(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל־שׁוֹשַׁנִּים לְדָוִד: (ב) הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי אֱלֹקִים כִּי בָאוּ מַיִם עַד־נָפֶשׁ:
(1) For the musician, on the [instrument called] shoshanim, [a mizmor] by David. (2) Save me O G-d, for the water has reached to [threaten my] life!
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 1]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 069 – Deep Water
This mizmor continues the theme of Mizmor 068, in which David visualizes the people in Exile praying earnestly for their Geulah (Redemption). He begins the present tefillah with a dramatic picture of the danger in which Yisrael finds itself at a low point in its Exile. The situation is vividly compared to man drowning in deep water, unable to find a firm footing. Both the physical survival and the spiritual survival of the nation are at stake. Its physical survival is threatened by its many enemies and at the same time it’s spiritual survival is jeopardized by the corrupting influences of the cultures in which it is immersed. Besides all that, Yisrael is enduring severe emotional pain because of the hatred of the nations and the humiliation to which they are subjecting us.
The song looks to Hashem’s sympathy and consideration for the loyalty we have shown to Him despite all our suffering, a loyalty that is resented by Yisrael’s enemies.
The song concludes with a call for justice against our enemies and a song of gratitude for the anticipated Geulah.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. MY DESPERATE SITUATION. The song begins with a vivid picture of the tragic situation in which Yisrael finds itself. The nation is singing to Hashem like a drowning man calling for help.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל־שׁוֹשַׁנִּים לְדָוִד: (ב) הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי אֱלֹקִים כִּי בָאוּ מַיִם עַד־נָפֶשׁ: (ג) טָבַעְתִּי בִּיוֵן מְצוּלָה וְאֵין מָעֳמָד. בָּאתִי בְמַעֲמַקֵּי־מַיִם וְשִׁבֹּלֶת שְׁטָפָתְנִי: (ד) יָגַעְתִּי בְקָרְאִי נִחַר גְּרוֹנִי כָּלוּ עֵינַי מְיַחֵל לֵאלֹקָי: (ה) רַבּוּ מִשַּׂעֲרוֹת רֹאשִׁי שֹׂנְאַי חִנָּם עָצְמוּ מַצְמִיתַי אֹיְבַי שֶׁקֶר אֲשֶׁר לֹא־גָזַלְתִּי אָז אָשִׁיב:
(1) For the musician, on the [instrument called] shoshanim, [a mizmor] by David. (2) Save me O G-d, for the water has reached to [threaten my] life! (3) I have sunk in the mire of the shadowy depths, and there is no foothold. I have come into deep water and the rushing current is sweeping me away. (4) I am weary with calling [to You], my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking expectantly for my G-d. (5) More numerous than the hairs of my head are those who hate me for no reason. Powerful are those who want to cut me down. They are my treacherous enemies [who make false accusations against me]. Must I then restore what I have never stolen?
PART 2. MY DISGRACE. This part begins with a confession of the lead singer who regrets his inadequacies as a representative of the nation. He is concerned about the emotional suffering that the nation is experiencing as a result of its humiliation at the hands of the nations of the world. But he calls attention to the fact that this humiliation is the price of Yisrael’s continued devotion to Hashem and is a by-product of the bitter Exile.
(ו) אֱלֹקִים אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ לְאִוַּלְתִּי וְאַשְׁמוֹתַי מִמְּךָ לֹא־נִכְחָדוּ: (ז) אַל־יֵבֹשׁוּ בִי קֹוֶיךָ אֲדֹנָי ה’ צְבָאוֹת אַל־יִכָּלְמוּ בִי מְבַקְשֶׁיךָ אֱלֹקֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל: (ח) כִּי־עָלֶיךָ נָשָׂאתִי חֶרְפָּה כִּסְּתָה כְלִמָּה פָנָי: (ט) מוּזָר הָיִיתִי לְאֶחָי וְנָכְרִי לִבְנֵי אִמִּי: (י) כִּי־קִנְאַת בֵּיתְךָ אֲכָלָתְנִי וְחֶרְפּוֹת חוֹרְפֶיךָ נָפְלוּ עָלָי: (יא) וָאֶבְכֶּה בַצּוֹם נַפְשִׁי וַתְּהִי לַחֲרָפוֹת לִי: (יב) וָאֶתְּנָה לְבוּשִׁי שָׂק וָאֱהִי לָהֶם לְמָשָׁל: (יג) יָשִׂיחוּ בִי יֹשְׁבֵי שָׁעַר וּנְגִינוֹת שׁוֹתֵי שֵׁכָר:
(6) [The singer confesses his sins:] O G-d, You know my foolish inconsistency [towards You]. My wrongs are not hidden from You. (7) Hashem/Elokim, Master of Legions, don’t let [my people] who are waiting expectantly for You be embarrassed because of me. Let those who seek You not be humiliated through me O G-d of Israel.
(8) [The nation speaks:] For Your sake I have borne disgrace. Humiliation has covered my face. (9) [Rejected by the other nations,] I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s sons. (10) [All this is] because the resentment [for their destruction of] Your House has consumed me. The insults of those who scorn You have fallen upon me. (11) I wept in fasting for my soul and it became a reproach to me. (12) I made sackcloth my clothing and became a symbol [of failure] to them. (13) Those who sit by the gate talk about me and [I am the butt] of the songs of drunkards.
PART 3. A PLEA FOR HELP. Yisrael now appeals directly to Hashem to come to its rerscue and save it from the dangers described ion the first part of the mizmor.
(יד) וַאֲנִי תְפִלָּתִי־לְךָ ה’ עֵת רָצוֹן אֱלֹקִים בְּרָב־חַסְדֶּךָ עֲנֵנִי בֶּאֱמֶת יִשְׁעֶךָ: (טו) הַצִּילֵנִי מִטִּיט וְאַל־אֶטְבָּעָה אִנָּצְלָה מִשֹּׂנְאַי וּמִמַּעֲמַקֵּי־מָיִם: (טז) אַל־תִּשְׁטְפֵנִי שִׁבֹּלֶת מַיִם וְאַל־תִּבְלָעֵנִי מְצוּלָה וְאַל־תֶּאְטַר־עָלַי בְּאֵר פִּיהָ: (יז) עֲנֵנִי ה’ כִּי־טוֹב חַסְדֶּךָ כְּרֹב רַחֲמֶיךָ פְּנֵה אֵלָי: (יח) וְאַל־תַּסְתֵּר פָּנֶיךָ מֵעַבְדֶּךָ כִּי־צַר־לִי מַהֵר עֲנֵנִי: (יט) קָרְבָה אֶל־נַפְשִׁי גְאָלָהּ לְמַעַן אֹיְבַי פְּדֵנִי:
(14) As for me, my prayer is to You, Hashem, [hoping for] a favorable time. O G-d, in Your abundant kindness, answer me with Your sure deliverance. (15) Rescue me from the mire and don’t let me sink. Let me be rescued from those who hate me, and from the deep water. (16) Don’t let the rushing current carry me away. Don’t let let the shadowy depths swallow me and don’t let the pit shut its mouth over me. (17) Answer me, Hashem, for Your kindness is good. Turn toward me, according to the abundance of Your mercies. (18) Don’t hide Your face from Your servant; answer me quickly for I am in distress. (19) Draw near to my soul and set it free. Deliver me because of my enemies.
PART 4. MY DESPAIR. To reinforce the urgency of its plea, the nation describes its despair in its current situation. Surely, we have suffered enough.
(כ) אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ חֶרְפָּתִי וּבָשְׁתִּי וּכְלִמָּתִי נֶגְדְּךָ כָּל־צוֹרְרָי: (כא) חֶרְפָּה שָׁבְרָה לִבִּי וָאָנוּשָׁה וָאֲקַוֶּה לָנוּד וָאַיִן וְלַמְנַחֲמִים וְלֹא מָצָאתִי: (כב) וַיִּתְּנוּ בְּבָרוּתִי רֹאשׁ וְלִצְמָאִי יַשְׁקוּנִי חֹמֶץ:
(20) You know of my insult, my shaming, and my humiliation. All my tormentors are before You. (21) Insult has broken my heart and I am in despair. I longed for sympathy, but there was none, and for consolers, but I found none. (22) They put a bitter substance in my repast and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
PART 5. A CALL FOR JUSTICE. The song has passed its low point and now begins to anticipate the coming Redemption. The people are emboldened to issue a call for justice, a prayer for the destruction of Yisrael’s enemies.
(כג) יְהִי־שֻׁלְחָנָם לִפְנֵיהֶם לְפָח וְלִשְׁלוֹמִים לְמוֹקֵשׁ: (כד) תֶּחְשַׁכְנָה עֵינֵיהֶם מֵרְאוֹת וּמָתְנֵיהֶם תָּמִיד הַמְעַד: (כה) שְׁפָךְ־עֲלֵיהֶם זַעְמֶךָ וַחֲרוֹן אַפְּךָ יַשִּׂיגֵם: (כו) תְּהִי־טִירָתָם נְשַׁמָּה בְּאָהֳלֵיהֶם אַל־יְהִי יֹשֵׁב: (כז) כִּי־אַתָּה אֲשֶׁר־הִכִּיתָ רָדָפוּ וְאֶל־מַכְאוֹב חֲלָלֶיךָ יְסַפֵּרוּ: (כח) תְּנָה־עָוֹן עַל־עֲוֹנָם וְאַל־יָבֹאוּ בְּצִדְקָתֶךָ: (כט) יִמָּחוּ מִסֵּפֶר חַיִּים וְעִם צַדִּיקִים אַל־יִכָּתֵבוּ:
(23) Let their table become a snare before them, and a trap to their peacefulness. (24) Let their eyes grow dim so that they cannot see. Let their hips continually falter. (25) Pour out Your fury upon them and let the fierceness of Your anger overtake them. (26) Let their fixed encampment be desolate; let there be no inhabitant in their tents. (27) For they persecuted the one whom You smote, and they tell [tales] about the pain of those You have wounded. (28) Add offense to their guilt and let them not have access to Your generous forgiveness. (29) May they be erased from the Book of Life, and let them not be inscribed with the righteous.
PART 6. REDEMPTION IN VIEW. As the vision of the coming Redemption becomes more clear, the song visualizes the yeshuah and the gratitude the nation will feel when the Redemption is realized. There will be intense songs of thankful praise to Hashem. Then the sincerity of the people’s love to Him will be more precious than the abundant sacrificial offerings that will be brought at the rededicated Bais Hamikdash in the rebuilt Yerushalayim. The mizmor concludes with the bright promise of future generations that will inherit the Land of Yistrael.
(ל) וַאֲנִי עָנִי וְכוֹאֵב יְשׁוּעָתְךָ אֱלֹקִים תְּשַׂגְּבֵנִי: (לא) אֲהַלְלָה שֵׁם־אֱלֹקִים בְּשִׁיר וַאֲגַדְּלֶנּוּ בְתוֹדָה: (לב) וְתִיטַב לַה’ מִשּׁוֹר פָּר מַקְרִן מַפְרִיס: (לג) רָאוּ עֲנָוִים יִשְׂמָחוּ דֹּרְשֵׁי אֱלֹקִים וִיחִי לְבַבְכֶם: (לד) כִּי־שֹׁמֵעַ אֶל־אֶבְיוֹנִים ה’ וְאֶת־אֲסִירָיו לֹא בָזָה: (לה) יְהַלְלוּהוּ שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ יַמִּים וְכָל־רֹמֵשׂ בָּם: (לו) כִּי אֱלֹקִים יוֹשִׁיעַ צִיּוֹן וְיִבְנֶה עָרֵי יְהוּדָה וְיָשְׁבוּ שָׁם וִירֵשׁוּהָ: (לז) וְזֶרַע עֲבָדָיו יִנְחָלוּהָ וְאֹהֲבֵי שְׁמוֹ יִשְׁכְּנוּ־בָהּ:
(30) But as for me, I am low and in pain. Let Your yeshuah, O G-d, raise me up. (31) I will praise the Name of G-d with song and I will speak of His greatness in thanksgiving. (32) It will please Hashem more than the sacrifice of a full-grown bull, with its horns and hooves. (33) The humble, seeing [it], will rejoice. [You] who seek G-d, take heart. (34) For Hashem hears the poor; He has not spurned His captives [in Exile]. (35) Let Heaven and earth declare His praise, the seas and all that moves within them. (36) For G-d shall save Tzion and He will rebuild the cities of Yehudah. Then they will live there and possess it. (37) The offspring of His servants will inherit it. And those who love His Name will dwell in it.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. MY DESPERATE SITUATION.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל שֹׁשַׁנִּים לְדָוִד
This mizmor was prepared for the musician — לַמְנַצֵּחַ – who will perform it on the instrument called shoshanim — עַל שֹׁשַׁנִּים . The shoshanim was a unique musical instrument shaped like a rose. The mizmor was composed by David — לְדָוִד .
(ב) הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי אֱלֹקִים
כִּי בָאוּ מַיִם עַד נָפֶשׁ:
Save me, O G-d — הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי אֱלֹקִים – from this Exile, for — כִּי – the persecuting nations around me are like rising water that has reached — בָאוּ מַיִם – to the point of threatening my physical and spiritual life — עַד נָפֶשׁ ! I am fully prepared to live with pain because I know it serves the purpose of promoting teshuvah, but since my life is now in danger, I appeal to You to save me so that I can continue to serve You. And besides the threat to my life, I am afraid that my devotion to You will be weakened by the influence of the nations into which I am sinking.
In his analogy of threatened disaster, David visualizes Yisrael as being the victims of torrential floods, as in Tehillim 124:4: “Then the [flood] waters would have overwhelmed us; [the] torrent would have swept over our life.” He uses the word nefesh (soul) to symbolize life, because the effect of the surrounding nations has gotten to the point where our spiritual life is threatened.
