Psalm 57

Psalm 57


To the leader:A Do Not Destroy.B Of David.C

Notes on superscript-a

A “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.
B “Do Not Destroy” = al-tashcheth. 4x in OT. From al (not, never, nothing) + shachath (to go to ruin, perish, decay, batter, cast off, lose, one who destroys; literal or figurative). This is “Do Not Destroy,” probably the beginning words of a well known song whose melody was used for four different psalms.
C “David” = David. From the same as dod (beloved, love, uncle); the root may mean to boil, which is used figuratively to describe love. So, this implies someone you love such as a friend, a lover, or a close family member like an uncle. David’s name likely means something like “beloved one.”

A Miktam,D when he fledE fromF Saul,G in the cave.H

Notes on superscript-b

D “Miktam” = Miktam. 6x in OT. Perhaps from katham (to carve, mark, stain). This is Miktam, which is some kind of technical term in the Psalms, but its meaning is uncertain. It may mean engraving – a way to refer to a poem.
E “fled” = barach. This is to flee, drive away, hurry, to bolt.
F “from” = 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.
G “Saul” = Shaul. From shaal (to ask, inquire, beg, borrow, desire, request; can also mean demand). This is Saul or Shaul, meaning “asked of the Lord.”
H “cave” = mearah. Perhaps from ur (being exposed, bare). This is a cave, cavern, den, or hole.

Be mercifulI to me, O God,J be merciful to me,
    for in you my soulK takes refuge;L

Notes on verse 1a

I “be merciful” = chanan. This is to beseech, show favor, be gracious. Properly, it is to bend in kindness to someone with less status.
J “God” = Elohim.
K “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.
L “takes refuge” = chasah. This is to take refuge or flee for protection. Figuratively, it means to hope or trust in someone or something.

in the shadowM of your wingsN I will take refuge,
    until the destroying stormsO pass by.P

Notes on verse 1b

M “shadow” = tsel. From tsalal (to be or become dark, shade; this is the shade as during twilight or shadow as associated with something opaque). This is shade in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be shadow, shade, protection, shelter, or defense.
N “wings” = kanaph. This is wing, edge, corner, extremity. It can also be a flap or fold of a garment or the pinnacle of a building.
O “destroying storms” = havvah. 15x in OT. From havah (to become, get); from hava’ (to fall, become). This is a chasm, emptiness, or deep pit. It can be destruction or calamity. It can also be greed, craving, or mischief. It implies falling and ruin.
P “pass by” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.

I cryQ to God Most High,R
    to GodS who fulfills his purposeT for me.

Notes on verse 2

Q “cry” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
R “Most High” = Elyon. From alah (to go up, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense). This is most high, upper. It refers to elevation – so, lofty.
S “God” = El. Related to “God” in v1. See note J above.
T “fulfills his purpose” = gamar. 5x in OT. This is to end, perfect, or accomplish. It could be end as to complete or end as a failure.

He will sendU from heavenV and saveW me,
    he will put to shameX those who trampleY on me. SelahZ

Notes on verse 3a

U “send” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
V “heaven” = 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.
W “save” = 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.
X “put to shame” = charaph. This is to expose and so figuratively to reproach, defame, carp at, defy. It can also mean spend the winter or betroth.
Y “trample” = sha’aph. 14x in OT. This is to pant, long for, trample, crush, to rise as the sun, to hurry. It can refer to gasping as a woman in labor does or gasping from desire. It can also imply anger.
Z “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.

GodAA will send forth his steadfast loveBB and his faithfulness.CC

Notes on verse 3b

AA “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note J above.
BB “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.
CC “faithfulness” = 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.

IDD lie downEE among lionsFF
    that greedily devourGG human prey;HH

Notes on verse 4a

DD “I” = nephesh. Same as “soul” in v1. See note K above.
EE “lie down” = shakab. This is to lie down, lodge. It is lying for sleep, sex, or other reasons.
FF “lions” = labiy’. 14x in OT. This is to roar – a lion or lioness as stout and fierce.
GG “greedily devour” = lahat. 11x in OT. This is to set on fire, burn, kindle, be ablaze, consume.
HH “human prey” = ben + adam. Literally “children of humanity.” Ben is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Adam is perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.

their teethII are spearsJJ and arrows,KK
    their tonguesLL sharpMM swords.NN

Notes on verse 4b

II “teeth” = shen. From shaman (to sharpen, point, pierce; figuratively to teach). This is a tooth, ivory, something sharp, or, figuratively, a cliff.
JJ “spears” = chanith. From chanah (to decline, bending down, or living in tents; can be camping to create a home or camping as a part of battle). This is a spear or lance as a weapon that is thrust in the same way one pitches a tent.
KK “arrows” = chets. From chatsats (to divide, chop, pierce, distribute, shoot an arrow, an archer). This is an arrow or archer, shaft, staff. Properly, it is someone or something that pierces, such as an arrow. It can imply a wound. Used figuratively of God’s thunder bolt.
LL “tongues” = lashon. This is tongue, talker, language, or wedge. It can also be a tongue of flame or a water cove.
MM “sharp” = chad. 4x in OT. From achad (to go in a direction, unify, gather one’s thoughts); from the same as chadad (to be sharp, fierce). This is sharp. Each time referring to a sword.
NN “swords” = chereb. From charab (to attack, slay). This is any sharp instrument like a sword, dagger, axe, or mattock.

