- A psalm of David.1
Mess them up for me
- 1 LORD, mess up the people
Who are messing with me.
Fight off those enemies
Who are fighting with me.
- 2 Armor on and saddle up.
Come and help me.
- 3 Grab your spear
And bring your javelin.
Go get those people hunting me down.
And tell me what I want to hear:
“I’ve got this.”
- 4 Give those people who want me dead
A hefty dose of shame and disgrace.
Send them running home to mommy,
Humiliated for what they tried to do to me.
- 5 Leave them feeling worthless,
Like chaff scraped off the grain,
With the LORD’s angel doing the scraping.
- 6 Make their retreat muddy, slippery, and dark.
And let them feel the LORD’s angel catching up.
They target me for no reason
- 7 For no reason, they set traps to catch me.
They dig pits they hope I’ll fall into.
- 8 Surprise them.
Kill them when they’re not expecting it.
Catch them in traps they set for me.
Chase them into pits they dug for me.
- 9 When that happens, and I’m saved,
I’ll shout my Hallelujahs to the LORD.
- 10 With every bone in my body
I’ll sing my song.
Who LORD, but you,
Can save the weak from the strong
And the helpless from robbers?
Here come the lying witnesses
- 11 Liars gang up on me,
Accusing me of things I know nothing about.
- 12 They’re repaying me with evil
For the kindness I showed them.
I’m sick of it.
- 13 When they were sick, I dressed for mourning
In clothing made from feed sacks.2
Humbly, I went to God, fasting and hungry,
Praying for them over and over again.
- 14 I prayed as though praying
For brothers or friends.
I bowed low in deep mourning
As though grieving my mother.
- 15 But the moment I’m in trouble
They rally and cheer.
These sorry souls I thought I knew
Start tearing me down, insulting my name.
- 16 Like crude hecklers, mocking and mean,
They tear into me with their teeth flashing.
LORD, get me out of this
- 17 Lord, how long will you watch?
Save my precious life from these lions.
- 18 I’ll say my thanks to a crowded congregation.
I’ll sing your praises in front of everyone.
- 19 Don’t give my miserable enemies reason to celebrate.
Because they have no reason to treat me like this.
Don’t let them smile
And wink3 at each other over their hate for me.
- 20 Peace isn’t a topic of their conversation.
Instead, they work up a long list of lies
About peace-loving people.
- 21 They crank their mouths wide to criticize me.
With a great big, “Ahhhh!” out fall the lies,
“We saw it with our very own eyes!”
LORD, do something
- 22 LORD, you’ve seen what’s going on.
Don’t stay quiet any longer.
Lord, don’t stay so far away.
- 23 Get up and get going.
Come and show everyone I’m the good guy here.
My Lord and my God, I need you on my side.
- 24 LORD my God, prove my innocence.
You always do what’s right.
So, don’t let them celebrate defeating me.
- 25 Don’t let them say,
“We got what we wanted.”
Don’t let them brag,
“We chewed him up and spit him out.”
- 26 Shame and humiliate those people
Happy about my troubles.
Disgrace and embarrass those people
Who brag they’re better than me.
- 27 Give the people rooting for me
Reason to shout for joy.
May they never stop saying,
“The LORD is awesome.
He’s happy when his people succeed and do well.”
- 28 As for me, I’ll never shut up.
I’ll always tell people how good you are.
All day and every day, I’ll sing your praises.
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.
Literally sackcloth, a bit like burlap sacks, but usually made of coarse goat hair or camel hair. It was scratchy and uncomfortable to wear. People in Bible times wore it to express sorrow or grief, the way people today often wear black at funerals. During the Great Depression, some feed sack companies started printing colorful patterns onto their sacks, which they started making with a tighter weave. Many people turned those sacks into clothing: dresses, shirts, and blouses. They treated the sacks as free garment material.
Literally “wink the eye.” It’s the kind of wink you give someone when you suddenly realize you’re about to get exactly what you want. It’s like saying to someone else, “Great!” Or maybe “I told you so.” Or “He’s getting what he deserves.” Whatever it originally meant in this particular song, it wasn’t a happy wink for the songwriter.