Psalm 22:1-2, 14-18

Psalm 22:1-2, 14-18
Narrative Lectionary 138


To the leader:A according to The DeerB of the Dawn.C A Psalm Dof David.E

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 “Deer” = ayeleth. 3x in OT. From ayyal (stag, deer); from the same as ulam (porch); from the same as ul (mighty, body, belly). This is a tree, a doe, the name of a city.
C “Dawn” = shachar. Root may mean to look for in early hour or in a diligent way. This is dawn, early light, or morning.
D “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.
E “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.”

My God,F my God, why have you forsakenG me?
    Why are you so farH from helpingI me, from the wordsJ of my groaning?K

Notes on verse 1

F “God” = El. This is God or a god.
G “forsaken” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.
H “so far” = rachoq. From rachaq (to widen, become distant, cast, or remove in a literal or figurative sense). This is distant or far, whether of space or of time.
I “helping” = 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.
J “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.
K “groaning” = sheagah. 7x in OT. From shaaq (to roar, moan, groan). This is roaring or moaning. It is used of human groaning and lions roaring.

O my God,L I cryM by day,N but you do not answer;O
    and by nightP but find no rest.Q

Notes on verse 2

L “God” = Elohim. Related to “God” in v1. See note F above.
M “cry” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
N “by day” = yomam. From yom (day, age, daily, each, today). Root may mean to be hot. So, this is day as the hours that are hot. This can be daytime in a literal or figurative sense.
O “answer” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.
P “night” = layil. Properly, this refers to light twisting away. It is used for night or midnight. Figuratively, this can mean adversity.
Q “rest” = dumiyyah. 4x in OT. From the same as dumah (silence). This is silence or stillness. Figuratively, it could be trust or death.

14 I am poured outR like water,S
    and allT my bonesU areV out of joint;W

Notes on verse 14a

R “poured out” = shaphak. This is to pour out, gust, or slip. It can be to pour as blood, a drink offering, or molten metal. It can also mean to create a mound. Figuratively, it can refer to killing, or spending money.
S “water” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
T “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
U “bones” = etsem. From atsam (vast, numerous, strong; to close one’s eyes, to make powerful; to break bones). This is self, life, strength, bone, or substance.
V “are” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
W “out of joint” = parad. This is to divide, break through, scatter, sever, stretch, to spread oneself, or to be out of joint.

my heartX is like wax;Y
    it is meltedZ withinAA my breast;BB

Notes on verse 14b

X “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.
Y “wax” = donag. 4x in OT – 3x in Psalms & 1x in Micah. This is wax.
Z “melted” = masas. This is to melt, discourage, faint. It can be to deteriorate from a sickness or weaken because of sleepiness or an emotional response.
AA “within” = tavek. This is among, middle, in the midst, the center. Perhaps, properly, to sever.
BB “breast” = meeh. This is inward parts, belly, heart, womb, intestines, vastness. It can also be figurative for sympathy.

15 my mouthCC is dried upDD like a potsherd,EE

Notes on verse 15a

CC “mouth” = koach. Root may mean to be firm. This is power, strength, force. It can be literal or figurative, positive or negative. It can also mean capacity or means – what something produces. Additionally, it could refer to some kind of small reptile.
DD “dried up” = yabesh. This is to be dry, withered, confused, or ashamed. It can also be to fail.
EE “potsherd” = cheres. 17x in OT. This is earthenware, a potsherd, a stone.

    and my tongueFF sticksGG to my jaws;HH

Notes on verse 15b

FF “tongue” = lashon. This is tongue, talker, language, or wedge. It can also be a tongue of flame or a water cove.
GG “sticks” = dabaq. This is to follow closely or abide fast, to cling or be joined together. Figuratively, it can mean to catch something by chasing after it, to overtake, or to stick. A man clings to his wife in Genesis 2:24, Shechem was deeply attracted to Dinah in Genesis 34:3, Ruth clung to Naomi in Ruth 1:14, Solomon clung to his foreign wives and concubines in 1 Kings 11:2. It is also used of a tongue sticking to the mouth, pursuing or overtaking as in battle, and also clinging to God.
HH “jaws” = malquowach. 8x in OT–5x of booty, 1x for jaws, 1x for prey. From laqach (to take, accept, carry away, receive). This is jaws as that which takes in food. Used intransitively, it is spoil and captives as things that are taken.

    you layII me in the dustJJ of death.KK

Notes on verse 15c

II “lay” = shaphath. 5x in OT. This is to lay, ordain, locate, establish, light on fire, bring.
JJ “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.
KK “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.

16 For dogsLL are all aroundMM me;
    a companyNN of evildoersOO encirclesPP me;

Notes on verse 16a

LL “dogs” = keleb. This is yelping or attacking. It can also refer to a dog or it can be a term used for a male prostitute.
MM “are all around” = sabab. This is turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch. It is to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense.
NN “company” = edah. From yaad (to appoint, assemble or gather selves, agree) OR from ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is a congregation, assembly, or company. It could be a family, crowd, or fixture.
OO “evildoers” = ra’a’. This is to be evil, bad, afflict. Properly, it means to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces. Figuratively, it is to cause something to be worthless. It is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense – something that displeases, does harm or mischief, punishes or vexes.
PP “encircles” = naqaph. 19x in OT. This is to strike, cut down, surround, destroy, corrode, knock together, or enclose. It can be to surround as a guard or like the sea. It can meaning coming to the end of a festival time or enclosing in a net or trap.

they boundQQ my handsRR and feet.SS
17 I can countTT all my bones.
They stareUU and gloatVV over me;

Notes on verses 16b-17

QQ “bound” = karah. 17x in OT– 8x of digging a pit or trap, 2x of digging a well, 2x of digging a tomb, 2x of bargaining, 1x shriveled, 1x opening an ear, and 1x of digging up evil. This is properly to dig or open up. Figuratively, it can be to plot or make a banquet.
RR “hands” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
SS “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.
TT “can count” = saphar. From sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.
UU “stare” = nabat. This is to behold, look at intently, consider, or scan. It can mean to have respect or regard someone favorably.
VV “gloat” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.

18 they divideWW my clothesXX among themselves,
    and for my clothingYY they castZZ lots.AAA

Notes on verse 18

WW “divide” = chalaq. This is to be smooth in a figurative sense. So, it can refer to the stones that were part of casting lots – hence, apportion, share, distribute. Figuratively, it can also mean to flatter.
XX “clothes” = beged. From bagad (to cover or conceal; figuratively, to act in a covert or treacherous way, to transgress or pillage). This is clothing, garment, robe, or some other kind of clothing. Figuratively, it can be treachery or pillaging.
YY “clothing” = lebush. From labash (to wrap around, which implies clothing oneself or someone else; wrapping around in a literal or figurative way). This is clothing literally or figuratively. It can be used as a euphemism for a wife.
ZZ “cast” = naphal. This is to fall, whether by accident, to fall prostrate, or to fall in violent death. Figuratively, it can refer to personal ruin or calamity, a city falling, an attack or a falling away. It can also be a deep sleep or wasting away.
AAA “lots” = goral. Root may mean to be rough like a stone. A lot was probably a small pebble used to determine one’s portion or what one should do (the will of a god or one’s destiny).

Image credit: “Purple and Ash” by Berta Rosenbaum Golahny. Photo by Emily Kopley, 2014.

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