Psalm 44

Psalm 44


To the leader.I Of the Korahites.II A MaskilIII

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 “Korahites” = ben + Qorah. Literally “sons of Korah.” Ben is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Qorah is from qarach (to shave the head, perhaps be frozen). This is Korah, perhaps meaning “ice.”
III “Makil” = 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.

We have heardIV with our ears,V O God,VI

Notes on verse 1a

IV “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.
V “ears” = ozen. This is ear, hearing, audience, show. Properly, it is broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape.
VI “God” = Elohim.

    our ancestorsVII have toldVIII us,
what deedsIX you performedX in their days,
    in the days of old:XI

Notes on verse 1b

VII “ancestors” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.
VIII “told” = saphar. From sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.
IX “deeds” = poal. From paal (to do, make, work, or accomplish; generally refers to regularly repeated or systematic action – to practice). This is an action or deed, conduct. It is the act of working or the work itself. It can also be wages or maker.
X “performed” = paal. Related to “deeds” in v1. See note IX above.
XI “old” = qedem. Perhaps from qadam (to come in front or be in front; to meet, anticipate, confront, receive, or rise; sometimes to meet for help). This is front, formerly, before, east, eternal, everlasting, antiquity.

you with your own handXII drove outXIII the nations,XIV
    but them you planted;XV

Notes on verse 2a

XII “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.
XIII “drove out” = yarash. This is inheriting or dispossessing. It refers to occupying or colonizing – taking territory by driving out the previous inhabitants and living there instead of them. By implication, it can mean to seize or rob, to expel, ruin, or impoverish.
XIV “nations” = 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.
XV “planted” = nata. To fix or fasten, establish or plant. This is planting in a literal or figurative sense.

you afflictedXVI the peoples,XVII
    but them you set free;XVIII

Notes on verse 2b

XVI “afflicted” = ra’a’. This is to be evil, bad, afflict. Properly, it means to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces. Figuratively, it is to cause something to be worthless. It is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense – something that displeases, does harm or mischief, punishes or vexes.
XVII “peoples” = leom. Root may refer to gathering. This is people, a community, or a nation.
XVIII “set free” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.

for not by their own swordXIX did they winXX the land,XXI
    nor did their own armXXII give them victory;XXIII

Notes on verse 3a

XIX “sword” = chereb. From charab (to attack, slay). This is any sharp instrument like a sword, dagger, axe, or mattock.
XX “win” = yarash. Same as “drove out” in v2. See note XIII above.
XXI “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
XXII “arm” = zeroa. Perhaps from zara (to sow, scatter seed, conceive). This is the arm, shoulder, or foreleg of an animal. It is figuratively used for power, force, might, or help.
XXIII “give…victory” = 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.

but your right hand,XXIV and your arm,
    and the lightXXV of your countenance,XXVI
    for you delightedXXVII in them.

Notes on verse 3b

XXIV “right hand” = yamin. May be from yamam (to go or choose the right, use the right hand; to be physically fit or firm). This can mean right hand, right side, or south. Since most people are right-handed, the metaphorical usage of this word presumes that the right hand is stronger and more agile. Thus, it is the instrument of power and action.
XXV “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.
XXVI “countenance” = 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.
XXVII “delighted” = ratsah. This is to be pleased with, delight, take pleasure in, or accept with favor. It can mean to approve or consent regarding something. It can also be used specifically of satisfying debts or being pardoned.

You are my King and my God;
    you commandXXVIII victoriesXXIX for Jacob.XXX

Notes on verse 4

XXVIII “command” = tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).
XXIX “victories” = yeshuah. Related to “give…victory” in v3. From yasha (see note XXIII above). This is salvation, deliverance, health, victory, prosperity.
XXX “Jacob” = Yaaqob. From the same as aqeb (heel, hind part, hoof, rear guard of an army, one who lies in wait, usurper). This is Isaac’s son and his descendants. The name means heel-catcher or supplanter.

Through you we push downXXXI our foes;XXXII
    through your nameXXXIII we tread downXXXIV our assailants.XXXV

Notes on verse 5

XXXI “push down” = nagach. 11x in OT.  This is to push, gore, collide, butt with horns. Figuratively, it can mean to go to war with.
XXXII “foes” = 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.
XXXIII “name” = 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.
XXXIV “tread down” = bus. 12x in OT. This is to trample, tread down, squirm, loathe, spurn, be polluted. It can be literal or figurative.
XXXV “assailants” = 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. Here, “those who rise up.”

For not in my bowXXXVI do I trust,XXXVII
    nor can my sword saveXXXVIII me.
But you have saved us from our foes,
    and have put to confusionXXXIX those who hateXL us.

