Psalms 130:5-8 & 131:1-3

Psalm 130:5-8 & Psalm 131:1-3
Trinity Sunday – A Women’s Lectionary


130:5 I wait forA the Lord;B my soulC waits,
    and in his wordD I hope;E

Notes on verse 130:5

A “wait for” = qavah. It can mean to bind or gather together, especially in the sense of twisting together. In that light, it can mean collect. Figuratively, this can mean to wait, await, expect, or tarry.
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 “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.
D “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.
E “hope” = yachal. This is to wait, which implies patience, hope, and trust. It can also be pained waiting.

my soul waits for the LordF
    more than those who watchG for the morning,H
    more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel,I hope in the Lord!J

Notes on verses 130:6-7a

F “Lord” = Adonai. From adon (lord, master, owner); root means to rule or be sovereign. This is the actual Hebrew word for Lord used (in a different form) of humans and (in the present form) of God. It means someone who is in control.
G “watch” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
H “morning” = boqer. From baqar (to seek, plow, break forth, admire, care for). This refers to the break of day. So it is dawn, early, morning, or morrow.
I “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
J “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v130:5. See note B above.

    For with the LordK there is steadfast love,L
    and with him is greatM power to redeem.N

Notes on verse 130:7b

K “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v130:5. See note B above.
L “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.
M “great” = rabah. This is increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.
N “redeem” = peduth. 4x in OT. From padah (to sever, to ransom; to secure someone’s release by paying their debt freeing them from slavery); to redeem, rescue, deliver, preserve; the redemption price). This is redemption, ransom, division.

It is he who will redeemO Israel
    from allP its iniquities.Q

Notes on verse 130:8

O “redeem” = padah. Related to “redeem” in v130:7. See note N above.
P “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
Q “iniquities” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.

A SongR of Ascents.S Of David.T

Notes on Superscript of Psalm 131

R “Song” = shir. From shir (to sing; one who is singing or leading others in song). This is song or singer.
S “Ascents” = ma’alah. From ma’aleh (ascent, platform, slope, stairs, cliff, elevation, a rise; figuratively, a priority); from alah (to go up, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense). This is something that arises, elevation, a journey to a higher pane. This can be used figuratively to mean having a though or being of a superior status. It is often used in a specific sense for something the mounts to a climax. This is step, stair, or high degree.
T “David” = David. From the same as dod (beloved, love, uncle); the root may mean to boil, which is used figuratively to describe love. So, this implies someone you love such as a friend, a lover, or a close family member like an uncle. David’s name likely means something like “beloved one.”

131:1 O Lord,U my heartV is not lifted up;W
    my eyesX are not raised too high;Y

Notes on verse 131:1a

U “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v130:5. See note B above.
V “heart” = leb. May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
W “lifted up” = 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.
X “eyes” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
Y “raised too high” = rum. This is to rise or raise, to be high literally or figuratively. So it can also mean to exalt or extol.

I do not occupyZ myself with things
    too greatAA and too marvelousBB for me.

Notes on verse 131:1b

Z “occupy” = 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.
AA “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.
BB “marvelous” = pala. From pele (wonder, miracle, wonderful, marvelous thing). This is to be extraordinary, to arise, to be great or accomplish.

But I have calmedCC and quietedDD my soul,
    like a weaned childEE with its mother;FF
    my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.

Notes on verse 131:2

CC “calmed” = shavah. This is to equalize, resemble, agree with, compare, adjust, compose, place, or yield.
DD “quieted” = damam. This is to cease, be or become mute, silent, still, cut off, hold peace, be astonished, or die.
EE “weaned child” = gamal. This is how one deals with someone whether positively or negatively – so to reward, requite. It can also mean to wean or the work that goes into something ripening.
FF “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.

O Israel, hope in the LordGG
    from this timeHH on and forevermore.II

Notes on verse 131:3

GG “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v130:5. See note B above.
HH “time” = attah. Perhaps from et (a period or season; whenever or continually); probably from anah (to answer, sing, announce); from ad (forever, all, old); from adah (to pass on, advance, decorate oneself). This is now, from now on.
II “forevermore” = ad + olam. Ad is related to “time” in v131:3. From the same as ad (see note HH above). This is until, up to, before. Olam is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).

Image credit: “Humility” by Catherine Kinsey, 2011.

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