Psalm 54 - Having not determined the enemy has Yahweh on their side
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1 Save me, elohim, by your Name; *
in your might, defend my cause.
2 Hear my prayer, elohim; *
give ear to the words of my mouth.
3 For the arrogant have risen up against me,
and the ruthless have sought my life, *
those who have no regard for elohim. [Selah.]
4 Behold, elohim is my helper; *
it is adonay who sustains my life.
5 Render evil to those who spy on me; *
in your faithfulness, destroy them.
6 I will offer you a freewill sacrifice *
and praise your Name, Yahweh, for it is good.
7 For you have rescued me from every trouble, *
and my eye has seen the ruin of my foes.
This is the accompanying Psalm for the Track 2 Old Testament reading from Jeremiah 11 that will be read aloud in unison or sung by a cantor on the seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 20], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. In Jeremiah is read, “I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes, saying, "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit”. That pair will be presented before the Epistle reading from James, where the Apostle wrote, “Where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.” All will accompany the Gospel reading from Mark, where is written: “Then they came to Capernaum; and when [Jesus] was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.”
In the above translation [NRSV], you will note that I have amended the text in six places. In four places the Hebrew word “elohim” [“אֱ֭לֹהִים”] is written, which is the plural form for “el,” translating [unquestionably] as “gods.” In the first two places where “elohim” was written, the NRSV has translated “O God” [a theatrical addition], while in the third and fourth [verses three and four] the same word is translated simply as “God” [no theatrics]. All are wrong, so there is a need to recognize that. Additionally, also appearing in verse four is found the plural Hebrew word “adonay” [“אֲ֝דֹנָ֗י”] written, which is the plural form of “adon,” so the translation [unquestionably] should be “lords.” This also has been restored to the Hebrew text. In the cases of “elohim” and “adonay,” those words were written to indicate those who have a special Spiritual connection to Yahweh, like angels in human flesh, given the powers of Yahweh’s Spirit. Therefore, to simply correct the words to “gods” and “lords” would become confusing; so, I have restored the Hebrew for the reader to learn the importance of those words.
At the end of verse three is the word “Selah,” which the NRSV shows in its translation; but the Episcopal Church has deleted from their readings. It is worthwhile to realize why David wrote this word once in the Psalm and placed it where he did. Thus, I have restored it to the text, in brackets. Finally, in verse six David mentioned the proper name of his God, which is Yahweh. Yahweh is my God also. Yahweh should be your God too, if you are a true Christian. However, the translators of Hebrew into English transform that proper name to a generic “Lord” [here the theatrics return as “O Lord”], which is wrong because it diminishes the value of knowing Yahweh’s name. Therefore, I have restored that name for readers to learn and love.
Not included in the above translation is the precursor language that is technically part of verse one, but read as instructional, guiding one’s feel for the whole song. The NRSV translates all of this as such: “To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites went and told Saul, “David is in hiding among us.”’ They also give this song a title, which is “Prayer for Vindication.” A literal translation into English for all this is: “to the chief musician of stringed instruments , an instructive poem of David . when went the Ziphites and spoke to Saul ; not is David hiding with us .”
In that, the presence of “hă·lō,” meaning ‘is not,” seems to have been overlook by the NRSV, as it states the opposite of what the NRSV says. They say that because 1 Samuel 26:1 says, “Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “David is in hiding on the hill of Hachilah, which is opposite Jeshimon.” While that is what they told Saul, David [who was a dignified person in Judah] might have sent the Ziphites to tell that to Saul, so Saul would make a move David was prepared for. In that reasoning, I see David as receiving divine insight from Yahweh; so, the Ziphites were more of an ally to David than Saul. Therefore they did tell Saul "David hiding with us," but that information "is not" a betrayal of trust. It "is not" what it seemed to be to Saul.
Now, in the first four verses the plural Hebrew word “elohim” is written. Instead of translating what David wrote, translators read the translation manual, which must state, “Everywhere you see “elohim,” it must be translated as “God.” That means they then face the task of having to twist and turn the words written, in order to match everything up to “God,” not the human souls married to Yahweh, as His “gods” on earth. They are forbidden from giving Yahweh credit for making "elohim" and "adonay." This means verse one does not make a plea for “God” to “save me.”
