The text is attributed to David in the Masoretic text. The Septuagint has the additional specification of Τῷ Δαυΐδ, πρὸς τὸν Γολιάδ "David against Goliath", putting the text in the context of the narrative of David's fight against Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.
The first verse is rendered in the KJV as "Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight". This translates the Hebrew ברוך יהוה צורי המלמד ידי לקרב אצבעותי למלחמה׃, where "my strength" renders צורי (lit. "my rock"). But the Septuagint has
- Εὐλογητὸς Κύριος ὁ Θεός μου ὁ διδάσκων τὰς χεῖράς μου εἰς παράταξιν, τοὺς δακτύλους μου εἰς πόλεμον
putting Θεός μου "my god" where the Hebrew has "my rock/strength". This was the text rendered by the Vulgata Clementina,
- Benedictus Dominus Deus meus, qui docet manus meas ad prælium, et digitos meos ad bellum.
This Latin translation was the one which was influential in Western Christianity during the Middle Ages. With the development of the ideal of the knighthood in the 12th century, the verse came to be seen as a fitting prayer for the Christian warrior, and references to it are found inscribed on a number of high medieval swords, most notably on the pommel of the Imperial Sword of Otto IV (made c. 1198).
Psalm 144 is recited in some communities before maariv office at the end of Shabbat. This psalm is recited in some congregation before Maariv on Motzei Shabbat. Verse 15 is the second verse of Ashrei and is also the eighth verse of Hoshia Et Amecha in Pesukei Dezimra. The 15th verse of the psalm is the prayer of Ashrei, and in zemirot.
This psalm was selected to the office of Vespers by St. Benedict of Nursia in 530AD. It was therefore traditionally performed during Vespers of Friday, according to the Rule of St. Benedict. As Psalm 144 is long enough, Benedict divided it in two. So verses from Deus canticum novum cantabo tibi were his division, and vespers Friday had only three psalms instead of quatre.
In the Liturgy of the Hours, Psalm 144 is now recited Vespers of Thursday the fourth semaine7.
Set to music
In September 2015, a gun shop in Apopka, Florida produced an AR-15 engraved with Psalm 144:1, ostensibly so that it could "never ... be used by Muslim terrorists”. The Council on American–Islamic Relations responded with disapproval.
- The Complete Artscroll Siddur, p. 592
- The Complete Artscroll Siddur, p. 65-67
- D’après le Complete Artscroll Siddur, compilation des prières juives
- Prosper Guéranger, Règle de saint Benoît, traduction, (Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, réimpression 2007) p47.
- Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique,, 1938/2003 p. 530.
- "Apopka gun maker etches scripture on assault rifle". WOGX Fox 51. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
- Nosson Scherman, The Complete Artscroll Siddur (1984), Mesorah Publications, ISBN 978-0899066509.