Most translations like the NASB render it as:

Then I said, “It is my grief, that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”

But does the Hebrew actually say:

Then I said, “I grieve for the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

Most translations do not agree on what this passage is conveying, and they differ wildly in translation. Doesn't the context of Asaph grieving the past years of deliverance by God's right hand make more sense, especially given the following verses in the surrounding context?

1 Answer 1


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The interpretation is difficult due the Hebrew being uncertain. So translators turn to context to understand what the psalmist is conveying. The psalm is a lament that God's power (his right hand) and compassion (his love) no longer seem to protect his people as they did in past times. The NASB precedes this verse as follows:

Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His favor ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever? Has God forgotten to be gracious, Or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion?

Both translations make sense in this context. The poet longs for the years when God protected Israel with his power. He also bemoans the fact that God's "right hand" seems to have "changed" in the sense that it has been withdrawn.

I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; I will certainly remember Your wonders of old... You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples. By Your power You have redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph.

The word "changed" does not convey this meaning very well. The more recent NABRE translation is not literal, but it does interpret the poetic sense elegantly:

My sorrow is this, the right hand of the Most High has abandoned us.

Conclusion: The psalmist grieves over the withdrawal of God's favor and protection. In that sense, God's right hand itself has not changed, but one of its attributes is not longer evident: its function of protecting Israel. The OP's suggestion is excellent as it honors the original text while also clarifying its meaning: “I grieve for the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

  • Thanks for the insight which clarified my suspicion. The other translations need to come together and restore this verse to it's proper rendering for contextual integrity, because in the other renderings it comes off that God or his Right Hand have "changed", even though God never changes.
    – Joshua B
    Commented Feb 17 at 3:34

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