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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 28

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Psalms 28:0


A Prayer for Help, and Praise For Its Answer Rejoicing in Answered Prayer Prayer for Deliverance From Personal Enemies (A Lament) A Prayer For Help Petition and Thanksgiving
MT Intro A Psalm of David.
Psalms 28:1-5 Psalms 28:1-2 Psalms 28:1-2 Psalms 28:1-3 Psalms 28:1
Psalms 28:2
Psalms 28:3-5 Psalms 28:3-5 Psalms 28:3
Psalms 28:4-5 Psalms 28:4
Psalms 28:5
Psalms 28:6-9 Psalms 28:6-7 Psalms 28:6-7 Psalms 28:6-7 Psalms 28:6
Psalms 28:7
Psalms 28:8-9 Psalms 28:8-9 Psalms 28:8-9 Psalms 28:8-9

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 28:1-5 1To You, O Lord, I call; My rock, do not be deaf to me, For if You are silent to me, I will become like those who go down to the pit. 2Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary. 3Do not drag me away with the wicked And with those who work iniquity, Who speak peace with their neighbors, While evil is in their hearts. 4Requite them according to their work and according to the evil of their practices; Requite them according to the deeds of their hands; Repay them their recompense. 5Because they do not regard the works of the Lord Nor the deeds of His hands, He will tear them down and not build them up.

Psalms 28:1-5 There is some disagreement of how to divide the strophes in this Psalm (look at front page of this chapter). NASB has Psalms 28:1-5, Psalms 28:6-9, so I will use it. The first strophe is a lament and the second a psalm of thanksgiving.

The psalmist prays for

1. YHWH to hear him when he prays

2. YHWH not to drag him away like the wicked

In Psalms 28:4 he uses three imperatives to describe what God should do to the wicked.

1. give them (BDB 678, KB 733, Qal imperative) according to their deeds (cf. Job 34:11; Psalms 62:12; Proverbs 24:12; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 32:19; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 2:6; Romans 14:12; 1 Corinthians 3:8; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Galatians 6:7-10; 2 Timothy 4:14; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 2:23; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 22:12)

2. give them according to their evil practices (verb assumed from #1)

3. give them (same verb as #1) according to their actions (lit. “work of their hands”)

4. reward (BDB 996, KB 1427, Hiphil imperative) them dire reward (lit. “dealings,” BDB 168)

Psalms 28:1 “My rock” This imagery speaks of permanence, strength, stability, protection (see full note at Psalms 18:2).

“do not. . .” These are two imperfects used in a jussive sense.

Psalms 28:1. Psalms 28:1 do not be deaf, BDB 361 II, cf. Psalms 35:22; Psalms 39:12; Psalms 83:1; Psalms 109:1 (parallel to “silent,” BDB 364)

Psalms 28:2. Psalms 28:2 do not drag me away, BDB 604 (i.e., possibly like an animal or a prisoner of war)

“the pit” The term (BDB 92, cf. Psalms 88:4; Psalms 143:7; Proverbs 28:17) is a synonym for Sheol. See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead?. It probably related to

1. a dug grave (cf. Isaiah 14:9; Ezekiel 32:25)

2. a hole in the hill for burial

3. an opening which goes into Sheol (cf. Psalms 30:3; Proverbs 1:12; Isaiah 14:15; Isaiah 38:18; Ezekiel 26:20)

Psalms 28:2 “When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary” This gesture has several connotations.

1. an act of blessing after a sacrifice by a priest Leviticus 9:22 (i.e., some sacrifices were lifted up to YHWH)

2. an act on the part of a worshiper after a sacrifice of incense Psalms 141:2

3. a gesture toward the sanctuary Psalms 134:2

4. a posture of prayer, hands raised, cf. Exodus 9:29 (Moses); 1 Kings 8:22 (Solomon); Lamentations 2:19; Lamentations 3:41 (Israel); Luke 24:50 (Jesus); 1 Timothy 2:8 (believers)

5. a posture for praise, adoration, or public confession Psalms 63:4

6. a way to show YHWH's power as His staff was lifted up in Moses' hands (cf. Exodus 17:8-12)

Here it is meant to symbolize a clean life (cf. 1 Timothy 2:8), open to God and a life that recognizes its need to receive from God (see negative usage in Psalms 44:20).

NASB“toward Your holy sanctuary” NASB margin, NRSV footnote“the innermost place” NJB“Holy of Holies” JPSOA“inner sanctuary” LXX“court” REB“shrine”

This Hebrew term (BDB 184 I) basically means “back part,” “innermost.” In 1 Kings 6:16, 1 Kings 6:19, 1 Kings 6:20, 1 Kings 6:21, 1 Kings 6:22, 1 Kings 6:23, 1 Kings 6:31; 1 Kings 7:49; 1 Kings 8:6, 1 Kings 8:8 it refers to the Holy of Holies (cf. Exodus 26:31-35), where the ark of the covenant stood between Solomon's giant cherubim.

Faithful followers in the Old Covenant faced the temple (cf. 1 Kings 8:0, Solomon's great prayer at the dedication of the Temple) when they prayed because it was there that YHWH dwelt between the wings of the cherubim. It was where heaven and earth met. The ark of the covenant was YHWH's footstool.

However, in the New Covenant, God is present in all places (cf. John 4:20-24). The new temple is Jesus (cf. John 2:19, John 2:21)!

Psalms 28:3, Psalms 28:5 “Because. . .” Verses Psalms 28:3 and 5 list the activities and attitudes of the wicked (i.e., practical atheists).

