Psalm 31:1-7, 14-16, 19-24

Psalm 31:1-7, 14-16, 19-24
A Women’s Lectionary 39


To the leader.I A PsalmII of David.III

Notes on superscript

I “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.
II “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.
III “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.”

In you, O Lord,IV I seek refuge;V
    do not let me everVI be put to shame;VII
    in your righteousnessVIII deliverIX me.

Notes on verse 1

IV “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.
V “seek refuge” = chasah. This is to take refuge or flee for protection. Figuratively, it means to hope or trust in someone or something.
VI “ever” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
VII “be put to shame” = bosh. Properly, this means to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion.
VIII “righteousness” = tsedaqah.  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.
IX “deliver” = palat. This is to escape, slip out, deliver, carry away, or calve.

InclineX your earXI to me;
    rescueXII me speedily.XIII

Notes on verse 2a

X “incline” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
XI “ear” = ozen. This is ear, hearing, audience, show. Properly, it is broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape.
XII “rescue” = 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.
XIII “speedily” = meherah. From mahar (being liquid, which implies flowing; hurrying forward, whether in a positive or negative sense). This is speed, quickly, shortly, promptly.

BeXIV a rockXV of refugeXVI for me,

Notes on verse 2b

XIV “be” = hayah. Relate to “Lord” in v1. See note IV above.
XV “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.
XVI “refuge” = maoz. From uz (to run for refuge, to seek safety, be strong) OR from azaz (to be strong, become fixed, be bold, prevail, be impudent; to be stout literally or figuratively). This is a defense, refuge, safety, fortress, rock, strength, or stronghold. It is somewhere one goes to be safe and protected or something one uses to be safe. Figuratively, it could be a defense or a force.

    a strongXVII fortressXVIII to saveXIX me.

Notes on verse 2c

XVII “strong” = 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.
XVIII “fortress” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
XIX “save” = 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.

You are indeed my rockXX and my fortress;XXI
    for your name’sXXII sake leadXXIII me and guideXXIV me;

Notes on verse 3

XX “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.
XXI “fortress” = matsud. Same as “strong” in v2. See note XVII above.
XXII “name’s” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
XXIII “lead” = nachah. This is lead, guide, or bring. It can be used for transporting into exile or coming in as colonists. This is the word used in Psalm 23 “he leads me in the paths of righteousness.”
XXIV “guide” = nahal. 10x in OT. This is leading or guiding – specifically to a resting place or somewhere where there is water. So, it can mean to refresh or feed, protect or sustain. The word itself carries a sense of flowing, sparkling water. This is the word used in Psalm 23 “he leads me beside still waters.”

take me outXXV of the netXXVI that is hiddenXXVII for me,
    for you are my refuge.
Into your handXXVIII I commitXXIX my spirit;XXX

Notes on verses 4-5a

XXV “take…out” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
XXVI “net” = resheth. From yarash (inheriting or dispossessing; refers to occupying or colonizing – taking territory by driving out the previous inhabitants and living there instead of them; by implication, to seize or rob, to expel, ruin, or impoverish). This is a net used to capture animals.
XXVII “is hidden” = taman. This is to hide, bury, keep in reserve. It is hiding something by covering it.
XXVIII “hand” = 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.
XXIX “commit” = paqad. This is to attend to or visit – can be used for a friendly or violent encounter. So, it can be to oversee, care for, avenge, or charge.
XXX “spirit” = 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.

    you have redeemedXXXI me, O Lord, faithfulXXXII God.XXXIII

Notes on verse 5b

XXXI “redeemed” = padah. This is to sever, which is to say to ransom. To secure someone’s release (by paying their debt to free them from slavery) and thus redeem, rescue, deliver, preserve. Can also be the redemption price.
XXXII “faithful” = emet. From aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This is firmness or stability. Figuratively, it is faithfulness, truth, or trustworthiness. This is the same root that “amen” comes from.
XXXIII “God” = El.

You hateXXXIV those who pay regardXXXV to worthlessXXXVI idols,XXXVII
    but I trustXXXVIII in the Lord.

