acrostic in Psalm 119

The Hebrew text of Psalm 119 uses an acrostic that separates the 176 verses into 22 sections of 8 verses each, all starting with the same successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Some Bible translations note this by using the Hebrew letters or their transcriptions as section titles, others, including the translation into Natügu (see here ) or the Hungarian translations by Szenczi Molnár Albert from 1606 (see here) or by Hajdók János from 1978 (see here ), use a different letter of their alphabet for the first line of each of the sections.

The Danish Bibelen på Hverdagsdansk (publ. 1985, rev. 2015 et al.) translated Psalm 119 into an acrostic in which each of the verses in each section starts with the same letter, although not following the successive order of the Danish alphabet.

Click or tap here for the complete psalm in Danish

1 Velsignede er de, som gør Guds vilje,
alle de, som adlyder Herrens love.
2 Velsignede er de, som holder fast ved hans bud,
og søger ham af hele deres hjerte.
3 Vi ved, at han ønsker, vi skal følge hans vej,
derfor vælger vi at gøre hans vilje.
4 Vi kender dine befalinger, Herre,
som du forventer, vi følger til punkt og prikke.
5 Hvor ville jeg dog inderligt ønske,
at jeg kunne følge dine bud uden at vakle.
6 Ved at fokusere på alle dine befalinger
undgår jeg at blive gjort til skamme.
7 Vore hjerter bryder ud i tak,
når vi forstår dine retfærdige love.
8 Vær tålmodig med mig,
for jeg ønsker at adlyde dine bud.
9 Jeg opfordrer de unge til at følge dit ord,
for det hjælper dem til at blive på din vej.
10 Jeg søger dig af hele mit hjerte,
lad mig ikke fare vild fra dine bud.
11 Jeg gemmer dit ord i mit hjerte
for ikke at synde imod dig.
12 Jeg lover og priser dig, Herre,
lær mig alle dine lovbud.
13 Jeg gentager igen og igen
alle de bud, du har givet mig.
14 Jeg glæder mig over dine befalinger,
som var de alverdens rigdomme.
15 Jeg grunder over dine formaninger
og holder fast ved dine forskrifter.
16 Jeg glæder mig over din vejledning
og vil aldrig glemme dit ord.
17 Lad mig få øjnene op for din godhed,
så jeg kan tjene dig hele mit liv.
18 Luk mine øjne op, så jeg kan se
de vidunderlige ting i din lov.
19 Livet her på jorden er kort,
og jeg har brug for dine love til at lede mig.
20 Længslen efter at kende dig ligger i mit hjerte,
mind mig om dine love hver eneste dag.
21 Lovløse mennesker, der gør oprør mod dig,
vil blive dømt for deres egenrådige stolthed.
22 Lad dem ikke hovere over mig,
fordi jeg adlyder dine bud.
23 Lederne i samfundet bagtaler mig,
men jeg vil tjene dig og handle på dit ord.
24 Lovene, du har givet mig, gør mig glad,
og jeg ønsker at følge din vejledning.
25 Jeg er nedslået og fortvivlet.
Giv mig nyt mod ved dit ord.
26 Jeg fortalte dig det hele, og du hjalp mig.
Lær du mig nu dine principper.
27 Jeg vil gerne forstå hensigten med dine bud,
og jeg beundrer dine gode love.
28 Jeg føler mig så udkørt og trist.
Styrk mig ved dit ord.
29 Jeg vil altid være ærlig over for dig,
lad din lov forvandle min karakter.
30 Jeg har valgt at være trofast,
sat mig for at følge dine lovbud.
31 Jeg klynger mig til dit ord,
for jeg ved, du ikke skuffer mig, Herre.
32 Jeg vil ivrigt adlyde alle dine bud,
for du har givet mig viljen til at gøre det.
33 Lær mig at følge dine love, Herre,
så jeg altid er lydig imod dem.
34 Lad mig vokse i forståelsen af din lov,
så jeg kan holde den af hele mit hjerte.
35 Led mig fremad på lydighedens vej,
for at følge dine bud er min lyst.
36 Lad mit hjertes ønske være at følge dit ord
i stedet for at stræbe efter penge og profit.
37 Livet uden dig er ikke andet end tomhed,
men at følge dit ord giver mig indhold i livet.
38 Lad mig hvile i troen på dine løfter,
som gælder alle, der adlyder dig.
39 Lad dem, der håner mig, blive til skamme,
for jeg ved, at dine bud er gode.
40 Længslen efter dine love ligger i mit hjerte,
hjælp mig til altid at efterleve dem.
41 Du har lovet at redde mig, Herre.
Vis mig nu din trofasthed og grib ind.
42 Det er dit ord, jeg har sat min lid til.
Giv mig et svar til dem, der håner mig.
43 Det, at du redder mig og griber ind,
vil bevise, at det, jeg har sagt om dig, er sandt.
44 Da vil jeg altid holde din lov,
både nu og til evig tid.
45 Det giver mig en vældig frimodighed,
at jeg bygger mit liv på dine love.
46 Derfor skammer jeg mig ikke over dit ord,
men forkynder det frimodigt selv for konger.
47 Det er en stor glæde at kende dine bud.
Åh, hvor jeg elsker dem.
48 Dagligt rækker jeg hænderne ud efter dem.
Det fryder mig at kunne meditere over dem.
49 Herre, jeg tjener dig i tillid til dine løfter,
for det er dem, der giver mig håb.
50 Hver gang jeg kommer ud for modstand,
giver dit ord mig nyt mod på livet.
51 Hån og spot hagler ned over mig,
men jeg holder fast ved dit ord.
52 Herre, jeg holder mig dine bud for øje,
de har stået deres prøve, og de giver mig trøst.
53 Harmen vælder op i mig,
når de gudløse gør nar af dine bud.
54 Hvor jeg end opholder mig,
hylder jeg dine befalinger med glæde.
55 Herre, selv om natten tænker jeg på dig,
også da vil jeg adlyde dine bud.
56 Hver dag vil jeg følge dine bud,
for det giver mig glæde i livet.
57 Jeg bygger mit liv på dig, Herre,
og jeg har besluttet at følge dine bud.
58 Jeg beder dig af hele mit hjerte:
vær nådig imod mig, som du har lovet.
59 Jeg har gjort status over mit liv
og har valgt at rette mig efter dit ord.
60 Jeg vil ikke vente eller tøve,
men straks gøre det, du siger, jeg skal.
61 Jeg vil aldrig glemme din lov,
selv om de gudløse prøver at få mig i fælden.
62 Jeg kan stå op midt om natten
for at takke dig for dine gode love.
63 Jeg er ven med alle, der tjener dig
og overholder dine forordninger.
64 Jorden er fuld af din trofasthed, Herre,
lær mig at forstå dine bud til bunds.
65 Du har holdt dit løfte, Herre.
Du har velsignet mig som din tjener.
66 Dine befalinger og bud er gode,
lær mig at forstå dem og bruge dem ret.
67 Der var engang, hvor jeg gik mine egne veje,
men du ydmygede mig, og nu følger jeg dit ord.
68Du er god og gør altid det gode.
Hjælp mig at adlyde dine befalinger.
69 Det kan godt være, de gudløse bagtaler mig,
men jeg vil helhjertet holde din lov.
70 De er både tykhovedede og stivnakkede,
men at adlyde dit ord giver mig glæde.
71 Det var godt, at du ydmygede mig,
så jeg kunne lære at overholde dine bud.
72 Dit ord er mere værd for mig
end guld og sølv i dynger.
73 Dine hænder formede min krop.
Giv mig nu forstand til at fatte dine bud.
74 De gudfrygtige hilser mig med glæde,
for jeg har sat min lid til dit ord.
75 Dine domme er retfærdige, det ved jeg,
du ydmygede mig for mit eget bedste.
76 Din nåde og barmhjertighed rejste mig op igen,
akkurat som du havde lovet din tjener.
77 Din nåde gav mig nyt livsmod,
for jeg elsker trods alt dine bud.
78 De hovmodige spottere bliver gjort til skamme,
for de bagtaler mig uden grund.
Men jeg vil grunde over dine befalinger.
79 De der kender dine bud og adlyder dig,
dem vil jeg gerne have fællesskab med.
80 Din lov vil jeg følge af hele mit hjerte,
så behøver jeg aldrig at skamme mig.
81 Herre, jeg længes efter, at du redder mig.
Jeg har sat min lid til dine løfter.
82 Hvornår griber du ind og hjælper mig?
Jeg er snart træt af at vente.
83 Herre, jeg er som en indtørret, tilrøget lædersæk,
men dine bud glemmer jeg aldrig.
84 Hvor mange dage skal der gå?
Hvornår vil du straffe mine forfølgere?
