Psalm 18:2-11, 16-19

Psalm 18:2-11, 16-19
A Women’s Lectionary – Easter


The LordI is my rock,II my fortress,III and my deliverer,IV
    my God,V my rockVI in whom I take refuge,VII

Notes on verse 2a

I “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.
II “rock” = sela. Root may mean being lofty. This is a rock, cliff, crag, mountain. It could be used figuratively for obstinance or to show God as a refuge. It can also more generally mean fortress or stronghold.
III “fortress” = matsud. From matsod (bulwark, siege works, net, snare); from tsud (to hunt, to lie in wait in order to catch an animal; used figuratively for capturing people). This is a castle, fortress, or stronghold. Also, a snare, net, or prey. It can abstractly mean capture.
IV “deliverer” = palat. This is to escape, slip out, deliver, carry away, or calve.
V “God” = El.
VI “rock” = tsur. From tsur (to confine, cramp, or bind in a literal or figurative sense; to besiege, assault, or distress). This is rock, stone, cliff, boulder, rocky. It can also be a refuge, a way to refer to God.
VII “take refuge” = chasah. This is to take refuge or flee for protection. Figuratively, it means to hope or trust in someone or something.

    my shield,VIII and the hornIX of my salvation,X my stronghold.XI

Notes on verse 2b

VIII “shield” = magen. From ganan (to surround, cover, defend, protect). This is a shield, defense, or figuratively a protector. It can also be used for a crocodile’s hide.
IX “horn” = qeren. This is horn or hill. It can be a flask or cornet, ivory, altar corner, mountain peak, or figuratively power.
X “salvation” = yesha. 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, rescue, safety, welfare, liberty.
XI “stronghold” = misgab. 17x in OT. From sagab (raise, lifted, high, secure on high, excellent, strong; literal and figurative). This is a high or inaccessible location. Abstractly, it can be altitude. Concretely it is a cliff or height. Figuratively, it is a refuge or stronghold – a high fort or tower. There is also a place called Misgab in Moab.

3 I callXII upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,XIII
    so I shall be savedXIV from my enemies.XV

Notes on verse 3

XII “call” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
XIII “praised” = 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.
XIV “saved” = yasha. Related to “salvation” in v2. See note X above.
XV “enemies” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.

4 The cordsXVI of deathXVII encompassed me;
    the torrentsXVIII of perditionXIX assailedXX me;

Notes on verse 4

XVI “cords” = 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.
XVII “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.
XVIII “torrents” = nachal. From nachal (to take as heritage, inherit, or distribute). This is a river or stream. It could be a wadi or arroyo – sometimes a narrow valley with no water at all, but in strong rains or when winter snow melts, it swells or floods with water.
XIX “perdition” = beliyyaal. From beli (lack, nothing, without, wearing out, failure, destruction); {from balah (to grow old, wear out, waste away, consume, spend)} + yaal (to gain, profit, do good, ascend, be useful or valuable; benefitted). This is lacking profit i.e. worthlessness, destruction, evil, ungodly person, wickedness, or Belial.
XX “assailed” = baath. This is to terrify, startle, overwhelm, terrorize, or fall upon.

the cords of SheolXXI entangledXXII me;
    the snaresXXIII of death confrontedXXIV me.

Notes on verse 5

XXI “Sheol” = Sheol. Perhaps from sha’al (to ask, request). This is the place where the dead go, the grace, the underworld.
XXII “entangled” = sabab. This is turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch. It is to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense.
XXIII “snares” = moqesh. From yaqosh (ensnare, lay bait, lure, trapper; to snare literally or figuratively). This is bait, barb, snare, trap; a noose or hook to trap animals in a literal or figurative sense.
XXIV “confronted” = qadam. Perhaps from qedem (front, formerly, before, east, eternal, everlasting, antiquity). This is to come in front or be in front and so meet, anticipate, confront, receive, or rise. It sometimes means to meet for help.

6 In my distressXXV I called upon the Lord;
    to my GodXXVI I cried for help.XXVII
From his templeXXVIII he heardXXIX my voice,XXX

Notes on verse 6a

XXV “distress” = tsar. 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.
XXVI “God” = Elohim. Related to “God” in v2. See note V above.
XXVII “cried for help” = shava. This is crying or shouting aloud, generally seeking freedom from some kind of trouble.
XXVIII “temple” = hekal. Perhaps from yakol (to be able, endure, overcome, prevail). This is a large building with public access such as a palace or temple.
XXIX “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.
XXX “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.

    and my cryXXXI to himXXXII reachedXXXIII his ears.XXXIV

Notes on verse 6b

XXXI “cry” = shava. Related to “cried for help” in v6. 11x in OT. From shava (see note XXVII above). This is a cry or a cry for help.
XXXII “to him” = paneh. Literally, “before his face.” 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.
XXXIII “reached” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
XXXIV “ears” = ozen. This is ear, hearing, audience, show. Properly, it is broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape.

