Translating Psalms (49)

Here’s the lesson Saul never learned and that David figures out in the next psalm: keep the covenant, then offer sacrifices like God tells you.  Sacrifices aren’t an excuse to break the covenant.

“Deus deorum” (Psalm 49)

[1] Psalmus Asaph. Deus deorum, Dominus, locutus est, et vocavit terram a solis ortu usque ad occasum.

A Psalm of Asaph.  God of gods, Lord, He has spoken, and He has called the earth from the rising of the sun even to the setting.

[2] Ex Sion species decoris ejus :

Out of Zion the appearance of His comeliness;

[3] Deus manifeste veniet; Deus noster, et non silebit. Ignis in conspectu ejus exardescet; et in circuitu ejus tempestas valida.

God openly will come; our God, and He will not be silent.  Fire in His sight will blaze out; and in His circle a powerful storm.

[4] Advocabit caelum desursum, et terram, discernere populum suum.

He will call to heaven from above, and the earth, to separate His people. 

[5] Congregate illi sanctos ejus, qui ordinant testamentum ejus super sacrificia.

Gather to Him His saints who ordain His covenant above sacrifices.

[6] Et annuntiabunt caeli justitiam ejus, quoniam Deus judex est.

And they will announce, the heavens, His justice, for God is judge.

[7] Audi, populus meus, et loquar Israel, et testificabor tibi. Deus, Deus tuus ego sum.

Hear, My People, and I will speak, Israel, and will testify to you.  God, Your God, am I.

[8] Non in sacrificiis tuis arguam te; holocausta autem tua in conspectu meo sunt semper.

Not in your sacrifices will I argue you; yet your holocausts are in My sight always.

[9] Non accipiam de domo tua vitulos, neque de gregibus tuis hircos;

I will not accept from your home calves, nor from your flocks goats; 

[10] quoniam meae sunt omnes ferae silvarum, jumenta in montibus, et boves.

for Mine are all the beasts of the woods, mules in the mountains, and oxen.

[11] Cognovi omnia volatilia caeli; et pulchritudo agri mecum est.

I have known all things flying of the sky; and the beauty of the field is with Me.

[12] Si esuriero, non dicam tibi : meus est enim orbis terrae, et plenitudo ejus.

If I thirst, I will not speak to you; Mine is indeed the globe of the earth and its fullness.

[13] Numquid manducabo carnes taurorum? aut sanguinem hircorum potabo?

Will I really eat the flesh of bulls?  Or the blood of goats will I drink?

[14] Immola Deo sacrificium laudis, et redde Altissimo vota tua.

Sacrifice to God a sacrifice of praise and return to the Most High your votives.

[15] Et invoca me in die tribulationis; eruam te, et honorificabis me.

And invoke Me in the day of trouble; I will pluck you out and you will honor Me.

[16] Peccatori autem dixit Deus : Quare tu enarras justitias meas? et assumis testamentum meum per os tuum?

But to the sinner He has spoken, has God, “Why do you tell My justices? and assume My covenant through your mouth?

[17] Tu vero odisti disciplinam, et projecisti sermones meos retrorsum.

You, truly, you have hated discipline and thrown forth my words back again.

[18] Si videbas furem, currebas cum eo; et cum adulteris portionem tuam ponebas.

If you saw the thief, you ran with him; and with adulterers your portion did you place.

[19] Os tuum abundavit malitia, et lingua tua concinnabat dolos.

Your mouth has abounded in malice and your tongue fine-spun deceits.

[20] Sedens, adversus fratrem tuum loquebaris, et adversus filium matris tuae ponebas scandalum.

Sitting against your brother you spoke and against the son of your mother you placed stumbling block.

[21] Haec fecisti, et tacui. Existimasti inique quod ero tui similis : arguam te, et statuam contra faciem tuam.

These things you have done and I have been silent.  You have judged unjustly that I will be like you; I will argue you and set against your face.”

[22] Intelligite haec, qui obliviscimini Deum : nequando rapiat, et non sit qui eripiat.

Understand these things, you who forget God; lest ever He seize and there be none who may rescue.

[23] Sacrificium laudis honorificabit me; et illic iter quo ostendam illi salutare Dei.

A sacrifice of praise will honor me; and there the journey by which I may show to him  the saving of God.


v. 14 immola Growing up I always thought it meant “to burn (as a sacrifice)” but the etymology is actually from the preparation of the animal for sacrifice by sprinkling ground meal over it.  Normally I would refrain from translating it into English as “sacrifice” because of the noun form immediately following–I would only double the English use if noun and verb were the same root.  But in this case there isn’t really another Latin verb for “sacrifice”–immmolare became the way to say it.  I can either go with “immolate” in English (tempting) or following the simpler Septuagint and double up the verb and noun.  Greek wins here.

v. 19 concinnabat This one’s an adventure!  It’s a verb built from an adjective built from a noun.  What is that noun?  Cinnus, a mixed drink.  Since we are mixing things together into an ordered whole, we add a con– prefix and get the adjective concinnusConcinnus focuses on the neat, elegant, well-put-together idea behind the mixed drink; it’s about composition, balance, harmony.  It would describe a well-functioning orchestra, the Golden State Warriors on offense, or a jazz musician.  The verb is to create such a thing–to orchestrate, to weave together, to rhapsodize.  The pejorative idea in this verse is something like a sophist or a lawyer putting together a finely-spun argument for the pursuit of injustice.  I was strongly leaning toward “your tongue mixed a cocktail of deceits” but that’s a little too loosey-goosey for me.

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