For the music director, to be accompanied by stringed instruments; a well-written song 2 by David.
55:1 Listen, O God, to my prayer!
Do not ignore 3 my appeal for mercy!
55:2 Pay attention to me and answer me!
and angrily attack me.
the horrors of death overcome me. 13
terror overwhelms 15 me.
I would fly away and settle in a safe place!
55:7 Look, I will escape to a distant place;
I will stay in the wilderness. (Selah)
55:8 I will hurry off to a place that is safe
from the strong wind 17 and the gale.”
Frustrate their plans! 19
For I see violence and conflict in the city.
while wickedness and destruction 21 are within it.
55:11 Disaster is within it;
violence 22 and deceit do not depart from its public square.
or else I could bear it;
it is not one who hates me who arrogantly taunts me, 24
or else I could hide from him.
my close friend in whom I confided. 27
in God’s temple we would walk together among the crowd.
May they go down alive into Sheol! 30
For evil is in their dwelling place and in their midst.
55:16 As for me, I will call out to God,
and the Lord will deliver me.
55:17 During the evening, morning, and noontime
I will lament and moan, 31
55:19 God, the one who has reigned as king from long ago,
will hear and humiliate them. 38 (Selah)
They refuse to change,
and do not fear God. 39
he breaks his solemn promises to them. 43
but he harbors animosity in his heart. 45
His words seem softer than oil,
but they are really like sharp swords. 46
and he will sustain you. 48
He will never allow the godly to be upended. 49
[55:2] 6 tn The verb is a Hiphil cohortative from הוּם (hum), which means “to confuse someone” in the Qal and “to go wild” in the Niphal. An Arabic cognate means “to be out of one’s senses, to wander about.” With the vav (ו) conjunctive prefixed to it, the cohortative probably indicates the result or effect of the preceding main verb. Some prefer to emend the form to וְאֵהוֹמָה (vÿ’ehomah), a Niphal of הוּם (hum), or to וְאֶהַמֶה (vÿ’ehameh), a Qal imperfect from הָמָה (hamah, “to moan”). Many also prefer to take this verb with what follows (see v. 3).
[55:3] 9 tn Heb “from before the pressure of the wicked.” Some suggest the meaning “screech” (note the parallel “voice”; cf. NEB “shrill clamour”; NRSV “clamor”) for the rare noun עָקָה (’aqah, “pressure”).
[55:3] 11 tc The verb form in the MT appears to be a Hiphil imperfect from the root מוֹט (mot, “to sway”), but the Hiphil occurs only here and in the Kethib (consonantal text) of Ps 140:10, where the form יַמְטֵר (yamter, “let him rain down”) should probably be read. Here in Ps 55:3 it is preferable to read יַמְטִירוּ (yamtiru, “they rain down”). It is odd for “rain down” to be used with an abstract object like “wickedness,” but in Job 20:23 God “rains down” anger (unless one emends the text there; see BHS).
[55:9] 18 tn Traditionally בַּלַּע (bala’) has been taken to mean “swallow” in the sense of “devour” or “destroy” (cf. KJV), but this may be a homonym meaning “confuse” (see BDB 118 s.v. בַּלַּע; HALOT 135 s.v. III *בֶּלַע). “Their tongue” is the understood object of the verb (see the next line).
[55:14] 28 tn Heb “who together we would make counsel sweet.” The imperfect verbal forms here and in the next line draw attention to the ongoing nature of the actions (the so-called customary use of the imperfect). Their relationship was characterized by such intimacy and friendship. See IBHS 502-3 §31.2b.
[55:15] 29 tc The meaning of the MT is unclear. The Kethib (consonantal text) reads יַשִּׁימָוֶת עָלֵימוֹ (yashimavet ’alemo, “May devastation [be] upon them!”). The proposed noun יַשִּׁימָוֶת occurs only here and perhaps in the place name Beth-Jeshimoth in Num 33:49. The Qere (marginal text) has יַשִּׁי מָוֶת עָלֵימוֹ (yashi mavet ’alemo). The verbal form יַשִּׁי is apparently an alternate form of יַשִּׁיא (yashi’), a Hiphil imperfect from נָשַׁא (nasha’, “deceive”). In this case one might read “death will come deceptively upon them.” This reading has the advantage of reading מָוֶת (mavet, “death”) which forms a natural parallel with “Sheol” in the next line. The present translation is based on the following reconstruction of the text: יְשִׁמֵּם מָוֶת (yeshimmem mavet). The verb assumed in the reconstruction is a Hiphil jussive third masculine singular from שָׁמַם (shamam, “be desolate”) with a third masculine plural pronominal suffix attached. This reconstruction assumes that (1) haplography has occurred in the traditional text (the original sequence of three mems [מ] was lost with only one mem remaining), resulting in the fusion of originally distinct forms in the Kethib, and (2) that עָלֵימוֹ (’alemo, “upon them”) is a later scribal addition attempting to make sense of a garbled and corrupt text. The preposition עַל (’al) does occur with the verb שָׁמַם (shamam), but in such cases the expression means “be appalled at/because of” (see Jer 49:20; 50:45). If one were to retain the prepositional phrase here, one would have to read the text as follows: יַשִּׁים מָוֶת עָלֵימוֹ (yashim mavet ’alemo, “Death will be appalled at them”). The idea seems odd, to say the least. Death is not collocated with this verb elsewhere.
[55:17] 32 tn The prefixed verb with vav (ו) consecutive normally appears in narrational contexts to indicate past action, but here it continues the anticipatory (future) perspective of the preceding line. In Ps 77:6 one finds the same sequence of cohortative + prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive. In this case as well, both forms refer to future actions.
[55:19] 38 tc Heb “God will hear and answer them, even [the] one who sits [from] ancient times.” The prefixed verbal from with vav (ו) consecutive carries on the anticipatory force of the preceding imperfect. The verb appears to be a Qal form from עָנָה (’anah, “to answer”). If this reading is retained, the point would be that God “answered” them in judgment. The translation assumes an emendation to the Piel וַיְעַנֵּם (vay’annem; see 2 Kgs 17:20) and understands the root as עָנָה (’anah, “to afflict”; see also 1 Kgs 8:35).
[55:20] 42 tc The form should probably be emended to an active participle (שֹׁלְמָיו, sholÿmayv) from the verbal root שָׁלַם (shalam, “be in a covenant of peace with”). Perhaps the translation “his friends” suggests too intimate a relationship. Another option is to translate, “he attacks those who made agreements with him.”
[55:21] 44 tn Heb “the butter-like [words] of his mouth are smooth.” The noun מַחְמָאֹת (makhma’ot, “butter-like [words]”) occurs only here. Many prefer to emend the form to מֵחֶמְאָה (mekhem’ah, from [i.e., “than”] butter”), cf. NEB, NRSV “smoother than butter.” However, in this case “his mouth” does not agree in number with the plural verb חָלְקוּ (kholqu, “they are smooth”). Therefore some further propose an emendation of פִּיו (piv, “his mouth”) to פָּנָיו (panayv, “his face”). In any case, the point seems to that the psalmist’s former friend spoke kindly to him and gave the outward indications of friendship.