Notes on verses 6-7

XXXVI “bow” = qesheth. Perhaps from qush (to set a trap, lure, ensnare) OR from qashah (to be fierce, cruel, dense, tough, severe). This is a bow, arrow, or archer. Bow can be used figuratively for strength.
XXXVII “trust” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.
XXXVIII “save” = yasha. Same as “give…victory” in v3. See note XXIII above.
XXXIX “put to confusion” = bosh. Properly, this means to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion.
XL “hate” = sane. This is an enemy or foe. It is one that is hated with a personal hatred.

In God we have boastedXLI continually,XLII
    and we will give thanksXLIII to your name forever.XLIV SelahXLV

Notes on verse 8

XLI “boasted” = halal. This is to be clear – it originally referred to a sound, then a color. It was to shine and then make a show or boast then to rave. In a causative sense it came to mean celebrate, give glory, sing praise, or be worth of praise. Because of the celebratory nature of the word, it could also mean to give in marriage. This is where Hallelujah comes from.
XLII “continually” = kol + yom. Literally “all day.”
XLIII “give thanks” = yadah. Perhaps related to “hand” in v2. From yad (see note XII above). 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.
XLIV “forever” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
XLV “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.

Yet you have rejectedXLVI us and abasedXLVII us,
    and have not gone outXLVIII with our armies.XLIX

Notes on verse 9

XLVI “rejected” = zanach. This is to cast aside, reject, remove, forsake.
XLVII “abased” = kalam. This is bearing shame, bringing dishonor or disgrace, humiliate insult, taunt, embarrass, reproach. Properly, to wound in a figurative sense.
XLVIII “gone out” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
XLIX “armies” = tsaba. From tsaba (to wage war, serve, assemble, fight, perform, muster, wait on). This is a large group of persons (used figuratively for a group of things). It implies a campaign literally as with army, war, warfare, battle, company, soldiers. Can also be used figuratively for hardship or for worship.

10 You made us turnL back from the foe,
    and our enemiesLI have gotten spoil.LII

Notes on verse 10

L “turn” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
LI “enemies” = sane. Same as “hate” in v7. See note XL above. Here, “those who hate us.”
LII “gotten spoil” = shasah. 11x in OT. This is to spoil, pillage, rob, or destroyer.

11 You have madeLIII us like sheepLIV for slaughter,LV
    and have scatteredLVI us among the nations.

Notes on verse 11

LIII “made” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
LIV “sheep” = tson. This is a flock of sheep and goats.
LV “slaughter” = maakal. From akal (to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume; eating in a literal or figurative sense). This is food, something edible.
LVI “scattered” = zarah. This is to scatter or toss around. It can imply to disperse, cast away, or to scrutinize.

12 You have soldLVII your peopleLVIII for a trifle,LIX
    demandingLX no high priceLXI for them.

Notes on verse 12

LVII “sold” = makar. This is to sell – could be commerce/trade, a daughter to be married, someone into slavery. Figuratively, it can mean to surrender.
LVIII “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
LIX “trifle” = lo + hon. Literally “not wealth.” Hon is from hun (to be easy, ready; figuratively to act light). This is wealth, possession, substance. It implies enough.
LX “demanding” = rabah. This is increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.
LXI “high price” = mechir. 15x in OT. From the same as machar (tomorrow or later; deferred time; indefinitely or the time to come); perhaps from achar (to be behind, delay, be late, procrastinate, continue) OR the root may mean to buy. This is price, payment, wage, sale, cost, or worth.

13 You have madeLXII us the tauntLXIII of our neighbors,LXIV
    the derisionLXV and scornLXVI of those aroundLXVII us.

Notes on verse 13

LXII “made” = sum. Related to “name” in v5. See note XXXIII above.
LXIII “taunt” = cherpah. From charaph (to expose and so figuratively to reproach, defame, carp at, defy). This is reproach, rebuke, shame, or disgrace. It can also refer to genitals.
LXIV “neighbors” = shaken. From shakan (to settle down in the sense of residing somewhere or staying there permanently; to abide or continue). This is resident or neighbor. It is related to mishkan, the Hebrew word for “tabernacle.”
LXV “derision” = laag. 6x in OT. From laag (to mock, deride, or laugh; to stammer or speak incomprehensibly as though imitating a foreigner; to scorn or mock). This is mocking, scoffing, derision.
LXVI “scorn” = qeles. 3x in OT. From qalas (to mock, scorn, ridicule). This is derision or a laughingstock.
LXVII “around” = sabib. From sabab (turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch; to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense). This is a circuit or a circle. It could refer to an environment, one’s neighbors, or a circular path round about.

