/father/boyfriend who lacks personal integrity and responsibility. Some factions of our government do not necessarily want to move these women out of welfare, because, they lose their votes if they do. There is a huge voting block of those who collect some sort of subsistence from the government; and, whomever they associate favorably with this subsistence, they will vote for. This is why, even though a large number of Blacks are Christian and the Republican party is seen as the party of the Christian right, the majority of Blacks will vote democratic, even though many Democrats are legislatively antagonistic toward Christianity. Their vote has been bought and paid for. There is absolutely no motivation for a Democrat politician to make a person on welfare more self-sufficient. There is no motivation for them to break the cycle of welfare mothers having daughters who become welfare mothers. So, on the one hand, it is admirable when a nation supports those who cannot support themselves; however, in our nation, this has become a voting bloc for the Democratic party—a voting bloc of many who have the ability to be self-sufficient—however, there is no motivation to make them self-sufficient.


Application: One thing which is lacking in the New Testament is an ideal political system or a systematic approach to one’s political environment. Although in recent history, we have the great Athenian democracy, we do not find Paul extolling the virtues of democracy in the New Testament. We do not find Paul suggesting that the state take care of it indigent and helpless (although, this might be arguably a possible characteristic of a client nation).


I’ve certainly gone off on a series of tangents, haven’t I?


They have surrounded me,

also, they have surrounded me;

in a name of Yehowah, that I will cut them off.

Psalm

118:11

They have surrounded me;

yea, they have surrounded me!

I will cut them off in the name of Yehowah.

These Gentile nations have indeed surrounded me;

but I will cut them off in Jehovah’s name.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       They have surrounded me,

also, they have surrounded me;

in a name of Yehowah, that I will cut them off.

Septuagint                             They completely compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I repulsed them.

 

Significant differences:          No significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       They attacked from all sides, but I got rid of them by the power of the LORD.

The Message                         Hemmed in and with no way out, in GOD's name I rubbed their faces in the dirt;...

NLT                                Yes, the surrounded and attacked me,

but I destroyed them all in the name of the Lord.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         They surrounded me. Yes, they surrounded me, but armed with the name of the LORD, I defeated them.

JPS (Tanakh)                        They beset me, they surround me;

by the name of the Lord I will surely cut them down.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Updated Emphasized Bible   The have surrounded me, yea, they are all around me,

In the Name of Yahweh> I will surely make them be circumcised [or, I will cut them down].

LTHB                                     They surround me; yea, they surround me; I surely will destroy them in the name of Jehovah.

Young's Literal Translation    They have compassed me about, Yea, they have compassed me about, In the name of Jehovah I surely cut them off.


What is the gist of this verse? The psalmist claims emphatically that he is surrounded, and emphatically says that he will cut them off.


Psalm 118:11a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

çâbab (ב ַב ָס) [pronounced sawb-VAHBV]

to turn oneself, to go around, to surround, to encompass

3rd person plural, Qal imperfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5437 BDB #685

gam (ם ַ) [pronounced gahm]

also, furthermore, in addition to, even, moreover

adverb

Strong’s #1571 BDB #168

çâbab (ב ַב ָס) [pronounced sawb-VAHBV]

to turn oneself, to go around, to surround, to encompass

3rd person plural, Qal imperfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5437 BDB #685


Translation: They have surrounded me; yea, they have surrounded me! The psalmist is being very emphatic and dramatic at this point; these Gentile nations that he spoke of have surrounded him; and again, they have surrounded him. As has been thoroughly discussed in the previous verse, these are not simply personal enemies or unbelievers, but these are national enemies and heathen. It is very much like Israel today.

 

Barnes comments: The sentiment and the language of the previous verse are here repeated, as if to give force to what he had said, or to deepen the impression. His own mind dwelt upon it, and the events to which he referred came so vividly to his recollection, and were so important, that he dwells upon them. The subject was worth more than a passing remark. Footnote Gill: Which is repeated not only for the confirmation of, it, but to denote the frequency and fury of their attacks, and their obstinate persisting therein. Footnote


Psalm 118:11b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

shêm (ם ֵש) [pronounced shame]

name, reputation, character

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #8034 BDB #1027

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

mûwl (למ) [pronounced mool]

to cause to be circumcised; to cause to be cut off; to destroy

1st person singular, Hiphil imperfect with the 3rd person plural suffix

Strong's #4135 BDB #557

Most of the time that we find this verb, in its various stems, it means to circumcise. In fact, apart from Psalm 58:7 90:6, we might have assumed this meant to circumcise in every case. However, this does mean to cut down in the Polel, so we may assume it means that here as well. The Polel, by the way, is an intensive stem; and the Hiphil is a causative stem (and this word in the Hiphil is found only in this psalm.


Translation: I will cut them off in the name of Yehowah. And again, the psalmist tells us that he will cut these nations off. We do not have permission to cut off personal enemies; however, we may cut off national enemies.

 

Gill: [This] is repeated to show the strength of his faith, and the continuance of it, notwithstanding his numerous enemies, and their violent efforts against him. Footnote


They have surrounded me like bees;

they were extinguished like a fire of thorns;

in a name of Yehowah that I will cut them off.

Psalm

118:12

Like bees, they have surrounded me;

like a fire of thorns, they are burned up [or, destroyed];

[it is] by the name of Yehowah that I cut them off.

Just like a swarm of bees, they surrounded me;

however, they will burn up like dried thorns,

and in Jehovah’s name, I will cut them down.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       They have surrounded me like bees;

they were extinguished like a fire of thorns;

in a name of Yehowah that I will cut them off.

Septuagint                             They compassed me about as bees do a honeycomb, and they burst into flame as fire among thorns: but in the name of the Lord I repulsed them.

 

Significant differences:          I don’t know that there is a difference between the Greek and Hebrew. It is probably more a matter of interpretation which accounts for the differences between the Greek and Hebrew (as was discussed in great detail in v. 10).


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       They swarmed around like bees, but by the power of the LORD, I got rid of them and their fiery sting.

The Message                         Like swarming bees, like wild prairie fire, they hemmed me in; in GOD's name I rubbed their faces in the dirt.

NLT                                They swarmed around me like bees;

they blazed against me like a roaring flame.

But I destroyed them all in the name of the Lord.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         They swarmed around me like bees, but they were extinguished like burning thornbushes. So armed with the name of the LORD, I defeated them.

JPS (Tanakh)                        They have beset me like bees;

they shall be extinguished like burning thorns;

by the name of the Lord I will surely cut them down.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Updated Emphasized Bible   They have surrounded me like wax bees,

They have blazed up like the fire of thorns,

<In the Name of Yahweh> I will surely cause them to be circumcised [or, I will cut them down].

HCSB                                    They surrounded me like bees; they were extinguished like a fire among thorns; in the name of the LORD I destroyed them.

LTHB                                     They surround me like bees; they are quenched like the fire of thorns; for surely I will cut them off in the name of Jehovah.

NRSV                                    They surrounded me like bees;

they blazed [Greek; Hebrew: were extinguished] like a fire of thorns,

in the name of the Lord I cut them off!

Young's Updated LT              They compassed me about as bees, They have been extinguished as a fire of thorns, In the name of Jehovah I surely cut them off.


What is the gist of this verse? The enemies of the psalmist surround him like bees. It appears as though they will burn up as quickly as thorn bushes (although that is not clear). And the psalmist repeats that he will cut them off, but this time in the name of Jehovah.


Psalm 118:12a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

çâbab (ב ַב ָס) [pronounced sawb-VAHBV]

to turn oneself, to go around, to surround, to encompass

3rd person plural, Qal imperfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5437 BDB #685

kaph or ke ( ׃) [pronounced ke]

like, as, according to; about, approximately

preposition of comparison or approximation

No Strong’s # BDB #453

debôwrâh (הָרב ׃) [pronounced deb-voh-RAW],

bee

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #1682 BDB #184


Translation: Like bees, they have surrounded me;... The nations of the middle east surrounded the psalmist, threatening the existence of Israel. Again, this sounds more like a nation crisis than a personal one; something spoken by a man of high rank, but of circumstances which threaten the nation of Israel.


Bees, as an image, are used here to signify (1) their large number; (2) their irritation factor; (3) the difficulty of getting away from them.


This might be a good time to turn to an actual encounter with some nasty bees.

