Psalm 6

Psalm 6


To the leader:A with stringed instruments;B according to The Sheminith.C A PsalmD of David.E

Notes on superscript

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 “stringed instruments” = neginah. 13x in OT. From nagan (to strike a stringed instrument, to pluck or play it). This is music, a song, a taunt, or a stringed instrument. It can also be a poem given a musical setting.
C “Sheminith” = sheminith. 3x in OT. From Shemini (eight); from the same as shemoneh (eight; can be figurative for surplus); perhaps from shamen (to shine, which implies being oily, growing fat); from shaman (to grow fat, shine, be oily). This is Sheminith, which probably refers to an eight-stringed lyre.
D “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.
E “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.”

O Lord,F do not rebukeG me in your anger,H
    or disciplineI me in your wrath.J

Notes on verse 1

F “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.
G “rebuke” = yakach. This is to decide, be right, argue, or convince. It can also be to decide, convict, reason together, or reprove.
H “anger” = aph. From anaph (to be angry; properly, breathing hard as a signifier of being enraged). This properly refers to the nose or nostril and by extension the face. It can specifically refer to anger or wrath as one breathes hard and nostrils flare in times of great anger.
I “discipline” = yasar. This is to discipline, correct, train, teach, punish. Literally, it is disciplining with blows, but figuratively using words.
J “wrath” = chemah. From yacham (to be hot, mate; figuratively, to conceive). This is heat – figuratively it can be anger or fury. It can also refer to poison or venom as they can cause fever.

Be graciousK to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;L
    O Lord, healM me, for my bonesN are shaking with terror.O

My soulP also is struck with terror,Q
    while you, O Lord—how long?

Notes on verses 2-3

K “be gracious” = chanan. This is to beseech, show favor, be gracious. Properly, it is to bend in kindness to someone with less status.
L “languishing” = umlal. 4x in OT. From amal (to be weak, fail, fade, wither, droop; can imply being sick or mourning). This is feeble, pining, or sick.
M “heal” = rapha. Properly, this is to repair by stitching – figuratively this means to heal or cure. It can also mean to make whole.
N “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.
O “shaking with terror” = bahal. To be afraid or dismayed or amazed. This is deep trembling within. So, figuratively, it refers to being suddenly agitated. This implies moving or acting quickly/anxiously.
P “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.
Q “struck with terror” = bahal + meod. Same as “shaking with terror” in v2. See note O above. Meod is very, exceedingly, wholly. It expresses vehemence, abundance, force, or other superlatives.

Turn,R O Lord, saveS my life;T
    deliverU me for the sake of your steadfast love.V

Notes on verse 4

R “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.”
S “save” = 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.
T “life” = nephesh. Same as “soul” in v3. See note P above.
U “deliver” = 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.
V “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.

5 For in death there is no remembranceW of you;
    in SheolX who can give you praise?Y

Notes on verse 5

W “remembrance” = zeker. From zakar (to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention). This is remembrance, renown, memento, recollection, or commemoration.
X “Sheol” = sheol. Perhaps from sha’al (to ask, request). This is the place where the dead go, the grace, the underworld.
Y “give…praise” = 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.

6 I am wearyZ with my moaning;AA
    every nightBB I floodCC my bedDD with tears;EE
    I drench my couchFF with my weeping.GG

Notes on verse 6

Z “am weary” = yaga. This is to work, become weary, to gasp or be exhausted, to toil.
AA “moaning” = anachah. 11x in OT. From anach (to sigh, groan, or mourn). This is sighing or groaning.
BB “night” = layil. Properly, this refers to light twisting away. It is used for night or midnight. Figuratively, this can mean adversity.
CC “flood” = sachah. 3x in OT. This is to swim or a swimmer. Used causatively, it can mean to inundate.
DD “bed” = mittah. From natah (to stretch or spread out, extend, bend). This is a couch or bed that is spread out to sleep on or for eating. It can also refer to a litter or a bier.
EE “tears” = dimah. From dema (juice, liquor); from dama (to weep). This is tears from weeping.
FF “couch” = eres. 10x in OT. Root may refer to an arch. So, this would be a couch or bed that has a canopy.
GG “weeping” = masah. 4x in OT. This is to melt or dissolve, consume, melt with fear, weep.

7 My eyes waste awayHH because of grief;II
    they grow weakJJ because of all my foes.KK

Notes on verse 7

HH “waste away” = ashesh. 3x in OT – used only in the psalms for eyes and bones wasting away. This is to shrink or waste away. By analogy, this would be to fail or be consumed.
II “grief” = ka’as. From ka’as (to be angry, trouble, provoke, spite, grieve, have sorrow). This is vexation or anger.
JJ “grow weak” = atheq. 9x in OT. This is to move, advance, remove or continue. Figuratively, it can mean to grow old or it could refer to copying or transcribing.
KK “foes” = tsarar. This is to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary.

DepartLL from me, all you workersMM of evil,NN
    for the Lord has heardOO the soundPP of my weeping.QQ

Notes on verse 8

LL “depart” = sur. This is to turn aside in a literal or figurative sense – to depart, decline, rebel, remove, or withdraw.
MM “workers” = paal. This is to do, make, work, or accomplish. Generally refers to regularly repeated or systematic action – so, to practice.
NN “evil” = aven. Root may mean panting as one does when expending a lot of energy, especially when it comes to nothing. This is nothingness, trouble, sorrow, distress, wickedness, evil, harm, sorrow, misfortune, and mischief. It is also used specifically to refer to idols.
OO “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.
PP “sound” = 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.
QQ “weeping” = beki. From bakah (to weep, complain, lament). This is ongoing weeping, overflowing. By analogy, this can also mean dripping.

9 The Lord has heard my supplication;RR
    the Lord accepts my prayer.SS

10 All my enemies shall be ashamedTT and struck with terror;UU
    they shall turn back, and in a momentVV be put to shame.

Notes on verses 9-10

RR “supplication” = techinnah. Related to “be gracious” in v2. From chanan (see note K above). This is favor, mercy, petition, supplication, entreaty, or grace. It is asking for favor.
SS “prayer” = tephillah. From palal (to judge for oneself or in an official capacity; to pray or make supplication, to entreat). This is prayer or intercession. It can also be a hymn.
TT “be ashamed” = bosh. Properly, this mean to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion.
UU “struck with terror” = bahal + meod. Same as “struck with terror” in v3. See notes O & Q above.
VV “in a moment” = rega. From raga (to toss violently, break, or disturb; tossed about as on rough sea or the skin breaking out in skin disease; to shut the eyes and so to settle, east, rest, or quiet). This is an instant or moment – so suddenly. Properly, this is a wink of the eye, which is to say a brief moment.

Image credit: “Save Freedom of Worship” by Norman Rockwell, between 1941 and 1945.

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