Psalm 131

11QPs-a Col VA song of the ascent for David

O Lord, my heart is not proud[i] and my eyes do not show conceit[ii].

I do not delve into things too great or wonderful for me.

Rather I have soothed[iii] and quieted my soul.

My soul is like a toddler[iv] carried[v] by his mother, like a toddler carried by me.

Israel wait expectantly for the Lord now and forever more.

 


[i] Lit. “my heart is not lifted up”

[ii] Lit. “my eyes are not raised”

[iii] שוה is used only 24 times in the OT and with a very wide semantic range of meaning i.e. “to compare, to make level, to smooth, to soothe, to conform.” The broad range of meaning accounts for the many variances in different translations.

[iv] Lit. “as one weaned;” children were weaned in the ANE at around the age of two. John Goldengay suggests that גמל might be better interpreted as not referring “to the actual weaning of a child but to its having come off the breast at the end of a feeding” but such an interpretation itself seems imaginative. Examples we have in Scripture (Ge. 21:8, 1 Sam 1:22, Ho. 1:8, etc…) use this word much as it is used in English thus suggesting a picture of a toddler rather than an infant as suggested by Goldengay.

[v] Lit. “on his mother;” the picture is that of a small child who is content in the arms of his mother. It is more than just being with his mother, but rather being held and comforted by her.

Print Friendly

Comments

  1. Mike Tisdell says:

    I found this short Psalm (only three verses) to be quite challenging because the language is so terse. Translators have offered somewhat divergent translations of verse 2 ranging from “No, rather I have conformed and stilled my spirit, like one nursed with its mother, so is my spirit nursed with me.” to “Indeed, I am composed and quiet like a young child carried by its mother; I am content like the young child I carry.” All translation convey a sense of comfort and contentment but the details of the word picture vary considerably.