An Account of a Bee Attack

“They compassed me about like bees.” Now, as the north-east wind of course was adverse to any north-east progress, it was necessary that the boat should be towed by the crew. As the rope was being drawn along through the grass on the banks it happened that it disturbed a swarm of bees. In a moment, like a great cloud, they burst upon the men who were dragging; everyone of them threw himself headlong into the water and hurried to regain the boat. The swarm followed at their heels, and in a few seconds filled every nook and cranny of the deck. What a scene of confusion ensued may readily be imagined.

Without any foreboding of ill, I was arranging my plants in my cabin, when I heard all around me a scampering which I took at first to be merely the frolics of my people, as that was the order of the day. I called out to enquire the meaning of the noise, but only got excited gestures and reproachful looks in answer. The cry of “Bees! bees!” soon broke upon my ear, and I proceeded to light a pipe. My attempt was entirely in vain; in an instant bees in thousands are about me, and I am mercilessly stung all over my face and hands. To no purpose do I try to protect my face with a handkerchief, and the more violently I fling my hands about, so much the more violent becomes the impetuosity of the irritated insects. The maddening pain is now on my cheek, now in my eye, now in my hair. The dogs from under my bed burst out frantically, overturning everything in their way. Losing well nigh all control over myself, I fling myself into the river; I dive down, but all in vain, for the stings rain down still upon my head. Not heeding the warnings of my people, I creep through the reedy grass to the swampy bank. The grass lacerates my hands, and I try to gain the mainland, hoping to find shelter in the woods. All at once four powerful arms seize me and drag me back with such force that I think I must be choked in the mud. I am compelled to go back on board, and flight is not to be thought of.... I felt ready, in the evening, for an encounter with half a score of buffaloes or a brace of lions rather than have anything more to do with bees; and this was a sentiment in which all the ship's company heartily concurred.

I found this in Charles Haddon Spurgeon, A Treasury of David; e-Sword, Psalm 118 introduction; he took it from George Schweinfurth, The Heart of Africa, 1873.


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Psalm 118:12b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

dâ׳ake (ַעָ) [pronounced daw-ĢAHK]

to go out, to be extinguished when speaking of a lamp; to be made extinct, to dry up when used of a torrent; to be destroyed, to be wiped out when speaking of assailants

3rd person masculine singular, Pual imperfect

Strong’s #1846 BDB #200

The Pual is the passive of the Piel (intensive) stem and likewise emphasizes an accomplished state.

kaph or ke ( ׃) [pronounced ke]

like, as, according to; about, approximately

preposition of comparison or approximation

No Strong’s # BDB #453

esh (ש ֵא) [pronounced aysh]

fire, lightening, supernatural fire; presence of Yehowah, the attendance of a theophany

feminine singular construct

Strong's #784 BDB #77

qôwts (ץק) [pronounced kohls]

thorns; used collectively for thorn bushes, thorns, briers

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #6975 BDB #881


Translation: ...like a fire of thorns, they are burned up [or, destroyed];... The exact meaning of the words is a little difficult, although you may not get why at first. When you extinguish a fire, then there is something left. So, are we speaking of the complete destruction of Israel’s enemies here, or do we have remnants remaining because the fire which engulfed them was extinguished? Furthermore, this is an analogy; Israel’s enemies are like thorns on fire which have been extinguished. Are there thorns left as the fire is extinguished? Or are the thorns completely destroyed? The way it reads here, is the fire itself is extinguished, which means there are remnants of the briers which remain.


Another interpretation, which is a little less literal, but quite likely, is that they burn up (are destroyed) as dried thorns burn up. This would indicate that their destruction is quick and thorough.

 

Barnes appears to agree with my latter interpretation, writing: The Septuagint and the Vulgate render this, “They burn as the fire of thorns.” The connection would seem to demand this, but the Hebrew will not bear it. The figure is changed in the Hebrew, as is not uncommon. The mind of the psalmist at first recalls the number and the malignity of his foes; it then instantly adverts to the rapid manner in which they were destroyed. The illustration from the “fire of thorns” is derived from the fact that they quickly kindle into a blaze, and then the flame soon dies away. In Eastern countries it was common to burn over their fields in the dry time of the year, and thus to clear them of thorns and briars and weeds. Of course, at such a time they would kindle quickly, and burn rapidly, and would soon be consumed. So the psalmist says it was with his enemies. He came upon them, numerous as they were, as the fire runs over a field in a dry time, burning everything before it. Footnote


Psalm 118:12c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

shêm (ם ֵש) [pronounced shame]

name, reputation, character

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #8034 BDB #1027

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

mûwl (למ) [pronounced mool]

to cause to be circumcised; to cause to be cut off; to destroy

1st person singular, Hiphil imperfect with the 3rd person plural suffix

Strong's #4135 BDB #557


Translation:... [it is] by the name of Yehowah that I cut them off. Again, by the name of Jehovah, the psalmist cuts off his enemies, which indicates, as I have said, that he is more than just some Joe Schmo—most likely, this is written by a general/king—and, very likely, this is David writing this psalm.


In case your interested, we have similar images found in Homer’s Iliad. The following is from Clarke’s commentary, Footnote which he took from Dr. Delaney. I offer this up as a matter of interest, rather than an exegetical point. I found the name Pope occurring several times, so I am assuming that he made the English translation which Delaney uses.

The Iliad Borrows from Scripture?

Source

Quotation

Clarke

I shall refer to Dr. Delaney’s note on this passage. The reader has here in miniature two of the finest images in Homer; which, if his curiosity demands to be gratified, he will find illustrated and enlarged,

Iliad ii., ver. 86.

Επεσσευοντο δε λαοι.

Ηὑτε εθνεα εισι μελισσαων αδιναων,

Πετρης εκ γλαφυρης αιει νεον ερχομεναων,

Βοτρυδον δε πετονται επ’ ανθεσιν ειαρινοισιν,

Αἱ εν τ’ ενθα ἅλις πεποτηαται, αἱ δε τε ανθα

΄Ως των εθνεα πολλα νεων απο και κλισιαων

Ηἱνονος προπαροιθε βαθειης εστιχοωντο

Ιλαδον εις αγορην

Pope’s

Translation

The following host,

Poured forth by thousands, darkens all the coast.

As from some rocky cleft the shepherd sees,

Clustering in heaps on heaps, the driving bees,

Rolling and blackening, swarms succeeding swarms,

With deeper murmurs and more hoarse alarms:

Dusky they spread a close embodied crowd,

And o’er the vale descends the living cloud;

So from the tents and ships a lengthening train

Spreads all the beach, and wide o’ershades the plain;

Along the region runs a deafening sound;

Beneath their footsteps groans the trembling ground.

Clarke

The other image, the fire consuming the thorns, we find in the...

Iliad ii., ver. 455

Ηὑτε πυρ αἱδηλον επιφλεγει ασπετον ὑλην,

Ουρεος εν κορυφης ἑκαθεν δε τε φαινεται αυγη

΄Ως των ερχομενων, απο χαλκου θεσπεσιοιο

Αιγλη παμφανοωσα δι’ αιθερος ουρανον ἱκεν.

Pope’s

Translation

As on some mountain, through the lofty grove,

The crackling flames ascend and blaze above;

The fires expanding, as the winds arise,

Shoot their long beams, and kindle half the skies;

So, from the polished arms, and brazen shields,

A gleamy splendor flashed along the fields.

Clarke

The arms resembling a gleaming fire is common both to the psalmist and Homer; but the idea of that fire being quenched when the army was conquered, is peculiar to the psalmist.

On the other hand, the similarities could certainly be coincidental. We are not dealing with obscure symbols.


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Pushing down, you pushed me down to fall

and Yehowah helped me.

Psalm

118:13

You [violently] thrust me down [lit., pushing, you pushed me down] to fall [or, to die]

but Yehowah helped me.

You violently [tried to] push me down in order to make me fall,

but Jehovah helped me.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         Being pushed I was overturned that I might fall: but the Lord supported me.

Masoretic Text                       Pushing down, you pushed me down to fall

and Yehowah helped me.

Peshitta                                 I have been repelled that I might be overthrown and fall; but the Lord helped me.

Septuagint                             I was thrust, and sorely shaken, that I might fall: but the Lord helped me.

 

Significant differences:          Although there is a difference in the addition of a phrase in the Greek, I believe that it was added as a matter of interpretation of the doubling of the verb found in the Hebrew. There is also a difference in the person of the first verb. The Greek, Syriac and Latin all have the 1st person singular; the Hebrew has the 2nd person masculine singular. It is not unusual in the psalms for there to be a chance of case now and again.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Their attacks were so fierce that I nearly fell, but the LORD helped me.

