Tehillim: Psalm 70 – a Jewish interpretation

David prays in Psalm 70 that his enemies will be ashamed and humiliated because they shame him and rejoice in his troubles. Then the righteous will rejoice and sing songs and praises always. David seeks help from G-d. But how do we know that G-d offers salvation? Not all suffering can be explained. Sometimes there is pain, that is not a punishment and no recovery. We can only know that whatever happens is from G-d, that God is just and that He does not desire suffering. But until the end of days, we will have to face the ‘why’.

  • Text Psalm 70
  • Hebrew text of Psalm 70 – תהילים ע
  • Listen to Psalm 70
  • Commentary on Psalm 70 by Rabbi Yitzchok Rubin
  • Commentary by Rashi on Psalm 70
  • Further explanation of the above Jewish comments
  • Psalm 1 to 92


Text Psalm 70

For the conductor; of David, to mention. O G-d, [make haste] to save me; O Lord, hasten to my help. May those who seek my life be ashamed and humiliated; may those who wish my harm return and be put to shame. Let them return to the path of their shame, those who say, “Aha, aha.” May all who seek You rejoice and be glad, and may those who love Your salvation say continually, “May G‑d be magnified.” But I am poor and needy, O G-d, make haste; You are my help and my savior, O Lord, do not delay.

Hebrew text of Psalm 70 – תהילים ע

A-B To David the victor, to remember God, to save me, Jehovah, for my help, Husha. Let them dry up and dig up those who seek my soul, let them turn back and let the things of my evil be destroyed. D They will turn on their heels saying brother brother. O Jesus, and all who ask you will be happy in you and will always say, God, the lovers of your salvation, will be magnified. And I am poor and in need of God, help me and help me, O Lord, do not delay.

Listen to Psalm 70

Listen to Psalm 70 in Hebrew.

Commentary on Psalm 70 by Rabbi Yitzchok Rubin

King David sees himself as an emergency who needs quick help from HaShem. He asks G-d to test his worth. David fears his enemies who wish him harm and want to destroy his soul, which is connected to G-d. He asks G-d to make people who laugh at and humiliate him feel the shame of their actions.

The world is not a vacuum. It is meant to be filled with knowledge of G-d. The enemies of HaShem must not endanger everything that is holy. Jews are not allowed to be tourists in G-d’s world; they should praise G-d because He is good. Jews must turn to G-d at all times, not only when they are in danger, so that in times of despair they can feel HaShem’s ultimate deliverance. Every Jew experiences moments of fear and uncertainty. Then it is good to know that there is nothing other than G-d and that nothing more is needed than HaShem alone. Only He can offer salvation. With this knowledge, Jews can continue despite all the setbacks they encounter in their lives. David tells the Jews that they will be saved by HaShem. Every Jew must realize this so that when he is in difficulty, he knows where the truth lies.

Commentary by Rashi on Psalm 70

Per verse the commentary of Rashi, the Jewish Bible commentator who lived from 1040-1105. Rashi is considered the teacher of teachers. All traditional Jews regard Rashi as an authority on the Jewish Bible and Talmud. Hence it is important to record his commentary on the Psalms. Rashi uses new Hebrew supplemented with Old French words. His language is sometimes somewhat oracularly short. For further explanation it is wise to consult an orthodox Jewish rabbi.

Verse 1
For the conductor; of David, to mention.

from David, to mention : This is an expression of prayer, as (above 20:8): ,but we pray (נזכיר) in the name of the Lord our G-d., Likewise in (I) Chronicles (16:4): ,to call upon (להזכיר) ) and to give thanks to the Lord. In Midrash Psalms (70:1) I saw: this is similar to a king who became angry with his flock and the destroyed the sheepfold and took out the flock and the shepherd. Some time later he restored the flock and rebuilt the sheepfold, but he did not mention the shepherd. The shepherd said, ,Behold, the flock is restored and the sheepfold is rebuilt, but I am not mentioned., Likewise it says in the previous chapter: ,When G‑d saves Zion, etc., and they that love his name dwell therein . Behold, the sheepfold is built, and the flock is brought into it, but I am not mentioned. That’s why it says: From David, to mention. Oh G-d, to save me. ‘

Verse 4
Let them return to the path of their shame, those who say, ,Aha, aha.,

Let them return to the path of their shame : Measure by measure, as they did to me.

on the path : On that same path follows, en ses trazes, in (their) footsteps.

those who say : about me.

Aha : An expression of joy, when one sees that his wishes regarding his enemy have been fulfilled.

Verse 6
But I am poor and needy, O God, make haste; You are my help and my savior, O Lord, do not delay.

hasten me : to help [me].

Further explanation of the above Jewish comments

On paper, King David’s words seem easy to come across: seek God and He will save you. Yet many modern-day Jews have fallen away from their faith in G-d because of the Holocaust. How could G-d ever let this happen? However, this question is not an obstacle to faith in G-d, says Rabbi Dovid Dubov. If there is no G-d, you cannot ask that question. Without G-d, the Holocaust is not a theological question, but an explanation of how low man can descend. Then the question is not: where was G-d during the Holocaust? But rather, “where was man during the Holocaust?”

By the way, the Holocaust, however disgusting, was not something new. Jews had been persecuted for centuries and yet they remained faithful to their faith in G-d.

However, according to Rabbi Dovid Dubov, the Holocaust shows something new, namely that, despite the fact that people thought they no longer lived in the Middle Ages but rather were civilized, people cannot rely on their own intellect and their feelings of justice and justice. Often it was highly educated people who became murderers. Man must be responsible. The commandment, “Thou shalt not murder,” is to be presupposed upon, “I am the Lord thy G‑d.”

How do the great Jewish pious deal with suffering? We see that Abraham challenged the judgment of God and prayed that Sodom would not be handed over to you. This is one of the differences between Noah and Abraham. The former did not pray for his generation as the latter did. We also see David asking G-d questions, see Psalm 10, which according to most commentaries is a continuation of Psalm 9. We see Jacob physically preparing for war and also praying.

In Judaism, according to Chabad, Jews use all three approaches. For the ordinary Jew, however, it is Job’s attitude that he accepts. When someone dies, Jews recite the T ziduk HaDin, which contains quite a few verses from Job.

We see that the pious asked questions and did not want to accept the status quo. Although it usually came with acceptance. Furthermore, the law is that when a person needs something, he should pray for it. This is the core mitzvah of Tefillah (prayer). Asking and begging G-d to help.

The conclusion is that questions about suffering have not diminished faith in G-d according to Rabbi Dovid Dubov.

Psalm 1 to 92

Would you like to read more Psalms with a Jewish interpretation? Go to: Psalms 1 through 92.

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