158 – Psalm 91 9 – Part 1 – Sentence
I’m hoping to eventually get back to our study in the book of Numbers. By request, I took a diversion into Psalms 91. So far, we’ve looked at verses one through eight. I was reading through Psalm 91 again trying to decide which verse or verses we should consider next. I noticed that in the New King James translation verses nine through eleven is one long sentence. “Ok”, I thought, “we’ll study one sentence, three verses”.
But then I got curious. Do the other major translations present verses nine through eleven as one sentence? How does the Hebrew Bible handle the structure? Answering these questions should be helpful right?
Interesting, yes. Helpful, maybe not so much. Let me tell you what I discovered before we look at today’s passage.
As I already said, the New King James (NKJV) translation treats Psalm 91:9-11 as one sentence.
In the New English Translation (NET) each of the three verses is its own sentence.
In the Lexham English Bible (LEB) each verse is its own sentence.
In the English Standard Version (ESV) verses nine and ten are one sentence and verse eleven is one sentence.
In the New American Standard Bible (NASB95) each verse is a sentence.
In the New International Version (NIV) verses nine and ten are one sentence and verses eleven and twelve are one sentence.
What about the Hebrew Bible? Well, first let me say my knowledge of the Hebrew language is limited to the alphabet, knowing that Hebrew is read right to left, and maybe I know five words! In Hebrew, the period is known as “sof pasuq” and is very similar to our colon (:). In the Lexham Hebrew Bible (LHB) not only are verses nine through eleven each a sentence, but I noticed every verse in every book of the Hebrew Bible ends with the period or sof pasuq! Not sure what that’s all about, but it didn’t help me.
Why have I spent so much time on this? I think it underscores the importance of truly observing what we read. I think it is important for the diligent Bible student to remember that although there are some really good English translations, none of them are perfect. Each translator/publisher must make decisions not only on how each word is constructed but also on how each sentence should be constructed. They all try to best communicate the original meaning so we may understand the message. Let me illustrate my point by showing you the English from Psalm 91:9 in the Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible.
“Dwelling place * your you have placed|you have made the Most High [are] refuge * my Yahweh for * you”. Ok, so now you are the translator. How would you construct the sentence so it makes sense to the English reader?
The takeaway? In your Bible study pay attention not only to each word, but how each sentence is constructed. Get in the habit of consulting multiple good English translations. But above all be in a constant state of prayer as you study, allow the Word of God to speak to you.
I’ve consumed my “space” talking about sentences, so I’ll discuss Psalm 91:9-11 in some detail next time. But let’s at least read it.
9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
The first word “because” is a clear reminder to us of the conditional nature of the blessings listed in Psalm 91. To me, the unfortunate English word in the verse is “LORD”. It’s unfortunate because the Hebrew word is Yahweh, God’s personal name. The “refuge” available to us is the secret place of Yahweh. Consequently, the place available for “dwelling” is a very personal place because it belongs to the personal God Yahweh!
Do you know Yahweh? Have you been dwelling in His secret place? If the answer is yes, then you’ve experienced the life-changing goodness of God. God is so good, His mercies are new every morning, and His promises eternal! Come let us worship the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!
All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print