The Message                         I was right on the cliff-edge, ready to fall, when GOD grabbed and held me.

NLT                                You did your best to kill me, O my enemy,

but the Lord helped me.

REB                                       They thrust hard against me so that I nearly fell,

but in the Lord’s name I drove them off. [They: compare Greek; Hebrew: You]. This is a problem with the REB footnotes. Even though it sounds as if the Greek reads they, it does not (the REB does not state that the Greek reads this way; but the casual reader may not really catch that).

TEV                                       I was fiercely attacked and was being defeated,

but the Lord helped me.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         They pushed hard to make me fall, but the LORD helped me.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

HCSB                                    You pushed me hard to make me fall, but the LORD helped me.

LTHB                                     Pushing, you pushed me to fall; but Jehovah helped me.

WEB                                      You pushed me back hard, to make me fall, But Yahweh helped me.

Young’s Updated LT             You have sorely thrust me to fall, And Jehovah has helped me.


What is the gist of this verse? The enemy of the psalmist pushes the psalmist down, with the purpose of making them fall; Jehovah God helps the psalmist.


Psalm 118:13a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

dâchah (הָחָ) [pronounced daw-KHAW]

to push, to thrust, to push violently, to throw down

Qal infinitive absolute

Strong’s #1760 BDB #190

dâchah (הָחָ) [pronounced daw-KHAW]

to push, to thrust, to push violently, to throw down

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #1760 BDB #190

The Septuagint, Latin Vulgate and Peshitta all have a 1st person singular, passive verb, and read I was pushed. The Hebrew has the 2nd person masculine singular, although it is not clear to whom it refers.

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

nâphal (לַפָנ) [pronounced naw-FAHL]

to fall, to lie, to die a violent death, to be brought down, to settle, to sleep deeply

Qal infinitive construct

Strong's #5307 BDB #656


Translation: You [violently] thrust me down [lit., pushing, you pushed me down] to fall [or, to die]... Interestingly enough, the verb is now in the masculine singular (2nd person), which certainly could refer to just one nation; however, it sounds much more personal than that. Suddenly, we have gone from a national crisis and Gentiles surrounding Israel, to what appears to be a personal attack against the psalmist. The Qal infinitive construct with the lâmed preposition indicates a purpose or objective, but not necessarily one which has been reached. That is, the person referred to here in this verse attempted to push the psalmist down (not necessarily physically, but, for instance, to remove him from power or to attack his wealth or station in life); the intention was to make the psalmist fall.


The doubling of the verb and the changing to the 2nd person, brings an immediacy to this incident in the psalmist’s mind. Barnes: The psalmist, as it were, sees the enemy again before him, and addresses him as if he were present. Everything is vivid to the mind; the whole scene appears again to pass before him. Footnote We have spoken of authorship, and this sounds so much like David looking in retrospect to Saul’s many attacks against him. At the same time, since there is no mention of an author, this could stand in for any believer under attack (and attacks come from believers and unbelievers both).


In being thrown down, there could be a number of purposes in the mind of the enemy, according to the intensification of the verb. For some Arab groups, there is nothing more they would like to see than Israel ejected from that postage stamp of a land-holding, to a state of complete homelessness and despair. For antagonistic co-workers, they may want more than to get you fired from your job; they may seek to ruin your career. An enemy in more want more than your death, but to see you suffer as well. As Jesus progressed further towards the cross, His enemies sought more than simple execution; their desire was to inflict as much pain upon Him as humanly possible.


Psalm 118:13b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

׳âzar (רַזָע) [pronounced ģaw-ZAHR]

to help, to aid

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5826 BDB #740


Translation: ...but Yehowah helped me. No matter what the psalmist’s enemy tried, the helper of the psalmist is God. God can counteract any sort of attack. We see a very similar theme reoccur in several of the Davidic psalms: Psalm 18:17–18: He rescued me from my powerful enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my distress, but the LORD was my support. Psalm 56:1–3: Be gracious to me, God, for man tramples me; he fights and oppresses me all day long. My adversaries trample me all day, for many arrogantly fight against me. When I am afraid, I will trust in You.


I hope that you also notice that we have a second repetition of verbs here; the verb to help was found earlier as a Qal active participle, referring to God. There is an interlacing throughout this psalm, connection one section to the next.


Application: Part of your life, no matter what, is going to include people who will attack you; people who will try to bring you down. I ran into this on several occasions, and, in their minds, they may have felt that they prevailed; however, God has helped me; God has taken care of the problem. They have pushed against me with all of their strength, with the intention that I would fall, and I have never fallen. In your life, you will have those who attack you and, in many cases, it will appear as though they have won. You don’t need to be mad at them, you don’t need to talk behind their backs or verbally attack them; you do not need to plan revenge tactics. When it comes to your enemies, who do you want to deal with them? Do you think that you, as weak as you are, in the midst of the devil’s world, will have any kind of chance against your enemies, who might be demonically influenced? That’s doubtful. At best, you might enjoy some kind of revenge while being taken down to their level. Or would you rather let God take care of the situation? You may or may not observe God take care of your problems. I know of four people who became my enemies in two different places; in two cases, I know that they got knocked on their butts after I was gone; in the other two cases, I have no idea. However, it is not anything I need to worry about; when I walked away, they were in God’s hands subject to His wishes. I have full assurances that they would be dealt with. You will face the same things. You will face injustices; there will be people who have a dislike for you, who have a grudge against you, and they will look to bring you down in any way possible. They might plan for years as to how to do this. You do not need to worry about it; you do your job as unto the Lord; you work as if working for Jesus Christ. Their plotting and subterfuge is not something you need to be involved in. I have had many situations which were difficult, and there were times I could barely see light at the end of the tunnel; but, once I came out of it, I could see that things were better, that God’s timing was perfect, and that, even though sometimes I failed the test and sometimes I passed with a D -, I could always see God’s hand in the process and I could always see that the situation was worked out for the best.


Application: You will face vicious personal enemies and there are times that you will call out to God for relief. Bear in mind that God may solve the situation in a way which might not be your particular choice. God may have an end result which is something that you had not really counted on. You simply have to allow God the room to work; do not try to manipulate things to an end that you see as best. You manipulation, at best, will delay God’s conclusion to the matter.


My strength and [my] song [is] Yah;

and so He is to me for salvation.

Psalm

118:14

Yah [is] my strength and [my] song;

He is also my salvation [lit., for me to salvation].

Jehovah is both my strength and my song;

He has also become my salvation.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       My strength and [my] song [is] Yah;

and so He is to me for salvation.

Septuagint                             The Lord is my strength and my song, and is become my salvation.

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       My power and my strength come from the LORD, and he has saved me. Although the CEV is very accurate in its doctrine, it often distorts the translation in order to simplify a verse. The problem here is, they lose half the meaning of this verse; God is the power and strength of the psalmist; but God is also the song of the psalmist.

The Message                         GOD's my strength, he's also my song, and now he's my salvation.

NAB                                       The Lord, my strength and might,

came to me as savior.

NLT                                The Lord is my strength and my song;

he has become my victory.

REB                                       The Lord is my refuge and defence,

and he has become my deliverer.

TEV                                       The Lord makes me powerful and strong;

he has saved me.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         The LORD is my strength and my song. He is my savior.

JPS (Tanakh)                        The Lord is my strength and might [others, song];

He has become my deliverance.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Updated Emphasized Bible   <My might and melody> is Yah,

And He has become mine by salvation.

ESV                                       The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.

Young's Literal Translation    My strength and song is Jah, And He is to me for salvation.


What is the gist of this verse? God is the strength and song of the psalmist; God it the One Who delivers the psalmist.


Psalm 118:14a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

׳ôz (זֹע) [pronounced ģohz]

strength, might; firmness, defense, refuge, protection; splendor, majesty, glory praise

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5797 BDB #738

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

zimerâth (חָר מ̣ז) [pronounced zim-RAWTH]

song; metonym for the object of song (or praise)

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #2176 BDB #274

We would expect to find the yodh at the end of this word, indicating a 1st person singular suffix.

It is possible that this is equivalent to Strong’s #2172 BDB #274, which is spelled zimerâh (הָר מ̣ז) [pronounced zim-RAW], and which means song, melody.

