Psalm 131 translation and comment

A song of ascents or degrees. For David

Yahweh, my heart is not arrogant

Nor are my eyes raised on high;

I do not meddle with great matters

Nor in things too marvellous for me.

But I have smoothed and quieted my soul

Like a cherished child upon its mother.

I hold my soul like a cherished child.

Place your hope in Yahweh, Israel

Now and forever more.

This is an unusual psalm of trust, with remarkably delicate phrasing. The refusal of pride is quietly stated, and extended with the example of great or important issues. I could have translated “soothed” but there is specific reference to evenness. Most translations say “weaned child” but the more general meaning of the verb is to “do good, to treat well” hence “cherished” which I think makes better sense. The third last line is difficult in Hebrew, literally, “like a cherished child upon me is my soul” I could just have left it like that, but chose to imagine the psalmist nursing his/ her soul.

All the personal material can be imagined as spoken by Israel.

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