(ג) טָבַעְתִּי בִּיוֵן מְצוּלָה וְאֵין מָעֳמָד
My sufferings have multiplied, torment on top of torment. I have sunk in the mire of the shadowy depths — טָבַעְתִּי בִּיוֵן מְצוּלָה , The mire symbolizes the pernicious influence of the culture of the nations. It is slimy with the filth of moral corruption. And there is no foothold — וְאֵין מָעֳמָד . The great leaders and prophets of the past are no longer there to guide me.
בָּאתִי בְמַעֲמַקֵּי מַיִם
I have come into deep waters — בָּאתִי בְמַעֲמַקֵּי מַיִם – and I feel that I am drowning. And I cannot save myself because the rushing current is sweeping me away — וְשִׁבֹּלֶת שְׁטָפָתְנִי .
(ד) יָגַעְתִּי בְקָרְאִי נִחַר גְּרוֹנִי
כָּלוּ עֵינַי מְיַחֵל לֵאלֹקָי:
My suffering has gone on for so long that I have even lost the strength to pray. I am weary with calling — יָגַעְתִּי בְקָרְאִי – to You for help and my throat is parched — נִחַר גְּרוֹנִי . My eyes fail, looking expectantly for my G-d — כָּלוּ עֵינַי מְיַחֵל לֵאלֹקָי .
(ה) רַבּוּ מִשַּׂעֲרוֹת רֹאשִׁי שֹׂנְאַי חִנָּם
עָצְמוּ מַצְמִיתַי אֹיְבַי שֶׁקֶר
אֲשֶׁר לֹא גָזַלְתִּי אָז אָשִׁיב:
More numerous than the hairs of my head — רַבּוּ מִשַּׂעֲרוֹת רֹאשִׁי – are those who hate me for no good reason — שֹׂנְאַי חִנָּם . Powerful are those who want to cut me down — עָצְמוּ מַצְמִיתַי . They are my treacherous enemies — אֹיְבַי שֶׁקֶר , who make false accusations against me. Must I then restore what I have never stolen — אֲשֶׁר לֹא גָזַלְתִּי אָז אָשִׁיב ? They are accusing me of crimes I did not commit and demand that I compensate them for their losses.
A common experience of the Exile is that, the Jews were denied the right to existence. Everything that they possessed was treated as loot which had been amassed by robbing other nations.
PART 2. MY SHAME.
(ו) אֱלֹקִים אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ לְאִוַּלְתִּי
וְאַשְׁמוֹתַי מִמְּךָ לֹא נִכְחָדוּ:
O G-d — אֱלֹקִים , You are the true judge and You know that I am innocent of the false charges that have been leveled against me from time to time. You know that my guilt lies only in my foolish inconsistency in my relationship with You — אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ לְאִוַּלְתִּי . My unintended wrongs are not hidden from You — וְאַשְׁמוֹתַי מִמְּךָ לֹא נִכְחָדוּ . You know that I have already confessed to them and that they do not warrant such harsh punishment.
(ז) אַל יֵבֹשׁוּ בִי קֹוֶיךָ אֲדֹ־נָי ה‘ צְבָא־וֹת
אַל יִכָּלְמוּ בִי מְבַקְשֶׁיךָ אֱלֹקֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:
[The singer confesses his sins:] If You do not answer my prayers and bring this Exile to an end, the people who have confidence that I will be answered will be embarrassed at having such trusting faith. So I pray to You, Hashem/Elokim, Master of Legions, don’t let them be embarrassed because of me, all those who are waiting expectantly for You — אַל יֵבֹשׁוּ בִי קֹוֶיךָ אֲדֹ־נָי ה’ צְבָא־וֹת . Let those who seek You not be humiliated through me O G-d of Israel — אַל יִכָּלְמוּ בִי מְבַקְשֶׁיךָ אֱלֹקֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל , abandoning hope for their own salvation. Don’t let them conclude that You do not welcome repentant sinners.
(ח) כִּי עָלֶיךָ נָשָׂאתִי חֶרְפָּה
כִּסְּתָה כְלִמָּה פָנָי:
It is fitting that You help me, Your people, now, because what I have endured has been for Your sake — כִּי עָלֶיךָ . It is because I remained Your loyal servant that I have borne disgrace — נָשָׂאתִי חֶרְפָּה – throughout this Exile. They continued to challenge me, asking, “Where is your G-d? Why doesn’t He help you?” If I had betrayed You and accepted their beliefs, they would have treated me like one of them. And so humiliation covered my face — כִּסְּתָה כְלִמָּה פָנָי .
