Psalm 40

Psalm 40


To the leader.I Of David.II A Psalm.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 “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.”
III “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.

1 I waited patiently forIV the Lord;V
    he inclinedVI to me and heardVII my cry.VIII

Notes on verse 1

IV “waited patiently for” = qavah + qavah. It can mean to bind or gather together, especially in the sense of twisting together. In that light, it can mean collect. Figuratively, this can mean to wait, await, expect, or tarry. The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”
V “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.
VI “inclined” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
VII “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.
VIII “cry” = shavah. 11x in OT. From shava (crying or shouting aloud; seeking freedom from some kind of trouble). This is cry, cry for help.

He drew me upIX from the desolateX pit,XI
    out of the miryXII bog,XIII

Notes on verse 2a

IX “drew…up” = alah. This is to go up, approach, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense.
X “desolate” = shaon. 18x in OT. From shaah (to crash, rumble, rush, be desolate, devastate). This is a crash, loud sound, clamor, rumbling, destruction. It could also be the sound of rushing water.
XI “pit” = bor. From bur (to bore; figuratively, to explain, examine, or clear up). This is a pit – generally a cistern or dungeon. It could also be a well or fountain.
XII “miry” = yaven. 2x in OT. Perhaps from the same as yayin (wine; root means to effervesce). This is mire or miry, mud. It can also refer to dregs.
XIII “bog” = tit. 13x in OT. Root perhaps means being sticky. This is mud, clay, or mire. Figuratively, it can refer to calamity.

and setXIV my feetXV upon a rock,XVI
    making my stepsXVII secure.XVIII

Notes on verse 2b

XIV “set” = 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.
XV “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.
XVI “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.
XVII “steps” = ashshur. 9x in OT– 2x in Job, 6x in Psalms, 1x in Proverbs. From ashar (to go straight, lead, guide; to be level and so to be right, blessed, honest, happy). This is step or going.
XVIII “making…secure” = 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.

He putXIX a newXX song in my mouth,XXI
    a song of praiseXXII to our God.XXIII

Notes on verse 3a

XIX “put” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
XX “new” = chadash. From chadash (to renew or restore, to repair or rebuild). This is something fresh or new.
XXI “mouth” = peh. This 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.
XXII “praise” = tehillah. From halal (to praise, be boastful). This is praise or a song of praise. It is to offer God a hymn, to boast in God. This shares a root with “hallelujah.”
XXIII “God” = Elohim.

Many will seeXXIV and fear,XXV
    and put their trustXXVI in the Lord.

Notes on verse 3b

XXIV “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
XXV “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.
XXVI “put…trust” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.

HappyXXVII are thoseXXVIII who makeXXIX
    the Lord their trust,XXX

Notes on verse 4a

XXVII “happy” = esher. Related to “steps” in v2. From ashar (see note XVII above). This is happy or blessedness.
XXVIII “those” = geber. From gabar (to be strong or mighty; to prevail or to be insolent) This is man, warrior, a person generally, or a valiant person.
XXIX “make” = sim. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
XXX “trust” = mibtach. Related to “put…trust” in v3. 15x in OT. From batach (see note XXVI above). This is confidence, trust, hope, refuge, security, assurance.

who do not turnXXXI to the proud,XXXII
    to those who go astrayXXXIII after false gods.XXXIV

Notes on verse 4b

XXXI “turn” = panah. This is to turn, regard, appear, look, prepare.
XXXII “proud” = rahab. 1x in OT. From rahab (to act arrogantly, storm, be proud, strengthen, embolden, capture, confuse). This is proud or defiant.
XXXIII “go astray” = sut. 2x in OT. This is to fall away, lapse, turn to the wrong practice. So, it is used for acts of idolatry.
XXXIV “false gods” = kazab. From kazab (to lie, be false or in vain, to fail; to deceive in a literal or figurative sense). This is a lie or deception. It can also be used figuratively to refer to an idol.

You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deedsXXXV and your thoughtsXXXVI toward us;
    none can compareXXXVII with you.

Notes on verse 5a

XXXV “wondrous deeds” = pala. From pele (wonder, miracle, wonderful, marvelous thing). This is to be extraordinary, to arise, to be great or accomplish.
XXXVI “thoughts” = machashabah. From chashab (literally to weave; figuratively to think or plot something malicious). This is thought, scheme, imagination, purpose, or a plan either good or evil.
XXXVII “compare” = arak. This is to arrange by setting in a row. It can also mean to set a battle, estimate, put in order, or compare.

Were I to proclaimXXXVIII and tellXXXIX of them,
    they would be moreXL than can be counted.XLI

Notes on verse 5b

XXXVIII “proclaim” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
XXXIX “tell” = 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.
XL “be more” = atsam. This is vast, numerous, strong. It can be to close one’s eyes, to make powerful, or to break bones.
XLI “counted” = saphar. From sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.