1. who work iniquity, Psalms 28:3

2. who speak peace to their neighbor but have evil in their hearts (see SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART)

3. who do not regard the works of God, Psalms 28:5 (God's people must “regard” who He is by what He has done, cf. Deuteronomy 32:7; Psalms 107:43; Hosea 14:9)

4. who do not regard the deeds of God (parallel), Psalms 28:5; Psalms 28:5, cf. Isaiah 5:12

Psalms 28:5 The last line of Psalms 28:5 tells what God will do to them (compare Jeremiah 1:10).

1. tear them down BDB 248, KB 256, Qal imperfect, Psalms 28:5; Psalms 28:5

2. not build them up BDB 124, KB 139, Qal imperfect, negated, Psalms 28:5

The three imperfects of Psalms 28:5 denote the continuous actions of the wicked. Their lives are characterized by ignoring God and hurting others, therefore, God's judgments are also ongoing (i.e., perennial destruction, cf. Isaiah 6:9-10; Jeremiah 1:10).

Verses 6-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 28:6-9 6Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication. 7The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. 8The Lord is their strength, And He is a saving defense to His anointed. 9Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.

Psalms 28:6-9 A radical mood swing occurs at verse Psalms 28:6. This strophe spells out the reasons why YHWH is to be blessed (Psalms 28:6a).

1. He hears his prayer

2. He is both his strength and shield

3. He is his refuge

In verses Psalms 28:8 and 9 the focus changes from the King (i.e., “His anointed”) to His covenant people. As YHWH saved the King, may he now save His people! This fluidity between the singular and plural is common in the Psalms.

“Blessed be the Lord” This is a recurrent theme in the Psalms. He is blessed by His faithful followers for many reasons, but all of them come back to who He is and what He has done! This phrase became a liturgical formula (cf. Psalms 18:46; Psalms 28:6; Psalms 31:21; Psalms 41:13; Psalms 66:20; Psalms 68:35; Psalms 72:18; Psalms 89:52; Psalms 106:48; Psalms 119:12; Psalms 124:6; Psalms 135:21; Psalms 144:1). Let all that has breath praise the Lord!

Psalms 28:7 As Psalms 28:3 and 5 describe the wicked, Psalms 28:7 describes the faithful follower.

1. his heart trusts in Him BDB 105, KB 1200, Qal perfect, cf. Psalms 112:7 (note the theological connection between human's trust and divine deliverance/salvation, cf. Psalms 22:4-5; Psalms 25:1-3; Psalms 28:7; Psalms 31:14-15; Psalms 86:2; see note at NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 646)

2. he is helped by God BDB 740, KB 810, Niphal perfect

3. his heart exults BDB 759, KB 831, Qal imperfect with waw

4. he thanks Him with song BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect (continual praise)

Just a brief comment about the MT verses the LXX. There was probably a more ancient Hebrew text behind both of them. There are MSS in the DSS that follow the MT and others follow the LXX. The early church used the LXX almost exclusively. Psalms 28:7 is a good example of their translating a different Hebrew text. The LXX has (see note in AB, p. 173)

“The Lord is my helper and my protector; in him my heart hoped,

And I was helped and my flesh revived, and from my will I shall acknowledge him.”

“shield” See note at Psalms 3:3-6.

Psalms 28:8 “their” The UBS Text Project (p. 208) gives “to His people” a “C” rating (i.e., considerable doubt).

1. to them למו (NKJV, JPSOA)

2. to His people לעמו (NRSV, TEV, NJB, REB)

The Septuagint uses #2, as do some Hebrew manuscripts. Apparently one Hebrew letter has fallen out of the MT.

“His anointed” See similar usage in Psalms 18:50. See SPECIAL TOPIC: MESSIAH.

Psalms 28:9 There is a series of imperatives directed in prayer to YHWH, beseeching Him to act on behalf of the covenant people.

1. save BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative, cf. Psalms 106:47, see Special Topic: Salvation (OT)

2. bless BDB 138, KB 159, Piel imperative, see Special Topic: Blessed (OT)

3. shepherd BDB 944, KB 1258, Qal imperative (The NASB Study Bible [p. 765] makes the comment that “shepherd” links up with Psalms 23:0 and probably marks off Psalm 23-28 as a collection of psalms linked by several common themes)

4. carry (i.e., “lift up”), Piel imperative, cf. Isaiah 40:11; Isaiah 63:9

Several Psalms close with a corporate focus (i.e., Psalms 3:8; Psalms 14:7; Psalms 25:22; Psalms 29:11; Psalms 51:18-19; Psalms 130:8).

“Your inheritance” YHWH gave a land allotment to all the nations (cf. Deuteronomy 32:9), but the descendants of Abraham were His special people (cf. Exodus 19:5-6; 1 Kings 8:51; Psalms 33:12). He showed this by His promised exodus out of Egypt (cf. Genesis 15:12-21). He displayed His power and love (cf. Deuteronomy 9:29). Moses beseeched YHWH not to judge His sinful people because the pagan nations would not understand (cf. Deuteronomy 9:26-29). His people were meant to reveal His character to all nations (see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan). But if they continued in sin and idolatry there was rejection (cf. Psalms 106:40; Ezekiel 36:22-23).

“forever” See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the OT view of death?

2. Is Psalms 28:4 the same truth as Galatians 6:7?

3. Is Psalms 28:5c related to Isaiah 6:9-10 or Jeremiah 1:10?

4. Why do psalms that reflect an individual's thoughts and situation end in communal imperatives?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 28". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-28.html. 2021.
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