Psalm 49:5-15

Psalm 49:5-15
Easter Thursday – A Women’s Lectionary


Why should I fearA in timesB of trouble,C

Notes on verse 5a

A “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.
B “times” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
C “trouble” = 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.

    when the iniquityD of my persecutorsE surroundsF me,

Notes on verse 5b

D “iniquity” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.
E “persecutors” = aqeb. 1x in OT. From the same as aqeb (heel, hind part, hoof, rear guard of an army, one who lies in wait, usurper). This is one who over-reaches or lies in wait – an enemy.
F “surrounds” = sabab. This is turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch. It is to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense.

those who trustG in their wealthH
    and boastI of the abundanceJ of their riches?K

Notes on verse 6

G “trust” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.
H “wealth” = chayil. From chul (to be firm, strong, prosperous; to endure). This is strength, wealth, ability, activity. It can refer to soldier or a company of soldiers as well as goods. It is a force of people, means, or goods. It can speak of valor, virtue, or strength.
I “boast” = 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.
J “abundance” = rob. From rabab (to be or become much or many, multiply). This is any kind of abundance.
K “riches” = osher. From ashar (to gain wealth, become rich, enrich; to accumulate). This is fortune or wealth.

Truly, no ransom availsL for one’sM life,
    there is no priceN oneO can giveP to GodQ for it.

Notes on verse 7

L “truly…ransom avails” = padah + 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. 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.”
M “one’s” = ach. This is brother, kindred, another, other, like. It is literally brother, but it can also be someone who is similar, resembling, or related to.
N “price” = kopher. 17x in OT– including covering Noah’s ark with pitch in Genesis 6. From kaphar (to appease, cover, pacify, cancel, cleanse, pardon). This is ransom, bribe, price of a life. Properly, it means something that covers something else. S, it can be a village, bitumen as a coating, a henna plant that dyes, or a ransom price.
O “one” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
P “give” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
Q “God” = Elohim.

For the ransomR of lifeS is costly,T
    and can neverU suffice,V

Notes on verse 8

R “ransom” = pidyom. Related to “truly…ransom avails” in v7. 3x in OT. From padah (see note L above). This is a ransom or redemption.
S “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.
T “is costly” = yaqar. 11x in OT. This is to be precious, costly, rare, valued; properly, to be heavy; figuratively, valuable or inhibit.
U “never” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
V “can…suffice” = chadal. This is properly to be flabby – it implies, to stop, fall, end, rest, leave alone, forsake, or desist. Figuratively this can be lacking or idle.

that one should liveW on foreverX
    and never seeY the grave.Z

Notes on verse 9

W “live” = chayah. This is to live or keep alive in a literal or figurative sense. So, it an be revive, nourish, or save.
X “forever” = netsach. From natsach (something that glitters from a distance or stands out, excels, has status/standing; also to be permanent or enduring). 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.
Y “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
Z “grave” = shachath. From shuach (to bow or sink down in a literal or figurative sense, humble). This is ditch, trap, grave, or hole. Figuratively, it could be destruction or corruption.

10 When we lookAA at the wise,BB they die;CC
    foolDD and doltEE perishFF togetherGG

Notes on verse 10a

AA “look” = raah. Same as “see” in v9. See note Y above.
BB “wise” = chokmah. From chakam (to be wise or teach wisdom; this is wisdom in thought, word, or action). This is wisdom, wit, or skillfulness.
CC “die” = mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body.
DD “fool” = kesil. From kasal (being or becoming stupid or foolish; properly, being fat and so figuratively silly or foolish). This is someone who is stupid, silly, or foolish.
EE “dolt” = baar. 4x in OT. From baar (to be senseless, stupid, graze); from beir (animal, cattle); from baar (to consume, feed, kindle, be brutish). This is food as eaten, brutish, foolish.
FF “perish” = abad. To wander off, lose self. This implies to perish, destroy, die, vanish, or be broken or corrupt.
GG “together” = yachad. From yachad (to join, be united). This is a unit, both, altogether, unitedness, alike.

    and leaveHH their wealth to others.II
11 Their gravesJJ are their homesKK forever,LL

Notes on verses 10b-11a

HH “leave” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.
II “others” = acher. From achar (to be behind, delay, be late, procrastinate, continue). This is following, next, strange, other.
JJ “graves” = qereb. Perhaps from qarab (to come near or approach). This is among, in the midst, before, the center It is the inward part, whether literal or figurative. It can also be used for the heart, the site of thoughts and feelings. This word is also used as a technical term for the entrails of the animals who are sacrificed.
KK “homes” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
LL “forever” = olam. Same as “never” in v8. See note U above.

    their dwelling placesMM to all generations,NN
    though they namedOO landsPP their own.

