Psalm 113

Psalm 113
Ordinary C43


PraiseA the Lord!B
Praise, O servantsC of the Lord;D
    praise the nameE of the Lord.F

Notes on verse 1

A “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.
B “Lord” = Yah. From YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; God, Lord; the self-existent or eternal one); from havah (to become) or hayah (to be, become, happen)}. This is Lord or God – a  shortened form of God’s most holy name.
C “servants” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.
D “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “Lord” in v1. See note B above.
E “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
F “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note D above.

2 BlessedG beH the name of the Lord
    from this time on and forevermore.I

Notes on verse 2

G “blessed” = 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.
H “be” = hayah. Related to “Lord” and “Lord” in v1. See note B above.
I “forevermore” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).

From the risingJ of the sunK to its settingL
    the name of the LordM is to be praised.

Notes on verse 3

J “rising” = 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.
K “sun” = shemesh. This is sun or toward the east. Its root may mean being brilliant. Figuratively, this could be a ray or an arch.
L “setting” = mabo. From bo (to come in, go in, enter). This is entrance, coming in – the process of entering or the place of entrance. It can also mean the setting of the sun i.e. the west.
M “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note D above.

The LordN is highO above all nations,P
    and his gloryQ above the heavens.R

Notes on verse 4

N “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note D above.
O “is high” = rum. This is to rise or raise, to be high literally or figuratively. So it can also mean to exalt or extol.
P “nations” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.
Q “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.
R “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.

5 Who is like the LordS our God,T
    who is seatedU on high,V
who looksW far downX
    on the heavens and the earth?Y

Notes on verses 5-6

S “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note D above.
T “God” = Elohim.
U “is seated” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
V “on 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.
W “looks” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
X “far down” = shaphel. This is to be low, sink, be cast down, put down, humble, or humiliate.
Y “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

He raisesZ the poorAA from the dust,BB

Notes on verse 7a

Z “raises” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.
AA “poor” = dal. From dalal (to be low, hang, fade, be emptied, become poor, be oppressed). This is lean, weak, needy, poor. Properly, it is one who is dangling.
BB “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.

    and liftsCC the needyDD from the ash heap,EE

Notes on verse 7b

CC “lifts” = rum. Same as “is high” in v4. See note O above.
DD “needy” = ebyon. From abah (to consent, obey, want, yield, accept). This is needy, poor, beggar. Someone who is wanting.
EE “ash heap” = ashpoth. 7x in OT. From the same as shaphath (to lay, ordain, locate, establish, light on fire, bring) OR from shaphah (to sweep bare, stick out). This is an ash heap, pile of refuse, dunghill.

to make them sit with princes,FF
    with the princes of his people.GG
He givesHH the barren womanII a home,JJ

Notes on verses 8-9a

FF “princes” = nadib. From nadab (to offer willingly, volunteer, freely give, be willing). Properly, this is voluntary and so it implies generous, noble, magnanimous, or a generous person.
GG “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
HH “gives” = yashab. Same as “is seated” in v5. See note U above.
II “barren woman” = aqar. 12x in OT. From the same as eqer (stock, member, offshoot; figuratively, could be a descendant or someone who is transplanted like an immigrant who takes up permanent residence); from aqar (to uproot, pluck out, dig out by the roots, to hamstring; figuratively, to exterminate). This is barrenness or a woman who is barren.
JJ “home” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.

    making her the joyousKK motherLL of children.MM
Praise the Lord!NN

Notes on verse 9b

KK “joyous” = sameach. From samach (to rejoice, be glad; properly, to brighten up; also used figuratively). This is glad or joyful.
LL “mother” = em. This is a mother as binding a family together or a breeding female animal. It could be mother in a literal or figurative sense.
MM “children” = ben. Related to “home” in v9. From banah (see note JJ above). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
NN “Lord” = Yah. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note B above.

Image credit: “Motherhood” by Nelly Romeo Alves in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Eurico Zimbres.

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