(ט) מוּזָר הָיִיתִי לְאֶחָי
וְנָכְרִי לִבְנֵי אִמִּי:
Because of my loyal devotion to You I have become a stranger to my brothers — מוּזָר הָיִיתִי לְאֶחָי , for my brother nations do not see me as their equal. And I have become an alien to my mother’s sons — וְנָכְרִי לִבְנֵי אִמִּי , for I have even been rejected by the nations that share bloodlines with me from Biblical times.
(י) כִּי קִנְאַת בֵּיתְךָ אֲכָלָתְנִי
They treated me as an alien because the resentment that I felt towards them for having destroyed and disgraced Your House has consumed me — כִּי קִנְאַת בֵּיתְךָ אֲכָלָתְנִי .
וְחֶרְפּוֹת חוֹרְפֶיךָ נָפְלוּ עָלָי:
And the insults of those who scorn You have fallen upon me — וְחֶרְפּוֹת חוֹרְפֶיךָ נָפְלוּ עָלָי . They scorned You as “the G-d of the Jews,” and refused to acknowledge You as the G-d of all of mankind. By excluding You, they excluded me and denied by basic human rights .
(יא) וָאֶבְכֶּה בַצּוֹם נַפְשִׁי
וַתְּהִי לַחֲרָפוֹת לִי:
I wept in fasting for my soul — וָאֶבְכֶּה בַצּוֹם נַפְשִׁי , and it became a reproach to me — וַתְּהִי לַחֲרָפוֹת לִי . I was reviled because I gave no thought to my disheveled appearance.
(יב) וָאֶתְּנָה לְבוּשִׁי שָׂק
וָאֱהִי לָהֶם לְמָשָׁל:
Because of my depressed state I lost my self-respect and neglected my appearance. I made sackcloth my clothing — וָאֶתְּנָה לְבוּשִׁי שָׂק and became a symbol of failure to them — וָאֱהִי לָהֶם לְמָשָׁל .
(יג) יָשִׂיחוּ בִי יֹשְׁבֵי שָׁעַר
וּנְגִינוֹת שׁוֹתֵי שֵׁכָר:
The idlers who sit by the city gate passed the time of day talking about me — יָשִׂיחוּ בִי יֹשְׁבֵי שָׁעַר and their jests were featured in the songs of drunkards — וּנְגִינוֹת שׁוֹתֵי שֵׁכָר . My lowly state and strange dress was an object of merriment to them.
(יד) וַאֲנִי תְפִלָּתִי לְךָ ה‘ עֵת רָצוֹן
וַאֲנִי — As for me, even though I am being taunted by idlers and in the midst of imminent danger, תְפִלָּתִי לְךָ ה’ — my prayer is always directed to You, Hashem, for I know that You do not reject a broken heart. In my ongoing prayers I humbly hope there will עֵת רָצוֹן — a favorable time when You will accept my prayer and end this Exile.
אֱלֹקִים בְּרָב חַסְדֶּךָ עֲנֵנִי בֶּאֱמֶת יִשְׁעֶךָ:
אֱלֹקִים בְּרָב חַסְדֶּךָ — O G-d, even while You are judging me, I count upon access to Your abundant kindness to hurry the deliverance and overlook my sins. Therefore, עֲנֵנִי בֶּאֱמֶת יִשְׁעֶךָ — I now ask that You answer me with Your sure deliverance, in contrast to deliverance by the sword and military power, which is temporary and uincertain.
(טו) הַצִּילֵנִי מִטִּיט וְאַל אֶטְבָּעָה
אִנָּצְלָה מִשֹּׂנְאַי וּמִמַּעֲמַקֵּי מָיִם:
Rescue me from the mire — הַצִּילֵנִי מִטִּיט – of the depraved culture of the nations in which I am immersed (verse 3), and don’t let me sink — וְאַל אֶטְבָּעָה – permanently into their patterns of behavior. Let me be rescued from those who hate me — אִנָּצְלָה מִשֹּׂנְאַי – so my fear of their hostility does not interfere with my devotion to serving You. And let me be rescued from the deep waters — וּמִמַּעֲמַקֵּי מָיִם of being drawn into their pleasures.
(טז) אַל תִּשְׁטְפֵנִי שִׁבֹּלֶת מַיִם
וְאַל תִּבְלָעֵנִי מְצוּלָה
וְאַל תֶּאְטַר עָלַי בְּאֵר פִּיהָ:
Don’t let the rushing current of the nations carry me away — אַל תִּשְׁטְפֵנִי שִׁבֹּלֶת מַיִם into their way of life. And even if I sink down slightly into the mire of their culture, don’t let let the shadowy depths of heathenism swallow me completely — וְאַל תִּבְלָעֵנִי מְצוּלָה . And don’t let the pit of permanent death shut its mouth over me — וְאַל תֶּאְטַר עָלַי בְּאֵר פִּיהָ so that I cannot escape.
