Psalm 144

Psalm 144[a]

Prayer for Victory and Peace

1 [b]Of David.

Blessed be the Lord,[c] my Rock,
who trains my hands for war
and my fingers for battle.
2 You are my safeguard[d] and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield in whom I take refuge,
the one who subdues nations under me.
3 O Lord, what is man that you care for him,
or the son of man that you think of him?[e]
4 Man is nothing more than a breath;
his days are like a fleeting shadow.[f]
5 [g]Part the heavens, O Lord, and descend;
touch the mountains so that they smoke.[h]
6 Flash forth lightning bolts and scatter my foes;
rout them with your arrows.[i]
7 Reach forth your hand[j] from on high;
deliver me and rescue me
from the mighty waters
and from the power of foreign foes
8 whose mouths utter lies[k]
and whose right hands are raised to swear to untruths.
9 [l]I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on a ten-stringed lyre I will play music for you.[m]
10 You grant victory to kings
and deliverance to your servant David from the cruel sword.[n]
11 Deliver me and rescue me
from the hands of foreign foes
whose mouths utter lies
and whose right hands are raised to swear to untruths.[o]
12 [p]May our sons in their youth
be like carefully nurtured plants,
and may our daughters be like pillars
designed to adorn a palace.[q]
13 May our barns be filled
with every kind of crop.
May our sheep increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields,[r]
14 and may our cattle be well fed.[s]
May there be no breach in our walls,
no going into exile,
no cries of distress in our streets.
15 Blessed are the people for whom this is true;
blessed[t] are the people whose God is the Lord.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 144:1 This psalm combines two compositions that are quite different in rhythm and tone. The first is suited to a royal liturgy and is drawn largely from Ps 18, a canticle of the king’s victories. The second part was originally a kind of fine painting to illustrate a time of prosperity. By the time of the final redaction of the psalm, the monarchy had disappeared, and the two compositions were combined into a hymn of the Messianic Hope.
    A new David will come, the true Messiah upon whom will rest the blessing of God for the benefit of the whole community. He will inaugurate an era of happiness and peace. The ancient images are nothing more than starting points, giving color and life to this prayer of expectation. The essential point is to preserve the hope of a humanity finally filled with the joy of God. It is in this vein that we can pray it with Christ in mind.
  2. Psalm 144:1 In jubilant language the psalmist praises God as the Redeemer-King who cares for him and watches over him, because he has the inherent weakness of all humans and is in need of help.
  3. Psalm 144:1 Blessed be the Lord: the psalm begins with the prayer of David in 1 Chr 29:10 and the prayers in Tob 3:11; 8:5, 15; 13:1 (see Dan 3:26; Lk 1:68; Eph 1:3). My Rock . . . for battle: see Ps 18:35, 47.
  4. Psalm 144:2 This verse reflects Ps 18:3, 48. My safeguard: literally, “my unfailing kindness” (see note on Ps 6:5).
  5. Psalm 144:3 This verse reflects Ps 8:5.
  6. Psalm 144:4 This verse is close to Ps 39:6-7 (see also Job 14:2).
  7. Psalm 144:5 The psalmist calls upon God to become involved and deliver him, to come as the Divine Warrior as he did at Sinai. There he came accompanied by volcanic eruption, thunder, and lightning to save his people (see Ex 19:11, 18f).
  8. Psalm 144:5 This verse takes up Pss 18:10; 104:32. It also reveals the anxious expectation of Israel, the prey of persecutors, and the hope of a divine intervention.
  9. Psalm 144:6 See Ps 18:15. Arrows: i.e., the Lord’s lightning that serves to rout the enemies and take away their power.
  10. Psalm 144:7 See Ps 18:17, 46. Hand: symbolic of the Lord’s power (see Ps 18:17), which is capable of rescuing the psalmist out of the mighty waters into which he is sinking, i.e., out of the clutches of foreigners. For the Lord, who has subdued the stormy seas (see Ps 65:8; Gen 1:2), can certainly overpower stormy foreign foes (see Isa 56:6; 61:5).
  11. Psalm 144:8 The enemies are completely opposed to the law of God and filled with lies, deceit, and wickedness. Mouths utter lies: see note on Ps 5:10. Right hands are raised to swear to untruths: see Ezr 10:19; see also Ps 106:26; Ex 6:8; Deut 32:40.
  12. Psalm 144:9 The psalmist makes a vow to praise the Lord for the expected victory.
  13. Psalm 144:9 This verse is close to Ps 33:2f (see Pss 40:4; 98:1; 149:1).
  14. Psalm 144:10 This verse takes up the conclusion of Ps 18. “My servant David” became a Messianic title (see Jer 33:21; Ezek 34:23ff; 37:24); it is found again in Pss 78:70; 89:4, 21.
  15. Psalm 144:11 The psalmist repeats the prayer in verses 7-8, probably as an introduction to verses 12-15.
  16. Psalm 144:12 The psalmist prays for the people, asking the Lord to bless their children, their lives, and their livelihoods. When the enemies are defeated, the rule of the Lord will reach its height and the Messianic blessings will pour in upon his people and upon the land. The blessings are described in terms that are understandable to a people whose main occupation was agriculture and cattle raising. Even the fortified cities will receive a Messianic blessing, that of invincibility.
  17. Psalm 144:12 The Hebrew text of this verse is obscure and its meaning uncertain. It may refer to the great strength of the sons and the physical beauty of the daughters.
  18. Psalm 144:13 Material abundance is a gift of God (see Lev 26:5; Deut 7:13).
  19. Psalm 144:14 May our cattle be well fed: other possible translations are: “may our oxen be heavy with flesh,” or “may our oxen be heavy with young,” or “may our chieftains be firmly established.”
  20. Psalm 144:15 Blessed are the people who experience the Lord’s ability to save, protect, and bless. Blessed: see note on Ps 1:1.

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