Psalms 138
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1  Of 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

א  לְדָוִד 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.3 comments

2  I 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.

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

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

ג  בְּיוֹם קָרָאתִי וַתַּעֲנֵנִי תַּרְהִבֵנִי בְנַפְשִׁי עֹז׃

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

ד  יוֹדוּךָ יְהֹוָה כָּל־מַלְכֵי־אָרֶץ כִּי שָׁמְעוּ אִמְרֵי־פִיךָ׃

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

ה  וְיָשִׁירוּ בְּדַרְכֵי יְהֹוָה כִּי גָדוֹל כְּבוֹד יְהֹוָה׃

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

ו  כִּי־רָם יְהֹוָה וְשָׁפָל יִרְאֶה וְגָבֹהַּ מִמֶּרְחָק יְיֵדָע׃

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

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

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

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

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Psalms 137
Psalms 139

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Psalms 138

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