14 You have made us a bywordLXVIII among the nations,
    a laughingstockLXIX among the peoples.LXX

Notes on verse 14

LXVIII “byword” = mashal. From mashal (to compare, speak in a proverb or riddle – to speak in allegory or liken). This is proverb, parable, taunt, discourse, maxim, adage, poem.
LXIX “laughingstock” = manod + rosh. Literally “a shaking of the head.” Manod is 1x in OT. From nud (to nod, waver, wander, flee, show grief, disappear; nodding the head as a sign of sympathy or consolation; tossing one’s head to show contempt or to taunt). This is a shaking, nodding, or toss of the head. Rosh 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).
LXX “peoples” = leom. Same as “peoples” in v2. See note XVII above.

15 All day long my disgraceLXXI is before me,
    and shameLXXII has coveredLXXIII my faceLXXIV, LXXV

Notes on verse 15

LXXI “disgrace” = kelimmah. Related to “abased” in v9. From kalam (see note XLVII above). This is insult, disgrace, dishonor, humiliation, shame, or reproach.
LXXII “shame” = bosheth. Related to “put to confusion” in v7. From bosh (see note XXXIX 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.
LXXIII “covered” = kasah. This is to cover, conceal, overwhelm. It is to cover as clothes do or to hide a secret.
LXXIV “face” = paneh. Same as “countenance” in v3. See note XXVI above.
LXXV Literally “the shame of my face has covered me.”

16 at the wordsLXXVI of the tauntersLXXVII and revilers,LXXVIII
    at the sightLXXIX of the enemyLXXX and the avenger.LXXXI

Notes on verse 16

LXXVI “words” = 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.
LXXVII “taunters” = charaph. Related to “taunt” in v13. See note LXIII above.
LXXVIII “revilers” = gadaph. 7x in OT. This is to revile, reproach, use harsh words, blaspheme.
LXXIX “sight” = paneh. Same as “countenance” in v3. See note XXVI above.
LXXX “enemy” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.
LXXXI “avenger” = naqam. This is to avenge, punish, have a grudge, execute.

17 All this has come upon us,
    yet we have not forgottenLXXXII you,
    or been falseLXXXIII to your covenant.LXXXIV

Notes on verse 17

LXXXII “forgotten” = shakach. This is to forget or mislay – it is not knowing because of forgetfulness or inattentiveness.
LXXXIII “been false” = shaqar. 6x in OT. From sheqer (deception, lie, disappointment, or thing that is vain). This is to deal falsely, generally to lie. It can be to cheat, but it usually refer to lying words.
LXXXIV “covenant” = berit. Perhaps from barah (to eat, choose, make clear); perhaps from bar (grain, wheat); from bara (to select, purify, cleanse, test, brighten, polish). This is a compact, covenant, alliance, treaty, or league.

18 Our heartLXXXV has not turnedLXXXVI back,
    nor have our stepsLXXXVII departedLXXXVIII from your way,LXXXIX

Notes on verse 18

LXXXV “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.
LXXXVI “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.
LXXXVII “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.
LXXXVIII “departed” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
LXXXIX “way” = orach. From arach (to go, travel, wander). This is a road that is widely used, highway, caravan, traveler, troop.

19 yet you have brokenXC us in the hauntXCI of jackals,XCII
    and covered us with deep darkness.XCIII

Notes on verse 19

XC “broken” = 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”).
XCI “haunt” = maqom. Related to “assailants” in v5. From qum (see note XXXV above). This is a standing, which is to say a spot or space a place. It can also refer to a locality or a physical/mental condition. HaMaqom is also a Jewish name for God – the place, i.e. the Omnipresent One.
XCII “jackals” = tannin. From the same as tan (jackal, dragon, whale). It may stem from a root meaning elongate. It is some kind of monster of and or sea like a jackal or a sea serpent.
XCIII “deep darkness” = tsalmaveth. 18x in OT. From tsel (shade in a literal or figurative sense; shadow, shade, protection, shelter, or defense); {from tsalal (to be or become dark, shade; this is the shade as during twilight or shadow as associated with something opaque)} + mavet (death, deadliness, the dead, or the place where the dead go; figuratively, pestilence or ruin); {from mut (to die in a literal or figurative sense)}. This is a deep shadow, the grave. Figuratively it is a darkness like death or a calamity. This is the “shadow of death” from Psalm 23:4.

