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Mizmor 028 - Differentiation

(א) לְדָוִד, אֵלֶיךָ ה' אֶקְרָא צוּרִי אַל תֶּחֱרַשׁ מִמֶּנִּי פֶּן תֶּחֱשֶׁה מִמֶּנִּי וְנִמְשַׁלְתִּי עִם יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר:
(1) By David. I call to You Hashem, my Rock, don’t be deaf to me, lest You [then] be mute to me. I would become like those who descend to the grave.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev 4]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 028 - Differentiation
In this mizmor David offers a tefillah to Hashem to grant a yeshuah to Yisrael and to himself, their anointed king. He asks Hashem to make a clear distinction between the destiny of Yisrael and that of the resha’im (wicked), who are doomed to destruction.
Navigating Tehillim (1). Previously in Mizmor 005 we have also seen that David asked to be differentiated from wicked men. In that case David was focused on saving himself from Shaul and his supporters, who were pursuing him and threatening his life. Now he extends those sentiments to the entire nation, now and forever.
Navigating Tehillim (2). Mizmor 028 completes a cycle of three mizmorim addressing the phenomenon of resha’im in the world. In Mizmor 026 David examines his conscience and resolves to avoid the company of resha’im because of their insidious influence. In Mizmor 027 he appeals to Hashem to protect him from the physical threat posed by the wicked nations of the world. And now in Mizmor 028 he asks Hashem to keep him from being placed in situations where an association with resha’im will lead him to share their ultimate destruction.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. A PLEA TO BE HEARD. David begins by asking Hashem to pay attention to his tefillah. He pleads with Hashem to hear him (not to be deaf to his call) and then to answer in a positive way (not to be mute).
(א) לְדָוִד, אֵלֶיךָ ה' אֶקְרָא צוּרִי אַל תֶּחֱרַשׁ מִמֶּנִּי פֶּן תֶּחֱשֶׁה מִמֶּנִּי וְנִמְשַׁלְתִּי עִם יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר: (ב) שְׁמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנַי בְּשַׁוְּעִי אֵלֶיךָ בְּנָשְׂאִי יָדַי אֶל דְּבִיר קָדְשֶׁךָ:
(1) By David. I call to You Hashem, my Rock, don’t be deaf to me, lest You [then] be mute to me. I would become like those who descend to the grave. (2) Hear the sound of my supplications when I cry out to You, as I lift my hands towards Your Holy Sanctuary.
PART 2. A TEFILLAH FOR DIFFERENTIATION. The actual tefillah now begins. David asks that his fate not be bound up with that of the resha’im and that those people be treated as they deserve.
(ג) אַל תִּמְשְׁכֵנִי עִם רְשָׁעִים וְעִם פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן דֹּבְרֵי שָׁלוֹם עִם רֵעֵיהֶם וְרָעָה בִּלְבָבָם: (ד) תֶּן לָהֶם כְּפָעֳלָם וּכְרֹעַ מַעַלְלֵיהֶם כְּמַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵיהֶם תֵּן לָהֶם הָשֵׁב גְּמוּלָם לָהֶם: (ה) כִּי לֹא יָבִינוּ אֶל פְּעֻלֹּת ה' וְאֶל מַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו יֶהֶרְסֵם וְלֹא יִבְנֵם:
(3) Don’t draw me along with resha’im, nor with wrongdoers. They speak goodwill with their fellows while malice is in their hearts. (4) Pay them according to their acts and according to the maliciousness of their schemes. (5) For they do not give thought to the deeds of Hashem and His handiwork. May He destroy them and never rebuild them.
PART 3. ANTICIPATED GRATITUDE. Confident that the tefillah will be answered, David thanks Hashem and praises Him, not only for himself, but for all of Yisrael.
(ו) בָּרוּךְ ה' כִּי שָׁמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנָי: (ז) ה' עֻזִּי וּמָגִנִּי בּוֹ בָטַח לִבִּי וְנֶעֱזָרְתִּי וַיַּעֲלֹז לִבִּי וּמִשִּׁירִי אֲהוֹדֶנּוּ: (ח) ה' עֹז לָמוֹ וּמָעוֹז יְשׁוּעוֹת מְשִׁיחוֹ הוּא:
 
(6) Blessed is Hashem for He has heard the sound of my supplications. (7) Hashem is my strength and my shield. My heart trusted in Him and I was helped. My heart exults and I will praise Him with my song: (8) “Hashem is their strength and He is the stronghold of yeshuah for His anointed.”
PART 4. CONCLUSION. In the concluding posuk, David asks Hashem to grant a yeshuah to all of Yisrael.
(ט) הוֹשִׁיעָה אֶת עַמֶּךָ וּבָרֵךְ אֶת נַחֲלָתֶךָ וּרְעֵם וְנַשְּׂאֵם עַד הָעוֹלָם:
(9) Save Your people and bless Your claimed possession. Tend them and elevate them forever.
