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Psalms 84:4

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84:4 How blessed are those who live in

hear my prayer!
your temple Listen, O God of Jacob! (Selah)
and praise you continually! (Selah) 84:9 O God, take notice of our shield!11
84:5 How blessed are those who find Show concern for your chosen king!12
their strength in you, 84:10 Certainly13 spending just one day in
and long to travel the roads that lead to your temple courts is better
your temple! than spending a thousand elsewhere.14
84:6 As they pass through the Baca Val- I would rather stand at the entrance15 to
ley, the temple of my God
he provides a spring for them. than live16 in the tents of the wicked.
The rain even covers it with pools of 84:11 For the Lord God is our sovereign
water. protector.17
84:7 They are sustained as they travel The Lord bestows favor18 and honor;
along; he withholds no good thing from those
each one appears before God in Zion. who have integrity.19
84:8 O Lord, sovereign God,10 84:12 O Lord who rules over all,20
how blessed are those who trust in you!21
Psalm 8522
 tn The Hebrew noun is an abstract plural. The word often
For the music director; written by the Korahites,
refers metonymically to the happiness that God-given security a psalm.
and prosperity produce (see v. 12 and Pss 1:1; 2:12; 34:9;
41:1; 65:4; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 127:5; 128:1; 144:15). 85:1 O Lord, you showed favor to your
 tn Heb “[Oh] the happiness [of] the man.” Hebrew litera- land;
ture often assumes and reflects the male-oriented perspec- you restored the well-being of Jacob.23
tive of ancient Israelite society. The principle stated here was
certainly applicable to all people, regardless of their gender or
age. To facilitate modern application, we translate the gender
11 tn The phrase “our shield” refers metaphorically to the
and age specific “man” with the plural “those.” The individual
referred to in v. 5a is representative of followers of God, as the Davidic king, who, as God’s vice-regent, was the human pro-
use of plural forms in vv. 5b-7 indicates. tector of the people. Note the parallelism with “your anointed
 tn Heb “roads [are] in their heart[s].” The roads are here one” here and with “our king” in Ps 89:18.
12 tn Heb “look [on] the face of your anointed one.” The He-
those that lead to Zion (see v. 7).
 tn The translation assumes that the Hebrew phrase ‫עֵ מֶ ק‬ brew phrase ָ‫( ְמ ׁ ִשיחֶ ך‬mÿshikhekha, “your anointed one”) re-
‫’( הַ ּ ָבכָ א‬emeq habbakha’) is the name of an otherwise unknown fers here to the Davidic king (see Pss 2:2; 18:50; 20:6; 28:8;
arid valley through which pilgrims to Jerusalem passed. The 89:38, 51; 132:10, 17).
13 tn Or “for.”
term ‫( ּ ָבכָ א‬bakha’) may be the name of a particular type of
14 tn Heb “better is a day in your courts than a thousand
plant or shrub that grew in this valley. O. Borowski (Agricul-
ture in Iron Age Israel, 130) suggests it is the black mulberry. [spent elsewhere].”
Some take the phrase as purely metaphorical and relate ‫ּ ָבכָ א‬ 15 tn Heb “I choose being at the entrance of the house of
to the root ‫( ּ ָבכָ ה‬bakhah, “to weep”). In this case one might my God over living in the tents of the wicked.” The verb ‫סָ פַ ף‬
translate, “the valley of weeping” or “the valley of affliction.” (safaf) appears only here in the OT; it is derived from the noun
 tc The MT reads “a spring they make it,” but this makes ‫( סַ ף‬saf, “threshold”). Traditionally some have interpreted this
little sense. Many medieval Hebrew mss, as well as the LXX, as a reference to being a doorkeeper at the temple, though
understand God to be the subject and the valley to be the ob- some understand it to mean “lie as a beggar at the entrance
ject, “he [God] makes it [the valley] [into] a spring.” to the temple” (see HALOT 765 s.v. ‫)ספף‬.
 tn This rare word may refer to the early (or autumn) rains 16 tn The verb ‫( ּדוּר‬dur, “to live”) occurs only here in the OT.
(see Joel 2:23). 17 tn Heb “[is] a sun and a shield.” The epithet “sun,” though
 tc The MT reads ‫( ְּברָ כוֹת‬bÿrakhot, “blessings”) but the rarely used of Israel’s God in the OT, was a well-attested royal
preceding reference to a “spring” favors an emendation to title in the ancient Near East. For several examples from Uga-
‫( ְּברֵ כוֹת‬bÿrekhot, “pools”). ritic texts, the Amarna letters, and Assyrian royal inscriptions,
sn Pools of water. Because water is so necessary for life, see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study
it makes an apt symbol for divine favor and blessing. As the of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological
pilgrims traveled to Jerusalem, God provided for their physical Seminary, 1983), 131, n. 2.
needs and gave them a token of his favor and of the blessings 18 tn Or “grace.”
awaiting them at the temple. 19 tn Heb “he does not withhold good to those walking in in-
 tn Heb “they go from strength to strength.” The phrase tegrity.”
“from strength to strength” occurs only here in the OT. With 20 tn Traditionally “Lord of hosts.”
a verb of motion, the expression “from [common noun] to 21 tn Heb “[Oh] the happiness [of] the man [who] trusts in
[same common noun]” normally suggests movement from you.” Hebrew literature often assumes and reflects the male-
one point to another or through successive points (see Num oriented perspective of ancient Israelite society. The principle
36:7; 1 Chr 16:20; 17:5; Ps 105:13; Jer 25:32). Ps 84:7 may stated here is certainly applicable to all people, regardless
be emphasizing that the pilgrims move successively from one of their gender or age. To facilitate modern application, we
“place of strength” to another as they travel toward Jerusa- translate the gender and age specific “man” with the plural
lem. All along the way they find adequate provisions and re- “those.” The individual referred to here is representative of
newed energy for the trip. all followers of God, as the use of the plural form in v. 12b
 tn The psalmist returns to the singular (see v. 5a), which indicates.
he uses in either a representative or distributive (“each one” 22 sn Psalm 85. God’s people recall how he forgave their
) sense. sins in the past, pray that he might now restore them to his
10 tn Heb “Lord, God, hosts.” One expects the construct favor, and anticipate renewed blessings.
form ‫ אֱ לֹהֵ י‬before ‫( ְצ ָבאוֹת‬tsÿva’ot, “hosts”; see Ps 89:9) but ‫יְהוָה‬ 23 tn Heb “you turned with a turning [toward] Jacob.” The
‫( אֱ ל ִֹהים‬yehvah ’elohim) precedes ‫ ְצ ָבאוֹת‬in Pss 59:5 and 80:4, Hebrew term ‫( ׁ ְשבוּת‬shÿvut) is apparently a cognate accusative
19 as well. of ‫( ׁשוּב‬shuv). See Pss 14:7; 53:6.

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