From the depths I call to you Lord.
my Lord[i] hear my voice,
let your ears be attentive to my pleading.
Lord, if you keep a record of iniquity,
who will be able to stand before you[ii], my Lord?
Because with you there is forgiveness,
for this reason you will be feared[iii].
I hope[iv] in the Lord,
My soul hopes in his word.
My soul, wait for my Lord[v],
much more than watchmen[vi] wait for the morning!
Israel wait for the Lord,
(because with the Lord there is compassion,
and even more, with him there is redemption[vii]),
and he will redeem Israel from her[viii] iniquity.
[i] ‘my Lord’ is אדוני (Adonai). Will it literally means ‘my Lord(s)’ it is frequently used as representative of יהוה (Yahweh). It is an established Jewish tradition to verbally substitute ‘Adonai’ for ‘Yahweh’ when reading biblical texts that contain the name of God.
[ii] Lit. ‘who will be able to stand’
[iii] We often associate God’s wrath with the fear of God but the psalmist here associates God’s forgiveness as a reason to fear him i.e. there is a sense of awe and wonder that would should feel because of God’s abounding love and forgiveness. Those who have truly begun to understand the magnitude of God’s love for us and the ransom he paid to redeem us, cannot ever again approach God irreverently.
[iv] The words קוה and יחל both have a sense of waiting with hopeful expectation. The meaning is so similar that some translations translate the first word as ‘hope’ and the latter as ‘wait’ while others reverse this. In English we often do not associate ‘waiting’ with ‘hopeful expectation’ but in Hebrew both of these words are inextricably tied to the idea of ‘hopeful expectation.’
[v] The text here follows 11Qpsa. There are some slight differences in this text that suggest different phrasing when compared to the MT. The MT reads ‘קותה נפשי ולדברו הוחלתי נפשי לאדני’ (My soul hopes, and for his word [is] my waiting, my soul for my Lord); the reading is a little difficult and seems to be much smoother in 11Qpsa which reads ‘קותה נפשי לדברו הוחילי נפשי לאדני’ (My soul hopes for his word, wait my soul for my Lord). The lack of the conjunction allows ‘for his word’ to be attach to the prior subject/verb and the change to the imperative allows the following verb to be begin the next phrase, giving each of the three phrases the same verb/subject/object structure.
[vi] The phrase ‘שומרים לבקר’ (watchmen [wait] for the morning] is repeated twice. In Hebrew, repetition is a common way to demonstrate emphasis, much like we use an exclamation point in English. While many translations include the repeated phrase here, repetition is a frequent feature of Hebrew that is commonly not translated into English.
[vii] והרבה עמו פדות, lit. ‘and more with him [is] redemption’
[viii] The pronoun is masculine because nations are typically masculine in Hebrew; however, in English we use feminine pronouns when referring to nations.