Psalm 32

Psalm 32
First Sunday of Lent A
Narrative Lectionary 131


Of David.A A Maskil.B

Notes on superscript

A “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.”
B “Maskil” = maskiyl. 13x in OT. From sakal (to consider or be prudent; to instruct, be an expert; dealing prudently, which implies success and prospering; can mean laying cross-wise). This is maskil or maschil. It is a poem used for instruction.

HappyC are those whose transgressionD is forgiven,E
    whose sinF is covered.G

Notes on verse 1

C “happy” = esher. From ashar (to go straight, lead, guide; to be level and so to be right, blessed, honest, happy). This is happy or blessedness.
D “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.
E “forgiven” = nasa. This to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept.
F “sin” = chataah. 8x in OT. From chata (to miss or go wrong and so to sin, bear the blame; it can also include the sense of forfeiting or lacking) OR from chet (sin, fault, or punishment of sin); {from chata (see above)}. This is a sin or sin offering.
G “covered” = kasah. This is to cover, conceal, overwhelm. It is to cover as clothes do or to hide a secret.

Happy are thoseH to whom the LordI imputesJ no iniquity,K
    and in whose spiritL there is no deceit.M

Notes on verse 2

H “those” = adam. 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.
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.
J “imputes” = chashab. This is properly to braid or interpenetrate. Literally it is to create or to wear. Figuratively, it can mean plotting – generally in a negative sense. More broadly, this can also mean think, consider, or make account of.
K “iniquity” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.
L “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.
M “deceit” = rmiyah. 15x in OT. From ramah (to betray, deceive, beguile). This is deceit, treachery, or guile. It could also mean idle or slothful.

While I kept silence,N my bodyO wasted awayP
    through my groaningQ all day long.

Notes on verse 3

N “kept silence” = charash. This is to scratch, which implies etching or plowing. It can mean to manufacture regardless of materials used. Figuratively, it can be to devise or conceal. It can also have a sense of secrecy. Hence, being silent or left alone. It can also be speechless.
O “body” = 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.
P “wasted away” = balah. 17x in OT. This is to grow old, wear out, consume, waste, enjoy, fail, decay.
Q “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.

For day and night your handR was heavyS upon me;
    my strengthT was dried upU as by the heatV of summer.W SelahX

Notes on verse 4

R “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.
S “was heavy” = kabad. To be heavy, weighty, or severe. It can also be positive abounding in, rich, or honorable. The Hebrew word for “glory,” kabod, is taken from this root.
T “strength” = lashad. 2x in OT. This is juicy, fresh, moisture. It can be used for a sweet cake or figuratively for vigor.
U “dried up” = haphak. This is to turn, overturn, change, return, turn over, pervert.
V “heat” = cherabon. 1x in OT. From charab (to dry up because of drought, destroy, or make waste, kill). This is drought or parching heat.
W “summer” = qayits. From quts (summer, clip off). This is fruit, harvest, or summer – the dry season.
X “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.

5 Then I acknowledgedY my sinZ to you,
    and I did not hideAA my iniquity;

I said, “I will confessBB my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the guiltCC of my sin. Selah

Notes on verse 5

Y “acknowledged” = 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.
Z “sin” = chatta’ah. Related to “sin” in v1. From chata’ (see note F above). This is sin itself as well as punishment for sin. It is sometimes used specifically to refer to sin that is habitual.
AA “hide” = kasah. Same as “covered” in v1. See note G above.
BB “confess” = yadah. This is to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise. So, it is to praise, give thanks, or make a confession.
CC “guilt” = avon. Same as “iniquity” in v2. See note K above.

Therefore let all who are faithfulDD
    offer prayerEE to you;

at a timeFF of distress,GG the rushHH of mightyII waters
    shall not reachJJ them.

