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Questions From Readers

Questions From Readers

In the 2013 revision of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Psalm 144:12-15 applies to God’s people. The previous rendering applied this to the wicked foreigners, who are mentioned in verse 11. Why was the wording adjusted?

The Hebrew wording allows for both renderings. That said, the revised wording is based on the following factors:

  1. The revised wording has lexical and grammatical support. The connection between Psalm 144:12-15 and the preceding verses hangs on the meaning given to the first word in verse 12, which is the Hebrew term asher. Asher can be rendered in a number of ways. For example, it can be understood as a relative pronoun, such as “who” or “whom.” “Who” was the meaning given in the earlier rendering. As a result, the good things mentioned in verses 12 to 14 were applied to the wicked, who were mentioned in the preceding verses. However, asher can also indicate result or consequence and can be translated “that,” “so that,” or “then.” “Then” is the rendering used in the 2013 revision and in other Bible translations.

  2. The revised wording fits in well with the rest of the psalm. The use of “then” in verse 12 means that the blessings that follow in verses 12 to 14 are understood as applying to the righteous​—those who ask to be ‘rescued and saved’ from the wicked (verse 11). This adjustment is also reflected in verse 15, where the two occurrences of the word “happy” are now in parallel in a positive or complementary way. As a result, in both instances such happiness applies to the same people​—those “whose God is Jehovah!” Keep in mind, too, that the original Hebrew text had no punctuation, such as quotation marks. Hence, translators must determine the correct sense, taking into account the Hebrew poetic style, the context, and the related Bible passages.

  3. The revised wording harmonizes with other Bible passages that promise divine blessings for God’s faithful people. As a result of the adjusted rendering of the term asher, the psalm now reflects David’s well-founded hope that after God delivered the nation of Israel from its enemies, He would bless the people with happiness and prosperity. (Lev. 26:9, 10; Deut. 7:13; Ps. 128:1-6) For example, Deuteronomy 28:4 states: “Blessed will be your children and the fruit of your ground and the offspring of your livestock, your young cattle and sheep.” Indeed, during the reign of David’s son Solomon, the nation enjoyed unprecedented peace and prosperity. What is more, aspects of Solomon’s reign point forward to the rule of the Messiah.​—1 Ki. 4:20, 21; Ps. 72:1-20.

In conclusion, the adjusted wording in Psalm 144 does not change our understanding of Bible teachings. It does, however, make the whole psalm reflect more clearly the long-cherished hope of Jehovah’s servants​—the divine execution of the wicked followed by the establishment of lasting peace and prosperity for the righteous.​—Ps. 37:10, 11.