Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Fourth Sunday in Lent B


O give thanksA to the Lord,B for he is good,C
    for his steadfast loveD endures forever.E

Notes on verse 1

A “give thanks” = yadah. From yad (hand). This is to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise. So, it is to praise, give thanks, or make a confession.
B “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.
C “good” = 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.
D “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.
E “forever” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).

Let the redeemedF of the Lord sayG so,
    those he redeemed from troubleH

Notes on verse 2

F “redeemed” = gaal. This is to redeem someone or something according to kinship laws. So, it could be acting on a relative’s behalf to buy back their property, to marry one’s brother’s widow, etc. This could be more briefly translated as to redeem, acts as kinsman, or purchase. As a noun, it could be deliverer or avenger.
G “say” = amar. This is to speak, say, answer, command, promise, report.
H “trouble” = yad + tsar. Literally, “the hand of the enemy.” Yad is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it. Tsar is from tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). Properly, this is a narrow or constricted place. Figuratively, it can be trouble, a pebble, an enemy, anguish, or distress.

and gatheredI in from the lands,J
    from the eastK and from the west,L
    from the northM and from the south.N

Notes on verse 3

I “gathered” = qabats. This is to collect, assemble, heap, grasp, or gather.
J “lands” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
K “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.
L “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.
M “north” = tsaphon. From tsaphan (to hide, hoard, reserve; to cover over or figuratively to deny; also to lurk). This is properly hidden, dark, or gloomy. It can also be used to refer to the north.
N “south” = 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.

17 Some were sickO through their sinfulP waysQ
    and because of their iniquitiesR endured affliction;S

Notes on verse 17

O “sick” = evil. Root may be to be preserve. This is a fool or, figuratively, silly.
P “sinful” = 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.
Q “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.
R “iniquities” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.
S “endured affliction” = anah. This is to be occupied with. It can also be bowed down. It can refer to a sense of humility or to a sense of being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed. This can be literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance.

18 theyT loathedU any kindV of food,W

Notes on verse 18a

T “they” = 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.
U “loathed” = taab. From toebah (abomination, loathsome, something morally disgusting or abhorrent). This is to abhor, despise, to reject, to act abominably.
V “any kind” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
W “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.

    and they drew nearX to the gatesY of death.Z

Notes on verse 18b

X “drew near” = naga. This is touch, reach, arrive, come near, strike. This is touching for any reason including sexual or violent.
Y “gates” = shaar. May be related to sha’ar (to calculate or reckon; may come from a root that means to open up or split). This is a gate, door, or other opening like a port.
Z “death” = mavet. From muth (to die in a literal or figurative sense). This can be death, deadliness, the dead, or the place where the dead go. It can be used figuratively for pestilence or ruin.

19 Then they criedAA to the LordBB in their trouble,CC
    and he savedDD them from their distress;EE

Notes on verse 19

AA “cried” = zaaq. This is to cry or call out. It can be a call to assemble or gather together. By analogy, this could refer to a herald who announces a public gathering. It could also be a shriek from pain or danger.
BB “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “Lord” in v1. From the same as YHVH (see note B above). This is a secondary spelling of the Lord, the name of the God of Israel. It has the same meaning.
CC “trouble” = tsar. Same as “trouble” in v2. See note H above.
DD “saved” = yasha. To deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue, be safe. Properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. Used causatively, it means to free.
EE “distress” = metsuqah. 7x in OT. From tsuq (to press on, compress; figuratively, to oppress or bring distress). This is straits or narrowness. Figuratively, it is stress, trouble, or anguish.

20 he sentFF out his wordGG and healedHH them
    and deliveredII them from destruction.JJ

Notes on verse 20

FF “sent” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
GG “word” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
HH “healed” = rapha. Properly, this is to repair by stitching – figuratively this means to heal or cure. It can also mean to make whole.
II “delivered” = malat. This is to be smooth, which implies to escape as slipping away from. It can also be release, rescue, deliver, or preserve. It can be used specifically to meaning giving birth or making sparks.
JJ “destruction” = shechith. 2x in OT. From shachah (to bow down, make a humble entreaty, to do homage to royalty or to God). This is a pit in a literal or figurative sense. It could mean destruction.

21 Let them thankKK the LordLL for his steadfast love,
    for his wonderful worksMM to humankind.NN

Notes on verse 21

KK “thank” = yadah. Same as “give thanks” in v1. See note A above.
LL “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note B above.
MM “wonderful works” = pala. From pele (wonder, miracle, wonderful, marvelous thing). This is to be extraordinary, to arise, to be great or accomplish.
NN “humankind” = ben + adam. Literally, “children of humanity.” Ben is from banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Adam is perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.

22 And let them offerOO thanksgivingPP sacrificesQQ

Notes on verse 22a

OO “offer” = zabach. This is slaughtering an animal, generally for the purpose of sacrifice. It can mean kill or offer.
PP “thanksgiving” = todah. Related to “trouble” in v2 & to “give thanks” in v1. From yadah (see note A above). This is properly extending one’s hand, which implies affirmation and adoration. It can be a song of thanksgiving, a choir of thanksgiving, confession, or praise. It can also be a thank offering.
QQ “sacrifices” = zebach. Related to “offer” in v22. From zabach (see note OO above). This is a slaughter – literally of an animal. So, it implies the act or the animals used in sacrifice. Further, it can mean offering.

    and tellRR of his deedsSS with songs of joy.TT

Notes on verse 22b

RR “tell” = saphar. From sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.
SS “deeds” = maaseh. From asah (to do, make, accomplish, become). This is a work – any action whether positive or negative. It can also be a transaction, construction, activity, property, or something that is produced.
TT “songs of joy” = rinnah. From ranan (a cry of joy or a joyful song; properly, emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy). This is a song, shout, cry of joy, or proclamation. It could also be a shout of grief.

Image credit: “Sea Dragon” by Nathan Rupert, 2013.

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