- A psalm of David. For the music leader.1
God, save the king
- 1 When trouble comes and you ask the LORD for help,
I pray you’ll get it.
May the God of our ancestor Jacob
Keep you save and healthy.
- 2 May he send you reinforcements from his temple.2
And may he give full support to Zion.3
- 3 May he consider the offerings you brought him.
And may he approve the burnt offering4 that atones for sin.
- 4 May he give you all you want.
May he make it happen in front of your eyes.
- 5 We’ll shout for joy when you do that.
We’ll raise a flag to honor God.
May the LORD give you everything you ask.
- 6 I know the LORD protects the king he chose.6
He’ll answer you from his sacred home in heaven.
You’ll get acquainted with the force of his right hand.
- 7 Some brag about their horses and chariots.7
As for us, in God we trust—the LORD of our lives.
- 8 Others fall, collapsing into ruins.
But here we stand, right side up and rising.
- 9 LORD, save the king.
And help us, too, when we ask.
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.
This may be a reference to what some Jews considered God’s home on earth, the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Some scholars say this song may have been part of the ritual of sending off to battle the king and his army. David fought battles throughout his reign, setting up a golden reign of peace for his son and successor, Solomon.
“Zion” is a term of endearment, and another name for Jerusalem. It’s a bit like “The Big Apple” for New York City, “The City of Love” for Paris, and “Sin City” for Las Vegas, though some wouldn’t call that a term of endearment.
The entire animal was consumed in fire. See Leviticus 1.
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.
“Chose” is literally translated “anointed.” In the original language of Hebrew, the word is “messiah.” Many Christians see this as a foreshadowing of Jesus the Messiah a thousand years before he came to earth. But to the readers in King David’s day, the word simply meant their king. Israel’s kings were presented to the nation as God’s chosen leader, literally God’s anointed one. The ritual of crowning someone king involved an anointing—pouring olive oil over the ruler’s head. Samuel anointed young David as Israel’s king (1 Samuel 16:12-13). The ritual sounds messy, but the olive oil would have felt refreshing poured onto someone who had been traveling in ancient Middle Eastern heat.
Chariots were the ancient version of today’s tanks. They could plow right through rows of foot soldiers. Jewish law limited the number of horses a king could own. The apparent reason for the limit: to keep the king from bragging that he won a battle. Israelite ancestors of today’s Jews taught that they were protected by God, not by the king. See Deuteronomy 17:16; 2 Chronicles 20:17.