(יז) עֲנֵנִי ה‘ כִּי טוֹב חַסְדֶּךָ
כְּרֹב רַחֲמֶיךָ פְּנֵה אֵלָי:
Answer me, Hashem and save me from the mire and the deep waters, for I know that Your kindness is good — עֲנֵנִי ה’ כִּי טוֹב חַסְדֶּךָ even when it seems harsh to me. Despite my sins turn toward me, according to the abundance of Your mercies — כְּרֹב רַחֲמֶיךָ פְּנֵה אֵלָי rather than according to my wrongful deeds.
(יח) וְאַל תַּסְתֵּר פָּנֶיךָ מֵעַבְדֶּךָ
כִּי צַר לִי מַהֵר עֲנֵנִי:
Show me Your mercy and don’t hide Your face from Your servant — וְאַל תַּסְתֵּר פָּנֶיךָ מֵעַבְדֶּךָ – in spite of my sins. Don’t let me sink any further. And answer me quickly before I succumb to the peril, for I am in distress — כִּי צַר לִי מַהֵר עֲנֵנִי and in my present state I am unable to formulate my tefillah to You as I should.
(יט) קָרְבָה אֶל נַפְשִׁי גְאָלָהּ
לְמַעַן אֹיְבַי פְּדֵנִי:
In this dark Exile I can’t help but feel that You are standing at a distance from my distress. So I ask that You now draw near again to my soul and set it free — קָרְבָה אֶל נַפְשִׁי גְאָלָהּ – from the threats to my spiritual survival. Deliver me because of my enemies — לְמַעַן אֹיְבַי פְּדֵנִי , who question Your power to save me.
(כ) אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ חֶרְפָּתִי וּבָשְׁתִּי וּכְלִמָּתִי
נֶגְדְּךָ כָּל צוֹרְרָי:
My enemies taunt me because the length of my Exile, claiming that You have permanently rejected me. Surely that alone is reason enough for you to redeem me now. You know of my insult, my shaming, and my humiliation — אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ חֶרְפָּתִי וּבָשְׁתִּי וּכְלִמָּתִי . All my tormentors are before You — נֶגְדְּךָ כָּל צוֹרְרָי . They think You do not see, but You are fully aware of what little foundation there is for their hurtful accusations. So why are You silent?
(כא) חֶרְפָּה שָׁבְרָה לִבִּי וָאָנוּשָׁה
וָאֲקַוֶּה לָנוּד וָאַיִן
וְלַמְנַחֲמִים וְלֹא מָצָאתִי:
Insult has broken my heart and I am in deathly despair — חֶרְפָּה שָׁבְרָה לִבִּי וָאָנוּשָׁה . I longed for sympathy — וָאֲקַוֶּה לָנוּד , by someone who might at least shake his head in understanding of my plight, but there is none — וָאַיִן , and for neviim as consolers — וְלַמְנַחֲמִים – to come and comfort me with assurances of the future redemption, but I found none — וְלֹא מָצָאתִי .
(כב) וַיִּתְּנוּ בְּבָרוּתִי רֹאשׁ
וְלִצְמָאִי יַשְׁקוּנִי חֹמֶץ:
Instead, my enemies redoubled my distress so there was no letup to my pain. When I looked for a mourner’s meal of consolation, they put a bitter, thirst-inducing substance in my meager repast — וַיִּתְּנוּ בְּבָרוּתִי רֹאשׁ – and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink — וְלִצְמָאִי יַשְׁקוּנִי חֹמֶץ – in place of the wine traditionally offered to mourners to comfort them.
PART 5. A CALL FOR JUSTICE.
(כג) יְהִי שֻׁלְחָנָם לִפְנֵיהֶם לְפָח
They fed me bitterness and rejoiced at my pain while indulging themselves amidst plenty. Let their table which they prepared for themselves become a snare before them — יְהִי שֻׁלְחָנָם לִפְנֵיהֶם לְפָח . Let them be caught by their own sins. And may the table at which they feel secure be a trap to their peacefulness — וְלִשְׁלוֹמִים לְמוֹקֵשׁ . May whatever they consider beneficial, even peace, prove to be detrimental to them.
While they are absorbed in the pursuit of enjoyment, let their sensuality become the noose that will ensnare and put an end to their good fortune and prosperity.
