To Know, Guard or Watch Over? (Ps. 1:6, Heb. "Yada")

When I was reading Psalm 1 some days ago, I realized that the HCSB translation had a quite different rendering of verse 6 than NKJV/NASB that I remembered from previous reading.

Psalm 1:6 in HCSB states:

For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

Other translations that also uses “watches over”, is NLT-SE, TNIV, NIV and NRSV. The CEV translation uses “protects”.


The NET translation is somewhat similar:

Certainly the LORD guards the way of the godly, but the way of the wicked ends in destruction.

The most traditional translation seems to be “knows”, for example in the NAS95:

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.

Other translations that uses “knows”, “is knowing” or “knoweth” includes ESV, KJV, NKJV, YLT, BISHOP and Webster.

AMP is also somewhat similar:

For the Lord knows and is fully acquainted with the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly [those living outside God’s will] shall perish (end in ruin and come to nought).

But The Message and BBE is different:

GOD charts the road you take. The road they take is Skid Row.


Because the Lord sees the way of the upright, but the end of the sinner is destruction. As usual, the NET Bible Notes’ translator note (by W. Hall Harris, ed.) is good here:

Heb “the LORD knows the way of the righteous.” To “know a way” means, in its most basic sense, “to recognize/acknowledge a pathway, route, or prescribed way of life” (see Josh 3:4; Job 21:14; Ps 67:2; Isa 42:16; Jer 5:4-5). Here it could refer to the Lord recognizing the behavior of the godly and, by metonymy, rewarding their godliness with security and prosperity (resulting in the translation, “the LORD rewards the behavior of the godly”). The present translation takes the verb in the sense of “mark out” (cf. Job 23:10), which metonymically could mean “watch over, protect, guard.” In this case the “way of the godly” is not their behavior, but their course of life or destiny; a translation reflecting this would be “the LORD protects the lives of the godly” or “the LORD watches over the destiny of the godly” (cf. NEB, NIV, NRSV). The Hebrew active participle HebrewYodea (yodea’, “knows”) has here a characteristic durative force.

It’s interesting to compare this to other places where the same Hebrew word is used. But how I read or understand this, also depends on how I view God. If I know in my heart that He’s a good Daddy in Heaven, I know that He have good plans for you, and I might see the connection to Jeremiah 29:11 (HCSB):

For I know the plans I have for you”–this is the LORD’s declaration–“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. The same Hebrew word is used in this passage, but here it seems like most translations uses “know” for yada / HebrewYada in this verse.On the other hand, if I see God as the “Great Policeman in the sky”, I will not feel at rest with God watching my every step. But if I know that Papa have good plans for my life, I won’t feel bad knowing that He knows, tracks or charts my ways.

Anyway, for Psalm 1:6, I think HCSB, TNIV, NRSV, NET and so on has a better translation that makes more sense. “Guards” or “watches over” seems like the best choice to me … Happy