Psalm 50

Psalm 50


A PsalmI of Asaph.II

The mighty one,III GodIV the Lord,V

Notes on superscript-verse 1a

I “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.
II “Asaph” = Asaph. From asaph (to gather, assemble, bring, take away, destroy, or remove). This is Asaph, meaning “gatherer” or “collector.” It is a personal name.
III “mighty one” = El. This can refer to God of a god. It can also refer to power, an idol, or one that is powerful.
IV “God” = Elohim. Related to “mighty one” in v1. Plural of eloah (God, a god); from el (see note III above). This can be God or gods.
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.

    speaksVI and summonsVII the earthVIII
    from the risingIX of the sunX to its setting.XI

Notes on verse 1b

VI “speaks” = 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.
VII “summons” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
VIII “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
IX “rising” = mizrach. From zarach (to rise, shine, or dawn; can also describe symptoms of leprosy). This is the east as the place where the sun rises. It can also refer to the sunrise itself.
X “sun” = shemesh. This is sun or toward the east. Its root may mean being brilliant. Figuratively, this could be a ray or an arch.
XI “setting” = mabo. From bo (to come in, go in, enter). This is entrance, coming in – the process of entering or the place of entrance. It can also mean the setting of the sun i.e. the west.

Out of Zion,XII the perfectionXIII of beauty,XIV
    GodXV shines forth.XVI

Notes on verse 2

XII “Zion” = tsiyyon. The word is related to tsyiyyun (signpost, monument); from tsavah (to charge someone, to command, order); from the same as tsiyyah (dryness drought); from a root meaning parched as desert, dry land. Zion can refer to a mountain in Jerusalem as well as another name for Jerusalem itself or the people.
XIII “perfection” = miklal. 1x in OT. From kalal (to complete, perfect). This is perfection or completeness.
XIV “beauty” = yophi. 19x in OT. From yaphah (to be beautiful, decorate; root means being bright, which implies being beautiful). This is beauty.
XV “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note IV above.
XVI “shines forth” = yapha. 8x in OT. This is to shine out beams, look favorably.

Our GodXVII comesXVIII and does not keep silence,XIX

Notes on verse 3a

XVII “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note IV above.
XVIII “comes” = bo. Related to “setting” in v1. See note XI above.
XIX “keep silence” = charash. This is to scratch, which implies etching or plowing. It can mean to manufacture regardless of materials used. Figuratively, it can be to devise or conceal. It can also have a sense of secrecy. Hence, being silent or left alone. It can also be speechless.

    beforeXX him is a devouringXXI fire,
    and a mighty tempestXXII all aroundXXIII him.

Notes on verse 3b

XX “before” = 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.
XXI “devouring” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
XXII “tempest” = sa’ar. 8x in OT. 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 a storm or whirlwind. It can also be stormy.
XXIII “all 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.

He callsXXIV to the heavensXXV aboveXXVI
    and to the earth, that he may judge his people:XXVII

Notes on verse 4

XXIV “calls” = qara. Same as “summons” in v1. See note VII above.
XXV “heavens” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.
XXVI “above” = al. 4x in OT. From alah (to go up, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense). This is upward, the top, aloft, highest, to God.
XXVII “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.

“GatherXXVIII to me my faithful ones,XXIX
    who madeXXX a covenantXXXI with me by sacrifice!”XXXII

Notes on verse 5

XXVIII “gather” = asaph. Related to “Asaph” in superscript. See note II above.
XXIX “faithful ones” = chasid. 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.
XXX “made” = karat. This is to cut down, cut off, or make a covenant (idiom for making a covenant is “to cut a covenant”). It can also mean to destroy, fail, or consume.
XXXI “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.
XXXII “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.

The heavens declareXXXIII his righteousness,XXXIV
    for GodXXXV himself is judge.XXXVI SelahXXXVII

Notes on verse 6

XXXIII “declare” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
XXXIV “righteousness” = 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.
XXXV “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note IV above.
XXXVI “judge” = 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.
XXXVII “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.

“Hear,XXXVIII O my people, and I will speak,
    O Israel,XXXIX I will testifyXL against you.
    I am God, your God.XLI

Notes on verse 7

XXXVIII “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.
XXXIX “Israel” = Yisrael. Related to “mighty one” and “God” in v1. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (see note III above). This is God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
XL “testify” = uwd. This is to repeat, return, do again. This implies testifying something since that is a repetition. It can also mean to charge, admonish, protest, relieve, restore, or lift up.
XLI “God, your God” = Elohim + Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note IV above.

Not for your sacrifices do I rebukeXLII you;
    your burnt offeringsXLIII are continuallyXLIV beforeXLV me.

Notes on verse 8

XLII “rebuke” = yakach. This is to decide, be right, argue, or convince. It can also be to decide, convict, reason together, or reprove.
XLIII “burnt offerings” = olah. Related to “above” in v4. From alah (see note XXVI 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.
XLIV “continually” = 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.
XLV “before” = neged. Related to “declare” in v6. From nagad (see note XXXIII above). This is in front of, opposite to. It can refer to a counterpart or partner, one corresponding to or in the sight of.

