Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19

Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19
Third Sunday of Easter A


I loveA the LordB because he has heardC
    my voiceD and my supplications.E

Notes on verse 1

A “love” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.
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 “heard” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
D “voice” = qol. This is a sound, used often for human voices. Also used when God speaks or angels, animals or instruments. It can be a cry or a noise, thunder or earthquakes and so on.
E “supplications” = tachanun. 18x in OT. From chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is entreaty, prayer, or supplication. It is looking for favor earnestly.

Because he inclinedF his earG to me,
    therefore I will callH on him as long as I live.I

Notes on verse 2

F “inclined” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
G “ear” = ozen. This is ear, hearing, audience, show. Properly, it is broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape.
H “call” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
I “as long as I live” = yom. Literally, “in my days.” Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.

The snaresJ of deathK encompassedL me;

Notes on verse 3a

J “snares” = chebel. From chabal (to bind, pledge, or wind tight; figuratively, can refer to perverting or destroying something; can also be used of writhing in pain, particularly in reference to childbirth). This is a band, rope, measuring line, noose. It can be a company, territory, or country. It can also refer to a throe of labor or ruin.
K “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.
L “encompassed” = aphaph. 5x in OT. This is to surround or encompass.

    the pangsM of SheolN laid holdO on me;
    I sufferedP distressQ and anguish.R

Notes on verse 3b

M “pangs” = metsar. 3x in OT– 2x in the Psalms & 1x in Lamentations. From tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). This is something tight. Figuratively, it is used for distress, pain, or trouble.
N “Sheol” = Sheol. Perhaps from sha’al (to ask, request). This is the place where the dead go, the grace, the underworld.
O “laid hold” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
P “suffered” = matsa. Same as “laid hold” in v3. See note O above.
Q “distress” = tsarah. Related to “pangs” in v3. From tsar (properly, a narrow or constricted place; figuratively, trouble, a pebble, an enemy, anguish, or distress); from tsarar (see note M above). This is tightness, distress, affliction, trouble, or adversary.
R “anguish” = yagon. 14x in OT. From yagah (to suffer, grieve, afflict). This is grief or sorrow.

Then I called on the nameS of the Lord,
    “O Lord, I pray,T saveU my life!”V

Notes on verse 4

S “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.
T “pray” = annah. Related to “love” in v1. 13x in OT– 4x for beg, beseech, entreat; 9x for Alas, O, Ah. Perhaps from ahabah (love); {from aheb (see note A above)} + na (I or we pray, now; used to ask for something). This word is oh, I ask you, now.
U “save” = 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.
V “life” = 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.

12 What shall I returnW to the Lord
    for allX his bountyY to me?
13 I will lift upZ the cupAA of salvationBB
    and call on the name of the Lord;

Notes on verses 12-13

W “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.”
X “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
Y “bounty” = tagmul. 1x in OT. From gamal (how one deals with someone whether positively or negatively – so to reward, requite; to wean or the work that goes into something ripening). This is a benefit or bounty.
Z “lift up” = nasa. This is to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept.
AA “cup” = kos. This is a cup or it could refer to an owl since theirs eyes look similar to cups.
BB “salvation” = yeshuah. From 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). This is salvation, deliverance, health, victory, prosperity.

14 I will payCC my vowsDD to the Lord
    in the presenceEE, FF of all his people.GG

Notes on verse 14

CC “pay” = shalam. This is to be complete or sound – to have safety mentally, physically, or extending to one’s estate. So, if these things are safe and complete, the implication is that one would be friendly; and, if being friendly, one would make amends and that friendship would be reciprocated. This is the root verb that “shalom” comes from, the Hebrew word for peace.
DD “vows” = neder. From nadar (to vow or promise). This is a vow – literally, that which was promised.
EE “presence” = neged. From nagad (to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain). This is in front of, opposite to. It can refer to a counterpart or partner, one corresponding to or in the sight of.
FF {untranslated} = na. Related to “pray” in v4. See note T above.
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.

15 PreciousHH in the sightII of the Lord
    is the death of his faithful ones.JJ

Notes on verse 15

HH “precious” = yaqar. From yaqar (to be precious, costly, rare, valued; properly, to be heavy; figuratively, valuable or inhibit). This is precious, splendid, noble, weighty, or rare. It is valuable in a subjective or objective sense.
II “sight” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
JJ “faithful ones” = chasid. 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 faithful, kind, pious, merciful, or gracious. It can also refer to godly or pious people. This is where Chasidic Jews take their name from.

16 OKK Lord, I am your servant;LL
    I am your servant, the childMM of your serving girl.NN

Notes on verse 16a

KK “o” = annah. Same as “pray” in v4. See note T above.
LL “servant” = 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.
MM “child” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
NN “serving girl” = amah. This is female servant or slave, handmaid.

    You have loosedOO my bonds.PP
17 I will offerQQ to you a thanksgivingRR sacrificeSS
    and call on the name of the Lord.

Notes on verses 16b-17

OO “loosed” = pathach. 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.
PP “bonds” = moser. 11x in OT. From asar (to tie, yoke, bind, or fasten; can mean to harness an animal, to join in fighting a battle, or to imprison someone) OR from yasar (to discipline, correct, train, teach, punish; literally with blows, but figuratively using words). This is a band, bond, chain, or shackle. It is some kind of restraint or figuratively a chastisement.
QQ “offer” = zabach. This is slaughtering an animal, generally for the purpose of sacrifice. It can mean kill or offer.
RR “thanksgiving” = todah. From yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise, to give thanks, or make a confession); from yad (hand, ability, power; hand in a literal sense; what one can do or the means by which one does it). 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.
SS “sacrifice” = zebach. Related to “offer” in v17. From zabach (see note QQ 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.

18 I will pay my vows to the Lord
    in the presenceTT of all his people,
19 in the courtsUU of the houseVV of the Lord,

Notes on verses 18-19a

TT {untranslated} = na. Same as {untranslated} in v14. See note FF above.
UU “courts” = chatser. From chatsar (to blow a trumpet, trumpeter, to surround); from chatsotsrah (trumpet). This is an enclosure or court – a yard that is fenced in. It could also be a village or hamlet that is walled in.
VV “house” = bayit. Related to “child” in v16. Probably from banah (see note MM above). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.

    in your midst,WW O Jerusalem.XX
PraiseYY the Lord!ZZ

Notes on verse 19b

WW “midst” = tavek. This is among, middle, in the midst, the center. Perhaps, properly, to sever.
XX “Jerusalem” = Yerushalaim. Related to “pay” in v14. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach) + shalam (see note CC above). This is Jerusalem, dwelling of peace.
YY “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.
ZZ “Lord” = Yah. Related to “Lord” in v1. From YHVH (see note B above). This is Lord or God – a shortened form of God’s most holy name.

Image credit: “This Dawn #12” by Julie Jordan Scott, 2010.

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