Psalm 84:1-4, 10-12

Psalm 84:1-4, 10-12
Narrative Lectionary 335


To the leader:A according to The Gittith.B Of the Korahites.C A Psalm.D

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 “Gittith” = Gittith. 3x in OT. From gitti (someone from Gath, a Gittite); from the same as gath (wine press); perhaps from nagan (to strike a stringed instrument, to pluck or play it). This is Gittith, its meaning is unclear, but it is some kind of musical notation. It may refer to a Gittite harp.
C “Korahites” = ben + Qorach. Literally “sons of Korah.” Ben is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Qorach is from qarach (to shave, frozen). This is Korah, a name, perhaps meaning “ice.”
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.

How lovelyE is your dwelling place,F
    O LordG of hosts!H

Notes on verse 1

E “lovely” = yadid. 9x in OT. Perhaps from the same as dod (beloved, love, uncle, love token; root may mean to boil). This is lovely, amiable, beloved.
F “dwelling place” = mishkan. From shakan (to settle down in the sense of residing somewhere or staying there permanently; to abide or continue). This is a place where one lives – a tabernacle, tent, or other kind of dwelling. It can also be a lair where animals live, the grave, the Temple, or the Tabernacle.
G “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.
H “hosts” = tsaba. From tsaba (to wage war, serve, assemble, fight, perform, muster, wait on). This is a large group of persons (used figuratively for a group of things). It implies a campaign literally as with army, war, warfare, battle, company, soldiers. Can also be used figuratively for hardship or for worship.

My soulI longs,J indeed it faintsK
    for the courtsL of the Lord;

Notes on verse 2a

I “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.
J “longs” = kasaph. 6x in OT. This is to long for, be greedy, pine for. It can also mean to become pale or to fear.
K “faints” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.
L “courts” = chatser. From chatsar (to blow a trumpet, trumpeter, to surround); from chatsotsrah (trumpet). This is an enclosure or court – a yard that is fenced in. It could also be a village or hamlet that is walled in.

my heartM and my fleshN sing for joyO
    to the livingP God.Q

Notes on verse 2b

M “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.
N “flesh” = basar. From basar (being a messenger, publish, carry preach; properly, this is being fresh, rosy or cheerful as one bearing news). This is flesh, the body, fat, skin, self, nakedness, humankind, or kin. It can also refer to private parts.
O “sing for joy” = ranan. This is a cry of joy or a joyful song. Properly, it is emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy.
P “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.
Q “God” = El.

Even the sparrowR findsS a home,T
    and the swallowU a nestV for herself,

Notes on verse 3a

R “sparrow” = tsippor. From tsaphar (to skip about, maybe to depart). This is a little bird like a sparrow – a little bird as one that hops about.
S “finds” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
T “home” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
U “swallow” = deror. 2x in OT. From the same as deror (flowing quickly – hence flowing free, release, and liberty. It can also mean pure or clear). This is the swallow (the bird).
V “nest” = qen. 13x in OT. Perhaps from qanan (to nestle, make or inhabit a nest). This is a nest or nestling. It can also refer to a room or other dwelling.

    where she may lay her young,W
at your altars,X O Lord of hosts,
    my King and my God.Y

Notes on verse 3b

W “young” = ephroach. 4x in OT. From parach (to sprout, blossom, bloom, spread, flourish). This is young – used specifically for a bird’s brood.
X “altars” = mizbeach. From zabach (to kill, slay, offer; slaughtering an animal to offer as a sacrifice). This is an altar.
Y “God” = Elohim. Related to “God” in v2. See note Q above.

HappyZ are those who liveAA in your house,
    ever singing your praise.BB SelahCC

Notes on verse 4

Z “happy” = esher. From ashar (to go straight, lead, guide; to be level and so to be right, blessed, honest, happy). This is happy or blessedness.
AA “live” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
BB “singing…praise” = halal. This is to be clear – it originally referred to a sound, then a color. It was to shine and then make a show or boast then to rave. In a causative sense it came to mean celebrate, give glory, sing praise, or be worth of praise. Because of the celebratory nature of the word, it could also mean to give in marriage. This is where Hallelujah comes from.
CC “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.

10 For a day in your courts is betterDD
    than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather beEE a doorkeeperFF in the house of my GodGG

Notes on verse 10a

DD “better” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.
EE “would rather be” = bachar. This is to choose, appoint, try, excellent.
FF “doorkeeper” = saphaph. 1x in OT. From saph (door, threshold); from the same as saph (basin, cup, door, gate, threshold). This is a doorkeeper or one who guards the threshold.
GG “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v3. See note Y above.

    than liveHH in the tentsII of wickedness.JJ

Notes on verse 10b

HH “live” = dur. 1x in OT. This is to move around in a circle, pile up, dwell.
II “tents” = ohel. Perhaps from ahal (to shine, be clear). This is a tent, covering, home, or side pillar.
JJ “wickedness” = resha. From rasha (to be wicked, guilty, make trouble, do wrong; can also be condemn, guilty, inflict punishment; this verb implies disturbing or violating). This is wrong, particularly moral wrong. It can be wickedness, evil, wicked deeds, or something that is ill-gotten.

11 For the Lord GodKK is a sunLL and shield;MM
    he bestows favorNN and honor.OO

Notes on verse 11a

KK “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v3. See note Y above.
LL “sun” = shemesh. This is sun or toward the east. Its root may mean being brilliant. Figuratively, this could be a ray or an arch.
MM “shield” = magen. From ganan (to surround, cover, defend, protect). This is a shield, defense, or figuratively a protector. It can alszo be used for a crocodile’s hide.
NN “favor” = chen. From chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is grace, favor, kindness, beauty, precious.
OO “honor” = 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.

No goodPP thing does the Lord withholdQQ
    from those who walkRR uprightly.SS
12 O Lord of hosts,
    happy is everyoneTT who trustsUU in you.

Notes on verses 11b-12

PP “good” = tob. Same as “better” in v10. See note DD above.
QQ “withhold” = mana. This is to hold back, refuse, restrain, deny. It could be in a positive or in a negative sense.
RR “walk” = 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.
SS “uprightly” = tamim. From tamam (to finish or accomplish; to make perfect, demonstrate that you are upright; consume; to complete in a literal or figurative sense). This is ecntire in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be complete, full, intact, or without defect. Alternately, it could refer to being sound, having integrity, being sincere or perfect.
TT “everyone” = adam. 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.
UU “trusts” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.

Image credit: “Passer domesticus 15cm” in Nepal by Nrik Kiran, 2018.

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