7 Then the earthXXXV reeledXXXVI and rocked;XXXVII
    the foundationsXXXVIII also of the mountainsXXXIX trembledXL
    and quaked,XLI because he was angry.XLII

Notes on verse 7

XXXV “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
XXXVI “reeled” = gaash. 9x in OT. This is to shake, quake, move, trouble, surge, or agitate violently.
XXXVII “rocked” = raash. This is to quake, shake, tremble, shake from fear; leap like a locust.
XXXVIII “foundations” = mosadah. 11x in OT. From mosad (foundation); from yasad (to establish, appoint, instruct; to set in a literal or figurative sense; also, to sit down together and so to consult or take counsel). This is a foundation.
XXXIX “mountains” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
XL “trembled” = ragaz. This is shaking from any strong emotion, particularly anger or fear. It can be agitated, excited, perturbed, afraid, quaking, quivering.
XLI “quaked” = gaash. Same as “reeled” in v7. See note XXXVI above.
XLII “was angry” = charah. Perhaps related to charar (to be hot, burn, glow, melt, be scorched; figuratively, to incite passion, be angry). This is to be displeased, burn with anger, glow, become warn. Figuratively it is a blaze of anger, zeal, or jealousy.

8 SmokeXLIII went upXLIV from his nostrils,XLV
    and devouringXLVI fireXLVII from his mouth;XLVIII
    glowing coalsXLIX flamed forthL from him.

Notes on verse 8

XLIII “smoke” = ashan. From ashan (to smoke or burn in a literal or figurative sense; to be angry). This is smoke, vapor, dust, or anger.
XLIV “went up” = alah. This is to go up, approach, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense.
XLV “nostrils” = aph. From anaph (to be angry; properly, breathing hard as a signifier of being enraged). This properly refers to the nose or nostril and by extension the face. It can specifically refer to anger or wrath as one breathes hard and nostrils flare in times of great anger.
XLVI “devouring” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
XLVII “fire” = esh. This is fire, burning, flaming, hot. It is fire in a literal or figurative sense.
XLVIII “mouth” = peh. This is mouth in a literal or figurative sense. So, more literally, it can be beak or jaws. More figuratively, it refers to speech, commands, or promises.
XLIX “coals” = gechel. 18x in OT. Root may mean to glow or kindle. This is a cot or hot ember.
L “flamed forth” = ba’ar. This is to burn, consume, heat, remove. It can also be to consume by a fire or through eating, being brutish or wasting.

He bowedLI the heavens,LII and came down;LIII
    thick darknessLIV was under his feet.LV

Notes on verse 9

LI “bowed” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
LII “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.
LIII “came down” = yarad. This is to go down, descend; going down in a literal or figurative sense. It can be going to the shore or a boundary, bringing down an enemy.
LIV “thick darkness” = araphel. 15x in OT. From araph (to droop, drip, drop). This is a cloud or deep darkness. It is gloom or gloomy as the sky being lowered.
LV “feet” = regel. This is foot, endurance, or journey. It is a foot as the means of walking and so it implies a step or a greater journey. It can be used euphemistically for private parts.

10 He rodeLVI on a cherub,LVII and flew;LVIII
    he came swiftlyLIX upon the wingsLX of the wind.LXI

Notes on verse 10

LVI “rode” = rakab. This is to ride an animal or in some vehicle. It can also mean bringing on a horse.
LVII “cherub” = kerub. Perhaps related to Akkadian (“to bless” or “one who blesses”). This is a cherub – perhaps a class of angels. See
LVIII “flew” = uph. This is to fly, flee, be weary. It can also mean to cloak with wings or darkness.
LIX “came swiftly” = daah. 4x in OT. This is to fly swiftly or swoop down.
LX “wings” = kanaph. This is wing, edge, corner, extremity. It can also be a flap or fold of a garment or the pinnacle of a building.
LXI “wind” = 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.

