Chapter 138

1Of David. I praise You with all my heart, sing a hymn to You before the divine beings;

l'-da-VID o-d'-KHA v'-khol li-BEE NE-ged e-lo-HEEM a-za-m'-RE-ka

אלְדָוִד אוֹדְךָ בְכָל־לִבִּי נֶגֶד אֱלֹהִים אֲזַמְּרֶךָּ׃

 138:1   Sing a hymn to You before the divine beings

King David begins this psalm by declaring that he will sing praises to Hashem “before the divine beings.” The commentators wonder to which divine beings, in Hebrew elohim (אלהים), the verse refers? Often, the term Elohim refers to God, but in this context many medieval commentators, such as Rashi and Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, translate elohim as ‘ministers’ or ‘judges’. According to this understanding, David is praising Hashem in the presence of the ministers. Other interpretations say that it refers to prophets. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, on the other hand, understands the word elohim as a reference to false gods. According to Hirsch, David is juxtaposing God’s true, virtuous acts with the false, inauthentic gods of the surrounding nations.

2I bow toward Your holy temple and praise Your name for Your steadfast love and faithfulness, because You have exalted Your name, Your word, above all.

באֶשְׁתַּחֲוֶה אֶל־הֵיכַל קָדְשְׁךָ וְאוֹדֶה אֶת־שְׁמֶךָ עַל־חַסְדְּךָ וְעַל־אֲמִתֶּךָ כִּי־הִגְדַּלְתָּ עַל־כָּל־שִׁמְךָ אִמְרָתֶךָ׃

3When I called, You answered me, You inspired me with courage.

גבְּיוֹם קָרָאתִי וַתַּעֲנֵנִי תַּרְהִבֵנִי בְנַפְשִׁי עֹז׃

4All the kings of the earth shall praise You, Hashem, for they have heard the words You spoke.

דיוֹדוּךָ יְהֹוָה כָּל־מַלְכֵי־אָרֶץ כִּי שָׁמְעוּ אִמְרֵי־פִיךָ׃

5They shall sing of the ways of Hashem, “Great is the majesty of Hashem!”

הוְיָשִׁירוּ בְּדַרְכֵי יְהֹוָה כִּי גָדוֹל כְּבוֹד יְהֹוָה׃

6High though Hashem is, He sees the lowly; lofty, He perceives from afar.

וכִּי־רָם יְהֹוָה וְשָׁפָל יִרְאֶה וְגָבֹהַּ מִמֶּרְחָק יְיֵדָע׃

7Though I walk among enemies, You preserve me in the face of my foes; You extend Your hand; with Your right hand You deliver me.

זאִם־אֵלֵךְ בְּקֶרֶב צָרָה תְּחַיֵּנִי עַל אַף אֹיְבַי תִּשְׁלַח יָדֶךָ וְתוֹשִׁיעֵנִי יְמִינֶךָ׃

8Hashem will settle accounts for me. Hashem, Your steadfast love is eternal; do not forsake the work of Your hands.

חיְהֹוָה יִגְמֹר בַּעֲדִי יְהֹוָה חַסְדְּךָ לְעוֹלָם מַעֲשֵׂי יָדֶיךָ אַל־תֶּרֶף׃