- A psalm of David. For the music leader.1
You’ve got your nerve
- 1 The LORD himself protects me.
Where do you get the nerve to tell me,
“You’d better take off like a bird to the mountain”?
- 2 Look, here’s how it is. The wicked string their bows.
They set the arrow, stretch their bow arm,
And from the shadows they anchor, hold, and release,
Shooting a good person.
- 3 If the foundations of society and civility collapse
What can good people do about it?2
- 4 The LORD is in his holy temple.
He has got this. He’s on his throne in heaven.
He’s got eyes. He sees what’s going on.
Time to take the test
- 5 The LORD puts people to the test.
He examines the good and the bad.
He hates to find people who love violence.
- 6 He’ll torch the wicked with burning coal.
For what they did, they’ll get their fill
Of burning sulfur and scirocco3 wind.
- 7 The LORD is good.
And he loves good people.
Good and godly folks will see the face of God.
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.
Another way of interpreting this verse is to read that the foundations are already collapsing and that the songwriter is asking why: What have the good people in the world done to deserve this?
Literally “burning wind.” For readers in the sprawling region of Israel and her neighbors, that descriptions fits the scirocco winds that storm in from the Sahara Desert with enough dust and heat to wilt summer crops, and with enough hurricane force to blow them into the dirt. These winds can reach peaks over 60 mph (100 km/h).