Notes (NET Translation)
For the music director; by David.
1 In the Lord I have taken shelter. How can you say to me, “Flee to a mountain like a bird!
Yahweh is the true shelter or refuge.
2 For look, the wicked prepare their bows, they put their arrows on the strings, to shoot in the darkness at the morally upright.
3 When the foundations are destroyed, what can the godly accomplish?”
The “foundations” seem to refer to the order of society.1 According to VanGemeren, the question in the second half of the verse could also be translated as: “what can the godly do”?2 The answer to this question is that the godly can take refuge in Yahweh (v. 1) so that they will experience his favor (v. 7). Goldingay offers an additional perspective:
The obvious literal translation of the second colon is “The faithful one— what has he done?” (cf. LXX). The faithful one might be Yhwh, which would fit with v. 7 but requires considerable inference at this point; the faithful person reappears in v. 5 and is more likely a human being. Alternatively, v. 3b could be a critique of faithful people for doing nothing or a defense of them for doing nothing wrong, but it is again rather an isolated comment, whereas a reflection on the fact that nothing could have been done follows on well from v. 3b. The faithful could have done nothing to stop the collapse and/or could have done nothing once the collapse had happened. As the advisers’ words, they imply that the speaker has every excuse to get out of here.3
4 The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven. His eyes watch; his eyes examine all people.
The Hebrew word heykal (“temple”) can refer to a temple or palace. In this verse it does not refer to an earthly building.
5 The Lord approves of the godly, but he hates the wicked and those who love to do violence.
6 May the Lord rain down burning coals and brimstone on the wicked! A whirlwind is what they deserve!
The hot desert wind blows over the Middle East during the changes in season from spring to summer and from summer to fall. Its effects are devastating, as the beautiful vegetation changes overnight into parched, withered plants (cf. Isa 21:1; 40:7-8; Jer 4:11). The wicked will be like the flowers of the field, which are here today and gone tomorrow.4
7 Certainly the Lord is just; he rewards godly deeds; the upright will experience his favor.
Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.
Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.
Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.
VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.