flips' God Blog

Psa. 37:3–4 — New Depths Discovered in Translation Differences

It’s quite interesting and also surprising for me sometimes to notice how differently the old Hebrew scriptures are translated. I think this is especially true of the Psalms. This might be confusing and you might start to fear that you’re missing important parts. (I generally believe you get the main points correct in most translations, and whatever a translation misses, the Holy Spirit will reveal, as we can’t really understand any of this correctly without revelation from Him.)

But the Hebrew language being so rich and the text so difficult to understand, may also be considered a good thing, because those who search and dig will discover new depths. And a few days ago I found the verses 3-7 in Psalm 37 to be particularly interesting. In this post I will only dig into verses 3 and 4.

Let’s look at verse 3 first (all emphasis is mine):
HCSB:
Trust in the LORD and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely.
NET:
Trust in the LORD and do what is right! Settle in the land and maintain your integrity!
NLT-SE:
Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
NKJV:
Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
AMP:
Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.
YNG:
Trust in Jehovah, and do good, Dwell [in] the land, and enjoy faithfulness,
NAS95:
Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
It seems like New Living Translation and Amplified is the only two who says that the last part is a consequence of trusting in the Lord and doing good. So I guess you can’t always tell in Hebrew if something is a consequence of or in addition to something else.

An interesting root, making it challenging, is probably H7462 Hebrew Letters for ra'a / “ra’a” which seems to have lots of different meanings:

to tend a flock; i.e. pasture it; intransitively, to graze (literally or figuratively); generally to rule; by extension, to associate with (as a friend): — x break, companion, keep company with, devour, eat up, evil entreat, feed, use as a friend, make friendship with, herdman, keep (sheep)(-er), pastor, + shearing house, shepherd, wander, waste.


And then in verse 4:

HCSB:
Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.
NET:
Then you will take delight in the LORD, and he will answer your prayers.
AMP:
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.

I find The NET Bible to be interesting here. It says that the answers to prayers is a result of verse 3. The NET translation has very useful notes, and this is explained in the notes to verse 4:
Following the imperatives of v. 3 the prefixed verbal forms with vav in v. 4 indicate result. Faith and obedience (v. 3) will bring divine blessing (v. 4).