I will not accept a bullXLVI from your house,XLVII
    or goatsXLVIII from your folds.XLIX

Notes on verse 9

XLVI “bull” = par. Perhaps related to parar (to break, defeat, frustrate, caste off, clean, cease). This is a young bull or ox.
XLVII “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
XLVIII “goats” = attud. From athod (to be ready, prepare, destined). This is something full grown or a leader. It can also refer to a male goat or ram.
XLIX “folds” = miklaah. 3x in OT. From kala (to stop in the sense of holding back or restraining; to keep, refuse, forbid, or to prohibit by word). This is an enclosure such as a fold for sheep or goats.

10 For every wildL animalLI of the forest is mine,
    the cattleLII on a thousand hills.

Notes on verse 10

L “wild” = ya’ar. This is honeycomb, forest, thicket. Root may mean thick with green growth. It is a forest as a place where one would find honeycomb.
LI “animal” = chay. 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.
LII “cattle” = behemah. This is animal or cattle. It is often used of large quadrupeds.

11 I knowLIII all the birdsLIV of the air,LV
    and all that movesLVI in the fieldLVII is mine.

Notes on verse 11

LIII “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.
LIV “birds” = oph. From uph (to fly, flee, shine, be weary, be faint). This is a flying creature.
LV “air” = har. Literally, mountain or hill.
LVI “all that moves” = ziyz. 3x in OT. This is moving things like animals, abundance, a full chest.
LVII “field” = sadeh. This is literally field, ground, soil, or land. It is used to mean wild like a wild animal.

12 “If I were hungry,LVIII I would not tell you,
    for the worldLIX and all that is in itLX is mine.

Notes on verse 12

LVIII “were hungry” = raeb. 17x in OT. This is to be hungry or famished.
LIX “world” = tebel. From yabal (to lead, bring, carry, conduct; properly, to flow; to bring or lead with fanfare). This is world, confusion, inhabited part of the earth, but also used for the whole world.
LX “all that is in it” = melo. From male (fill, satisfy, replenish, accomplish, fulfill, confirm, or consecrate; fill in a literal or figurative sense). This is fullness in a literal or figurative sense.

13 Do I eatLXI the fleshLXII of bulls,LXIII
    or drink the bloodLXIV of goats?

Notes on verse 13

LXI “eat” = akal. Same as “devouring” in v3. See note XXI above.
LXII “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.
LXIII “bulls” = abbir. 17x in OT.  From abir (strong, mighty); from abar (to fly, soar). This is mighty or valiant. It could refer to a mighty one broadly, an angel, or a bull.
LXIV “blood” = dam. Perhaps from damam (to cease, be or become mute, silent, still, cut off, hold peace, be astonished, die). This is blood, bloodshed, bloodguilt, lifeblood, and death. It is used for people and animals. More often blood from a wound or the blood of the innocent. Used figuratively for violence or for wine. Closely tied to life and death.

14 OfferLXV to GodLXVI a sacrifice of thanksgiving,LXVII

Notes on verse 14a

LXV “offer” = zabach. Related to “sacrifice” in v5. See note XXXII above.
LXVI “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note IV above.
LXVII “sacrifice of thanksgiving” = todah. From yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise, to give thanks, or make a confession); from yad (hand, ability, power; hand in a literal sense; what one can do or the means by which one does it). This is properly extending one’s hand, which implies affirmation and adoration. It can be a song of thanksgiving, a choir of thanksgiving, confession, or praise. It can also be a thank offering.

    and payLXVIII your vowsLXIX to the Most High.LXX

Notes on verse 14b

LXVIII “pay” = shalam. This is 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 the root verb that “shalom” comes from, the Hebrew word for peace.
LXIX “vows” = neder. From nadar (to vow or promise). This is a vow – literally, that which was promised.
LXX “Most High” = Elyon. Related to “above” in v4 & “burnt offerings” in v8. From alah (see note XXVI above). This is most high, upper. It refers to elevation – so, lofty.

15 Call on me in the day of trouble;LXXI
    I will deliverLXXII you, and you shall glorifyLXXIII me.”

Notes on verse 15

LXXI “trouble” = tsarah. From tsar (properly, a narrow or constricted place; figuratively, trouble, a pebble, an enemy, anguish, or distress); from tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). This is tightness, distress, affliction, trouble, or adversary.
LXXII “deliver” = chalats. This is to turn back or away in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be return, break, build, retreat. It doesn’t necessarily imply going back to the place you started.
LXXIII “glorify” = kabad. To be heavy, weighty, or severe. It can also be positive abounding in, rich, or honorable. The Hebrew word for “glory,” kabod, is taken from this root.

