The second part of the Psalm 18:21 verse in most bible translations uses the term "Not wickedly" is interesting. To elaborate, Psalm 18:21 is interesting because it seems like when the Psalm 18 author is stating that he has "Not wickedly" departed from God, he is stating the he did Not intentionally or Not purposely or Not deliberately departed from God.

In any case, I was curious as to what the actual Hebrew translation would mean. Therefore, I added the image snapshot of the Hebrew translation at the bottom. Apparently, the word in Hebrew is (rā·ša‘·tî), and I have No knowledge of Hebrew language

However, could someone please tell me if understanding of the aforementioned verse is correct?

(New American Standard Bible) NASB
Psalm 18:21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, And have not wickedly departed from my God.

(New King James Version) NKJV
Psalm 18:21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, And have not wickedly departed from my God.

(New International Version) NIV
Psalm 18:21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I am not guilty of turning from my God.

enter image description here

4 Answers 4


"Wickedly" is an adverb in that sentence. It means that turning away from God would have been the wicked thing to do. Young's Literal Translation reads a little better.

"For I have kept the ways of Jehovah, And have not done wickedly against my God." (Psa. 18:21, YLT)

Brown-Driver-Brigs has the first definition of "rasha" as "1. be wicked, act wickedly....(in departing) from my God,..." Source: Biblehub

It is not speaking of how we turn away from God, but that we turn away from Him. In other words, to turn away from God is a wicked thing to do.

The background of this Psalm is of David's deliverance from the evil at the hand of Saul (vs.1), so possibly before David's sins with Bathsheba. But, there is the possibility that this Psalm is attributed to the Messiah.

Excerpt from Adam Clarke's Commentary:

"The reader is requested to turn to the notes on 2 Samuel 22:1, for some curious information on this Psalm, particularly what is extracted from Dr. Kennicott. This learned writer supposes the whole to be a song of the Messiah, and divides it into five parts, which he thus introduces: -

"The Messiah's sublime thanksgivings, composed by David when his wars were at an end, towards the conclusion of his life. And in this sacred song the goodness of God is celebrated,

For Messiah's resurrection from the dead, with the wonders attending that awful event, and soon following it.

For the punishment inflicted on the Jews; particularly by the destruction of Jerusalem. And,

For the obedience of the Gentile nations. See Romans 15:9; Hebrews 2:13; and Matthew 28:2-4; with Matthew 24:7, Matthew 24:29."

And that the title now prefixed to this hymn here and in 2 Samuel 22:1, describes only the time of its composition, seems evident; for who can ascribe to David himself as the subject, 2 Samuel 22:5, 2 Samuel 22:6, 2 Samuel 22:8-17, 2 Samuel 22:21-26, 2 Samuel 22:30, 2 Samuel 22:42, 2 Samuel 22:44, etc.?

In Dr. Kennicott's remarks there is a new translation of the whole Psalm, p. 178, etc.

The strong current of commentators and critics apply this Psalm to Christ; and to oppose a whole host of both ancients and moderns would argue great self-confidence. In the main I am of the same mind; and on this principle chiefly I shall proceed to its illustration; still however considering that there are many things in it which concern David, and him only." Source: StudyLight

All turning away from God is sin and is wicked. And, whether we acknowledge it or not, we are responsible for that sin. It is our choice. It does not imply that we cannot repent of that sin and ask for forgiveness.

  • Good answer @Gina. (+1) The word רָ֝שַׁ֗עְתִּי describes a state of things (wicked in this case) without comment about intention. However the verse itself says that to turn from God is wicked.
    – Dottard
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 22:20

First, I think your idea that turning away from God involves intention or at least culpable neglect is correct.

With respect to Adam Clarke, et. al., David was talking about himself. He was not boasting to God; instead, he was contrasting himself with his enemies.

2 Samuel 22.26-28 (ESV)

26 “With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;

27 with the purified you deal purely, and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.

28 You save a humble people, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down.

"Blameless" did not mean without fault with mathematical precision; it referred to a person genuinely pursuing God. In contrast were those who either did not know God, who ignored him, or who paid lip service to him.

  • 1
    There’s not enough wrong with this post for me to make an edit, but you should know that it’s “Adam Clarke et al.” not “Adam Clarke, et. al.” Et is Latin for “and.” Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 0:13
  • You got me. +1.
    – Steve11235
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 5:09
  • 1
    @Steve11235 With the use of words like "blameless", "pure", etc., would Psalm 18's verses be considered as Hyperbole expression in biblical scripture? : apologeticspress.org/… Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 14:31
  • 1
    I think Jesus used hyperbole at times in his sermons. Here, I think it is more of a difference in culture. We're used to absolutes, where the ancients seem to have a more pragmatic concept.
    – Steve11235
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 20:30

Rashathi means "I have done wickedly/I have done wrong"

The prefix before "my God" (min) means "against" in this kind of context.

Oftentimes, the combination of wa (and) and la (not) (w'la) is best translated by a simple '-' if what follows is a typical Hebrew parallelism (restating what preceded in another way, for rhetorical effect).

Hence, I would translate it something like, "For I have kept the ways of the Lord - I have done my God no wrong." The Septuagint actually vindicates this translation (even though Brenton translates it "wickedly departed from my God") because this is one of the instances where the LXX translates Hebrew 'literally' - translates in such a way as to give a wink and a nod to Hebrew-speaking readers as to what the original Hebrew was, while still giving an intelligible Greek version. It gives us οτι εφυλαξα οδους κυριου και ουκ ησεβησα απο του θεου μου (I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not acted wickedly from my God).

If the assertion "I have done him no wrong" seems too wrong or unqualified, it's implicitly qualified in that it's the rhetorical rephrasing of "I have kept the ways of the Lord," meaning, obviously, to such a degree as to be considered a righteous person - and not absolutely, perfectly.

Or, given the above, perhaps it's best translated: "I have kept Yahweh's ways - I have done my God no wrong." Translating it like this better gives the 'repeating the same thing for rhetorical effect' sense present in the Hebrew.


My answer is that, David believed the promises as spoken to Abraham, and it was counted righteousness to Abraham because he believed what was given him and All those who Believed, delivered them into a “state of being and therefore characterized their lifestyle as being Sanctified or being in a state of sanctification”. “Not because of works of righteousness which we have done, but because of His mercy, He saved/ delivered us.” Salvation has always been by Faith, that is ultimately how anyone is saved be Believing God’s Revelation, whether Adam who was covered with the sacrifice that God Himself provided, given him as he acknowledged his sin of disobedience for he had an admitted Consciences of sin Or of the Apostle Paul who stated, when he came to own his sin, stated, “oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?! I thank God through Jesus Christ!! IE, “He hath delivered me!”

In conclusion, whether Abraham or us, we believed God (Hie revelation regarding us). and it was counted righteousness ! And for those since Christ’s Sacrifice, His Spirit has been given ( indwelling) us and because of Him, we produce fruit to eternal life, being in a state of sanctification, having been given a new nature.

  • Welcome to the site, Yochanan. If you take the 'Tour' below, left, you will see how to frame answers so that they are hermeneutical, and not just giving a personal opinion. Your first sentence would have worked if you'd then gone on to examine the verse in light of related points about David. But most of your answer dealt with New Testament points, not Hebrew points in the time of David. If you can make the answer about David, that would be good.
    – Anne
    Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 12:13
  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 12:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.