Psalm 70

Submitted by admin on Tue, 2006-07-25 08:56.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

The Hebrew expression natsách (preceded by the preposition meaning “to”) is commonly thought to signify “to the musical director” or “leader.” In the Septuagint, the rendering is “to the end.” An ancient Latin translation of the Hebrew Psalter reads victori (“to the victor”), probably because of linking the Hebrew expression to a root meaning “to defeat.” This suggests that considerable uncertainty exists about the meaning of the Hebrew expression.

This psalm is ascribed to David. The composition is referred to as being “in remembrance.” The Septuagint seems to combine part of the words that follow with the superscription. It reads, “For remembrance in my having been saved by the Lord.” A number of translators render the expression “for remembrance” to signify a “memorial offering.” In the Contemporary English Version, the words of the superscription are interpretively translated as follows: “By David for the music leader. To be used when an offering is made.” Because there is a measure of uncertainty about the Hebrew expression thought to mean “remembrance,” the Tanakh uses the transliteration Lehazkir.

In the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint, Psalm 70(69) and Psalm 40(39):13-17(14-18) are practically identical. This suggests that the psalm was edited possibly to fit a different musical composition. One variation of the Masoretic Text involves the use of the name YHWH and the titles Lord and God. In the corresponding verses of Psalm 40, YHWH appears three times, but in Psalm 70 only two times. Whereas God is found three times in Psalm 70, the title God is used once and Lord once in the corresponding verses of Psalm 40. Psalm 70:5(6) reads “God” and then “YHWH,” but Psalm 40:17(18) says “Lord” and then “my God.”

The opening verse reflects greater urgency than the words of Psalm 40:13(14). It reads, “O God, to deliver me, O YHWH, and to my aid, hasten.” Evidently because of the seriousness of his situation, he pleaded that YHWH would hasten to help him.

Upon seeing the psalmist receiving the needed aid, those who were seeking to seize his “soul” or life would be ashamed or disappointed and abashed or frustrated. Those who would have found pleasure in seeing his ruin would be “turned back,” unable to pursue their evil intent, and disgraced. He petitioned that this would be the outcome for his enemies.

The psalmist continued his supplication, “Let them be turned back because of their shame, the ones saying to me, ‘Aha! Aha!’” Their “turning back” may be understood to mean that they would turn away in disgrace or be stopped from continuing their hateful course. They would be shamed upon seeing their base objectives fail. The Septuagint rendering is, “Let them immediately be turned back, being shamed.” This would end their gloating over David’s situation. The Septuagint rendering for “Aha! Aha!” is “Good! Good!”

The ones whom the psalmist wanted to see exult and rejoice were all those seeking God, desiring his approval and blessing. It was his desire that they, all those loving divine deliverance or salvation, would continually acknowledge, “Great is God,” or “magnified” (LXX) be he.

As for the psalmist, he found himself “poor” or helpless and “needy.” He pleaded, “O God, hasten to me” or, according to the Septuagint, “O God, help me.” Looking to his God as his help and deliverance or deliverer, he concluded with the urgent appeal, “O YHWH, do not delay.”


Regarding the divine name (YHWH), see Psalm 1.

See the concluding portion of Psalm 40 for comments on the corresponding verses.