5 Be exalted,OO O God,PP above the heavens.
    Let your gloryQQ be over all the earth.RR

Notes on verse 5

OO “be exalted” = rum. This is to rise or raise, to be high literally or figuratively. So it can also mean to exalt or extol.
PP “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note J above.
QQ “glory” = kabod. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is weighty. Figuratively, glorious, abundant, riches, honor, splendor – a reference to one’s reputation or character. This word is often used to describe God and God’s presence.
RR “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

They setSS a netTT for my steps;UU
    my soul was bowed down.VV

Notes on verse 6a

SS “set” = 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.
TT “net” = reshet. From yarash (inheriting or dispossessing; refers to occupying or colonizing – taking territory by driving out the previous inhabitants and living there instead of them; by implication, to seize or rob, to expel, ruin, or impoverish). This is a net used to capture animals.
UU “steps” = paam. From paam (to move, trouble; to tap in a regular rhythm; to agitate). This is a beat, stroke, footstep, or occurrence.
VV “bowed down” = kaphaph. 5x in OT. This is to bend, bow, or curve.  It is used for bowed down (as in oppressed), a bulrush bowing, and bowing before God.

They dugWW a pitXX in my path,YY
    but they have fallenZZ into it themselves. Selah

Notes on verse 6b

WW “dug” = karah. 17x in OT– 8x of digging a pit or trap, 2x of digging a well, 2x of digging a tomb, 2x of bargaining, 1x shriveled, 1x opening an ear, and 1x of digging up evil. This is properly to dig or open up. Figuratively, it can be to plot or make a banquet.
XX “pit” = shichah. 3x in OT. From shuach (to bow or sink down in a literal or figurative sense, humble). This is a pit or pit-fall.
YY “path” = paneh. Same as “from” in Superscript. See note F above.
ZZ “fallen” = naphal. This is to fall, whether by accident, to fall prostrate, or to fall in violent death. Figuratively, it can refer to personal ruin or calamity, a city falling, an attack or a falling away. It can also be a deep sleep or wasting away.

My heartAAA is steadfast,BBB O God,CCC
    my heart is steadfast.
I will sing and make melody.DDD

Notes on verse 7

AAA “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.
BBB “is steadfast” = kun. Same as “set” in v6. See note SS above.
CCC “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note J above.
DDD “make melody” = zamar. Perhaps from zamar (to trim or prune). This is making music. It is used specially of music to worship God. So, music with singing, singing praise, or singing psalms.

    Awake,EEE my soul!FFF
Awake, O harpGGG and lyre!HHH
    I will awake the dawn.III

Notes on verse 8

EEE “awake” = ur. This is to arise, lift, exult, or stir. It is to wake in a literal or figurative sense.
FFF “soul” = kabod. Same as “glory” in v5. See note QQ above.
GGG “harp” = nebel. From nabel (to fall away, faint, wither, languish, sink; figuratively, being senseless, foolish, or wicked; to despise, disgrace, or fall to nothing, to be seen with contempt). This is a vessel, perhaps made of skins for holding liquids. It could be a skin, vase, or lyre as having a similar shape.
HHH “lyre” = kinnor. Root may be to twang. This is a lyre or harp.
III “dawn” = shachar. Root may mean to look for in early hour or in a diligent way. This is dawn, early light, or morning.

I will give thanksJJJ to you, O Lord,KKK among the peoples;LLL
    I will sing praisesMMM to you among the nations.NNN

Notes on verse 9

JJJ “give thanks” = 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.
KKK “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.
LLL “peoples” = 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.
MMM “sing praises” = zamar. Same as “make melody” in v7. See note DDD above.
NNN “nations” = leom. Root may refer to gathering. This is people, a community, or a nation.

10 For your steadfast love is as highOOO as the heavens;
    your faithfulness extends to the clouds.PPP

11 Be exalted, O God,QQQ above the heavens.
    Let your glory be over all the earth.

Notes on verses 10-11

OOO “high” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.
PPP “clouds” = shachaq. From shachaq (to rub off, wear away, pulverize). This is powder, dust, vapor. It can also rfer to the sky or a cloud.
QQQ “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note J above.

Image credit: “A True Snow Angel” by Brian Wolfe, 2012.

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