The literal translation into English one finds in verse one is this: “elohim by your name deliver me ; and by your strength judge me .” This becomes a statement that David is a divine extension of Yahweh on earth. The Hebrew word “bə·šim·ḵā” pulls from the root “shem,” meaning “name.” Seeing how the translation can equally be “in your name,” this speaks of marriage. The statement of “elohim” says David is claiming to be one of the many who are the wives of Yahweh, as His extensions on earth. Being “in the name” means being truly “Israelites,” a name meaning “He Retains God.” With “God” being “el,” then many retaining “God” are “elohim.” This means David is one and the Ziphites are others. By seeing the plural number as a reflection of many on earth who serve Yahweh through their souls united with His Spirit, this says the safety of David and the Ziphites was assured, because they followed the direction of their One God [named Yahweh]. By being assured of the “strength” of Yahweh in their being, the Ziphites could tell Saul the truth, exonerating the people of Ziph, while also preparing David to play the ‘cat and mouse’ game with Saul, as the winner.
Verse two repeats this aspect, using “elohim” again. This verse literally translates into English as this: “elohim hear my prayer ; give ear , to the words of my mouth .” In this, because one sees the people of Judah having been led to marry their souls to Yahweh, following the lead of David as obviously divinely led by Yahweh, the “prayer” of David is known not only by Yahweh, but by all His “elohim.” This says the majority of the Ziphites did not know where David was exactly, although they all knew where he was generally. This knowledge was due to all having divine insight. Therefore, they all listened to the whispers of Yahweh to lead them; and, from being led divinely, they would speak the “words” as directed – which would lead Saul into the place where David could further display how Yahweh protected his servant David.
Again, in verse three, the use of “elohim” is found, which confuses the translators following a false premise. The literal English translation of this verse says: “for the estranged have taken a stance against me , and ruthless men have sought after my life ; not they have determined they have elohim before them .” Here, the Hebrew word “zā·rîm” is written, pulling from “zuwr,” meaning “to be a stranger.” This usage can mean “become estranged,” where Saul and his followers were foreigners to Yahweh’s Spirit. Thus, they had taken up a stance against David, because they followed the orders of their king. The soldiers under Saul were “ruthless men” [“wə·‘ā·rî·ṣîm,” from “aritz”] in their pursuit of a military objective. They had been told to kill David, so that was their whole mission. However, as strangers to Yahweh’s presence within them, they had never before encountered “elohim,” who were those divinely possessed by the One God. Saul and his men professed to serve Yahweh, but none of them personally knew Him and none had ever been confronted by those who served Him truly.
It is here that the lone use of “Selah” is written. The word “selah” means “to life up, exalt.” Following David singing praise to the strength possessing “elohim,” which must be understood as how true Israelites routinely defeated their “stranger” foes. The 'Promised Land' was defended because Yahweh was with their souls, giving them unprecedented abilities in warfare. Thus, David sang high praise to the “elohim” that would bravely face the soldiers of Saul, because they were “uplifted” and “exalted.”
In verse four, there is not only the use of the fourth “elohim,” but also the use of “adonay,” with both words in the plural number [“gods” and “lords”]. The literal English translation here says, “behold! elohim helper me ; lords , with those who uphold my life .” In the NRSV translation that has “elohim” translated as “God,” they have David singing that “God is my helper.” While that rolls off the tongue easily and can act as the way things can be seen [in hindsight], think for a moment about how egotistical such a statement is. It makes Yahweh out to be some lackey that does what one commands, not the other way around. The truth is one must be a servant to Yahweh, through love and devotion, where one is then the helper of Yahweh, as was David and the people of Judah. Therefore, David was singing out loudly – “behold!” – because he was an “elohim helper” that all must see in his being.