Yâh (ָי) [pronounced yaw]

an abbreviated form of YHWH, the proper name for God in the Old Testament

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #3050 BDB #219


Translation: Yah [is] my strength and [my] song;... Most of us are well-aware that God, at least in theory, is our strength (for some people, this is strictly theory). However, God is also our song—this means, our joy. The Christian life is not necessarily a life of all difficulties and pain; God has designed the Christian way of life to be enjoyable as well.


I was a teacher for many years, and I observed something in the students: those students who were hedonistic—those who took drugs, drank to excess, were involved in pre-marital sex—these were the least happy of my students. That is, those who pursued pleasure seemed to have the least amount of pleasure in their lives. They were often surly, uncooperative, and very unhappy. Now, you might say, but once they got to the party they were okay, right? Not always. Many of them, when they would go to a party where they could indulge themselves, they would often get into fights, which is certainly not a sign of a person enjoying himself. On the other hand, those students who worked hard at academics (or sports or extra-curricular activities), those who had some self-discipline, those who were willing to forgo immediate gratification—these students were often the happiest, easiest to work with, and the most enthusiastic. You do not find pleasure necessarily by pursuing pleasure. You do not find happiness by pursuing happiness. God has a code of behavior that, when followed, results in people who are happier and better adjusted to life. Even the unbeliever can take these principles and incorporate them into his life, and end up a happier person for it.


I have heard the argument, you might waste you entire life as a Christian, die, and find out that it was all wrong. The implication is, of course, that, as a believer, you must forgo all of these pleasures and therefore, lose out on all of the happiness that you could have had. Given what I have observed in others, this is poppycock. You cannot find happiness by pursuing pleasure. Even if Christianity were completely wrong and false, a person who follows Christian principles is much more likely to be happy than one who does not.


Psalm 118:14b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

yeshûw׳âh (הָעשי) [pronounced yeshoo-ĢAW]

deliverance, salvation

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #3444 BDB #447


Translation: ...He is also my salvation [lit., for me to salvation]. The literal construction here is somewhat difficult. We have two lâmed prepositions here, both with different functions. In fact, the second lâmed preposition is rather difficult to understand, and most translators ignore it. In any case, Jesus Christ is our deliverer; both for the most important thing, to be delivered from the penalty that we deserve for our sins; and for the day to day things of our lives.


Salvation, by the way, can refer to at least three different things: (1) Deliverance in time; that is, you are in a jam, you have some problems, you are under pressure, and God delivers you out of those problems. (2) Salvation in time—when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are saved, yet we still live in time. We continue to have an old sin nature, but we also have the means to quell it—the filling of God the Holy Spirit. (3) Eternal salvation: when we die, we spend eternity with God, on our plantation, sans the old sin nature, sans internal temptation, in a state of perfect happiness.


God is my strength and salvation can be found in a number of passages; among them: Psalm 18:2 Ex. 15:2-6 Isa. 12:2 45:17, 22-25 Matt. 1:21-23.

 

Augustine comments on this verse: “And is become my salvation.” Not that He had become anything which He was not before, but because His people, when they believed on Him, became what they were not before. He began to be salvation to them when they turned towards Him; which He was not to them when they were turned away from Him. Footnote


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God Works in the Lives of Believers


A sound, a shout for joy and salvation in tents of righteous ones;

a right hand of Yehowah is doing [in] strength [and power].

Psalm

118:15

A sound—a shout for joy and salvation [or, deliverance]—[are] in the tents of the justified ones;

the right hand of Yehowah acts [lit., does] [with] strength [and power].

There is a noise—a shouting for joy and salvation—from the tents of those who have been justified;

the right hand of Jehovah acts with great strength and power!


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       A sound, a shout for joy and salvation in tents of righteous ones;

a right hand of Yehowah is doing [in] strength [and power].

Septuagint                             The voice of exultation and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord has wrought mightily.

 

Significant differences:          The translator took voice, sound to be in the construct state, which is probably the most reasonable interpretation here. So, there is no actual difference between the Greek and Hebrew.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       From the tents of God's people come shouts of victory: "The LORD is powerful!

The Message                         Hear the shouts, hear the triumph songs in the camp of the saved? "The hand of GOD has turned the tide!

REB                                       Listen! Shouts of triumph

in the camp of the victors;

‘With his right hand the Lord does mighty deeds. [victors: or righteous; see also v. 20].


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         The sound of joyful singing and victory is heard in the tents of righteous people. The right hand of the LORD displays strength.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

HCSB                                    There are shouts of joy and victory in the tents of the righteous: "The LORD's right hand strikes with power!

Young's Literal Translation    A voice of singing and salvation, Is in the tents of the righteous, The right hand of Jehovah is doing valiantly.


What is the gist of this verse? Those who have been justified shout out in joy; God’s actions (i.e., His right hand) reveal His strength.


Psalm 118:15a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

qôwl (לק) [pronounced kohl]

sound, voice, noise; loud noise, thundering

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #6963 BDB #876

This appears to be a masculine singular noun, even though it makes more sense for this word to be in the construct state. It seems less likely to have a list of three things if we lack the wâw conjunction between the first and second (Hebrews do not list a group of items without a wâw conjunction between each pair of them).

rinnâh (הָ ̣ר) [pronounced rin-NAW]

shouting for joy; cry, loud cry, a mournful cry, wailing; a ringing cry [in an entreaty or supplication]

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #7440 BDB #943

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

yeshûw׳âh (הָעשי) [pronounced yeshoo-ĢAW]

deliverance, salvation

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #3444 BDB #447

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

ohel (ל הֹא) [pronounced OH-hel]

tent, tabernacle, house, temporary dwelling

masculine plural construct

Strong's #168 BDB #13

tsaddîyqîym (םי.קי̣ַצ) [pronounced tsahd-dee-KEEM]

just ones, righteous ones, justified ones

masculine plural adjective, often used as a substantive

Strong’s #6662 BDB #843


Translation: A sound—a shout for joy and salvation [or, deliverance]—[are] in the tents of the justified ones;... In the previous section, even though we have Gentiles nations swarming around the psalmist like bees, as they do about the nation Israel, the psalmist spoke only in the first person singular. In this verse, he briefly speaks of believers, in the 3rd person plural (however, he will return to the 1st person singular in v. 17). God is victorious against the hostile gentile nations through the hand of the psalmist in the previous section (I will surely cut them off!); because God has been the deliverance of Israel, believers shout out for joy because of their salvation. I trust you can see how this fits so well with David as the author—he defeats the Gentile enemies which swarm about Israel with the strength of God, and the believers in Israel celebrate this deliverance.


We find similar sentiments expressed in Psalm 5:11 (But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them shout for joy forever. May You shelter them, and may those who love Your name boast about You); Psalm 68:3 (But the righteous are glad; they rejoice before God and celebrate with joy); Psalm 97:12 (Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones, and praise His holy name); Psalm 98:4 (Shout to the LORD, all the earth; be jubilant, shout for joy, and sing). See also Deut. 12:12; 1Sam. 2:1 Ezra 3:11–13.


Luther renders this: “They sing with joy for victory in the houses of the righteous.” Again, the idea is happiness is a part of our relationship to God, and it extends to the entire household.


Psalm 118:15b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

yâmîyn (ןי ̣מָי) [pronounced yaw-MEEN]

the right hand, the right side, on the right, at the right; the south

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #3225 BDB #411

This word can be associated with blessing or prosperity.

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

׳âsâh (הָָע) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare

feminine singular, Qal active participle

Strong's #6213 BDB #793

chayil (ל̣יַח) [pronounced CHAH-yil]

army, strength, valour, power, might; efficiency; and that which is gotten through strength—wealth, substance

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #2428 BDB #298


Translation: ...the right hand of Yehowah acts [lit., does] [with] strength [and power]. The second half of this verse gives the reason for their excited cries—God acts with great strength and power. That is, God can be depended upon to deliver in all situations.


The phrase, the right hand of Jehovah is found throughout the Old and New Testaments; it refers to God’s strength and His actions in the lives of believers—generally with respect to national deliverance, but also, the position of being at the right hand of Jehovah is a reference to a place of great honor. Ex. 15:6 Deut. 33:2 1Kings 22:19 2Chron. 18:18 Psalm 16:8 20:6 98:1 110:1 110:5 118:15, 16 Isa. 41:13 45:1 62:8 Matt. 22:44 Mark 12:36 16:19 Luke 20:42 Acts 2:34.


