Q: What is the key value of the book of Psalms in the Bible?
A: That is a difficult question because there are so many important things in Psalms. You can benefit from studying Psalms on many levels.
Doctrine: Psalms has a lot on what we are to believe.
Practice: Both by direct teaching and example, Psalms shows us what we are and are not to do, whether regarding moral purity, the discipline of praying to God, or how to pray to God.
Prophecies relating to the Messiah.
But as important as these things are, I do not think they are the most important point. These things could have been covered in a more straightforward, simpler style, such as in Deuteronomy or Romans. The Book of Psalms, more than any other Old Testament book, dwells on the precious truth of our relationship with God. We learn doctrine, practice, prophecies, and other things in the context of David and others praising, confessing, crying out, and in general praying to God. We see how David feels as well as thinks, and we see how God answers. The books of Psalms and 1 and 2 Samuel are perfect balances; each contributing to the understanding of the other.
Yes God's Word is true, wise, and ought to be obeyed, but we miss out on a significant dimension of our spiritual life if we forget that God's way is so beautiful, as He cares for His people.
Q: What is an outline of this book?
A: Psalms is expressly divided into five "books". Within each book the individual psalms do not necessarily have a topical relationship with preceding or succeeding psalms. Here is an overall outline.
Book 1: Psalms 1-41. The headings say David wrote all these psalms except for 1, 2, 10, 30, and 33, which are anonymous, but probably are by David.
Book 2: Psalms 42-72. Primarily psalms by the sons of Korah, followed by those of Asaph, followed by those of David. Psalm 72 is by Solomon.
Book 3: Psalms 73-89. Psalms 73-83 are by Asaph. Psalms 84-88 are by the sons of Korah, and Psalm 89 is by Ethan the Ezrahite.
Book 4: Psalms 90-106. 102 and 103 are by David, and the rest are anonymous.
Book 5: Psalms 107-150. 108-110, 122, 131, 133, 138, 140-145 are by David. Psalms 120-134 are called "Psalms of Ascents", and were recited when traveling up to Jerusalem or else by priests walking while performing their duties.
Q: In Ps, who wrote the Psalms?
A: We do not know who wrote many of them. Of the 150 psalms in our Bible, 101 of them have captions added giving the author. 73 of them are said to be by David, 2 by Solomon, 12 by the sons of Korah, and 12 by Asaph. However, the captions were added later, and could be incorrect. While Jesus said some of the psalms were by David.
Q: In Ps 1, what is unusual about this psalm?
A: Many psalms are prayers, either for forgiveness, petitions for help, crying to God, or praise to Him. In contrast, Psalm 1 is more instructional, a wisdom psalm explaining to the readers the blessings of delighting in God's law.
One could try so set up the "do's and don'ts" of the Torah against the teaching and relationship-oriented focus of the Psalms, but Psalm 1 shows that setting up the Psalms as a contrast to the law is not what the Psalms are about. First and foremost, this psalm begins with meditating on God's law.
Q: In Ps 1, what is an outline of this psalm?
A: This simple yet beautiful psalm has an asymmetric structure. It is similar to a chiasm.
The blessed not walk in ungodly counsel
- Can't stand or sit as a sinner
- - Delights in God's law
- - - And prospers like a well-watered tree
- - - The wicked wither like dry chaff
- Can't stand or sit in the judgment
Godly watch-over, but the wicked perish
The meaning of Psalm 1 has similarities to Jeremiah 17:5-8.
Q: In Ps 1, what are ten ways people are blessed who meditate on the law of the Lord?
A: While Psalm 23 is an analogy of sheep, Psalm 1 is an analogy of plants. This precious Psalm can be entitled "The two plantings". From meditating on Psalm 1, we can see at least ten ways the godly are blessed.
1. Not being in bondage to sin is in part, its own worthwhile reward.
2. The godly do not fall prey to ungodly, foolish advice.
3. They are sustained, like a tree by streams of water. No matter how long a drought is, as long as the stream does not dry up, the tree will do fine.
4. They yield their fruit in season. In other words, the things they are trying to accomplish, spiritual and otherwise, generally will get done.
5. The leaf does not wither. Their life, hope, and dreams do not shrivel up, even when hard times come.
6. They prosper in what they do.
7. They are not driven away by the winds of change and circumstances.
8. They will stand in the judgment at the end.
9. The will sit in God's kingdom with the other saints. (Saints are all believers.)
10. The Lord knows their way, in the sense that He recognizes, approves, and watches over their way.
Q: In Ps 1:1, how does one walk in the counsel of the ungodly?
A: It can involve doing what ungodly people advice, fearing what they say we should fear, believing what the ungodly say to believe, or speaking or be silent as they say to do. See also the next question.
Q: In Ps 1:1, what is the difference between non-godly advice and ungodly advice?
A: Non-godly advice is non-Biblical advice that can be good or bad. For example, someone can say that driving on a freeway is generally faster than taking the local roads. This may be good advice, but "non-Biblical". Ungodly advice can be advice that expressly denies God, God's working today, or God's future judgment. More commonly though, ungodly advice is more subtle in implicitly assuming that God will never do anything. The first way is obviously atheistic, but more common way is what some call "practical atheism". This is the practice of people who have the form of godliness but deny its power, in 2 Timothy 3:5.
Q: In Ps 1:1 (NRSV), should it say, "take the path that sinners tread" or "stand in the way of sinners"?
A: The NRSV is a little different here. Here are the other translations.
"stand/standeth in the way of sinners" NIV, The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.53, KJV, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.790.
"stand in the path of sinners" NASB
"stands in the path of sinners" NKJV
"stood in the way of sinners" Green's Literal translation of the Hebrew and Lancelot Brenton's English translation of the Septuagint
There are four Hebrew words here ("in the way of" "sinners" "not", and "has stood").
Q: In Ps 1:1, what exactly is wrong with standing in the way of sinners?
A: This does not mean blocking their path, but rather being in the road where sinners go. If you are not going to sin, why would you be in a place where you have no reason to be? Proverbs 5:8 says we are not to even go near the door of a loose woman. We are not to be friends with a hot-tempered man as Proverbs 22:24 says, and we are to stop listening to instruction that causes us to turn from God's knowledge in Proverbs 19:27. We are to pay no attention to the [religious] commands of those who reject the truth, but rather refute them, as 1 Timothy 1:3, Titus 1:9-11, and Jude 3 show.
Q: In Ps 1:2, how are believers to delight in the law of the Lord?
A: Psalm 119 is a rather thorough answer to this question. In brief, while some do not want to even know God's law, believers are both to understand and obey God's law. However, there is a third step, in that Psalm 37:4 says to delight yourself in the Lord. We should realize the joy of bringing joy to God!
On a lighter note, my son delights in obeying me. When we go to the playground, he comes to me for me to give the order for what he is to do. As he wishes, I order him to kill the monsters and fight the space aliens.
Q: In Ps 1:2, how should Christians meditate?
A: We should meditate on the One True God and His word. We should not look inward to ourselves, but upward to God. We should not try merely to empty our soul, but to fill it with the Holy Spirit.
This differs from eastern meditation, which is a subjective drawing inward, while Christians concentrate outside ourselves on God. See When Cultists Ask p.61 and When Critics Ask p.233 for more info.
Q: In Ps 1:6, does the Lord know the way of the wicked, too?
A: On one hand, God knows the way of the wicked, because God knows everything. On the other hand, God does not know the way of the wicked, in the sense of recognizing it as a legitimate way, or approving it.
Q: In Ps 1:6, how does the way of the wicked perish, and not only that the wicked perish?
A: The wicked themselves indeed perish, but that is not the meaning of this particular verse. Rather, the things they worked for, all their hopes, and ambitions are like chaff the wind drives away. All their greed, desires, and pride are like smoke that rises up and out of sight. All that they thought was meaningful and of value in their life is just like dust in the wind.
Q: In Ps 2:1, isn't it an overstatement to say that nations rage and kings of the earth take their stand?
A: The believers who have been tortured or killed for their faith through the ages would not think so. Some political rulers have a [naturally] unexplainable hatred of their peaceful, law-abiding citizens who are called Christians. Someone once estimated that more Christians were killed for their faith in the twentieth century, than in any other previous century. Here is a partial list of persecutions of Christians.
|50-323 A.D.||10 Early Christian Persecutions||50|
|525 A.D.||Christians flee Ethiopian Jewish persecution|
|527-568||Justinian persecutes Monophysites in Egypt|
|700-||Muslims persecute Christians|
|978-1000||Jewish Queen Judith of Axum persecutes Christians|
|1000-||Persecution of Waldenses|
|10th -12th century||Burning and killing heretics in Europe|
|1100-1300||Mongols kill most Nestorian Christians|
|1211||At Strasbourg, Waldenses burned||0.08|
|1252||Innocent IV's bull for torture to detect heresy|
|1261-1331||Dominicans bring in the Inquisition|
|1232||Dominican Inquisition under Albert|
|1233||Inquisition instituted by Gregory IX|
|1309||Venice under heresy for opposing Clement V|
|1415-16||In Czechoslovakia the Hussites revolt|
|1419-34||Crusade against Hussites in Hungary|
|1431||Hussites scare off large Holy Roman Empire army|
|1480||Spanish Inquisition by Ferdinand and Isabella|
|1487-88||Crusade against the Waldenses|
|1527||Mantz and other Anabaptists killed in Zurich|
|1527-1753||Anabaptists killed in Switzerland|
|1545||Waldenses persecuted in Italy|
|1555-60||Waldenses persecuted in Italy|
|1562||At Toulouse, French kill Huguenots||4|
|1576-93||In France, Catholics and Huguenots fight|
|1618-48||Thirty years war kills 1/3 of Germans||7000|
|1629-69||"Trample the crucifix" persecution in Japan|
|1637||Japanese + Dutch artillery crush Christians|
|1655||Many Waldenses killed in Italy and France|
|1753-1810||Mennonites sold as galley slaves by the Swiss to the French and Venetian fleets||0|
|1808||Napoleon ends the Spanish Inquisition|
|1820-41||Christians persecuted in Vietnam|
|1870-90||Guatemala persecutes priests; only 100 left|
|1915-||Persecution of Christians under Communism|
|1940-1946||Nazis kill Jews and Protestants and Catholics who helped them|
|c.1950||Chinese Communists persecute Christians|
|1956||Protestants persecuted in Colombia|
|1976||Catholics murdered in Guatemala||1,000's|
|1990-||Severe persecution in Sudan by Muslims|
|1998-||Muslims violently persecute Christians in Indonesia|
|1998-||Muslims mildly persecute Christian churches in Uzbekistan||probably 0|
Q: In Ps 2:1, why do peoples plot in vain?
A: Intelligent people do this all the time. When you plan with false assumptions, false confidence in your ability to control events, and with wrong goals, your meticulously thought-out plans will not work well. We all have wrong assumptions at times, but some intelligent people can have a knack for rationalizing the evidence to blind themselves to situations not being what they want.
Q: In Ps 2,4, when should we warn God's enemies not to oppose Him?
A: We should warn in three contexts.
If we care about people, we should warn them so they will not get hurt in this life. We also want them to place their trust in God and live with us forever in Heaven.
For God's glory, we want the world to see God's working.
For the sake of onlookers, believers should "hold out the word of life" in Philippians 2:16 and use world circumstances (good and bad) to share the Gospel with people.
Q: In Ps 2:1-2, why does it mention nations, peoples, kings, and rulers?
A: There are different "pairs of glasses" through which one can look at history. Some of these are "peoples", "political nations", "real and nominal kings", and "de facto rulers".
Q: In Ps 2:3, what are the chains and fetters discussed here?
A: These are either perceived chains of morality and decency, or chains of their accountability before God on judgment day. If you think about it, the first is a subset of the second. A third alternative is that they could be the limits of the evil that God allows them to do.
Q: In Ps 2:4, when does God scoff at kings or scorn other unbelievers?
A: The ultimate way God scoffs at kingdoms and kings is to destroy the kingdom, kill the rulers, and for them to be separated from Him in Hell forever. When God scoffs, that is not something to take lightly.
Also, Christ will return and make war against the nations that oppose Him in Revelation 19:11-16, Joel 3:11-16, and Jude 14. After the Millennium, there will be a great battle outside of Jerusalem in Ezekiel 38-39, Zechariah 12:7-11; 14:2-8,12; and Isaiah 29:6.
Q: In Ps 2:7, does "today you are my son" refer to Jesus, since Jesus God's son before He came to earth?
A: Jesus was always God's son, before time began. However, when Jesus was born on earth, He was declared to the world to be God's son. Also, at the incarnation, God the Father was the Father of Jesus, in a non-sexual way.
Q: Does Ps 2:7 show that Jesus was born as a spirit child of a heavenly father and a heavenly mother, as some Mormons teach?
A: No. It does teach that the Messiah existed before He came to earth, but that Jesus had heavenly parents is absent from this verse. See When Cultists Ask p.62 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Ps 2:7, did ancient kings customarily consider themselves the adopted sons of the national god, as the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.489-490 says?
A: Many did not. But they did among the Egyptian Pharaohs, Babylonian kings, and some other rulers.
Q: In Ps 2:9, how does the Messiah dash the nations to pieces?
A: While on a limited scale God in the past allowed the Assyrians, Babylonians, Seleucids, Nazis, etc. to be destroyed, that is not what this verse means. Rather, in the end times, Christ will return and make war against the kings of the earth gathered against Him. See the discussion on Psalm 2:4 for the verses that mention this.
Q: In Ps 2:12, since Jesus is patient, how can His wrath flare up in a moment?
A: Psalm 50:3 compares the action of God's wrath to a fire. A forest can be calm for many years, with the brush building up. When a forest fire starts, it is slow at first, and then races across the tops of trees faster than even a horse can run. Jesus is patient and gentle. However, that does not negate the fact that He also treads the winepress of the wrath of God (Isaiah 63:1-6; Revelation 14:19-20; 19:15b).
The difference between God's wrath and a fire is that God's wrath is due to sin, and God patiently gives warnings and tells people how to avoid His wrath.
Q: In Ps 2:12, how can people be blessed who take refuge in someone whose wrath flares up in a moment?
A: The actions of a police force to arrest a murderer are a blessing to potential victims. Likewise God's wrath is a blessing to those who are oppressed by Satan and others. As standing upwind of a wildfire is better than downwind, God warns us that His fire is coming in Psalm 50:2. Do you want to be upwind or downwind of it?
Q: In Ps 3, was David being a little paranoid here?
A: No. If you think people are out to get you, it is not being paranoid if they really are. Saul was out to get David for years. After that the situation "improved" to be just a civil war. Imagine being on the run for years, and then having no enemies remaining. After Joab defeated Hanun the Ammonite, David probably thought that way when he took a walk on the roof of his palace. Actually David had at least one more enemy: his own sinful nature.
In our lives we might have times of hardship and times of calm, but we are always to be vigilant, because Satan prowls around like a lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). We always have an enemy in our sin nature. Praise God who gives us victory in our lives! (Romans 7:24-25)
Q: In Ps 3:4-5, what can you say to someone who is too scared to go to sleep?
A: Psalms often emphasizes that God is our shield and defender. Philippians 4:6-7 says that we should not be anxious about anything, but pray to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. With God watching over you, there is nobody else that is powerful enough to fear.
Q: In Ps 3:7; Ps 5:10; Ps 7:6; Ps 28:4; Ps 35:1-8; Ps 54:5; Ps 55:15; Ps 58:6-8,10; Ps 59:5,12-13; Ps 68:21-23; Ps 69:15,22-25,27-28; Ps 79:12; Ps 83:9-17; Ps 109:1,7-15; Ps 137:8-9; Ps 141:10, should we pray for God to harm our enemies?
A: These are called "imprecatory psalms". Here are three points to understanding their proper place in the Bible, followed by a different view.
God gives us examples as well as good instruction. The Book of Psalms gives examples of people's prayers. They show David and others praying when joyful, depressed, loving, and feeling vengeful.
Some feelings in Psalms 35:5-8; 42:11a; 7:8; 69:22-28; 109; 137:9 do not reflect loving our enemies as God taught in the New Testament. These psalms show that we should pray what is on our hearts. God does not have to say "yes" to every prayer, but when we open our hearts before God, let's do so with an attitude that God can change our hearts.
A higher standard is required of us than of them, according to Chrysostom (c.397 A.D.) in Miscellaneous Works 151,288. Christians are to love their enemies as Jesus taught in Matthew 5:43-8 and Luke 6:27-35.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.245-246 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.280-282 for more info.
A different view: appeal for justice: 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.150 has a rather different view. It says, "While this has bothered some Christians, it should not. ... These are not curses expressing ill wishes against some harmless fellow who insulted the psalmist. There are appeals for justice, addressed to the supreme court of the universe. [These] are expressions of faith and restraint. Rather than take personal revenge, the psalmists leave vengeance in the hands of God and ask only that he do justice."
This "appeal for justice" applies to Revelation 7 and some psalms such as 7:6, but not others such as Psalm 137:9. When Critics Ask p.242 says similar, also adding that in the Old Testament there often was not much distinction between the unrepentant sinner and his sin.
Q: In Ps 4:1, 5:1, 6:1, 8:1, 9:1, 12:1, etc. before the psalm, what are these things: Neginoth, Gittith, etc.?
A: These are musical instruments. The New Testament church was expressly commanded to sing to each other in psalms in Colossians 3:16. Unfortunately, we do not know what the musical instruments looked like or how they sounded. Perhaps we will know we join in the worship with musical instruments in Heaven in Revelation 5:8; 14:1-2; and 15:2.
As a side note, most Church of Christ members, Mennonites, and Amish do not believe in using musical instruments in church, only singing.
Q: In Ps 4:1, 5:1, 6:1, 8:1, 9:1, 12:1, etc. apart from the Bible, when do we know that musical instruments were first used?
A: It used to be that unbelieving critics of the Bible found these references "instrumental" in proving these passages were anachronistic as skeptics believed that musical instruments were not invented until much later. However, Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.33 points out that lyres, flutes, harps, and even a double oboe [=double-pipe] were used in ancient times. The Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.397-399 gives many examples.
A golden lyre and a silver flute were found at Ur (c.2500 B.C.), and a picture of a lyre is on a painting in the Beni Hasan tomb in Egypt 1900 B.C.. A picture of a harp is in the temple of Hatshepsut at Karnak. Ur, Kish, and other Sumerian cities had sistrums (castanets). The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1161-1163 has photographs of ancient Egyptian harps, flutes, a cave painting of a harp, a double flute [pipe], and a lutelike instrument (c.1450 B.C.), and a sistrum from ancient Egypt. A photograph of a harpist, lute players, and two flute players c.1350 B.C. is in The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.678. On p.679 it has photographs of a wall painting of a harp, lute, double-pipe, and lyre. It also shows the lyre found at Ur, c.2500 B.C. with a gold head of a bearded bull, and a wooden soundbox. On p.681,683 it has photographs of cylindrical rattles (c.1200-1000 B.C.) and a zither player in Tell Asmar (2000-1000 B.C.)
Q: In Ps 4:1, why does it sometimes seem like God is not listening?
A: God always listens to the prayers of godly people, but sometimes God answers no. Other times, God does not respond as quickly as we might desire.
For ungodly people, it is not that God cannot hear, but sometimes people's sins are such that God chooses not to pay any attention to their prayer, as Psalm 66:18 shows.
Q: In Ps 4:1 and Ps 5:1, why do we have to ask God to hear our prayer, since He already hears everything? Come to think of it, if God were not hearing our prayer, there would be no point in speaking to someone who did not hear you.
A: The Almighty does not need any power in our prayers, the All-knowing does not need to be informed of the situation. A good, very-loving God does not need to be persuaded to be good and loving either. Rather God, who is free to do as He pleases, has chosen to hear our prayers, to be glorified by our praise, and to use His promise of answering our requests in His will to accomplish His desire.
Now God gave dominion over the earth to Adam and Eve. When they sinned, they forfeited at least part of that dominion to Satan. Satan is now the prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), the ruler of the air (Ephesians 2:2), and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one (1 John 5:19). However, God's promise to us to answer our prayers overrides all dominion Satan has snatched away.
Q: In Ps 4:2, how do men turn David's glory into shame?
A: David's glory here is glorifying God. Nobody can take away from God's true character or glory. However, believers on earth can glorify God, (or not glorify God) by their lives and actions. Finally, unbelievers could scoff and ridicule David's faith and trust in God.
Q: In Ps 4:2, why would anyone actually seek delusions?
A: Many people would not seek what they knew to be a delusion. People have given their lives for some foolish causes, but no one willingly would die for what they knew was a lie. On the other hand, many people do seek what they themselves realize are delusions, whether the delusion is found at the bottom of a bottle, in a drug, or in a superficial relationship.
Q: In Ps 4:2 (KJV), what does it mean, to "seek after leasing"?
A: This King James Version expression made sense to readers 400 years ago. Today, the NKJV translates this as "seek falsehood" and the NRSV says "seek after lies". The NASB says, "aim at deception" and the NIV translates this as "seek after false gods".
Q: In Ps 4:7, Hos 2:9, Jo 1:10,17; 2:19; 6:17; 14:7, and Zech 9:17 (KJV), how could there be "corn", since corn was not known in the Old World until Columbus came to America?
A: The King James Version translated this word correctly, for 400 years ago, the English word "corn" meant grain. "corn" did not acquire the modern meaning of maize, or "corn on the cob" until later.
Q: In Ps 5:5-6, since God abhors bloodthirsty and evil men, why did God take mercy on Saul of Tarsus, who changed his name to Paul?
A: God's wrath is severe toward those who do not repent. But God is also full of mercy and grace. Ezekiel 18:23,32 says that God does not desire the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their wickedness and live. See also Ezekiel 33:12-20.
Q: In Ps 5:5, how does God hate all who do wrong?
A: Here are seven things to consider about God's love and hate.
God has mercy on all He has made (Psalm 145:8,13b), for God is love (1 John 4:8b).
God also has wrath, that He "expresses every day" (Psalm 7:11)
God can both love and hate. Paul and the rest of us were "objects of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3) before we were saved. God can hate the sin a non-believer (or believer) is committing, and yet at the same time know that the person will repent and is going to Heaven.
God's hate can be temporary for some. God used Jonah to warn of impending doom to the Ninevites. When they repented, then God relented.
God's hate can be permanent for some. For those who rejected God's kindness and refuse to follow Christ, God judges them, and either hates them forever, or else perhaps after their judgment God simply chooses to be indifferent to them.
God's love, wrath, and other emotions are sincere. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.263-264 points out that an error of Thomas Aquinas, Calvin, and other Reformers taught that God is "impassable" in not having any emotions. Many in the Reformed churches today think the same. Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) taught that the Father did not have emotions or wrath, but the Son did. This view of impassability might be a carry-over from Platonic philosophy. However, Scripture is clear that God's love for us is not just an act, as neither is God's wrath. God delights in His children and hates sin. If God the Father did not have emotions, then how could God love us.
God expresses His emotions in time when events occur. God can delay His wrath too, but regardless, God expresses His emotions in time. This is an important point to show that God is within time as well as outside of time.
735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.150 says, "Those who believe in God and turn to that which is right stand safe within the circle of God's love. Those who reject God and do evil stand outside that circle in the realm of judgment. God loves (accepts, forgives) the believing sinner; God hates (decisively rejects, is committed to punish) the sinner who will not believe or turn to the Lord." (italics in the original) God being "committed to punish" is a sobering phrase to ponder. See also When Critics Ask p.235 for more info.
Q: In Ps 5:6 (KJV), what does "speak leasing" mean?
A: Modern translations say "speak lies".
Q: In Ps 5:7 (KJV, NKJV), are we supposed to worship in fear?
A: We are to come before God in fear, rightly understood. We come before the Almighty God, who expresses His wrath, in reverence, and gratitude because of His justice, mercy, and love for us. The NASB and NIV say "reverence".
Q: In Ps 6:1, what does the Hebrew word "sheminith" mean?
A: This Hebrew word means "eighth", and it could refer to an eight-stringed instrument or an octave.
Q: In Ps 6:5 and Ps 115:17, do the dead not remember God?
A: The "dead" do not praise God, as Psalm 115:17 reminds us. That is why we need eternal life, and in Psalm 115:18 David said that believers would praise God forevermore. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.159-161 and the discussion on Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 for more extensive answers.
Q: In Ps 7:3-5, since David prayed that enemies kill him if he rewarded evil to him who was at peace with him, why did this not happen after he had Uriah the Hittite murdered?
A: God could have had this happen, but God chose to be merciful to David and not give David the punishment and death David rightfully deserved.
Q: In Ps 7:7-8, when David asked God to judge him according to his own righteousness, does this prove that good works saved in Old Testament times?
A: No. The psalms record the prayers of David and others, and this is what David prayed to God. It does not say that David understood things perfectly here. But as the Bible teaches us in David's life later, David did not want God to judge him according to his righteousness after his sin with Bathsheba. You can see this in Psalm 51. Also, God did not like that David was a man of blood.
See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.227 for more info.
Q: In Ps 7:8, did David wanting to be judged according to his own righteousness an example of works righteousness?
A: David's prayer was not wise. Psalm 7:8 shows us that we can pray anything to God, but we have to read all of Psalms and about David's life to understand what is wise and what is not. See the discussion on Psalm 35:24 for the answer.
Q: In Ps 7:11, is God a happy being, since He expresses His wrath every day?
A: Yes, God is happy, and God also expresses wrath. Consider four things as you ponder God's emotions.
1. God has emotions somewhat like humans do. God can be happy, angry, sorrowful, etc. Jesus had normal human emotions on earth, and nothing indicates that Jesus lost anything, human or otherwise, when He ascended to Heaven.
2. Contrary to what a few (but probably not most) Calvinists say, when the Bible teaches that God expresses love, or other emotions, that is not just anthropomorphic. In other words, when God says He loves us, that is not just a pretense so that humans could better relate to a stone-cold, emotionless God. Rather, the Bible is sincere, and any argument that said God did not really have love, tenderness, or compassion is a two-edged sword that would show with equal effect that God does not have anger, wrath, or even care. In contrast, Romans 8:26-27 says that the Spirit intercedes with us with groans too deep for words. God not only has emotions, He has emotions even deeper than we have.
3. God is happy and blessed, especially when we express our love to Him in worship and service, God delights in His people (Zephaniah 3:27) and enjoys our praying to Him.
4. However, do not think that with God either the kinds of emotion, depth of emotion, or simultaneous feelings are restricted to human standards. God can relate to every being in the universe at once. To put it simply, God can be happy for billions of different reasons, be angry for billions more different reasons, per second, for all the seconds of time, simultaneously to Him.
Q: In Ps 8:1, how is God's name excellent "in all the earth", since all the earth do not know and recognize Him, then or now?
A: God's creation, earth, plants, animals, and so forth praise God by showing His ways. Creation is not perfect; it too was subjected to frustration at the Fall (Romans 8:19-22). Even so, it still shows God's power and character in Creation, regardless of whether a person recognizes it or not.
Q: In Ps 8:2, how has God ordained praise out of the mouth of babes?
A: God ordained praise out of the mouths of babes in at least two ways.
1. Have you ever seen three to five year olds singing songs of praise? You have to actually see their darling, undivided enthusiasm to understand.
2. Even the cooing and crying of infants is a testimony of just how wonderfully made we are (Psalms 139:14). As that infant learns to smile and chooses to first say words, such as "da-da" and "ma-ma", we can see that adorable child is not just an incredibly complex logic program, but an incredibly wonderful person with a will, emotions, and curiosity. How many computer programs do you know of that can look up at the night sky, point to the moon, and with the enunciation of a two year old, ask "what's that?"
Q: In Ps 8:3, since everything [allegedly] started by random chance from the Big Bang", how do the heavens praise God?
A: Nothing could have started by random chance, as things do not happened for no cause whatsoever. However God created the universe, there had to be a first cause.
If a person says the universe started by chance, ask them to list all the things they know of that occurred to no cause whatsoever. Secular scientists says that with the possible exception of the decay of the nucleus of any particular atom, which we know very little about, they have not observed a single thing that occurred for without any cause whatsoever.
Q: In Ps 8:4, given the advances in the field of artificial intelligence in computers, are we close to making computers that can think like humans?
A: No. The most complex artificial intelligence systems humans have constructed fall far short of even medium complexity vertebrate brains, let alone human brains. Whether you are talking about neural networks or expert systems, the answer is no. See the next two questions for more info.
Q: In Ps 8:4 have advances in regular and hybrid neural network technology produced computer programs that think similarly to humans?
A: No, there is no comparison. Physically the human brain cell has approximately 1011 brain cells (neurons), and 1015 connections (axons). Information is transmitted by two distinct mechanisms: one is an analog preprocessing step using a sigmoid function, and the other is an apparently digitally encoded process. We do not yet understand the details of the second mechanism. Variations of the first mechanism alone are what we commonly use in computer neural networks.
As to whether neural networks can learn, the answer simply depends on the definition you choose for learning. Having worked with back-propagation neural networks for three years, neural networks have amazing abilities as multi-variable nonlinear function approximators and empirical models. Some might think a human brain can be thought of as a massively large neural network with two mechanism of information transfer. However, the difference between a brain and a neural network is one of kind as well as degree. Even the most adaptive of neural networks, and combinations of neural networks, genetic methods fall far short of the intuitive reasoning, feeling, desires, and consciousness of even a typical mammal.
Q: In Ps 8:4, have advances in expert systems software program made computers that reason similarly to humans?
A: No. There are a variety of expert system methods: forward chaining, backward chaining, depth first, breadth first, and so forth. However, we are far greater than an expert system with learning capabilities, as we have the will to choose which expert system method to use. In fact, we can choose when to choose which type of reasoning to use. In fact, we can choose with a nearly infinite regression of choices. The difference between our brains and a hypothetically massive, adaptive, object-based expert system is one of kind as well as degree. Expert systems can function as "intuition", but expert systems cannot create new things, compose music that others agree appreciate for a good beat and a catchy tune, and meaningful interplay with the lyrics.
Q: In Ps 8:4, have advances in software programs such as the "Eliza" software program made computers that reason similarly to humans?
A: Eliza was a clever computer program written a number of years ago that was intended to mimic an active listener. I have heard of one secretary who interacting with it mistakenly believed Eliza thought like a real person. Eliza worked by picking up on the main nouns and verbs in the sentence, and asking questions that echoed back those words.
Q: In Ps 8:4 it talks about man, but from Ps 8:5-9 it switches to God or Jesus. Am I correct?
A: Your question is actually just the "tip of the iceberg" of a much larger one. The last part of the psalm, of everything being under His feet, does in fact refer to Jesus as Hebrews 2:5-9 and 1 Corinthians 15:27 show. However, the larger issue is: how does Psalm 8 relate to humankind?
The entire psalm is but how nature in general glorifies the majesty of God. It starts with immenseness of the heavens and then continually narrows its focus, down to man, and then down to the Son of Man. First it contrasts the heavenly bodies with puny humankind in general in verse 5, asking what is so special about man, - and the Son of man. It answers by saying that while man seems a little lower than the heavenly beings now, he is/will be ruler over them.
So how does this refer to man?
Prior to the fall, man used to have dominion over the whole earth, according to Genesis 1:26,28. However, Psalm 8 is saying more than just how it could have been, or how it used to be.
But not today. Psalm 8 does NOT refer to our present situation, as Hebrews 2:8 teaches. Today this fallen, sin-filled world is under the dominion of the evil one (1 John 5:19). Satan is the prince of this world according to John 12:31; 14:30.
Yet Jesus, the Son of Man, is declared to receive all dominion according to Ephesians 1:22; Hebrews 2:6-8; Colossians 1:16-20; and 1 Corinthians 15:27.
But don't stop with Jesus. Psalm 8:5-9 refers directly to the Son of Man (Jesus), but Ephesians 2:6 says that believers will have the privilege of being co-seated with Christ on Christ's throne. Christ is the judge, but those under Christ will judge the world and judge angels according to 1 Corinthians 6:3. So while Psalm 8:4b-9 refers to the Messiah, we inherit the benefits of what the Messiah does for us, and so believers have not just the same state as before the Fall, but even better.
Q: In Ps 9:4 (KJV), what does "satest" mean?
A: This King James Version expression means sat.
Q: In Ps 9:5, since God has rebuked the heathen, how severe is the rebuke, since a lot of the heathen never knew it?
A: "Rebuked the heathen" can also be translated "rebuked the nations". Regardless of the translation, this verse never says God has already rebuked every non-believer, but that God has destroyed many nations.
Q: In Ps 9:12 (KJV), does God making an "inquisition for blood" have any to do justifying the Medieval inquisitions?
A: No, it actually can mean the opposite. This can be translated "For he [God] who avenges blood remembers". It is God who brings His judgment on the wicked, not us. Torture was never used by a Christian government or church until 385 A.D., when the heretic Priscillian and a few followers were burned alive at Treves by the Roman Emperor Maximus. A number of Christians wrote condemning the use of torture, but Augustine of Hippo unfortunately wrote defending torture of heretics by both the government and the church. Most unfortunately, the Roman Catholic Church, which evolved from the early church at that same time, embraced this false doctrine.
Q: In Ps 9:16; Ps 32:4,5,7; 45:11, 47:4; 48:8; 49:13,15; 50:6; 52:3,5; 54:3; 55:7; 55:19; 57:6; 60:4; 61:4; 62:4; 66:4,7,25; 68:7; 75:3; 76:3,9; 77:3,9, 84:4; 85:2; 76:3,6; 88:7,10; 89:4; 89:37,45,48, 143:6; 140:3,8, what does "selah" mean?
A: Outside of these verses, the word is not encountered so we are not certain. However, based on the context, the word appears to mean "amen" or "so be it". The NASB footnote for Psalm 3:2 says, "Selah may mean: Pause, Crescendo or Musical Interlude"
Q: In Ps 9:19, should we pray for God's justice? If nobody does, then will it still come?
A: God's justice is ultimately inevitable. David was praying here for some of God's justice to come now, in order to show the pagans that there was only One True God, the God of Israel.
Q: In Ps 10:1 and other passages, why does God sometimes appear to be far off and not to do anything?
A: Imagine for a second that God provided at least partial punishment for every sin, the moment after it occurred. Furthermore that the punishments were always sufficiently unpleasant, unavoidable, and were always known for certain to come from a just God. Here would be some results
1) Negligible freedom to sin. It would be difficult to be tempted to sin under these circumstances.
2) Little freedom to love and obey God, apart from the immediate consequences. God created people who, though fallen, have freely chosen to obey God.
3) Little need for faith. Angels do not have faith that God is there; they have certain knowledge that God is there.
See When Critics Ask p.235 for more info.
Q: In Ps 10:3, should this word be "bless" or curse"?
A: The word here can be "bless" as in a farewell blessing. In English we say "good-bye", which is a contraction of "God be with you". Both here and in Job 1:11, the word is used in an ironic sense. Thus Psalm 10:3 can be translated "...say goodbye and renounce the Lord." See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.237 for more info.
Q: In Ps 11:3, what foundation is this verse mentioning?
A: The best-built house will fall into rubble if its foundation is destroyed. Foundations here can be two things.
Whatever is relied upon, good or bad. When the things in which people trust their security, are destroyed, they can become very frightened of the future. When the things people hope in are destroyed, they can be very despairing or cynical about the future. When the things people placed their enjoyment in are destroyed, they can become very depressed about the future.
Godly things: When godly institutions, customs, and people are destroyed or turned to wickedness, believers have a challenge to be steady as a rock. We cannot be this way if those godly things are the basis for our faith. We can only do so if our foundation is God Himself.
Q: In Ps 12, why is this psalm of disappointment in the Bible?
A: It seems that most feelings that people experience are in the Bible. Hatred, jealousy, murderous rage, lust, even insanity, are shown in the Bible and handled. Among other things, the Bible is a book about life, good and bad, and the Bible is profitable reading even if it is just for learning from the success and failures of others.
Q: In Ps 13:1-2, why does God sometimes seem far from us, or does not hear us.
A: Sometimes it we who have drawn farther away from God because of our sin. However, at other times it is not because of that, and it is not that way in this psalm. Sometimes it can be a test to strengthen us, and sometimes God is not telling us "yes" or "no", but "wait". Psalm 13:3-4 remind us that sometimes God does things in our lives, not for us, but for His glory, and as a witness to bring others to Him.
Q: In Ps 14:1, why are fools criticized so much in the Bible?
A: This is not intellectual slowness but moral foolishness. There is pretended ignorance, and ignorance that is not innocent. There are four Hebrew words for fool plus one for sluggard. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.150-151 for more info.
Q: In Ps 14:1, since nobody does good, what about Noah, Abraham, and Moses, not to mention David?
A: How low a standard of good do you mean? No person who ever walked this earth was completely good, according to God's standard, except for Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ, if Heaven was only for those who were good enough to merit eternal life, heaven would be empty of people!
When all was lost for all of us though, and there was no way, Jesus Christ came down to earth and became the way. We can be good, sinlessly perfect in Heaven, and on the road to being perfectly good on earth. If someone were to look at your life today, versus a few years ago, what road would they think you are traveling?
Q: Does Ps 15 refer to only sinless people, or godly people who are still sinful?
A: It refers to people who are still sinful, but have been pronounced righteous by God, and are in the process of being made sinless. However, we will not reach sinless perfection until we come to Heaven.
Q: In Ps 15:4, today are we supposed to despise vile people?
A: No, today we have a higher standard than they had in Old Testament times. We are still to despise sin though, combining it with a love and urgency to save the person, as Jude 22-23 shows.
Q: In Ps 16:8-10, who is the Holy One here?
A: While the psalm begins with David reflecting on God's protection for Him, this psalm gradually moves on to speak, not of David, but of the Holy One of God, which is the Messiah. This refers to Jesus according to Peter in Acts 2:25-28 and Paul in Acts 13:35. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.264-266 for more info.
Q: In Ps 18:9, how is the darkness / dark clouds under God's feet?
A: This colorfully poetic expression is true in both a visual way and as a moral metaphor.
Visually, appeared brilliant "Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day,..." in Ezekiel 1:28 (NIV).
As a moral metaphor, God is pure and has the darkness of evil subjugated under His feet.
Q: In Ps 18:20, when David said God dealt with him according to his righteousness and clean hands, does this prove that good works saved in Old Testament times?
A: No for two reasons. David was not speaking of God saving him eternally, but God helping him in this life. Second, David's subsequent life showed that God did not deal with David as David deserved, but after the sin with Bathsheba God dealt mercifully with David.
See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.227 for more info.
Q: In Ps 19, what can nature show us about God?
A: For those who observe and ponder, it shows there is a Creator, and it shows great beauty, power, and wisdom. It makes us see this vast cosmos and wonder how small we really are, and how few are days on this earth. It can influence people to ponder is there something that matters, eternally, can there be a real purpose for our existence? Properly considered, the natural universe can be used to lead us to consider Him. Improperly considered, many people have looked at the wonder of the natural universe and started worshipping it.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.151-152 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Ps 19:1, can the Gospel be seen in the stars?
A: This verse does not specifically say that. It only says that the heavens declare the glory of God. Nature in general shows some characteristics of the Creator, as Romans 1:19-20 says. Some Christians see in the constellations the gospel story in pictures (Libra the scale of God's justice, Scorpio the serpent, etc.). However, finding the gospel in specific constellations is extra-Biblical. See the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.180-181 for more info.
Q: In Ps 20:4, when will God give you the desires of your heart?
A: When I was growing up, I used to think this verse meant that God would grant the desires of those who followed Him. Later, I came to believe instead that it meant God would give you the feelings, ambitions, and other desires He wanted you to have. Now I see that both are true. God gives His children the proper desires, and He also longs to satisfy those desires. Of course, our desire to see God face to face will only be satisfied when we get to Heaven.
Q: In Ps 21:10, why will God destroy from the earth descendents of evil people?
A: Salvation is offered to everyone, regardless of who their parents are (Acts 17:30; Titus 2:11; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 4:10; 1 John 2:2). Ultimately everyone, male and female, is either a Son of God (Romans 8:14; Galatians 3:26) i.e. born again as a child of God (John 3:3-8; 1 John 3:1,10 Romans 8:16-17) or else a child of the devil (John 8:44; 1 John 3:10).
Q: Was Ps 22 written in the context of hard times when the Jews were exiled from the land, did not have access to the temple, and David was on the run from his enemies?
A: Definitely not. It is true that it was written by David, around 1100 B.C., likely when he was on the run from his enemies. However, the temple had not been built yet (it was built in the time of his son Solomon). The people were only denied access to the temple, because the temple did not exist! As for the author of the Psalm being mournful because the people were exiled from the land, the first exile occurred under the Assyrians around 722 B.C., about three centuries after David was on the run from his enemies.
Q: In Ps 22, what indicates that it speaks of the Messiah's crucifixion?
A: This does not refer to David, for nobody pierced David's hands and feet. (It could also mean "lion-like", but even so, David's hands and feet were not bent over like lion's claws either.) David did not have his garments divided among them. David was not despised because it appeared God was not delivering him (22:6-8).
Since this psalm is not about things David personally experienced, to whom could it refer? It refers to someone who followed God from the womb (verse 9), yet who was despised as abandoned by God (verses 6-8), and asks "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (verse 1). It is someone who had their hands and feet pierced (verse 16), who was brought to the dust of death (verse 15). This sounds like the same suffering servant in Isaiah 53, and this refers to the Messiah. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.266-267 for more info.
Among the Jews, the Pesikta Rabbati 37:2, written about 845 A.D. references Psalm 22 as a Messianic prophecy. Calling the Messiah Ephraim, is says, "Ephraim our True Messiah!... and you were put to ridicule and held in contempt by the nations of the world because of Israel, and you sat in darkness and blackness and your eyes saw no light, and you skin cleft to your bones, and your body dried out was like wood, and your eyes grew dim from fasting, and your strength became like a potsherd. All this because of the sins of our children...." (Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus vol.2 p.229-231, 309)
Q: In Ps 22:16, should the Hebrew be translated as his hands and feet were "pierced" or "lion-like" (Masoretic text)?
A: Scholars used to disagree. The literal Hebrew word in the Masoretic text means "lion-like", and the word was not commonly used this way. Perhaps it could mean that Christ's hands were twisted, as they would contract after the nails were driven in and He hung on those nails for hours.
It could simply be a poetic way of saying "pierced". The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.895 wonders if "pierced" was inserted by Christians as a reference to Jesus. However, Asimov's conjecture is wrong here because the Septuagint, translated centuries before Christ, also says "pierced".
This issue was settled by an early scroll found as Nahal Hever (5/6HEvPs), written before 50 A.D.. It says in Hebrew, "They have pierced my hands and my feet." So the Septuagint and early Nahal Hever scroll agree, and the Masoretic text is different here. See Abegg, Martin, Jr., Peter Flint and Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible p.519 for more info.
Q: In Ps 23:4, how would the Lord's rod and staff comfort someone?
A: A shepherd's staff or shepherd's crook can lift a sheep from danger or a tight spot. The staff or rod is also a weapon to club wolves. Likewise we can be comforted by God's strength in being able to rescue us and defend us.
Q: In Ps 24:1, how does everything belong to the Lord, since the county courthouse says my house belongs to me?
A: Who owns the earth beneath the county courthouse and the people who go inside it? We say we own things, but God owns everything by the right of creation.
Q: In Ps 24:2 is the earth founded upon the seas, or does the earth "hang on nothing" as Job 26:7 says?
A: Both are true, understanding that the word "earth" eres in Hebrew (as in English) can mean dirt, land, or this planet. The seas came before dry ground, according to both Genesis 19 and modern scientific evidence. The land is above the seas, so that the seas do not flow over it. The sphere of the earth hangs on nothing in space though. See When Critics Ask p.236 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Ps 25, Ps 34, Ps 119, why are alphabet acrostics used?
A: Acrostically, beauty and care display easy-to-remember form, greatly helpful in just learning many new observations pretty quickly. Say the previous sentence five times, say the same number of words (17) randomly from a book five times, and see which one you remember better half an hour later.
Psalm 119 is also an acrostic, as are chapter 1, 2 and 4 in Lamentations.
A different non-alphabetized acrostic, where consecutive words spell "YHWH" is in four crucial parts is in Esther (1:20, 5:4; 5:13; 7:7). Twice are forward, and twice are backward. This acrostic at crucial points of the narrative could not be by coincidence.
Q: In Ps 26:2-3, should we want God to try us and examine our hearts and minds?
A: If a person is choosing not to follow God's will, that is probably not what they want. If they are sincerely trying to follow God, they want God to examine them for the following reasons:
a) To glorify God
b) To show them ways they unknowingly are not following God's will so that they can change
c) To show them wrong doctrines, wrong attitudes, or wrong actions they are unwittingly doing so that they can change
d) To be more effective in their Christian service by being more godly.
Q: In Ps 27:8, why was David seeking God's face, since no one could see God's face and live?
A: David was seeking a closer relationship with God now, and eagerly looked forward to seeing God face to face in Heaven.
Q: In Ps 27:10, did David's parents ever forsake David?
A: Some see that David was not a favored son of his father in 1 Samuel 16:5-11. David's father had David tending the sheep, and Jesse initially did not mention David to Samuel. Regardless of that, we have no evidence that David's parents forsook him. David is saying that "even if" his parents forsook him, God will always receive him.
Q: In Ps 28:1, what is the significance of God being our rock?
A: God is our rock in many ways.
God has been here for a long time (eternity).
God is stronger than a rock.
Other things do not hurt the rock.
A rock is all-weather.
One can safely build upon the rock.
Like a rock, God does not change. He is the same every time we come to Him.
Like a rock, God endures for a long time (eternity).
Q: In Ps 29:5,9 why did God want to destroy the cedars of Lebanon and strip the forests bare?
A: God has nothing against unthinking trees. Rather, this metaphor from nature shows how thorough the destruction will be.
2. It might have been a well-beloved song that was used in the dedication of Solomon's temple after David died.
Q: In Ps 30:1, how could this be a song for the dedication of the temple, since it was written by David? David died before the dedication of the temple?
A: First two unlikely possibilities, and then the most likely answer
Not by David: The headings to each psalm are in the Masoretic text, and not a part of the original manuscripts as the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.243 and When Critics Ask p.234-235,236 say. The heading might be incorrect to say it was written by David.
Heading for the previous psalm: This heading, added later, might have been referring to the previous psalm. However, there are few examples of headings like this actually being postscripts.
Incorrect heading: The heading might be incorrect when it says it was for the dedication of the Temple. However, there is no reason to doubt the heading as the answer below is sufficient.
The answer: Psalm 30 most likely was by David (as were Psalms 1-41), and David wrote it for the future dedication of the temple. Just as David collected much of the material of the temple for his son Solomon, David certainly would have stopped to meditate on the beauty the future temple would have.
Q: In Ps 30:2-3, what kind of healing did David receive?
A: Scripture does not say, but it sounds like it was a literal, physical healing from disease.
Q: In Ps 30:4; 97:12, how does one praise God for a remembrance or memorial of his holiness?
A: While the NIV simply says "praise his holy name", under Psalm 30:4 it has a footnote saying that it literally says "memorial". The KJV and NKJV translate this as "remembrance of his holiness/holy name" The NRSV simply says "give thanks to his holy name."
Q: In Ps 30:5, how does God's anger last only a moment, since it might seem like a long moment to people in Hell?
A: David is not speaking of all the wicked, for David Himself recognized that their punishment would be forever. The word here is not "minute" meaning "60 seconds", but "moment" a brief period of time. David, the writer of Psalm 30, is speaking of God's relationship to him, and by implication God's relationship with other believers. The times that God were angry with David were extremely, brief, compared to eternity. The entire verse says, "For His anger is but for a moment, his favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning." (NASB) Those who reject God not only do not see God's anger lasting only a moment, they do not see God's favor lasting a lifetime either. For God's elect people, God's anger and disciple are extremely brief compared to eternity.
Q: In Ps 30:6-7, after David was prospering, why did God stop prospering David?
A: Perhaps the answer is found in Psalms 30:7. David said that God made "my" mountain stand firm. When we have uninterrupted prospering with no problems, not only do we often not grow as much, but we tend to stop relying on God.
Q: In Ps 30:8-9, is David trying to bargain with God here, saying don't let me die or you will have one less worshipper?
A: Not necessarily. David may be realizing that God already has more proud kings than He wants, but God primarily values David not as a king but as a worshipper.
Q: In Ps 31:6, should we today hate some people, as David hated those who clung to worthless idols?
A: No, the New Testament has a higher standard (love your enemies) than the Old Testament. We will classify six kinds of hate, and compare what both the Old Testament and New Testament teach.
Hating those who want to harm you: In some psalms, David expresses his hatred for those who were out to kill him. Jesus acknowledged that previously people were taught to love their friends and hate their enemies, and Jesus explicitly taught otherwise, that we are to love our enemies too. When Stephen was martyred in Acts 7:60, he prayed for those killing him.
Hating people without cause: Both the Old Testament (Psalm 35:19; 69:4; Isaiah 49:7) and New Testament (John 15:25) point out that some sinners do this. We should never do this though.
Hating those who hate God: David said he hated those who hate God. However, in the New Testament we are to love our neighbor, irrespective of if they hate the True God or not. However, we still are to divide from non-believers.
Hating those who are wicked: In Psalm 31:6 David said he hated those who trusted in idols.
Revenge: Both the Old and New Testaments say that we are not to get revenge. Ephesians 4:26 goes even farther, and says not to let the sun go down on our anger.
Hating sin: Both the Old and New Testaments show we are to hate sin. Jude 23 says to hate even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Q: In Ps 31:20, what is the translation of the last phrase?
A: The NASB, KJV, NKJV, and Green's literal translation render this as the "strife of tongues". The NIV says "accusing tongues, and the NRSV translates this as "contentious tongues". The NET Bible says "slanderous attacks". This refers to men who use their words to bring about the downfall of others. It has nothing to do with speaking in tongues.
Q: In Ps 32:2, what is "guile"?
A: This means deceit. However, guile is not only outright lies, but also deceiving someone about your intentions.
Q: In Ps 32:3, why did David say his bones grew old when he kept silent?
A: David felt that his physical health suffered when he did not confess his sins to God. Interestingly, in modern times people have affirmed that guilt, as well as stress, have harmful physical effects on our bodies.
Q: In Ps 32:8, how does God guide us in the way we should go?
A: God guides people in five main ways.
Through the Bible: The Bible gives us God's commands, shows us what God delights in, and warns us of trouble. However, an individual might not have read the entire Bible, understood all of it correctly, or need some reminds.
Through other believers: We have the duty to encourage, teach, correct, and rebuke each other. This implies that we have needs to be encouraged, taught, corrected, and rebuked at times.
Through others: Even non-believers can tell us truthful things, and we can also avoid pitfalls by learning from the bad experiences of others.
God directly revealing something: When Abram heard God telling him to leave his country, of course he had no Bible to consult and see how everything would end up. Likewise, there are many stories of Christian missionaries who have encountered natives with no Bibles, whom God told them to listen to the missionaries. One notable example is the entire tribe of the Sgaw Karen people of Burma. One can read more about this in the book Eternity in Their Hearts.
"Divine Appointments": These are times when, in hindsight, God apparently meant for you to be in a certain place at a certain time, but neither you nor anyone else on earth knew that.
Q: In Ps 34, what is unusual about this Psalm?
A: This psalm is an alphabet acrostic, where successive verses start with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.495 also points this out.
Q: In Ps 34:1, should this say Abimelech as the king of Gath, or Achish?
A: This refers to the time in 1 Samuel 21:12-15 when David pretended to be insane. There are three possibilities here.
Copyist error: The writers who added the headings to the psalms might have made a copyist error of Abimelech when it should have said Achish.
Dual name: Many kings in ancient times had dual names, typically the personal name they were born with and a throne name. Persian kings and Egyptian Pharaohs all had two names, and Solomon had another name: Jedidah. Zedekiah was also called Mattaniah in 2 Kings 24:17. We do not know the names of many Philistine kings, except from Assyrian sources. They mention an A-himilki (same as Ahimelech) who was a king of Ashdod. The first use we know of the Philistines using the name Abimelech was in Genesis 20:2, and the second was Abimelech II in Genesis 26:1.
Title: The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.497, in addition to mentioning a possible copyist error, says it might not be a copyist error after all, but Abimelech might have been a title, as Pharaoh was a title for the ruler of Egypt.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.243-244 and When Critics Ask p.237 for more info on the first two views.
Q: In Ps 34:1, how did David change his behavior before the king of Gath?
A: In 1 Samuel 21:12-15, David acted as though he was an insane person to throw Abimelech off and make Abimelech not suspect that David would not be loyal to the Philistines, or that David could be a ruler of anything. David was relying on his strategy of deception here, and not necessarily on God.
Q: In Ps 35:15 (KJV), what are abjects?
A: The NKJV translates this word as "attackers" and the NRSV translates this word as "ruffians". The NASB says "smiters" and Green's Literal Translations says "defamers". The NET Bible footnote says there is uncertainty in this word, which could be "strikers" or "foreigners", so it just uses the pronoun "they".
Q: In Ps 35:24; 7:8, why would David want God to judge him according to David's righteousness?
A: At this time in his life, David had a high view of his righteousness. David's request could be understood in either a relative or an absolute sense.
Relative: David served and obeyed served God more than Saul and certainly more than the Philistines. David wanted God to judge between David and them, so that David would prevail. If this was what David meant, David did not know that sometimes God uses a more evil people to discipline his disobedient people, as Habakkuk 1 shows. Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.227 mentions that in Psalm 7:8 David is not saying he is sinlessly perfect, but that he is innocent of these wicked deeds.
Absolute: David is asking God to judge him and protect him because David is a righteous servant of God. David knew that no one is righteous (Psalm 143:2). Though David is not claiming to be sinless here, David knows that God protect righteous people, and so David has confidence that God would protect him. Later (in Psalm 51:1), David would learn more about his own sinful nature and his need for God's mercy.
Regardless of whether David's meaning was absolute, relative, or both, this prayer request is not a good example of what we should pray today. Yet it does teach us something important about our prayers. It is always OK for God's obedient children to pray what is on their heart, even if is not the best thing to pray. God is big enough to take all our prayers, understand our mistakes, and like a wise father, say no to foolish request, and even good requests that are not a part of His will and God's greater plan.
Q: In Ps 36:1, why do the wicked have no fear of God?
A: Some do not fear God because they do not believe He exists. Others believe God exists, since they have not been punished for their sins yet, they think they will never be. Demons both know God exists and that there will be future punishment (James 2:19), yet they too continue to disobey God.
Q: In Ps 36:4, how do people devise evil on their beds?
A: While they are lying there waiting to go to sleep, they are plotting to harm someone, getting dishonest gain, or having sexual fantasies. Rather than doing this, Psalm 63:6 says we can meditate on God.
Q: In Ps 37:3-5, what is the difference between trusting in the Lord, delighting in the Lord, and committing your way to the Lord?
A: We are to do all three, but sometimes believers do only one or two.
Trusting in the Lord means to have faith to believe what He says, the peace to know that you are in God's hand, and the courage to stand for what is right and against what is wrong. It does not necessarily mean you have any joy in the Lord or that you are trying to please and obey Him. Psalm 62 is a beautiful description of trusting in the Lord.
Delighting in the Lord means that your life is one of rejoicing with praise to God. It does not necessarily mean you know Him deeply or obey Him very well.
Committing your way to the Lord means to follow what God says and not do what God forbids, to have an attitude of obedience. Obedience can be only out of duty, and not necessarily out of much love or springing from faith.
Each one is important for us to do, without neglecting the others.
Q: Does Ps 37:9,11,29 show that the righteous will live on the earth forever, as Jehovah's Witnesses claim?
A: No. The Hebrew word here can mean "land" as well as "earth", and both are applicable here. Three points to consider in the answer.
Does not say forever: The Hebrew word for "forever/a long time", olam, is not used here.
Land: The people will inherit the land. The Jews will return to the land, and God's people will live in the promised land during the Millennium.
Earth: God's people will live forever on the new earth according to Revelation 21.
See the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.288-289 and When Cultists Ask p.63 for more info.
Q: In Ps 37:20, does the wicked perishing mean they are annihilated?
A: No, the Hebrew word abad means they are physically killed, as the righteous sometimes perish in Isaiah 57:1 and Micah 7:2. It also means they do not have eternal life in Heaven. So while their life on earth is annihilated, that does not mean their existence is annihilated.
See When Cultists Ask p.64 for more info.
Q: In Ps 37:25, what about believers who are killed in famines or natural disasters?
A: Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.325-328 observes that David prefaced this verse with "I have never seen" vs. "thus says the Lord". Regardless though, it is still fair to ask if and how God protects believers from natural disasters.
God will not let obedient believers die before God decides it is their time. God especially notices their death, for "Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of his saints" (Psalm 116:15 NKJV).
Q: In Ps 37:25, how did David never see the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread?
A: There is nothing wrong with someone begging bread if they need to do so. Rather, David was saying he never observed the children of the righteous begging; it could still occur in other places in the world. In Israel they were supposed to take care of the poor, and Christians have a command to do so today also. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.267-268 and When Critics Ask p.237-238 for more info.
Q: In Ps 38:5, how did David's wounds stink?
A: This refers to wounds smelling because of serious infection or gangrene. David was speaking metaphorically of his serious situation.
Q: In Ps 38:7, how are evil people cut off?
A: This means killed. The Hebrew word karath does not mean annihilated, as the Messiah would be cut off in Daniel 9:26. Rather, cut off means to be killed. See When Cultists Ask p.62-63 for more info.
Q: In Ps 39:1, why is Jeduthun mentioned here?
A: The psalm could be dedicated to Jeduthun, or as the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.497 says, it could be written in a style after the clan of Jeduthun.
Q: In Ps 39:12, why did David feel he was a stranger?
A: Before he was a king, David might have felt out of place among the soldiers of Saul's army, both prior to killing Goliath and after. On the run from Saul, David certainly felt lonely and a stranger. However, even as a king, David might have had times when he felt isolated and a stranger.
Q: In Ps 40:2 (KJV), how did God establish David's "goings"?
A: This colorful expression means God directed David's paths.
Q: Do Ps 40:6 and Ps 50:13-15 show an abandoning of animal sacrifices?
A: No for two reasons.
Authors: If anyone were against sacrifices, it likely would not be David, Solomon, or the people employed by them. David wrote Psalm 40, and Psalm 50 was by Asaph, a musician of David. David was anointed king at a sacrifice Samuel had in Bethlehem. David sacrificed to avert the angel of destruction in 1 Chronicles 21:23-27. After David, Solomon made a huge sacrifice of 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep when the Temple was dedicated in 2 Chronicles 7:1,4-5
Logic error: Showing the primacy of obedience over sacrifice does not mean an abandonment of sacrifice. Psalm 50 also shows that sacrifice is not to fulfill any alleged physical need on God's part.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.152 for a similar answer.
Q: In Ps 40:6, how did God open David's ears?
A: This means God metaphorically pierced David's ear. In the Pentateuch, a slave would let a beloved master pierce his ear, signifying the slave's free choice to be a slave of the owner for life.
Q: In Ps 40:7, how was it written in the book about David or the Messiah?
A: David also wrote Psalm 139:16, which says that all the days written for us were in God's book before one of them came to be. Revelation 20:12 also mentions God having a book with everyone's deeds written down in it.
While this is true of David and us, the primary meaning is the Messiah, whose coming and death were according to God's purpose and foreknowledge in Acts 2:23.
Q: In Ps 41, since David followed God, why was David feeling in such a mood that he wrote Psalm 41?
A: This apparently occurred when David was very sick. He was concerned not only for physical healing, but that his enemies would mock him, thinking God had turned away. David emphasizes that he had sinned. Some might suspect that this occurred after David's sin with Bathsheba, but there is no way to verify that.
Perhaps God does not want us to focus on when this occurred to David, but rather to illustrate that we can have these feelings too. If someone says, "A believer should always smile, feel positive, and never feel down", this would be a good psalm to show him. David might have sinned before, but David was obedient now.
Q: In Ps 42, why do believers sometimes feel separated from God?
A: Sometimes they separate themselves by being caught up in the world, disobedience, apathy, an unforgiving heart, or other sins. However, sometimes obedient believers can still feel down or oppress for a period of time. We are to be faithful to God regardless of our feelings.
Q: In Ps 42:1-2, since David already had a relationship with God, why was he thirsting after God?
A: this is similar to every Christian already having the Holy Spirit inside them, yet God still commands Christians to be filled with the Holy Spirit. David already had a living relationship with God, but David felt his relationship was rather dry at this time.
Q: In Ps 43:5, should obedient Christian ever be emotionally downcast?
A: David was at times, and that was OK. Jesus was down in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Paul despaired of life in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10. Paul was sorrowful when Epaphroditus was sick and almost died in Philippians 2:27.
So it is fine for Christians to feel a wide range of emotion, but as the Don Francisco songs says, "Jesus is the Lord of the way I feel!"
Q: In Ps 44:3 (KJV), what is a countenance?
A: It means "face" or "expression on a face". God was smiling on them.
Q: In Ps 44:6, what is significant about David not trusting in the bow?
A: The bow was one of David's preferred weapons. If David would not trust in the bow instead of God, certainly they should not either.
Q: In Ps 44:19 and Ps 148:7 (KJV), what are dragons here?
A: These are "jackals", as the NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, and Green's Literal Translation all say. The NET Bible says, "wild dogs" wit a footnote saying the Hebrew says "jackals". By the way, the English word "jackal" comes from the Persian word for them shaghal) according to The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia vol.6 p.7.
Q: In Ps 44:20, how do people stretch out their hearts to a strange god today?
A: This refers both to worshipping false gods and seeking aid from false gods. Today Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religions worship either inanimate statues as gods, or else worship other gods represented by inanimate objects. Some Catholics in Central and South America combine Catholicism with idol worship.
However, even some Christians do not take idolatry very seriously. A Catholic priest once asked me "why are Protestants so afraid of the Virgin Mary?" I am not afraid, since I named one of my daughters after her. I should have asked him in return, "why are many Catholics not careful of the sin of idolatry?"
Q: In Ps 44:22, how are God's people counted as sheep to be slaughtered?
A: There have been times when God has allowed many of his children to be killed. Sometimes, God punished the Jews because they were disobedient, but that is not the primary meaning of this verse. Rather, God sometimes allows even obedient believers to suffer and be martyrs for Him. We can see the following.
God apparently does not have the same view of life on earth that most people do. Since we do not see the afterlife yet, it is easy to feel that maximizing the time of our life on earth is one of the most important things. God's perspective is different. God sees what somebody can be doing in Heaven, and on earth. Sometimes proving you are willing to die for your faith is a witness to others. During the time of the early church, up to 324 A.D., an estimated 40,000-50,000 Christians were killed for their faith.
Q: In Ps 44:23 and Ps 73:20 does God sleep, or does he not sleep, as Ps 121:304 shows?
A: God does not ever become tired or unconscious. However there are times when God appears less active in our immediate situation. Metaphorically, David is asking God to "wake up" and take action now.
The Bible acknowledges that sometimes God acts slower than some people would want (2 Peter 3:9). Some reasons for His timing are a testing for us, sometimes we are not ready for something yet, or sometimes we are ready, but some others are not. We have to wait upon the Lord. When Critics Ask p.238 says "sleep" here is a figure of speech meaning God defers judgment until later.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.244-245, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.268-269, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.153 for more info.
Q: In Ps 45:3-5, does this refer to Mohammed, as some Muslims claim?
A: No, even Muslims cannot really see this way, except for some of the Gulat sects of Islam, which think Mohammed actually is God. Psalm 45:6 says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever." (NIV) In addition to Mohammed never claiming to be God, Mohammed never had a throne or a scepter either. See When Critics Ask p.238 and When Cultists Ask p.64 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Ps 45:6, was this God's throne, or a human throne?
A: This is both, as Jesus Christ is both God and man. This is the throne of "God who was anointed by God". This is Jesus Christ according to Hebrews 1:8-9. Also, we will reign with Christ on His throne in Ephesians 2:6-7. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.271-272 for more info.
Q: In Ps 45:6, I have been debating a man who denies the deity of Christ. He denies my argument about Heb 1:8 and Ps 45:6-7 being correctly translated "thy throne oh God." He asserts it should be "God is your throne."
A: Hebrews 1:8, which quotes Psalm 45:6, is speaking of the deity of Christ. There is some ambiguity in Psalm 45:6. There are really three questions here:
1) Is this verse talking about God and His throne, David and his throne given by God, or both?
2) Does the Old Testament elsewhere unambiguously speak of God sitting on His throne?
3) What does the Book of Hebrews add, at least for Christians?
1) In Psalm 45:6, is it God's throne or David's?
In Hebrew Psalm 45:7 has kis'aka 'elohim which literally is "your throne" and "God". Most translators would see this as
"your/thy throne, O God", (vocative) Jay P. Green, KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, RSV mg, Septuagint, etc.
However, there is an ambiguity in the phrase here because Hebrew can use a noun as an adjective. For example, 1 Chronicles 29:23 says that Solomon sat on the "Yahweh" throne. Ezekiel 28:13 is says that Eden was "garden elohim" or the Garden of God. Thus some versions translate Psalm 45:7 as:
"your divine throne" (Jewish JPS, RSV)
"your throne is like God's throne" (NEB)
"your throne, O divine king" (Weiser, p.360)
"your throne is a throne of God" (RSV mg.)
Note that the JPS and RSV give a straightforward reading assuming elohim is an adjective here. The others in this list try add a few more words not in the Hebrew.
The JPS Study Bible p.1332 also gives "Your throne O God is everlasting" as one of the margin readings, so it does at least recognize that it could be either way.
Murray J. Harris, has an article defending why it is really the first way (vocative) in 'The Translation of Elohim in Psalm 45:7-8,' Tyndale Bulletin 35 (1984]: 65-89).
So is it God's throne or David's in Psalm 45? Verse 7 says "...therefore God, Your God, has anointed You...". Christians see the psalm addressed to the first One called God (the vocative), while others could see this as repetition, such as in this example: "therefore the wonderful God, the great God". However, Psalm 45:11, says to worship this King because He is your Lord. while we know that David is a type of the Messiah, both in this psalm and others, it is very difficult to see how to exclude this psalm from referring to God. Admittedly, the phrase, "God, Your God", does add to the uncertainty for a Jewish reader though. Psalm 110 might help provide the clue, a Lord who is also a priest after the order of Melchizedek.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.5 p.346-347 note 6 for more info on Psalm 45.
2) Does God Sit On His Throne Elsewhere in the Old Testament?
In the Old Testament, God is said to sit on His throne, unambiguously in Ezekiel 1 especially verse 26, Ezekiel 10:1, Isaiah 6:1-3, and Psalm 97:1-2 and Psalm 93:2. So there is no theological reason a Jewish person would need to reject Psalm 45:7-8 as referring to God, or a dual reference of God, and David as His representative.
3) What Hebrews 1 says
The Book of Hebrews, definitely takes it as referring to the son in the vocative. Though there is the same ambiguity, in this phrase, in the Greek here as it is in the Hebrew, Hebrew 1:8 starts with "But to the Son" and Hebrews 1:9 says (like Psalms 45:7 "therefore God your God". There is no doubt that Hebrews 1:8-9 is calling Jesus God, and interpreting Psalm 45:7-8 as referring to God. So Hebrews 1:8-9 does not add anything except that the second Lord is God the Son.
Heb 1:8 is translated as:
"your/thy throne, O God" (Jay P. Green, KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, RSV, Wuest)
"God is thy throne (RSV mg)
On Heb 1:8 The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.19 says, "Some translations render the opening words of v.8 as 'God is your throne' or the like (cf. RSV, NEB mg.). But it is better to take the Greek as a vocative as NIV: 'Your throne, O God.' The quotation from Psalm 45:6-7 is referred to the son who is then addressed as 'God.' His royal state is brought out by the references to the 'throne,' 'scepter,' and 'kingdom' and by his moral concern for the 'righteousness' that is supreme where he reigns.' ... We should perhaps take the first occurrence of the word 'God' as another vocative: 'Therefore, O God, your God has set you.'"
In conclusion, Based on Psalm 45:7-8 alone, the grammar of the phrase "your throne O God" may refer to God, but verses 45:7,11,17 strongly suggest this Psalm refers to God as well as David, and other Old Testament verses also refer to God having a throne.
Q: In Ps 46, what is a synopsis of this psalm?
A: The psalm has three pictures.
1-3 Despite disaster, we will not fear
4-7 Peace with God
8-11 God's victory after the battle
To learn more about this future city of God, read Revelation 21:1-22:5.
Q: In Ps 46:4 which river is this, and what does it represent, since Jerusalem had no rivers?
A: Jerusalem had spring large enough to feed a pool, but that is not relevant here. Rather Psalm 46:4-11 speaks of a future time, when wars will cease (Psalm 46:9), when God breaks the bow and shatters the spear (Psalm 46:9), and when God is exalted among the nations (Psalm 46:10).
The new Jerusalem, with the river of the water of life flowing through the center of it, is mentioned in Revelation 21:2,10-22:5. Ezekiel 47:1-12 also speaks of the river coming out of the altar in the new Jerusalem.
Q: In Ps 46:5, what is significant about dawn?
A: Military attacks often began at dawn. That way the troops could get into position while it was still dark. Also, if they were victorious they would have the most time to capitalize on their victory.
Q: In Ps 46:9, since God has made wars cease to the ends of the earth, why are there still wars?
A: While the wars against Israel had ceased for a while, that was not the point here. David knew that all wars had not stopped, nor all wars against Judah. That is why he still maintained a standing army. Rather, Psalm 46:4-11 speaks of a future time, when the new Jerusalem, with a river in the middle of it comes. You can read about this in Revelation 20:7-22:5.
Q: Does Ps 46:10 show that humans can become God, as the Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi teaches?
A: Not at all. Psalm 46:10 says, "know that I am God", while according to When Cultists Ask p.64-65 the Meditations of Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi, 178 says this verse means "know that you are God". (underline not in the original)
As a side note, in some languages including Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, the pronoun (I, you, he, she, it, etc.) is included in the verb. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.354 in the notes says this verse uses the independent pronoun "I". This gives greater emphasis to the "I". The Greek Septuagint translation uses ego eimi, which also gives emphasis with the independent pronoun.
Q: In Ps 47:2; Ps 65:5; 66:3; 76:12, 99:3 (KJV), how are God and His ways "terrible"?
A: Of course 400 years ago, when the King James version was translated, "terrible" meant "full of terror". God's ways should be full of terror for those who reject God. The NKJV translates this as "awesome". The NET Bible translates this as "awe-inspiring".
Q: In Ps 48:7 and Ps 72;10, why is Tarshish mentioned here?
A: Tarshish probably refers to what we call Tartessus, a Phoenician colony in far-off Spain. This was the westernmost known city to them.
Q: In Ps 48:7, since a person cannot redeem their brother, how could Jesus redeem us?
A: A person cannot understand the answer unless he or she first understands why someone cannot redeem his or her brother. For someone to pay (with their life) the penalty for someone else's sin, they cannot already be paying with their life for their own sin. Thus, in David's time, nobody had ever lived who was sinlessly perfect. Nobody could offer themselves as a sinless sacrifice and substitute for the sin for anyone else. In our time, we know of one person who had done so, Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God.
Q: In Ps 48:12-14, is Jerusalem God. It sure makes it sound like it is. If the notion that Jerusalem is God is heresy, I'd like to know.
A: No, Jerusalem is not God, and Jerusalem is not heresy either. Rather, Jerusalem was the beloved place where God choose to put the symbol of his holiness the ark of the covenant. But as political events today show, some people can elevate Jerusalem above their following of God. That does not make Jerusalem bad, but for them Jerusalem can become an idol.
A second example of this phenomena is with the bronze snake. In Numbers 2:4-9, the people were being bitten by poisonous snakes. God told Moses to make an image of a snake and put it on a pole. When anyone was bitten, and looked at the snake, they would live. (Perhaps the snake was a symbol of our sin being nailed to the cross, but that is another story.) Anyway, it was good that Moses obeyed God and made the snake, and good that the people looked at it. Jesus also referred to this snake, positively in John 3:14. But there was no confusion that anyone thought the snake should be worshipped, - yet. However, in 2 Kings 18:4, people were burning incense to the snake. So Hezekiah destroyed the bronze snake, because it had become an idol, more important to the people than the true God was.
Q: In Ps 49:4 and Prov 1:6 (KJV), what is a "dark saying"?
A: This is a riddle or a mysterious saying.
Q: In Ps 49:12, how are people like beasts that perish?
A: On earth, people's physical bodies die just like animals. People can be proud, like a lion or other animal can be proud, but that is very fleeting. See the discussion on Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.271-272 for more info.
Q: In Ps 51, what is a synopsis of this psalm?
A: Psalm 51 is one of the penitential psalms. Psalms 6, 32, 38, 39, 78, 79, 102, 106, 130, 143 are also penitential psalms, and Psalm 65 and 73 also speak of sin. Psalm 51 is somewhat symmetric, like Psalm 25. This complex psalm has seven parts.
51:1-2 Pleas for mercy and cleansing
51:3-4 David takes responsibility
51:5 Not just a slip or aberration
51:6 God's standard has already been taught
51:7-12 Request to God
51:13-15 David's commitment
51:16-19 Seeing what God delights in
Q: In Ps 51, what is unusual about this Psalm?
A: It is arranged as a chiasm, according to The NIV Study Bible p.838 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.379. The structure is:
1-2 Prayer for individual restoration
¾ 3-6 Confession and sorrow
¾ ¾ 7-12 Prayer for restoration
¾ 13-17 Thanksgiving (sort of matches confession and sorrow)
18-19 Prayer for national restoration
Q: In Ps 51, what outward sins are there of unconfessed sins?
A: Some signs are lack of joy, lack of caring, guilt, and a dry prayer life. David also mentions his bones growing old in Psalm 32:3.
Q: In Ps 51:1, what is significant about David asking God for mercy according to God's lovingkindness?
A: David wanted God to reward David according to his righteousness in Psalm 18:20 and indirectly in Psalm 7:3-5. However, David is saying something very different here, after he realized just how sinful he is.
Q: In Ps 51:4, how did David sin only against God, and not against Uriah?
A: David did sin against Uriah, by taking his wife from him and killing him. That was obvious to David. David's point here is that as much as David sinned against Uriah, that was still a small thing compared to sinning against the judge of the universe.
Q: In Ps 51:4-5, why did David say God was judging correctly here?
A: In this verse, David is confessing and acknowledging that God was right to condemn David for his sin. One important aspect of repentance is claiming responsibility for what you did, said, failed to do, and failed to say.
Q: Does Ps 51:5, are people born in sin, or was mankind made upright as Ecc 7:29 says?
A: Both are true. God originally made man without a sinful nature. However, after the Fall, people are born with a sinful nature, estranged from God, and in need of God's sanctifying grace. See When Critics Ask p.238 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Ps 51:5, how was David a sinner from birth, made in iniquity?
A: David is saying that he was a sinner from before birth. David did not mean he was born illegitimately, and he is not saying his mother sinned in conceiving David, but rather that his parents were sinners. David obviously did not mean he committed any sinful actions prior to being born. Rather, David is saying that he was a sinner, with a sinful nature, even prior to being born. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.832 adds that at no time in David's life was he sinless. 735 Baffling bible Questions Answered p.152-153 says this shows David sinned because he was a sinner, and not a sinner only because he later sinned.
Although this shows the precedence of the sinful nature prior to sinful deeds in David (and us), it does not prove we are guilty for the sins of our parents or ancestors. It does not place the blame for our sinful actions on God, or deny Psalm 139:14, that at the same time we should praise God that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.272-273 for more info.
Q: In Ps 51:5 (NRSV) was David born guilty?
A: The Hebrew word here, 'avown, means perversity, fault, or iniquity. However, being "faulty" (i.e. sinful) does not mean David was guilty of any sinful actions.
The KJV says "shapen in iniquity", and the NASB, NKJV, and Green's Literal translation all say "brought forth in iniquity". The NIV says "sinful at birth", and the NET Bible "guilty of sin from birth". The Septuagint says "I was conceived in iniquities".
Q: In Ps 51:5 show that unborn fetuses are only potential humans?
A: No. They are not of the species of bull or chicken, but human. An unborn baby has not committed any personal sin, but he or she is still a sinner by having a sinful nature. See When Critics Ask p.239 for a different answer.
Q: In Ps 51:7, what is hyssop?
A: Hyssop is a mossy-looking plant that one can use as a brush. Israelites used it during the Passover to paint the lamb's blood on the doorpost. When Christians re-enact Jewish ceremonies, if they cannot get hyssop, sometimes they substitute broccoli.
Q: In Ps 51:8, why did David not have joy?
A: David had all the money, power, and wives he could desire. Yet his relationship with God was such that he had no joy and gladness without restoring his relationship with God.
Q: Since Ps 51:10 appears to be a direct command, is it OK for us to command God?
A: No, David was not commanding anything; he was requesting God to create in Him a clean heart. He can be confident as we pray that God will keep His promises, and we can ask with confidence, but we have no basis to command God.
Q: In Ps 51:11, could the Holy Spirit leave a believer?
A: David had good reason to think so. The Holy Spirit apparently left his predecessor, King Saul and an evil spirit came upon him. The Lord left Samson in Judges 16:20 or at least left him as far as his strength was concerned. However, since believers are given the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing our eternal life in Ephesians 1:13-14, things are different in New Testament times.
Q: In Ps 51:16-17, why did David say God did not desire sacrifices, since God commanded sacrifices in Leviticus and many other places?
A: This would only be a difficulty for someone who failed to grasp the importance of obedience. As Cain learned in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 4:3-5), God does not simply accept every sacrifice given to Him. For example, David knew that God would not accept from David a sacrifice that David took from someone else and which cost him nothing (1 Chronicles 21:24). More to the point, God repeatedly shows that He does not desire any sacrifices by disobedient people (Isaiah 1:10-15; 66:2-4; Jeremiah 6:19-20). God desires obedience, and sacrifices of obedient people do please God (2 Chronicles 7:12-18; 2 Chronicles 30:1-26 especially 26; Ezra 6:17; 9:5).
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.274-275 for more info.
Q: Was Ps 51:18-19 added after the Temple was destroyed?
A: Probably not. Because Psalm 79 was written after the Temple was destroyed, some have thought Psalm 51:18-19 was also, because it mentions building the walls of Jerusalem.
However, this is not a valid reason to think Psalm 51:18-19 was written later, as David and Solomon extensively built up the walls of Jerusalem. The Temple was built outside of the original walls of the city David captured, and expanding the city to cover the Temple Mount more than doubled the size of the original city.
Q: In Ps 52, what is a synopsis of this psalm?
A: This is a psalm of trust, as is Psalm 1. It starts with what the evil man Doeg experiences, and finishing with what God's people will experience. Psalm 1 also has contrasts two views, but Psalm 51 has a third perspective in the middle: what the righteous will see of the end of the wicked. Here is a synopsis.
A. Evil plans lead to a heap of ruins
─ 52:1 Though you boast of evil, God's love protects me
─ 52:3-4 Your tongue destroys as a sharp razor, you love evil lies more than truth, and your tongue destroys and deceives
─ 52:5 You will be ruined and removed
B. The godly will be in awe of the justice for the wicked
─ 52:6-7 Behold the man who would trust in his wealth and plans instead of God
C. Trust in God and flourish like an olive tree
─ 52:8-9 But David will flourish in God's unfailing love. David trust God's executing judgment, for God is good
Q: In Ps 52, since David's friend Abimelech would have lived if Doeg had not been present, why did a Sovereign God allow Doeg to be there?
A: David had a strong suspicion this would happen but David was passive here. The answer as to why God allowed this is essentially the same as why does God allow evil. Treachery is a specific kind of evil. As to why God allows evil, see the various discussions on Habakkuk 1:13 for more info.
Q: In Ps 53:1, what are early references to atheism?
A: While Psalm 53:1 is one reference, another reference is that the philosopher Socrates was falsely accused of atheism before he was executed by drinking hemlock. Philo the Jew (15/20 B.C. to 50 A.D.) mentions "the selfish and atheistical mind" in Allegorical Interpretation, I 15 (48) p.30.
Q: Do Ps 53:2-3 and Ps 14:3 refer to a) people in general, b) every specific individual, or c) every specific individual apart from God?
A: Until you look at other scriptures, the answer might not be clear. Romans 3:10 indicates this scripture is applicable to all people. However, David, who wrote Psalm 53 also wrote that he sought God in Psalm 27:3. Psalms 105:4; 119:2; and Proverbs 28:5 also show that some do seek God. The resolution is that we are so sinful that no one on their own will seek God. However, God has enabled us to seek Him. So the answer is both a and c.
Q: In Ps 53:5 why does it say they "feared when there was no fear"?
A: This poetic expression means they feared when there was nothing to fear. If someone tries to claim the writer "accidentally" contradicted himself just three words later, then I think they know they do not know what they are talking about. See When Critics Ask p.239 for a different but complementary answer.
Q: In Ps 54:4 how is God our helper, since it is we who should be serving and helping God?
A: As Katherine Marshall (I think) once said, Benjamin Franklin was wrong when he said God helps those who help themselves. Rather, God helps those who acknowledge they are helpless. Four points to consider in the answer.
1. God does not require our help to do anything, but He has given us the privilege of helping, and He has prepared good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
2. We should be helping God do His work, to advance His kingdom, not our work to advance our own empire.
3. Believers even need God's help to serve Him and follow Him, and in this God is our Helper as we rely on His strength.
4. We should realize that when we realize we are weak and dependent on God, then we are strong, as 2 Corinthians 12:10 says.
Q: In Ps 56, what is the emphasis of this prayer?
A: David mentions "I", "me", and "my" 31 times, refers to God, Lord, or You 16 times, and refers to his enemies or evil men 14 times. Other psalms of David have different emphases, but this psalm shows that praying for yourself is OK too.
Chiasms are common in Hebrew poetry, with patterns such as A, B, C, C', B', A'. This psalm is close to this pattern, and it is interesting to see the deviation.
The basic pattern is
1-2 Asking mercy from his attackers
¾ 3-4 Afraid yet trusting in God
¾ 5-6 What the enemies are doing to David
¾ ¾ 7-9 What God will do to them when David prays
¾ 10-11 Trust in God and not be afraid
12-13 Thanks in advance for deliverance
Note that asking for mercy is coupled with thanking for deliverance. Note that David speaks of "when he is afraid" in verse 3, yet only says he will not be afraid in verse 4 and 11.
Q: In Ps 56:4,11, how can we choose not to be afraid?
A: David was honest to mention "when he was afraid" in Psalm 56:3. Yet David (and we) conquer our fear. David conquered his fear by looking to God, trusting in God's faithful word, and asking what can man do to him? The answer is that man can do nothing to David, except what God allows. Furthermore, the worst man can do is kill David so that he will dwell with God in Heaven sooner.
When we are afraid we can ask ourselves four questions:
1. Why are we afraid?
2. On what are we focusing?
3. On what does it make sense for us to focus, or rather, on Who?
4. We should be concerned and diligent, but does it really make sense for us to be afraid when we trust in God?
Q: In Ps 56:5, why do some people twist other people's words?
A: There are at least two reasons.
Deliberately "waging war" on others is what some do, and their main weapon is the false words they use.
Recklessly assuming a meaning, even when closer observation would show the assumption wrong, is a common thing people do when either they do not care what the person really meant, or they actually desired the person to have the assumed meaning. When we share the gospel, and when people read the Bible, some people will actively try to interpret things they way they desire. In fact, some people believe they can interpret a book, such as the Bible, in whatever way "means the most" to them, regardless if that were the original meaning or not.
Q: In Ps 56:2, should the word be "slanderers" (NIV), or "enemies" (KJV, NKJV, NRSV), or "watchers" (Green's Literal Translation)
A: The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.398 says that "enemies" is preferable to "slanderers". The Hebrew word here, sharer, is very similar to the Hebrew word shorer for twisting. In Psalm 56:5 David mentions them twisting his words.
Q: In Ps 56:8, are our tears stored in a bottle (KJV, NKJV, NRSV, Green's Literal Translation), in a scroll (NIV), or wineskin (NIV footnote)?
A: The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.400 discusses both but says "bottle" is the preferred translation. The Hebrew word for bottle (no'd) comes from an unused Hebrew root meaning skin such as a wineskin.
Q: In Ps 56:8, how are our tears in God's record/book?
A: This beautiful expression means that the sadness and disappointments believers bear are carefully remembered by God. He will wipe every tear from our eyes according to Revelation 21:4.
Q: In Ps 57, what is a synopsis of this psalm?
A: Psalm 57 has three parts: crying out to God, 2) the danger described, and 3) David's godly response.
Q: In Ps 57, is it easier to praise God when things are going well, or going poorly?
A: Believers would give different answers.
When things go poorly, some are more prone to discouragement (Jeremiah), acting out of fear (Abraham), or even bitterness (Naomi). After being exhausted, Elijah feared Jezebel's threat.
When things go well, some are more prone to pride (Uzziah), take God's commands lightly (Saul), think they are above God's laws (Solomon), led astray by money and idols (Gideon), and led astray by women (Samson, David, Solomon). After the were rescued from catastrophes, Noah and Lot sinned. After standing up to the Assyrians, Hezekiah both had pride and did not want to die.
In all situations, some believers are constantly faithful, as Joshua, Deborah, Joseph, and Daniel.
Q: In Ps 57, what is a broken spirit and broken heart?
A: A contrite heart is one that is sorry for what was done, said, or not done. It could also be sorry for what they are or have become. It is also a heart that wants to change and not sin again. A broken spirit is closely related. It is one that realizes that the previous way that was followed was wrong and not to be followed, but also a realization that we cannot make things right with God. It is only God who makes things right with us. Finally a broken heart realizes that we cannot make the changes that are needed. Rather than despair, it can also be a heart full of hope, knowing that God desires to make the changes in us, and a heart of resolve, that knows the changes must be made.
Q: In Ps 57:6, why does David often mention nets?
A: Nets do not look very impressive or very strong. Yet, even a boy with enough stones can kill a powerful lion, if the lion is immobilized in a net. People too can be caught, and even eventually die, by little, unimpressive snares and sins that do not look too powerful. Are there any nets in your life that make you spiritually vulnerable?
Q: In Ps 58:3, how do the wicked go astray and speak lies even from the womb?
A: This is obviously a poetic hyperbole, as newborn infants do not speak, whether lies or truth. This can refer to four complementary things:
a) Everyone is born with a sinful nature, a natural tendency to sin.
b) From birth they are separated from God and in need of His grace.
c) God, who sees the end from the beginning, can see how reprobate people follow their own chosen direction even from birth.
d) Even little children can learn from the example of their parent's sins.
Q: In Ps 59:15, what is the correct translation here?
A: It can be one of two ways.
"Let them wander" is what the KJV and Green's literal translation say. The New International Bible Commentary p.596 similarly says "make them wander".
"They wander/roam" is how the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NET, NRSV, translate it. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.413 indicates the evil men presently were doing that.
Q: In Ps 60:1 in the heading, were 12,000 Edomites killed, or 18,000 as 1 Chr 18:12 says?
A: This most likely is a copyist error, as Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.130-131 points out.
Q: In Ps 60:3 (KJV), what is the "wine of astonishment"?
A: This is an intoxicant that makes you lose your senses. The NET Bible translates this as "intoxicating wine." The NRSV translates this as "wine to drink that made us reel." The NKJV says "wine of confusion".
Q: In Ps 60:6 and Ps 108:7, how did God divide Shechem?
A: This refers to parceling out the land to the Israelites who conquered it. The NIV Study Bible p.847 says that mentioning Shechem (west of the Jordan River) and Succoth (east of the Jordan River) might have been symbolic for all of the conquest under Joshua.
Q: In Ps 60:8-12 and Ps 108:9-13, why did God help David's army, since He never told them to fight against some of the peoples?
A: David fought against all his enemies. As for the Ammonites and Syrians, it was they who chose to be David's enemies, not the other way around.
Q: In Ps 61:1-2, how did the psalmist pray from the ends of the earth?
A: The writer is saying that from anywhere and everywhere, even the ends of the earth, he would cry out to God. Of course, Christian businessmen who travel today can pray from the ends of the earth too.
Q: In Ps 62:1, how are we to wait upon God today?
A: We can apply this verse in almost every context of our lives in at least four ways.
Help: Are we actively asking God to help us in our life and ministry to Him, or are we trying to do things on our own power?
Leadership: Do we wish God's help to follow us in our work, or do we try to follow the Spirit in His work? Joshua asked the angel if the angel was on Joshua's side or not. The angel did not answer the question directly, because the angel was not on the side of a sinful man. Rather Joshua should have realized that Joshua needed to be on the angel's side. (Joshua 5:13-15)
Guidance: Do we want to serve God "in our own way", or are we perfectly content to serve God in His way for us?
Timing: Do we wait for God's timing, or do we think is any time good for us? (John 7:6)
Q: In Ps 63:5 (KJV), how is a soul satisfied with marrow and fatness?
A: Marrow and fatness were delicacies, and this means that the soul would have would feast and abound, not merely have enough to survive.
Q: In Ps 63:8 (KJV), what does "followeth hard" mean?
A: This means to follow close behind.
Q: In Ps 64:2, since godly believers should not be doing wrong, why should be concerned by the secret counsel of others?
A: Sometimes a person can be unjustly accused by deceiving witnesses. David also was concerned about Doeg and others possibly turning David over to Saul. Others plotted against Daniel, even though Daniel gave no reason for the others to accuse him.
Q: In Ps 66:4, how does the earth bow down to God?
A: It bows down in two different ways, both mentioned in this psalm.
Ps 66:6 God's works on the non-living earth praise Him, such as turning the sea into dry land during the time of the Exodus.
Ps 66:8 the people of the earth praise God.
Q: In Ps 67:2, why did David desire the other peoples praise God, and why should we desire the same?
A: David (and we) should desire this simply to glorify God. In addition, it will be a wonder to see so many people, and people of so many different cultures and backgrounds in Heaven.
Q: In Ps 68:1, why did David want God to arise and scatter God's enemies?
A: There are a number of likely reasons.
a) David wants to see God be exalted, and God's name be glorified in Psalm 68:4.
b) David might want to be personally protected from God's enemies.
c) David wanted righteous people to rejoice in God (Psalm 68:3), and not be persecuted by God's enemies.
d) David wanted to see justice brought to the ungodly (Psalm 68:21-23)
Q: In Ps 70:4, why did David want all who seek God to rejoice in God, and why did David feel the need to pray this request?
A: God prayed that all who seek God would not only find God and gain eternal life, but find also find their joy in God. It is good for us to pray this today too.
Q: In Ps 71:7 (NIV, NRSV), what is a "portent"?
A: A portent is a warning or omen, especially a bad omen. The meaning of these translations is that David is viewed as a bad omen from God. The KJV, NKJV, Green's Literal translation, and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.657 say "wonder", implying that David is viewed as a wonder from God. The NET Bible says "many are appalled".
Q: In Ps 73:1-14, why did Asaph envy the wicked?
A: The wicked appeared to be getting away with their wickedness, and even prospering. God often allows this to happen to a time in this unjust world. However, God has appointed Judgment Day as the time when He will set everything right. Of course, sometimes the wicked get some of what they deserve before then. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.414 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Ps 73:15-28, what should our attitude be toward the wicked?
A: We should desire to see the wicked rescued from the just and eternal consequences of their wickedness. We should love to see them share in all of God's blessings, by repenting, throwing themselves on God's mercy and trusting in Christ. In the New Testament Jesus taught us to love even our enemies (Luke 6:27-36 and Matthew 5:43-44). Even when Stephen was being stoned to death, he prayed that God would forgive them in Acts 7:62.
Q: In Ps 74:6, what is a "carved work"?
A: Just looking at the phrase there could be three possibilities:
Idol: Based on the words alone, this could simply an idol that is carved out of wood.
Paneling in the Temple: The NIV translates this as "carved paneling", as in wood paneling in God's temple.
Paneling in houses: This could be paneling in the houses of wealthy people.
However, the context conclusively proves it is the second choice. The entire psalm is about the destruction of the Temple. In particular, verses 3-7 mention the destruction of the sanctuary. Thus, since words can have a range of meaning, it is important to read the surrounding verses and entire chapter, not just the phrase.
Q: In Ps 74:8, when did enemies burn the synagogues in the land?
A: This could be prophetic of the exile, or what the Philistines did, what Jeroboam did, or this psalm might have been written when Assyrians were invading.
Q: In Ps 74:14 and Ps 104:26, what is leviathan?
A: While some see leviathan as a mythical sea monster, it probably was a Nile Crocodile, as the NASB footnote says on Job 41. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.277-278 also says that if leviathan is not just a literary metaphor but a known creature, then the crocodile would be probably be the correct animal.
Q: In Ps 76:4, what are "mountains of prey"?
A: Green's Literal Translation , the KJV, NASB, NET Bible, and NKJV and all render the Hebrew words literally as "mountains/hills of prey". There are four possibilities for what the verse means.
Heaps of dead animals: This is the most literal meaning.
Mountains with an abundance of game animals: The NIV follow this, saying "mountains rich with game". The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.850 also mentions this view.
Everlasting mountains: This is what the Greek Septuagint translation says. The NRSV follows this, with a footnote saying "mountains of prey" in the Hebrew.
Mountains where you killed your prey: The NET Bible
Heaps of dead enemy warriors: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.850 mentions this view.
Regardless, the entire psalm speaks not of hunting animals, but of heaps of dead enemy warriors, so the last meaning is the one that fits best with the rest of the psalm.
Q: In Ps 76:5 (KJV), what does "the stouthearted are spoiled" mean?
A: This poetic expression means the courageous are defeated.
Q: In Ps 76:6 (KJV, NASB, NKJV), what is a dead sleep?
A: Green's literal translation shows the Hebrew word is literally "sunk into sleep". The NIV translates this as "lie still", because the meaning is they are dead. The NRSV says "stunned". The .NEB Bile says "fell asleep" in quotes.
Q: In Ps 76:10, is this the "wrath of man", or God's "wrath against men"?
A: Christians disagree.
Wrath of man is the meaning of the KJV, NKJV, and Green's Literal Translation.
God's wrath against men is the meaning of the NIV and NET Bible.
Regardless, the very next phrase after this verse, addressing God says, "your wrath" so the psalm refers to God's wrath in killing those with wrath against Him in Psalm 76:3-9.
Q: In Ps 76:10, how does wrath praise God?
A: There are two complementary ways to view wrath.
Man's wrath, even though it does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:20), is still used by God, because God works all things together as a part of His plan (Ephesians 1:11) for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
God's wrath judges the earth and the demons, and maintains God's justice in the universe, as Psalm 50:1-6, the book of Revelation, Matthew 25:31-46, and 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 show.
Q: In Ps 77:5-6, how can remembering old things be a help, and how can it be a hindrance?
A: It all depends on what you are remembering and why you are remembering it. Here is how it can be a benefit, followed by a liability.
Help: Remembering the promises God has made, the mighty wondrous works of God, dwelling on noble and pure things (Philippians 4:8-9)
Hindrance: It is bad to dwell on idols, religious rules not from God, or wicked or horrible things.
When remembering old things reinforcing hatred, or grudges, it is better to forget.
Q: In Ps 78:18, how did the Israelites provoke God by asking for meat?
A: The Israelites during the Exodus were dissatisfied with having manna every day. God gave them meat, but they were struck by a plague after they ate.
Sometimes today people can be dissatisfied with what God provides and complain for more. God might provide more in response to the complaint, but trouble might come with it.
Q: In Ps 78:25, do angels eat manna?
A: Manna miraculously came from God, and was called the bread of Heaven. While it is possible that angels might eat manna, it is much more likely this is a metaphor.
Q: In Ps 79:1-5 and Ps 80, when did Asaph see Jerusalem defiled?
A: First what is not the answer, and then five possible answers.
Defiled (not the answer): Since Asaph lived in the time of David and Solomon, Asaph did not see Jerusalem destroyed, but he might have seen it defiled by idols when Solomon and later kings build idolatrous altars in Jerusalem. However, In these two psalms not only is Jerusalem defiled, it is destroyed by foreigners.
Prophecy: There are many prophecies in Psalms, and this might be a prophecy of the time the Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem.
Deuteronomy 31:15-29 says that the Israelites would be conquered and exiled. In David's time Asaph would not need a prophetic gift to compose a song about the destruction of Jerusalem; he only needed to read the scriptures in Deuteronomy.
Concerning Asaph: The Hebrew word for "of" has a very broad meaning, and it can mean "concerning" or "for" as well as "of". Perhaps Asaph himself was not the writer.
Incorrect heading: The headings on the Psalms likely were added later, and are not necessarily scripture. The headings in the Hebrew Masoretic text we have today often differ from the headings in the Septuagint. I do not know what the headings were in the copies of Psalms found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Wrong Asaph: Perhaps someone named Asaph actually was the author, but this is a man who lived much later than the Asaph who served under David and Solomon. It would certainly be reasonable that many people would be named after this godly man.
Q: In Ps 80:8-16, what does the vine symbolize here?
A: The vine here symbolizes Israel. A planting was brought out of Egypt, grew mightily in Canaan, and eventually was diminished by adversaries and carried into exile.
Speaking of vines, the Assyrian Empire also grew rapidly and then rapidly died. Perhaps the vine over Jonah foreshadowed this in Jonah 4:6-7.
Q: In Ps 81:9, what is a "strange god" here?
A: This is an idol god they have not known. The NET Bible and the NIV translate this as a "foreign god".
Q: In Ps 81:13-14, why does God subdue their enemies and sometimes not?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. Psalm 81:13-14 answers this by saying God chose to make His subduing based on their submitting. If we would only listen to God, how much easier many problems would be. As a Christian hymn says,
"Oh what peace we often forfeit,
Oh what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer."
2. All suffering is not needless or to be avoided though. Paul suffered at the hands of sinful men. He could see that his suffering for the gospel would lead many to faith (Colossians 1:24; Philippians 1:12-14,21).
3. Finally, the book of Job shows that obedient believers sometimes suffer for reasons they cannot see. We can know that the enduring of an obedient believer always glorifies God (2 Peter 4:7).
Q: In Ps 82, what is the main point?
A: While this psalm has warning too, it is primarily one of disappointment and regret on God's part. These men judged people as God's representatives. Not only on earth did they represent God, but they were part of God's visible people with the promise of eternal life. Through their own disobedience and wickedness, they were perverting justice as God's judges and unless they repented, they would perish eternally.
Today some can be a part of God's visible church and hear the same message God's elect here. Yet it will be of no value to them, because they did not combine it with faith (Hebrews 4:2). God can feel regret as He did in Genesis 6:5-8 and Matthew 23:37-39.
Q: In Ps 82:1,5-7; 86:8; who are the gods here?
A: Three points to consider in the answer followed by what is not the answer.
The characteristics of these "gods" here are that:
(82:1) They are judged by the true God
(82:2) They defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked
(82:5) Ones who knew nothing and walked around in darkness
(82:9) They are called gods by being sons of the Most High, yet will die like ordinary men.
Nobody would want to be a god like one of these people.
The Hebrew word here is Elohim, which is the plural form of el. Just like the English word "God/god" can mean true or false god, the Chinese word sheng can mean true or false god, the Hebrew (and Aramaic) word "el" can mean true or false god.
A third sense of the word el or elohim is a person who represents God to the people. This word is used of human judges in Exodus 21:6; 22:8,9. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.854, the Believer's Bible Commentary p.674-675, the New Geneva Study Bible p.845, The NIV Study Bible p.873-874, 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.21,314-315, When Cultists Ask p.65-66, and especially Hard Sayings of the Bible p.279-280 for more on this.
Not the answer: The New Geneva Study Bible p.845 also mentions that some interpret this to refer to angelic powers, or deities subordinate to Yahweh. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.854 says this is how the Syriac translated this. However, this cannot refer to good angelic powers, for these gods are disobedient and will die like ordinary men. It cannot refer to demons, as demons do not have a role of defending the unjust or showing partiality to the wicked, and they too will not physically die like ordinary men.
The New International Bible Commentary p.614 states these are the gods of the nations. However, this is probably not the answer, because it would be unclear how these idols die like ordinary men.
Q: In Ps 82:1-6, does this show there are many gods?
A: No, only that there are many who are called gods. Notice the wicked characteristics of these men, and their death like ordinary men. Some Mormons use this passage to try to prove there are many gods, yet no Mormon in his right mind would want to be a god like these.
Tertullian first addressed this objection In Against Marcion 1:7 (207 A.D.), and his answer is still valid today. Here is an excerpt. "If an identity of names affords a presumption in support of equality of condition, how often do worthless menials strut insolently in the names of kings - your Alexanders, Caesars, and Pompeys! This fact, however, does not detract from the real attributes of the royal person. Nay more, the very idols of the Gentles are called gods. Yet not one of them is divine because he is called a god."
See the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.80-81 and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.21,314-315, for more info.
Q: In Ps 83:1, why is God sometimes silent?
A: We cannot know every specific case, but in general there are a variety of reasons dealing with us, circumstances, and God.
1. Not for spending on our passions. James 4:3
2. Requests must be for good things. Matthew 7:11
3. It is not God's will to have them. Mark 14:36
4. We have to wait. Daniel 10:12-14
5. Our prayers are simply vain repetition. Matthew 6:7
6. Yet we have to [meaningfully] persist. Luke 11:5-10, 18:1-7
7. We cherish sin in our hearts (Psalms 66:18-19), turn a deaf ear to the poor (Proverbs 21:13), or are wicked (Proverbs 15:29; Isaiah 59:1-3). God does not hear us when we choose not to hear God. Zechariah 7:11-14
8. We need self-control. 1 Peter 4:7
9. We have sinned, such as divorce. Malachi 2:13-14
10. We ignore God and His law. Zechariah 7:13; Proverbs 28:9
11. We ignore the cry of the poor. Proverbs 21:13
12. We are inconsiderate of our wives. 1 Peter 3:7
13. God will not hear if they are still worshipping idols Ezekiel 8:8-18
14. Their hands are filled with blood. Isaiah 1:15
1. In his time, God might grant the prayer, but now might not be the right time.
2. It might be that we need to change in some way, or that someone else needs to change.
1. God might be answering our prayer as "no"
2. God might be testing us.
Sometimes, as the book of Job and Daniel 1-:2-3,12-14 show, we have absolutely no idea of everything that is going on behind the scenes. But we do know that our patience and persistence glorifies God (2 Peter 4:7).
Q: In Ps 83:6, who are the Hagarenes/Hagrites?
A: We do not know much about the Hagrites. The Hagrites were defeated by the 2 1/2 Israelite tribes living in the Transjordan region. See the discussion on 1 Chronicles 5:10,19,20,22 for information on Assyrian inscriptions and the Hagrites.
Q: In Ps 84:4-6, does the pilgrims passing through Ba'aca [allegedly] another name for Mecca, refer to Muslims?
A: No, no evidence is given that Ba'ca, is Mecca. While The NIV Study Bible p.875 and the New Geneva Study Bible p.847 say that we do not know the location today, Psalm 84:4-6 says it would be a place of springs and autumn rains covering it with pools. The Hebrew word Baca can mean "weeping" or "balsam trees". Psalm 84:10b says, "I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. Muslims made many surprise attacks and raids though. Let see some of the valleys and oases that wicked people raided.
They raided the Banu Mustaliq while they made the "mistake" of heedlessly grazing their cattle. They were said to have had "excellent Arab women" that the Muslim soldiers had sex with afterwards. Sahih Muslim vol.2 (The Book of Marriage) ch.560 no.3371 p.733-734; vol.3 (Book Pertaining to Judicial Decisions) ch.704 no.4292 p.942; Abu Dawud vol.2 no.227 p.727-728; al-Tabari vol.39 p.57
Muslims made a surprise attack on an unsuspecting Christian king [chieftain] of Dumah and killed him. al-Tabari vol.9 p.58-59.
Expedition against the Banu Lihyan tribe in 627 A.D (6 A.H.) al-Tabari vol.8 p.42-43
Expedition against Dhu Qarad in 627/628 A.D. (6 A.H.) al-Tabari vol.8 p.43-44
Zayd b. Harithah's army raided al-Fadafid, rounded up the men and cattle, and killed al-Hunayd and his son and three others in 10 A.H. al-Tabari vol.9 p.100-101.
War against the Juhaina tribe Sahih Muslim vol.2 (Book of Prayer) ch.296 no.1827 p.400.
Zayd/Zaid bin harith led a raiding party to al-Jamum. al-Tabari vol.8 p.93
'Umar and 30 men raided the "rear" of Hawazan at Turabah. The non-Muslims fled without any fighting. al-Tabari vol.8 p.131
Bashir b. Sa'd and 30 men raided the Banu Murah at Fadak. al-Tabari vol.8 p.132. Note that on p.123,129 the booty became exclusively Mohammed's because camels and horses had not been spurred against it.
The raid of Abi al-'Awja al-Sulami. al-Tabari vol.8 p.138
Shuja' bin Wahb and 24 men raided the Banu 'Amir and took camels and sheep. "The shares [of booty] came to fifteen camels for each man." al-Tabari vol.8 p.143
Expedition of Dhat al-Salasil in 629/630 A.D. (8 A.H.) al-Tabari vol.8 p.146-147
A.H. 8 'Amr bin al-'As and 300 men raided al-Salasil of the tribe of Quda'h. al-Tabari vol.8 p.146
There was a house called al-Ka'ba al-Yamaniya. Mohammed asked Jarir to "relieve him" of it. Jarir and 150 horse-riders "dismantled it and killed whoever was present there. Bukhari vol.5 book 59 no.641-642 p.450-451
Expedition of al-Khabat in 629/630 A.D. (8 A.H.) al-Tabari vol.8 p.147-148
Abu 'Ubaydah b. al-Jarrah and 300 riders raided the tribe of Juhaynah at al-Khabat in A.H. 8. al-Tabari vol.8 p.146.
Dispersing of booty and raiding the tribe of Abil. al-Tabari vol.10 p.17
Q: In Ps 84:6, what is the Valley of Baca?
A: The NIV Study Bible p.875 and the New Geneva Study Bible p.847 say that we do not know the location today. Baca can mean "weeping" or "balsam trees".
Q: In Ps 84:10, why is being a doorkeeper in God's house than to live in the tents of the wicked?
A: The psalmist would rather be in Paradise, with a lowly position, than living with the wicked, whose end is eternal separation from God.
As an aside, modern reads might think that living is a tent is much worse than living in a house. However, that is not the writer's meaning, as bedouin tents were well-adapted to life in the desert, and houses were not necessarily superior, particularly with mud walls, few windows, and no air-conditioning.
One evening I was handing out tracts in Utah and speaking with a Mormon who asked me what I looked forward to after I die. I told him how I so looked forward to being with God forever, worshipping and serving Him. The Mormon did not seem impressed. He looked forward to being his own god, creating his own, world, and having others worship him. However, an ex-Mormon that I knew said that deep down, he knew he could never be a god. On a lighter note, a explained to a non-Mormon in Salt Lake City that Mormons believed they could become exactly as God is now. The non-Mormon said that figures, as his boss was a Mormon, and he acted like he was a god.
On a very serious note, Ezekiel 29:2 speaks of the judgment of the prince of Tyre because he said "I am a god", Isaiah 14:12-14 shows that Lucifer's sin was that he wanted to be as God. The Christian English poet John Milton, in his epic work, Paradise Lost, has Satan saying, "better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven." However, I am sure Satan will not be saying that in the Lake of Fire.
Q: In Ps 86:1 and Ps 109:22, how was David poor and needy?
A: David certainly remembered that he was originally a poor shepherd boy, and would not be much else, until Samuel visited and God raised David up to be a king. In a general sense, we all should remember that we were poor, needy, and desperately in need of God's grace until God raised us up to a much higher position than just an earthly king, but rather a child of God.
Q: In Ps 87:4,89:10, who is Rahab?
A: Rahab was originally the name of a large "monster" such as a Nile crocodile. Metaphorically, Rahab symbolized Egypt, and Psalm 87:4 speaks of Egypt [Rahab] and Babylon. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.501, after conjecturing that Rahab was the name for a primitive monster, also agrees that Rahab was a symbolic representation of Egypt. Others think that Rahab could represent a dinosaur, since people at that time could still come across dinosaur fossils.
Q: In Ps 88:10,11, do the dead praise God, or not?
A: The psalmist is asking this question rhetorically. He is asking whether those who are in the grave rise up and praise God. Of course the answer is that the eternally dead do not praise God, but God's people are raised up to praise Him.
Q: In Ps 88:12 (KJV, NASB), what is the land of forgetfulness?
A: Green's Literal Translation, the KIV, NASB, NKJV translate the Hebrew literally as "the land of forgetfulness", while the NIV paraphrases this as the "land of oblivion". Regardless, this poetic Hebrew expression reminds us that the dead are forgotten by others and oblivious to them. See also the previous question for more on the meaning.
Q: In Ps 89:6-7, why do some believers not have a sense of God's awe?
A: It is hard to view God's majesty if you are only focused on yourself, or your eyes of fixated on some sin. If believers would only pause daily to take some time to pray and meditate on God, they would see more of God's majesty. A day of rest was not intended to be a day of closing your eyes and being lazy, but a day to refresh, and be grounded anew in God's love.
Q: In Ps 89:18, how is God our defense?
A: God is our defense in a myriad of ways. God gives us faith, His word, other believers, and some choices to change our circumstances. These are means God gave us that we can consciously choose to use. God also protects us in ways we do not realize from threats we do not see. Finally, we have the tremendous privilege of praying to God, and He has promised to answer all of our prayers. Of course, like a wise father, all his answers are not necessarily "yes".
Q: In Ps 90:7, why does God have a wrath that consumes?
A: God in wrath can split mountains and can destroy the whole earth, but that is not what this verse is saying. Psalm 90:7 says that God's anger consumes people, both in the sense of their physical death, and eternal death for those who refuse to follow God.
Q: In Ps 90:12, how are we to number our days?
A: All our lives, we should realize that our lives on earth are fleeting (Psalm 39:4-6; 90:3-6; 144:4; James 1:10-11). Life on earth is more precious when we realize just how short it is, at least compared to eternity.
Q: In Ps 91:3 (KJV), what is noisome?
A: This King James Version word means loud or troublesome, but this is not what the Hebrew is saying. The Hebrew refers to a deadly plague.
Q: In Ps 91:3, what is pestilence?
A: This is a plague, usually of deadly sickness.
Q: In Ps 91:4, how is God's truth as a shield and buckler?
A: God's truth protects us in two ways. A shield is something a warrior actively uses to block arrows and sword thrusts. The other word is something that passively blocks the same.
The KJV and NRSV say "buckler", which is part of a soldier's armor. (Most infantry soldiers did not have armor, but armor was greatly valued.) The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.860 says "rampart". A rampart was part of the wall of a city.
Q: In Ps 91:4 and many passages talk of God's right arm and hands, so does that mean God has a body like a man?
A: Psalm 91:4 KJV says God covers us with his pinions -mother hen's breast feathers. That expression of God's love does not make God look like a bird! Isaiah 44:13 say men worship images in the form of man. If God's body was like man, it should say these images were in God's form. While God can appear in any form, this does not mean God the Father has an intrinsic form of a man, any more than He has an intrinsic form of a bush.
On the other hand, after Jesus' incarnation on earth as both God and man, Jesus is even still now man, as Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
See the discussion on Exodus 8:19 for more info.
Q: In Ps 91:11-12, does this refer to Jesus, or to all believers?
A: Psalm 91:1 says this refers to "He that dwells in the shelter of the Most High." This certainly would refer to the Messiah, but it also applies to us, since Jesus lives in us. Satan quoting Psalm 91 to Jesus in Matthew 4:6 and Luke 4:10-11 explicitly proves this refers to Jesus since Jesus did not deny that the verses referred to Him.
Q: In Ps 92:10, how was David's horn exalted?
A: Horn is a symbol of strength. God strengthened David from being a shepherd boy to being a king, and then made David's kingdom very powerful.
Q: In Ps 93:1, how is the Lord clothed with majesty and strength?
A: When we see a person, typically we only see their face and arms, and their clothes. Likewise when we "see" God in nature, we see His "clothing" of majesty and strength. While we do see the One True God in nature, we do not see Him directly, face-to-face, until we get to Heaven (1 Corinthians 13:12; Psalm 27:8; Job 19:26-27).
Continuing with the clothing metaphor, we are all not rightfully clothed until we get to Heaven, according to 2 Corinthians 5:4-6.
Q: In Ps 94:10, what does it mean that vengeance belongs with God?
A: Vengeance does not belong with us, for we are commanded not to get revenge. The judge of the universe will, sooner or later, mete out justice that many people deserve. Strictly speaking, God will not give to all what they deserve, because believers will not get what we deserve, but they will receive God's grace and mercy instead, because Jesus took upon Himself the punishment that we deserved.
Q: In Ps 94:11 why are the thoughts of man useless?
A: Man is on earth for such a very short time (Isaiah 40:24) and God can frustrate anyone's plans (Proverbs 16:3-6). Ultimately all of man's ambitions, designs, and knowledge, apart from God are in the end all for nothing.
Q: In Ps 95:3, 135:5; 138:1, since God is a great king over all gods, are there other gods?
A: Sure, 1 Corinthians 9:4-6 and Psalm 96:4 shows there are many false gods, but as Psalm 96:5, Isaiah 44:8 and 1 Timothy 1:17 and many other verses show, there is only one True God.
Q: In Ps 95:8, how can we choose to harden or not?
A: External positive and negative influences can affect us, but we can choose how much to be affected, if at all. God gives us grace for our heart both to be soft for Him, and to stay soft for Him. However we are responsible for valuing what God has given us.
Q: In Ps 96:1, why is the emphasis not on singing a song, but on singing a new song?
A: Singing and playing old songs is just fine. However, within the limits of orderly worship (1 Corinthians 14:32), God likes some innovation, as long as the gospel message is not changed (Galatians 1:6-9).
Q: In Ps 97:1, why are islands emphasized here?
A: In David's time there were few believers on any islands. In the future, there would be many believers where there were none before this time. Geographically, Cyprus, all the Greek islands, tiny Malta, and Sicily were all islands where there would later be many Christians.
Q: In Ps 97:2 and 2 Chr 6:1, how are clouds and darkness around God, and in Ps 104:2 how is God covered with light?
A: Perhaps the images of God given in Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1, 8 will help here. They show God as radiant, and surrounded by unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16). However, Ezekiel shows darkness and clouds around and under the throne. Isaiah 6 shows smoke coming out of the temple.
Q: In Ps 97:7 and 1 Chr 16:25-26, how are there many gods?
A: The Bible teaches there are many idols worshipped as false gods, but only one true God. Mormons look in vain for this verse to support their saying there are many [legitimate] gods. See When Critics Ask p.241 and When Cultists Ask p.66 for more info.
Q: In Ps 97:10, are Christians supposed to hate?
A: Both yes and no. We are supposed to hate sin, but the New Testament never shows Christians are to hate any person. In fact, 1 Corinthians 13:13 says the greatest Christian virtue is love, and 1 John 4:8,20 show that no one can live in hatred of their fellow man and be a genuine Christian. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31).
Q: In Ps 98:1, what type of music is suitable for worship?
A: Any combination of notes and rhythm is, of itself either suitable or not suitable for worship. Rather, particular music, in a particular culture, can tend to draw people into worship of God or distract people from worship. Sometimes for someone music can be so good and engrossing, that one concentrates on the music instead of God. Beware when you go to church to here the music, or hear a good speaker instead of worshipping God and growing in Him.
Q: In Ps 99, why we should exalt God?
A: The first half of the psalm gives a number of reasons based on God's character. God reigns, He is great and high above all the people, his name is great and awesome, he establishes justice and judges rightly. The last half of the psalm gives reasons based on what God has done.
Q: Why is Ps 100:1 like Ps 66:1?
A: The phrase "shout joyfully to God/the Lord all the earth" (NASB) is found in both places. One would not expect believers, back then or now, to shout joyfully to the Lord once and never do so again.
Q: What is Ps 101 about?
A: Psalm 101 is a short psalm that can be called "the psalm of the heart and eyes". David refused to look at wicked things, and God cuts off those who have a disdainful look. God's eyes will look on the faithful of the land. The wicked will not endure in God's sight.
David promised to walk with a perfect heart, and stay away from those with wicked hearts.
Q: In Ps 102:6 what is the first bird here?
A: Translators disagree on the first bird. The KJV, NASB, and NKJV says "pelican". The NIV translates this as "desert owl". The NRSV says "owl of the wilderness". All translations say the second bird is "owl" except the NRSV, which says "little owl".
Q: Since Ps 103:3 says that God heals our diseases, does that mean doctors and medicines are useless as Christian Science teaches?
A: Of course in Heaven all of our diseases will be gone. Even on earth though, God can miraculously heal without medicine, and sometimes people naturally get over colds and other illnesses without medicine. However, medicine can be something God uses, as Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine with his meals because of his frequent stomach illnesses in 1 Timothy 5:23. See When Cultists Ask p.67 for more info.
Q: In Ps 103:5 and Isa 40:31, how is a person's youth renewed like an eagle?
A: Our youth will be renewed like that of an eagle when we are in Heaven. Secondarily, people who live a cleaner life on earth are in general healthier if they do not bear the consequences of smoking, alcoholism, drug addition, or sexual diseases.
Q: In Ps 103:9 (KJV), what does "chide" mean?
A: This word, still commonly used today, means to scold to more colloquially "chew out".
Q: In Ps 103:12, why does it says as far as the east is from the west?
A: This is a beautiful poetic expression meaning they are as far as can be.
Q: Is Ps 103:20-21 a prayer to the dead as some Roman Catholic theologians say?
A: No, because the different classes of angels and the hosts of heaven are not dead. See When Cultists Ask p.66-67 for more info.
Q: In Ps 104, are there parallels to Akhenaten's Hymn to the Aten?
A: Yes, there are parallels according to the New Geneva Study Bible p.867, The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.104, and the secular Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest p.328.
Akhenaten was an Egyptian Pharaoh who reigned from about 1358-1340 B.C., which is about 400 years prior to Solomon. Akhenaten was a very religious person who rejected Egyptian idolatry, commanded the Egyptians not to worship Osiris and the other gods, because he believed in only one god, Aten. He who wrote hymn a praise to Aten, "The good ruler who loves all mankind".
However, after Akhenaten's death the priests changed Aten worship. Aten was equated with the idols Ptah, Min, Re, Khepri, and Atum.
A key difference is that the Hymn to Aten praised the sun as the image of the creator, while Psalm 104 uses nature to praise the unseen God who created nature. Psalm 104 is also chiastic, which the Hymn to Aten is not. One can read the Hymn to Aten in Akhenaten : King of Egypt p.241-243.
The parallels of thought are probably coincidental, but it is possible the writer of Psalm 104 had heard of the Hymn to Aten. In that case the situation would be similar to Martin Luther's adapting German drinking songs as hymns, using new words. It is possible the writer could have taken some of the themes of the Hymn to Aten and applied the praise to its rightful source.
Q: In Ps 104:5, how will the earth not be shaken forever?
A: Let's look at the Hebrew words here. The Hebrew says "not be shaken", it does not say "never destroyed". Also, When Critics Ask p.241 points out that the Hebrew word olam can mean either "forever" or else "a very long time".
Q: In Ps 105:4, how does someone seek God's face?
A: This is an important question about a key issue.
While we must recognize that we will not see God face to face until we get to heaven (1 Corinthians 13), we are to seek God's heart now. We are to spend time with Him daily and not neglect meeting together in fellowship (Hebrews 10:25).
Seeking to dwell with God forever in Heaven (Psalm 23:6 and Psalm 16:9-11) is only part of the story. Another part is to seek God's face daily, to dedicate each day to God and live obediently, enjoying God's favor.
We should not harden our hearts (Hebrews 3:8-9,15, 4:7) but draw near to God as James 4:8 and Hebrews 13:13 say. Read James White's book Daring to Draw Near for more on this.
Q: Does Ps 105:15 teach that certain men should never be criticized or held accountable, as some Word-Faith teachers say?
A: No. This verse says not to harm God's prophets and anointed ones. Criticizing someone is not harming someone. Even if criticizing a Christian leader who is in error was what this verse really meant, (and it does not mean this) then this practice was superseded by Paul not only criticizing Peter, but also "opposing" him for refusing to eat with Gentiles in Galatians 2:11-16. See When Cultists Ask p.67-68 for a different answer.
Q: In Ps 105:15, what are the proper limits in our criticism of religious leaders?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
Correction vs. Rebuke: Someone can do something wrong without being aware of it. We must not quarrel but should gently instruct people who oppose us (2 Timothy 3:24-25). In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus taught a specific pattern with people who have sin. First go to him privately. If he does not listen, then take one or two others with you. If that does not work, then tell it to the church. If even that does not work, then basically kick him out of fellowship. Of course if someone is justifiably excommunicated and "handed over to Satan", and they repent, they can be welcomed back again as Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11.
Rebuke of godly but erring leaders: Sometimes even believers who love the Lord still persist in error or disobedience. When Paul rebuked Peter, but he focused on Peter's actions, and not on Peter himself. He made it clear what was to be done to correct the situation. Peter did make the correction. There was no mention, by Paul or anyone else, that Peter should be removed as an apostle.
Rebuke of Ungodly leaders: Regardless of whether they are unbelievers, genuine believers who are in willful disobedience, or if you do not know, they should be rebuked not only for their own benefit, but so that other believers will hear and avoid following them. John rebuked people directly in 2 John 7 and 3 John 9. Paul rebuked unbelieving people by name in 2 Timothy 4:14 and anonymously in 2 Thessalonians 3:11. For some, such as the immoral "Jezebel" in Revelation 2:20-23, there was no rebuke of Jezebel per se, she was already too far-gone. Rather, her followers were threatened with divine retribution for practicing what she taught.
Q: In Ps 105:8, does this mean there were 1,000 generations before David?
A: A generation is generally considered 40 years, but 1,000 often means a long period of time. This verse means that God's promises from now to the indefinite future will be true, as God's promises from the indefinite past to now are true.
If you want to be hyper-literal, since God promised salvation from eternity past, before the earth or heaven were even created, God's promises are true more than a billion generations prior to David.
Q: In Ps 105:22 (KJV), what is a "senator"?
A: As tempting as it might be to say this verse refers to the U.S. Congress, it really refers to elders, which is what the Latin word Senator originally meant. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1547 for more info.
Q: In Ps 105:33, did Egypt have many vines and fig trees?
A: Egypt was the breadbasket of the Roman and Byzantine Empires because of its great production of wheat. If it was not for the Nile River, Egypt would not few plants. However, because of the Nile and irrigation, the soil of Egypt could grow almost anything, though tall trees for lumber were somewhat scarce.
Q: In Ps 106:28, what are sacrifices of the dead?
A: This could either be sacrifices to lifeless idols as The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.678 says, or it could refer to funeral rituals as the New Geneva Study Bible p.873 say. Either way, we should not be sacrificing to or loving that which is dead.
Q: Why is Ps 108:1-5 the same as Ps 57:7-11, and Ps 108:6-11 the same as Ps 60:5-12?
A: Looking at each of these three psalms individually, one would not see any discontinuity. Perhaps God gave us a "riddle" to show us not only to look at the individual verses, but also to examine how they fit together.
In Psalm 108:1-5 and Psalm 57:7-11 David speaks of his steadfast heart musically praising God for His mercy and truth, that God be glorified above all the earth.
In Psalm 108:6-11 and Psalm 60:5-12 God speaks that He will claim His kingdom and defeat His enemies. The help of man is useless, but with God they will triumph.
Psalm 57:1-6 is a desperate cry for help and deliverance from a righteous person when the surrounding situation looks grim. Psalm 57:7-11 contrasts this as looking up to God instead of the circumstances.
Psalm 60:1-4 is a cry for help and restoration from a formerly disobedient but now repentant people and Psalm 60:5 asks for victory. Psalm 60:6-12 is God's promise of victory for them.
In summary, Psalm 108 can be called "the victory psalm". Psalm 57 promises victory for the obedient, and Psalm 60 promises victory for the repentant.
Q: In Ps 109, what is unusual about the structure of this psalm?
A: This psalm is close to a chiasm, with the following structure.
Praise to God
¾ The hateful words of the wicked
¾ ¾ The cursings
¾ The cursings of the ungodly
¾ ¾ Praying for God's judgment
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.689 for more info.
Q: In Ps 109:3; 119:78,161, why do people sometimes fight others without cause?
A: Almost no one fights without having a perceived cause, even if they made up the cause themselves. People can fight to defend against non-existent threats, to expand their power, or thinking that subjugating or enslaving others will makes things go better for them. It will not - on judgment day.
Q: In Ps 109:8, how does this relate to Acts 1:20?
A: The general curse of Psalm 109:8 was specifically applicable to Judas. There will be no place for Judas in Heaven. There will be no place in Heaven for churchgoers who do not want to follow Jesus.
Q: In Ps 109:2-5,18-19, why is David, in this psalm of cursing, criticizing his enemy for cursing?
A: Psalm 109 condemns those who surrounded David with cursing, or words of hatred as in verse 3. David is praying that all the curses he heard (Psalm 109:6-16) would come back to the person who cursed. In the New Testament Jesus gave us a higher standard, to love our enemies (Luke 6:27-36 and Matthew 5:43-44). However, when a person curses Christians, and he or she does not repent, God has a way of bringing the curse back to the person.
Q: In Ps 109:10,13, why was David against his enemy's descendants?
A: While scripture does not say, we can see two reasons, plus a third point to remember.
Repeating their curses is what David apparently was doing, with the prayer that their curses would come back to them.
Having descendants was very important in that culture, according to the New Geneva Study Bible p.878.
A higher standard is given to us in the New Testament (Luke 6:27-36 and Matthew 5:43-44)
Q: In Ps 109:31, how does God, who is everywhere, stand at the right hand of the needy one? What about multiple needy people standing in a circle?
A: This does not refer to physical position. Standing at the right hand mean God is prominently there to aid them. God is everywhere according to Jeremiah 23:23-24 and Psalm 139:7-12.
Q: Does Ps 110:1 somehow show that everyone will be saved?
A: No. When Cultists Ask p.68-69 says that some liberals try to use this verse to support the heresy of universalism.
This is instructive to see just how far some people will go to twist scripture. Psalm 110:1 (NIV) says, "The Lord says to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." Note that the enemies will become as a footstool (a low position) for the Lord's feet. In the end every knee will bow to Christ (Philippians 2:10-11). But, becoming a footstool is different than being saved and reigning with Christ, being co-seated with Him on His throne (Ephesians 2:6).
Q: In Ps 110:1, how does this relate to Jesus?
A: This psalm is the most quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament, and this fairly clearly refers to a Lord in addition to God the Father.
Q: In Ps 110:4, what does Melchizedek have to do with anything here?
A: Melchizedek was the mysterious priest of God Most High, who met Abraham after the raid to rescue Lot and the people of Sodom. Here the psalmist is reminding us that God another and earlier priesthood than the order of Aaron among the Israelites. Melchizedek was certainly a non-Israelite, as Israelites did not exist in Abraham's time.
Q: In Ps 112:10, how does the desire of the wicked perish?
A: This is the flip-side of Psalm 37:4. God gives the righteous the desires of their heart. God both gives them good desires and satisfies those desires. God frustrates the desires of the wicked. After death, it is not revealed whether the desires of the wicked diminish, are made to vanish, grow, or grow without limit.
Q: In Ps 113, what can we learn?
A: Psalm 113 is dripping with emotion toward God, and it is also laid out very logically. Since this entire psalm is one of praise, this indicates how importance praise should be in our life with God. Verses 1-3 emphasize, who, when, and where we should praise God. Verses 4-6 emphasize praising God, not for what He has done, but simply for who He is. Verses 7-9 are exclusively praising Him for what He has done for us. When you praise God daily, do you praise Him, just for what He has done, or just for who He is, or do praise Him like a two-cylinder engine using both cylinders?
Q: In Ps 114, what are some of the main points?
A: Psalm 114 can be considered both a continuation and contrast with the last third of Psalm 113. Here are yet more reasons to praise God. In verses 1-2 when Israel was delivered from an evil bondage, and likewise when we experience deliverance, we should praise God out of gratitude. In verse 3-6, when we see God's hand working, whether using nature or other people, even unbelievers, as His tools, we should praise God. In verses 7-8, we should realize that God can make impossible-looking situations happen.
Q: What is Ps 115 about?
A: Among other thing, this psalm can be thought of as a psalm of perspective. Our faith is not about us, it is about God, while in contrast idols are made for the idol makers. First you have to understand that 1) we are made for The Lord and 2) God does as He pleases. Then we can rejoice to see that unlike the inanimate idols, 1) God is trustworthy and cares for us, and 2) He will bless us, 3) not only for now, but forevermore.
Q: In Ps 115:3, how does God do whatever He pleases?
A: Everything happens that God decrees, and nothing happens except what God allows. Everything works together as a part of God's plan (Ephesians 1:11), and all things work together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28). Nothing external forces God to do something. Nothing internal forces God to do something, for God can control Himself and His power. God, like us, seems to have a hierarchy of desire. God will not do anything evil or sin, God is just to all. Within those parameters, consider both the kindness and sternness of God (Romans 11:22), love to those who will love Him, and wrath to those who reject Him.
Q: Does Ps 115:16 teach that many of God's people will live forever on earth as Jehovah's Witnesses say?
A: Yes and no. There will be a new heaven and a new earth, and all God's people will live in the new heavens and earth. However, it does not teach that only 144,000 are "saved", have the Holy Spirit inside them, and will go to heaven, and all other believers are denied heaven but will live on the new earth. Romans 8:9 says that if one does not have the Spirit of Christ inside them, then they do not belong to Christ. See When Cultists Ask p.69 for more info.
Q: In Ps 117, why is such a short psalm in the Bible?
A: The Psalms have great variety, and psalms are examples of David and others praying to God. Psalm 117 shows that we do not need to feel like we have to be either eloquent or lengthy in our prayers.
Q: In Ps 118:9, how do people sometimes wrongly put confidence in princes today?
A: People sometimes give government officials credit for more power than they really have. Sometimes we think that if only all our elected officials were godly, then the country would be in great shape. However, government officials cannot change people's hearts, and many times a democratic people elect not the best government, but the government they deserve.
People sometimes give government officials more credit for moral things than they deserve. If a politician has shown himself or herself to be underhanded in the past, and is not repentant of that, people strangely assume that he or she will never be underhanded again.
Q: In Ps 119, what is a summary of what our attitude toward Scripture should be?
A: Here are some of the major points, in concise form.
Scripture is not just "suggestions for life", but we must take its authority in our lives as seriously as our Lord and Biblical writers meant. John 10:35; Matthew 4:1-11; John 14:23-24; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 3:16; Romans 3:1-4; 2 Timothy 3:15-16; Proverbs 30:5-6; Amos 8:11-2; Isaiah 66:5
The New Testament says some Old Testament commands have been fulfilled and are not to be done (eating pork and camel meat, sacrifices, etc.) Acts 10:9-16; 15:1,5-29; Mark 7:19; Galatians 5:2-4; Hebrews 9:9-10; 10:18.
The entire Bible is authoritative, trustworthy, primary, and complete. Proverbs 30:5-6; 2 Timothy 3:16
Every word in the 66 books is true in all it affirms, and all scripture is uniquely God-breathed. 2 Samuel 22:31; Psalms 33:4; 119:151; Proverbs 30:5-6
The Apocrypha has errors (Nebuchadnezzar in Judith not an Assyrian king, etc.)
We should interpret the Bible the way God meant the words to be understood. Don't twist, trivialize, or ignore any of it. 2 Peter 3:16; Mark 7:13; John 8:37; 12:48-50; 14:23; Psalms 56:10; 119:16. It's most precious to us. Psalms 119:72,97,105,120
Don't add to or go beyond God's Word. Proverbs 30:5-6; 1 Corinthians 4:6-7; Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18; Ecclesiastes 12:12
God's Word is true in its original manuscripts; truth is not contradictory, but it may be imprecise (for example,. Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1 and John 20:1, Ezra 2; Nehemiah 7). The New Testament has the exact substance of Jesus' teaching, not exact words. Matthew 22:37;13:22; Mark 12:30;4:19
God allowed some transmittal errors, but His Word stands forever. Isaiah 59:21; 40:8; Psalm 119:89. His Word is preserved infallibly (without significant error) up through today. Isaiah 55:11; 1 Peter 1:23-5; Psalm 119:89,91,144,160. Our hope is in it. Psalm 119:74,81
We are saved by Jesus, not by studying scripture. John 5:39-40; James 1:22-5; 1 Corinthians 13:2; Luke 11 : 52
Some feelings in Psalms 35:5-8; 42:11a; 7:8; 69:22-28; 109; 137:9 show we should pray what is on our hearts; Christians are to love their enemies. Matthew 5:43-8; Luke 6:27-35
Q: In Ps 119, what is a topical summary?
A: Here are the three main topics of Psalm 119, and their subcategories.
...Love God's Law
Delight and rejoice in God's law (14 verses) Ps 119:14,16,24,47,48,70,72,77,92,103,111,142,162,164
Meditate, recount, and sing (10 verses) Ps 119:13,15,23,26,48,54,78,95,97,99
Hope in God's word (7 verses) Ps 119:43,49,74,81,114,116,147
Find comfort in God's word and unfailing love (5 verses) Ps 119:50,52,71,76,82
In awe and wonder of His Law (3 verses) Ps 119:18,120,129
Trust in God's word (1 verse) Ps 119:42
...Benefit from God's Law
Direct our way (12 verses) Ps 119:1,3,5,15,30,32,35,59,101,104,105,133
God preserves (16 verses) Ps 119:8,17,25,37,40,88,93,101,114,117,146,149,156,159,173,175
God's promises (13 verses) Ps 119:38,41,49,50,57,58,65,76,116,140,154,170
Learn/teach him (21 verses) Ps 119:12,19,26,27,33,34,35,36,64,66,68,71,73,102,108,124,125,130,135,169,172
God's law is right (9 verses) Ps 119:75,86,128,137,138,144,151,160,164
Not put to shame (9 verses) Ps 119:6,22,31,39,42,46,51,69,80
Law strengthens us (1 verse) Ps 119:28
Gives us peace (1 verse) Ps 119:165
Like God's faithfulness, His word is eternal (7 verses) Ps 119:89,90,91,121,142,152,160
Help to live pure (7 verses) Ps 119:1,3,7,8,11,29,33
...Obey God's Law
Obey (23 verses) Ps 119:4,9,44,51,56,60,63,67,69,88,100,112,115,126,129,136,145,146,157,158,160,166,167
Choose/seek God and His decrees (8 verses) Ps 119:2,10,30,45,58,94,155,173
Love and long for God's law (8 verses) Ps 119:20,40,81,97,113,119,123,127,131,159,163,174
Don't forget or neglect (8 verses) Ps 119:16,61,83,93,109,141,153,176
Pray at night (4 verses) Ps 119:55,62,147,148
Do not stray (6 verses) Ps 119:10,21,87,110,118,176
Hate the lawless (4 verses) Ps 119:113,139,153,158
The wicked hate without cause (3 verses) Ps 119:78,86,161
Oppression (3 verses) Ps 119:55,62,147,148
Q: In Ps 119:10, why ask God not to let us wander from his commandments, since it is our own responsibility not to wander?
A: God is interactive. We having the responsibility does not prove we alone have the power or ability. Indeed, without God's love and His working, we will fall away into disobedience. It is our own responsibility not to wander, and we meet that responsibility by asking God for His help, walking close to God, and obeying Him out of a loving heart.
Q: In Ps 119:10, did David never stray from God's precepts, or did he go astray as Ps 119:176 says?
A: Psalm 119:176 says he did go astray. Psalm 119:10 is a request that God would not let the psalmist wander, as the KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, and Green's Literal Translation all say.
Also, while we all have gone astray in that we have committed sins, we can still with God's help live a life that in general is faithful to God, as When Critics Ask p.243 points out.
Q: In Ps 119:30, should it say the way of "truth" or "faithfulness"?
A: Either translation is accurate. The KJV, NKJV and NIV say "truth". The NRSV says "faithfulness" and the NASB says "faithful way". The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.743 says the Hebrew word here, emunah, can also mean "fidelity" or "faithfulness" as well as truth. Either way, you could say that we have a "high-fidelity" God!
Q: In Ps 119:30, to what extent can people choose the way of truth?
A: First we will look at the two sides scripture gives, and then see the balance between them.
On their own: No one seeks God. Romans 3:11, paraphrasing Psalm 14:2-3 shows this in a negative way. In a positive way, John 16:8-11 shows that the Holy Spirit has an essential role in drawing people to God.
With God's aid: People, even David the writer of Psalm 14 can genuinely choose God. Psalm 119:30 (NIV) says, "I have chosen the way of the Lord". In Joshua 24:22 the people are told they have chosen to serve the Lord. In John 12:32 Jesus said that if He be lifted up, He would draw all men to Himself. All are commanded to obey the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8; Acts 17:30), but some reject God's purpose for themselves (Luke 7:30), and forfeit the grace that could be theirs (Jonah 2:8).
Q: In Ps 119:97, how are we to love God's law?
A: First is how we are to love God's law, followed by ways we are not to love it.
How Believers are to love God's law
Value God's law as precious
Have room in your heart for God's word (John 8:37) and have God's word dwell in you richly (John 5:38; Colossians 3:16).
Diligently study the scriptures (Acts 17:11; Psalm 119:61; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Revelation 1:3).
Don't forget or neglect it (8 verses). Psalm 119:16,61,83,93,109,141,153,176
Treat it as higher than man's law (Acts 4:18-20).
We show ourselves as Jesus' disciples by obeying His teaching. (John 8:32-33; 14:21,23-24).
Trust in God's word (Psalm 119:42).
Believe that God's way is the best way. (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Do not trust in your own opinions more than God's word (Proverbs 30:5-6; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Proverbs 18:2; Colossians 2:8; 1 Timothy 1:3-4; Matthew 15:6-8; Isaiah 29:13).
Delight and rejoice in God's law (Psalm 119:14,16,24,47,48,70,72,77,92,103,111,142,162,164).
Meditate, recount, and sing (Psalm 119:13,15,23,26,48,54,78,95,97,99).
Hope in God's word (Psalm 119:43,49,74,81,114,116,147).
Be in awe and wonder of His Law (Psalm 119:18,120,129).
Find comfort in God's word and unfailing love (Psalm 119:50,52,71,76,82).
How we are not to love it
Do not love God's law more than God
Scripture is able to make us wise for salvation through Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15), but it is Jesus who saves, not scripture (John 5:39-40).
Recognize that some parts of the Old Testament law have been superseded by Jesus, such as animal sacrifices, diet, and that we are not living under a theocratic government.
Q: Why are Ps 120-134 called psalms of ascent?
A: We are not sure. According to 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.154, some think these were sung when worshippers walked up toward the temple on Mount Zion, and others think Levites sang these during festival times standing on the temple steps. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.505 says the same.
It is probably not when walking upward towards Mount Zion, because people did that all the time for non-religious reasons.
Q: In Ps 120:5, what is the significance of Meshech and Kedar?
A: Meshech is first mentioned in Genesis 10:2. They lived far north of Israel. Kedar was a land in northern Arabia, south of Israel. David says there were warlike threats against his kingdom from both the north and the south. Sometimes today, believers can feel there is not just one enemy out to get them, but attacks are possible from all sides. Nothing restricts Satan from just having one temptation at a time, or using fear followed by pride, as he did with Hezekiah and others.
Q: In Ps 121:6 how would the moon by night terrify people?
A: While the moon will not hurt people, some could still be afraid of the nighttime. On one hand someone could be superstitious about the moon, or about nighttime, and Psalm 121:6 indicates there is nothing to fear from that. On the other hand, bandits, and armies often attack at night, and a full moon gives them more light for maneuvering.
Q: In Ps 122, what important lessons can we learn from?
A: In verse 1, what is your attitude when you hear, or when you think, "I need to go to church". Is it gladness, or do you take opportunities to worship with other believers for granted?
In verse 2, when you are in church, do you show that you just feel fortunate to be there, or has it become humdrum? In verses 3-4, have you marveled at the church; not the building, but the living community of God? In verse 6, do you often remember that the believers you see at church will one day judge angels and the world? (1 Corinthians 6:2-3) In verses 7-9, do you regularly pray for the church in general, and people in the church in particular?
Q: In Ps 123, what things can we see?
A: Where are your eyes? Are you setting your affections on things above (Colossians 3:1-3). What kinds of things thrill you, and get you excited? Are they mainly video games, movies, sports teams, or other things that are not bad in and of themselves. Or, are you most excited about God, His work, and fellowshipping with other believers? Psalm 123 is not about where you have been, or even where you are now, but where are you looking, what do you long for, and where do you want to be.
Q: In Ps 124, what can we learn?
A: While Psalm 123 is about where are we looking, Psalm 124 has us consider where is our trust? We think God' help is beneficial, but do we realize that His continued help is essential? In our own lives, it is not only essential for the Holy Spirit to work in us to get saved (Colossians 1:13), it is essential that the Holy Spirit is working in us to sustain us to stay saved (Colossians 1:17). In our ministry, if we can accomplish everything without the supernatural working of God, then we are not aiming high enough.
Q: What does Ps 125:3 about the working of God?
A: God may let the wicked rule over a land, but He will not let the wicked remain ruling over the righteous. One reason is so that righteous people are not continually tempted to decline to be like the unrighteous. If you are in a situation like this, such as Lot was in Sodom, it is time to move.
Q: In Ps 126, what can we learn about prayer?
A: Previous psalms showed about praising God, but this is expressing deep thanks to God for what He did for His people. When God answers your prayers, do you go back and thank Him for what He did for you. In your thanksgiving, do you only thank Him for what He did for you, or also for God's people and others?
Q: In Ps 127 and Ps 72, did Solomon write these psalms?
A: We are not sure. The theme that without God builders work in vain, is very similar to Ecclesiastes 1. The heading on Psalm 127 says "of Solomon", but there are three points to consider in the answer.
In the Hebrew, "of Solomon" can mean written by Solomon, or else written about Solomon. However, the "House of Solomon" not meaning by Solomon is unlikely.
Added headers: The headings were not in the original scriptures. They are likely true, but not necessarily so.
Solomon probably did write these psalms is the simplest solution, and does not present any difficulties.
Q: In Ps 127:1, why do builders labor in vain unless God builds the house?
A: Originally this might refer to "God's House" the temple at Jerusalem. David really wanted to build this temple himself, but God told him not to, his son would also. David realized that disobediently building a temple to God would be a work in vain.
Do Christians today ever do a work in vain? - Sure. If a Christian works on something, even a good thing, supposedly for God, but God either did not want it, or want it but did not want him or her to do it, then it is a work in vain. However, if we are obedient in our service to God, seek God's will, and obey God's will as best we understand it, then God's pleasure in our work makes it a success, regardless of what other worldly yardsticks of supposed success might say.
Q: In Ps 127:2, is always sleeping well a sign that you are a believer?
A: No, because in Psalm 119:148, the writer was not sleeping through the night. Psalm 127:2 says that, in general, believers will be able to sleep peacefully. This is not necessarily due to miraculous causes, but it someone does not feel any guilt, bitterness, or fear of the future, in general they will sleep more securely than those who do.
Q: In Ps 127:3-5, 128:3, what is the Bible's attitude toward children?
A: Children are to be treasured (Psalm 127:3-5; 128:3), as well as grandchildren (Proverbs 17:6). We have a serious responsibility to teach our children to bring them up in the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:7; Proverbs 22:6; Psalm 78:4). We are to provide for them financially (Proverbs 13:22; 17:2; 19:14; Psalm 17:14) as well as our family in general (1 Timothy 5:8). We are to discipline our children, including corporal punishment (Proverbs 22:15; 15:5; Hebrews 12:7-11) but we are not to exasperate our children (Ephesians 6:4).
Proverbs promises that if we train up our children in the way they should go they will not depart from it. Psalm 112:1-2 says that the children of those who fear the Lord will be mighty.
Q: In Ps 127:3-5, why does it refer to only sons and not daughters as a blessing from the Lord?
A: According to an article in Christianity Today 10/27/1997 p.35, there is no Hebrew word for "children", only a word for "sons" and a word for "daughters". When a Hebrew speaker meant both sons and daughters, the word "sons" was used. Thus when the King James Version translates this "children", they are translating more the real meaning than word for word. Proof that the psalmist meant children in general and not just males is that in Psalm 127:3 he equates "children/sons" with "the fruit of the womb."
Q: In Ps 128, what is God's attitude toward us?
A: God is not a cosmic killjoy, but He desires to give those who reverence God the desires of their heart. God wants what is best, even more than we want what is best.
The goal of our faith is to love and serve God, not our own happiness. But this psalm shows that desiring happy circumstances, praying for them, and praising God for them is a good thing.
Q: In Ps 131:1, what kinds of things are too high for us?
A: There are two applications of this verse.
For some but not others, some points are too high. For example, some people have a very difficult time dealing with infinity. However for some more mathematically inclined, these concepts do not pose a problem.
a) Infinity / 2 = infinity,
b) The number of whole numbers is equal to the number of rational numbers, and
c) The circumference of a circle of infinite radius is a straight line
d) The limit of x as x approaches infinity of 3.0 * x^2 / (x + 1000 )^2 is 3.0.
If these concepts make you uncomfortable, do not worry. You can be every bit as spiritual as someone who is comfortable with these concepts.
For all people, some things are too high for us. For example, some things we cannot understand simply because we have not been given sufficient information. Some things are too high for us because even if we had the information, we would not have the "mental processing power" to comprehend it. We often are good at using approximations, but approximations can fail for chaotic events (such as weather prediction), discontinuous, catastrophic events, and events where our experience, natural observation, and knowledge of natural laws no longer apply. (What was the universe like in the first 10^-34 seconds after it was created?)
We do not have to be worried about not knowing all these things either. God Almighty was both able and willing to communicate with us, and He has told us what we need to know about the most important thing: living with Him forever.
Q: Does Ps 132:8 provide a "type" to suggest, though not prove, the bodily assumption of the Virgin Mary as some Catholic theologians (Ott, Madrid, etc.) claim?
A: No. Psalm 132:8 (NIV) says, "arise O LORD, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might." Two points to consider in the answer.
The Ark is not Mary: Nothing links the ark as a symbol of Mary, any more than as a symbol of Elijah, Enoch, the Law, religious ceremony, Christ, or anything else.
