Psalm 19

Psalm 19
Easter Vigil C


To the leader.A A PsalmB of David.C

Notes on superscript

A “leader” = natsach. Properly, something that glitters from a distance. So, something that stands out, excels, has status/standing (such as a chief musician or superintendent of Temple services). This can also mean to be permanent or enduring.
B “psalm” = mizmor. From zamar (making music; used specially of music to worship God; music with singing, singing praise, singing psalms); may be from zamar (to trim or prune). This is a melody or a psalm.
C “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.”

The heavensD are tellingE the gloryF of God;G

Notes on verse 1a

D “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.
E “telling” = saphar. Perhaps from sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.
F “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.
G “God” = el.

    and the firmamentH proclaimsI his handiwork.J

Notes on verse 1b

H “firmament” = raqia. 17x in OT. From raqa (to beat the earth in a fit of passion; by analogy to hammer something so that it is spread out or spread thin; by extension, decoratively overlaying something with metal). This is an expanse or extended surface. The dome of the firmament was thought of as metal hammered out and spread thin over the arch of the sky that we can see.
I “proclaims” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
J “handiwork” = maaseh + yad. Literally “work of his hand.” Maaseh is from asah (to do, make, accomplish, become). This is a word – any action whether positive or negative. It can also be a transaction, construction, activity, property, or something that is produced. Yad is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.

Day to day pours forthK speech,L
    and nightM to night declaresN knowledge.O

Notes on verse 2

K “pours forth” = naba. 11x in OT. This is to spring up, flow, gush, or spout. It can also mean to belch as in emitting a bad smell. Figuratively, it can mean to speak, whether positively or negatively.
L “speech” = omer. 6x in OT. From emer (speech, thing, utterance, promise, argument, command); from amar (to speak, say, answer, command, promise, report). This is speech, a word, a matter, or a promise.
M “night” = layil. Properly, this refers to light twisting away. It is used for night or midnight. Figuratively, this can mean adversity.
N “declares” = chavah. 6x in OT – 5x in Job, 1x in Psalm 19. This is related to chayah (to live). It means to show or declare.
O “knowledge” = daat. From yada (to know, be aware, see and so understand – includes observation, care, recognition; can also be used as a euphemism). This is knowledge, unawares, cunning, wittingly.

There is no speech, nor are there words;P
    their voiceQ is not heard;R

Notes on verse 3

P “words” = 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.
Q “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.
R “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.

yet their voiceS goes out through all the earth,
    and their wordsT to the endU of the world.V

In the heavens he has set a tentW for the sun,X

Notes on verse 4

S “voice” = qav. 18x in OT. From qavah (to wait, look, gather together, bind together, collect; figuratively, to expect). This is a line or cord for connecting or measuring. Figuratively, it can mean a rule, rim, agreement, or the string of a musical instrument.
T “words” = millah. From malal (to say, speak; often used in a poetic sense). This is something said – a word, speech, talking, or discourse.
U “end” = qatseh. From qatsah (to cut off, cut short; figuratively, to destroy). This is end, brink, border, edge, frontier. It can refer to that which is within set boundaries.
V “world” = tebel. From yabal (to lead, bring, carry, conduct; properly, to flow; to bring or lead with fanfare). This is world, confusion, inhabited part of the earth, but also used for the whole world.
W “tent” = ohel. Perhaps from ahal (to shine, be clear). This is a tent, covering, home, or side pillar.
X “sun” = shemesh. This is sun or toward the east. Its root may mean being brilliant. Figuratively, this could be a ray or an arch.

which comes out like a bridegroomY from his wedding canopy,Z
    and like a strong manAA runsBB its courseCC with joy.DD

Notes on verse 5

Y “bridegroom” = chathan. From chathan (to ally in marriage; to give one’s daughter away in marriage). This is bridegroom, husband, or son-in-law.
Z “wedding canopy” = chuppah. 3x in OT. From chaphaph (to surround, cover, or shield; to surround in order to protect). This is canopy, chamber, or defense. Jewish weddings to this day generally include a chuppah – a canopy above a couple at their wedding ceremony.
AA “strong man” = gibbor. From gabar (to be strong or mighty; to prevail or be insolent). This is strong, mighty, or powerful. This can imply a warrior, hero, or tyrant.
BB “runs” = ruts. This is to run or rush, divide quickly, bring swiftly. It can also refer to a footman or guard.
CC “course” = orach. From arach (to go, travel, wander). This is a road that is widely used, highway, caravan, traveler, troop.
DD “joy” = sus. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to be bright or cheerful.