85 Hovmodige mennesker, som hader din lov,
har gravet en faldgrube for mig.
86 Hele din lov er troværdig og pålidelig,
åh, hjælp mig mod de gudløses angreb.
87 Herre, de har næsten gjort det af med mig,
men jeg vil ikke svigte dine bud.
88 Hold mig i live på grund af din trofasthed,
så jeg kan adlyde de befalinger, du har givet mig.
89 Dit ord, Herre, står ved magt til evig tid,
det er fast forankret i Himlen.
90 Din trofasthed rækker fra slægt til slægt,
du har grundfæstet jorden, så den ikke kan rokkes.
91 Dine love står fast til denne dag,
for du er universets Herre.
92 Dit ord gav mig den trøst, jeg havde brug for,
ellers var jeg for længst gået til grunde.
93 Dine love vil jeg aldrig glemme,
for det er dem, der holder mig i live.
94 Dig tilhører jeg, for du er min Gud.
Hjælp mig, for jeg ønsker at følge dine bud.
95 De gudløse lurer på at slå mig ihjel,
men jeg har altid dine love i tanke.
96 De fleste ting har deres begrænsning,
men dine befalinger har uanede dybder.
97 Jeg elsker dine bud, Herre.
Dagen igennem er de i mine tanker.
98 Jeg mediterer over dit ord hver dag,
det giver mig et fortrin frem for mine fjender.
99 Jeg har altid dine bud i mine tanker,
de gør mig visere end mine vejledere.
100 Ja, jeg er klogere end de gamle og erfarne,
for jeg adlyder dine befalinger.
101 Jeg holder mig væk fra enhver form for ondskab,
for jeg ønsker at adlyde dit ord.
102 Jeg går ikke vild, men følger dine bud,
for du er den, der underviser mig.
103 Jeg elsker at smage på dit ord,
det er sødere på tungen end honning.
104 Jo mere indsigt jeg får i dine bud,
des mere hader jeg løgnens vej.
105 Dit ord er en lygte for min fod,
et lys på vejen foran mig.
106 Dine love er gode og retfærdige,
jeg har lovet mig selv altid at overholde dem.
107 Der er mange, som er imod mig, Herre,
men du giver mig nyt mod, som du har lovet.
108 Du fortjener min lovsang og tak, Herre,
fortsæt med at lære mig din vilje.
109 Dine bud vil jeg aldrig glemme,
også selv om det bringer mig i livsfare.
110 De gudløse sætter fælder for mig,
men jeg viger ikke en tomme fra dit ord.
111 Dine love er mit evige eje,
de fylder mit hjerte med glæde.
112 Det er min faste beslutning at adlyde dit ord,
indtil jeg drager mit sidste suk.
113 Dem, der følger dig halvhjertet, hader jeg,
men jeg elsker din lov af hele mit hjerte.
114 Du er min tilflugt og mit skjold,
dit ord er det, der giver mig håb.
115 Der er ingen, der kan hindre mig i at adlyde Gud,
de, der vil prøve, tager jeg afstand fra.
116 Du har lovet at give mig styrke til at leve efter dit ord.
Jeg er overbevist om, at du ikke skuffer mig.
117 Den hjælp og støtte, jeg får fra dig,
betyder, at jeg fortsat kan adlyde dine bud.
118 Du forkaster dem, der foragter dit ord,
de er falske og fulde af løgn.
119 Du lader alle de gudløse ende som aske.
Er det da mærkeligt, at jeg elsker dit ord?
120 Dine domme er retfærdige og kan ikke appelleres,
derfor bæver jeg for dig i ærefrygt.
121 Jeg forsøger altid at gøre det rigtige.
Lad ikke mine fjender få bugt med mig.
122 Jag de stolte og overmodige mennesker væk,
så de ikke har mulighed for at skade mig.
123 Jeg er træt af at vente på, at du redder mig,
selv om jeg ved, at du altid holder dine løfter.
124 Jeg ved, at din kærlighed omslutter mig,
lær mig at kende din vilje.
125 Jeg er din tjener, giv mig forstand
til at fatte dine formaninger.
126 Jeg græmmes, når de gudløse overtræder dine bud.
Herre, hvornår griber du ind?
127 Jeg foretrækker din lov
frem for guld og grønne skove.
128 Jeg hader løgn og bedrag,
men elsker at adlyde dine bud.
129 Din vejledning er vidunderlig,
jeg ønsker at rette mig efter den.
130 Dit ord bringer lys, når det bliver forstået,
selv begyndere kan fatte det.
131 Dit ord skaber en længsel i mig,
jeg kan aldrig få nok af det.
132 Din nåde og barmhjertighed gør mig godt,
du er god mod alle, som elsker dig.
133 Dit ord viser mig den vej, jeg skal gå,
så jeg ikke bliver overrumplet af det onde.
134 Der er mennesker, som vil føre mig på vildspor.
Hjælp mig til at holde fast ved dine bud.
135 Du velsigner mig med dit nærvær.
Hjælp mig at tjene dig bedre.
136 Der er mange, der ikke holder dine bud,
derfor strømmer tårerne ned over mine kinder.
137 Du er en god Gud, Herre,
alle dine love er retfærdige.
138 Dine principper er fuldkomne,
og din trofasthed er stor.
139 Der er mange, som ignorerer din vejledning,
og det skærer mig i hjertet at se det.
140 Dit ord er ædelt som renset sølv,
derfor elsker jeg det så højt.
141 Der er ikke noget særligt ved mig,
men jeg forsømmer ikke at adlyde dine bud.
142 Din retfærdighed varer evigt,
din lov vil altid være sand.
143 Det sker, at jeg tynges af bekymring og uro,
men dine bud gør mig glad igen.
144 Din lov står altid ved magt,
lad mig forstå den bedre dag for dag.
145 Jeg beder dig inderligt om hjælp, Herre.
Svar mig, og jeg vil adlyde dine bud.
146 Jeg råber til dig: „Red mig,
så jeg kan adlyde dine bud.”
147 Jeg er oppe før daggry for at råbe om hjælp,
for jeg sætter min lid til løfterne i dit ord.
148 Jeg ligger vågen om natten
og mediterer over dit ord.
149 Jeg beder dig, Herre, hør min bøn,
vær mig nådig og red mit liv.
150 Jeg gruer for, hvad mine fjender vil gøre,
for de er ligeglade med din lov.
151 Jeg ved dog, at du er mig nær, Herre,
alle dine bud er grundet på sandheden.
152 Jeg har for længe siden lært,
at dit ord står urokkeligt fast.
153 Vær nådig og fri mig fra mine lidelser,
for jeg har ikke taget let på din lov.
154 Ved at høre dine løfter får jeg nyt mod.
Kæmp på min side og red mig.
155 Ved at gøre oprør mod dig og dine bud,
har de gudløse mistet håbet om frelse.
156 Hvor er din nåde dog stor, Herre,
du har magt til at redde mit liv.
157 Vel er mine fjender og modstandere mange,
men jeg holder fast ved dine lovbud.
158 Ved synet af de gudløse bliver jeg fyldt med foragt,
for de gør oprør mod dine bud og befalinger.
159 Vis mig din kærlighed og red mit liv,
Tænk dog på, hvor højt jeg elsker dine love.
Giv mig liv, for du elsker mig med trofast kærlighed!
160 Værdien af dit ord er ubeskrivelig,
det er troværdigt og står fast for evigt.
161 Der er magtfulde mænd, som angriber mig uden grund,
men jeg vil holde fast ved dit ord i mit hjerte.
162 Din vejledning fylder mig med glæde,
som en, der har vundet en stor gevinst.
163 Det er løgn og bedrag, jeg hader,
men jeg elsker dit ord.
164 Dag efter dag vil jeg takke dig
for dine retfærdige lovbud.
165 De, der elsker din lov, lever trygt,
intet kan rokke dem.
166 Der er en forvisning i mit hjerte om, at du vil redde mig,
og jeg vil blive ved med at adlyde dine bud.
167 Dine befalinger har jeg altid for øje,
jeg elsker dem af hele mit hjerte.
168 Du ved, at jeg har adlydt dine bud,
for mit liv ligger udbredt for dig.
169 Jeg beder om hjælp, Herre, lyt til mit råb.
Lad dit ord give mig råd og vejledning.
170 Ja, jeg beder så inderligt om nåde,
grib ind og red mig, som du har lovet.
171 Jeg vil lovprise dig, Herre,
for du har lært mig at forstå dine bud.
172 Jeg vil synge en sang om dit ord,
for alle dine love er gode og retfærdige.
173 Jeg venter på, at du griber ind,
for jeg har valgt at gøre din vilje.
174 Jeg længes efter, at du redder mig, Herre,
og jeg glæder mig over dine lovbud.
175 Jeg ønsker at leve i lovprisning til dig.
Lad dit ord være min støtte på livsvejen.
176 Jeg er som et får, der er faret vild.
Kom og red mig, for jeg har holdt fast ved dine bud.