Notes on verse 11b

MM “dwelling places” = 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.
NN “all generations” = dor + dor. From dur (to move in a circle, which implies living somewhere or remaining there; it can also be the sense of piling or heaping up). This is a revolution of time, which is to say, an age or generation. It can also be a dwelling or one’s posterity.
OO “named” = qara + shem. Qara is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth. 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.
PP “lands” = adamah. From the same as adam (man, humankind); perhaps from ‘adom (to be red). This is ground, earth, soil as red, or land.

12 MortalsQQ cannotRR abideSS in their pomp;TT
    they are likeUU the animalsVV that perish.WW

Notes on verse 12

QQ “mortals” = adam. Related to “lands” in v11. See note PP above.
RR “cannot” = bal. From balah (to grow old, wear out, consume, waste, enjoy, fail, decay). This is not, lest, neither. Properly, it refers to a failure, so it implies nothing or not at all.
SS “abide” = luwn. This is to stay somewhere, usually for the night. It can mean abide, dwell, or endure. By implication, it can mean staying somewhere permanently. Taken in a negative sense, this would mean obstinance, particularly verbal. So, it can also mean murmur, grudge, or complaining.
TT “pomp” = yeqar. Related to “is costly” in v8. 17x in OT. From yaqar (see note T above). This is price, precious, splendor, wealth, dignity, pomp.
UU “are like” = mashal. 17x in OT. From mashal (proverb, parable, taunt, discourse, maxim, adage, poem). This is to compare, speak in a proverb or riddle – to speak in allegory or liken.
VV “animals” = behemah. This is animal or cattle. It is often used of large quadrupeds.
WW “perish” = damah. 15x in OT. This is to be silent, to cease, destroy, perish.

13 Such is the fateXX of the foolhardy,YY
    the endZZ of those who are pleasedAAA with their lot.BBB SelahCCC

Notes on verse 13

XX “fate” = 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.
YY “foolhardy” = kesel. Related to “fool” in v10. 13x in OT. From kasal (see note DD above). This is loins, thigh, flank, fatness. It can also be folly, silliness, confidence, or hope.
ZZ “end” = achar. Related to “others” in v10. From achar (see note II above). This is the end part, after.
AAA “pleased” = 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.
BBB “lot” = 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.
CCC “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.

14 Like sheepDDD they are appointedEEE for Sheol;FFF
    DeathGGG shall be their shepherd;HHH

Notes on verse 14a

DDD “sheep” = tson. This is a flock of sheep and goats.
EEE “appointed” = shathat. 2x in OT. This is to place, set, lie, array.
FFF “Sheol” = Sheol. Perhaps from sha’al (to ask, request). This is the place where the dead go, the grace, the underworld.
GGG “death” = mavet. Related to “die” in v10. From mut (see note CC above). This can be death, deadliness, the dead, or the place where the dead go. It can be used figuratively for pestilence or ruin.
HHH “be…shepherd” = ra’ah. This is to tend a flock, pasture, or graze. It can mean to rule or to associate with someone. Figuratively, it can be ruler or teacher.

straightIII to the graveJJJ they descend,KKK

Notes on verse 14b

III “straight” = 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.
JJJ “grave” = boqer. From baqar (to seek, plow, break forth, admire, care for). This refers to the break of day. So it is dawn, early, morning, or morrow.
KKK “descend” = radah. This is to step down, rule, dominate, have victory over, crumble.

    and their formLLL shall waste away;MMM
    Sheol shall be their home.NNN
15 But God will ransom my soulOOO from the powerPPP of Sheol,
    for he will receiveQQQ me. Selah

Notes on verses 14c-15

LLL “form” = tsir. 2x in OT. From tsur (to fashion, delineate) OR from the same as tsiyr (messenger, pain, sorrow, hinge); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is a form, image, beauty. It can also be an idol.
MMM “waste away” = balah. Related to “cannot” in v12. 17x in OT. See note RR above.
NNN “home” = zebul. 5x in OT. From zabal (to dwell, inclose, reside). This is height, dwelling, elevation, place.
OOO “soul” = nephesh. Same as “life” in v8. See note S above.
PPP “power” = 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.
QQQ “receive” = laqach. This is to take, accept, carry away, receive. It can also have the sense of take a wife or take in marriage.

Image credit: “Chandeliers” by TracyElaine, 2008.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply