Study Guide

Psalms Self-Destruction

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For there is no truth in their mouths;
their hearts are destruction;
their throats are open graves;
they flatter with their tongues.
Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of their many transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you. (NRSV 5:9-10)

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.
Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee. (KJV 5:9-10)

The enemies of the Israelites are really good with words, but what they consider flattery is exactly what will kill them. Not exactly a pretty image.

If one does not repent, God will whet his sword;
he has bent and strung his bow; (NRSV 7:12)

If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. (KJV 7:12)

Who's doing the dirty work here? God, the Israelites, or the enemies of the Israelites? Things are getting a little sticky.

Let ruin come on them unawares.
And let the net that they hid ensnare them;
let them fall in it—to their ruin. (NRSV 35:8)

Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall. (KJV 35:8)

If you're an average Israelite, what do you need to do to defeat your enemies? According to this passage, not much. Well, there is that whole "remain loyal to God" thing….

Let their table be a trap for them,
a snare for their allies.
Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and make their loins tremble continually.
Pour out your indignation upon them,
and let your burning anger overtake them. (NRSV 69:22-24)

Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.
Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.
Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. (KJV 69:22-24)

This is getting scary. God totally revokes the enemies' control over their lives. Or did the enemies of the Israelites lose their agency by praising other gods? Who has the agency here?

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