- Note to music leader: A psalm of David.1 An enlightening psalm.1 It’s about Doeg, an Edomite informer telling King Saul that the fugitive David visited the priest Ahimelech, whom Saul later ordered executed.3
- 1 Hey there, brave soldier.
Why do you brag about evil things you do?
The persistently loving God
Isn’t not going to change to accommodate you.4
- 2 Your mouth is deadly.
Like a razor, it shreds the truth.
- 3 You pick the bad over the good.
You prefer lies to someone telling it like it is.
- 4 You love words that chew people up
And spit them out.
You set the trap with your lies.
- 5 So God is going to beat you into the dirt forever.
He’s going to snatch you out of your comfortable tent.
And he’s going to deport you from the land of the living.
- 6 The good and godly folks will see this
And they’ll laugh at you and say,
- 7 “Well what do we have here?
The man who trashed God,
And counted on dirty tricks.”
- 8 I, on the other hand, am a healthy olive tree
Planted in God’s green garden.
I’m putting my trust in God
Because I can depend on him forever and then some.
- 9 LORD, I’m saying great things about you now and forever
Because you did what needed doing.
You’re as good as your name
And I’m telling all your people about it.
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.
“An enlightening psalm” is a guess. The original Hebrew word is maskil (mass-KEEL). Scholars say they aren’t sure what it means. They say they don’t even know if the word refers to the lyrics or the music. Maskil sounds a bit like another Hebrew word, askilkha, which means “let me enlighten you.” Some scholars associate maskil with a root word, sakal, which generates a lot of words with various meanings such as: thoughtful, instructive, wise, and proper. One theory is that the word relates to both lyrics and music. It could, for example, describe the lyrics as “thoughtful” and the music as a harmony fit for that theme.
1 Samuel 22:9-18.
This phrase is perplexing when read literally: “the loyal-love of God all day long.” Yeah, that’s a big “Huh?” the confusion is reflected in the many different ways Bible versions translate it. Just about any version of it reads like an abrupt intrusion into the lyrics.
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.