Notes on verse 6

XXXIV “hate” = sane. This is to hate, an enemy. It is a personal hatred and not an abstract one.
XXXV “pay regard” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
XXXVI “worthless” = shav. Perhaps from the same as sho (ruin, desolation, storm; from a root that means rushing over – hence a storm and hence devastation). This is emptiness, false, worthless, deceit. It can also refer to evil, guile, idolatry, or something being in vain.
XXXVII “idols” = hebel. This is emptiness, vapor, breath. It can refer to something that is fleeting or futile, worthless or a delusion. Something that is passing and so does not satisfy. This is related to the root for the name “Abel.”
XXXVIII “trust” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.

I will exultXXXIX and rejoiceXL in your steadfast love,XLI

Notes on verse 7a

XXXIX “exult” = gil. Properly, this is twirling around because of a strong feeling whether of rejoicing or from fear. This can be rejoice, be glad or joyful, or to cry.
XL “rejoice” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
XLI “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.

    because you have seenXLII my affliction;XLIII
    you have taken noticeXLIV of myXLV adversitiesXLVI

Notes on verse 7b

XLII “seen” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
XLIII “affliction” = oniy. From anah (to be bowed down; humility or being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed; literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance). This is misery, poverty, or affliction.
XLIV “taken notice” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
XLV “my” = 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.
XLVI “adversities” = tsarah. From tsar (properly, a narrow or constricted place; figuratively, trouble, a pebble, an enemy, anguish, or distress); from tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). This is tightness, distress, affliction, trouble, or adversary.

14 But I trust in you, O Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”XLVII
15 My timesXLVIII are in your hand;
    deliverXLIX me from the hand of my enemiesL and persecutors.LI

Notes on verses 14-15

XLVII “God” = Elohim. Related to “God” in v5. See note XXXIII above.
XLVIII “times” = eth. Probably from anah (to answer, sing, announce); from ad (forever, all, old); from adah (to pass on, advance, decorate oneself). This is a period or season. It can also mean whenever or continually.
XLIX “deliver” = natsal. Same as “rescue” in v2. See note XII above.
L “enemies” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.
LI “persecutors” = radaph. This is to chase after, pursue, hunt, or persecute. It is running after someone or something, generally with hostile motives.

16 Let your faceLII shineLIII upon your servant;LIV
    save me in your steadfast love.

Notes on verse 16

LII “face” = paneh. 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.
LIII “shine” = or. This is to light, shine, set on fire – to be luminous in a literal or figurative sense.
LIV “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.

19 O how abundantLV is your goodnessLVI
    that you have laid upLVII for those who fearLVIII you

Notes on verse 19a

LV “abundant” = 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.
LVI “goodness” = tub. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is goodness, gladness, something that is good. It can also be beauty, welfare, or joy.
LVII “laid up” = tsaphan. This is to hide something by covering it. It implies hoarding or keeping something in reserve. It can mean to protect or to lurk.
LVIII “fear” = 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.

and accomplishedLIX for those who take refugeLX in you,
    in the sightLXI of everyone!LXII

Notes on verse 19b

LIX “accomplished” = paal. This is to do, make, work, or accomplish. Generally refers to regularly repeated or systematic action – so, to practice.
LX “take refuge” = chasah. Same as “seek refuge” in v1. See note V above.
LXI “sight” = neged. From nagad (to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain). This is in front of, opposite to. It can refer to a counterpart or partner, one corresponding to or in the sight of.
LXII “everyone” = ben + adam. Literally, “children of humanity.” Ben is related to “fortress” in v2. From banah (see note XVIII above). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Adam is perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.

20 In the shelterLXIII of your presenceLXIV you hideLXV them
    from humanLXVI plots;LXVII

Notes on verse 20a

LXIII “shelter” = sether. Related to “hide” in v20. 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.
LXIV “presence” = paneh. Same as “face” in v16. See note LII above.
LXV “hide” = sathar. See note LXIII above.
LXVI “human” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
LXVII “plots” = rokes. 1x in OT. From rakas (to bind, tie). This is a snare. So, tit may refer to a conspiracy or pride.

you hold them safeLXVIII under your shelterLXIX
    from contentiousLXX tongues.LXXI

Notes on verse 20b

LXVIII “hold…safe” = tsaphan. Same as “laid up” in v19. See note LVII above.
LXIX “shelter” = 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.
LXX “contentious” = rib. From rib (properly to toss or grapple; used figuratively to mean wrangling and so for arguments, complaints, or disputes; used in a legal setting for pleading or defending a case). This is strife or dispute – whether a personal one or one in a court of law.
LXXI “tongues” = lashon. This is tongue, talker, language, or wedge. It can also be a tongue of flame or a water cove.