Copyright © 1985, 1992, 2005, 2013, 2015 by Biblica, Inc.®

In the translation by Josua Boesch into the Zürich German dialect (Züritüütsch) of Swiss German (publ. 2009), the Psalms were also translated while maintaining the acrostic.

Click or tap here for the first 24 verses of this psalm in Zürich German

1 Am beschte gaat s dène,
wo uufrächt de wääg gönd
i de spuure vo IMM siner TORAA.
2 Am schöönschte isch s läbe
im gsprööch mit imm,
und wämen inn suecht vo ganzem hèèrze.
3 Au tuet mer käis unrächt uf dèm wääg,
won èr mit äim gaat.
4 A diich wott i miich halte,
duu säisch mer wodure.
5 Ach, gieng ich min wääg
doch fescht und entschlosse,
esoo wie duu mer en zäigt häsch.
6 A reschpäkt wüür s mer nöd fèèle,
Wän i diini gebott imer wüür reschpektiere.
7 Au iich wott diir tanke us luuterem hèèrze,
wän i uswändig leere,
was duu mer verordnisch.
8 A diini voorschlèèg wott ich mi halte,
las mi doch nöd im stich.

9 Bi diir und diim woort sich oriäntiere,
daas bewaart uf em graade wääg,
wä me jung isch.
10 Bi diir suech i raat,
las mi nöd abchoo vo dèmm,
wo duu mer raatisch.
11 Behüete wott i diis woort ganz zinnerscht,
a diir wett i mi scho nöd verfèèle.
12 Bewundere wott i nu DICH
prèèg mer fescht ii, was duu mi gleert häsch.
13 Bi diir bliibt e käis woort verschlosse,
duu läisch mer s uf d lippe,
das i s wiiter verzele.
14 Bim grööschte riichtum wèr i nöd eso glückli
wien uf diim wääg, won i gfunde han.
15 Bi dène wääg, wo duu mit öis gaasch,
gspüürt me ganz tüütli, wo s duregaat.
16 Begläitet häsch duu miich,
wien i mer s nie hett la tröime.
Wie chönnt i diis woort au vergässe!

