Psalm 94: A Message of Thesis
Excerpt from Thesis :
This meaning would fit more with the call for vengeance in the first section of the Psalm.
Verse 11 concludes this section addressing the evildoers. Like the previous section, it summarizes the passage with a declaration of the power of God and the weakness of man. At the end of the last verse, we learned that God is the source of knowledge for man. At the end of this verse, we learn that the thoughts of man are vain, futile, or worthless, depending on the version that one chooses. Regardless, all of these translations imply that the thoughts of man are nothing compared to the thoughts of God. The Psalmist is attempting to make the evildoers recognize a power greater than themselves.
Verses 12-15: The Psalmist addresses the righteous about God.
In verse 12, the audience switches to the righteous, the group to which the speaker belongs. A comparison of versions tells us about who these people may be. All versions agree that these people are blessed. KJV calls them, "the man whom thou chastenest." NKJV calls them, "the man whom your instruct." ESV, once again uses the word "discipline." Discipline can be considered a form of instruction. The word "instruct" implies a willing student. Punish implies a student that is not willing. Whereas, discipline, does not tell us whether the student is willing or resists. Once again, the translation of "discipline" is more in line with the earlier tone of the passage.
The second phrase in the verse tells us that they are taught from the laws of God, which implies the Torah. This supports the reference in verse 5 to the descendents of Abraham. This also gives us a time reference and we know that the verse was written, more than likely, during a time when the Jews were in captivity.
Verse 13 asks God to give the people rest from the adversity until the days when the wicked are punished. Different versions are in agreement with this translation. This implies that the author is hopeful that the days of hardship have an end and that the evildoers will be punished in the end. This is a verse of prayer and of hope.
Verse 14 continues the promise that the Lord will not abandon his people, nor will he abandon his inheritance. Some versions use the word inheritance (KJV, NKJV), while others say heritage (ESV). Either way, it reaffirms the special place for the Jewish people as God's chosen people. This verse if further reassurance that God will not abandon them.
Verse 15 is the closing verse of this section of the Psalm. Just as the author reassures the evildoers that they will be punished in the end, he reassures the righteous that they too will receive their just reward in the end. The implication is that the righteous will receive a reward, as opposed to the punishment promised the evil ones in the previous section of the Psalm.
Verses 16-23: The Psalmist Exhalts God.
The first three sections of Psalm 94 are in third person. In the final stanza of the Psalm, the author switches to second person. He is still speaking to the righteous. Just as he directly addressed the evildoers in the second portion of the Psalm, he directly addresses the righteous in the final verses. In verse 16, he asks them who among them will join him. He calls for action from the righteous. He called for the evildoers to gain wisdom and stop what they are doing. He now calls on the righteous to rise up and stand up against the evildoers.
Verse 18 offers testimony that if God had not been on his side, he would be in the silence of death. This verse gives the righteous hope that the Lord is with them too. It reaffirms God's presence and is meant to comfort and inspire them into action. There are major differences in verb tense in this verse. KJV uses, "held me up." NKJV uses future tense, "will hold me up." ESV also uses past tense, "held me up." KJV and NKJV indicate that God's mercy held them up. ESV uses, "Your steadfast Love."
As one can see, there is quite a bit of disagreement in the translation of this verse. If one agrees with the past tense translation, then the message is one of hope and supports the previous verse. However, if one uses future tense, then it
is a call to action, reassuring the righteous that God will hold them up as they rise up against their foes. One of the most interesting facts about this verse is that the Greek translation completely skips it. It only appears in the Hebrew version of the text. The Hebrew word is Ca'ad, which is a primitive root, which means to "support, sustain, stay, establish, strengthen, comfort." This word has many connotations, that differ from the physical holding up indicated in any of the verses.
It is agreed among most versions that this verb is past tense, therefore, the NKJV use of future tense can be discarded. The actual translation of the word is less physical than any of the versions consulted indicated. It is the opinion of this researcher that the reference to the foot slipping was taken literally, leading to the physical interpretation of holding up. However, the reference to foot slipping, may be figurative and refer to emotional slipping, rather than actual physical slipping. If this is not the case, then the verse seems out of place by referring to a physical act.
The message is one of hope and a plea to keep the faith that God will rescue them. If this is not the case, then it would be the first reference to physical happenings since the reference to murdering the widows and orphans in verse 6. Verse 19 supports the ideal that verse 18 refers to emotional support, rather than physically catching someone when falling. This verse clearly refers to consolation in times of anxiety. When someone's thoughts are many, it usually means that they are going though a period of stress. Taken in context, of verses 17 and 19, it is more likely that the author was referring to emotional support, rather than physical support.
Verse 20 poses a question to the audience in the form of a challenge. He asks if they wicked rulers can possibly be on their side, when they commit injustice by their laws. This alludes to the opinion that some of those in the audience may be supporting the new government and that they may not be able to see what is going on around them clearly. It may also represents a new challenge and a new call to action against those who choose to repress them.
Verse 21 supports verse 20 by reiterating the evilness and the evil deeds of the wrongdoers. He reminds them of their quest to take away the Jewish way of life and their condemnation of innocent blood. The repetition ties the first portion of the work to the fourth portion, indicating that the work should be treated as a whole, rather than as four separate songs.
In verse 22, the author repeats the idea that the Lord is his refuge and the rock upon which he stands. This verse reiterates the theme of deliverance and faith to the righteous. The author asks them to have faith in the Lord, and to let him be their strength. Verse 23 concludes this passage and ties in closely with verse 22. The author promised that God would be the strength of the righteous and that he would punish the wicked.
Little is known about the author of Psalm 94, other than that most agree King David was not the author of this particular Psalm. More is known about the audience to whom the author was speaking. We can ascertain from the characteristics alluded to that they are of Jewish descent. We can ascertain that it was written during one of the periods when the Jews were captive. This more than likely places it during the time of the Babylonian conquest. The tone and mood of the poem would suggest this period of captivity as well.
The Psalm is arranged in a logical order. First addressing God about the evildoers, and then addressing the evildoers directly. He then addresses the righteous in third person and them addresses them directly, in a similar fashion to the manner in which he addressed the evildoers. The passage contains symmetry in structure throughout. It refers back to the beginning in the final verses and reiterates several points throughout. This balanced presentation supports the thesis that it should be viewed as a single Psalm, rather than as four distinctly different pieces.
In terms of authorship, it is difficult to determine exactly who the author…
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