- Note to music leader: To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.”1 A psalm of Asaph, and a song.2
God will judge when he’s good and ready
- 1 Thank you, God. Thank you so much.
You’re near to us and dear to us.
People are talking about wonders you’ve done.
- 2 This is your message to your people.
“I’ll pick the time and I’ll judge fairly.
- 3 Earth and its people are on shaky ground
For I control what will happen.
- 4 I told the braggers, ‘You’d better not brag,’
And the wicked, ‘Don’t blow your own horn.
- 5 Don’t blow that loud horn.
Don’t insult us with your pride.’”
Don’t search for honor here or there
- 6 It’s not from the east.
And it’s not from the west.
It’s not from the desert beyond.
You’ll not find your honor out there.
- 7 God is the judge.
He’ll lift one in honor
He’ll put another one down.
- 8 The cup of his wrath is foaming.
It’s wine well-mixed as he pours it.
The wicked must drink all of this cup,
And drain it to the sediment dregs.
- 9 I’ll be singing this song forever.
I’ll be thanking the God of Jacob.4
- 10 For he’ll smash the loud horns of the wicked.
But the righteous will get to play on.
It’s unclear what the Hebrew phrase means. It could also mean “don’t let it destroy.” Some speculate that the phrase “do not destroy” was a popular saying that grew out of other Old Testament texts: David said it in 1 Samuel 26:9; Moses in Deuteronomy 9:26. It could also refer to mutilation or defacing or to violating a person.
The subtitle wasn’t part of the original psalm. And the possible byline “of Asaph,” isn’t necessarily a byline. The vague phrase could mean the song was written by Asaph, about Asaph, or was inspired by Asaph. Asaph led a musical family in the tribe of Levi, one of the 12 tribes that made up the original nation of Israel. Levite families worked as priests and worship leaders and worship assistants for the Jewish nation. Asaph was a leader of worship music during the time of King David (1 Chronicles 16:5). His family carried on the musical tradition, showing up five centuries later, when a Jewish man named Nehemiah, in the 500s BC, helped rebuild Jerusalem after Babylonian invaders from what is now Iraq leveled Jerusalem in 586 BC.
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.
Jacob was the father of the men whose extended families grew to become the 12 tribes of Israel.