280 – Psalm 9 – Let There Be Music

High School Students Playing In School Orchestra Together

For this devotional, I decided to use the Lexham English Bible (LEB). As far as I can tell, It is a good solid translation. One thing I particularly like about it is that it does not substitute the word LORD for God’s name YHWH. The translators actually transliterate (spell in English) God’s Hebrew name to Yahweh. Another thing they do that is helpful to the English-speaking student of the Bible is they put left and right brackets around phrases and give an explanation for the translation decision they made. It would be hard to recommend the LEB as your main Bible because as far as I know, it is only available in electronic form. But it is a useful Bible study translation.

I want to make a few observations found in three sentences recorded in two verses. 

Psalm 9:11-12 (LEB)

           11       Sing praises to Yahweh who sits enthroned in Zion. 

     Tell his deeds among the peoples, 

           12       for he who ⌊avenges bloodshed⌋ remembers them. 

     He does not forget the distressed cry of the afflicted. 

If you were looking at verse eleven in Logos Bible software you would notice the second word “praises” is italicized. That’s because there isn’t a Hebrew word, “praises”. The English word was added for clarification. The Hebrew actually says, “Sing to Yahweh…”. 

Before we throw the translators under the bus for putting a word in that isn’t in the source language let’s spend a minute looking at the Hebrew lexicon for the word “sing”.

The word is from the Hebrew verb זמר (zmr) which, according to Logos Bible software has the range of meaning, “sing, praise, play an instrument”. According to Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, it means, “make music in praise to God”. And according to A concise Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament it has the range of meaning, “play an instrument, sing, praise”. So we’ve come full circle on the phrase “sing praises”. Even though there is no separate Hebrew word for “praise” it does seem to be included in the definition of the Hebrew word used here for “sing”.

Another thing I noticed is the person responsible for chapter and verse markings chose to end verse eleven on the comma instead of at the end of the sentence. If you look at the two verses the reason becomes clear. Verse eleven issues two imperatives (commands), and verse twelve talks about two things Yahweh has done that are praiseworthy.

We acknowledge last time that Yahweh is not currently “enthroned in Zion” as verse eleven declares. It is actually a reference to the future millennial kingdom. The commands are one, to Sing praise to Yahweh, and two, to tell others what He has done. Why? Well, verse twelve will explain it to us.

Now we come to the brackets I mentioned around a phrase. The translators have decided the clearer meaning in verse twelve to be that Yahweh “avenges bloodshed”, but the footnote acknowledges that the Hebrew actually says, “seeks bloods”. No, I didn’t typo and add the “s” on blood. It is “seeks bloods” plural in Hebrew. “Bloods”, is probably indicating the lives of more than one offender. Stop and process that a moment. Can you imagine that God actually “seeks bloods” to avenge the afflicted? This should be a clear reminder that though God is a God of all comfort, He is no powder puff! He does execute vengeance upon the wicked who afflict His people. Why? Because He is the only righteous judge.

Verse twelve ends with the very encouraging sentence, “He does not forget the distressed cry of the afflicted”. It might seem like Yahweh forgets the cry of the afflicted because He may not answer immediately, but He does not forget. Justice will be done.

Yahweh is Good. Won’t you sing praises to Him with me? And let’s tell others what He has done, shall we? 

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