17 Chumm, gib dèm,
wo für diich läbt und liidet, nöis läbe,
dänn chan er dis woort scho erfüle.
18 Chèèntsch mer nöd d augen uuftue,
das iich a de wunder vo diner TORAA
nöd verbiiluege?
19 Chumm doch,
ich bi nu en gascht uf der èrde,
verbiirg mer nöd s ghämnis vo diine gebott.
20 Chumm duu doch sälber
und hilf mer i minere seensucht
nach diir und diineren antwort.
21 Chumm lueg,
und weer dfene, wo sich so ubermüetig benämed.
Verfluecht, wèr diis gebott umgaat!
22 Chumm,
nimm mer d schand und de spott,
ich ha ja ghalte, was du verlangt häsch.
23 Chumm lueg,
wie di groosse mis läbe verhandled,
aber iich anerchäne nu daas,
wo duu über miich pschlüüssisch.
24 Chumm äntli,
nu s gsprööch mit diir
cha mer raate und cha mi rächt fröje.

The English Bible translation by Ronald Knox (publ. 1950) maintains almost every Hebrew acrostic (even though Knox’s translation itself is based on the Latin text of the Vulgate rather than the Hebrew). Due to the higher number of letters in the English alphabet, it skips the letters Q, X, Y, and Z.

