Psalm 143 Translation and comment

A psalm for David

Yahweh, please hear my prayer;

Pay attention to my entreaty.

Just and faithful as you are, answer me.

Do not sit in judgement on your slave

For no flesh is blameless before you.

My adversary has harassed my soul,

Smashed my life into the soil

Made me dwell in dark places

Like the forever dead.

So the spirit within me is smothered

And my heart is filled with horror.

But I grasp at the gone days,

I murmur over all you have done,

I wonder at your handiwork.

I hold out my hands towards you;

My soul, like a thirsty land, longs for you.

Won’t you hurry to answer me Yahweh?

My strength is finished.

Don’t hide your face from me

Or I will be like those who go down to the grave.

Let me know your lovingkindness in the morning

For I have put my trust in you.

Show me the way I should go

For my soul is stretched towards you.

Snatch me away from my enemies, Yahweh!

I take cover with you.

Teach me to do what pleases you,

For you are my God.

May your good spirit lead me onto level ground.

For your reputation’s sake, Yahweh, revive me,;

By your justice save my soul from trouble.

Kill my enemies in your lovingkindness;

Annihilate all who afflict my soul;

Since I am your slave.

This is a bright and vivid psalm, but probably, due to its ending, not acceptable among polite worshippers, who would never ask God to annihilate their enemies, but deal with that task themselves. There are conventional aspects to this psalm but throughout there are surprising phrases which give it character:

No flesh is blameless before you – literally, no living thing is righteous before you. It refers to all creatures not just humanity.

Smashed my life into the soil – a literal translation of a forceful phrase.

The spirit within me is smothered – I think many of us know this experience

My soul, like a thirsty land longs for you- not a unique comparison, but it reveals need and passion.

I take cover with you – the Hebrew text is faulty, but does have the words, cover, and you. The result here is my guess.

Killing and annihilating are not actions of the liberal Christian God, but I guess it’s better than humans taking revenge into their own hands.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: