Lord, stop it
I couldn’t keep my mouth shut1 I promised myself I’d behave.
I wouldn’t say anything hurtful.
And when bad people were within earshot,
I’d keep my mouth shut.
2 I did it. I kept silent.
Not a word. Not even a good word.
But it didn’t help. I felt worse.
3 My anger started a fire inside me.
The more I thought, the hotter I got.
So, I opened my mouth
And my tongue started talking.
4 “LORD, how long have I got?
How much longer will I live?
These days are flying by
And I want to know how many are left.
5 Look, you gave me a short stretch to live.
My life is little more than a chirp in your ear.
In fact, human life is just a breath of air
Then hasta la vista.
Humanity: the soon-to-be dead6 This is certain: People are walking ghosts.
They make a big deal out of little or nothing.
They rake in the riches
Then wonder who gets them when they’re gone.
7 Where is hope in all of this?
It’s in you, Lord. My hope is in you.
8 Rescue me from my sins.
Don’t let idiots make me the butt of their jokes.
9 I’m silent now.
I don’t open my mouth.
I see now it is you.
You are the one who did this.
Stop hammering me10 Please stop hitting me.
This beating is going to kill me.
11 You hammer people to punish them for sin.
You take away what’s important to them
Like a moth consuming clothes.
Human life is just a breath of air.
Instruments12 LORD, please hear this prayer.
These are real tears, as you can see.
Like my ancestors before me, I’m just a traveler
Here on your land one day and gone the next.
13 Turn your angry eyes in another direction.
Let me smile again before I’m gone.
The subtitle wasn’t part of the original psalm. And the possible byline “of David,” isn’t necessarily a byline. The vague phrase could mean the song was written by David, about David, or was inspired by David. Almost half of the psalms are attributed to David in this way, 73 of 150. Ancient Jewish history tells of David playing a lyre and writing songs. For one, he wrote a song of mourning at the battlefield death of King Saul and his sons: “How have the mighty fallen!” (2 Samuel 1:19-27 New American Standard Bible). An ancient Jewish scroll from about the time of Jesus, discovered among the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, reports that David wrote 3,600 songs.
Jeduthun was a famous music director at the worship center when David was king, before his son Solomon built the Jerusalem Temple (1 Chronicles 25:6). He also walked with David in that happy parade when David brought the sacred Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. It was a gold-plated wooden box holding the tablets with the Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, after his meeting with God (1 Chronicles 16:42).
Some scholars guess that the songwriter’s anger is over bad people who get rich and successful by doing bad things. Yet the song itself sounds like the writer could be angry about the punishment God was giving him. Or perhaps angry about the short lifespan for humans.
The word in the original language of Hebrew is selah. Bible scholars haven’t figured out what it means yet, so all we can do is guess. It could mean “pause for effect,” “instrumental interlude,” or “choir singing ‘Amen.’” We’re offering a guess instead of selah. Though selah might be the better way to go because it’s always correct, it’s also always incomprehensible. “Instruments” has a good chance of being wrong, but at least we convey the idea that the Hebrew word behind it probably has something to do with enhancing the song.
This “Lord” is not in all capital letters like most other “LORD” spellings in Psalms and throughout the Bible. “LORD” appears around 7,000 times in the Christian Bible, which makes it the most common way of referring to God. The lower-case “Lord” is a translation of the Hebrew word Adonai. It refers to God as our master, our life coach, or the boss. He’s in charge of us, and we try to obey him. “LORD” is the spelling most Bibles use when the writer refers to the name of God. Moses asked God what his name was, and God said Moses should tell the Israelite ancestors of the Jews that his name is “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). In the original Hebrew language, the name is spelled with only consonants—no vowels. It’s an ancient shorthand, to save hides used to make scrolls. The name is YHWH. Without knowing which vowels, most scholars have settled on YAHWEH, pronounced YAH-way. For those freaky enough to wonder if it’s possible that God might have the name of YAHWHO, no. Hebrew linguist Dr. Joseph Coleson, Old Testament professor emeritus at Nazarene Theological Seminary, said, “No Semitic language ever would allow all three root letters [HWH] to occur in succession together, in any form of any root, without vowels to break them up.” God’s name is so sacred to many Jews that they refuse to speak it. Instead, they’ll use names that describe the character of God, such as Adonai, which means “my Lord.” They won’t even write the name. In English, they’ll spell the name G-d.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.