Notes on verse 6

DD “faithful” = chasid. 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 faithful, kind, pious, merciful, or gracious. It can also refer to godly or pious people. This is where Chasidic Jews take their name from.
EE “offer prayer” = palal. This is to judge for oneself or in an official capacity. It can also mean to pray or make supplication, to entreat.
FF “time” = et. 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.
GG “distress” = mikseh. Perhaps literally “at a time of finding.”  This is to find, catch, come forth, appear, acquire, happen.
HH “rush” = sheteph. 6x in OT. From shataph (to overflow, rinse, overwhelm, run, drown, rush, flood, cleanse, gallop, conquer). This is a flood in a literal or figurative sense. It can also be outburst or outrageous.
II “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.
JJ “reach” = naga. This is touch, reach, arrive, come near, strike. This is touching for any reason including sexual or violent.

You are a hiding placeKK for me;
    you preserveLL me from trouble;MM
    you surroundNN me with glad criesOO of deliverance.PP Selah

Notes on verse 7

KK “hiding place” = 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.
LL “preserve” = natsar. This is to watch, guard, protect. It can be positive – preserve or obey. It can be negative as conceal.
MM “trouble” = 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.
NN “surround” = sabab. This is turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch. It is to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense.
OO “glad cries” = ron. 1x in OT. From ranan (a cry of joy or a joyful song; properly, emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy). This is a song or shout of deliverance.
PP “deliverance” = pallet. 2x in OT. From palat (to escape, slip out, deliver, calve). This is deliverance or escape.

I will instructQQ you and teachRR you the waySS you should go;TT
    I will counselUU you with my eye upon you.

Notes on verse 8

QQ “instruct” = sakal. Related to “Maskil” in superscript. See note B above.
RR “teach” = yarah. This is to throw, shoot, be stunned. It is to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach. This is the same root that “Jerusalem” and “Torah” draw from.
SS “way” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
TT “go” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
UU “counsel” = yaats. This is to advise, counsel, consult, decide, plan, purpose, or determine. It can also have a negative sense of conspire or devise.

Do not be like a horseVV or a mule,WW without understanding,XX

Notes on verse 9a

VV “horse” = sus. Root may mean to skip as in jump for joy. This is a crane or a swift bird. It is also a horse as leaping.
WW “mule” = pered. 14x in OT. Perhaps from parad (to divide, break through, scatter, sever, stretch, to spread oneself, or to be out of joint). This is a mule – perhaps as a lonely creature.
XX “understanding” = bin. This is to discern, consider, attend to. It refers to distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand.

    whose temperYY must be curbedZZ with bitAAA and bridle,BBB
    else it will not stay nearCCC you.

Notes on verse 9b

YY “temper” = adi. Perhaps related to “time” in v6. 13x in OT. From adah (see note FF above). This is decoration, beauty, jewels, ornaments, an outfit, something excellent.
ZZ “curbed” = balam. 1x in OT. This is to hold in, muzzle, or curb.
AAA “bit” = metheg. 4x in OT. Root may mean curb. This is a bit or bridle. Figuratively, it can refer to control or authority.
BBB “bridle” = resen. 4x in OT. Root may mean to curb. This is a halter, bridle. It can also refer to the jaw or to armor.
CCC “stay near” = qarab. This is to come near, offer, make ready, approach, take.

10 Many are the tormentsDDD of the wicked,EEE
    but steadfast loveFFF surrounds those who trustGGG in the Lord.

Notes on verse 10

DDD “torments” = makob. 16x in OT. From kaab (being in pain, be sad, grieve, spoil, mar). This is pain, sorrow, or suffering. It can be anguish or affliction.
EEE “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.
FFF “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.
GGG “trust” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.

11 Be gladHHH in the Lord and rejoice,III O righteous,JJJ
    and shout for joy,KKK all you uprightLLL in heart.MMM

Notes on verse 11

HHH “be glad” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
III “rejoice” = 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.
JJJ “righteous” = tsaddiq. From the same as tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, just cause, vindication; that which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense; abstractly equity; figuratively prosperity). This is just, innocent, righteous, righteous one, or lawful.
KKK “shout for joy” = ranan. Related to “glad cries” in v7. See note OO above.
LLL “upright” = 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.
MMM “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.

Image credit: “Repentance-0005” by Björn S…

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