Psalm 38

Psalm 38


A PsalmA of David,B for the memorialC offering.

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 “memorial” = zakar. This is to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention.

O Lord,D do not rebukeE me in your anger,F
    or disciplineG me in your wrath.H

Notes on verse 1

D “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.
E “rebuke” = yakach. This is to decide, be right, argue, or convince. It can also be to decide, convict, reason together, or reprove.
F “anger” = qetseph. From qatsaph (angry or provoked to wrath; a bursting into anger). This is indignation, rage, strife, foam, a splinter.
G “discipline” = yasar. This is to discipline, correct, train, teach, punish. Literally, it is disciplining with blows, but figuratively using words.
H “wrath” = chemah. From yacham (to be hot, mate; figuratively, to conceive). This is heat – figuratively it can be anger or fury. It can also refer to poison or venom as they can cause fever.

For your arrowsI have sunkJ into me,
    and your handK has come downL on me.

Notes on verse 2

I “arrows” = chets. From chatsats (to divide, chop, pierce, distribute, shoot an arrow, an archer). This is an arrow or archer, shaft, staff. Properly, it is someone or something that pierces, such as an arrow. It can imply a wound. Used figuratively of God’s thunder bolt.
J “sunk” = nacheth. 11x in OT. This is to sink or descend, settle, press down, be broken.
K “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.
L “come down” = nacheth. Same as “sunk” in v2. See note J above.

There is no soundnessM in my fleshN
    becauseO of your indignation;P

Notes on verse 3a

M “soundness” = methom. 4x in OT. 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 soundness, completely, wholesomeness.
N “flesh” = basar. From basar (being a messenger, publish, carry preach; properly, this is being fresh, rosy or cheerful as one bearing news). This is flesh, the body, fat, skin, self, nakedness, humankind, or kin. It can also refer to private parts.
O “because” = 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.
P “indignation” = zaam. From zaam (properly, foaming at the mouth and so being enraged or angry; to curse or denounce). This is indignation, anger, fury. Also used of God’s anger at sin.

there is no healthQ in my bonesR
    because of my sin.S

Notes on verse 3b

Q “health” = shalom. 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 completeness, soundness, welfare, favor, friend, good health. It is to be safe and figuratively well, happy, at peace, friendly. Abstractly, it includes the ideas of welfare and prosperity (not in excessive wealth, but in having enough).
R “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.
S “sin” = chatta’ah. From chata’ (to miss or go wrong and so to sin, bear the blame; it can also include the sense of forfeiting or lacking). This is sin itself as well as punishment for sin. It is sometimes used specifically to refer to sin that is habitual.

For my iniquitiesT have gone overU my head;V
    they weighW like a burdenX too heavyY for me.

Notes on verse 4

T “iniquities” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.
U “gone over” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
V “head” = rosh. This may come a word that means to shake. It is the head, captain, or chief. It can also be excellent or the forefront. It can be first in position or in statue or in time (i.e. the beginning).
W “weigh” = kabad. Related to “too heavy” in v4. See note X below.
X “burden” = massa. From nasa (to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively; to carry, take, or arise; to bring forth, advance, accept). This is burden, bearing, load, utterance, tribute, prophecy, desire, song.
Y “too heavy” = kabed. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is heavy, grievous, sore. It can also be weighty in the sense of gravitas. The word for “glory” in Hebrew comes from this root (kabod).

My woundsZ grow foulAA and festerBB
    because of my foolishness;CC

Notes on verse 5

Z “wounds” = chabburah. 7x in OT. From chabar (to unite, ally, attach, touch; to join in a literal or figurative sense; also, specially, using magic knots or spells to fascinate or connect). This is a blow, striking, or scourging. It can also refer to the wound or bruise – the stripe being blue and black marks on the skin.
AA “grow foul” = baash. 18x in OT. This is to stink or be foul. Figuratively, it can refer to offensive behavior – morally odious or loathsome.
BB “fester” = maqaq. 10x in OT. This is to melt, decay, wear away, or waste away. Figuratively, it could be to corrupt, flow, or vanish.
CC “foolishness” = ivveleth. From the same as evil (foolish, silly). This is foolishness or silliness.

I am utterly bowed downDD and prostrate;EE
    all day long I goFF around mourning.GG

Notes on verse 6

DD “bowed down” = avah. Perhaps related to iniquities” in v4. 17x in OT. See note T above.
EE “prostrate” = shachach. This is to sink, bow down, bring low, be humbled, sing softly.
FF “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.
GG “mourning” = qadar. 17x in OT. This is to be dark, grow black. It can be ashy or otherwise having a dark color. It can also imply mourning, wearing sackcloth.

For my loinsHH are filledII with burning,JJ
    and there is no soundness in my flesh.

