Psalm 43

Psalm 43
Ordinary C30


VindicateA me, O God,B and defendC my causeD
    against an ungodlyE people;F

Notes on verse 1a

A “vindicate” = shaphat. This is to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, or govern. It can refer to God judging or to human judges. This is pronouncing a verdict in favor or against so it implies consequences or punishment. It can also mean to litigate or govern as one with authority.
B “God” = Elohim.
C “defend” = rib. This is properly to toss or grapple. It is used figuratively to mean wrangling and so for arguments, complaints, or disputes. It is used in a legal setting for pleading or defending a case.
D “cause” = rib. Related to “defend” in v1. From rib (see note C above). This is strife or dispute – whether a personal one or one in a court of law.
E “ungodly” = lo + chasid. Literally “not pious.” Chasid is 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.
F “people” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.

from thoseG who are deceitfulH and unjustI
    deliverJ me!

Notes on verse 1b

G “those” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
H “deceitful” = mirmah. From ramah (to betray, deceive, beguile). This is deceit, treachery, guile, or fraud
I “unjust” = evel. Perhaps from aval (to deal unjustly, act in a wrongful way, a wrongdoer). This is injustice, wrong, moral evil, acts of violence, or unrighteousness.
J “deliver” = palat. This is to escape, slip out, deliver, carry away, or calve.

For you are the God in whom I take refuge;K
    why have you cast me off?L
Why must I walk aboutM mournfullyN
    because of the oppressionO of the enemy?P

Notes on verse 2

K “take 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.
L “cast…off” = zanach. This is to cast aside, reject, remove, forsake.
M “walk about” = 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.
N “mournfully” = 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.
O “oppression” = lachats. 12x in OT. From lachats (to press or squeeze; figuratively, oppress, afflict, or distress). This is oppression or affliction.
P “enemy” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.

O send outQ your lightR and your truth;S
    let them leadT me;
let them bring me to your holyU hill
    and to your dwelling.V

Notes on verse 3

Q “send out” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
R “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.
S “truth” = 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.
T “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.”
U “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.
V “dwelling” = mishkan. From shakan (to settle down in the sense of residing somewhere or staying there permanently; to abide or continue). This is a place where one lives – a tabernacle, tent, or other kind of dwelling. It can also be a lair where animals live, the grave, the Temple, or the Tabernacle.

Then I will go to the altarW of God,
    to GodX my exceedingY joy;Z

Notes on verse 4a

W “altar” = mizbeach. From zabach (to kill, slay, offer; slaughtering an animal to offer as a sacrifice). This is an altar.
X “God” = El. Related to “God” in v1. See note B above.
Y “joy” = simchat. From samach (to rejoice, be glad; properly, to brighten up; also used figuratively). This is joy, rejoicing, or pleasure.
Z “exceeding” = gil. 9x in OT. From gil (properly, twirling around because of a strong feeling – whether of rejoicing or from fear; to rejoice, be glad or joyful, to cry). This is circle, rejoicing, or age.

and I will praiseAA you with the harp,BB
    O God,CC my God.

Notes on verse 4b

AA “praise” = yadah. From yad (hand). 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.
BB “harp” = kinnor. Root may be to twang. This is a lyre or harp.
CC “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note B above.

Why are you cast down,DD O my soul,EE
    and why are you disquietedFF within me?

Notes on verse 5a

DD “cast down” = shachach. This is to sink, bow down, bring low, be humbled, sing softly.
EE “soul” = 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.
FF “disquieted” = hamah. This is to growl or roar, be disturbed, mourn, yearn. It is being noisy so it can imply tumult, rage, war.

HopeGG in God;HH for I shall again praise him,
    my helpII and myJJ God.

Notes on verse 5b

GG “hope” = yachal. This is to wait, which implies patience, hope, and trust. It can also be pained waiting.
HH “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note B above.
II “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.
JJ “my” = 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.

Image credit: “Three Birds” by Jason Bay in Masada, Israel, 2010.

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