This is the strongest support in the Bible for the Catholic doctrine that Mary's body was taken directly to heaven and she did not experience death, - and this support is extremely weak.
See When Cultists Ask p.69-71 for more info.
Q: In Ps 133:1-3, why is unity so important and desirable?
A: Unity is important to glorify God (Romans 15:5-6) and be a witness so the world will know in john 17:23. However, unity itself is not important; unity in Christ is. We are commanded not to create unity, but to preserve the unity of the Spirit in Ephesians 4:3.
Q: In Ps 134, why is it important to praise God together?
A: There are two different aspects.
God apparently considers it beautiful for people to gather to praise Him together, as Hebrews 10:25 and Psalm 134 show.
God also desires that we not have anything against our brother and fellow-worshipper as Matthew 5:23-24 and Romans 15:7 show.
Q: In Ps 135:7 (KJV), how does God bring wind out of treasuries?
A: A treasury here is a "storehouse" so this says God brings wind "out of storage". Storage might simply be what meteorologists today would call a high-pressure zone.
Q: In Ps 136:15, did Pharaoh also drown in the Red Sea?
A: Probably not, since this is not what Psalm 136:15 says. Rather, Pharaoh and his army were overthrown in the Red Sea. Pharaoh's power was "all washed up" so to speak.
Q: In Ps 137:1, what were the rivers of Babylon?
A: The Babylon was on the mighty Euphrates River. While it could possibly refer to the two rivers of Babylonia, the Euphrates and the Tigris, 40 miles east of Babylon, it probably does not. Rather it most likely refers to the Euphrates and numerous canals serving Babylon and its gardens. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.506 says the same.
Q: In Ps 137:2, did Babylon have a lot of willow trees?
A: The land of Mesopotamia was treeless, as there was too little water for any trees to grow, except right by the rivers or with irrigation. Willow trees in particular need large amounts of water. However, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world was the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which were well-watered by the Euphrates River. Undoubtedly groves of trees contrasted with a vast treeless plain would look especially inviting.
Q: In Ps 137:7 (KJV), what does "rase" mean?
A: It means to "raze" or destroy the city.
Q: In Ps 137:8,9 why did the psalmist ask that Babylonian infants be dashed against the rocks?
A: On the surface, this sounds almost as cruel as late term abortion (except that the child dies slower during an abortion). The writer had seen the Babylonian army brutally kill the Jews, and this psalm is a cry to God for justice. However, since the time of Jesus, we are taught to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.154, When Critics Ask p.243, and the discussion on Psalm 3:7 for more info.
Q: In Ps 138, what are key doctrines mentioned.
A: There are at least four key truths here.
God has exalted above everything His name and His word.
God made David, and can make us, bold and stouthearted.
God especially looks with favor on the humble.
God had a purpose for David, promised to fulfill His purpose for David, and God can do the same for us.
Q: In Ps 139, since God is allegedly "omnipresent," he's close by when incest, rape, child molestation, etc., are happening. If he doesn't stop it, he's an accomplice, just as you and I would be if we were able to stop these things, and didn't do so.
A: God is not a human; and though God could take away our freedom and capacity to do evil, even to others, He does not yet do so. Four points to consider in the answer.
1) In addition to being omnipresent, nothing happens except what God allows, as Job 1:12; 2:6; James 4:15; and Ephesians 1:11 show.
2) God could have prevented all evil from happening, but chose not to.
3) If God did prevent all evil, then we, as well as Satan and the demons would be mere robots. No, allowing us to have a measure of free will means that God, within limits, has chosen to "delegate" a portion of His Sovereignty. We have really been given responsibility, and when God asks us to "choose life" God is really being sincere.
4) One of the consequences of this is that God permits evil, and He even permits unfair consequences in this life. Think of the child people like Hitler and Idi Amin had killed. God will set everything right in the end, on Judgment Day though.
This concept, that God is Sovereign, and yet God allows evil to give us a degree of freedom, is one of the most complex concepts in Christianity. I can go into this into a lot more detail if you have more specific questions on this.
Q: In Ps 139:8, how is God in "Hell"?
A: The Hebrew word here, sheol, means grave. God is even in the grave, and even by dying a person cannot escape from God. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.453 for more info.
Q: Does Ps 139:13-16 imply that abortion is murder?
A: Yes according to When Critics Ask p.244. Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 51:5; Luke 1:44, and Exodus 21:22-23 also imply that abortion is murder. Psalm 139:13-16 says God wove us together inside our mother. In contrast, it is ludicrous to say that the second after a baby's head come out of his mother he cannot be killed, but a second before his head comes out, it is OK to stick scissors in his brain to kill him. This is being done in America and some western countries today. This is called "partial birth abortion."
Q: In Ps 139:14, how is sinful, fallen man fearfully and wonderfully made?
A: We are born with a sinful nature (Psalm 51:5), dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13), a prisoner of sin (Galatians 3:22), and under God's wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Yet Psalm 139:14 boldly declares that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Though fallen, we still bear God's image (Genesis 9:6). God can dwell in us (1 John 4:12-15). We can be justified and glorified (Romans 8:30), and we can be called sons of the God (Romans 8:19; 1 John 3:1).
Q: In Ps 139:20-22, are we supposed to hate those who hate God?
A: No, for those on this earth can still repent and believe. No matter what wicked things they did, even adultery like David, or murder like David and Paul, God will accept those who come to Him in faith and repentance.
This psalm shows us that David prayed what he felt to God. However, the very next two verses David asks God to point out any offensive ways in him, so perhaps David himself wondered about hating his enemies.
In the New Testament we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-44 and Luke 6:27-35) even as Stephen did while dying in Acts 7:60.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.282-283 for more info.
Q: In Ps 142, what is the focus?
A: David was in a cave hiding from Saul. David was not just praying for help against evil people in general, but specifically against those who were out to get him behind his back (verse 3), and those who were stronger than he was (verse 6) when it appeared that he had no earthly allies to help him (verse 4).
Yet in the unhappy, depressing state of affairs, David found joy. He realized that God was His refuge (verse 5) and He would bring righteous to surround Him (verse 7). It does not specify whether the righteous here are people helping David or angels, but both are applicable.
Q: In Ps 144:1 and Ps 149:6-8, is it OK to train for war, including killing others?
A: Yes. David knew what he was saying, for he trained for war and trained others for war. This proves that fighting is OK, if it is for a good cause. A total pacifist can still be a genuine Christian, but they are mistaken in thinking that fighting for right is always displeasing to God. Since Colossians 3:16 says we should admonish each other with psalms, I would recommend they meditate on Psalm 149:6-8. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.213-214 for more info.
Q: In Ps 144:1, is it OK to play video games and other games with killing?
A: It depends on the game, and it can depend on the person. Since the Bible shows that hunting animals and being a soldier are OK, it would be ridiculous to say that doing these things for real is OK, but doing these in a video game is not. On the other hand, a game that glorifies senseless violence, and encourages killing others for no legitimate reason not only is immoral because of teaching someone to be a violent man (Proverbs 3:31,32), but it also violates Philippians 4:8. Philippians 4:8 (NIV) says, "...whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
Q: In Ps 144:12 (KJV), what is a "similitude of a palace"?
A: This King James Version expression means likes a palace.
Q: In Ps 145:9, how is God good and merciful to all He has made?
A: God gives everything that lives the air to breath and the environment to live. This is one aspect of "common grace", or God's gift to all, whether they love God or not. As long as people breathe, they have the opportunity to call out to the Most High God to save them.
Q: In Ps 145:16, how does God satisfy the desires of every living being?
A: God satisfies some of the desires of every living thing. All have a desire for life and have a degree of pleasure.
However, this verse only specifies the living. After death, those who rejected God have no promise of their desires ever being satisfied, or of their desires being taken away. One possible description of Hell is a place where a person's desires can grow out of control, the desires will never be satisfied, and the person knows that the desires will never be satisfied.
Q: Should Ps 146:3 be translated as "mortal men/man" (NIV, Jewish Tanakh, New Jerusalem Bible, NASB), "mortals" (NRSV), or "son of men/man" (KJV, NKJV, Green's Translation, RSV)?
A: The Hebrew can be translated either way, but the most literal translation is "son of Adam". The Updated NASB has "mortal man" with a footnote saying "Lit[erally] a son of a man".
Q: Does Ps 146:3-4 show there is no life after death as some Jehovah's Witnesses say in Reasoning From the Scriptures p.383 (1989)?
A: No. Psalm 146:3-4 shows that we are not to trust in people, because after their death their plans come to nothing, and their thoughts are even lost from this earth. Some Old Testament verses that show life after death are Hosea 13:14; Proverbs 14:32, Job 3:13-17, and Job 19:26-27. See When Cultists Ask p.71 for a more info.
Q: In Ps 146:6 (NIV), should this say "The LORD"?
A: No, "the LORD" is not in the Masoretic text, according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.5 p.866. The Lord" is also not in the Septuagint. The NIV probably added this to increase understandability because the Lord is the subject of this psalm and is mentioned in other verses in this psalm.
Q: In Ps 146:8, does the Aramaic-sounding word for "his plans" show this Psalm to be written very late?
A: No. The Hebrew word 'estonotayw for "his plans" is an Aramaicism, according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.5 p.865 this same word is also in the 8th century Sefire Inscriptions.
Q: In Ps 148, how do all these creatures and things praise God?
A: Each creature or thing has its own way of praising God. The sinless angels have their way, perfect for them. Fallen people, who have experienced the salvation and new life from God, have a different way of praising God. Inanimate objects, be it the blazing hot sun, the moon bright with reflected light, or the cool water vapor, all praise God by their very existence, as mute testimony to the power and skill of their Creator. Come to think of it, our very existence, as well as our day-to-day lives walking with Him are a praise of God's mercy and joy.
Q: In Ps 148:4, what are waters above the heavens? It says "waters above", not "in" the heavens, as does Genesis. What are we to make of all this? Did the ancients really think that there was a bunch of water above the sky?
A: The word "heavens" has a range of meaning, because the ancients thought in terms of multiple levels of heavens. For example, Psalm 148:3 says "Praise him O heaven of heavens". Typically clouds, etc. would be at the lower levels, stars and planets at a higher level, and God in and beyond the ultimate level. The ancient writers did not know the water cycle or how the rain formed, but they know the water came from the cloud level where they could see.
Likewise, when we pray today, if we are nebulous in our understanding of the world, that is OK too.
Q: In Ps 149:4, how does God take delight in His people?
A: God delights in us in many ways. He delights in a wicked man turning from his wickedness and turning to God. God delights in bringing us salvation, as well as other good things. God delights in comforting us, and in us sharing God's joy. God calls us friends. We are co-seated with Christ (Ephesians 2:6), and we are called the bride of Christ in Ephesians 5:25-33. We are made in the image of God, and God can live through us (1 John 4:12,16)
Q: In Ps 150, exactly how should we praise God?
A: While it is good to thank God for everything He has done for us, thanking God is slightly different than praising Him. Psalm 150 first gives to places for praising God, and then two reasons for praising God. Then it gives nine ways of praising God musically and in dance. Finally it concludes by saying to let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.
Praising God with a trumpet sounds very different from praising God with the strings, which sounds very different than the tambourine. Just as there are a variety of musical ways to praise God, there are a variety of things for which to praise God. Psalm 150:2 categorizes them as praising God for His mighty acts, and then praising God Himself for the greatness of His character. We could go on forever listing all the spectacular, sublime, powerful, intricate, creative, and consistent things God has done. When we praise God for His acts of creation, do not forget to also praise Him for His acts of redemption too. Likewise we can elaborate at length on God's goodness, kindness, justice, truth, steadfastness, love, and even His wrath. In fact, I think we could come up with at least one reason for praising God for every type of musical instrument people have invented.
Q: What is Ps 151, and should it be in the Bible?
A: What is often designated as Psalm 151 was found in the Greek Septuagint of the Alexandrian manuscripts Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus. The liberal Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 5 p.523-524 says that all three manuscripts had an inscription just prior to Psalm 151 saying this was an addition to the 150 canonical psalms. It read, "this psalm is ascribed to David and is outside the number...". After the Psalm Sinaiticus closes with "the 151 Psalms of David", and Alexandrinus closes with "the 150 psalms of David and one ascribed." Psalm 151 was also found in Dead Sea scroll 11Q5.
Psalm 151 speaks of David's victory over Goliath and reads: "I was small among my brethren, and youngest in my father's house: I tended my father's sheep. My hands formed a musical instrument, and my fingers tuned a psaltery. And who shall tell my Lord? The Lord himself, he himself hears. He sent forth his angel, and took me from my father's sheep, and he anointed me with the oil of his anointing. My brothers were handsome and tall; but the Lord did not take pleasure in them. I went forth to meet the Philistine; and he cursed me by his idols. But I drew his own sword, and beheaded him, and removed reproach from the children of Israel" Taken from The Septuagint Version: Greek and English by C.L. Brenton. One can also read various versions of Psalm 151 in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 p.612-615.
Psalm 151 is an apocryphal chapter, but was not accepted in Catholic churches. It was accepted in Orthodox, Nestorian, and Coptic churches. It is also unclear whether it was even meant as authoritative scripture.
Q: Should Ps 152-155 be in the Bible?
A: No, we should not try to add these to the Bible for the following reasons.
1. There is no evidence that any Jews, prior to the Hellenistic period, ever heard of these psalms. What people call Psalm 154 and 155 exist in Hebrew in the Dead Sea scroll 11QPs. Other than that, all these psalms exist only in Syriac.
2. Likewise, there is no evidence that Jesus used or heard of these psalms.
3. There is no evidence the early church heard of these psalms.
4. Since the early church did much to recognize God's scripture, we can trust that God guided the early Christians correctly.
The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.536-537 says that a 12th century Nestorian Syriac copy of the Psalter had (in order) Ps 151, 154, 155, 152, 153.
As a side note, there are no new doctrines in these short psalms, and there is nothing in them that is unbiblical, either. One can read various versions of Psalms 152-155 in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 p.615-624.
Q: What does Ps 155 say?
A: Here is a translation from The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition edited by Florintino Garcia Martinez & Eibert J.C. Tigchelaar volume 2 1998 p.1177.
"JHWH, I call to you, listen to me; I extend my hands to your holy dwelling; bend your ear and grant my plea, and what I ask, do not deny me; build up my soul and do not demolish it; and do not forsake it in the presence of wicked people. May the judge of truth turn away from me the recompenses of evil. O YHWH, do not judge me by my sin because no-one living is just in your presence. Instruct me, YHWH, in your law, and teach me your precepts so that many may hear your deeds and nations may honour your glory. Remember me and do not forget me or lead me into difficulties too great for me. Remove the sin of my childhood from me and may my offences not be remembered against me. Purify me, O YHWH, from evil plague, and may it stop coming back to /me/; dry up its roots from me, may its lea[ve]s not become green in me. Glory are you, YHWH, therefore my pleas is achieved in your presence. To whom may I shout that he would grant it to me? The sons of men: what can [their] stren[gth] do? My trust stems from be[fo]re you, YHWH. I called <<YHWH>> and he answered me, [and he healed] my broken heart. I slumbered and [sle]pt; I dreamt, also ...YHW]h.
Q: In Ps, how do we know the book of Psalms should be in the Bible?
A: Primarily, Jesus and the New Testament writers relied upon Psalms as Scripture. For example, when Hebrews 3:7 and Hebrews 10:15 quote out of Psalm 95:7-11, these verses preface the quote with "The Holy Spirit says". Jesus died with a psalm on his lips.
Secondarily, almost all Jews (except the Sadducees) accepted the book of Psalms as scripture. Early Church writers extensively referred to Psalms.
Q: In Ps, what are some of the earliest manuscripts that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea scrolls: (2nd century B.C.) have 36 separate copies according to The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.30. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.436-438 says there are 27 copies. The Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.2 p.702 says there are 39 scrolls containing parts of Psalms. The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.261 says there are at least 10 manuscripts of Psalms in cave 4 alone. The oldest copy is the 2nd century B.C. The Dead Sea scroll manuscripts are 1Q10, 1Q11, 1Q12, 2Q14 (Psalms 103-104), 3Q2 (Psalm 2:6-7), 4Q83-4Q97, 4Q98a, 4Q98b, 4Q98c, 4Q98d. 4Q90 is two manuscripts of Psalm 119. 4Q89 is also two manuscripts of Psalm 119. 4Q89 is sometimes split into 4Q89 and 4Q236. 5Q5 is also of Psalm 119.
1Q10 (=1QPs(a)) (30 B.C. to 68 A.D.) Ps 86:5-6,8; 92:11-14; 94:16; 95:11; 96:1-2; 119:31-34,42-48,77-80
1Q11 (=1QPs(b) (30 B.C. to 68 A.D.) Ps 126:6; 127; 128:2-3
1Q12 (=1QPss(c)) (30 B.C. to 68 A.D.) Ps 44:1-8,22-24)
1Q16 has Psalm 68:12, 25-26, 29-30
2Q14 (30 B.C. to 68 A.d.) 103:2,4,6,8-11; 104:6,8-9,11
3Q2 (30 B.C. to 68 A.D.) Psalm 2:6-7
4Q83 (=4QPss(a)) (200-100 B.C.) Ps 5:8-12; 6:1,3,5; 25:8,10,12,15; 31:23-24; 33:2,4,5,6,8,10,12,20,21; 34:20-21; 35:2,13-18,20,26-27; 36:2,4-6,8; 38:1,3,5,7-9,11,13,15-22; 71:1-14; 47:2; 53:1,3-4,6; 54:1,3-4; 56:3; 62:12; 63:2,4; 66:16,18-20; 67:1,3-7; 69:1-18
4Q84 (=4QPss(b) (2nd century B.C.) (or 30-68 A.D.) Ps 91:5-6,7-8,12-15; 92:3-7,12-14; 93:5; 94:1-4,7-14,16-18,21-22; 96:2; 98:4-5; 99:5-6; 100:1-2; 102:4,9-28; 103:1-6,9-14,20-21; 112:4-5; 113:1; 115:2-3; 116:17-19; 118:1-3,5-12,18029,23-26,29)
4Q85 (=4QPss(c)) Ps 16:6-10; 17:1; 18:1-13,15-17,31-35,38-40
4Q86 (=4Qpss(d)) Ps 106:48; 147:1-20; 104:1-5,8-11,14-15,22-26,33-35
4Q87 (=4QPs(e)) (2nd century B.C.) Ps 6:9-11; 77:1; 78:6-7,31-33; 81:1-2; 86:10-11; 88:1-4; 89:43-47,49-52; 103:22; 109:1,8,13-14; 114:5; 115:15-18; 116:1-4; 118:29; 104:1-3,20-22; 105:1-3,23-25,36-45; 106:1; 120:5-7; 125:1-5; 126:1-6; 129:8; 130:1-7
4Q88 (=4QPss(f)) Psalm 22:13-16; 107:2-5,8-16,18-19,22-30,35-42; 109:4-7,24-28, Apostrophe to Zion, Eschatological Hymn, Apostrophe to Judah
4Q89 (=4QPss(g)) Psalm 119:37-46,49-50,73-74,81-83,89-92
4Q90 (=4QPss(h)) Psalm 119:10-21
4Q91 (=4QPss(j)) Ps 48:1-2,4,6,8; 49:5,8-11,14,16; 51:1-4; then 48:1-3,5,7,9; 49:6,9-12,15,17; 51:2-5
4Q92 (=4QPss(k)) Ps 135:6-7,10-13,15-16; 99:1-2,5
4Q93 (=4QPss(l) (50-1 B.C.) Ps 104:3-5,11-12
4Q94 (=4QPss(m)) (30- B.C. - 68 A.D.) Ps 93:3-5; 95:3-7; 97:6-9; 98:4-8
4Q95 (=4QPss(n)) 30 B.C. - 68 A.D.) 135:6-9,11-12; 136:23-24
4Q96 (=4QPss(o)) (50 - 1 B.C.) Ps 114:7; 115:1-2,4; 116:3,5,7-10
4Q97 (=4QPss(p) (30 B.C. - 68 A.D.) Ps 143:2-4,6-8
4Q98 (=4QPss(q) (50-68 A.D.) Ps 31:23-24; 33:1-18; 35:4,6,8,10,12,14-15,17,19-20
4Q98a (=4QPss(r)) (30 B.C. to 68 A.D.) Ps 26:7-12; 27:1; 30:8-12
4Q98b (=4QPss(s)) (50-68 A.D.) Ps 5:7-6:1
4Q98c (=4QPss(t)) (50-68 A.D.) Ps 88:14-16)
4Q98d (=4QPss(u)) (about 50 A.D.) Ps 42:4
4Q98e (=4QPss(v)) (100-30 B.C.) Ps 99:1
4Q98f (=4QPss(w)) (125-75 B.C.) Ps 112:1,3,5,7,9
4Q98g (=4QPss(x)) Ps 89:19-30 verse order I 19-20-21-25-22-26-27-30
4Q171 has Psalm 37:5-15; 37:16-26,28-40; 45:1-2; 60:8-9
4Q173 has Psalm 127:2-3,5;129:7-8
4Q521 has Psalm 146:7-8
4Q522 (70-30 B.C.) Psalm 122:1-9. Prophecy of 4Q174 has Psalms 1:1qa; 2:1-2; 5:2-3a
4Q177 has Psalm 6:2-4; 11:1-2; 12:1; 12:7; 13:2-3; 13:5; 16:3; 17:1; 17:2
4Q381 has Psalm 86:16,17; 89:7; 89:10-12,14
4Q436 has Psalm 51:17 (cf.)
4Q437 has Psalm 37:15; 63:7
4Q381 has Psalm 19:2; 18:6; 18:6-7
4Q434 has Psalm 34:7
4Q504 has Psalm 79:8
5Q5 (1-68 A.D.) Ps 119:99-101,104,113-120,138-142
6Q5 (about 50 A.D.) Ps 78:35-37
8Q2 is Psalms 17:5-9,14; 18:6-9, 10-13.
(the site http://dssenglishbible.com./scroll8Q2 says different. It says Ps 17:5-9,14; 18:5-12)
11Q5 (=The Psalms scroll) appears to be a prayer book of Psalms written between 1 and 50 A.D. with the Psalms in a different order. According to Responses to 101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the order is Ps 101:1-8; 102:1-2, 18-29; 103:1; 109:21-31; 105:25-45; 146:9-10; 148:1-12; 121:1-8; 122:1-9; 123:1-2; 124:7-8; 125:1-5; 126:1-6; 127:1; 128:4-6; 129:1-8; 130:1-8; 131:1; 132:8-18; 119:1-6,15-28,37-49,59-73,82-96,105-120128-142, 150-164,171-176; 135:1-9,17-21; 136:1-16,26b; 118:1,15,16,8,9,29; 145:1-7,13-21+7; Syriac Psalm 2; a Plea for Deliverance, Ps 139:8-14; 137:1,0; 138:1-8; Sirach 51:13-20b,30; Apostrophe to Zion; Ps 93:1-3; 141:5-10; 133:1-3; 144:1-7,15; Syriac Psalm 3, Psalm 142:4-8; 143:1-8; 149:7-9; 150:1-6; Hymn to the Creator; 2 Samuel 23:7; list of David's psalms; 140:1-5; 134:1-3; 151A,B (= Syriac Psalm 1).
This is the scroll that contains a "Psalm 151" as well as other non-canonical writings, "Plea for Deliverance", Apostrophe to Zion, Hymn to the Creator, and others. See Responses to 101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls p.38-39 for more info.
