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Psalm 109: 6-19: The Prayer of Poet or the Curse of the Enemies?

Lee Il Rye 1

1서울신학대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Regarding the interpretation of Psalm 109:6-19, this research points out that, unlike the existing studies of the text, the interpretation of the text in Korean Bibles cannot shows the diversity of the interpretation of it due to the improper translation in Korean Bibles. To demonstrate this point, the researcher compares the conclusion derived from the existing studies of the text with Korean versions. The interpretational problem of Psalm 109:6-19 is highly important for the theological understanding. This paper reveals that there is a specific situation between the first (verses 1-5) and the second section (verses 6-19), and that the main active agent of the ‘verbal violence’ in the entreaty in regard to enemies in the first section is a variety of enemies. The differences of language and motive in both sections also explain the fact that the second section is the “curse of the enemies.” This conclusion suggests the ground for diverse and proper translations of Psalm 109:5-6 in Korean Bibles. The last part of verse 5 is translated as “repaid” in the Korean Bibles, which is forcefully supposed to connect with verse 6 in the form of reason and conclusion. Therefore, this is an improper translation to be avoided. Verses 1-5 are the begging of the poet and its source is the curse of the enemies in verses 6-19. Therefore, we need to interpret verse 5 as a complete sentence: “They repay goodness with evil and reward love with hatred.” In addition, the curse of the enemies in the first sentence of verse 6 can be interpreted as “let us hire bullies to harass him. Let us hire accuser on the right side.” Furthermore, the study related to verses 6-19 is not only giving a proposal to a proper translation of verse 5-6 but also demanding a re-examination of the translation of Psalm 109:20 in the Korean Bible. In verses 6-19, which form one section, the poet laments the actions of his enemies through a quotation form, who curse him. In verse 20 (colophon), the poet also uses his own words to precisely explain verses 6-19 once again. Therefore, we require to translate verse 20 as follows: “This is the curse of my enemies against me. They are those who spoke evil of me.”

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.