1 Of David. A maskil. Happy is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered over.
l’-da-VID mas-KEEL ash-RAY n’-suy PE-sha k’-SUY kha-ta-AH
א לְדָוִד מַשְׂכִּיל אַשְׁרֵי נְשׂוּי־פֶּשַׁע כְּסוּי חֲטָאָה׃
The word ashrei (אשרי), ‘happy,’ which begins this psalm, reminds us of the first word of the opening chapter of the book of Tehillim, which speaks of the happy person who veers away from sin and chooses the godly path. Unlike Psalm 1, which refers to the person who avoids sin, this psalm expresses the power of repentance, referring to the individual who already sinned and suffers punishment. However, if he returns to God, he, too, is happy, since his sins are forgiven and he can again enjoy a close relationship with the Almighty. Two of the metaphors used to describe the process of sin and repentance relate to weather conditions in Israel. The “summer drought” (verse 4) and the “rushing mighty waters” (verse 6) refer to Israel’s semi-arid and desert areas, and to the mountainous regions where waters rush through streams. Both environments play a role in the physical and spiritual cleansing of the individual in the Land of Israel.