Psalms 3-5

One of the things that I neglected to mention in my earlier short introduction to this set of formal and informal translations of the Psalms is that I’ll be implementing the division of the Psalm “titles” into postscripts and superscripts as I described in this post on the discovery of James Thirtle in this regard. For those inscrutable apparently musical terms in the Psalms (Selah, Negginoth, etc) I’ll use the NRSV translation’s mostly fine choices, but also some others. These informal translations are guided by impressions I pick up from the Hebrew as I read it, and often try to expose in my looser than literal English translation some of the wordplay, implications, and connotations of the Hebrew, as I’ve learned it. It’s often hit or miss, and none of this is to be taken as “gospel.” It’s all in fun. So, we continue.

Psalm 3
Formal translation
A Psalm of David, in his fleeing away from the face of Absalom, his son.
O LORD, how many are my enemies!
Many are those rising against me!
Many are those saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.”
(Instrumental interlude)
But You, O LORD, are a shield around me,
my Glory, and the One lifting my head.
I cry out my voice to the LORD
and He answers me from His holy mountain.
(Instrumental interlude)
I laid down and slept, and I awoke
for the LORD supports me.
I will not fear tens of thousands of a people
who have all around set themselves against me.
Rise up, O LORD! Save me, my God!
For you have struck all my enemies on the cheek.
The teeth of the wicked have You shattered.
Of the LORD is salvation.
On Your People is Your blessing.
(Instrumental interlude)
To the director. With stringed instruments.

Informal translation
A Psalm of David, from when he escaped his son Absalom.
O Lord, look how many enemies I have now,
who all say of me, “God will not save him.”
(Instrumental interlude)
But You, Lord, are my shield,
You honor me and show me favor.
I cry aloud to the Lord,
and He answers me from His Throne.
(Instrumental interlude)
I can sleep, and wake up in the morning,
because the Lord protects me all night.
I will never fear the armies of any nation
who have surrounded and besieged me.
Rise up and save me, my Lord and God!
You always conquer my enemies,
knocking the teeth right out of their heads!
Safety comes from the Lord alone.
You have blessed Your People with it.
(Instrumental interlude)
For the conductor: use stringed instruments.

Psalm 4
Formal translation
A Psalm of David.
In my calling out, answer me,
O my God, my righteousness!
When in tight trouble, You have given me room.
Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.
O sons of man, until when will my glory be for an insult,
will you love emptiness, will you seek a lie?
(Instrumental interlude)
But know that the LORD has separated the pious one for Himself.
The LORD hears in my calling out to Him.
Be angry, but do not sin.
Speak in your heart, upon your bed, and be silent.
(Instrumental interlude)
Offer sacrifices of righteousness, and trust the LORD.
Many are those saying, Who will show us a good thing?
Shine upon us the light of Your face, O LORD!
You have placed joy in my heart,
more than the time their wheat and new wine was abundant.
In peace will I both lie down and sleep,
for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in security.
To the director. For flutes.

Informal translation
A Psalm of David.
Answer me when I cry out to you,
my righteous God!
When I’m in dire straits,
You always widen the way to safety.
Show me Your kindness and answer my prayer.
You people, when will you stop insulting my dignity?
When will you stop loving trivialities, and preferring lies?
(Instrumental interlude)
Know that the Lord has chosen me, His worshipper, for His favor.
The Lord answers me whenever I pray to Him.
You may be angry, but do not sin against others.
Work it out in your head, in private, and keep quiet.
(Instrumental interlude)
Offer up your righteousness, not your animals,
and put your trust in the Lord.
Many say, “Show me something good in the world!”
God will show you His face and change your life!
The Lord has given me inner joy
greater than the best times of my life.
I will always rest secure, for You, Lord, have made me safe.
For the conductor: use flutes.

Psalm 5
Formal translation
A Psalm of David.
Give ear to my words, O LORD,
consider my sighing.
Attend the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to You I pray.
O LORD, You will hear my voice.
In the morning, I will arrange an offering for You,
and I will keep watch.
For You are not a God delighting in wickedness.
Evil will not dwell with You.
Boastful ones will not stand themselves before Your eyes.
You have hated all those doing iniquity.
You will destroy speakers of falsehood.
The man of blood and deceit the LORD abhors.
And I, in the abundance of Your mercy,
will come to Your House,
I will prostrate myself toward the Temple of Your Holiness,
in fear of You.
O LORD, lead me in Your righteousness,
because of my opponents.
Make straight before me Your way.
For there is not in his mouth any established thing.
Their heart is destruction,
their throat an open grave.
With their tongue they deceive.
Declare them guilty, O God.
Let them fall from their own plots.
In the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against You.
But they will rejoice, all those who take refuge in You.
Forever they will sing joyfully.
Spread protection over them,
and they will rejoice in You,
those who love Your name.
For you will bless the righteous one, O LORD,
as with a shield of favor You surround him.
To the director. For stringed instruments. According to the Eighth.

Informal translation
A Psalm of David.
Listen to my heartfelt prayer, O Lord.
Always answer me, my Divine King,
because I only pray to You.
I know, Lord, you answer my prayer.
I set myself before You in the morning,
and only have to wait for Your answer.
For You find no pleasure in evil.
It has no place with You.
Braggards cannot stand before You.
You hate evildoers and destroy liars.
The LORD despises everyone violent and deceitful.
But through Your great mercy, I may come to Your House,
and worship You in awe in Your Holy Sanctuary.
O Lord, because I have enemies,
guide me in Your righteous Way.
For nothing they say is true,
and they are full of evil and corruption.
They like to deceive with slick lies.
Render Your judgment, O God,
and let their own machinations condemn them.
Throw them and all their sins away,
for they have rebelled against You.
But all those who come to You for refuge
will rejoice in You forever.
Protect all those who rejoice in You,
everyone who loves Your Name.
For You, O Lord God, always bless the righteous,
surrounding us with the shield of Your grace.
For the conductor: use stringed instruments. Eighth mode.


  1. Kevin – I am glad you are doing this – I have been working through the psalter for a year now – to learn Hebrew and to translate as I go. There is an emerging picture on my blog in a link – don’t go too fast – there is too much there to cover in less than 2 years it seems to me. (I am about 45% through) I will be curious to see how you approach the acrostics – I have managed to do the first 4 or 5 parts of 119 without losing a letter (!!!) and I had fun with 145 too. I am going in random order as if commanded – it is as I noted in an earlier article a somewhat dangerous job. I find the psalms ‘happened’ to me as I learned – I hope I have lived enough of them not to have to learn some of the harder lessons all over. I hope too that perhaps we can exchange some questions and comments along the way.

  2. Hi Bob! I gave up trying to represent acrostics in English a long time ago. I was planning to just indicate the Hebrew letter at the beginning of the verse/section, and leave it at that. This is just for fun, after all!

    I’m impressed that you’ve managed to maintain the acrostic in English, though! That’s dedication!

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