16 But to the wickedLXXIV GodLXXV says:
    “What right have you to reciteLXXVI my statutes,LXXVII
    or takeLXXVIII my covenant on your lips?LXXIX

Notes on verse 16

LXXIV “wicked” = rasha. This is morally wrong so it refers to someone who is actively bad as wicked, criminal, an evil person, offender, condemned, or ungodly.
LXXV “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note IV above.
LXXVI “recite” = saphar. From sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.
LXXVII “statutes” = choq. From chaqaq (to inscribe, carve, or decree; a lawmaker; literally, this is engraving, but it implies enacting a law because laws were carved into stone or metal). This is statute, boundary, condition, custom, limit, ordinance It is something that is prescribed or something that is owed.
LXXVIII “take” = nasa. This to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept.
LXXIX “lips” = 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.

17 For you hateLXXX discipline,LXXXI
    and you castLXXXII my wordsLXXXIII behind you.

Notes on verse 17

LXXX “hate” = sane. This is an enemy or foe. It is one that is hated with a personal hatred.
LXXXI “discipline” = musar. From yasar (to discipline, correct, train, teach, punish; literally with blows, but figuratively using words). This is discipline, a correction a warning, or an instruction.
LXXXII “cast” = shalak. This is to throw, fling, or hurl. It can also be to throw away in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXXIII “words” = dabar. Related to “speaks” in v1. From dabar (see note VI above). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.

18 You make friendsLXXXIV with a thiefLXXXV when you seeLXXXVI one,
    and you keep companyLXXXVII with adulterers.LXXXVIII

Notes on verse 18

LXXXIV “make friends” = 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.
LXXXV “thief” = gannab. 16x in OT. From ganab (to steal in a stealthy way rather than through violence; to deceive). This is a thief or one who steals by stealth. It is the root of a Yiddish word for thief ganef.
LXXXVI “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
LXXXVII “keep company” = cheleq. From chalaq (to be smooth in a figurative sense; can refer to the stones that were part of casting lots – hence, apportion, share, distribute; figuratively, it can also mean to flatter). This is This is a division, lot, inheritance, legacy, or portion. It can also refer to a smooth tongue.
LXXXVIII “adulterers” = naaph. This is to commit adultery or, figuratively, to be an apostate.

19 “You give your mouthLXXXIX free reinXC for evil,XCI

Notes on verse 19a

LXXXIX “mouth” = peh. Same as “lips” in v16. See note LXXIX above.
XC “give…free rein” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
XCI “evil” = 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.

    and your tongueXCII framesXCIII deceit.XCIV

Notes on verse 19b

XCII “tongue” = lashon. This is tongue, talker, language, or wedge. It can also be a tongue of flame or a water cove.
XCIII “frames” = tsamad. 5x in OT. This is to bind, attach, frame, serve, or contrive.
XCIV “deceit” = mirmah. From ramah (to betray, deceive, beguile). This is deceit, treachery, guile, or fraud.

20 You sitXCV and speak against your kin;XCVI
    you slanderXCVII your own mother’s child.XCVIII

Notes on verse 20

XCV “sit” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
XCVI “kin” = 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.
XCVII “slander” = dophi. 1x in OT. Root may be to knock over. It is a fault, slander, or a stumbling block.
XCVIII “child” = ben. Related to “house” in v9. This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.

21 These things you have doneXCIX and I have been silent;
    you thoughtC that I was one just like yourself.
But now I rebuke you, and lay the chargeCI beforeCII you.

Notes on verse 21

XCIX “done” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
C “thought” = damah. This is to be like, resemble, devise. It can be to think using analogies.
CI “lay the charge” = arak. This is to arrange by setting in a row. It can also mean to set a battle, estimate, put in order, or compare.
CII “before” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).

22 “MarkCIII, CIV this, then, you who forgetCV God,CVI
    or I will tear you apart,CVII and there will be no one to deliver.CVIII

Notes on verse 22

CIII “mark” = bin. This is to discern, consider, attend to. It refers to distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand.
CIV {untranslated} = na. This particle is used for requests or for urging. It can be we pray, now, I ask you, oh. This is the same “na” in “hosanna.”
CV “forget” = shakach. This is to forget or mislay – it is not knowing because of forgetfulness or inattentiveness.
CVI “God” = Eloah. Related to “mighty one” and “God” in v1 & “Israel” in v7. See note IV above.
CVII “tear…apart” = taraph. This is to tear or pluck off into pieces, to rend or catch. It can also mean supply with food.
CVIII “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.

23 Those who bringCIX thanksgiving as their sacrificeCX honorCXI me;
    to those who goCXII the right wayCXIII

Notes on verse 23a

CIX “bring” = zabach. Same as “offer” in v14. See note LXV above.
CX “thanksgiving as…sacrifice” = todah. Same as “sacrifice of thanksgiving” in v14. See note LXVII above.
CXI “honor” = kabad. Same as “glorify” in v15. See note LXXIII above.
CXII “go” = sim. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
CXIII “way” = 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.

    I will showCXIV the salvationCXV of God.”CXVI

Notes on verse 23b

CXIV “show” = raah. Same as “see” in v18. See note LXXXVI above.
CXV “salvation” = yesha. 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, rescue, safety, welfare, liberty.
CXVI “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note IV above.

Image credit: “Zebus in Simien Mountains National Park” in Ethiopia by Bernard Gagnon, 2012.

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