SacrificeXLII and offeringXLIII you do not desire,XLIV
    but you have given me an openXLV ear.XLVI

Notes on verse 6a

XLII “sacrifice” = zebach. From zabach (to kill, slay, offer; slaughtering an animal to offer as a sacrifice). This is a slaughter – literally of an animal. So, it implies the act or the animals used in sacrifice. Further, it can mean offering.
XLIII “offering” = minchah. This is a gift or an offering, particularly a sacrificial one that is generally bloodless and given spontaneously (voluntarily).
XLIV “desire” = chaphets. Properly, this means inclined towards or bending to. Figuratively, it means to desire, delight in, or be pleased with.
XLV “open” = 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.
XLVI “ear” = ozen. This is ear, hearing, audience, show. Properly, it is broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape.

Burnt offeringXLVII and sin offeringXLVIII
    you have not required.XLIX

Notes on verse 6b

XLVII “burnt offering” = olah. Related to “drew…up” in v2. From alah (see note IX above). This is a step, stairs, or some kind of ascent. It is also used for whole burnt offerings, being the offering in which the whole things is burned and rises as smoke. Burnt offerings were the least common of the offerings: most were eaten, shared with the priest and the one bringing the offering.
XLVIII “sin offering” = 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.
XLIX “required” = shaal. This is to ask, inquire, beg, borrow, desire, request. It can also mean to demand.

Then I said, “HereL I am;LI
    in the scrollLII of the bookLIII it is writtenLIV of me.

Notes on verse 7

L “here” = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
LI “am” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
LII “scroll” = megillah. From galal (to roll, roll away, wallow, commit, remove; rolling in a literal or figurative sense). This is scroll or volume.
LIII “book” = sepher. Perhaps related to “counted” in v5. See note XLI above.
LIV “written” = kathab. This is to write, decree, describe, record.

 I delightLV to do your will,LVI O my God;
    your lawLVII is withinLVIII my heart.”LIX

Notes on verse 8

LV “delight” = chaphets. Same as “desire” in v6. See note XLIV above.
LVI “will” = ratson. From ratsah (to be pleased with, delight, take pleasure in, or accept with favor; to approve or consent regarding something; can be used specifically of satisfying debts or being pardoned). This is delight shown in favor, good will, something that is accepted or acceptable.
LVII “law” = torah. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach). This is law, instruction, teaching, or statute. It can also refer to the first five books of the Bible – the Torah.
LVIII “within” = tavek. This is among, middle, in the midst, the center. Perhaps, properly, to sever.
LIX “heart” = meeh. This is inward parts, belly, heart, womb, intestines, vastness. It can also be figurative for sympathy.

9 I have told the glad newsLX of deliveranceLXI
    in the great congregation;LXII

Notes on verse 9a

LX “told the glad news” = basar. This is being a messenger, to publish, carry, or preach. Properly, this is being fresh, rosy or cheerful as one bearing news.
LXI “deliverance” = tsedeq. This is 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.
LXII “congregation” = qahal. This is an assembly, congregation, or multitude.

see,LXIII I have not restrainedLXIV my lips,LXV
    as you know,LXVI O Lord.

Notes on verse 9b

LXIII “see” = hinneh. Same as “here” in v7. See note L above.
LXIV “restrained” = kala. 18x in OT. This is to stop in the sense of holding back or restraining. It could be keep, refuse, forbid, or to prohibit by word.
LXV “lips” = saphah. This is lip, edge border, bank – used for a boundary. It can also be speech or language.
LXVI “know” = 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.

10 I have not hiddenLXVII your saving helpLXVIII within my heart,LXIX
    I have spoken of your faithfulnessLXX and your salvation;LXXI

Notes on verse 10a

LXVII “hidden” = kasah. This is to cover, conceal, overwhelm. It is to cover as clothes do or to hide a secret.
LXVIII “saving help” = tsedaqah. Related to “deliverance” in v9. From the same as tsedeq (see note LXI above). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.
LXIX “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.
LXX “faithfulness” = emunah. 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 word is literally firmness, but figuratively fidelity, faithfulness, honesty, responsibility, trust, truth, steadfastness. This word shares a root with the word “Amen.”
LXXI “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.

I have not concealedLXXII your steadfast loveLXXIII and your faithfulnessLXXIV
    from the great congregation.

Notes on verse 10b

LXXII “concealed” = kachad. This is to hide or conceal or destroy. It can also refer to doing secret actions or secret speech.
LXXIII “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.
LXXIV “faithfulness” = emet. Related to “faithfulness” in v10. From aman (see note LXX above). This is firmness or stability. Figuratively, it is faithfulness, truth, or trustworthiness. This is the same root that “amen” comes from.

11 Do not, O Lord, withholdLXXV
    your mercyLXXVI from me;
let your steadfast love and your faithfulnessLXXVII
    keep me safeLXXVIII forever.LXXIX

Notes on verse 11

LXXV “withhold” = kala. Same as “restrained” in v9. See note LXIV above.
LXXVI “mercy” = racham. From the same as rechem (womb); from racham (to love, have compassion, have mercy); from racham (compassion, tender love, womb, compassion; the womb as that which cherishes the fetus). This is compassion, mercy, or tender love.
LXXVII “faithfulness” = emet. Same as “faithfulness” in v10. See note LXXIV above.
LXXVIII “keep…safe” = natsar. This is to watch, guard, protect. It can be positive – preserve or obey. It can be negative as conceal.
LXXIX “forever” = 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.

