This blog continues my translation with brief commentary of Psalms 42-72
To the choir leader. A psalm for David.
Hear my voice, God, heed my complaint;
defend my life from the enemy’s terror.
Conceal me from the scheming of criminals
from the crowding of evildoers
who sharpen their tongues like swords,
aim bitter words like arrows,
shooting from ambush at innocent people,
suddenly shooting with no fear.
They stick to their evil business,
they talk of planting snares, saying
”Who will see us?
Who can search out our crimes?”
The one who searches the inward mind
and the depths of the human heart,
He will do it.
God will shoot them with his arrow;
suddenly, they will be pierced.
He will overthrow them by means of their own tongues;
All who see them will shake their heads.
Then all mortals will stand in awe:
they will announce God’s deed
and ponder his working.
Let the just person be glad in Yahweh!
Let her make Yahweh her refuge!
Let all good-hearted people triumph!
The text of this psalm is occasionally corrupt. The translation from “Who will see us?” to “He will do it” is based on small alterations to the Hebrew.
This brief psalm is a summary of all the psalms against slanderers:
1. The slander comes from enemies who want to destroy their victim. The bible recognises false witness as a dangerous crime.
2. Although the attack is verbal, it is as dangerous and violent as an assault with weapons. Jewish wisdom from Proverbs to the Letter of James depicts the human tongue as something almost uncontrollable.
3. The victim appeals to God who sees through all human deception.
4. God turns the false words of the slanderers against them, and destroys their power. We are not told how this happens, but it is not depicted as a miraculous intervention. God turns the evil back on itself.
5. If human beings ponder the fall of evildoers they are led to trust God and to praise him/ her.
The advent of social media and of powerful evildoers who use it to publish destructive lies, may bring such psalms alive for us, and perhaps especially for young people who are subjected to online slander and bullying. Trust in a God whose wisdom exposes fake news and blesses the facts, may be an important contribution to personal and social truth.