Click or tap here for the complete Psalm in English

1 Ah, blessed they, who pass through life’s journey unstained, who follow the law of the Lord!
2 Ah, blessed they, who cherish his decrees, make him the whole quest of their hearts!
3 Afar from wrong-doing, thy sure paths they tread.
4 Above all else it binds us, the charge thou hast given us to keep.
5 Ah, how shall my steps be surely guided to keep faith with thy covenant?
6 Attentive to all thy commandments, I go my way undismayed.
7 A true heart’s worship thou shalt have, thy just awards prompting me.
8 All shall be done thy laws demand, so thou wilt not forsake me utterly.
9 Best shall he keep his youth unstained, who is true to thy trust.
10 Be thou the whole quest of my heart; never let me turn aside from thy commandments.
11 Buried deep in my heart, thy warnings shall keep me clear of sin.
12 Blessed art thou, O Lord, teach me to know thy will.
13 By these lips let the awards thou makest ever be recorded.
14 Blithely as one that has found great possessions, I follow thy decrees.
15 Bethinking me still of the charge thou givest, I will mark thy footsteps.
16 Be thy covenant ever my delight, thy words kept in memory.
17 Crown thy servant with life, to live faithful to thy commands.
18 Clear sight be mine, to contemplate the wonders of thy law.
19 Comfort this earthly exile; do not refuse me the knowledge of thy will.
20 Crushed lies my spirit, longing ever for thy just awards.
21 Chastener of the proud, thy curse lies on all who swerve from thy covenant.
22 Clear me of the reproach that shames me, as I was ever attentive to thy claims.
23 Closeted together, princes plot against me, thy servant, that thinks only of thy decrees.
24 Claims lovingly cherished, decrees that are my counsellors!
25 Deep lies my soul in the dust, restore life to me, as thou hast promised.
26 Deign, now, to shew me thy will, thou who hast listened when I opened my heart to thee.
27 Direct me in the path thou biddest me follow, and all my musing shall be of thy wonderful deeds.
28 Despair wrings tears from me; let thy promises raise me up once more.
29 Deliver me from every false thought; make me free of thy covenant.
30 Duty’s path my choice, I keep thy bidding ever in remembrance.
31 Disappoint me, Lord, never, one that holds fast by thy commandments.
32 Do but open my heart wide, and easy lies the path thou hast decreed.
33 Expound, Lord, thy whole bidding to me; faithfully I will keep it.
34 Enlighten me, to scan thy law closely, and keep true to it with all my heart.
35 Eagerly I long to be guided in the way of thy obedience.
36 Ever let my choice be set on thy will, not on covetous thoughts.
37 Eyes have I none for vain phantoms; let me find life in following thy ways.
38 Establish with me, thy servant, the promise made to thy worshippers.
39 Ease me of the reproach my heart dreads, thou, whose awards are gracious.
40 Each command of thine I embrace lovingly; do thou in thy faithfulness grant me life.
41 For me too, Lord, thy mercy, for me too the deliverance thou hast promised!
42 Fit answer for those who taunt me, that I rely on thy truth.
43 Faithful thy promise, let me not boast in vain; in thy covenant lies my hope.
44 For ever and for evermore true to thy charge thou shalt find me.
45 Freely shall my feet tread, if thy will is all my quest.
46 Fearlessly will I talk of thy decrees in the presence of kings, and be never abashed.
47 Fain would I have all my comfort in the law I love.
48 Flung wide my arms to greet thy law, ever in my thoughts thy bidding.
49 Go not back on the word thou hast pledged to thy servant; there lies all my hope.
50 Good news in my affliction, thy promises have brought me life.
51 Ground down by the scorn of my oppressors, never from thy law I swerve aside.
52 Gracious comfort, Lord, is the memory of thy just dealings in times long past.
53 Great ruth have I to see wrong-doers, and how they abandon thy law.
54 Gone out into a land of exile, of thy covenant I make my song.
55 Gloom of the night finds me still thinking of thy name, Lord, still observant of thy bidding.
56 Guerdon I ask no other, but the following of thy will.
57 Heritage, Lord, I claim no other, but to obey thy word.
58 Heart-deep my supplication before thee for the mercies thou hast promised.
59 Have I not planned out my path, turned aside to follow thy decrees?
60 Haste such as mine can brook no delay in carrying out all thy bidding.
61 Hemmed in by the snares which sinners laid for me, never was I forgetful of thy law.
62 Hearken when I rise at dead of night to praise thee for thy just dealings.
63 How well I love the souls that fear thee, and are true to thy trust!
64 How thy mercy fills the earth, Lord! Teach me to do thy will.
65 In fulfilment of thy promise, Lord, what kindness thou hast shewn thy servant!
66 Inspire, instruct me still; all my hope is in thy covenant.
67 Idly I strayed till thou didst chasten me; no more shall thy warnings go unheeded.
68 Indeed, indeed thou art gracious; teach me to do thy bidding.
69 In vain my oppressors plot against me; thy will is all my quest.
70 Inhuman hearts, curdled with scorn! For me, thy law is enough.
71 It was in mercy thou didst chasten me, schooling me to thy obedience.
72 Is not the law thou hast given dearer to me than rich store of gold and silver?
73 Jealous for the handiwork thou hast made, teach me to understand thy commandments.
74 Joy shall be theirs, thy true worshippers, to see the confidence I have in thy word.
75 Just are thy awards; I know well, Lord, it was in faithfulness thou didst afflict me.
76 Judge me no more; pity and comfort thy servant as thou hast promised.
77 Judge me no more; pardon and life for one that loves thy will!
78 Just be their fall, who wrong me scornfully; thy law is all my study.
79 Joined to my company be every soul that worships thee and heeds thy warnings.
80 Jealously let my heart observe thy bidding; let me not hope in vain.
81 Keeping watch for thy aid, my soul languishes, yet I trust in thy word.
82 Keeping watch for the fulfilment of thy promise, my eyes languish for comfort still delayed.
83 Kitchen-smoke shrivels the wine-skin; so waste I, yet never forget thy will.
84 Knowest thou not how short are thy servant’s days? Soon be my wrongs redressed.
85 Knaves will be plotting against me still, that are no friends to thy law.
86 Knaves they are that wrong me; bring aid, as thy covenant stands unchanging.
87 Keep thy bidding I would, though small hope of life they had left me.
88 Kind as thou ever wert, preserve me; then utter thy bidding, and I will obey.
89 Lord, the word thou hast spoken stands ever unchanged as heaven.
90 Loyal to his promise, age after age, is he who made the enduring earth.
91 Long as time lasts, these shall stand, obeying thy decree, Master of all.
92 Lest I should sink in my affliction, thou hast given thy covenant to be my comfort.
93 Life-giving are thy commands, never by me forgotten.
94 Lend me thy aid, for thine I am, and thy bidding is all my quest.
95 Let sinners go about to destroy me, I wait on thy will.
96 Look where I may, all good things must end; only thy law is wide beyond measure.
97 My delight, Lord, is in thy bidding; ever my thoughts return to it.
98 Musing still on thy commandments, I have grown more prudent than my enemies.
99 More wisdom have I than all my teachers, so well have I pondered thy decrees.
100 More learning have I than my elders, I that hold true to thy charge.
101 Mindful of thy warnings, I guide my steps clear of every evil path.
102 Meek under thy tuition, thy will I keep ever in view.
103 Meat most appetizing are thy promises; never was honey so sweet to my taste.
104 Made wise by thy law, I shun every path of evil-doing.
105 No lamp like thy word to guide my feet, to shew light on my path.
106 Never will I retract my oath to give thy just commands observance.
107 Nothing, Lord, but affliction, never the saving help thou didst promise me?
108 Nay, Lord, accept these vows of mine; teach me to do thy bidding.
109 Needs must I carry my life in my hands, yet am I ever mindful of thy law.
110 Nearly the snares of the wicked caught my feet, yet would I not swerve from thy obedience.
111 Now and ever thy covenant is my prize, is my heart’s comfort.
112 Now and ever to do thy will perfectly is my heart’s aim.
113 Out upon the men that play traitor to the law I love!
114 Other defence, other shield have I none; in thy law I trust.
115 Out of my path, lovers of wrong; I will keep my God’s commandments.
116 Only let thy promised aid preserve me; do not disappoint me of the hope I cherish.
117 Only do thou sustain me in safety, looking ever to thy will.
118 Obey thee who will not, shall earn thy disdain; idle is all their scheming.
119 Outcasts they are that profane the land with wrong; for me, thy law is enough.
120 Overcome is my whole being with the fear of thee; I am adread of thy judgements.
121 Protect the justice of my cause; never leave me at the mercy of my oppressors.
122 Pledge thyself still to befriend me; save me from the oppression of my enemies.
123 Pining away, I look for thy saving help, the faithful keeping of thy promises.
124 Pity thy own servant, and teach him thy decrees.
125 Perfect in thy own servant’s heart the knowledge of thy will.
126 Put off the hour, Lord, no more; too long thy commandment stands defied.
127 Precious beyond gold or jewel I hold thy law.
128 Prized be every decree of thine; forsworn be every path of evil-doing.
129 Right wonderful thy decrees are, hard to read, and well my heart heeds them.
130 Revelation and light thy words disclose to the simple.
131 Rises ever a sigh from my lips as I long after thy covenant.
132 Regard and pity me, as thou hast pity for all that love thy name.
133 Rule thou my path as thou hast promised; never be wrong-doing my master.
134 Rescue me from man’s oppression, to wait henceforth on thy bidding.
135 Restore to thy servant the smile of thy living favour, and teach him to know thy will.
136 Rivers of tears flow from my eyes, to see thy law forgotten.
137 So just, Lord, thou art, thy awards so truly given!
138 Strict justice and utter faithfulness inspire all thy decrees.
139 Stung by love’s jealousy, I watch my enemies defy thy bidding.
140 Shall not I, thy servant, love thy promises, tested and found true?
141 Still despised and disinherited, I do not forget thy charge.
142 Stands thy faithfulness eternally, thy law for ever changeless.
143 Sorrow and distress have fallen on me; in thy commandments is all my comfort.
144 Sentence eternal is thy decree; teach me the wisdom that brings life.
145 Thy audience, Lord, my whole heart claims, a heart true to thy trust.
146 To thee I cry, O grant deliverance; I will do all thy bidding.
147 Twilight comes, and I awake to plead with thee, hoping ever in thy promises.
148 Through the night my eyes keep watch, to ponder thy sayings.
149 Thine, Lord, to listen in thy mercy, and grant life according to thy will.
150 Treacherous foes draw near, that are strangers to thy covenant.
151 Thou, Lord, art close at hand; all thy awards are true.
152 Taught long since by thy decrees, I know well thou hast ordained them everlastingly.
153 Unblessed is my lot; look down and rescue me, that still am mindful of thy law.
154 Uphold my cause, and deliver me; true to thy promise, grant me life.
155 Unknown thy mercy to the sinner that defies thy bidding.
156 Unnumbered, Lord, are thy blessings; as thy will is, grant me life.
157 Under all the assaults of my oppressors, I keep true to thy charge.
158 Unhappy I, that watch thy warnings to the sinner go unheeded!
159 Up, Lord, and witness the love I bear thy covenant; in thy mercy bid me live!
160 Unchanging truth is thy word’s fountain-head, eternal the force of thy just decrees.
161 Vexed by the causeless malice of princes, my heart still dreads thy warnings.
162 Victors rejoice not more over rich spoils, than I in thy promises.
163 Villainy I abhor and renounce; thy law is all my love.
164 Votive thanks seven times a day I give thee for the just awards thou makest.
165 Very great peace is theirs who love thy law; their feet never stumble.
166 Valiantly, Lord, I wait on thee for succour, keeping ever true to thy charge.
167 Vanquished by great love, my heart is ever obedient to thy will.
168 Vigilantly I observe precept and bidding of thine, living always as in thy sight.
169 Wilt thou not admit my cry, Lord, to thy presence, and grant me thy promised gift of wisdom?
170 Wilt thou not countenance my plea, redeem thy pledge to deliver me?
171 What praise shall burst from my lips, when thou makest known thy will!
172 What hymns of thankfulness this tongue shall raise to the author of all just decrees!
173 Wouldst thou but lift thy hand to aid me, that take my stand on thy covenant!
174 Weary it is, Lord, waiting for deliverance, but thy law is my comfort.
175 When will thy just award grant redress, that I may live to praise thee?
176 Wayward thou seest me, like a lost sheep; come to look for thy servant, that is mindful still of thy bidding.