The site http://dssenglishbible.com/scrolol11Q5.htm says somewhat different. Is says Ps 101; 102:1-3,18-19; 103:1; 109:21-31; 118:25-29; 104:1-6,21-35; 147:1-2,18-20; 105:1-11,25-35,38-39,41-42,44-45; 146:9-10; 148:1-13; 121; 122; 123:1-2; 124:7-8; 125; 126; 127:1; 128:3-6; 129; 130; 131:1, 132:8-18; 119:1-6,15-28,37-49,59-72.82-96,105-120,128-142,150-164,171-176; 135:1-9,17-21; 136:1-26; 118:1,15-16,8-9,29; 145:1-7,12-21; Apocryphal Psalm 154:3-19; Non-canonical Psalm "Plea for Deliverance;" 139:8-24; 137:1, 9; 138; Ben Sirach 51:13-23, 30; Non-canonical Psalm "Apostrophe to Zion;" 93:1-3; 141:5-10; 133:1-3; 144:1-7, 15; Apocryphal Psalm 155; 142:3-7; 143:1-8; 149:7-9; 150; Non-canonical Psalm "Hymn to the Creator;" 2 Samuel 23:7; Non-canonical prose section "David's Compositions;" 140:1-4; 134:1-3; Apocryphal Psalm 151a; Apocryphal Psalm 151b:1)
11Q6 has Psalms 77:17-20; 78:1; 119:163-165; 118:1,15-16 (118:2-14 were never there), unknown psalm, Apsotrophe to Zion psalm, 141:10; 133:1-3; 144:1-2; 109:2-4
11Q7 (=4QPss(c)) (30 B.C. - 68 A.D.) Ps 2:1-8; 12:4-8; 13:1-2,4-5; 14:1-6; 17_9-15; 18:1-11,14-16; 19:3-4,6-7; 25:2-3,5-7
11Q8 (=4QPss(d)) (30 B.C) - 68 A.D.) Ps 6:1-3; 9:2,4-5; 18:25-28,38-39,41; 36:12; 37:1-5; 39:12-13; 40:1; 43:1-3; 45:5-7; 59:3-5,7; 60:7; 68:2-4,13,15-17; 78:5-12,36-37; 81:3-8; 86:10-13,11-14; 115:16-18; 116:1,3
11Q9 (=11QPss(e)) has fragments of Psalms 36-37 and 86. (http://dssenglishbible.com/scroll11Q9.htm says different. It says Ps 50;3,5,7)
11Q11, while a non-Biblical manuscript, has a section that quotes Psalm 91:1-16 in col.5 lines 3-14.
(See http:// http://dssenglishbible.com for more info.) (The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated p.377-378)
11Q13 has Psalms 7:7-8; 82:1-2
Dead Sea Scroll commentary on Psalm 37 (The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.50-51.)
Masada Psalms(a) (1-50 A.D.) has Psalm 81-85:5
Masada Psalms(b) (50-1 B.C.) Hsaps Psalm 150:1b-6
Nahal Hever in the Cave of Letters (50 B.C. to 100 A.D.) has Psalms (5/6Hev 1b). A fragment of another Nahal Hever scroll has Psalm 7:12-17; 8:1,3-9; 9:12-21; 10:1-6,8-10,18; 11:1-5; 12:5-8; 13:1-2; 14:2-4; 15:1-5; 16:1; 18:5-12,16-35,37-42; 22:3-8,14-20; 23:2-6; 24:1-2; 25:4-7; 29:2; 30:2; 31:1-21 (http://dssenglishbible.com/scrollnhpsalms.htm (It is dated between 106-135 A.D. according to the Biblical Archaeology Review Jan/Feb 2001 p.30-31)
Overall, preserved in the Dead Sea scrolls and Nahal Hever are the following verses from Psalms: 2:1-8; 5:8-13; 6:1-4; 7:13-18; 8:1,4-10; 9:2-7,12-21; 10:1-6,8-9,18; 11:1-4; 12:4-8; 13:1-3,5-6; 14:1-6; 15:1-5; 16:1,7-9; 17:1; 17:5-15; 18:1-36,38-43; 19:3-8; 22:4-9,13-21; 23:2-6; 24:1-2; 25:2-7,15; 26:7-12; 27:1,12-14; 28:1-4; 29:1-2; 30:9-13; 31:3-25; 33:1-14,16-18; 34:21-22; 35:2,4-5,8,10,12,13-20,26-27; 36:1,3,5-7,9,13; 37:1-4,5?,18-19; 38:2,4-6,8-10,12,16-23; 39:13-14; 40:1-2; 42:5; 43:1-3; 44:3-5,7,8-9?,9,23-25; 45:6-11,15; 47:2; 48:1-3,5,7,9; 49:1-17; 50:3-7,14-23; 51:1-6; 52:6-11; 53:1,4-5,7; 54:2-3,5-6; 56:4; 59:5-6,8; 60:9? or 19:3?; 62:13; 63:2,4; 66:16,18-20; 67:1-2,4-8; 68:1-5,16-18; 69:1-19; 71:1-14; 76:10-12; 77:1,18-21; 78:1,4-12,31-33,36-37; 81:2-9,5-17; 82:1-8; 83:1-19; 84:1-13; 85:1-6,8; 86:10-14; 88:1-2,4-5,15-17; 89:20-23,26-38,31,44-48,50-53; 91:1-16; 92:4-8,12-15; 93:1-5; 94:1-4,8-14,17-18,21-22; 95:3-7,11; 96:1-2; 97:6-9; 98:4-8; 99:1-2,5-6; 100:1-2; 101:1-8; 102:1-2,18-29; 103:1-6,8-14,20-21; 104:1-6,8-12,14-15,20-35; 105:1-11,23-26,28-29?,30-31,33-35-45; 106:1?,48?; 107:2-5,8-16,18-19,22-30,35-42; 109:1?,4-7,8?,13,21-22,24-31; 112:1,3-5,7,9; 113:1; 114:5?,7; 115:1-4,15-18; 116:1-3,5,7-10,17-19; 118:1-3,6-10,12,15-16,18-20,23-29; 119:1-6,10-28,31-34,37-50,59-74,77-96,99-101, 104-120,128-142,150-165,171-176; 120:6-7; 121:1-8; 122:1-9; 123:1-2; 124:7-8; 125:1-5; 126:1-6; 127:1-5; 128:3-6; 129:1-8; 130:1-8; 131:1; 132:8-18; 133:1-3; 134:1-3; 135:1-13,15-21; 136:1-16,22-24,26: 127:1,9; 138:1-8; 139:8-24; 140:1-5; 141:5-10; 142:4-8; 143:1-8; 144:1-7,15; 145:1-7,14-21; 146:1?; 146:9,10; 147:1-4,13-20; 148:1-12; 149:7-9; 150:1-6; 151:1-7; 154:3-20; 155:1-19. See The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more details.
The Psalms Bodleian fragment of the Greek Septuagint is from the second or third century A.D. according to Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.39.
Christian Bible manuscripts, from about 300 A.D., contain the Old Testament, including Psalms.
p72 (=Bodmer VII and VIII) contains among other works Psalms 33 and 34 in Greek. It is dated ca.300 A.D. in The Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.479.
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) has preserved all of Psalms, except Psalms 105:27-137:6. (Psalm 105:27-137:6 was added to Vaticanus in the 15th century, so that addition does not count.)
Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) has preserved all of Psalms. It has 151 Psalms. It starts the page after Malachi ends. It ends the page before Proverbs starts.
Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.) has preserved all of Psalms except Psalms 49:20-79:11.
p.Vindob G39777 (=Papyrus Vindobonensis (Vienna) G 39777) verses of PSalm 68 and 80 in Symmachus' Greek translation.
Q: Which early writers referred to Psalms?
A: Pre-Nicene writers who referenced or alluded to verses in Psalms are:
The Jewish writer Philo of Alexandria (15/20 B.C.-50 A.D.) was a Jewish commentator who wrote about the time of Jesus. Most of his writing deals with the Torah, but he still quoted from Psalms. Philo wrote in Greek, but his references agree more with the Masoretic text than the Septuagint. Here is what he quoted in Psalms. 23:1; 26:1; 30:19; 36:4; 47:4; 42:3; 45:5; 61:12; 65:10; 75:9; 77:49; 79:7; 80:5; 84:11; 94:9; 100:1; 113:25. See The Works of Philo : Complete and Unabridged. New Updated Version for more info.
Clement of Rome in 1 Clement chapter 18 quotes Psalm 51:1-7 saying David said this to God. He also extensively quotes Psalm 139:7-10 in chapter 28.
Clement of Rome (97/98 A.D.) quotes all or part of 50 verses in Psalms. They are: Psalm 2:7,8 in ch.36 p.15; 110:1 (also Hebrews 1:13) in ch.6 p.15; 3:6 (paraphrase) in ch.26 p.12; 18:25,26 p.12; 19:1-3 ch.26 p.12; 22:6-8 p.9; 31:18 p.9; 32:10; p.11; 34:11-17 p.11; 37:35-37 p.8; 51:1-17 p.10; 62:4 p.9; 78:36,37 p.9; 89:21 p.10; 104:4 p.15; 119:83 p.10; 134:7-10 ch.28 p.12; 139:15 p.15
The Epistle of Barnabas (100-150 A.D.) quotes 16 verses in Psalms. They are: Psalm 1:1 in ch.10 p.143, Psalm 1:3-6 in ch.11 p.144; 18:44 in ch.8 p.142; 22:17,18b in ch.6 p.140; 22:21 in ch.6 p.140; 22:23 in ch.6 p.141; 34:11-13 in ch.8 p.142; 110:1 in ch.12 p.145; 118:22,24 in ch.6 p.140. On the other hand, The Epistle of Barnabas has confused quotes, possibly combining different verses on Psalm 42:2 p.141; 51:19 p.138; 119:120 p.140
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) did not write Bible manuscripts, but he quoted so much of Psalms that his writings could almost be considered as a partial Bible manuscript. Justin Martyr in quoted all of Psalm 22 in Dialogue with Trypho ch.98 p.248. He quotes Psalm 51 in Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.22 p.205. Justin quotes at least 141 verses from Psalms. They are: all of Psalms 1 and 2; Psalm 3:4,5; 8:3; 18:43; 19:1-6; 22:7,16,17,18; all of Psalm 24; 32:2; 45:6-11; 47:5-9; all of Psalm 50; 68:18,19; all of Psalm 72 and 82, 90:4; 95:1,5; 98; all of Psalm 99; all of Psalm 110; 115:5,16; 118:24; 128:3; 148:1,2
Melito/Meleto of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.) lists all the books of the Old Testament, and he includes every book we have except Nehemiah and Esther. Fragment 4 From the Book of Extracts p.759. Melito of Sardis quotes Psalm 2:1-2 as "David says" in On Pascha Stanza 62 p.53
Tatian, Encratite heretic (died 172 A.D.)
Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.)
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) quotes about 100 verses from Psalms.
Rhodon (180 A.D.)
Caius (190-217 A.D.) ch.2.1 p.601 mentions Psalms
Clement of Alexandria in The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 2 ch.15 p.363 quotes Psalm 1:4-5 as "by the prophet."
Tertullian (198-200 A.D.) "Again in Psalms, David says..." and refers to Psalms 19:4. An Answer to the Jews ch.5 p.156
Theodotus the probable Montanist (ca.240 A.D.) quotes from Psalm 19:1 in Excerpts of Theodotus ch.50-52 p.49. He also quotes Psalm 18:43,50; 18:1. He quotes half of 19:8 in ch.58 p.50. He also quotes Psalm 19:12 from the Septuagint.
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.)
Origen (225-254 A.D.)
Novatian (250/254-256/7 A.D.)
Anonymous Treatise Against Novatian (250/4-256/7 A.D.) ch.10 p.660 quotes Psalm 89:30 as by David.
Cyprian was a bishop of Carthage from 248 to his martyrdom in 258 A.D.. He quotes from Psalms as being from Psalms in Treatise 12 the third book 1,10,16,68,114,119 among other places. Cyprian also quotes from Tobias, Ecclesiasticus, Maccabees, and additions to Daniel in the apocrypha.
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) "In Isaiah ... in the 117th Psalm ... Also in Zechariah ... Also in Deuteronomy: ... Also in Jesus [Joshua] the son of Nave" Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 12 ch.2.16
Firmilian of Caesarea to Cyprian (256 A.D.)
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-256 A.D.) quotes Psalm 31:5 as by David in Exegetical Fragment 2 p.112
Dionysius of Rome (259-269 A.D.) (allusion)
Archelaeus (262-278 A.D.)
Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.) (allusion)
Methodius of Olympus and Patara (270-311/312 A.D.)
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.) quotes Psalm 110:1 as "the 109th psalm" The Divine Institutes book 4 ch.12 p.111
Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.) "And to confirm this insane doctrine, playing with Holy Scripture, they [Arians] bring forward what is said in the Psalms respecting Christ:" and quote Psalm 45:7. Epistles on the Arian Heresy Epistle 1 ch.3 p.292
After Nicea (325 A.D.)
Augustine of Hippo (338-340 A.D.) wrote an entire commentary on Psalms.
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) mentions Judges 3:10 as in the Book of Judges, David in the Books of the Kingdoms, Psalms, 2 Chronicles 15:1 in Chronicles, Nehemiah 9:20 as Ezra (Ezra and Nehemiah were one book). Catechetical Lectures Lecture 16.28 p.122
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.) mentions the Book of Judges and the Book of Psalms. Of the Holy Spirit book 1 ch.16 p.95
Gregory Nanzianus (330-391 A.D.) mentions Psalms in his poem of scripture. Gregory's poem is (in Greek) in Gregory vol.37 of Migne's Patrologia Graeca, cols. 471-474 (Carmina Dogmatica, Book 1, section 1, Carmen XII) See http://www.bible-researcher.com/gregory.html for more info.
Pacian of Barcelona (342-379/392 A.D.) quotes Psalm 92:1 as by David. Letter 3 ch.17.2 p.59
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (-407 A.D.) quotes Psalms 2:1,2 by David in Commentary on Matthew Homily 36.3 p.240
Orosius/Hosius of Braga (414-418 A.D.) refers to Psalm 141:3 as by David. Defense Against the Pelagians ch.11 p.128
Sulpicius/Sulpitius Severus (363-420 A.D.) quotes Psalms 8:3 as Psalms in the Life of St. Martin ch.9 p.8
Among heretics and spurious books
The Pelagian heretic Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.) refers to David in the Psalms. Commentary on Joel Preface p.104
Q: In Ps, what are the heading differences between the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Greek Septuagint?
A: The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.18-19 says that adding information at the beginning or end of a manuscript was very common. The Septuagint says Psalms 33,43,71,91,93-99, 104, 137 were by David, but the Masoretic text does not say this. The Masoretic text says that Psalms 122 and 124 were by David, but the Septuagint does not say this. Also, the Septuagint translators apparently did not understand the musical terms in the headings.
Q: In Ps, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew, Greek Septuagint, Justin Martyr, and other writers?
A: There are two general differences and then the specific differences.
The numbering of Psalms is slightly different. Using the numbers in the Masoretic text as the basis, the Septuagint combines psalms 9-10 and psalms 114-115. It splits Psalm 116:1-9 and verses 10-19 into two psalms, and splits Psalm 147:1-11 and verses 12-20 into two psalms.
Bear in mind that Hebrew tenses are more fluid than Greek; even some English translations translate the tense of some Hebrew words differently.
For specific translation differences, here are a few examples, from Psalms 1 and 2, and Psalm 119:1-70. The first phrase is from the Hebrew and the second from the Greek Septuagint Translation.
Ps 1:1 "scorners/scornful" (Masoretic text, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.) vs. "pestilent" (Septuagint, Clement of Alexandria (193/217/220 A.D.) The Instructor book 2 ch.14)
Ps 1:2 "is only in the law" (Masoretic text) vs. "is in the law" (Septuagint, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 1:2 "meditates" (Masoretic text) vs. "will meditate" (Septuagint, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 1:3 "seasons" (Masoretic text) vs. "season" (Septuagint, Epistle of Barnabas 100 A.D. , Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 1:3 "wither" (Masoretic text, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.) vs. "fall off" (Septuagint) vs. face (=wither?) (Epistle of Barnabas 100 A.D.)
Ps 1:4 "only/even the chaff" (Masoretic text, Epistle of Barnabas 100 A.D.) vs. "the chaff" (Septuagint, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 1:4 "drives about" (Masoretic text) vs. "scatters/sweeps away from the surface of the earth" (Septuagint, Epistle of Barnabas 100 A.D., Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 2:1 "conspire" (Masoretic text according to NIV footnote) vs. "assemble" (Jewish Tanach) vs. rage (Masoretic text, green's literal translation) (ragash) vs. "rage" (Septuagint, Acts 4:25) (ephruassan, form of phruasso)
Ps 2:1 "meditate" (Masoretic text) vs. "imagine" (Septuagint, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 2:2 "set themselves ... plotted/take counsel" (Masoretic text, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.) vs. "stood up ... gathered" (Septuagint)
Ps 2:2 "anointed one" vs. "Christ" (Christ means anointed one, but the significant point is that the Jewish Septuagint translators used this for the Messiah centuries before Christ came.) vs. "anointed" (Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 2:3 "we will break" (Masoretic text) vs. "let us break" (Septuagint, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 2:4 "laugh" (Masoretic text) vs. "laugh them to scorn" (Septuagint) vs. "laugh at them" (Justin Martyr)
Ps 2:5 "terrify" (Masoretic text) vs. "trouble/vex" (Septuagint, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 2:6 "Yea I have set my king" (Masoretic text) vs. "But I have been made king by him" (Septuagint, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 2:8 "the nations" (Masoretic text) vs. "heathen" (Septuagint, 1 Clement ch.36 p.15 97/98 A.D., Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 2:9 "break them" (Masoretic text and Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.) vs. "rule them" (Septuagint)
Ps 2:11 "rejoice" (Masoretic text, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.) vs. "rejoice in him" (Septuagint)
Ps 2:12 "Kiss the son" vs. "Accept correction" (Septuagint) vs. "Embrace instruction" (Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
The NRSV footnote says the meaning of Psalm 11:b-12a is uncertain.
Ps 2:12 "perish from the way" (Masoretic text) vs. "perish from the righteous/right way" (Septuagint, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 2:12 "kindled but a little" (Masoretic text) vs. "suddenly kindled" (Septuagint, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.) (The NASB footnote says it could mean quickly, suddenly, easily)
Ps 2:12 "fleeing to Him for refuge" (Masoretic text) vs. "trust in him". (Septuagint, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.)
Ps 3:2 "him" (Masoretic text, Septuagint) vs. "you" (Syriac) (In this context there is no difference in meaning)
Ps 3:2 "selah" [uncertain meaning] (Masoretic text) vs. "pause" (Septuagint)
Ps 16:10 "For ... soul in the grave (sheol) ... see corruption" vs. "Because ... soul in hell (Hades) ... see corruption" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.935)
Ps 22:16 "pierced" (Masoretic text, Justin Martyr 147-151 A.D.) vs. "like a lion" (See the discussion on Psalm 22:16 for more info.)
Ps 34:8 "Lord is good" (almost all manuscripts) vs. "Christ is God" (one letter difference in Greek. Clement of Alexandria misread this in Exhortation to the Heaven ch.9 p.196.) This obvious misread is not counted in the totals.
Ps 38:19 "living" (Masoretic text) vs. "without cause" (4QPSa)
Ps 40:6 "ears" (Masoretic text) vs. "body" (Septuagint, Symmachus, Theodotion). The Dead Sea scrolls do not have Ps 40:6.
Ps 45:7b "God, Your God, has anointed you" vs. "O God, Your God, has anointed You" (Aquila's translation) New International Commentary p.1307.
Ps 51:5 "iniquity ... sin" vs. "iniquities ... sins"
Ps 57:7 "because of wickedness" vs. "on no account"
Ps 57:6 "I was bowed down" vs. "the bowed down my soul"
Ps 76:4 "mountains for prey" vs. "everlasting mountains" (NRSV, The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.496)
Ps 96:1 "rejoice among the nations" (Masoretic text, Septuagint) vs. "rejoice among the nations. The Lord has reigned from the tree." (First Apology of Justin Martyr (147-151 A.D.) ch.41 p.176)
Ps 110:1 "footstool for your feet" vs. "footstool" (Epistle of Barnabas 100-150 A.D. ch.8 p.142)
Ps 110:3 "from the womb of the dawn" (Masoretic) vs. "womb before the morning" (Septuagint) vs. "womb, before the morning star" (Hippolytus in Against the Heresy of One Noetus 14 p.229)
Ps 119:2 "keep" vs. "search out"
Ps 119:2 "seek him" vs. "diligently seek him"
Ps 119:3 "They also do not work evil; they walk in his way" vs. "For they that work iniquity have not walked in his ways."
Ps 119:6 "look to" vs. "respect"
Ps 119:9 "purify his way" vs. "direct his way"
Ps 119:9 "to keep it according to your word" vs. "by keeping your words"
Ps 119:10 "let me wander" vs. "cast me away"
Ps 119:14 "delighted" vs. "rejoiced"
Ps 119:16 "word" vs. "words"
Ps 119:17 "Deal bountifully" vs. "Render recompense"
Ps 119:17 "word" vs. "words"
Ps 119:21 "the curse ones who" vs. "cursed are they that"
Ps 119:22 "kept" vs. "sought out"
Ps 119:23 "meditates" vs. "was meditating"
Ps 119:24 "delight" vs. "meditation"
Ps 119:25 "clings" vs. "has cleaved"
Ps 119:26 "answer me" vs. "hear me"
Ps 119:27 "Make me understand" vs. "Instruct me"
Ps 119:28 "Lift me up ... word" vs. "Strengthen me ... words"
Ps 119:29 "lying" vs. "iniquity"
Ps 119:30 "held your judgments level" vs. "not forgotten your judgments" (the meaning is the same, but the Hebrew is colloquial)
Ps 119:32 "will run" vs. "ran"
Ps 119:33 "keep it to the end" vs. "seek it out continually"
Ps 119:34 "Make me understand ... keep" vs. "Instruct me ... search out"
Ps 119:35 "Make me walk" vs. "Guide me"
Ps 119:36 "unjust gain" vs. "covetousness"
Ps 119:37 "in your way" (Hebrew Masoretic text, Septuagint, Vulgate) vs. "according to your word" (two Masoretic manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Aramaic Targums)
Ps 119:38 "who is devoted to Your fear" vs. "he may fear you"
Ps 119:39 "fear" vs. "have feared"
Ps 119:41 "mercies" vs. "mercy"
Ps 119:42 "trust" vs. "have trusted"
Ps 119:43 "hoped" vs. "longed"
Ps 119:46 "will speak ... will not be ashamed" vs. "spoke ... was not ashamed"
Ps 119:47 "will delight ... loved" vs. "meditated ... loved exceedingly"
Ps 119:48 "will lift ... that I love ... will meditate" vs. "lifted ... which I loved ... meditated"
Ps 119:49 "word" vs. "words"
Ps 119:50 "my comfort" vs. "has comforted me"
Ps 119:51 "scorned me" vs. "transgressed"
Ps 119:53 "Hot zeal" vs. "Despair"
Ps 119:56 "kept" vs. "diligently sought"
Ps 119:57 "Jehovah is my portion" vs. "You are my portion, O Lord"
Ps 119:58 "face" vs. "favour / presence / countenance"
Ps 119:60 "hurried and delayed not" vs. "prepared myself and was not terrified"
Ps 119:65 "done good" vs. "wrought kindly"
Ps 119:66 "good judgment and knowledge" vs. "kindness, and instruction"
Ps 119:67 "but now" vs. "therefore"
Ps 119:68 "do good" vs. "in your goodness"
Ps 119:69 "The proud have forged a lie" vs. "The injustice of the proud has been multiplied"
Ps 119:69 "keep" vs. "search out"
Ps 119:70 "like fat, without feeling" vs. "curdled like milk"
Ps 119:70 "delight" vs. "have meditated"
Ps 143:2 "In you I take shelter (Masoretic text) vs. "To you I flee" (Septuagint, Vulgate)
Ps 144:2 "my people" (some Masoretic texts, Septuagint, Vulgate) vs. "my peoples" (some Masoretic texts, Syriac, Targums, and Dead Sea Scroll 11QPSa)
Ps 145 absent vs. "Blessed be the LORD and blessed be his name forever and ever" at the end of every single verse in Psalm 145 (1QPSa).
Ps 145:5 "I will meditate" (Masoretic text, Targums) vs. "They will meditate" (Septuagint, Syriac, Dead Sea Scrolls)
Ps 145:6 absent (Masoretic text) vs. "They will speak" (1QPSa)
Ps 145:13 absent in Masoretic text vs. "The Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds." (starts with the Hebrew letter nun) present in a late Medieval Latin manuscript, Old Greek Septuagint, Syriac, and the Dead Sea Scroll 11QPsa.) In Psalm 145 every verse starts with a successive letter of the Greek alphabet, and "n" is missing in the Masoretic text. The Medieval manuscript (Kennicot 145) has "LORD" and the Dead Sea scroll has "God". See The Dead Sea Scrolls & Modern Translations of the Old Testament p.123,126 for more info.
As a side note, there are 2,439 total verses in Psalms. Psalms is subdivided into five books: Book 1 is Psalms 1-41 and has 608 verses. Book 2 is Psalms 42-72 and has 452 verses. Book 3 is Psalm 73-89 and has 357 verses. Book 4 is the smallest book, from Psalm 90-106 with 321 verses. Book 5 is the largest book, of Psalm 107-150 with 7-1 verses.
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Green's Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton's translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositor's Bible Commentary and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV Bibles also were used.
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