Psalm 103:6-14

Psalm 103:6-14
NL 220


The LordA worksB vindicationC

Notes on verse 6a

A “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
B “works” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
C “vindication” = tsedaqah. From the same as tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, vindication. It is everything that is just or ethical. That which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense. It also includes just weights (i.e. true weights). Figuratively, this is justice, righteousness, equity – even prosperity). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.

    and justiceD for allE who are oppressed.F

Notes on verse 6b

D “justice” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
E “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
F “oppressed” = ashaq. This is to wrong, deceive, violate, or use oppression.

He made knownG his waysH to Moses,I

Notes on verse 7a

G “made known” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
H “ways” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
I “Moses” = Mosheh. From mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose.

    his actsJ to the peopleK of Israel.L
The Lord is mercifulM and gracious,N

Notes on verses 7b-8a

J “acts” = alilah. From alal (to affect, do, practice, mock, overdo, glean, abuse, pain). This is a deed or action – something that causes an effect. It could be a wanton or shameful deed or an opportunity.
K “people” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
L “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + El (God or god). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
M “merciful” = rachum. 13x in OT. From the same as rechem (womb); from racham (to love, have compassion, have mercy); from racham (compassion, tender love, womb, compassion; the womb as that which cherishes the fetus). This is compassionate or merciful.
N “gracious” = channun. 13x in OT. From chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is gracious, compassionate, merciful, having pity on.

    slowO to angerP and aboundingQ in steadfast love.R

Notes on verse 8b

O “slow” = arek. 15x in OT. From arak (to be long in a literal or figurative sense, to continue, defer, draw out, endure, delay). This is long, patience, or slow.
P “anger” = aph. From anaph (to be angry; properly, breathing hard as a signifier of being enraged). This properly refers to the nose or nostril and by extension the face. It can specifically refer to anger or wrath as one breathes hard and nostrils flare in times of great anger.
Q “abounding” = rab. From rabab (increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.). This is abundance, many, elder, exceedingly, great. It refers to abundance of amount, rank, or status.
R “steadfast love” = chesed. From chasad (being good, kind, merciful; may mean bowing one’s neck as is done in the presence of an equal for courtesy’s sake; so, if one in a superior position is treating you like an equal, that is what is captured here). This is favor, goodness, kindness, loving kindness, pity, reproach, or a good deed. When done by God to humanity, this is mercy/loving kindness. When done by humanity to God, it is piety.

He will not alwaysS accuse,T
    nor will he keepU his anger forever.V

Notes on verse 9

S “always” = netsach. From natsach (something that glitters from a distance or stands out, excels, has status/standing; also to be permanent or enduring). This is properly a goal or destination as the bright focus to which one journeys. It can be splendor, truthfulness, or confidence. Most often, it refers to everlastingness, always, continually.
T “accuse” = rib. This is properly to toss or grapple. It is used figuratively to mean wrangling and so for arguments, complaints, or disputes. It is used in a legal setting for pleading or defending a case.
U “keep” = natar. 9x in OT. This is to guard, keep, reserve, take care of. Figuratively, it could be to keep a grudge or hold on to anger.
V “forever” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).

10 He does not dealW with us according to our sinsX
    nor repayY us according to our iniquities.Z

Notes on verse 10

W “deal” = asah. Same as “works” in v6. See note B above.
X “sins” = chet. From chata (to miss, sin, bear blame, to forfeit, lack). This is sin, fault, or punishment of sin.
Y “repay” = gamal. This is how one deals with someone whether positively or negatively – so to reward, requite. It can also mean to wean or the work that goes into something ripening.
Z “iniquities” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.

11 For as the heavensAA are highBB above the earth,CC
    so greatDD is his steadfast love toward those who fearEE him;

Notes on verse 11

AA “heavens” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.
BB “are high” = gabahh. This is to soar or be lofty. So, this is to be high or lift up literally. Figuratively it means to be exalted or proud.
CC “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
DD “great” = gabar. This is to be strong or mighty. It can mean to prevail or to be insolent.
EE “fear” = yare. From the same as yare (to fear, be afraid, dreadful; also fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect). This is fearful or morally reverent.

12 as far asFF the eastGG is from the west,HH
    so far he removesII our transgressionsJJ from us.

Notes on verse 12

FF “as far as” = rachaq. This is to widen, become distant, cast, or remove. It can be in a literal or figurative sense.
GG “east” = mizrach. From zarach (to rise, shine, or dawn; can also describe symptoms of leprosy). This is the east as the place where the sun rises. It can also refer to the sunrise itself.
HH “west” = maarab. 14x in OT. From the same as ereb (evening, night, twilight); perhaps from arab (to become dark or become evening). This is the west as the place where the sun sets. It can also refer to the setting itself.
II “removes” = rachaq. Same as “as far as” in v12. See note FF above.
JJ “transgressions” = pesha. From pasha (to rebel, offend, quarrel; making a break from proper authority so can also refer to an apostate). This is transgression, rebellion, or sin. It could be a revolt on a national scale or an individual moral one.

13 As a fatherKK has compassionLL for his children,MM
    so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
14 For he knows how we were made;NN
    he remembersOO that we are dust.PP

Notes on verses 13-14

KK “father” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.
LL “has compassion” = racham. Related to “merciful” in v8. See note M above.
MM “children” = ben. Same as “people” in v7. See note K above.
NN “made” = yetser. 9x in OT. From yatsar (to fashion or form, perhaps by squeezing something into a shape or form; to create as a potter does; figuratively, to determine). This is a form, framing, intention, imagination, conception, inclination.
OO “remembers” = zakar. This is to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention.
PP “dust” = aphar. Related to aphar (to throw dust, be dust). This is dust as powdered, perhaps gray colored. It could be ashes, powder, ground, dry earth, clay mud, or rubbish.

Image credit: “Egyptian Artifacts. National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece.” Photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis, 2009.

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