Psalm Nineteen – Translation of the Song

19,1 For the Leader. A Song by David.
19,2 The heavens tell God’s glory and the act of His hands is narrated by the sky.
19,3 Day surges speech to day and night shares knowledge with night;
19,4 There is no speech and there are no utterances; yet, without sound, their voice is heard.
19,5 In all the land their hope emerges, like the horizon, and their words to the edge of the world.
In their midst He has put a tent for the sun,
19,6 it is like a groom emerging from his canopy, like a hero exuberantly, about to run its course,
19,7 from the edge of the heavens, and its revolution to the ends of it; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
19,8 The Torah of ADONAI, perfect, reviving the soul; the covenant of ADONAI, steadfast, giving wisdom to the simple.
19,9 The precepts of ADONAI, upright, gladdening the heart; the command of ADONAI, clear, sending light to the eyes.
19,10 Awe for ADONAI, pure, standing forever; the statutes of ADONAI, true, altogether just.
19,11 Coveted more than gold, than bountiful fine gold; and sweeter than honey and the flowing of the honey.
19,12 Indeed Your servant is careful with them; in guarding them follows bountiful reward.
19,13 Errors, who can understand? Of ones hidden cleanse me.
19,14 Indeed spare Your servant deliberate malice, let it not govern within me;
then will I become perfect, and I will be cleansed of great offences.
19,15 May You will the speeches of my mouth and the logic of my heart, ADONAI my creator and my redeemer.  

Notes on Translation, Psalm 19:

  1. 2: the Hebrew word, [הַשָּׁמַיִם], translated here as “heavens”, describes a space beyond earth. “Sky”, however, has a more specific, contained meaning in Hebrew. [הָרָקִיעַ] connotes a dome or covering over the earth.


  1. 3: the verb “surges”, in Hebrew [יַבִּיעַ], has the connotation in Hebrew of singing.


  1. 3: the Hebrew for “shares”, [יְחַוֶּה], has the same root as the Hebrew word for “experience”.


  1. 4: “utterances” is, in Hebrew, [דְּבָרִים], the same word used for “commandments” as it in the description, ”The Ten Commandments”. Its sense, in Hebrew, is of speech rather than the English denotation of “orders” or “laws”.


  1. 5: the English “horizon” translates the Hebrew word קַוָּם, which actually means “line”. That is, the description is of the apparent line separating heaven and earth. “Line” has, in Hebrew, the same root as “hope”, so that, in Hebrew, the image is of a line of hope, bridging the two seemingly disparate places.


  1. 5: the Hebrew word, [אֹהֶל], translated here as “tent”, has the same root as the Hebrew for “lamp-shade”. The image is of the sky and heavens acting as a shade for the light of the sun. The earth, then, is not what is shaded from the sun’s heat. Rather, the sun, blazing, has, above it, the covering of the heavens.


  1. 7: “revolution” has, in Hebrew, the connotation of both space and time – [וּתְקוּפָתוֹ]; it shares a common root with the Hebrew for both “power” and “validity”.


  1. 8: the Hebrew word [מְשִׁיבַת], translated here as “reviving”, has the root of the Hebrew for “return”, suggesting the image of the soul leaving and returning to the body, in a reversal of the usual sequence of birth and death.


  1. 8: “covenant”, [עֵדוּת], here has the meaning of “witnessing” or “testimony”, unlike psalm 6 verse 5 where “covenant” is suggested in the use of the word for “compassion”.


  1. 10: the Hebrew for “just”, [צָדְקוּ], implies compassion and righteousness, suggesting a justice that is tempered.


  1. 12: the Hebrew [נִזְהָר], translated here as “careful”, shares a common root with the Hebrew for “shine”. The suggestion, then, in Hebrew, is of illumination, of a light that is the radiance of righteousness.


  1. 14: the Hebrew is ambiguous: the “malice” can be that of those who want to harm the singer or cause him to harm himself by sinning (accordingly, the pronoun, in the phrase following, is, in the Hebrew, plural, not singular. Clarity, in English, demands “it”, rather than the literal “them”.) Or, “malice” can identify the nature of the sins themselves; that is, sins that are intentional, and thereby the acts of a malicious will.


  1. 14: ambiguity again closes the verse: “great” in Hebrew, [רָב], can describe either quantity or quality; can mean, that is, either a large number of offenses or offences that are serious ones. The ambiguity resolves, however, as we understand that a great many offenses are surely a serious deviation from the “precepts” and “statutes” of God that the singer is extolling.


  1. 15: the Hebrew word translated here as “logic”, [וְהֶגְיוֹן], also has the meaning, in the Torah, of “chanting”. Thus the image suggested in Hebrew is of the singer’s heart beating to God’s will, its beats themselves mimicking the swaying motion so often accompanying the chanting of Jewish prayers.


  1. 15: the Hebrew for “creator”, [צוּרִי], can mean “fashioner” (in the sense of shaping, sculpting, or painting), thus describing the activity of creating as well as naming that activity. But, unique to the Hebrew, the word can also mean “rock”, defining, at the same time, both aspects of creation –creator and created (see “Commentary, Psalm 19”).

These translations are by Rabbi Maccabi and Dr. Rosenberg. The translations are as close to the literal Hebrew as possible.

Click here to study “Literary analysis of Psalm XXX”

King James Psalms 19 Translation:

[1] The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
[2] Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
[3] There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
[4] Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
[5] Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
[6] His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
[7] The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
[8] The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
[9] The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
[10] More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
[11] Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
[12] Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
[13] Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
[14] Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.