Its risingEE is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuitFF to the endGG of them;
    and nothing is hidHH from its heat.II

Notes on verse 6

EE “rising” = motsa. Related to “goes out” in v4. From yatsa (to go or come out, bring forth, appear; to go out in a literal or figurative sense). This is going forth as an act or the site from which something goes forth. It could mean exiting a place or the place where one exits. It can also be a source or a produce. Specifically, it can be a spring or fountain, the dawn as the rising of the sun, an export, gate mine, and so on.
FF “circuit” = tequphah. 4x in OT. Perhaps from naqaph (to strike, cut down, surround, destroy, corrode, knock together, or enclose; to surround as a guard or like the sea; coming to the end of a festival time or enclosing in a net or trap). This is a revolution, circuit, end, a passage of time.
GG “end” = qatsah. Related to “end” in v4. From qatseh (see note U above). This is an end, corner, coast, termination, outermost.
HH “hid” = sathar. This is hide, conceal, or be absent. It is hiding because something is covered – used in a literal or figurative sense.
II “heat” = chammah. 6x in OT. From cham (hot, warm); from chamam (to be warm, heat; to be hot in a literal or figurative sense, to mate). This is heat, which can imply the sun.

The lawJJ of the LordKK is perfect,LL
    revivingMM the soul;NN

Notes on verse 7a

JJ “law” = torah. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach). This is law, instruction, teaching, or statute. It can also refer to the first five books of the Bible – the Torah.
KK “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.
LL “perfect” = tamim. From tamam (to finish or accomplish; to make perfect, demonstrate that you are upright; consume; to complete in a literal or figurative sense). This is ecntire in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be complete, full, intact, or without defect. Alternately, it could refer to being sound, having integrity, being sincere or perfect.
MM “reviving” = 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.”
NN “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.

the decreesOO of the Lord are sure,PP
    making wiseQQ the simple;RR

Notes on verse 7b

OO “decrees” = eduth. From ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is testimony, ordinance, decree, warning, or witness.
PP “sure” = aman. This is to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful. It is to put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid. This is where the word “amen” comes from.
QQ “making wise” = chakam. This is to be wise or teach wisdom. It is wisdom in thought, word, or action.
RR “simple” = pthiy. 19x in OT. From pathah (to be simple, entice, deceive, persuade, allure, be silly); from pethi (simple, silly, foolish, easily deceived); from pathah (to be wide open, deceive, entice, persuade, to be simple, delude). This is open-minded, simple, silly, foolish, or seducible.

the preceptsSS of the Lord are right,TT
    rejoicingUU the heart;VV

Notes on verse 8a

SS “precepts” = piqqud. From paqad (to attend to or visit – can be used for a friendly or violent encounter; to oversee, care for, avenge, or charge). This is something that is appointed or decreed by God. It can refer to the Law as a whole or a commandment individually.
TT “right” = yashar. From yashar (to be straight, right, even, smooth, or agreeable; figuratively, to make something pleasant or prosperous). This is straight, right, level. Also, it is pleasing, whether pleasing God or pleasing other people. So, it is upright or righteous.
UU “rejoicing” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
VV “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.

the commandmentWW of the Lord is clear,XX
    enlighteningYY the eyes;ZZ

Notes on verse 8b

WW “commandment” = mitsvah. From tsavah (to charge, command, order, enjoin). This is a commandment, law, ordinance obligation, or tradition. It is something commanded whether by God or by a human authority. This term is sometimes used collectively to refer to the Law.
XX “clear” = bar. 7x in OT. From barar (to clarify, brighten, or polish; to examine, select, choose, purge, sharpen, or purify). This is pure, clean, or empty. It can also mean innocent or beloved.
YY “enlightening” = or. This is to light, shine, set on fire – to be luminous in a literal or figurative sense.
ZZ “eyes” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).

the fearAAA of the Lord is pure,BBB
    enduringCCC forever;

Notes on verse 9a

AAA “fear” = yirah. From yare (to fear, be afraid, dreadful; also fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect). This is fear or reverence.
BBB “pure” = tahor. From taher (bright, which implies being pure or clean; to purge, cleanse, or purify; clean in a ritual sense or a moral one (i.e. moral or holy)). This is clean or pure in a literal, ritual, or ethical sense.
CCC “enduring” = amad. This is to stand up in a literal or figurative sense. So it can be establish, continue, endure, take a stand, act, be a servant, stand still, remain, stand against an enemy.

the ordinancesDDD of the Lord are trueEEE
    and righteousFFF altogether.

Notes on verse 9b

DDD “ordinances” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
EEE “true” = emet. Related to “sure” in v7. From aman (see note PP above).
FFF “righteous” = tsadeq. From the same as tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, vindication. It is everything that is just or ethical. That which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense. It also includes just weights (i.e. true weights). Figuratively, this is justice, righteousness, equity – even prosperity). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.