A right hand of Yehowah raised me up [or, was raised up];

a right hand of Yehowah is doing [in] strength [and power].

Psalm

118:16

The right hand of Yehowah raised me up [or, is raised up];

the right hand of Yehowah acts [lit., does] [with] strength [and power].

The right hand of Jehovah is raised up in victory;

the right hand of Jehovah acts with great strength and power!


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       A right hand of Yehowah was raised up;

a right hand of Yehowah is doing [in] strength [and power].

Septuagint                             The right hand of the Lord has exalted me: the right hand of the Lord has wrought powerfully.

 

Significant differences:          The first half of the verse is dramatically different; in the Greek, Latin and Aramaic, the right hand of God exalts the psalmist; in the Hebrew, it is His right hand which is exalted. The 1st person singular suffix in the Hebrew is a tiny yodh (י) which could easily be lost on a poor manuscript.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       With his mighty arm the LORD wins victories! The LORD is powerful!"

The Message                         The hand of GOD is raised in victory! The hand of GOD has turned the tide!"

NLT                                The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph.

The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!

REB                                       the right hand of the Lord raises up,

with his right hand the Lord does mighty deeds.

TEV                                       His power has brought us victory—

his might power in battle!”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         The right hand of the LORD is held high. The right hand of the LORD displays strength.

JPS (Tanakh)                        The right hand of the Lord is exalted!

The right hand of the Lord is triumphant!”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

HCSB                                    The LORD's right hand is raised! The LORD's right hand strikes with power!"

Young's Literal Translation    The right hand of Jehovah is exalted, The right hand of Jehovah is doing valiantly.


What is the gist of this verse? Even though man has sought the downfall of the psalmist, God has exalted the psalmist; God’s right hand acts with power.


Psalm 118:16a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

yâmîyn (ןי ̣מָי) [pronounced yaw-MEEN]

the right hand, the right side, on the right, at the right; the south

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #3225 BDB #411

This word can be associated with blessing or prosperity.

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

rûwm (םר) [pronounced room]

to raise, to lift up, to make high; to build a house; to bring up children; to put in safety; to raise up, to exalt [in victory or with praise]

3rd person feminine singular, Polel perfect; pausal form

Strong's #7311 BDB #926

The Latin, Aramaic and Greek all have the additional word me, which is a suffix in the Hebrew (the addition of a yodh indicates a 1st person singular suffix). On the side of the other languages, such a small letter could be lost on a poor manuscript. Furthermore, when a copyist is in doubt—particularly one with an ascetic bend—is unsure, then it might be his choice to go with the less egotistical approach.

On the other hand, I am not aware of any translation which follows the Greek, Latin and Aramaic here.


Translation: The right hand of Yehowah raised me up [or, is raised up];... Since we have two possible readings here, that means we have two possible interpretations. For the right hand of God to be raised up, it means that God’s power is shown to be absolute. God’s right arm (His power) is raised above all else.


However, what we have been speaking of in previous verses is the attack of others on the psalmist: They have pushed me, to cause me to fall! For God to raise up the psalmist would be the height of irony. This also fits in better with the theme—it is better to take refuge in Jehovah than to trust in man. The men around the psalmist try to bring about his downfall; God, on the other hand, raises him up.


By the way, it is not egotistical to use the 1st person pronoun; that is a normal recognition of your own existence. This does not mean that we hold ourselves in high regard (although, of course, many of us do); it simply means that we are aware of ourselves. Here, the contrast is between those who want to bring the psalmist down as versus God, who will raise the psalmist up. Who is going to win such a tug of war? God, of course.


Psalm 118:16b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

yâmîyn (ןי ̣מָי) [pronounced yaw-MEEN]

the right hand, the right side, on the right, at the right; the south

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #3225 BDB #411

This word can be associated with blessing or prosperity.

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

׳âsâh (הָָע) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare

feminine singular, Qal active participle

Strong's #6213 BDB #793

chayil (ל̣יַח) [pronounced CHAH-yil]

army, strength, valour, power, might; efficiency; and that which is gotten through strength—wealth, substance

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #2428 BDB #298


Translation: ...the right hand of Yehowah acts [lit., does] [with] strength [and power]. God is effective in all that He does. When He chooses to do something, then He brings it to pass. Again, His right hand speaks of His power and His ability to bring to pass whatever He chooses.


We find this phrase, the right hand of Jehovah, three times in vv. 15–16; Gill suggests that this is for each member of the Trinity. Footnote

The Right Hand of Jehovah in Relation to the Trinity

Psalm 118:15–16

Incident

A sound—a shout for joy and salvation [or, deliverance]—[are] in the tents of the justified ones;

the right hand of Yehowah acts [lit., does] [with] strength [and power].

Jesus Christ justifies the unrighteous; He reveals great strength in dying for our sins.

The right hand of Yehowah raised Me up [or, is raised up];

God the Holy Spirit raises Jesus Christ up from the dead.

the right hand of Yehowah acts [lit., does] [with] strength [and power].

God the Father’s plan is perfect and His actions accomplish what He chooses to do. He planned out our salvation, and He accomplished it.

One could interpret these verses in several ways in order to incorporate the Trinity. What I have offered here is simply a suggestion. One could interpret this as, the first right hand of Jehovah is God the Father, and executing His perfect plan. The second right hand of Jehovah is God the Son being raised up from the dead celebrating His victory over sin and death (the right hand of Jehovah is raised up). The third right hand of Jehovah is God the Holy Spirit functioning daily in our lives post-salvation.


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I will not die, for I will live;

and I will recount works of Yah!

Psalm

118:17

I will not die,

for I live

and declare the works of Yah!

I will not die, but live;

and I will declare to all the works of Jehovah!


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Septuagint                             I shall not die, but live, and recount the works of the Lord.

 

Significant differences:  


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       And so my life is safe, and I will live to tell what the LORD has done.

The Message                         I didn't die. I lived! And now I'm telling the world what GOD did.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         I will not die, but I will live and tell what the LORD has done.

JPS (Tanakh)                        I shall not die but live

and proclaim the works of the Lord.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

HCSB                                    I will not die, but I will live and proclaim what the LORD has done.

NRSV                                    I shall not die, but I shall live,

and recount the deeds of the Lord.

Young's Literal Translation    I do not die, but live, And recount the works of Jah,...


What is the gist of this verse? The psalmist will live and declare to works of Jehovah.


Psalm 118:17a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

mûwth (תמ) [pronounced mooth]

to die; to perish, to be destroyed

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #4191 BDB #559


Translation: I will not die,... These enemies of the psalmist were not simply those who talked behind his back, but they were those who sought to kill him. His very life is in danger (from human viewpoint). However, we already know from the previous verse that God would exalt this psalmist, which is quite the opposite of allowing him to die.


Psalm 118:17b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

châyâh (הָיָח) [pronounced khaw-YAW]

 to live, to have life, to revive, to recover health, to be healed, to be refreshed

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #2421 & #2425 BDB #310


Translation: ...for I live... God is infinitely more powerful than man. Therefore, it does not matter what man attempts to do to you; if men seek your life, but God wants you to live, you will live.


Psalm 118:17c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

çâphar (ר ַפָס) [pronounced saw-FAHR]

to recount, to enumerate, to tell with praise, to celebrate, to recall, to declare, to narrate, to tell or declare something from memory, to declare the facts or particulars of, to tell in a specific order

1st person singular, Piel imperfect

Strong’s #5608 BDB #707

ma׳ăseh (ה  ֲע ַמ) [pronounced mah-ğa-SEH

deeds, works, production, that which is done

masculine plural construct

Strong's #4639 BDB #795

Ma׳ăseh is in the singular in one early printed edition. Footnote

Yâh (ָי) [pronounced yaw]

an abbreviated form of YHWH, the proper name for God in the Old Testament

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #3050 BDB #219


Translation: ...and declare the works of Yah! What the psalmist is doing in this psalm is recounting the works of Jehovah. The very writing of this psalm accomplishes what he proposes to do. A good parallel verse to this is Psalm 71:18: Even when I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me. Then I will proclaim Your power to another generation, Your strength to all who are to come. Also Psalm 73:27–28: Those far from You will certainly perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, God's presence is my good. I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, so I can tell about all You do.


