Poison!

Psalm 140

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 140

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Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the *Hebrew Bible.

The notes explain some of the words with a *star by them. A word list at the end explains the other words that have a *star by them.

The translated Bible text has yet to go through Advanced Checking.

 

Jesus said, "Children of *vipers, how can you say anything that is good? You are *evil people" (Matthew 12:34).

Psalm 140

  (This is) for the music leader. (It is) a psalm of David.

v1   Save me, *LORD, from *evil people.
  Do not let the men that attack people hurt me.

v2   They have *evil ideas and are always starting wars.

v3   Their *tongues are as sharp as a snakeís *tongue.
  The poison of vipers (a kind of snake) is on their lips.   *SELAH

v4   Keep me, *LORD, (away) from *the hands of *evil people.
  Do not let people that love to fight hurt me.
  They want my feet to *trip over!

v5   *Proud people have hidden a *trap for me.
  They have put their *nets (where I cannot see them).
  They have put *snares along my path.   *SELAH

v6   *LORD, I say to you, "You are my God".
  *LORD, hear my *prayer for *mercy!

v7   *LORD, my *Lord, you are my strong *helper.
  You cover my head when there is a fight.

v8   *LORD, do not let *evil people do what they want (to do).
  They will become *proud if their plans do well.   *SELAH

v9   Pour trouble on the heads of the people round me!
  (I mean the trouble) that their lips caused.

v10   Drop burning *coals on them! Throw (these people) into the fire!
  (Put them) in holes full of wet mud (dirt and water) so they cannot get out!

v11   Do not let these *slanderers live in the land (of Israel)!
  Make *evil follow these people that love to attack (other people).

v12   I know that the *LORD will be fair to poor people.
  He will also fight (to help) people *in need.

v13   I am sure that *righteous people will *praise *your name.
  Good people will always live near you.

The Story of Psalm 140

The first line is verse 1 in the Hebrew Psalm 140. Our verse 1 is their verse 2, and so on. Hebrew is the language that David spoke. Bible students think that the first line means that David wrote the psalm. Then he gave it to the music leader. The music leader would get people to sing the psalm.

We do not know when David wrote this psalm. People were saying bad things about David. What they said was not true. We call the people "slanderers", (verse 11). Their words hurt David very much. It was as if a snake bit him, (verse 3)! Some snakes put poison into you when they bite you. One of the worst snakes is the viper.

What Psalm 140 means

The word "*selah" comes after verses 3, 5 and 8. It is a Hebrew word that does not come often in Book 5 of the Psalms. It is a word that David often used in his psalms in Books 1 and 2. Bible students are not sure what it means. They have explained it in at least 12 ways! The most common ways are:

    stop and think about the words;

    stop and pray about the words;

    stop and listen to music (while you think and pray).

In Psalm 140 the word *selah helps to put the psalm into parts:

    verses 1 - 3: David prays that the *LORD will save him from *evil people;

    verses 4 - 5: David prays that he will not become caught in a *trap;

    verses 6 - 8: David tells the *LORD that the *LORD is Davidís God;

    verses 9 - 11: David prays that the *LORD will destroy these *evil people;

    verses 12 - 13: David says that he is sure that God will be kind to *righteous people.

Verse 1: *LORD is a special Bible word. It is the *covenant name for God. A *covenant is when two people (or groups of people) agree. Here God agrees to love and give help to his people. His people agree to love and obey him. "*Evil" means "very, very bad".

Verse 3: Our tongues are in our mouths. We use them to talk and taste. When a snake bites you, it puts poison into you. The viper is a snake with a very bad poison. "The poison of vipers is on their lips" means that it is in their mouths. David is saying that these *evil people are like snakes; they hurt you with their mouths. They do not bite you, but they say bad things about you.

Verse 4: "The hands of *evil people" means "the bad things that they can do to you". "Trip over" means that your feet hit something and you fall over.

Verse 5: Here are 3 words that mean the same: traps, *nets and snares. They are what you catch animals and birds with. But these *evil people wanted to catch David! So they hid their traps and *nets and snares to catch David. The words "*proud people" mean "people who think that they are better than they are".

Verse 6: "*Mercy" means that someone does not *punish (hurt) us when they should hurt us.

Verse 7: Here are 2 words that sound the same: *LORD and *Lord. The first is the *covenant name for God, "Yahweh" in Hebrew. The second is a word that means "master". It is "adonai" in Hebrew. A "helper" is somebody who gives help. "Cover my head" means "stop people hurting me". Soldiers used to cover their heads with shields. You could hide under a *shield.

Verse 9: David is praying. He wants the trouble that he has to go to his enemies. It is "the trouble that their lips caused". This means what happened because of the bad things that they said about David.

Verse 10: You can dig coal out of the ground. People use it to make fires. It burns very well. Mud is very wet earth. Verses 9-11 make this a "Psalm of Imprecation". This means a psalm that prays for bad things to happen to your enemies.

Verse 11: A slanderer says things that are not true.

Verse 12: "In need" is a way to say, "that have needs".

Verse 13: "*Righteous" means "very, very good". Only God is really *righteous, but he makes his people *righteous too. This is part of the *covenant. "*Praise someone" means "tell someone that they are great". "Your name" means everything that God is: great, powerful, *righteous and many other things also.

Something to do

Read what "Psalms of Imprecation" means. You will find it in the notes on Psalm 69 in this set of psalms.

Word List

coals ~ dug out of the ground, black stuff that people burn.

covenant ~ two people have agreed what each should do (here, God and his people). Look in Psalm 120 about the covenant.

evil ~ very, very bad.

helper ~ someone that gives help.

in need ~ people are in need when they have needs.

LORD ~ the *covenant name for God (in a *covenant you agree with someone).

mercy ~ being kind when you do not have to be kind.

net ~ thin *rope that you tie together; you use it to catch fish.

praise ~ to say how great someone is; or, words that say how great someone is.

prayer ~ you say a *prayer when you speak to God.

proud ~ proud people think that they are good and clever. But they may not be.

punish ~ hurt someone because they have not obeyed the rules.

righteous ~ very good (only God is really righteous). God says that the people who love and obey him are righteous. Sometimes we say they are "the righteous", meaning "righteous people". Look after Psalm 5 in Book 1 of the Psalms of David for more about the word "righteous".

rope ~ strong material that we use to tie things together.

SELAH ~ a place to pray or think or make music.

shield ~ what a soldier holds over himself to stop things hitting him.

slanderer ~ a slanderer says bad things about you that are not true.

snare ~ something that you can catch animals or birds with.

tongue ~ the part of our mouth that we talk with.

tongue ~ the part of our mouth that we talk with.

trap ~ thing that you catch animals or birds in.

trip ~ your feet hit something and you fall over.

viper ~ a kind of snake.

your name~ See What Psalm 140 means, Verse 13.

 

© 1999-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).

December 2002

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