Translating Psalms (57)

A break from the psalms tied concretely to an event in David’s life.  The opening line is a scorcher that would fit in nicely in a book like Proverbs or Wisdom of Solomon: if you dare even to speak about justice, make darn sure you judge rightly.

“Si vere utique” (Psalm 57)

[1] In finem, ne disperdas. David in tituli inscriptionem.

Unto the end, lest you destroy.  For David in inscription of a title.

[2] Si vere utique justitiam loquimini, recta judicate, filii hominum.

If truly at least you speak justice, judge aright, you sons of men.

[3] Etenim in corde iniquitates operamini; in terra injustitias manus vestrae concinnant.

And indeed in the heart injustices do you work; in the earth injustices do your hands mix together.

[4]Alienati sunt peccatores a vulva; erraverunt ab utero, locuti sunt falsa.

They are estranged, are sinners, from the womb; they have wandered from the belly; they have spoken false things.

[5] Furor illis secundum similitudinem serpentis, sicut aspidis surdae et obturantis aures suas,

Madness to them according to the likeness of the serpent, just as the asp deaf and stopping its ears,

[6] quae non exaudiet vocem incantantium, et venefici incantantis sapienter.

which does not hear the voice of the enchanters and of the sorcerer enchanting cunningly.

[7] Deus conteret dentes eorum in ore ipsorum; molas leonum confringet Dominus.

God will crush the teeth of them in their mouth; the millstones of the lion he will crush, will the Lord.

[8] Ad nihilum devenient tamquam aqua decurrens; intendit arcum suum donec infirmentur.

Unto nothing will they come down like water rushing down; He will bend His bow until they be weakened.

[9] Sicut cera quae fluit auferentur; supercecidit ignis, et non viderunt solem.

Just as the wax which flows will they be carried away; above them has fallen fire, and they have not seen the sun.

[10] Priusquam intelligerent spinae vestrae rhamnum, sicut viventes sic in ira absorbet eos.

Before they could understand, your spines, the briar, just as the living so in anger will it absorb them.

[11] Laetabitur justus cum viderit vindictam; manus suas lavabit in sanguine peccatoris.

He will be made glad, the just, when he sees vengeance; his hands will he wash in the blood of the sinner.

[12] Et dicet homo : Si utique est fructus justo, utique est Deus judicans eos in terra.

And he will say, will the man, “If at least there is fruit for the just, at least it is God judging them on the earth.”


v. 2 recta Some options here: an alternative form of the adverb recte, an adverbial accusative doing the same thing, or a direct object of judicate.  I tried to split the difference with “aright” but that ends up just being an adverb.

v. 10 absorbet Subject here is a little vague; I’m tying it back to fire in the previous verse but I’ve seen a lot of divine subject, going back to v. 8.  No idea what the first half of the sentence means, so don’t ask.  I assume it’s an odd way to say “before the bramble puts forth its thorns,” i.e., quickly.

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 )

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s