Source

There are several private modern English translations that implement an acrostic, including this one by Doug Van Dorn and one by Brenda Boerger (in Notes on Translation 1997, p. 35ff.)

For other psalms that use acrostics see Psalm 9/10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, and 145.

heaven

Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic all have one term only that refers to what can be expressed in English as “sky” or “heaven(s)” (as a physical and spiritual entity). While there is a slight overlap between the meaning of the two English terms, “sky” (from Old Norse sky meaning “cloud”) typically refers to the physical entity, and “heaven” (from Old English heofon meaning “home of God”) typically refers to the spiritual entity. While this enriches the English lexicon, it also forces English Bible translators to make decisions that can be found only in the context in the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts. Most versions tend to use “heaven(s)” even if the meaning is likely “sky,” but the Contemporary English Version (NT: 1991, OT: 1995, DC: 1999) is an English translation that attempted to be more specific in the separation of the two meanings and was used as the basis for the links to verses used for this and this story (“sky”).

Norm Mundhenk (in The Bible Translator 2006, pp. 92-95) describes the difficulty that English translations face (click here to see more):

“A number of years ago an old lady asked me a question. What did Jesus mean when he said, ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away’? I do not remember what answer I gave, but I was surprised at how concerned she seemed to be about the verse. It was only later, after I had left her, that I suddenly realized what it was that she was so concerned about. She knew that death could not be far away, and all her life she had looked forward to being with God in heaven. But this verse said that ‘heaven will pass away’! What did that mean for her hopes? In fact, of course, in this verse Jesus was talking about the skies or the heavens, not about Heaven as the place of God’s presence. If I had realized the problem in time, I could easily have set the lady’s mind at rest on this question that was troubling her so much. However, I suspect that she is not the only person to be misled by the wording of this verse. Therefore, it is very surprising to find that even today many English versions (including the New International Version, New Revised Standard Version, Revised English Bible, Good News Translation) still say ‘heaven and earth’ in verses like Matt 24:35 and its parallels (Mark 13:31 and Luke 21:33). The Contemporary English Version (CEV) and Phillips’ translation seem to be aware of the problem, and in Mark 13:31 both of these have ‘earth and sky’ instead of ‘heaven and earth.’ But in some other passages (such as Matt 5:18) the traditional wording is still found in both of those translations. The New Century Version (NCV) does have ‘earth and sky’ more consistently, and the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) has ‘sky and earth’ in these passages. (Although ‘sky and earth’ is closer to the Greek, it seems more natural in English to say ‘earth and sky’; but either way, at least the meaning is correct.)

“Louw and Nida’s Lexical Semantics of the Greek New Testament (publ. 1992) suggests that the Greek expression being translated here, ho ouranos kai he ge is ‘a more or less fixed phrase equivalent to a single lexical unit’ and that it means everything that God created, that is, the universe. They then quote Mark 13:31 as an example, using ‘heaven and earth’ in their translation of it. However, they go on to say that there ‘may be certain complications involved in rendering ho ouranos kai he ge as ‘heaven and earth,’ since ‘heaven’ might be interpreted in some languages as referring only to the dwelling place of God himself. The referents in this passage are ‘the sky and the earth,’ in other words, all of physical existence, but not the dwelling place of God, for the latter would not be included in what is destined to pass away.’ In my opinion, English itself is one of the languages where the word ‘heaven’ will be interpreted as referring only to the dwelling place of God himself, and translations into English should not use ‘heaven’ in these passages. It is probably because these passages are so very familiar that translators do not realize the meaning they are giving their readers when they use the expression ‘heaven and earth’ here. In modern English we might talk about a rocket ‘soaring into the heavens,’ but we would certainly not describe it as ‘soaring into heaven,’ because ‘heaven’ is not another way of referring to the sky or to outer space.

“In fact, it is surely important in all languages to have some way of distinguishing the concept of ‘sky’ from the concept of ‘dwelling place of God.’ In these passages translators should never use a term meaning ‘the dwelling place of God.’ It may not be necessary to use a term meaning ‘sky’ either, if there is some other expression in the language which gives the correct meaning of ‘everything that has been created’ or ‘the universe.’ There are of course places in the New Testament where Heaven, as the place where God lives, is contrasted with the earth. In these passages, translators should be careful to give the correct meaning. A good example of this is in the Lord’s Prayer, in Matt 6:10: ‘Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ Similarly, 1 Cor 15:47 says that ‘the first man [a reference to Adam] was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.’ Passages like these are referring to Heaven, not to the sky. Other NT passages where heaven refers to God’s dwelling place, in contrast with earth, are Matt 5:34-35, 16:19, 18:18, Acts 7:49, James 5:12, and Rev 5:3.
“Sometimes in the New Testament, the word ‘heaven’ is used because of the Jewish reluctance to use the name of God. ‘Heaven’ in these cases is used in place of ‘God’ and refers to God himself. This is the case in the many references in Matthew to ‘the kingdom of heaven’ where other gospels have ‘the kingdom of God’ (e.g., compare Matt 4:17 with its parallels in Mark 1:15 and Luke 10:9). It is also most likely the case in references like Matt 16:1, Luke 20:4, 5, John 3:27, and even perhaps Col 1:5.

“There are some places, such as Matt 11:25, where God is called ‘Lord of heaven and earth.’ Since God is of course the Lord of Heaven as well as of the universe, it may not matter so much which interpretation is given in these passages (others are Luke 10:21 and Acts 17:24). Nevertheless, the intended meaning here is likely to be ‘the universe.’ This is because this expression in Greek, as Louw and Nida say, is a set expression referring to everything that has been created. Acts 17:24 in fact combines the idea of the creation of the universe with the idea of God as Master or Lord of the universe. (…)

“Old Testament background The use of ‘heaven and earth’ in the New Testament is very similar to what we find in the Old Testament, because it is largely based on the Old Testament.

“The Old Testament begins with the story of creation, which is presented as the creation of the heavens and the earth, with lights to shine in the heavens and give light to the earth. Birds are created to live in the heavens, animals to live on earth, and fish to live in the sea (Gen 1:1-2:4).