Notes on verse 7

HH “loins” = kesel. 13x in OT. From kasal (being or becoming stupid or foolish; properly, being fat and so figuratively silly or foolish). This is loins, thigh, flank, fatness. It can also be folly, silliness, confidence, or hope.
II “filled” = male. This is fill, satisfy, replenish, accomplish, fulfill, confirm, or consecrate. It is fill in a literal or figurative sense.
JJ “burning” = qalah. 4x in OT.  This is to roast, toast or parch – to dry or scorch in part.

I am utterly spentKK and crushed;LL
    I groanMM because of the tumultNN of my heart.OO

Notes on verse 8

KK “spent” = pug. 4x in OT. This is to be faint, sluggish, grow numb, be spent.
LL “crushed” = dakah. 5x in OT. This is to crush or break. It is collapse whether in the body or in the mind. It can also mean to crouch or be contrite (as in Psalm 51:17 “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”).
MM “groan” = shaag. This is to roar, rumble, or moan.
NN “tumult” = nehamah. 2x in OT. From naham (to growl, groan, or mourn). This is growling, disquietude, agitation.
OO “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.

O Lord,PP all my longingQQ is known to you;
    my sighingRR is not hiddenSS from you.

Notes on verse 9

PP “Lord” = Adonai. From adon (lord, master, owner); root means to rule or be sovereign. This is the actual Hebrew word for Lord used (in a different form) of humans and (in the present form) of God. It means someone who is in control.
QQ “longing” = taavah. From the same as avah (to desire, crave, wish for, lust after). This is what is desirable, a delight, greedy, satisfaction, a charm.
RR “sighing” = anachah. 11x in OT. From anach (to sigh, groan, or mourn). This is sighing or groaning.
SS “hidden” = sathar. This is hide, conceal, or be absent. It is hiding because something is covered – used in a literal or figurative sense.

10 My heart throbs,TT my strengthUU failsVV me;
    as for the lightWW of my eyesXX—it also has gone from me.

Notes on verse 10

TT “throbs” = sachar. To travel, go around. So, it is to travel like a peddler, to trade, to be a merchant. It can also mean to palpitate.
UU “strength” = 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.
VV “fails” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.
WW “light” = or. From or (to be or become light). This is light, sun, sunshine, dawn, or daylight. Figuratively, it can refer to light from instruction, light of a face (that is to say one that is cheerful or finds favor). It can refer to prosperity or salvation; a light that guides, a light eternal from Zion.
XX “eyes” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).

11 My friendsYY and companionsZZ stand aloofAAA from my affliction,BBB
    and my neighborsCCC stand far off.DDD

Notes on verse 11

YY “friends” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.
ZZ “companions” = rea. From raah (to associate with). This is the same as neighbor in Leviticus 19:18 “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is friend, companion, fellow, neighbor. It is someone with whom you associate, whether more or less close.
AAA “stand aloof” = 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.
BBB “affliction” = nega. From naga (touch, reach, arrive, come near, strike; touching for any reason including sexual or violent). This is a blow or stroke, wound, sore, mark plague. It can refer to someone with leprosy or to dress.
CCC “neighbors” = qarob. From qarab (to come near, offer, make ready). This is near whether nearby, related, near in time, or allied.
DDD “far off” = 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.

12 Those who seekEEE my lifeFFF lay their snares;GGG

Notes on verse 12a

EEE “seek” = baqash. This is to seek, ask, desire, or request. It can be any kind of searching. It can also mean to worship or pray – implies a striving for.
FFF “life” = 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.
GGG “lay…snares” = naqash. 5x in OT. This is to hit or bring down. It can also be to snare something using a noose in a literal or figurative sense.

    those who seekHHH to hurtIII me speakJJJ of ruin,KKK
    and meditateLLL treacheryMMM all day long.

Notes on verse 12b

HHH “seek” = darash. This is seek, ask, inquire, care for. Generally it means following in pursuit or following as part of a search, which implies seeking or asking. Also used specially to mean worship.
III “hurt” = ra’. From ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is bad, disagreeable, that which causes pain, misery, something having little or no value, something that is ethically bad, wicked, injury, calamity. This refers to anything that is not what it ought to be – a natural disaster, a disfigurement, an injury, a sin.
JJJ “speak” = dabar. This is generally to speak, answer, declare, or command. It might mean to arrange and so to speak in a figurative sense as arranging words.
KKK “ruin” = havvah. Related to “Lord” in v1. 15x in OT. From havah (see note D above). This is a chasm, emptiness, or deep pit. It can be destruction or calamity. It can also be greed, craving, or mischief. It implies falling and ruin.
LLL “meditate” = hagah. This is to speak, declare, make a sound, imagine, or mutter. It could be a murmur, moan, or growl, whether from delight or anger. It can also mean to study, ponder, or meditate.
MMM “treachery” = mirmah. From ramah (to betray, deceive, beguile). This is deceit, treachery, guile, or fraud

