Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Pentecost A


24 O Lord,A how manifold areB your works!C

Notes on verse 24a

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 “manifold are” = rabab. 13x in OT. This is to increase, multiply, abound.
C “works” = maaseh. From asah (to do, make, accomplish, become). This is a word – any action whether positive or negative. It can also be a transaction, construction, activity, property, or something that is produced.

    In wisdomD you have madeE them all;F
    the earthG is fullH of your creatures.I

Notes on verse 24b

D “wisdom” = chokmah. From chakam (to be wise or teach wisdom; this is wisdom in thought, word, or action). This is wisdom, wit, or skillfulness.
E “made” = asah. Related to “works” in v24. See note C above.
F “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
G “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
H “is full” = male. This is fill, satisfy, replenish, accomplish, fulfill, confirm, or consecrate. It is fill in a literal or figurative sense.
I “creatures” = qinyan. 10x in OT. From qanah (to get, acquire, purchase, move to jealousy, buyer, keep cattle). This is possession, substance, creation, wealth.

25 There is the sea,J greatK and wide;L

Notes on verse 25a

J “sea” = yam. Root may mean to roar. This is the sea, often referring to the Mediterranean. It comes from the root in the sense of the roar of crashing surf. This word is sometimes used for rivers or other sources of water. It can mean to the west or to the south.
K “great” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.
L “wide” = rachab + yad. Rachab is from rachab (to grow wide or enlarge in a literal or figurative sense; extend, relieve, rejoice, or speak boldly). This is wide, extensive, spacious, or vast. It is roomy in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean liberty or proud. Yad is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.

    creeping thingsM innumerableN are there,
    living thingsO both smallP and great.

Notes on verse 25b

M “creeping things” = remes. 17x in OT. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
N “innumerable” = ayin + mispar. Mispar is from the same as sepher (writing itself or something that is written like a document, book, letter, evidence, bill, scroll, or register); from saphar (to tally or record something; to enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare). This is a number, whether definite or symbolic – could be innumerable, few, abundance. It can also be a tally or account – or a narration.
O “living things” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.
P “small” = qatan. From quwt (grieved, cut off, to detest). This is least, small, young, little one. It is literally smaller whether in amount or size. Figuratively it is smaller in the sense of younger or less important.

26 There goQ the shipsR
    and LeviathanS that you formedT to sportU in it.

Notes on verse 26

Q “go” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
R “ships” = oniyyah. From the same as oni (ships, a fleet); probably from anah (to meet, happen, approach). This is ships or sailors.
S “Leviathan” = Livyathan. 6x in OT. From the same as livyah (a wreath or garland – as something entwined); from lavah (to join, twine, unite, remain, borrow, lend). This is levitation – a sea monster or snakelike creature. It may be symbolic of Babylon or mourning.
T “formed” = yatsar. Perhaps related to yatsar (to be narrow, distressed, or vexed); perhaps related to tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). This is to fashion or form, perhaps by squeezing something into a shape or form. Particularly, it is to create as a potter does. Figuratively, it is to determine.
U “sport” = sachaq. This is to laugh, celebrate, joke, mock, scorn. This is laughing, whether for joy or scorn. It can imply plays or holding a contest.

27 These all lookV to you
    to giveW them their foodX in due season;Y

Notes on verse 27

V “look” = sabar. 8x in OT. This is to look, inspect, wait. It can imply watching for in a hopeful and patient manner.
W “give” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
X “food” = okel. From akal (to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume; eating in a literal or figurative sense). This is food, supply of provisions, the act of eating, or the time when one eats.
Y “due season” = et. Probably from anah (to answer, sing, announce); from ad (forever, all, old); from adah (to pass on, advance, decorate oneself). This is a period or season. It can also mean whenever or continually.

28 when you give to them, they gather it up;Z
    when you openAA your hand,BB they are filledCC with good things.DD

Notes on verse 28

Z “gather…up” = laqat. This is to pick up, glean, gather.
AA “open” = patach. This is to open wide in a literal or figurative sense. So, it is open, draw out, let something go free, break forth. It can also mean to plow, engrave, or carve.
BB “hand” = yad. Same as “wide” in v25. See note L above.
CC “filled” = saba. To be satisfied or full in a literal or figurative sense. Also, to have plenty of.
DD “good things” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.

