Psalm 104:27-30

Psalm 104:27-30
Narrative Lectionary 431


27 These allA lookB to you
    to giveC them their foodD in due season;E

Notes on verse 27

A “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
B “look” = sabar. 8x in NT. This is to look, inspect, wait. It can imply watching for in a hopeful and patient manner.
C “give” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
D “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.
E “due season” = eth. 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;F
    when you openG your hand,H they are filledI with good things.J

Notes on verse 28

F “gather…up” = laqat. This is to pick up, glean, gather.
G “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.
H “hand” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
I “filled” = saba. To be satisfied or full in a literal or figurative sense. Also, to have plenty of.
J “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 hideK your face,L they are dismayed;M

Notes on verse 29a

K “hide” = sathar. This is hide, conceal, or be absent. It is hiding because something is covered – used in a literal or figurative sense.
L “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.
M “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 awayN their breath,O they dieP
    and returnQ to their dust.R

Notes on verse 29b

N “take away” = asaph. This is to gather, assemble, or bring. It can also mean to take away, destroy, or remove.
O “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.
P “die” = gava. This is to breathe out, which implies expire or die.
Q “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.”
R “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 forthS your spirit,T they are created;U
    and you renewV the face of the ground.W

Notes on verse 30

S “send forth” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
T “spirit” = ruach. Same as “breath” in v29. See note O above.
U “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.
V “renew” = chadash. 10x in OT. This is to renew or restore, to repair or rebuild.
W “ground” = adamah. From the same as adam (man, humankind); perhaps from ‘adom (to be red). This is ground, earth, soil as red, or land.

Image credit: “Swan, Comfort and Warmth” by Jean-Daniel Echenard, 2011.

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