The literal rendering of this verse is different than is found in most translations: I will not die, because I live and I declare the works of Yah! The idea is, the psalmist is kept alive by God because he declares the works of God.


Application: Because of your hard heart, you may try to find just the right balance of Christianity in your life—that is, just enough to be considered by many a believer of reasonable faith, but not so much as to interfere with the desires of your old sin nature. Maybe you have decided to try to fly under the radar, so to speak, so that you receive the least amount of demonic attacks on your life—aiming for, perhaps, mediocrity, hoping that will keep you safe. If you desire a long life, flying under the radar here is not the way to get it—you must be willing to declare the works of Jehovah. Now, this does not mean that you need to do any public speaking or become and evangelist or a missionary; but your life should reflect the working of God the Holy Spirit from within. Now, if you get into fellowship and grow spiritually, declaring the works of Jehovah, whether it be vocal, written or by your life, will also be a natural occurrence, as will long life.


Chastising, has chastise me Yah;

and to the death He has not given me.

Psalm

118:18

Punishing, Yah punished me;

but He has not given me [over] to death.

Jehovah punished me severely;

however, He did not give me over to the sin unto death.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Chastising, has chastise me Yah;

and to the death He has not given me.

Septuagint                             The Lord has chastened me sore: but he has not given me up to death.

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       He punished me terribly, but he did not let death lay its hands on me.

The Message                         GOD tested me, he pushed me hard, but he didn't hand me over to Death.

NJB                                        Though Yahweh punished me sternly,

he has not abandoned me to death.



Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         The LORD disciplined me severely, but he did not allow me to be killed.

JPS (Tanakh)                        The Lord punished me severely,

but did not hand me over to death.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

ESV                                       The LORD has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.

LTHB                                     Chastening, Jehovah has chastened me, but He has not given me to death.

Young’s Updated LT             Jah has sorely chastened me, And to death has not given me up.


What is the gist of this verse? The psalmist has apparently been under great discipline, but God has not taken him out of this world.


Psalm 118:18a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

yâçar (רַסָי) [pronounced yaw-SAHR

to correct [by blows or stripes], to chastise; to correct [with words] to admonish, to exhort; to dissuade [from anything]; to instruct, to teach

Piel infinitive absolute

Strong's #3256 BDB #415

yâçar (רַסָי) [pronounced yaw-SAHR

to correct [by blows or stripes], to chastise; to correct [with words] to admonish, to exhort; to dissuade [from anything]; to instruct, to teach

3rd person masculine singular, Piel imperfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #3256 BDB #415

Yâh (ָי) [pronounced yaw]

an abbreviated form of YHWH, the proper name for God in the Old Testament

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #3050 BDB #219


Translation: Punishing, Yah punished me;... Many unbelievers picture the believer as this goody two-shoes, never did nothing wrong but thinks a bad thought now and again. The psalmist, a man of God, a man chosen by God to write the Word of God has not just been punished, but he has been punished severely. The verb means to correct or punish by striking the person or by whipping them. Furthermore, the verb is in the Piel to intensify its meaning; and, furthermore, the verb is doubled to doubly intensify its meaning. This psalmist did a lot more than think a bad thought. God has beaten this man half to death for his infractions.


This again fits nicely with David’s life, who was disciplined severely for his sin with Bathsheba. For this reason, we might reasonably place this psalm after 2Sam. 19.


Psalm 118:18b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

mâveth (ת∵וָמ) [pronounced MAW-veth]

death, death [as opposed to life], death by violence, a state of death, a place of death

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4194 BDB #560

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

nâthan (ן ַתָנ) [pronounced naw-THAHN]

to give, to grant, to place, to put, to set

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #5414 BDB #678


Translation: ...but He has not given me [over] to death. However, God did not put him under the sin unto death. The psalmist is correctable. He is not filled with arrogance. He has done wrong, and, apparently, he has done very wrong. However, the punishment corrected him and God has restored him. God has not given him over to death, which is the sin unto death (the sin unto death is for the believer where no amount of punishment can turn him around). We find a similar statement in 2Cor. 6:9b: ...as dying and look—we live; as being chastened yet not killed.


By the way, the Bible is filled with statements about divine discipline. Psalm 94:12: LORD, happy is the man You discipline and teach from Your law. Job. 5:17–18: See how happy the man is God corrects; so do not reject the discipline of the Almighty. For He crushes but also binds up; He strikes, but His hands also heal. Prov. 3:11–12: Do not despise the LORD's instruction, my son, and do not loathe His discipline; for the LORD disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in. 1Cor. 11:32: When we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we may not be condemned with the world. Heb. 12:10–11: For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.


Part of the reason that this psalmist is kept alive is the statement of the previous verse: I will not die because I live and declare the works of Jehovah. Do you see how they are tied together?


Application: Again, you cannot fly under the radar with God; God has a purpose for your life and there is no getting around that. If you choose not to execute His plan, then your purpose on this earth is limited. God uses some believers to trip up other believers and He might keep you alive for that reason; however, realize that without a function, you don’t have a reason for living. If you reported to your job and just sat there, how long would you have a job? God’s plan for your life is similar; sometimes, God will keep you alive a long time, even if you do little or nothing worthwhile (e.g., King Saul).


Application: Don’t mistake this as working for your salvation or working to, in some way, repay God. Once you have believed in Jesus Christ, your salvation is eternal and secure. You cannot lose that. As for God’s purpose for you life after salvation, don’t forget that happiness is a part of God’s plan for your life. That is, yes, in God’s plan, there is work involved; however, in God’s plan, there is also happiness and peace and contentment. If you have ever had a good, satisfying job, you will understand this concept. I recall one day, many years ago, driving too fast to get to work. I realized that I was driving too fast and had to slow down; but, I also realized that I could hardly wait to get there. I was excited about going to work; I was excited about being there; I was happy and grateful to work with the students there. I looked forward to it; and I missed them when summer came. So, yes, I worked hard; but I also greatly enjoyed it. If you have had this sort of experience at any time, then you understand functioning within God’s plan: at times, there is some work involved; however, this is also happiness and contentment involved as well.


Application: Do not think that you need to become an evangelist, a pastor-teacher, a missionary, a deacon, or someone else who works in the church. Obviously, these positions require filling and God has the people for those positions. The positions may or may not be designed for you. God’s plan for you life involves getting in fellowship, spending as much time in fellowship as possible; and learning God’s Word. What God will have you do specifically is between you and Him. By the way, it will happen naturally; you won’t receive some bolt of lightning which tells you to go left or right; you won’t walk past a vacant lot someday and have a vision of a church there where you will pastor. God takes care of all things, including guidance.


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God has Opened up the Gates of Righteousness


Open to me gates of righteousness;

I enter in them;

I confess [or, thank, praise] Yah!

Psalm

118:19

Open up the gates of righteousness—

I will enter through them;

I confess [or, praise, thank] Yah!

Open for me the gates of righteousness

and I will enter through them.

I profess Jah.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Open to me gates of righteousness;

I enter in them;

I confess [or, thank, praise] Yah!.

Septuagint                             Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and give praise to the Lord.

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Open the gates of justice! I will enter and tell the LORD how thankful I am.

The Message                         Swing wide the city gates--the righteous gates! I'll walk right through and thank GOD!

REB                                       Open to me the gates of victory;

I shall go in by them and praise the Lord. [victory: or righteousness].


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Open the gates of righteousness for me. I will go through them and give thanks to the LORD.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

MKJV                                     Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go into them, and I will praise Jehovah.

Young’s Updated LT             Open to me gates of righteousness, I enter into them—I thank Jah.


What is the gist of this verse? The psalmist calls to Jehovah to open up the gates of righteousness, and he walks through them, thanking God.


Psalm 118:19a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

pâthach (ח ַתָ) [pronounced paw-THAHKH]

to open, to open up; to let loose [as in, to draw (a sword]; to begin, to lead in

2nd person masculine plural, Qal imperative

Strong’s #6605 BDB #834

I am not sure whether I can explain the masculine plural here; I would have expected a masculine singular, in reference to God. This is also a masculine plural in the Greek. Perhaps, he is personifying the gates themselves, speaking to the gates, telling them to open for him.

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

sha׳ar (ר-ע -ש) [pronounced SHAH-ģahr]

gates [control of city can be implied]; entrance [through the gates]

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #8179 BDB #1044

tsedeq (ק∵ד∵צ) [pronounced TZEH-dehk]

righteousness, rightness, vindication

masculine singular substantive

Strong’s #6664 BDB #841


Translation: Open up the gates of righteousness—... The psalms commands that the gates of righteousness be opened—one might even call these the pearly gates. This is his entrance into eternal fellowship with God—this is the same psalmist whom God beat half to death for his infractions in the previous verse.