12 For evilsLXXX have encompassed me
    without number;LXXXI
my iniquitiesLXXXII have overtakenLXXXIII me,
    until I cannotLXXXIV see;

Notes on verse 12a

LXXX “evils” = 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.
LXXXI “number” = mispar. Perhaps related to “counted” in v5 & “book” in v7. From the same as sepher (see note XLI above). This is a number or tally. It can also refer to an indefinite number, whether large or small.
LXXXII “iniquities” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.
LXXXIII “overtaken” = nasag. This is to reach in a literal or figurative sense. It is to overtake, catch, or be able to.
LXXXIV “can” = yakol. This is to be able, endure, overcome, prevail.

they are more than the hairsLXXXV of my head,LXXXVI
    and my heart failsLXXXVII me.

Notes on verse 12b

LXXXV “hairs” = saarah. 7x in OT. From the same as sear (hair, hairy, rough); perhaps from sa’ar (to storm, scattered by a storm, blow away, rage, storm tossed; this is to toss in a literal or figurative sense). This is hair or hairiness.
LXXXVI “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).
LXXXVII “fails” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.

13 Be pleased,LXXXVIII O Lord, to deliverLXXXIX me;
    O Lord, make hasteXC to helpXCI me.

Notes on verse 13

LXXXVIII “be pleased” = ratsah. Related to “will” in v8. See note LVI above.
LXXXIX “deliver” = 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.
XC “make haste” = chush. This is to hurry, be eager.
XCI “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.

14 Let allXCII those be put to shameXCIII and confusionXCIV
    who seekXCV to snatch awayXCVI my life;XCVII

Notes on verse 14a

XCII “all” = yachad. From yachad (to join, be united). This is a unit, both, altogether, unitedness, alike.
XCIII “be put to shame” = bosh. Properly, this means to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion.
XCIV “confusion” = chapher. 17x in OT. Perhaps from the same as chaphar (properly to pry into; to dig search for, sink, or explore). This is to be ashamed, disgraced, embarrassed, confounded – to blush.
XCV “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.
XCVI “snatch away” = saphah. This is to capture, sweep away, scrape, remove, heap up, scatter, ruin, or perish.
XCVII “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.

let those be turnedXCVIII back and brought to dishonorXCIX
    who desireC my hurt.CI

Notes on verse 14b

XCVIII “turned” = sug. 14x in OT. This is to turn back, aside, or away. Properly, it means to flinch, which implies moving away or going back. Literally it can mean retreat or figuratively it can mean backslide i.e. apostatize.
XCIX “brought to dishonor” = kalam. This is bearing shame, bringing dishonor or disgrace, humiliate insult, taunt, embarrass, reproach. Properly, to wound in a figurative sense.
C “desire” = chaphets. Related to “desire” in v6. 11x in OT.  From chaphets (see note XLIV above). This is to delight in, desire, or show favor.
CI “hurt” = ra’. Same as “evils” in v12. See note LXXX above.

15 Let those be appalledCII because of their shameCIII
    who say to me, “Aha,CIV Aha!”

Notes on verse 15

CII “be appalled” = shamem. This is to amaze or be astonished. It can also mean devastate, stun, become numb, or be appalled.
CIII “shame” = bosheth. Related to “be put to shame” in v14. From bosh (see note XCIII above). This is shame as a feeling and a thing that creates shame. It can also mean humiliation, confusion, or be used specifically for an idol.
CIV “aha” = heach. 12x in OT. Perhaps from he (behold, now) + ach (ah, oh, alas; used for grief or surprise); {from ahahh (alas, oh; exclamation of pain)}. This is ah, ha, or aha.

16 But may all who seek you
    rejoiceCV and be gladCVI in you;
may those who loveCVII your salvation
    say continually,CVIII “Great isCIX the Lord!”

Notes on verse 16

CV “rejoice” = sus. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to be bright or cheerful.
CVI “be glad” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
CVII “love” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.
CVIII “continually” = tamid. Same as “forever” in v11. See note LXXIX above.
CIX “great is” = 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.

17 As for me, I am poorCX and needy,CXI
    but the LordCXII takes thoughtCXIII for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;CXIV
    do not delay,CXV O my God.

Notes on verse 17

CX “poor” = ani. From anah (to be bowed down; humility or being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed; literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance). This is humble, lowly, poor, or afflicted.
CXI “needy” = ebyon. From abah (to consent, obey, want, yield, accept). This is needy, poor, beggar. Someone who is wanting.
CXII “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.
CXIII “takes thought” = chashab. Related to “thoughts” in v5. See note XXXVI above.
CXIV “deliverer” = palat. This is to escape, slip out, deliver, carry away, or calve.
CXV “delay” = achar. 17x in OT. This is to remain behind, linger, continue, be behind, or delay. It can also imply procrastination.

Image credit: “Olive Trees” in Galil, Israel by chany crystal, 2006.

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