(כד) תֶּחְשַׁכְנָה עֵינֵיהֶם מֵרְאוֹת
וּמָתְנֵיהֶם תָּמִיד הַמְעַד:
Let their eyes grow dim so that they cannot see — תֶּחְשַׁכְנָה עֵינֵיהֶם מֵרְאוֹת , the trap in front of them and with the loss of sight, let their legs and hips continually falter — וּמָתְנֵיהֶם תָּמִיד הַמְעַד – so that they slip and fall into the trap from the height of their arrogant superiority.
(כה) שְׁפָךְ עֲלֵיהֶם זַעְמֶךָ
וַחֲרוֹן אַפְּךָ יַשִּׂיגֵם:
Don’t let them get away when they try to escape their just punishment. Pour out Your fury upon them — שְׁפָךְ עֲלֵיהֶם זַעְמֶךָ , and let the fierceness of Your anger overtake them — וַחֲרוֹן אַפְּךָ יַשִּׂיגֵם .
(כו) תְּהִי טִירָתָם נְשַׁמָּה
בְּאָהֳלֵיהֶם אַל יְהִי יֹשֵׁב:
Let them be forced to leave their fixed dwellings to forage for food and pasture. When they are preoccupied withj the struggle for survival they will not have time to persecute Yisrael. So let their fixed encampment be desolate — תְּהִי טִירָתָם נְשַׁמָּה ; let there be no inhabitant in their tents — בְּאָהֳלֵיהֶם אַל יְהִי יֹשֵׁב .
(כז) כִּי אַתָּה אֲשֶׁר הִכִּיתָ רָדָפוּ
וְאֶל מַכְאוֹב חֲלָלֶיךָ יְסַפֵּרוּ:
For — כִּי – although they acted as Your agent to punish Yisrael for its sins, they went beyond their charge and persecuted the one whom You merely smote — אַתָּה אֲשֶׁר הִכִּיתָ רָדָפוּ . And now they tell fabricated stories about the pain of those You have wounded — וְאֶל מַכְאוֹב חֲלָלֶיךָ יְסַפֵּרוּ . They invent sins that Yisrael had never committed to explain their excessive persecution.
(כח) תְּנָה עָוֹן עַל עֲוֹנָם
וְאַל יָבֹאוּ בְּצִדְקָתֶךָ:
In their zeal to harm Yisrael they have exceeded the limited damage that You wanted them to do, so let them even be held to account for what they did in accordance with Your wishes. Add that basic offense to their guilt — תְּנָה עָוֹן עַל עֲוֹנָם . And let them not have access to Your generous forgiveness — וְאַל יָבֹאוּ בְּצִדְקָתֶךָ , which You grant to Yisrael and to other deserving nations.
(כט) יִמָּחוּ מִסֵּפֶר חַיִּים
וְעִם צַדִּיקִים אַל יִכָּתֵבוּ:
They killed many people and didn’t allow them to fill out their allotted time in this world. May they be erased from the Book of Life — יִמָּחוּ מִסֵּפֶר חַיִּים in this world, but let their death not be an antonement for their sins. And so, let them not be inscribed with the righteous — וְעִם צַדִּיקִים אַל יִכָּתֵבוּ – in the World to Come.
PART 6. REDEMPTION IN VIEW.
(ל) וַאֲנִי עָנִי וְכוֹאֵב
יְשׁוּעָתְךָ אֱלֹקִים תְּשַׂגְּבֵנִי:
But as for me — וַאֲנִי , save me for in this bitter Exile I am low and in pain — עָנִי וְכוֹאֵב . I have no strength to save myself, so let Your yeshuah, O G-d, come soon and raise me up — יְשׁוּעָתְךָ אֱלֹקִים תְּשַׂגְּבֵנִי .
(לא) אֲהַלְלָה שֵׁם אֱלֹקִים בְּשִׁיר
When I am finally redeemed from exile, I will thankfully praise the Name of G-d — אֲהַלְלָה שֵׁם אֱלֹקִים – as it is revealed in the kindness of His mighty act of redemption. I will express my praise of Him with my own song — בְּשִׁיר – so that the world will hear of His power. And I will speak of His greatness in a sincere expression of thanksgiving — וַאֲגַדְּלֶנּוּ בְתוֹדָה , reflecting the wondrous transition of a nation that was in exile and has now been redeemed.
(לב) וְתִיטַב לַה‘ מִשּׁוֹר פָּר
And the sincerity of my song of praise and gratitude will please Hashem more than the sacrifice of a full-grown bull — וְתִיטַב לַה’ מִשּׁוֹר פָּר , tossing its horns and showing its hooves — מַקְרִן מַפְרִיס , symbolizing the growing, maturing nation Yisrael preparing itself for its vocation and service to Hashem.
(לג) רָאוּ עֲנָוִים יִשְׂמָחוּ
דֹּרְשֵׁי אֱלֹקִים וִיחִי לְבַבְכֶם:
The humble and oppressed people throughout the world who will be worthy of seeing it will rejoice — רָאוּ עֲנָוִים יִשְׂמָחוּ in the example given them by Yisrael. Yisrael will encourage them and say, You who seek G-d — דֹּרְשֵׁי אֱלֹקִים – see it and take heart — וִיחִי לְבַבְכֶם – that your prayers to Hashem will not be rejected.
(לד) כִּי שֹׁמֵעַ אֶל אֶבְיוֹנִים ה‘
וְאֶת אֲסִירָיו לֹא בָזָה:
For Hashem hears the cries of the defenseless poor — כִּי שֹׁמֵעַ אֶל אֶבְיוֹנִים ה’ , just as He has not spurned His captives in Exile — וְאֶת אֲסִירָיו לֹא בָזָה for even when they were in Exile He was paying close attention to them and choosing the right moment to redeem them.
(לה) יְהַלְלוּהוּ שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ
יַמִּים וְכָל רֹמֵשׂ בָּם:
The praise of Hashem echoes from the example set by the faithfulness of Yisrael and is taken up by all of Creation. Let Heaven and earth declare His praise — יְהַלְלוּהוּ שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ , the seas and all that moves within them — יַמִּים וְכָל רֹמֵשׂ בָּם . Symbolically they will also sing in joy, recognizing that their purpose has been fulfilled.
(לו) כִּי אֱלֹקִים יוֹשִׁיעַ צִיּוֹן
וְיִבְנֶה עָרֵי יְהוּדָה וְיָשְׁבוּ שָׁם וִירֵשׁוּהָ:
For G-d shall save Tzion — כִּי אֱלֹקִים יוֹשִׁיעַ צִיּוֹן – from captivity by the enemy nations. And He will rebuild the cities of Yehudah — וְיִבְנֶה עָרֵי יְהוּדָה and the entire land of Yisrael, of which Tzion and Yehudah are the core. Then they will live there and possess it once more — וְיָשְׁבוּ שָׁם וִירֵשׁוּהָ .
(לז) וְזֶרַע עֲבָדָיו יִנְחָלוּהָ
וְאֹהֲבֵי שְׁמוֹ יִשְׁכְּנוּ בָהּ:
The offspring of His servants the Patriarchs will inherit it forever — וְזֶרַע עֲבָדָיו יִנְחָלוּהָ , never again to be driven away. And those who love His Name — וְאֹהֲבֵי בָהּ and have been faithful to Him through all the difficult times, will dwell in it — יִשְׁכְּנוּ בָהּ .
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א – רש”י, רד”ק, המאירי
ב – רש”י, רד”ק, המאירי, באר אברהם
ג – רש”י, רד”ק, בן רמוך, מצודות
ד – רשר”ה
ה – רד”ק, מצודות, באר אברהם, רשר”ה
ו – המאירי, אבן יחייא, מלבי”ם, רשר”ה, נר לרגלי
ז – רש”י, אלשיך, מלבי”ם
ח – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, בן רמוך
ט – אבן עזרא, רשר”ה
י – המאירי, ספורנו, רשר”ה
יא – רש”י, אבן יחייא, נר לרגלי
יב – רד”ק,
יג – רד”ק, בן רמוך, באר אברהם
יד – רד”ק, בן רמוך, אבן יחייא, רשר”ה
טו – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, בן רמוך
טז – המאירי, בן רמוך, מצודות
יז – רד”ק, אבן יחייא,
יח – רד”ק, באר אברהם, רשר”ה
יט – רד”ק, המאירי, מלבי”ם
כ – רד”ק, בן רמוך, מצודות, נר לרגלי
כא – בן רמוך, באר אברהם, מלבי”ם, נר לרגלי
כב – רד”ק, המאירי, בן רמוך, מצודות,
באר אברהם, מלבי”ם
כג – רש”י, בן רמוך, מצודות, מלבי”ם, רשר”ה
כד – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, בן רמוך,
כה – אבן עזרא
כו – בן רמוך, רשר”ה, נר לרגלי
כז – רש”י, רד”ק
כח – רד”ק, ספורנו, אבן יחייא, נר לרגלי
כט – בן רמוך, אבן יחייא,
ל – אבן עזרא, מצודות, באר אברהם
לא – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, רשר”ה
לב – רשר”ה
לג – המאירי, בן רמוך, באר אברהם, רשר”ה
לד – אבן עזרא, מלבי”ם
לה – אבן עזרא, ספורנו, רשר”ה
לו – רד”ק, בן רמוך
לז – בן רמוך, מצודות