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Psalm 39 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Psalm 39[a]

For the music director, Jeduthun; a psalm of David.

39 I decided,[b] “I will watch what I say
and make sure I do not sin with my tongue.[c]
I will put a muzzle over my mouth
while in the presence of an evil person.”[d]
I was stone silent;[e]
I held back the urge to speak.[f]
My frustration grew;[g]
my anxiety intensified.[h]
As I thought about it, I became impatient.[i]
Finally I spoke these words:[j]
“O Lord, help me understand my mortality
and the brevity of life.[k]
Let me realize how quickly my life will pass.[l]
Look, you make my days short-lived,[m]
and my life span is nothing from your perspective.[n]
Surely all people, even those who seem secure, are nothing but vapor.[o] (Selah)
Surely people go through life as mere ghosts.[p]
Surely they accumulate worthless wealth
without knowing who will eventually haul it away.”[q]
But now, O Lord, upon what am I relying?
You are my only hope![r]
Deliver me from all my sins of rebellion.
Do not make me the object of fools’ insults.
I am silent and cannot open my mouth
because of what you have done.[s]
10 Please stop wounding me.[t]
You have almost beaten me to death.[u]
11 You severely discipline people for their sins;[v]
like a moth you slowly devour their strength.[w]
Surely all people are a mere vapor. (Selah)
12 Hear my prayer, O Lord.
Listen to my cry for help.
Do not ignore my sobbing.[x]
For I am a resident foreigner with you,
a temporary settler,[y] just as all my ancestors were.
13 Turn your angry gaze away from me, so I can be happy
before I pass away.[z]

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 39:1 sn Psalm 39. The psalmist laments his frailty and mortality as he begs the Lord to take pity on him and remove his disciplinary hand.
  2. Psalm 39:1 tn Heb “I said.”
  3. Psalm 39:1 tn Heb “I will watch my ways, from sinning with my tongue.”
  4. Psalm 39:1 sn The psalmist wanted to voice a lament to the Lord (see vv. 4-6), but he hesitated to do so in the presence of evil people, for such words might be sinful if they gave the wicked an occasion to insult God. See C. A. Briggs and E. G. Briggs, Psalms (ICC), 1:345.
  5. Psalm 39:2 tn Heb “I was mute [with] silence.”
  6. Psalm 39:2 tn Heb “I was quiet from good.” He kept quiet, resisting the urge to find emotional release and satisfaction by voicing his lament.sn I held back the urge to speak. For a helpful discussion of the relationship (and tension) between silence and complaint in ancient Israelite lamentation, see E. S. Gerstenberger, Psalms, Part I (FOTL), 166-67.
  7. Psalm 39:2 tn Heb “and my pain was stirred up.” Emotional pain is in view here.
  8. Psalm 39:3 tn Heb “my heart was hot within me.”
  9. Psalm 39:3 tn Heb “In my reflection fire burned.” The prefixed verbal form is either a preterite (past tense) or an imperfect being used in a past progressive or customary sense (“fire was burning”).
  10. Psalm 39:3 tn Heb “I spoke with my tongue.” The phrase “these words” is supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.
  11. Psalm 39:4 tn Heb “Cause me to know, O Lord, my end; and the measure of my days, what it is!”
  12. Psalm 39:4 tn Heb “Let me know how transient I am.”
  13. Psalm 39:5 tn Heb “Look, handbreadths you make my days.” The “handbreadth” (equivalent to the width of four fingers) was one of the smallest measures used by ancient Israelites. See P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC), 309.
  14. Psalm 39:5 tn Heb “is like nothing before you.”
  15. Psalm 39:5 tn Heb “surely, all vapor [is] all mankind, standing firm.” Another option is to translate, “Surely, all mankind, though seemingly secure, is nothing but a vapor.”
  16. Psalm 39:6 tn Heb “surely, as an image man walks about.” The preposition prefixed to “image” indicates identity here.sn People go through life (Heb “man walks about”). “Walking” is here used as a metaphor for living. The point is that human beings are here today, gone tomorrow. They have no lasting substance and are comparable to mere images or ghosts.
  17. Psalm 39:6 tc Heb “Surely [in] vain they strive, he accumulates and does not know who gathers them.” The MT as it stands is syntactically awkward. The verb forms switch from singular (“walks about”) to plural (“they strive”) and then back to singular (“accumulates and does not know”), even though the subject (generic “man”) remains the same. Furthermore there is no object for the verb “accumulates” and no plural antecedent for the plural pronoun (“them”) attached to “gathers.” These problems can be removed if one emends the text from הֶבֶל יֶהֱמָיוּן (hevel yehemayun, “[in] vain they strive”) to הֶבְלֵי הָמוֹן (hevle hamon, “vain things of wealth”). The present translation follows this emendation.
  18. Psalm 39:7 tn Heb “my hope, for you it [is].”
  19. Psalm 39:9 tn Heb “because you acted.” The psalmist has in mind God’s disciplinary measures (see vv. 10-13).
  20. Psalm 39:10 tn Heb “remove from upon me your wound.”
  21. Psalm 39:10 tn Heb “from the hostility of your hand I have come to an end.”
  22. Psalm 39:11 tn “with punishments on account of sin you discipline a man.”
  23. Psalm 39:11 tc Heb “you cause to dissolve, like a moth, his desired [thing].” The translation assumes an emendation of חֲמוּדוֹ (khamudo, “his desirable [thing]”) to חֶמְדוֹ (khemdo, “his loveliness” [or “beauty”]), a reading that is supported by a few medieval Hebrew mss.
  24. Psalm 39:12 tn Heb “do not be deaf to my tears.”
  25. Psalm 39:12 tn The Hebrew terms גֵּר (ger, “resident foreigner”) and תּוֹשָׁב (toshav, “resident/dweller”) have similar meanings. They are not used here with the technical distinctions of most references in Mosaic Law. Ps 39:12 takes up this language from Lev 25:23 where the terms emphasize that Israel would be a guest on God’s land. They were attached to the Lord’s household; they did not own the land. The Psalmist identifies himself with this privileged yet dependent position. Abraham also refers to himself by these terms in Gen 23:4.
  26. Psalm 39:13 tn Heb “Gaze away from me and I will smile before I go and am not.” The precise identification of the initial verb form (הָשַׁע, hashaʿ) is uncertain. It could be from the root שָׁעָע (shaʿaʿ, “smear over”), but “your eyes” would be the expected object in this case (see Isa 6:10). The verb may be an otherwise unattested Hiphil form of שָׁעָה (shaʿah, “to gaze”) meaning “cause your gaze to be.” Some prefer to emend the form to the Qal שְׁעֵה (sheʿeh, “gaze”; see Job 14:6). If one does read a form of the verb “to gaze,” the angry divine “gaze” of discipline would seem to be in view (see vv. 10-11). For a similar expression of this sentiment see Job 10:20-21.
New English Translation (NET)

NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.

Psalm 39 New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 39[a]

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

I said, “I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
    my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.[b]

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
    do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
    for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
    you consume their wealth like a moth
    surely everyone is but a breath.

12 “Hear my prayer, Lord,
    listen to my cry for help;
    do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
    a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
    before I depart and am no more.”

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 39:1 In Hebrew texts 39:1-13 is numbered 39:2-14.
  2. Psalm 39:5 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verse 11.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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