Psalm 3

Psalm 3


A PsalmA of David,B when he fled fromC his son Absalom.D

Notes on superscript

A “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.
B “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.”
C “from” = paneh. Literally “from the face of.”
D “Absalom” = Abishalom. From ab (father, chief, ancestor; father in a literal or figurative sense) + shalom (completeness, soundness, welfare, favor, friend, good health; to be safe and figuratively well, happy, at peace, friendly; abstractly, includes the ideas of welfare and prosperity – not in excessive wealth, but in having enough); {from shalam (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 Absalom or Abishalom, which means “my father is peace” or “father of peace” or “friendly.”

1 O Lord,E how manyF are my foes!G
    ManyH are risingI against me;

Notes on verse 1

E “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.
F “many” = rabab. 13x in OT. This is to increase, multiply, abound.
G “foes” = 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.
H “many” = rab. Related to “many” in v1. From rabab (see note F above). This is abundance, many, elder, exceedingly, great. It refers to abundance of amount, rank, or status.
I “rising” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.

many are saying to me,J
    “There is no helpK for you in God.”L SelahM

Notes on verse 2

J “me” = 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.
K “help” = 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.
L “God” = Elohim.
M “selah” = selah. From salal (to lift up, build, pile, extol, exalt; can also be used for opposing as a dam holds back water). This is to lift up or exalt. Also, “selah” in the psalms where its precise meaning is uncertain. It could be a pause in the music, a moment of silence. It could signal a change in the service or mean something akin to amen.

But you, O Lord, are a shieldN around me,
    my glory,O and the one who lifts upP my head.

Notes on verse 3

N “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.
O “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.
P “lifts up” = rum. This is to rise or raise, to be high literally or figuratively. So it an also mean to exalt or extol.

I cryQ aloudR to the Lord,
    and he answersS me from his holyT hill. Selah

Notes on verse 4

Q “cry” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
R “aloud” = 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.
S “answers” = 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.
T “holy” = qodesh. This is set apart and so sacred. God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart. Things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy, etc.

5 I lie down and sleep;U
    I wake again,V for the Lord sustainsW me.

Notes on verse 5

U “sleep” = yashen. This is to be languid or go slack. By implication it an mean to sleep, become old or stale, or die.
V “wake again” = quts. Related to qayits (fruit, harvest, dry season); from quts (summer, clip off). This is arise or watch. It is to awake in a literal or figurative sense.
W “sustains” = samak. This is to lean, rest, support, brace, uphold, sustain, or establish. It is to lean on in a positive or negative sense.

I am not afraidX of ten thousandsY of peopleZ
    who have setAA themselves against me all around.BB

Notes on verse 6

X “afraid” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
Y “ten thousands” = rebabah. Related to “many” & “many” in v1. 16x in OT. From rabab (see note F above). This is abundance, a myriad. It can be an indefinite large amount or mean ten thousand or a million.
Z “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.
AA “set” = shith. This is to place, set, bring, appoint, consider, bring, array or look.
BB “all around” = sabib. From sabab (turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch; to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense). This is a circuit or a circle. It could refer to an environment, one’s neighbors, or a circular path round about.

7 Rise up, O Lord!
    DeliverCC me, O my God!
For you strikeDD all my enemiesEE on the cheek;
    you breakFF the teeth of the wicked.GG

Notes on verse 7

CC “deliver” = yasha. Related to “help” in v2 See note K above.
DD “strike” = nakah.This is to hit whether lightly or severely. It can be used in a literal or figurative sense. So, this could be beat, punish, give wounds, kill, or slaughter.
EE “enemies” = oyeb. From ayab (this is to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.
FF “break” = shabar. This is break, collapse, destroy, break in pieces, tear. It is bursting in a literal or figurative sense.
GG “wicked” = rasha. This is morally wrong so it refers to someone who is actively bad as wicked, criminal, an evil person, offender, condemned, or ungodly.

DeliveranceHH belongs to the Lord;
    may your blessingII be on your people! Selah

Notes on verse 8

HH “deliverance” = yeshuah. Same as “help” in v2. See note K above.
II “blessing” = barakah. From barak (to kneel, bless; blessing God as part of worship and adoration; blessing humans to help them; can be used as a euphemism to say curse God). This is blessing, which implies prosperity or peace.

Image credit: “David the Prophet – King David in Prayer” by Pieter de Grebber.

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