20 If we had forgotten the name of our God,
    or spread outXCIV our handsXCV to a strangeXCVI god,XCVII

Notes on verse 20

XCIV “spread out” = paras. This is to spread or stretch out, extend, break up, chop to pieces, disperse, display.
XCV “hands” = kaph. From kaphaph (to bend – from a root meaning curve or bend down). This is palm of the hand or sole of the foot, footstep, grasp. Figuratively, it can also mean power.
XCVI “strange” = zuwr. This is one who comes from someone else – a stranger. It is one who stops for lodging. Figuratively, it can also mean profane or one who commits adultery.
XCVII “god” = el. Related to “God” in v1. See note VI above.

21 would not GodXCVIII discoverXCIX this?
    For he knowsC the secretsCI of the heart.

Notes on verse 21

XCVIII “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note VI above.
XCIX “discover” = chaqar. Properly, this means to penetrate. So, it means to thoroughly investigate, examine, ponder, or seek out.
C “knows” = 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.
CI “secrets” = taalumah. Related to “forever” in v8. 3x in OT – 2x in Job, 1x in Ps 44. From alam (to hide, conceal, a dissembler; to conceal in a literal or figurative sense). This is something hidden or secret.

22 Because of you we are being killedCII all day long,
    and accountedCIII as sheep for the slaughter.CIV

Notes on verse 22

CII “killed” = harag. This is to strike with deadly intent so it can be kill, destroy, murder, or put to death.
CIII “accounted” = 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.
CIV “slaughter” = tibchah. 3x in OT. From tebach (slaughtering, food, animal, sore, butchery; place where animals are slaughtered); from tabach (to slaughter or butcher; of animals or people). This is slaughter, flesh, something that has been slaughtered.

23 RouseCV yourself! Why do you sleep,CVI O Lord?CVII
    Awake,CVIII do not cast us offCIX forever!CX

Notes on verse 23

CV “rouse” = ur. This is to arise, lift, exult, or stir. It is to wake in a literal or figurative sense.
CVI “sleep” = yashen. This is to be languid or go slack. By implication it can mean to sleep, become old or stale, or die.
CVII “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.
CVIII “awake” = quts. Related to qayits (fruit, harvest, dry season); from quts (summer, clip off). This is arise or watch. It is to awake in a literal or figurative sense.
CIX “cast…off” = zanach. Same as “rejected” in v9. See note XLVI above.
CX “forever” = netsach. Related to “leader” in superscript. From natsach (see note I above). This is properly a goal or destination as the bright focus to which one journeys. It can be splendor, truthfulness, or confidence. Most often, it refers to everlastingness, always, continually.

24 Why do you hideCXI your face?
    Why do you forget our afflictionCXII and oppression?CXIII

Notes on verse 24

CXI “hide” = sathar. This is hide, conceal, or be absent. It is hiding because something is covered – used in a literal or figurative sense.
CXII “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.
CXIII “oppression” = lachats. 12x in OT. From lachats (to press or squeeze; figuratively, oppress, afflict, or distress). This is oppression or affliction.

25 For weCXIV sink downCXV to the dust;CXVI
    our bodiesCXVII clingCXVIII to the ground.CXIX

Notes on verse 25

CXIV “we” = 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.
CXV “sink down” = shuach. 3x in OT. This is to bow or sink down in a literal or figurative sense, humble.
CXVI “dust” = aphar. May be related to aphar (to throw dust, be dust). This is dust as powdered, perhaps gray colored. It could be ashes, powder, ground, dry earth, clay mud, or rubbish.
CXVII “bodies” = beten. Root may mean to be hollow. This is the belly or womb. It can also refer to a body more broadly.
CXVIII “cling” = dabaq. This is to follow closely or abide fast, to cling or be joined together. Figuratively, it can mean to catch something by chasing after it, to overtake, or to stick. A man clings to his wife in Genesis 2:24, Shechem was deeply attracted to Dinah in Genesis 34:3, Ruth clung to Naomi in Ruth 1:14, Solomon clung to his foreign wives and concubines in 1 Kings 11:2. It is also used of a tongue sticking to the mouth, pursuing or overtaking as in battle, and also clinging to God.
CXIX “ground” = erets. Same as “land” in v3. See note XXI above.

26 Rise up,CXX come to our help.CXXI
    RedeemCXXII us for the sake of your steadfast love.CXXIII

Notes on verse 26

CXX “rise up” = qum. Same as “assailants” in v5. See note XXXV above.
CXXI “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.
CXXII “redeem” = 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.
CXXIII “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.

Image credit: “Lament” by Alex Carmichael (roujo) in Dayton, Ohio, 2004.

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