That then leads to the one-word statement “adonay.” The singular ‘adon” means “lord.” Thus, “adonay” is a statement that says “lords.” Still, this is like “elohim” in the sense that all whose souls are married to Yahweh have Him [His Spirit] with them. This is an inner presence that makes Yahweh the “lord” of that body of flesh. Therefore, all who are “elohim” are those who have Yahweh as their “lord,” being those “lords” of Yahweh. As emissaries of Yahweh on earth [like Saints], they present Yahweh to the world as 'tabernacles' of His residence. Thus, the focus has now shifted from “See me! I am a Son of man!” to “See us all like me! We all are the “lords” on earth commanded by Yahweh!”
This then leads to the final segment of words, where the two prior segments are spliced together, as both are “with those who uphold my life”. Those are “elohim” and “adonay,” all of whom are promised eternal “life” through marriage and service in the name of Yahweh. When David’s life on earth is upheld, his life is assisted by others like him. The result is all are upholding a life in the name of Yahweh. The reward of such service is a true life that is Spiritual, not physical.
Verse five then literally translates into English to say, “[he will return] (for their evil) my enemies ; in your faithfulness , cut them off .” In this, the first words are bracketed, as an aside, and then comes words in parentheses, as an unspoken thought, where those additions in the verse become focused on “my enemies.” The enemies of David and his true Israelites were souls who had become reincarnated after having lived prior lives as sinners. The bracket “yā·šîḇ” [from “shub”] says the enemies of David are “returned” souls. The whispered reason for their returns is “for their evil deeds” [“hā·ra‘,” from “ra’”]. The “enemies” [from “sharar”] are the enemies of Yahweh’s goodness; and, they will always be souls returned to the worldly plane, due to being “estranged” from Yahweh.
When the segment following the semicolon says, “in your faithfulness,” this is a statement of David’s devotion to Yahweh as His servant. David has true faith, from personal experience of Yahweh within. David is not acting on beliefs taught to him, as his “faithfulness” [“ba·’ă·mit·tə·ḵā,” from “emeth”] is from a “firm” identity as one who is with Yahweh. This is contrary to his enemies, who are also the enemies of Yahweh, as there the souls have been “cut off” from a divine union with Yahweh. There is no love between sinners and Yahweh, being enemies.
The sixth verse then literally translates into English, saying “voluntarily I will sacrifice to you ; I will praise your name Yahweh for good .” In this, to “voluntarily” or “freely” submit in “sacrifice” to another means marriage, such that a wife becomes a submissive member of her husband’s family. This is done “freely,” out of love, whether the love is for her parents or her new husband. This is the “sacrifice” of self that must be made for any such transition to become anything more than forced slavery. Yahweh does not force any souls to marry Him. Thus, David sang that his soul willingly submitted itself to the Will of Yahweh; and, that is the name he specifically praised. By David writing “Yahweh” here, he has confirmed all the “elohim” and “adonay” to be equally submissive wives of Yahweh, in service to their One God. To do “good” means to do as Yahweh commands, as only Yahweh is “good” [per Jesus].
Verse seven then literally sings in English, “for out of all trouble he has delivered me ; and upon my enemies , has seen my eye .” As the concluding verse to a song that was introduced as about when David was being hunted by Saul and his army of soldiers, this says his being married to Yahweh is how he escaped capture and defeat. David was free to not only elude Saul, but to let Saul know he would never defeat David, because of his divine union with the Almighty. That is how the successes of David would always equate to the failures of his enemies. This is less about David having seen physically the results of that protection; but more about the foresight that allowed David to see what to do, because he had faith in the All-seeing Eye of God leading him.
As the companion Psalm for the Jeremiah 11 Track 2 offering, to be sung aloud on the seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry for Yahweh should already be well underway, the lesson is to trust in Yahweh and let His Spirit lead one away from enemies and the troubles they bring. Ministry should be the unification of souls who are seeking release from evil ways and failed attempts at controlling the uncontrollable. Ministry is therefore showing others how to marry Yahweh and have their souls freed from the returns to the material plane, due to bad decisions. Yahweh sends out His priests so others will be allowed to have eternal life through soul submission into faithfulness. Of course, to be able to preach that message, one has to have been there, done that, like David and the people of Judah.