Psalm 71:1-6

Psalm 71:1-6
A Women’s Lectionary 42


In you, O Lord,I I take refuge;II
    let me neverIII be put to shame.IV

Notes on verse 1

I “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.
II “take refuge” = chasah. This is to take refuge or flee for protection. Figuratively, it means to hope or trust in someone or something.
III “never” = alolam. Olam is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
IV “be put to shame” = bosh. Properly, this means to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion.

In your righteousnessV deliverVI me and rescueVII me;

Notes on verse 2a

V “righteousness” = tsedaqah. 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.
VI “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.
VII “rescue” = palat. This is to escape, slip out, deliver, carry away, or calve.

    inclineVIII your earIX to me and saveX me.

Notes on verse 2b

VIII “incline” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
IX “ear” = ozen. This is ear, hearing, audience, show. Properly, it is broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape.
X “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.

BeXI to me a rockXII of refuge,XIII, XIV
    a strong fortress, to save me,
    for you are my rockXV and my fortress.XVI

Notes on verse 3

XI “be” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v1. See note I above.
XII “rock” = tsur. From tsur (to confine, cramp, or bind in a literal or figurative sense; to besiege, assault, or distress). This is rock, stone, cliff, boulder, rocky. It can also be a refuge, a way to refer to God.
XIII “refuge” = maon + bo + tamid. Literally “a dwelling place to which I resort continually.” Maon is 17x in OT. From anah (to answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify; to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk; singing, shouting, testifying, etc.) OR from the same as onah (marriage, living together, marital duty). This is dwelling, den, haunt, retreat. It can refer to the Tabernacle or Temple. It can also be used for homes or animal lairs. Bo is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation. Tamid is 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.
XIV Alternately, “to come continually you have commanded.” This would include the words detailed above + tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).
XV “rock” = sela. Root may mean being lofty. This is a rock, cliff, crag, mountain. It could be used figuratively for obstinance or to show God as a refuge. It can also more generally mean fortress or stronghold.
XVI “fortress” = 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.

4 Rescue me, O my God,XVII from the handXVIII of the wicked,XIX

Notes on verse 4a

XVII “God” = Elohim.
XVIII “hand” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
XIX “wicked” = rasha. This is to be wicked, guilty, make trouble, do wrong. It can also be condemn, guilty, inflict punishment. This verb implies disturbing or violating.

    from the graspXX of the unjustXXI and cruel.XXII

Notes on verse 4b

XX “grasp” = kaph. From kaphaph (to bend – from a root meaning curve or bend down). This is palm of the hand or sole of the foot, footstep, grasp. Figuratively, it can also mean power.
XXI “unjust” = aval. 2x in OT. From evel (injustice, wrong, moral evil, acts of violence, or unrighteousness). This is to do injustice, to distort ethics. It can also be a wrongdoer.
XXII “cruel” = chamets. 6x in OT. This is to be or taste sour, fermented, harsh. It can also mean dyed or of a dazzling color. It can also refer to cruelty.

For you, O Lord,XXIII are my hope,XXIV
    my trust,XXV O Lord,XXVI from my youth.XXVII

Notes on verse 5

XXIII “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.
XXIV “hope” = tiqvah. From qavah (to wait, look, gather together, bind together, collect; figuratively, to expect). This is literally a cord used to attach things. Figuratively, it’s expectation, hope, what you long for.
XXV “trust” = mibtach. 15x in OT. From batach (to hide for refuge, be secure or sure; figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping). This is trust, hope, confidence. It is a refuge or assurance.
XXVI “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note I above.
XXVII “youth” = naur. From naar (child or a servant; a child in their active years so they could be aged anywhere from infancy to adolescence); perhaps from naar (to shake, toss up and down, tumble around). This is youth or childhood.

Upon you I have leanedXXVIII from my birth;XXIX
    it was you who tookXXX me from my mother’sXXXI womb.XXXII
My praiseXXXIII is continuallyXXXIV of you.

Notes on verse 6

XXVIII “leaned” = samak. This is to lean, rest, support, brace, uphold, sustain, or establish. It is to lean on in a positive or negative sense.
XXIX “birth” = beten. Root may mean to be hollow. This is the belly or womb. It can also refer to a body more broadly.
XXX “took” = gazah. 1x in OT. This is to cut, to remove a portion.
XXXI “mother’s” = em. This is a mother as binding a family together or a breeding female animal. It could be mother in a literal or figurative sense.
XXXII “womb” = meeh. This is inward parts, belly, heart, womb, intestines, vastness. It can also be figurative for sympathy.
XXXIII “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.”
XXXIV “continually” = tamid. Same as “refuge” in v3. See note XIII above.

Image credit: “Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Grandfather and grandson of Japanese ancestry at this War Relocation Authority center” by Dorothea Lange of the Department of the Interior. War Relocation Authority, 1942.

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