“As we can see from the way the creation story is told, it is meant to be understood as the creation of the universe. Although in English the regions above the earth have traditionally been called ‘the heavens’ in the story of creation, they cannot be called ‘Heaven,’ in the sense of the place where God dwells. In terms of modern English, it would probably be better to say ‘the sky and the earth’ or ‘the earth and the sky.’ The story of creation then becomes an important theme throughout the Old Testament. (…)

“In most passages, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, when ‘heaven and earth’ or ‘the heavens and the earth’ are mentioned, the meaning is the created universe. It is not a reference to Heaven, as the dwelling place of God. In English, translators have not been careful to keep this distinction clear, and this is probably true in many other languages as well. However, as we have seen, this can lead to real confusion for ordinary Bible readers. It is better if translators find ways to make the meaning clear in these passages. ‘Heaven’ should be mentioned only in passages which clearly mean the dwelling place of God. In other passages, an expression should be used which means only ‘sky.’ Or else, the whole expression ‘heaven and earth’ can be translated in a way to show that the whole universe is meant.”

Other languages that have a semantic distinction similar to English include (click here to see more):

  • Hungarian: ég — “sky”; menny — “heaven”
  • Tagalog: kalawakan — “sky”; langit/kalangitan — “heaven”
  • Swedish: sky — “sky”; Himmel — “heaven”
  • Loma: “up” — “sky”; “God’s place” — heaven”
  • Mossi: saase — “sky”; nyingeri — “the up above”(source for Loma and Mossi: Bratcher/Nida)
  • Roviana: mamaṉa — “sly”; maṉauru — “heaven” (an old word, meaning “empty, open space of the sky”) (source: Carl Gross)
  • Kayaw: mô̄la or “canopy-under”/mô̄khû̄la or “canopy-above-under” — “sky” (atmosphere where there is just air); mô̄khû̄ or “canopy-on/above” — “heaven” (invisible abode of God and angels)
  • Burmese: မိုး ကောင်း ကင်/moe kaungg kain — “sky”; ကောင်း ကင်/kaungg kain — “sky” or “heaven”; ကောင်း ကင်ဗုံ/kaungg kain bone — “heaven”
  • Mairasi: Sinyavi — an indigenous term that is used for both “sky” and heaven”; Surga — loanword from Sanskrit via Indonesian referring to “heaven” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Nyongar: worl — “sky”; Boolanga-Yirakang Boodjer — “Country of God” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)

Many languages follow the original biblical languages in not making that distinction, such as (click here to see more):

In some languages, such as Wandala, the vocabulary for terms for either “heaven” or “sky” is much richer than just to include those two distinction. While zhegela, the term that is specifically used for the physical sky was only used in early translations of the New Testament for “sky,” other terms such as samaya (used for both “sky” and “heaven”), zlanna (specifically used for the perfect abode of God and the goal of the faithful, as in Matthew 8:11), kwárá (a locational term used to speak of a chief’s rule [lit., “voice”] such as Matthew 3:2), or sleksire (“chieftaincy,” “kingship,” or “royalty” [originally from slekse “chief”] and used where there are no locational overtones, such as in Matthew 16:28) are used. (Source: Mona Perrin in Notes on Translation 1/1999, p. 51ff.)

The English translation by Sarah Ruden (2021) uses “sky” throughout. Ruden explains (p. li): “The Greek word ouranos refers evenhandedly to the physical sky and the place—often pictured as a royal court — where supreme divinity resides. ‘Sky’ seems generally better, first of all in avoiding the wackier modern imagery that comes with the English ‘heaven.’ And even when a supernatural realm is meant, ‘sky’ will often do, because the divine realm was thought to be located there, in addition to the weather and the heavenly bodies, whereas ‘heaven’ to us is fundamentally a religious term, and the ancients did not tend to separate linguistic domains in this way. I have retained the plural ‘skies’ where I see it in the Greek, because it is a Hebraism familiar in English translations of scripture and (I hope) not too archaic or jarring.”

sky

Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic all have one term only that refers to what can be expressed in English as “sky” or “heaven(s)” (as a physical and spiritual entity). While there is a slight overlap between the meaning of the two English terms, “sky” (from Old Norse sky meaning “cloud”) typically refers to the physical entity, and “heaven” (from Old English heofon meaning “home of God”) typically refers to the spiritual entity. While this enriches the English lexicon, it also forces English Bible translators to make decisions that can be found only in the context in the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts. Most versions tend to use “heaven(s)” even if the meaning is likely “sky,” but the Contemporary English Version (NT: 1991, OT: 1995, DC: 1999) is an English translation that attempted to be more specific in the separation of the two meanings and was used as the basis for the links to verses used for this and this story (“heaven”).

Norm Mundhenk (in The Bible Translator 2006, pp. 92-95) describes the difficulty that English translations face (click here to see more):

“A number of years ago an old lady asked me a question. What did Jesus mean when he said, ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away’? I do not remember what answer I gave, but I was surprised at how concerned she seemed to be about the verse. It was only later, after I had left her, that I suddenly realized what it was that she was so concerned about. She knew that death could not be far away, and all her life she had looked forward to being with God in heaven. But this verse said that ‘heaven will pass away’! What did that mean for her hopes? In fact, of course, in this verse Jesus was talking about the skies or the heavens, not about Heaven as the place of God’s presence. If I had realized the problem in time, I could easily have set the lady’s mind at rest on this question that was troubling her so much. However, I suspect that she is not the only person to be misled by the wording of this verse. Therefore, it is very surprising to find that even today many English versions (including the New International Version, New Revised Standard Version, Revised English Bible, Good News Translation) still say ‘heaven and earth’ in verses like Matt 24:35 and its parallels (Mark 13:31 and Luke 21:33). The Contemporary English Version (CEV) and Phillips’ translation seem to be aware of the problem, and in Mark 13:31 both of these have ‘earth and sky’ instead of ‘heaven and earth.’ But in some other passages (such as Matt 5:18) the traditional wording is still found in both of those translations. The New Century Version (NCV) does have ‘earth and sky’ more consistently, and the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) has ‘sky and earth’ in these passages. (Although ‘sky and earth’ is closer to the Greek, it seems more natural in English to say ‘earth and sky’; but either way, at least the meaning is correct.)

“Louw and Nida’s Lexical Semantics of the Greek New Testament (publ. 1992) suggests that the Greek expression being translated here, ho ouranos kai he ge is ‘a more or less fixed phrase equivalent to a single lexical unit’ and that it means everything that God created, that is, the universe. They then quote Mark 13:31 as an example, using ‘heaven and earth’ in their translation of it. However, they go on to say that there ‘may be certain complications involved in rendering ho ouranos kai he ge as ‘heaven and earth,’ since ‘heaven’ might be interpreted in some languages as referring only to the dwelling place of God himself. The referents in this passage are ‘the sky and the earth,’ in other words, all of physical existence, but not the dwelling place of God, for the latter would not be included in what is destined to pass away.’ In my opinion, English itself is one of the languages where the word ‘heaven’ will be interpreted as referring only to the dwelling place of God himself, and translations into English should not use ‘heaven’ in these passages. It is probably because these passages are so very familiar that translators do not realize the meaning they are giving their readers when they use the expression ‘heaven and earth’ here. In modern English we might talk about a rocket ‘soaring into the heavens,’ but we would certainly not describe it as ‘soaring into heaven,’ because ‘heaven’ is not another way of referring to the sky or to outer space.