10 More to be desiredGGG are they than gold,HHH
    even muchIII fine gold;JJJ

Notes on verse 10a

GGG “more to be desired” = chamad. This is to desire or delight in someone or something. It can also mean something that is precious or coveted. So, it can also refer to lust.
HHH “gold” = zahab. Root may mean to shimmer. This is gold or something that has the color of gold like oil. It can also refer to a clear sky – to good weather.
III “much” = 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.
JJJ “fine gold” = paz. 9x in OT. From pazaz (being refined; gold as refined). This is refined or pure gold.

sweeterKKK also than honey,LLL
    and drippingsMMM of the honeycomb.NNN

Notes on verse 10b

KKK “sweeter” = mathoq. 12x in OT. From mathoq (to be sweet, sweeten, become pleasant, cover, to suck, to relish). This is something that is sweet or pleasant.
LLL “honey” = debash. Root may mean being gummy. This is honey or honeycomb because it is so sticky. It can also refer to syrup.
MMM “drippings” = nopheth. 5x in OT. Perhaps from nuph (to rock back and forth, wave, sprinkle, quiver, beckon, offer, present). This is dripping as honey flowing from a honeycomb.
NNN “honeycomb” = tsuph. 2x in OT. From tsuph (to flow, float, engulf, swim). This is comb or honeycomb.

11 Moreover by them is your servantOOO warned;PPP
    in keepingQQQ them there is great reward.RRR

Notes on verse 11

OOO “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.
PPP “warned” = zahar. This is to be a light, shine, or gleam. Figuratively, it can refer to enlightening, warning, or teaching. It is to teach by giving caution.
QQQ “keeping” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
RRR “reward” = eqeb. 15x in OT. Perhaps from aqab (to assail, supplant, overreach, follow or grab someone’s heel, to trip someone up); perhaps from aqeb (heel, hind part, hoof, rear guard of an army, one who lies in wait, usurper). This is a heel as the final part of something i.e. the result, consequence, or reward. It can also be used as an adverb to mean as ever.

12 But who can detectSSS their errors?TTT
    ClearUUU me from hidden faults.

Notes on verse 12

SSS “detect” = bin. This is to discern, consider, attend to. It refers to distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand.
TTT “errors” = shegiah. 1x in OT. From shagah (to go astray, wander, mislead, sin; to reel as if drunk; figuratively being enraptured). This an error or some kind of mistake in the moral sphere.
UUU “clear” = naqah. This is to be empty, cleanse, acquit, blameless, immune, innocent. It is to be clean or to make clean in a literal or figurative sense. It can also be bare in a negative sense, destroyed.

13 Keep backVVV your servant also from the insolent;WWW
    do not let them have dominionXXX over me.
Then I shall be blameless,YYY
    and innocentZZZ of great transgression.AAAA

Notes on verse 13

VVV “keep back” = chasak. This is to restrain, refrain, or hold back. It can mean to spare, to preserve or to punish, depending on the context.
WWW “insolent” = zed. 13x in OT. From zud (to cook, boil up, or seethe; figuratively, it can mean to act with arrogance or insolence, to be rebellious). This is arrogant, proud, or presumptuous. It can also refer to an arrogant person.
XXX “have dominion” = mashal. This is to rule, reign, govern, have authority, wield.
YYY “be blameless” = tamam. Related to “perfect” in v7. See note LL above.
ZZZ “innocent” = naqah. Same as “clear” in v12. See note UUU above.
AAAA “transgression” = 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.

14 Let the wordsBBBB of my mouth and the meditationCCCC of my heart
    be acceptableDDDD to you,EEEE
    O Lord, my rockFFFF and my redeemer.GGGG

Notes on verse 14

BBBB “words” = emer. Related to “speech” in v2. From amar (see note L above).
CCCC “meditation” = higgayon. 4x in OT. From hagah (to speak, declare, make a sound, imagine, or mutter; a murmur, moan, or growl, whether from delight or anger; to study, ponder, or meditate). This is meditation, musing, or whispering. It could also be some kind of resounding music or other musical notation like play with feeling.
DDDD “acceptable” = ratson. From ratsah (to be pleased with, delight, take pleasure in, or accept with favor; to approve or consent regarding something; can be used specifically of satisfying debts or being pardoned). This is delight shown in favor, good will, something that is accepted or acceptable.
EEEE “you” = paneh. Literally “in your sight” or “for your face.”
FFFF “rock” = tsur. Perhaps from tsur (to confine, cramp, or bind in a literal or figurative sense; to besiege, assault, or distress). This is rock, tone, cliff, boulder, rocky. It can also be a refuge, a way to refer to God.
GGGG “redeemer” = 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.

Image credit: image of Andromeda by NASA/JPL-CalTech, 2012.

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