Psalm 66:8-20

Psalm 66:8-20
Sixth Sunday of Easter A


BlessA our God,B O peoples;C

Notes on verse 8a

A “bless” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.
B “God” = Elohim.
C “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.

    let the soundD of his praiseE be heard,F

Notes on verse 8b

D “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.
E “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.”
F “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.

who has keptG usH among the livingI

Notes on verse 9a

G “kept” = sim. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
H “us” = nephesh. Literally, “our soul.” 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.
I “living” = 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.

    and has not letJ our feetK slip.L

Notes on verse 9b

J “let” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
K “feet” = regel. This is foot, endurance, or journey. It is a foot as the means of walking and so it implies a step or a greater journey. It can be used euphemistically for private parts.
L “slip” = mot. 6x in OT. From mot (to shake, slip, falter, stagger, move, fall, give way, waver, be carried). This is a pole, a bar for carrying, a yoke.

10 For you, O God, have testedM us;
    you have triedN us as silverO is tried.

Notes on verse 10

M “tested” = bachan. This is to examine, test, or prove – as one tests metals. It can also be used literally or figuratively for investigating or trying.
N “tried” = tsaraph. This is to refine, smalt, or fuse metal. It can also refer to the smelter (goldsmith or silversmith). Figuratively, this is refine in a literal or figurative sense – to test or try, make pure.
O “silver” = keseph. From kasaph (to long for, be greedy; to become pale). This is silver or money.

11 You broughtP us into the net;Q
    you laidR burdensS on our backs;T

Notes on verse 11

P “brought” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
Q “net” = matsud. From matsod (bulwark, siege works, net, snare); from tsud (to hunt, to lie in wait in order to catch an animal; used figuratively for capturing people). This is a castle, fortress, or stronghold. Also, a snare, net, or prey. It can abstractly mean capture.
R “laid” = sim. Same as “kept” in v9. See note G above.
S “burdens” = muaqah. From uq (to totter, press down). This is pressure, distress.
T “backs” = mothen. This is the waist, slender, or small of back. It can also refer to the loins when in plural.

12 you let peopleU rideV over our heads;W

Notes on verse 12a

U “people” = enosh. From anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is human, humankind, another. It is mortal.
V “ride” = rakab. This is to ride an animal or in some vehicle. It can also mean bringing on a horse.
W “heads” = rosh. This may come a word that means to shake. It is the head, captain, or chief. It can also be excellent or the forefront. It can be first in position or in statue or in time (i.e. the beginning).

    we wentX through fireY and through water;Z
yet you have brought us outAA to a spaciousBB place.

Notes on verse 12b

X “went” = bo. Same as “brought” in v11. See note P above.
Y “fire” = esh. This is fire, burning, flaming, hot. It is fire in a literal or figurative sense.
Z “water” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
AA “brought…out” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
BB “spacious” = revayah. 2x in OT– here and in Psalm 23:5 “my cup overflows.” From ravah (to have one’s thirst satisfied; figuratively, other cravings; to soak, water). This is an overflow, abundance, satisfaction.

13 I will comeCC into your houseDD with burnt offerings;EE

Notes on verse 13a

CC “come” = bo. Same as “brought” in v11. See note P above.
DD “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
EE “burnt offerings” = 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.

    I will payFF you my vows,GG
14 those that my lipsHH utteredII

Notes on verses 13b-14a

FF “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.
GG “vows” = neder. From nadar (to vow or promise). This is a vow – literally, that which was promised.
HH “lips” = saphah. This is lip, edge, border, bank – used for a boundary. It can also be speech or language.
II “uttered” = patsah. 15x in OT. This is to open, part, rend. It often refers to the mouth.

    and my mouthJJ promisedKK when I was in trouble.LL

Notes on verse 14b

JJ “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.
KK “promised” = 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.
LL “trouble” = tsar. From tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). Properly, this is a narrow or constricted place. Figuratively, it can be trouble, a pebble, an enemy, anguish, or distress.

15 I will offerMM to you burnt offerings of fatted calves,NN
    with the smokeOO of the sacrifice of rams;PP

Notes on verse 15a

MM “offer” = alah. Related to “burnt offerings” in v13. See note EE above.
NN “fatted calves” = meach. 2x in OT. Perhaps from machah (to rub, which implies to erase; making something smooth with grease or oil; to wipe out, blot out, or destroy; to touch or reach). This is fat, a fat animal, wealthy.
OO “smoke” = qetoreth. From the same as qitor (thick smoke, vapor). This is smoke, incense, the scent of the sacrifice as it burned.
PP “rams” = ayil. From the same as ul (mighty, strength, body, belly; root may mean to twist and that implies strength and power). This is strength so it is used to indicate things that are strong or powerful: political chiefs, rams, posts, trees, oaks.

I will make an offeringQQ of bullsRR and goats.SS SelahTT

Notes on verse 15b

QQ “make an offering” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
RR “bulls” = baqar. From baqar (to plow, break forth; figuratively, to inquire, inspect, consider). This is cattle – an animal used for plowing.
SS “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.
TT “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.

16 ComeUU and hear, allVV you who fearWW God,

Notes on verse 16a

UU “come” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
VV “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
WW “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.

    and I will tellXX what he has doneYY for me.ZZ

Notes on verse 16b

XX “tell” = saphar. From sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.
YY “done” = asah. Same as “make an offering” in v15. See note QQ above.
ZZ “me” = nephesh. Literally, “my soul.” Same as “us” in v9. See note H above.

17 I criedAAA aloudBBB to him,
    and he was extolledCCC withDDD my tongue.EEE

Notes on verse 17

AAA “cried” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
BBB “aloud” = peh. Same as “mouth” in v14. See note JJ above.
CCC “extolled” = romam. 1x in OT. From rum (to be high, rise, exalted, become proud, display, offer, present, set apart, extol; to rise in a literal or figurative sense). This is exaltation or praise.
DDD “with” = tachat. This is underneath, below, the bottom, instead of.
EEE “tongue” = lashon. This is tongue, talker, language, or wedge. It can also be a tongue of flame or a water cove.

18 If I had cherishedFFF iniquityGGG in my heart,HHH

Notes on verse 18a

FFF “cherished” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
GGG “iniquity” = 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.
HHH “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.

    the LordIII would not have listened.JJJ
19 But trulyKKK God has listened;

Notes on verses 18b-19a

III “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.
JJJ “listened” = shama. Same as “heard” in v8. See note F above.
KKK “truly” = aken. 18x in OT. From kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is surely, truly, nevertheless.

    he has heardLLL the wordsMMM of my prayer.NNN
20 Blessed be God,
    who has not rejectedOOO my prayer
    or removed his steadfast lovePPP from me.

Notes on verses 19b-20

LLL “heard” = qashab. To listen, pay attention to, incline – used in the phrase incline the ears.
MMM “words” = qol. Same as “sound” in v8. See note D above.
NNN “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.
OOO “rejected” = sur. This is to turn aside in a literal or figurative sense – to depart, decline, rebel, remove, or withdraw.
PPP “steadfast loved” = 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.

Image credit: “Coliseums IV” by Maya Cohen Levy, 2014.

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