Psalm 5:3, ESV:

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

However, from the NIV:

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.

Translations I read seem quite split on whether the narrator is offering prayers or sacrifices.

Why the differences in translations here? Also, what kind of a Temple service would this have likely been used in? My initial thought based on the ESV that this would've been used as part of morning sacrifices, but based on the confusion surrounding the translation I'm not sure.

2 Answers 2


I was about to offer my literal translation of Ps 5:3 and noticed that the NASB produced a very similar result:

In the morning, LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will present to You and be on the watch.

[The NASB inserts "my prayer" in the second clause but puts it in italics as an acknowledgement that that it is supplied and not in the Hebrew.]

Notice that neither "prayer" nor "sacrifice" is mentioned. However, the fact that David askes God to hear his prayer in the morning implies a prayer. However, no sacrifice is even implied.

Thus, versions like ESV, Amplified Bible are interpretive by using the word "sacrifice"; however, these are the only two versions that make this interpretation. Almost all have "prayer", "requests", "plea" or similar.

"Sacrifice" is also absent from the LXX and Latin Vulgate.


The Hebrew line in question is "בֹּקֶר אֶעֱרׇךְ־לְךָ" — literally, "in the morning I shall arrange to You". No Jewish interpretation of this Hebrew that I can find talks at all about sacrifices here. The Jewish understanding seems to be closer to your second translation of "laying requests before You", then.

Rashi, the famous 11th century commentator, shares this opinion.

  • It would be beneficial to readers if you could summarize what you have linked to. This makes it possible to know what you are referencing in case the link ever goes dead.
    – agarza
    Commented Aug 26, 2023 at 16:02
  • Both are links to Sefaria, which can be likened to a Jewish version of BibleGateway. It's the largest free online repository of Jewish literature, including the Bible, and offers many useful tools including easy access to Biblical commentators.
    – AAM111
    Commented Aug 26, 2023 at 17:28
  • That is fine. Please read the Help Center's article on How do I write a good answer? as to providing context for links.
    – agarza
    Commented Aug 26, 2023 at 17:37

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