Navigating Tehillim. David confidently ends the Mizmor with an appeal to Hashem to save our nation. That posuk then serves as an appropriate introduction to Mizmor 029 which celebrates the renewed power of the voice of Hashem, in contrast to the opening of Mizmor 028 where David was concerned that that voice of Hashem might be muted.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. A PLEA TO BE HEARD.
(א) לְדָוִד:
This mizmor was composed by David — לְדָוִד .
אֵלֶיךָ ה' אֶקְרָא
I call to You, Hashem,  אֵלֶיךָ ה' אֶקְרָא  for I trust in no other power.
צוּרִי אַל תֶּחֱרַשׁ מִמֶּנִּי 
פֶּן תֶּחֱשֶׁה מִמֶּנִּי 
וְנִמְשַׁלְתִּי עִם יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר:
You are My Rock — צוּרִי  and I depend on You, so do not turn a deaf ear to me — אַל תֶּחֱרַשׁ מִמֶּנִּי  but respond to my tefillah. For if You were to remain mute and indifferent to me — פֶּן תֶּחֱשֶׁה מִמֶּנִּי , I would perish and become like — וְנִמְשַׁלְתִּי עִם  those resha’im (wicked) who are being punished for their sins. Distinguish me from those who descend permanently to the silence of the grave — יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר , unable to call upon You further.
(ב) שְׁמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנַי בְּשַׁוְּעִי אֵלֶיךָ 
בְּנָשְׂאִי יָדַי אֶל דְּבִיר קָדְשֶׁךָ:
Hear the sound of my supplications — שְׁמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנַי  when I cry out to You — בְּשַׁוְּעִי אֵלֶיךָ  in pain. But don’t even wait for that tortured outcry. Hear my tefillah now as I lift my hands  בְּנָשְׂאִי יָדַי  toward Your Holy Sanctuary — אֶל דְּבִיר קָדְשֶׁךָ ; I reach out with my hands to You to answer me.
PART 2. A TEFILLAH FOR DIFFERENTIATION.
(ג) אַל תִּמְשְׁכֵנִי עִם רְשָׁעִים וְעִם פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן
Don’t draw me along with resha’im  אַל תִּמְשְׁכֵנִי עִם רְשָׁעִים , who lack principles, nor with wrongdoers — וְעִם פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן , who claim the best of intentions. I don’t want my fate to become bound up with such people and I don’t want my success in this world to be dependent on my relationship with them.
 
דֹּבְרֵי שָׁלוֹם עִם רֵעֵיהֶם 
וְרָעָה בִּלְבָבָם:
Their friendship is deceptive and dangerous for they speak goodwill with their fellows — דֹּבְרֵי שָׁלוֹם עִם רֵעֵיהֶם  while malice is in their hearts — וְרָעָה בִּלְבָבָם .
(ד) תֶּן לָהֶם כְּפָעֳלָם וּכְרֹעַ מַעַלְלֵיהֶם
Pay them according to the nature of their acts — תֶּן לָהֶם כְּפָעֳלָם  and according to the maliciousness of their schemes — וּכְרֹעַ מַעַלְלֵיהֶם .
כְּמַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵיהֶם תֵּן לָהֶם 
הָשֵׁב גְּמוּלָם לָהֶם:
In either case, pay them measure for measure in accordance with the total effect of their handiwork — כְּמַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵיהֶם תֵּן לָהֶם ; give them what they have earned — הָשֵׁב גְּמוּלָם לָהֶם  by their behavior and their evil intentions.
(ה) כִּי לֹא יָבִינוּ אֶל פְּעֻלֹּת ה' 
וְאֶל מַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו 
יֶהֶרְסֵם וְלֹא יִבְנֵם:
That is what they deserve for they do not give thought to the wondrous deeds of Hashem — כִּי לֹא יָבִינוּ אֶל פְּעֻלֹּת ה'  in bringing about their very existence. And they disregard His handiwork — וְאֶל מַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו  in designing a world to function with order and justice. May He destroy them — יֶהֶרְסֵם  and their misbegotten schemes and may He never rebuild them — וְלֹא יִבְנֵם .
PART 3. ANTICIPATED GRATITUDE.
(ו) בָּרוּךְ ה' 
כִּי שָׁמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנָי:
Blessed is Hashem — בָּרוּךְ ה' , for He has heard the sound of my supplications — כִּי שָׁמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנָי . I am now sure He will answer me.