13 But I am like the deaf,NNN I do not hear;OOO
    like the mute,PPP who cannot speak.QQQ

14 Truly, I am like oneRRR who does not hear,
    and in whose mouth is no retort.SSS

Notes on verses 13-14

NNN “deaf” = cheresh. 9x in OT. From charash (to scratch, which implies etching or plowing; to manufacture regardless of materials used; figuratively, to devise or conceal; secrecy – hence, being silent, left alone, or speechless). This is deaf or a someone who is deaf in a literal or figurative sense.
OOO “hear” = 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.
PPP “mute” = illem. 6x in OT. From the same as alam (to bind or tie fast; to be silent or speechless, whether voluntary or involuntary). This is mute or speechless.
QQQ “speak” = pathach + peh. Literally “open his mouth.” Pathach is to open wide in a literal or figurative sense. So, it is open, draw out, let something go free, break forth. It can also mean to plow, engrave, or carve. Peh is mouth in a literal or figurative sense. So, more literally, it can be beak or jaws. More figuratively, it refers to speech, commands, or promises.
RRR “one” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
SSS “retort” = tokechah. Related to “rebuke” in v1. From yakach (see note E above). This is rebuke, argument, correction, refutation, proof in a trial.

15 But it is for you, O Lord, that I wait;TTT
    it is you, O LordUUU my God,VVV who will answer.WWW

Notes on verse 15

TTT “wait” = yachal. This is to wait, which implies patience, hope, and trust. It can also be pained waiting.
UUU “Lord” = Adonai. Same as “Lord” in v9. See note PP above.
VVV “God” = Elohim.
WWW “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.

16 For I pray,XXX “Only do not let them rejoiceYYY over me,
    those who boastZZZ against me when my foot slips.”AAAA

Notes on verse 16

XXX “pray” = amar. This is to say or answer.
YYY “rejoice” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
ZZZ “boast” = gadal. This is to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing.
AAAA “slips” = mot. This is to shake, slip, falter, stagger, move, fall, give way, waver, be carried.

17 For I am readyBBBB to fall,CCCC
    and my painDDDD is everEEEE with me.

18 I confessFFFF my iniquity;
    I am sorryGGGG for my sin.

Notes on verses 17-18

BBBB “ready” = kun. Properly, this means in a perpendicular position. So, it is set up in a literal sense – establish, fix, fasten, prepare. In a figurative sense, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous.
CCCC “fall” = tsela. 3x in OT. From tsala (to limp, to curse); perhaps from tsela (rib, side, leaf, plank, side of a person or object; quarter of the sky). This is limping, halting, or stumbling. Figuratively, this is adversity.
DDDD “pain” = 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.
EEEE “ever” = tamid. May come from a word that means to stretch. This word means an indefinite period of time. So, it could be regular or daily. It could also be constantly, continually, always, or perpetually.
FFFF “confess” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
GGGG “am sorry” = daag. 7x in OT. This is to fear, be worried, sorrow, be concerned, be anxious, be sorry.

19 Those who are my foesHHHH without cause are mighty,IIII
    and many areJJJJ those who hateKKKK me wrongfully.LLLL

Notes on verse 19

HHHH “foes” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.
IIII “mighty” = chay + atsam. Chay is from chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense. Atsam is related to “bones” in v3. See note R above.
JJJJ “many are” = rabab. 13x in OT. This is to increase, multiply, abound.
KKKK “hate” = sane. This is an enemy or foe. It is one that is hated with a personal hatred.
LLLL “wrongfully” = sheqer. This is deception, lie, or disappointment. It can also be something that is vain or wrongfully.

20 Those who renderMMMM me evilNNNN for goodOOOO
    are my adversariesPPPP because I follow afterQQQQ good.

Notes on verse 20

MMMM “render” = shalam. Related to “health” in v3. See note Q above.
NNNN “evil” = ra’. Same as “hurt” in v12. See note III above.
OOOO “good” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.
PPPP “are…adversaries” = satan. 6x in OT. From satan (adversary, Satan). This is to be an adversary, attack, accuse, resist. This is the root that “Satan” is taken from.
QQQQ “follow after” = radaph. This is to chase after, pursue, hunt, or persecute. It is running after someone or something, generally with hostile motives.

21 Do not forsakeRRRR me, O Lord;
    O my God, do not be farSSSS from me;

22 make hasteTTTT to helpUUUU me,
    O Lord, my salvation.VVVV

Notes on verses 21-22

RRRR “forsake” = azab. Same as “fails” in v10. See note VV above.
SSSS “be far” = rachaq. Related to “far off” in v11. See note DDD above.
TTTT “make haste” = chush. This is to hurry, be eager.
UUUU “help” = ezrah. From ezer (help, aid, helper); from azar (to help, protect, support, ally; properly, to surround so as to provide aid). This is help, helper, support.
VVVV “salvation” = teshuah. From yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe; to free someone). This is deliverance or salvation.

Image credit: “Job’s Lamentation” by Ephraim Moses Lilien, 1914.

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