Psalm 51:6-17

Psalm 51:6-17
Narrative Lectionary 321


AYou desireB truthC in the inward being;D

Notes on verse 6a

A {untranslated} = hen. This is a remark of surprise or excitement: lo! Behold! It can also mean if or though.
B “desire” = chaphets. Properly, this means inclined towards or bending to. Figuratively, it means to desire, delight in, or be pleased with.
C “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.
D “inward being” = tuchah. 2x in OT. From tuach (to coat, smear, overlay; to plaster over, especially with lime) OR from tachah (to hurl or shoot; stretching a bow to fire an arrow). This is the innermost being. Can refer to the kidneys specifically or used more generally.

    therefore teachE me wisdomF in my secret heart.G

Notes on verse 6b

E “teach” = 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.
F “wisdom” = chokmah. From chakam (to be wise or teach wisdom; this is wisdom in thought, word, or action). This is wisdom, wit, or skillfulness.
G “secret heart” = satham. 15x in OT. This is closed, stopped up, or shut up. This can imply repairs or figuratively it can mean keeping secret.

PurgeH me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;I
    washJ me, and I shall be whiterK than snow.L

Notes on verse 7

H “purge” = chata. This is properly to miss, and so figuratively it is used for sinning, bearing the blame. It implies a forfeiture or loss of something.
I “clean” = taher. This is properly being bright, which implies being pure or clean. This word can also mean purge, cleanse, or purify. It can be clean in a ritual sense or a moral one (i.e. moral or holy).
J “wash” = kabas. This is to trample – washing by stomping feet. It can be fulling in a literal or figurative sense.
K “be whiter” = laban. 8x in OT. This is to be white or make a brick.
L “snow” = sheleg. 19x in OT. Perhaps from shalag (to snow, to be white). This is snow or snowy.

Let me hearM joyN and gladness;O

Notes on verse 8a

M “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.
N “joy” = sason. From sus (to rejoice, be glad; properly, to be bright or cheerful). This is rejoicing, cheerfulness, and welcome.
O “gladness” = simchah. From samach (to rejoice, be glad; properly, to brighten up; also used figuratively). This is joy, rejoicing, pleasure, or glee.

    let the bonesP that you have crushedQ rejoice.R

Notes on verse 8b

P “bones” = etsem. From atsam (vast, numerous, strong; to close one’s eyes, to make powerful; to break bones). This is self, life, strength, bone, or substance.
Q “crushed” = 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.
R “let…rejoice” = gil. Properly, this is twirling around because of a strong feeling whether of rejoicing or from fear. This can be rejoice, be glad or joyful, or to cry.

HideS your faceT from my sins,U
    and blot outV all my iniquities.W

Notes on verse 9

S “hide” = sathar. This is hide, conceal, or be absent. It is hiding because something is covered – used in a literal or figurative sense.
T “face” = 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.
U “sins” = chet. Related to “purge” in v7. From chata (see note H above). This is sin, fault, or punishment of sin.
V “blot out” = machah. This is to rub, which implies to erase. It can also be making something smooth with grease or oil. So, this could we wipe out, blot out, or destroy. Also, to touch or reach.
W “iniquities” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.

10 CreateX in me a cleanY heart,Z O God,AA

Notes on verse 10a

X “create” = bara. This is to create, shape, choose, or select. It is the word used in Genesis 1:1 when God created the heavens and the earth.
Y “clean” = tahor. Related to “clean” in v7. From taher (see note I above). This is clean or pure in a literal, ritual, or ethical sense.
Z “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.
AA “God” = Elohim.

    and put a newBB and rightCC spiritDD withinEE me.

Notes on verse 10b

BB “put a new” = chadash. 10x in OT. This is to renew or restore, to repair or rebuild.
CC “right” = 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.
DD “spirit” = ruach. This is breath, wind, air, cool, spirit. This is wind, which resembles the breath and so this can be used figuratively for life itself or being frail/mortal/impermanent. It can refer to the air of the sky or the spirit.
EE “within” = 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.

11 Do not cast me awayFF from your presence,GG
    and do not take your holyHH spirit from me.

Notes on verse 11

FF “cast…away” = shalak. This is to throw, fling, or hurl. It can also be to throw away in a literal or figurative sense.
GG “presence” = paneh. Same as “face” in v9. See note T above.
HH “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.

12 RestoreII to me the joy of your salvation,JJ
    and sustainKK in me a willingLL spirit.

Notes on verse 12

II “restore” = 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.”
JJ “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.
KK “sustain” = samak. This is to lean, rest, support, brace, uphold, sustain, or establish. It is to lean on in a positive or negative sense.
LL “willing” = nadib. From nadab (to offer willingly, volunteer, freely give, be willing). Properly, this is voluntary and so it implies generous, noble, magnanimous, or a generous person.

13 Then I will teachMM transgressorsNN your ways,OO
    and sinnersPP will returnQQ to you.

Notes on verse 13

MM “teach” = lamad. Properly, this refers to goading (using a pointed stick to guide or prod one’s flock). By implication, it means teaching or instructing.
NN “transgressors” = pasha. This is to rebel, offend, quarrel. It is making a break from proper authority so can also refer to an apostate.
OO “ways” = 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.
PP “sinners” = chatta. Related to “purge” in v7 & “sins” I v9. 19x in OT. From chata (see note H above). This is sinful or sinner. It is a criminal or someone who is seen as guilty.
QQ “return” = shub. Same as “restore” in v12. See note II above.

14 DeliverRR me from bloodshed,SS O God,
    O God of my salvation,TT

Notes on verse 14a

RR “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.
SS “bloodshed” = 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.
TT “salvation” = teshua. Related to “salvation” in v12. From yasha (see note JJ above). This is deliverance or salvation.

    and my tongueUU will sing aloudVV of your deliverance.WW

Notes on verse 14b

UU “tongue” = lashon. This is tongue, talker, language, or wedge. It can also be a tongue of flame or a water cove.
VV “sing aloud” = ranan. This is a cry of joy or a joyful song. Properly, it is emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy.
WW “deliverance” = tsedeqah. From the same as tsedeq (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). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.

15 O Lord,XX openYY my lips,ZZ

Notes on verse 15a

XX “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.
YY “open” = pathach. This is to open wide in a literal or figurative sense. So, it is open, draw out, let something go free, break forth. It can also mean to plow, engrave, or carve.
ZZ “lips” = saphah. This is lip, edge border, bank – used for a boundary. It can also be speech or language.

    and my mouthAAA will declareBBB your praise.CCC

Notes on verse 15b

AAA “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.
BBB “declare” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
CCC “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.”

16 For you have no delightDDD in sacrifice;EEE
    if I were to give a burnt offering,FFF you would not be pleased.GGG

Notes on verse 16

DDD “have…delight” = chaphets. Same as “desire” in v6. See note B above.
EEE “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.
FFF “burnt offering” = olah. From alah (to go up, climb, approach, bring; to be high or actively climb; can be literal or figurative). 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.
GGG “be 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.

17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a brokenHHH spirit;
    a broken and contriteIII heart, O God, you will not despise.JJJ

Notes on verse 17

HHH “broken” = shabar. This is break, collapse, destroy, break in pieces, tear. It is bursting in a literal or figurative sense.
III “contrite” = dakah. Same as “crushed” in v8. See note Q above.
JJJ “despise” = bazah. This is to despise, hold in contempt, disesteem, or a person who is vile.

Image credit: “Mt. Hermon from Agamon HaHula” by Flavio~, 2012.

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