(ז) ה' עֻזִּי וּמָגִנִּי 
בּוֹ בָטַח לִבִּי וְנֶעֱזָרְתִּי 
וַיַּעֲלֹז לִבִּי 
וּמִשִּׁירִי אֲהוֹדֶנּוּ:
The kedushah (holiness) of Hashem is the source of my strength and my shield — ה' עֻזִּי וּמָגִנִּי  to protect me from my enemies. My heart trusted in Him — בּוֹ בָטַח לִבִּי ; it was not just my mind — I felt trust in my entire being. My bitachon was not misplaced and I was helped — וְנֶעֱזָרְתִּי  from a direction that I had not even anticipated. I recognize the hashgachah (Divine Providence) of Hashem in this and now my heart exults — וַיַּעֲלֹז לִבִּי . I am not like those who forget the one who helped them once the danger has passed. And so I will praise Him and honor Him with my meaningful song  וּמִשִּׁירִי אֲהוֹדֶנּוּ , singing the language of the heart, as follows:
(ח) ה' עֹז לָמוֹ 
וּמָעוֹז יְשׁוּעוֹת מְשִׁיחוֹ הוּא:
“The kedushah of Hashem is the source of strength  ה' עֹז , not only to me, but to them — לָמוֹ , to all of His people who depend on Him and it is in their zechus that He is the stronghold of yeshuah for me, His anointed  וּמָעוֹז יְשׁוּעוֹת מְשִׁיחוֹ הוּא .”
PART 4. CONCLUSION.
(ט) הוֹשִׁיעָה אֶת עַמֶּךָ 
וּבָרֵךְ אֶת נַחֲלָתֶךָ 
וּרְעֵם וְנַשְּׂאֵם עַד הָעוֹלָם:
Save Your people — הוֹשִׁיעָה אֶת עַמֶּךָ  from their enemies and bless them for they are Your claimed possession  וּבָרֵךְ אֶת נַחֲלָתֶךָ  bless their efforts so that they will find success. Tend them to provide for their needs and elevate them over those who would threaten them, not only during my lifetime, but forever — וּרְעֵם וְנַשְּׂאֵם עַד הָעוֹלָם .
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor, as well as some of the thoughts you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah asking for your needs, or expressing your devotion to Hashem.
Tefillos for Life - Your Relationship with Hashem.
[28:1] ONLY ONE. – אֵלֶיךָ ה' אֶקְרָא – “I call to You Hashem.” You are declaring your personal bond to Hashem. You are calling to Him because you trust in no other power.
[28:1] DIALOG. – אַל תֶּחֱרַשׁ מִמֶּנִּי פֶּן תֶּחֱשֶׁה מִמֶּנִּי – “Don’t be deaf to me, lest You [then] be mute to me.” Beg Hashem not to ignore you, but to interact with you, listening to what you have to say and responding to you. Watch for His response in His actions toward you and in the thoughts that come in to your mind.
[28:2] – שְׁמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנַי בְּשַׁוְּעִי אֵלֶיךָ – “Hear the sound of my supplications when I cry out to You.”
Tefillos for Life - Your Yeshuah.
[28:3] DIFFERENTIATION. – אַל תִּמְשְׁכֵנִי עִם רְשָׁעִים וְעִם פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן – “Don’t draw me along with resha’im, nor with wrongdoers.” Ask Hashem to keep you apart from wicked people, not to let you be influenced by them and not to let you be absorbed into their calamitous destiny.
[28:9] YESHUAH. – הוֹשִׁיעָה אֶת עַמֶּךָ – “Save Your people.” Ask Hashem to grant a yeshuah, not only for yourself, but for all of Yisrael.
Tefillos for Life - Your Attitude.
[28:5] GIVING THOUGHT. – כִּי לֹא יָבִינוּ אֶל פְּעֻלֹּת ה' וְאֶל מַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו – “For they do not give thought to the deeds of Hashem and His handiwork.” Pay attention to the wonders of the world that Hashem created.
Lessons for Life - Your Gratitude.
[28:2] SHOW OF HANDS. – בְּנָשְׂאִי יָדַי אֶל דְּבִיר קָדְשֶׁךָ – “I lift my hands towards Your Holy Sanctuary.” Express emotion in tefillah by raising your hands in your ardor.
[28:6] ANTICIPATION. – בָּרוּךְ ה' כִּי שָׁמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנָי – “Blessed is Hashem for He has heard the sound of my supplications.” Thank Hashem even before you have evidence that He has heard you.
[28:7] – בָטַח לִבִּי וְנֶעֱזָרְתִּי – “My heart trusted in Him and I was helped.”
Tehillos for Life - Public Acclaim.
[28:7] SONGS OF PRAISE. – וַיַּעֲלֹז לִבִּי וּמִשִּׁירִי אֲהוֹדֶנּוּ – “My heart exults and I will praise Him with my song:” Sing out your expressions of praise and gratitude to Hashem so that others will be inspired to follow suit.
Sources
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the pesukim of this mizmor are listed below.
א - רד"ק, המאירי, מלבי"ם
ב - רד"ק, ספורנו, מלבי"ם
ג - אבן עזרא, רד"ק, מצודות, מלבי"ם
ד - מלבי"ם, נר לרגלי
ה - אבן עזרא, רד"ק, ספורנו, מצודות
ו - רש"י, נר לרגלי
ז - רש"י, נר לרגלי
ח - רש"י, מלבי"ם,
ט - רד"ק, אבן יחייא, מלבי"ם