29 When you hideEE your face,FF they are dismayed;GG

Notes on verse 29a

EE “hide” = sathar. This is hide, conceal, or be absent. It is hiding because something is covered – used in a literal or figurative sense.
FF “face” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
GG “dismayed” = bahal. To be afraid or dismayed or amazed. This is deep trembling within. So, figuratively, it refers to being suddenly agitated. This implies moving or acting quickly/anxiously.

    when you take awayHH their breath,II they dieJJ
    and returnKK to their dust.LL

Notes on verse 29b

HH “take away” = asaph. This is to gather, assemble, or bring. It can also mean to take away, destroy, or remove.
II “breath” = ruach. This is breath, wind, air, cool, spirit. This is wind, which resembles the breath and so this can be used figuratively for life itself or being frail/mortal/impermanent. It can refer to the air of the sky or the spirit.
JJ “die” = gava. This is to breathe out, which implies expire or die.
KK “return” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
LL “dust” = aphar. May be 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.

30 When you send forthMM your spirit,NN they are created,OO
    and you renewPP the face of the ground.QQ

Notes on verse 30

MM “send forth” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
NN “spirit” = ruach. Same as “breath” in v29. See note II above.
OO “created” = bara. This is to create, shape, choose, or select. It is the word used in Genesis 1:1 when God created the heavens and the earth.
PP “renew” = chadash. 10x in OT. This is to renew or restore, to repair or rebuild.
QQ “ground” = adamah. From the same as adam (man, humankind); perhaps from ‘adom (to be red). This is ground, earth, soil as red, or land.

31 May the gloryRR of the Lord endureSS forever;TT
    may the Lord rejoiceUU in his works—

Notes on verse 31

RR “glory” = kabod. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is weighty. Figuratively, glorious, abundant, riches, honor, splendor – a reference to one’s reputation or character. This word is often used to describe God and God’s presence.
SS “endure” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v24. See note A above.
TT “forever” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
UU “rejoice” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.

32 who looksVV on the earth and it trembles,WW
    who touchesXX the mountainsYY and they smoke.ZZ

Notes on verse 32

VV “looks” = nabat. This is to behold, look at intently, consider, or scan. It can mean to have respect or regard someone favorably.
WW “trembles” = raad. 4x in OT. This is to quake or shudder.
XX “touches” = naga. This is touch, reach, arrive, come near, strike. This is touching for any reason including sexual or violent.
YY “mountains” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
ZZ “smoke” = ashan. 6x in OT. From ashan (smoke, vapor, dust, or anger). This is to smoke or burn in a literal or figurative sense; to be angry.

33 I will singAAA to the Lord as long as I live;BBB
    I will sing praiseCCC to my GodDDD while I have being.

Notes on verse 33

AAA “sing” = shir. From shir (to sing; one who is singing or leading others in song). This is song or singer.
BBB “live” = chay. Same as “living things” in v25. See note O above.
CCC “sing praise” = zamar. Perhaps from zamar (to trim or prune). This is making music. It is used specially of music to worship God. So, music with singing, singing praise, or singing psalms.
DDD “God” = Elohim.

34 May my meditationEEE be pleasingFFF to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinnersGGG be consumedHHH from the earth,
    and let the wickedIII be no more.

Notes on verses 34-35a

EEE “meditation” = siach. 13x in OT. Perhaps from siyach (to muse, meditate, complain, sing, sigh, speak, or utter). This is a musing, concern, communication, or prayer.
FFF “be pleasing” = arab. 8x in OT. Perhaps related to arab (to bargain, barter, give or take in pledge; to braid or intermingle). This is to be pleasing, agreeable, or sweet.
GGG “sinners” = chatta. 19x in OT. From chata (to miss, sin, carry blame, lack). This is sinful or sinner. It is a criminal or someone who is seen as guilty.
HHH “consumed” = tamam. This is to finish or accomplish. It is to make perfect, demonstrate that you are upright, consume or cease. It is to complete in a literal or figurative sense, positive or negative.
III “wicked” = rasha. This is morally wrong so it refers to someone who is actively bad as wicked, criminal, an evil person, offender, condemned, or ungodly.

BlessJJJ the Lord, O my soul.KKK
PraiseLLL the Lord!MMM

Notes on verse 35b

JJJ “bless” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.
KKK “soul” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
LLL “praise” = halal. This is to be clear – it originally referred to a sound, then a color. It was to shine and then make a show or boast then to rave. In a causative sense it came to mean celebrate, give glory, sing praise, or be worth of praise. Because of the celebratory nature of the word, it could also mean to give in marriage. This is where Hallelujah comes from.
MMM “Lord” = Yah. Related to “Lord” in v24 & “endure” in v31. From YHVH (see note A above). This is Lord or God – a shortened form of God’s most holy name.

Image credit: “Mosaic with a ketos (sea monster) found at Caulonia (Monasterace) in the Casa del Drago, 3rd century BC, Monsters. Fantastic Creatures of Fear and Myth Exhibition, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome.” Photo by Carole Raddato, 2014.

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