21 BlessedLXXII be the Lord,LXXIII
    for he has wondrously shownLXXIV his steadfast love to me
    when I was beset as a cityLXXV under siege.LXXVI

Notes on verse 21

LXXII “blessed” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.
LXXIII “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “Lord” in v1. This has a different vowel pointing, but the same meaning as “Lord.” See note IV above.
LXXIV “wondrously shown” = pala. From pele (wonder, miracle, wonderful, marvelous thing). This is to be extraordinary, to arise, to be great or accomplish.
LXXV “city” = iyr. From uwr (to awaken or wake oneself up). This can mean excitement in the sense of wakefulness or city. Properly, this is a place that is guarded. Guards kept schedules according to watches. This sense of the word would include cities as well as encampments or posts that were guarded.
LXXVI “under siege” = matsor. Relate to “rock” in v2. From tsur (see note XV above). This is besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment, tower. It is something hemmed in as a siege or distress or fastness.

22 I had said in my alarm,LXXVII
    “I am driven farLXXVIII fromLXXIX your sight.”LXXX

Notes on verse 22a

LXXVII “alarm” = chaphaz. 9x in OT. This is hurry or alarm. It is something that begins with a start so it can mean to hurry away or to panic, tremble, fear.
LXXVIII “driven far” = garaz. 1x in OT.  This is cut off.
LXXIX “from” = neged. Same as “sight” in v19. See note LXI above.
LXXX “sight” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).

ButLXXXI you heardLXXXII, LXXXIII my supplicationsLXXXIV
    when I cried out to you for help.LXXXV

Notes on verse 22b

LXXXI “but” = aken. 18x in OT. From kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is surely, truly, nevertheless.
LXXXII “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.
LXXXIII {untranslated} = 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.
LXXXIV “supplications” = tachanun. 18x in OT. From chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is entreaty, prayer, or supplication. It is looking for favor earnestly.
LXXXV “cried out…for help” = shava. This is crying or shouting aloud, generally seeking freedom from some kind of trouble.

23 LoveLXXXVI the Lord,LXXXVII allLXXXVIII you his saints.LXXXIX
    The LordXC preservesXCI the faithfulXCII

Notes on verse 23a

LXXXVI “love” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.
LXXXVII “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note IV above.
LXXXVIII “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
LXXXIX “saints” = chasid. Related to “steadfast love” in v7. From chasad (see note XLI above). This is faithful, kind, pious, merciful, or gracious. It can also refer to godly or pious people. This is where Chasidic Jews take their name from.
XC “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note IV above.
XCI “preserves” = natsar. This is to watch, guard, protect. It can be positive – preserve or obey. It can be negative as conceal.
XCII “faithful” = aman. Related to “faithful” in v5. See note XXXII above.

    but abundantlyXCIII repaysXCIV the one who actsXCV haughtily.XCVI

Notes on verse 23b

XCIII “abundantly” = al + yether. Yether is from yathar (to jut over, remain behind, preserve, to excel). This is a remainder or excess. It can imply abundant or superiority. Additionally, it can be cord a free-hanging rope.
XCIV “repays” = shalam. This is 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 the root verb that “shalom” comes from, the Hebrew word for peace.
XCV “acts” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
XCVI “haughtily” = gaavah. 19x in OT. From gaah (to rise up, be exalted, triumph; figuratively, be majestic). This is majesty, excellency, pride, or arrogance. It can also mean ornament.

24 Be strong,XCVII and let your heartXCVIII take courage,XCIX
    all you who wait forC the Lord.CI

Notes on verse 24

XCVII “be strong” = chazaq. This is to strengthen, seize, be courageous, repair, bind, heal, conquer, harden.
XCVIII “heart” = lebab. 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.
XCIX “take courage” = 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.
C “wait for” = yachal. This is to wait, which implies patience, hope, and trust. It can also be pained waiting.
CI “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note IV above.

Image credit: “In the Cave of Colors” by John Fowler, 2008.

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