PSALMS 3      Other translations  -  previous  -  next  -  meaning  -  Psalms  -  BM Home  -  Full Page


A Psalm of David, when he fled from the face of Absalom his son.

  1. jehovah, how are mine enemies multiplied! Many are they that rise up against me;
  2. Many that say of my soul. There is no help for him in god. Selah.
  3. But you, O jehovah, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter up of my head.
  4. With my voice will I call on jehovah; and he will hear me from the mountain of his holiness. Selah.
  5. I will lie down and sleep; I will awake; because jehovah sustains me.
  6. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of the people, who set themselves round about against me.
  7. Arise, O jehovah; save me, O my god; for you have smitten all mine adversaries on the jaw bone; you have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
  8. Salvation belongs to jehovah; your blessing is upon your people. Selah.

The Internal Sense

Concerning the lord, when he was in temptations and subdued the hells, and was then in a state of humiliation in which he prayed to the Father.


A Psalm of David, etc. Many kinds of musical instruments were used, in sacred worship, with the Jewish and Israelitish nation, of which some were applied to the affections of celestial good, and some to the affections of spiritual good, and to the joys thence derived, which were thus published abroad. The stringed instruments were applied to the affections of spiritual good, and the wind instruments to the affections of celestial good, to which also was added singing with songs, by which were formed agreements of things with sounds of the affections: of this nature were all the Psalms of David, wherefore they are called Psalms, (psalmi), from playing, (psallere), and also songs. Hence, many of the Psalms of David are in the titles called songs. See Psalm 18:1, Ps 33:1, 2, and many others. AE 326.

Verse 1. How are mine enemies multiplied, etc. In this, and in several other passages, by enemies and insurgents, or those who rise up against us, are signified the evils and falsities which are from hell; they are called insurgents, because evils and falsities rise up against goods and truths, but not vice versa. AC 10481.

Verse 3. Are a shield for me. That a shield signifies defence, to be confided in against evils and falsities, appears without explication; for it is a customary form of speech rendered familiar by use, to call Jehovah a shield and buckler. But what is specifically signified by a shield, may appear from the Word, namely that in respect to the Lord it signifies defence, and in respect to man, confidence in the Lord's protection. As war signifies temptations, (see 1664), so all the arms used in war signify some particular belonging to temptation, and to defence against evils and crew falsities, or against the diabolical who induce temptation, and act the part of the tempter; wherefore each kind of weapon or armour has a distinct signification peculiar to itself, whether it: be a shield, a buckler, a helmet, a spear, a lance, a sword, a bow and arrows, or a breast-plate, concerning each of which, by the Divine mercy of the Lord, more will be said hereafter. The reason why a shield, in respect to the Lord, signifies defence against evils and falsities, and in respect to man, confidence in the Lord, is because it was a piece of armour for the security of the breast, and by the breast is signified goodness and truth; goodness by reason of the heart being therein, and truth, by reason of the lungs. That a shield has this signification appears in David: "Blessed be Jehovah, my rock, who teaches my hands to war, my fingers to fight, my goodness and my fortress, my high tower, and my deliverer, my shield, and he in whom I trust." Psalm 144:1, 2. AC 1788.

Verse 5. I will lie down and sleep, denotes a state of tranquillity and security. For with those who are about to be regenerated, the case is this: First of all they are in a state of tranquillity, or in a state of external peace; for external peace, or peace in externals, is called tranquillity: it is produced also from a divine state of peace, which is inmost; and it exists in externals in consequence of lusts and falsities being removed; for these are what cause all unquietness. Every man, also, is in a state of tranquillity in the beginning of his life, or in infancy; but in proportion as he advances in life, or grows up, he removes himself from that state, because he plunges into worldly cares, and thereby into anxieties, through lusts of selfish and worldly love, and the falsities thence derived. The case is nearly similar with the new life belonging to the man who is regenerating. In the beginning he is in a state of tranquillity; but as he passes into new life, so also he passes into an untranquil state: for the evils and falsities which he had before imbibed, emerge and show themselves, and disturb him, and at length to such a degree, that he is immersed in temptations and vexations from the diabolical crew, who are in the continual endeavour to destroy the state of this new life. But still he has inmostly a state of peace; for unless this were the case, he would not engage in combat: for he looks continually at this peace, in the combats in which he is engaged, as the end, and unless he had that end in view, he would have no strength and power to fight. Hence also it is that he gains the victory, and, after combats, or temptations, comes into that end. AC 3696.