“In fact, it is surely important in all languages to have some way of distinguishing the concept of ‘sky’ from the concept of ‘dwelling place of God.’ In these passages translators should never use a term meaning ‘the dwelling place of God.’ It may not be necessary to use a term meaning ‘sky’ either, if there is some other expression in the language which gives the correct meaning of ‘everything that has been created’ or ‘the universe.’ There are of course places in the New Testament where Heaven, as the place where God lives, is contrasted with the earth. In these passages, translators should be careful to give the correct meaning. A good example of this is in the Lord’s Prayer, in Matt 6:10: ‘Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ Similarly, 1 Cor 15:47 says that ‘the first man [a reference to Adam] was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.’ Passages like these are referring to Heaven, not to the sky. Other NT passages where heaven refers to God’s dwelling place, in contrast with earth, are Matt 5:34-35, 16:19, 18:18, Acts 7:49, James 5:12, and Rev 5:3.
“Sometimes in the New Testament, the word ‘heaven’ is used because of the Jewish reluctance to use the name of God. ‘Heaven’ in these cases is used in place of ‘God’ and refers to God himself. This is the case in the many references in Matthew to ‘the kingdom of heaven’ where other gospels have ‘the kingdom of God’ (e.g., compare Matt 4:17 with its parallels in Mark 1:15 and Luke 10:9). It is also most likely the case in references like Matt 16:1, Luke 20:4, 5, John 3:27, and even perhaps Col 1:5.

“There are some places, such as Matt 11:25, where God is called ‘Lord of heaven and earth.’ Since God is of course the Lord of Heaven as well as of the universe, it may not matter so much which interpretation is given in these passages (others are Luke 10:21 and Acts 17:24). Nevertheless, the intended meaning here is likely to be ‘the universe.’ This is because this expression in Greek, as Louw and Nida say, is a set expression referring to everything that has been created. Acts 17:24 in fact combines the idea of the creation of the universe with the idea of God as Master or Lord of the universe. (…)

“Old Testament background The use of ‘heaven and earth’ in the New Testament is very similar to what we find in the Old Testament, because it is largely based on the Old Testament.

“The Old Testament begins with the story of creation, which is presented as the creation of the heavens and the earth, with lights to shine in the heavens and give light to the earth. Birds are created to live in the heavens, animals to live on earth, and fish to live in the sea (Gen 1:1-2:4).

“As we can see from the way the creation story is told, it is meant to be understood as the creation of the universe. Although in English the regions above the earth have traditionally been called ‘the heavens’ in the story of creation, they cannot be called ‘Heaven,’ in the sense of the place where God dwells. In terms of modern English, it would probably be better to say ‘the sky and the earth’ or ‘the earth and the sky.’ The story of creation then becomes an important theme throughout the Old Testament. (…)

“In most passages, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, when ‘heaven and earth’ or ‘the heavens and the earth’ are mentioned, the meaning is the created universe. It is not a reference to Heaven, as the dwelling place of God. In English, translators have not been careful to keep this distinction clear, and this is probably true in many other languages as well. However, as we have seen, this can lead to real confusion for ordinary Bible readers. It is better if translators find ways to make the meaning clear in these passages. ‘Heaven’ should be mentioned only in passages which clearly mean the dwelling place of God. In other passages, an expression should be used which means only ‘sky.’ Or else, the whole expression ‘heaven and earth’ can be translated in a way to show that the whole universe is meant.”

Other languages that have a semantic distinction similar to English include:

  • Hungarian: ég — “sky”; menny — “heaven”
  • Tagalog: kalawakan — “sky”; langit/kalangitan — “heaven”
  • Swedish: sky — “sky”; Himmel — “heaven”
  • Loma: “up” — “sky”; “God’s place” — heaven”
  • Mossi: saase — “sky”; nyingeri — “the up above”(source for Loma and Mossi: Bratcher/Nida)
  • Roviana: mamaṉa — “sly”; maṉauru — “heaven” (an old word, meaning “empty, open space of the sky”) (source: Carl Gross)
  • Kayaw: mô̄la or “canopy-under”/mô̄khû̄la or “canopy-above-under” — “sky” (atmosphere where there is just air); mô̄khû̄ or “canopy-on/above” — “heaven” (invisible abode of God and angels)
  • Burmese: မိုး ကောင်း ကင်/moe kaungg kain — “sky”; ကောင်း ကင်/kaungg kain — “sky” or “heaven”; ကောင်း ကင်ဗုံ/kaungg kain bone — “heaven”
  • Mairasi: Sinyavi — an indigenous term that is used for both “sky” and heaven”; Surga — loanword from Sanskrit via Indonesian referring to “heaven” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Nyongar: worl — “sky”; Boolanga-Yirakang Boodjer — “Country of God” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)

Many languages follow the original biblical languages in not making that distinction, such as:

In some languages, such as Wandala, the vocabulary for terms for either “heaven” or “sky” is much richer than just to include those two distinction. While zhegela, the term that is specifically used for the physical sky was only used in early translations of the New Testament for “sky,” other terms such as samaya (used for both “sky” and “heaven”), zlanna (specifically used for the perfect abode of God and the goal of the faithful, as in Matthew 8:11), kwárá (a locational term used to speak of a chief’s rule [lit., “voice”] such as Matthew 3:2), or sleksire (“chieftaincy,” “kingship,” or “royalty” [originally from slekse “chief”] and used where there are no locational overtones, such as in Matthew 16:28) are used. (Source: Mona Perrin in Notes on Translation 1/1999, p. 51ff.)

The English translation by Sarah Ruden (2021) uses “sky” throughout. Ruden explains (p. li): “The Greek word ouranos refers evenhandedly to the physical sky and the place—often pictured as a royal court — where supreme divinity resides. ‘Sky’ seems generally better, first of all in avoiding the wackier modern imagery that comes with the English ‘heaven.’ And even when a supernatural realm is meant, ‘sky’ will often do, because the divine realm was thought to be located there, in addition to the weather and the heavenly bodies, whereas ‘heaven’ to us is fundamentally a religious term, and the ancients did not tend to separate linguistic domains in this way. I have retained the plural ‘skies’ where I see it in the Greek, because it is a Hebraism familiar in English translations of scripture and (I hope) not too archaic or jarring.”