I mentioned the masculine plural above. The verb is in the 2nd person masculine plural. One might expect God to be the object, if this were the 2nd person masculine singular. My assumption is, he is referring to the gates; the psalmist is speaking to the gates.


Some have suggested that these gates of righteousness refer to entering through the gates of the Temple (or the Tabernacle). Although this is possible, the idea of salvation seems more apt. in the previous verse, the psalmist has been disciplined severely, but he has not died the sin unto death. In the verses which follow (vv. 22–27), we speak of our means of salvation, Jesus Christ. Now, often, particularly in poetry, there are parallel meanings; on one level, this could be a man who is still alive, even after being severely disciplined by God; and he enters into the Temple (or the Tabernacle) to thank God for his deliverance (and, afterward, speaks of the means of his deliverance). However, this more importantly refers to the larger issues of life, which are salvation, our means of salvation and our eternal relationship with God.


There are several interpretations here, so let’s explore each of them.

To What do the Gates of Righteousness Refer?

Interpretation

Comments

The gates of righteousness refer to any house where the principles of God are taught (Barnes Footnote ).

This passage seems to imply more than simply walking through the front door of some believer’s house.

The gates of righteousness are the doors to the Temple (Clarke Footnote ; Spurgeon Footnote ).

The Temple did not exist until the time of Solomon, even though David longs to build one. It is possible that David was speaking theoretically here of entering in through the doors of the Temple (which has not been built, but which he wanted to see built).

The gates of righteousness are the doors to the Tabernacle (Gill Footnote ; Wesley Footnote ).

The Tabernacle is what Moses had built (according to God’s instructions) in the desert-wilderness. First of all, the term gates is never used in relationship to the Tabernacle—not in its building and not in its use (not in the plural, anyway).


Secondly, although we have a relatively clear history of the Tabernacle up until the time of Samuel, it is unclear as to what happened to it during the time of Saul. Before Saul became king, the Ark of God was removed from the Tabernacle, taken later by the Philistines and then returned back to Israel; but never placed back into the Tabernacle during the reign of Saul. It appears, also, that, at some time probably before Saul’s administration, that Shiloh, the city where the Tabernacle of God was kept, was destroyed. This was all discussed in great detail in 1Sam. 10:3, when we examined the movement of the Ark and the Tabernacle. During the time of Saul and of David, we do not seem to have normal Tabernacle worship. When David does bring the Ark to Jerusalem, the idea appears to be to install it in a Temple, which he desired to build for Jehovah God (see above).

The gates of righteousness refer to the Tabernacle or Temple as a concept.

Recall that Saul wiped out the High Priest and all priests in line for that position (which will result in two priestly lines for the High Priest). So, this is the idea that, if there were a Temple or a Tabernacle, that the psalmist would enter through them. Well, as a concept, the gates to the Temple or Tabernacle are analogous to the gate we go through for salvation (see below). Therefore, it makes little sense for this to be written with the idea that, if the Tabernacle (or Temple) were holding regular services, that the psalmist would walk through those doors.

The gates of righteousness are the gates to the New Jerusalem (Gill Footnote ).

The problem with this interpretation is, there will be a literal New Jerusalem; however, we are not told about it until the book of Revelation (Rev. 3:12 21:2 22:14). Now, that this passage could refer to what the New Jerusalem represents to all believers is a possibility (which we explore below).

The gates of righteousness are the gates to heaven through which Jesus Christ will enter after procuring our salvation (Gill Footnote ).

The entire verse reads: Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will enter through them; I will give thanks to Jehovah. One could interpret the verse as follows: this is Jesus Christ after being resurrected from the dead, entering into the gates of heaven. The psalmist writes as if from our Lord’s perspective (I will enter through them..., etc.). In v. 21, the psalmist is again speaking from the 1st person, and from himself. Therefore, this interpretation, albeit clever, is not in keeping with the context (v. 20b will have the righteous ones entering in through this gate). However, this does appear to be the correct understanding of Psalm 24:7: Lift up your heads, you gates! Rise up, ancient doors! Then the King of glory will come in.

The gates of righteousness are the doors of salvation (that is, they are not literal doors)

There is nothing of formal worship mentioned in this passage. We do not have priestly activity, we do not find animals being sacrificed, we have nothing which indicates that we are speaking of a literal Tabernacle or Temple. Therefore, it seems more prudent to take this phrase in a less than literal sense. This is more in line with what Jesus said: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and he will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9). Or, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6).

The targum here reads: “open to me the gates of the city of righteousness.” Gill offers up yet another possibility Footnote that this is David walking through the gates of Jerusalem when he takes it from the Jebusites. However, the Jebusites would not be considered righteous, so Jerusalem, at that point, would not be considered the city of righteousness. Furthermore, there is nothing else in the immediate context of this verse to support Gill’s position.

What appears to be the most like is, the gates of righteousness refer to an entrance into eternal salvation. This seems to be clearly supported by the next verse, which reads: This [is] the gate [or, entrance] to Yehowah;

the righteous [or, justified] ones enter into Him [or, through it]. What is surprising is the number of different positions which are taken on this issue, and that few commentators actually understood what was being said in this passage.


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Psalm 118:19b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity with the 3rd person masculine plural suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #88


Translation: ...I will enter through them;... The psalmist will walk right through these doors—whether we are speaking of the literal doors of the Temple (or Tabernacle), or the doors of salvation (which are every bit as real; just not a part of our physical realm). As per the discussion above, it seems most likely that these refer to the doors of our salvation—the gate we enter to have a relationship with God.


There are only a few passages which parallel this. The next verse reads: This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous will enter through it. This supports the idea that the gate we walk through is Jesus Christ, our entrance into fellowship with God. We also have Prov. 14:19: The evil bow before those who are good; and the wicked [bow down] at the gates of the righteous. This is along the lines of Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess (Rom. 14:11 Isa. 45:23). That is, at some point, all creation will acknowledge the Jehovah (Jesus Christ) is God. Isa. 26:2: Open the gates so a righteous nation can come in—one that remains faithful. The righteous nation is the nation of believers and their walking through the gates is fellowship with God (this passages goes on to say, You will keep the faithful mind in perfect peace because he trusts in You. Trust in Jehovah forever, for in Elohim Jehovah is the everlasting Rock—vv. 3–4).


Psalm 118:19c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

yâdâh (הָדָי) [pronounced yaw-AWH]

to profess, to confess; to show or point out [with the hand extended]; to give thanks, to praise, to celebrate

1st person singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong’s #3034 BDB #392

Yâh (ָי) [pronounced yaw]

an abbreviated form of YHWH, the proper name for God in the Old Testament

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #3050 BDB #219


Translation: ...I confess [or, praise, thank] Yah! Although this verb can mean to thank, to praise; it also means to confess, to profess. The gates of righteousness are opened because the psalmist has confessed Yah, or Jehovah. Because the gates are opened, the psalmist thanks and praises Jehovah.


This the gate to Yehowah;

righteous ones enter into Him [or, it].

Psalm

118:20

This [is] the gate [or, entrance] to Yehowah;

the righteous [or, justified] ones enter through it [or, into Him].

This is the entrance to Jehovah;

those who have been justified will enter into Him.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       This the gate to Yehowah;

righteous ones enter into Him [or, it].

Septuagint                             This is the gate of the Lord: the righteous shall enter by it.

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Here is the gate of the LORD! Everyone who does right may enter this gate.

The Message                         This Temple Gate belongs to GOD, so the victors can enter and praise.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         This is the gate of the LORD through which righteous people will enter.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

MKJV                                     This is the gate of Jehovah into which the righteous shall enter.

Young's Literal Translation    This is the gate to Jehovah, The righteous enter into it.


What is the gist of this verse? The psalmist further defines the gates from the previous verse: this is the entrance to Jehovah, through which the righteous will enter.


