Translating Psalms (59)

The books of Samuel mostly depict David going from triumph to triumph as God gives him rest from all his enemies round about.  This psalm recalls specifically the triumphs of David’s hand in II Samuel 8, immediately after his covenant-scene with God in the previous chapter.  Of course the winning streak is going to get a little bit ugly in a few chapters after David’s epic sin with Uriah and Bathsheba…but we’re not there yet.

So what humiliating defeats does David have in mind when singing this psalm?  When has God repelled him and fought against him?  While David’s track record is pretty impressive, Israel’s is…less so.  God often turns His hand against the Israelites in the books of Samuel.  Even before Saul’s many crimes bring the Israelites repeated defeat, even before Saul even takes the throne, Israel loses the ark in battle against the Philistines.  And don’t get started on the time before that, the time of the judges.

David sees in all these past humiliations of his people not divine indifference or abandonment, but direct divine chastisement.  And if God’s hand can work so heavily against the people who sin against Him, how much more can that hand do on behalf of the people who serve Him with an undivided heart?  So the king of Israel invites the King of Israel to march out, to lead the army, and to bring their trials to nothing.  Pretty smart.

Drawing hope from the failures and punishments of the past…quite a psalm.

“Deus, repulisti nos” (Psalm 59)

[1] In finem. Pro his qui immutabuntur, in tituli inscriptionem ipsi David, in doctrinam,

Unto the end.  For these who will be changed, unto an inscription of a title for David himself, unto teaching,

[2] cum succendit Mesopotamiam Syriae, et Sobal, et convertit Joab, et percussit Idumaeam in valle Salinarum duodecim millia.

when he burned Mesopotamia of Syria and Soba, and Joab turned and struck Edom in the valley of Salina, twelve thousand me.

[3] Deus, repulisti nos, et destruxisti nos; iratus es, et misertus es nobis.

O God, You have repelled us and You have destroyed us; You were angry and You were merciful to us.

[4] Commovisti terram, et conturbasti eam; sana contritiones ejus, quia commota est.

You have moved the earth and dismayed it; healthy the griefs of it, for it was moved.

[5] Ostendisti populo tuo dura; potasti nos vino compunctionis.

You have shown to Your people hard things; You have watered us with the wine of compunction.

[6] Dedisti metuentibus te significationem, ut fugiant a facie arcus; ut liberentur dilecti tui,

You have given to those fearing You a sign that they may flee from the face of the bow; that they may be free, those beloved of You.

[7] salvum fac dextera tua, et exaudi me.

Make safe by Your right hand and listen for me.

[8] Deus locutus est in sancto suo : laetabor, et partibor Sichimam; et convallem tabernaculorum metibor.

God has spoken in His holy place, “I will be made glad and alot Shechem and the entire valley of tents will I apportion.

[9] Meus est Galaad, et meus est Manasses; et Ephraim fortitudo capitis mei. Juda rex meus;

Mine is Gilead and Mine is Manasseh and Ephraim the strength of My head.  Judah My king;

[10] Moab olla spei meae. In Idumaeam extendam calceamentum meum : mihi alienigenae subditi sunt.

Moab the jar of My hope.  On Edom will I extend My shoe, to Me foreign tribes have been subdued.”

[11] Quis deducet me in civitatem munitam? quis deducet me usque in Idumaeam?

Who will lead me up into the fortified city?  Who will lead me up even into Edom?

[12] Nonne tu, Deus, qui repulisti nos? et non egredieris, Deus, in virtutibus nostris?

Is it not You, O God, who have repelled us?  And will you not march out, O God, in our forces?

[13] Da nobis auxilium de tribulatione, quia vana salus hominis.

Give to us aid from trouble since vane is the health of man.

[14] In Deo faciemus virtutem; et ipse ad nihilum deducet tribulantes nos.

In God will we make our strength and He unto nothing will lead up our troubles.


v. 2 duodecim I Samuel 8 recounts 18,000 men.  Ah, to have in my hands all the manuscripts everyone was using throughout history…

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