Psalm 144sn Psalm 144. The psalmist expresses his confidence in God, asks for a mighty display of divine intervention in an upcoming battle, and anticipates God’s rich blessings on the nation in the aftermath of military victory.
1 The Lord, my protector,tn Heb “my rocky summit.” The Lord is compared to a rocky summit where one can find protection from enemies. See Ps 18:2. deserves praisetn Heb “blessed [be] the Lord, my rocky summit.” –
the one who trains my hands for battle,sn The one who trains my hands for battle. The psalmist attributes his skill with weapons to divine enablement (see Ps 18:34). Egyptian reliefs picture gods teaching the king how to shoot a bow. See O. Keel, The Symbolism of the Biblical World, 265.
and my fingers for war,
2 who loves metn Heb “my loyal love,” which is probably an abbreviated form of “the God of my loyal love” (see Ps 59:10, 17). and is my stronghold,
my refugetn Or “my elevated place.” and my deliverer,
my shield and the one in whom I take shelter,
who makes nations submit to me.tn Heb “the one who subdues nations beneath me.”
3 O Lord, of what importance is the human race,tn Heb “What is mankind?” The singular noun אֱנוֹשׁ (’enosh) is used here in a collective sense and refers to the human race. See Ps 8:5. that you should notice them?
Of what importance is mankind,tn Heb “and the son of man.” The phrase “son of man” is used here in a collective sense and refers to human beings. For other uses of the phrase in a collective or representative manner, see Num 23:19; Ps 146:3; Isa 51:12. that you should be concerned about them?tn Heb “take account of him.” The two imperfect verbal forms in v. 4 describe God’s characteristic activity.
4 Peopletn Heb “man,” or “mankind.” are like a vapor,
their days like a shadow that disappears.tn Heb “his days [are] like a shadow that passes away,” that is, like a late afternoon shadow made by the descending sun that will soon be swallowed up by complete darkness. See Ps 102:11.
5 O Lord, make the sky sinktn The Hebrew verb נָטָה (natah) can carry the sense “to [cause to] bend; to [cause to] bow down.” For example, Gen 49:15 pictures Issachar as a donkey that “bends” its shoulder or back under a burden. Here the Lord causes the sky, pictured as a dome or vault, to sink down as he descends in the storm. See Ps 18:9. and come down!tn Heb “so you might come down.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) conjunctive indicates purpose after the preceding imperative. The same type of construction is utilized in v. 6.
Touch the mountains and make them smolder!tn Heb “so they might smolder.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) conjunctive indicates purpose after the preceding imperative.
6 Hurl lightning bolts and scatter them!
Shoot your arrows and rout them!sn Arrows and lightning bolts are associated in other texts (see Pss 18:14; 77:17-18; Zech 9:14), as well as in ancient Near Eastern art (see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” [Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983], 187).
7 Reach downtn Heb “stretch out your hands.” from above!
Grab me and rescue me from the surging water,tn Heb “mighty waters.” The waters of the sea symbolize the psalmist’s powerful foreign enemies, as well as the realm of death they represent (see the next line and Ps 18:16-17).
from the power of foreigners,tn Heb “from the hand of the sons of foreignness.”
8 who speak lies,
and make false promises.tn Heb “who [with] their mouth speak falsehood, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.” The reference to the “right hand” is probably a metonymy for an oath. When making an oath, one would raise the hand as a solemn gesture. See Exod 6:8; Num 14:30; Deut 32:40. The figure thus represents the making of false oaths (false promises).
9 O God, I will sing a new song to you!
Accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, I will sing praises to you,
10 the one who deliverstn Heb “grants deliverance to.” kings,
and rescued David his servant from a deadlytn Heb “harmful.” sword.
11 Grab me and rescue me from the power of foreigners,tn Heb “from the hand of the sons of foreignness.”
who speak lies,
and make false promises.tn Heb “who [with] their mouth speak falsehood, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.” See v. 8 where the same expression occurs.
12 Thentn Some consider אֲשֶׁר (’asher) problematic, but here it probably indicates the anticipated consequence of the preceding request. (For other examples of אֲשֶׁר indicating purpose/result, see BDB 83 s.v. and HALOT 99 s.v.) If the psalmist – who appears to be a Davidic king preparing to fight a battle (see vv. 10-11) – is victorious, the whole nation will be spared invasion and defeat (see v. 14) and can flourish. Some prefer to emend the form to אַשְׁרֵי (“how blessed [are our sons]”). A suffixed noun sometimes follows אַשְׁרֵי (’ashrey; see 1 Kgs 10:8; Prov 20:7), but the presence of a comparative element (see “like plants”) after the suffixed noun makes the proposed reading too awkward syntactically. our sons will be like plants,
that quickly grow to full size.tn Heb “grown up in their youth.” The translation assumes that “grown up” modifies “plants” (just as “carved” modifies “corner pillars” in the second half of the verse). Another option is to take “grown up” as a predicate in relation to “our sons,” in which case one might translate, “they will be strapping youths.”
Our daughters will be like corner pillars,tn The Hebrew noun occurs only here and in Zech 9:15, where it refers to the corners of an altar.
carved like those in a palace.tn Heb “carved [in] the pattern of a palace.”
13 Our storehousestn The Hebrew noun occurs only here. will be full,
providing all kinds of food.tn Heb “from kind to kind.” Some prefer to emend the text to מָזוֹן עַל מָזוֹן (mazon ’al mazon, “food upon food”).
Our sheep will multiply by the thousands
and filltn Heb “they are innumerable.” our pastures.tn Heb “in outside places.” Here the term refers to pastures and fields (see Job 5:10; Prov 8:26).
14 Our cattle will be weighted down with produce.tn Heb “weighted down.” This probably refers (1) to the cattle having the produce from the harvest placed on their backs to be transported to the storehouses (see BDB 687 s.v. סָבַל). Other options are (2) to take this as reference to the cattle being pregnant (see HALOT 741 s.v. סבל pu) or (3) to their being well-fed or fattened (see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 [WBC], 288).
No one will break through our walls,
no one will be taken captive,
and there will be no terrified cries in our city squares.tn Heb “there [will be] no breach, and there [will be] no going out, and there [will be] no crying out in our broad places.”
15 How blessed are the people who experience these things!tn Heb “[O] the happiness of the people who [it is] such to them.”
How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!