Psalm 12 v4 plural or singular

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Puritan Board Senior
A bit conflicted over this one. The context seems to suggest an individual's advancement or gain by flattery. As opposed to outright lying. Outright lying would involve others as false witnesses in a court case allowing the liar to prevail. That however does not seem to be the case here - it is an individual who advances himself through flattery.


Puritan Board Professor
Translation from the Hebrew, "Who (pl) have said, 'With our (pl) tongue we (pl) will prevail, our (pl) lips are our (pl) own, who is lord over us (pl)?'"

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
A bit conflicted over this one.
Hi Eoghan,

I've been going through Hengstenberg's three volumes on the Psalms. Maybe this will be helpful.

Psalm 12

Ver. 4. Who thus speak—to be supplied from the preceding verse: The Lord cut off: through our tongues we are strong,—all we wish, we can accomplish through our tongue. According to some, this exposition is unsuitable, for a twofold reason—ללשננו cannot signify “through our tongue;” and the verb has not in Hiph, an intransitive signification; it rather means corroboravit. We must hence translate: Our tongues will we endow with strength; we will so arm them with lies and calumnies, that no one will be in a condition to resist us. Still, however, the reasons against the first exposition are not decisive: ללשננו only needs to be rendered, “in respect to our tongue;” and הגביר may warrantably be taken in the sense of “acting vigorously,” the more readily, as the assertion, that it can only mean “to strengthen,” rests merely upon the single passage of Dan. 9:7, where it is connected, not as here with ל, but with the accusative. This exposition also is favoured by the connection and the parallelism. Not the purpose: “we will get strength for our tongues,” but only the declaration: “through our tongues we show ourselves to be strong,” suits the words, “the tongue which speaks big,” and especially “our lips are with us, who is Lord over us?” the second member of the verse. On the expression with us, J. H. Michaelis: nobis auxilio et praesto sunt; and on the expression, “who is Lord over us?” qui impediat, quod nobis placet et decretum fuit. Our lips impart to us such a power, that we can do what we will—by means of our lips we are omnipotent. (italics are in the original)

Hengstenberg, E. W. (1869). Commentary on the Psalms (Vol. 1, p. 190). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
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