Verse 7. You have smitten all mine adversaries on the jaw-bone; you have broken the teeth of the ungodly. To smite the adversaries on the jaw-bone, signifies to destroy interior false principles belonging to those who are against the goods and truths of the church. These, and their falsities of evil, are understood in the Word by adversaries. And to break the teeth of the ungodly, signifies to destroy exterior false principles, which are those that are founded on the fallacies of the senses, and are confirmed by them. Hence may be manifest what is meant by smiting on the right cheek, in Matthew, where it is written, "You has heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you. Resist not evil, but whoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any one will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. And whoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two. Give to every one that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you, turn not you away." (Matt 5:38-42.) That these words are not to be understood according to the letter, is evident to every one: for who is bound by Christian love to turn the left cheek to him who smites the right, and to give the cloak to him who desires to take away the coat? In short, who is there to whom it is not allowable to resist evil? But as all things that the Lord spoke were in themselves divine celestial things, it may be manifest that a celestial sense is contained in these words, as in the rest which the lord spoke. The reason why it was enacted as a law amongst the sons of Israel, that they should give an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, (Exod 21:23, 24; Levit 22:20; Deut 19:21), was, because they were external men, and hence only in the representatives of heavenly things, and not in the heavenly things themselves; hence neither in charity, patience, nor in any other spiritual good: therefore they were in the law of retaliation. For the heavenly law, and hence the Christian law, is what the lord taught when he said in the Evangelists, "All things whatever you would that men should do to you, even so do you to them: for this is the law and the prophets." (Matt 7:12, Luke 6:30.) As this is the law in heaven, and from heaven in the church, hence also all evil carries with it corresponding punishment which is called the punishment of evil, and is, as it were, inherently conjoined with evil itself. From this flowed the punishment of retaliation; which was dictated to the sons of Israel because they were external men, and not internal.

Internal men, such as are the angels of heaven, do not will the recompense of evil for evil, but from heavenly charity forgive. For they know that the lord protects all who are in good against the evil, and that he protects them according to the good belonging to them, and that he would not protect them, if, by reason of the evil done to themselves, they should be inflamed with enmity, hatred, and revenge; for these evils avert his protection. These therefore are the things involved in what the lord said: but what they signify, it may be expedient to declare in order. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, signifies that so far as any one takes from another the understanding of truth, and the sense of truth, so far these will be taken away from him. By an eye is signified the understanding of truth, and by a tooth, the sense of truth; for a tooth signifies what is true and false as it appertains to the sensual man. That he who is in Christian good, will permit an evil person to take those things away so far as he can, is described by what the lord replies on the same subject. That evil is not to be resisted, signifies that it is not to be fought with in return, nor to be repaid: for the angels do not fight with the evil, still less do they repay evil for evil; but they permit the evil to do it, because they are protected by the lord, and hence no evil from hell can hurt them. "Whosoever smites you on your right jaw-bone, turn to him the other also," signifies that if any one be willing to do hurt to the perception and understanding of interior truth, it is permitted, so far as he makes the attempt. By the jaw-bone is signified the perception and understanding of interior truth, by the right jaw-bone, the affection, and thence the perception thereof, and by the left jaw-bone, the understanding thereof; and because mention is made of the jaw-bone, therefore also mention is made of smiting it, by which is meant to do hurt to it. For all things which belong to the mouth, as the throat, the mouth, the lips, the jaw-bones, and the teeth, signify such things as belong to the perception and understanding of truth, because they correspond to them; wherefore they are expressed by those things in the literal sense of the Word, which consists of mere correspondences. AE 556; see also AC 8223, 9048.

By teeth are signified the exterior intellectual principle, and hence natural truth; for this constitutes the life of that intellectual principle. The reason of this signification is because the teeth grind, as it were, and thus prepare the food, which is for the nourishment of the body, as that principle does the food, which is for the nourishment of the soul. The food which nourishes the soul is intelligence and wisdom. This is at first received, ground, and prepared, by the knowledges of truth and goodness in the natural principle, In the opposite sense, teeth signify the false principle destroying truth, as in David: "Arise, O jehovah, save me O my god for you have smitten all mine enemies on the jaw-bone; you have broken the teeth of the ungodly." AC 9052.

The Translator's Notes and Observations

Verse 7. Arise, O jehovah, save me, O my god. In these words the divine being, or the lord, is called and characterised by two distinct names, jehovah and god, because the first name, or jehovah, has more reference to the divine good of his divine love, whilst the second, or god, has more reference to the divine truth of his divine wisdom. This distinct reference of the two names, jehovah and god, might be fully proved, if necessary, from their distinct application in other passages of the Sacred Scriptures, and especially from this circumstance; that the name jehovah is uniformly used on all occasions where the exercise of the good of the divine mercy and love is described; whilst the name god is used on all occasions where the exercise of the divine truth is described; as in all cases of judgement, consisting in the separation of the evil from the good, that so the former may be removed to their own place, and the latter may be exalted to theirs. Accordingly, in the present instance, jehovah, or the Divine good of the divine mercy and love, is first invoked, as being the first and principal object of man's interest and regard; whilst the invocation is expressed in the single emphatic term, arise, because the elevation of that good above all other goods in human minds, is the chief and pre-eminent end of their regeneration; and at the same time, is their exclusive qualification to be admitted into the kingdom of bliss. god, or the divine truth of the Divine wisdom, is next invoked, and the invocation is expressed in the affecting words, save me; because to be saved is to be delivered from the tyranny of all evil and false principles, thus from all the power of the enemy; which salvation can never be effected, until heavenly truth in the understanding be united with heavenly good in the will, and thus communicates to man that spiritual strength of which it is written, "The god of Israel is he that gives strength and power to his people; blessed be God." Psalm 68:35. For heavenly good separate from heavenly truth is powerless; as heavenly truth, separate from heavenly good, is lifeless; and consequently no saving effect can possibly be worked, except by both united.

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