11 He madeLXII darknessLXIII his coveringLXIV aroundLXV him,

Notes on verse 11a

LXII “made” = shith. This is to place, set, bring, appoint, consider, bring, array or look.
LXIII “darkness” = choshek. From chashak (to be or become dark). This is literal darkness is contrast to light. Figuratively, it can be obscurity, sorrow, misery, blindness, wickedness, destruction, death. It can also be hiding places. Additionally, it can mean judgment, mourning, ignorance, evil, or sin.
LXIV “covering” = sether. From sathar (hide, conceal, or be absent; hiding because something is covered – used in a literal or figurative sense). This is covering, shelter, protection, hiding place. It can be hidden by a mountain, by clouds, in the womb, in a matter of secrecy, through slander, or of nations.
LXV “around” = sabib. Related to “entangled” in v5. From sabab (see note XXII above). This is a circuit or a circle. It could refer to an environment, one’s neighbors, or a circular path round about.

    his canopyLXVI thick cloudsLXVII darkLXVIII with water.LXIX

Notes on verse 11b

LXVI “canopy” = sukkah. From sok (lair, thicket, den, or hiding place; a den or pavilion as made of intertwined boughs); from sakak (to interweave, knit). This is a booth, canopy, shelter, tent, or tabernacle. This is also the “sukkah” from the Jewish holiday “sukkot,” which remembers the wilderness wanderings.
LXVII “thick clouds” = ab + shachaq. Ab is perhaps from uwb (to be a think or dark cloud, a cloud covering). This is a dark or thick cloud that can envelope in darkness. It can also refer to a copse or to clay. Shachaq is from shachaq (to rub off, wear away, pulverize). This is powder, dust, vapor. It can also refer to the sky or a cloud.
LXVIII “dark” = cheshkah. Related to “darkness” in v11. 1x in OT. From chashekah (darkness; figurative for misery); from chashak (see note LXIII above). This is dark or darkness.
LXIX “water” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.

16 He reached downLXX from on high,LXXI he tookLXXII me;
    he drewLXXIII me out of mightyLXXIV waters.

Notes on verse 16

LXX “reached down” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
LXXI “on high” = marom. From rum (to be high, rise, exalted, become proud, display, offer, present, set apart, extol; to rise in a literal or figurative sense). This can be height, high place, or lofty. It can be either exalted or haughty/proud. It can refer to dignity or to heaven.
LXXII “took” = laqach. This is to take, accept, carry away, receive. It can also have the sense of take a wife or take in marriage.
LXXIII “drew” = mashah. 3x in OT. This is to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out. It is the proposed root for Moses’s name.
LXXIV “mighty” = rab. From rabab (increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.). This is abundance, many, elder, exceedingly, great. It refers to abundance of amount, rank, or status.

17 He deliveredLXXV me from my strongLXXVI enemy,
    and from those who hatedLXXVII me;
    for they were too mightyLXXVIII for me.

Notes on verse 17

LXXV “delivered” = natsal. This is to snatch someone or something away in a good sense – as rescue, defend, or deliver – or in a bad sense – as strip or plunder.
LXXVI “strong” = az. From azaz (to be strong, become fixed, be bold, prevail, be impudent; it means to be stout literally or figuratively; a Late Hebrew word). This is strong or mighty. It can also refer to power or vehemence or mean greedy.
LXXVII “hated” = sane. This is an enemy or foe. It is one that is hated with a personal hatred.
LXXVIII “were too mighty” = amets. This is to be strong, stout, alert, or bold, It can also mean harden, make firm, be courageous or mighty, fortify, or establish. It can refer to physical alertness or mental courage or steadfastness.

18 They confronted me in the dayLXXIX of my calamity;LXXX
    but the Lord wasLXXXI my support.LXXXII

Notes on verse 18

LXXIX “day” = yom. 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.
LXXX “calamity” = ed. From the same as odoth (turning, occasion, cause, concerning); from the same as ud (firebrand, a poker). This is distress, destruction, disaster, ruin, misfortune, or oppression.
LXXXI “was” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v2. See note I above.
LXXXII “support” = mish’en. 5x in OT. From sha’an (to lean or support oneself; to rely or trust). This is a support or staff. Figuratively, it can mean a protector or sustenance.

19 He brought me outLXXXIII into a broad place;LXXXIV
    he deliveredLXXXV me, because he delightedLXXXVI in me.

Notes on verse 19

LXXXIII “brought…out” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXXIV “broad place” = merchab. 6x in OT. From rachab (to grow wide or enlarge in a literal or figurative sense; extend, relieve, rejoice, or speak boldly). This is a broad place, a large field, an open space. This is a wide open space, generally in a good sense. Figuratively, it can mean liberty.
LXXXV “delivered” = chalats. This is to turn back or away in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be return, break, build, retreat. It doesn’t necessarily imply going back to the place you started.
LXXXVI “delighted” = chaphets. Properly, this means inclined towards or bending to. Figuratively, it means to desire, delight in, or be pleased with.

Image credit: “Moses: God’s Chosen Leader” by John Paul Stanley of YoMinistry.

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