Psalm 118:20a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

zeh (הז) [pronounced zeh]

here, this, thus

demonstrative adjective

Strong’s #2088, 2090 (& 2063) BDB #260

sha׳ar (ר-ע -ש) [pronounced SHAH-ģahr]

gate [control of city can be implied]; area inside front gate; entrance

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #8179 BDB #1044

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: This [is] the gate [or, entrance] to Yehowah;... This is a more difficult verse to interpret. In the previous verse, gate was in the plural; the gates of righteousness were to open for him. Here, we switch to the singular, and I would have thought maybe the word entrance might be better than gate; however, that is not a given meaning for the word in Gesenius or in BDB. Still, that seems to be a reasonable interpretation, here, as well as elsewhere. The gates which he asked to be open to him are the gates of righteousness, which is the entrance to Jehovah.


I don’t think anything should be made of the change from plural to singular. After all, you may have a double-gate to your backyard which allows you enough room for a boat. Sometimes, you may refer to them as gates and sometimes in the singular—it is unlikely that anyone will object to you using the singular or plural. Furthermore, this verse begins with This [is]... The only logical thing for this to refer to would be the gates of the previous verse. The idea is, in case you did not really grasp what gates were being spoken on in the previous verse (see To What do the Gates of Righteousness Refer?); this verse straightens it out for you: the gates of righteousness in the previous verse are equivalent to the entrance to Jehovah in this verse.


Psalm 118:20b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

tsaddîyqîym (םי.קי̣ַצ) [pronounced tsahd-dee-KEEM]

just ones, righteous ones, justified ones

masculine plural adjective, often used as a substantive

Strong’s #6662 BDB #843

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

be () [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #88


Translation: ...the righteous [or, justified] ones enter through it [or into Him]. There are a couple of ways that this may be interpreted; and this being poetry, it is not unusual for more than one meaning to apply. That is, poetry is something which can often be taken in more than one way; and not incorrectly so. The first understanding is, the justified ones or righteous ones (righteous because we have been justified) enter through these gates, through the entrance, to Jehovah God. That seems to be the most basic and reasonable explanation. Footnote


Since there is no neutral suffix in the Hebrew, whether this reads we enter into Him or we enter through it is uncertain; therefore, we will examine both translations and the possible interpretations which result.

How Should we Translate Psalm 118:20b?

Translation

Commentary

This [is] the gate [or, entrance] to Yehowah;

the righteous [or, justified] ones enter into Him.

One might understand this phrase to be taken this way as sort of a murky look into the Church Age. If those who have been justified enter into Him, this is positional truth, which is found only in the Church Age—something which is far future from the writing of this psalm (no matter who we see as the author).


By the way, positional truth means that, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are put into Christ (a very common New Testament phrase); so that all that He is, we share. We share His Sonship, His destiny, His righteousness, His sinlessness, His perfection. When God looks at us, He sees us in Christ; we share these things not because we have earned them in any way, but because of what Christ did for us on the cross.

This [is] the gate [or, entrance] to Yehowah;

the righteous [or, justified] ones enter through it.

This interpretation makes most sense from the standpoint of parallelism. In v. 19a, the psalmist writes: Open the gates for righteousness for me and I will enter through them; therefore, it makes most sense for his meaning here to be: This is the entrance to Jehovah; those who are justified enter through it. We have the same verb and preposition at the end of both of these verses; therefore, it seems reasonable that the simple understanding that we find here is the most reasonable approach.

 


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With regards to the first interpretation: I don’t think that we should look at this in the technical sense in which this is used in the New Testament. In Christ in the New Testament refers to a great many things; chiefly that, when God sees us, He sees us as being in Christ, where we share all that Christ has and all the Christ is. It is very important to recognize that is something true only in the New Testament, as Jesus Christ had not died for the sins of man prior to that time. The Holy Spirit places us into Christ at the moment of salvation. In this passage, I think it more prudent that we understand this in a more general sense, of being with God.


Now, don’t forget that this is a believer whom God has slapped around a lot because of his wrongdoing. So, don’t get the idea that this is some perfect or nearly perfect person; he will enter into the gates of salvation; God will bring him in; but he did not earn or deserve this. We are righteous; we are justified; but this only because what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. The psalmist admits to being disciplined severely, which indicates that he is, by no means, perfect in and of himself.


I thank You for You answered me

and so You are to me to deliverance [or, salvation].

Psalm

118:21

I thank [or, praise] You because you answered me,

and You are salvation [or, deliverance] to me.

I thank You and praise You, because You have answered me;

Your are my salvation.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       I thank You for You answered me

and so You are to me to deliverance [or, salvation].

Septuagint                             I will give thanks to You; because You hast heard me, and You have become my salvation.

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       I praise the LORD for answering my prayers and saving me.

The Message                         Thank you for responding to me; you've truly become my salvation!

NJB                                        I thank you for hearing me,

and making yourself my Saviour.

NLT                                I thank you for answering my prayer and saving me!

TEV                                       I praise you, Lord, because you heard me,

because you have given me victory.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         I give thanks to you, because you have answered me. You are my savior.

JPS (Tanakh)                        I praise You, for You have answered me,

and have become my deliverance.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

HCSB                                    I will give thanks to You because You have answered me and have become my salvation.

MKJV                                     I will praise You; for You have heard me, and are my salvation.

Young’s Updated LT             I thank You, for You have answered me, And are to me for salvation.


What is the gist of this verse? The psalmist praises or thanks Jehovah because He answers the psalmist and He is his salvation (or, deliverance).


This verse will be a summative phrase—although v. 21 is not separate from that which follows, it does sum up the psalmists thoughts and feelings of vv. 5–20. Now, how do we know this? First of all, the general tenor of this verse is summative—it does not appear out of thin air but stands upon what has come before. However, secondly, and more importantly, the psalmist here gives thanks (as in v. 1a) because God has heard him (v. 5) and God is his salvation (vv. 5–20).


Psalm 118:21a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

yâdâh (הָדָי) [pronounced yaw-AWH]

to profess, to confess; to show or point out [with the hand extended]; to give thanks, to praise, to celebrate

1st person singular, Hiphil imperfect with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #3034 BDB #392

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

׳ânâh (הָנָע) [pronounced ģaw-NAWH]

to answer, to respond; to speak loudly, to speak up [in a public forum]; to testify; to sing, to chant, to sing responsively

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #6030 BDB #772


Translation: I thank [or, praise] You because you answered me,... Here, praise or thanksgiving is the proper understanding of this verb, as a reason is given—the reason is, God has answered the psalmist. How did God answer him? We have already been told; he was surrounded by his enemies, and God delivered him. The psalmist will restate that below. Furthermore, he was under severe discipline, and he no doubt called out to God to have this discipline removed—and it was.


Compare this to Psalm 22:24: For He has not despised or detested the torment of the afflicted. He did not hide His face from him, but listened when he cried to Him for help. Or, Psalm 116:1: I love the LORD because He has heard my appeal for mercy.


Psalm 118:21b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

yeshûw׳âh (הָעשי) [pronounced yeshoo-ĢAW]

deliverance, salvation

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #3444 BDB #447


Translation: ...and You are salvation [or, deliverance] to me. God has delivered this psalmist in time (vv. 5–14) and He has delivered the psalmist eternally (vv. 19–20). The psalmist has complete trust in God.


Obviously, there are going to be many parallel verses here. In this psalm, we have v. 14: The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. From the Law, we have Ex. 15:2: The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise Him, my father's God, and I will exalt Him. And from the prophets, we have Isa. 12:2: Indeed, God is my salvation. I will trust Him and not be afraid. Because Yah, the LORD, is my strength and my song, He has become my salvation."


Even though I will begin a new section of this psalm below, that does not mean that we have completely left this topic and moved on to something else. Bear in mind, as we go to the next verse, that the psalmist is giving thanks to the Lord because He answered his prayer and is his salvation. What follows should be tied to this verse.


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Jesus Christ is the Lord God of Israel


A stone rejected [despised, lightly esteemed] the builders

has become for a head of a corner.

Psalm

118:22

The stone rejected [despised, lightly esteemed] [by] the builders

has become the chief cornerstone [lit., head of the cornerstone].

The stone which the builders rejected and despised

has become the chief foundation stone.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       A stone rejected [despised, lightly esteemed] the builders

has become for a head of a corner..

Septuagint                             The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.

 

Significant differences:          No significant difference.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       The stone that the builders tossed aside has now become the most important stone.

The Message                         The stone the masons discarded as flawed is now the capstone!

TEV                                       The stone which the builders rejected as worthless

turned out to be the most important of all.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

JPS (Tanakh)                        The stone that the builders rejected

has become the chief cornerstone.