Psalm 122

Psalm 122
Narrative Lectionary 332


A Song of Ascents.A Of David.B

I was gladC when they said to me,

Notes on superscript-verse 1a

A “ascents” = ma’alah. From ma’aleh (ascent, platform, slope, stmairs, cliff, elevation, a rise; figuratively, a priority); from alah (to go up, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense). This is something that arises, elevation, a journey to a higher pane. This can be used figuratively to mean having a though or being of a superior status. It is often used in a specific sense for something the mounts to a climax. This is step, stair, or high degree.
B “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.”
C “was glad” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.

    “Let us goD to the houseE of the Lord!”F

Notes on verse 1b

D “go” = 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.
E “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
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.

Our feetG are standingH
    within your gates,I O Jerusalem.J

Notes on verse 2

G “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.
H “standing” = amad. This is to stand up in a literal or figurative sense. So it can be establish, continue, endure, take a stand, act, be a servant, stand still, remain, stand against an enemy.
I “gates” = shaar. May be related to sha’ar (to calculate or reckon; may come from a root that means to open up or split). This is a gate, door, or other opening like a port.
J “Jerusalem” = Yerushalaim. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach) + shalem (to make amends, to be complete or sound). This is Jerusalem, dwelling of peace.

Jerusalem—builtK as a cityL
    that is bound firmlyM together.N

Notes on verse 3

K “built” = banah. Related to “house” in v1. See note E above.
L “city” = iyr. From uwr (to awaken or wake oneself up). This can mean excitement in the sense of wakefulness or city. Properly, this is a place that is guarded. Guards kept schedules according to watches. This sense of the word would include cities as well as encampments or posts that were guarded.
M “bound firmly” = chabar. This is to unite, ally, attach, touch. It is to join in a literal or figurative sense. Also, specially, using magic knots or spells to fascinate or connect.
N “together” = yachad. From yachad (to join, be united). This is a unit, both, altogether, unitedness, alike.

To it the tribesO go up,P
    the tribes of the Lord,Q

Notes on verse 4a

O “tribes” = shebet. This is a rod, staff, club, scepter, dart, or tribe. Literally a stick that can be used for punishing, writing, fighting, walking, ruling; thus, used figuratively for a clan.
P “go up” = alah. Related to “ascents” in superscript. See note A above.
Q “Lord” = Yah. Related to “Lord” in v1. From YHVH (see note F above). This is Lord or God – a shortened form of God’s most holy name.

as was decreedR for Israel,S
    to give thanksT to the nameU of the Lord.

Notes on verse 4b

R “decreed” = eduth. From ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is testimony, ordinance, decree, warning, or witness.
S “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
T “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.
U “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.

For there the thronesV for judgmentW were set up,X
    the thrones of the house of David.

Notes on verse 5

V “thrones” = kisse. From the same as kese (full moon); perhaps from kasah (to cover, conceal, overwhelm; to cover as clothes do or to hide a secret). This is throne – a seat that is covered or has a canopy. Thus, it is a seat that conveys authority.
W “judgment” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
X “set up” = 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.

6 Pray forY the peaceZ of Jerusalem:
    “May they prosperAA who loveBB you.

Notes on verse 6

Y “pray for” = shaal. This is to ask, inquire, beg, borrow, desire, request. It can also mean to demand.
Z “peace” = shalom. Related to “Jerusalem” in v2. From shalam (see note J above). This is completeness, soundness, welfare, favor, friend, good health. It is to be safe and figuratively well, happy, at peace, friendly. Abstractly, it includes the ideas of welfare and prosperity (not in excessive wealth, but in having enough).
AA “may…prosper” = shalah. 5x in OT. This is to be quiet, safe, tranquil. It can imply success or happiness; could also mean to deceive or be negligent.
BB “love” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.

Peace be within your walls,CC
    and securityDD within your towers.”EE

Notes on verse 7

CC “walls” = chel. From chul (whirling around so dancing as in a circle or writhing in pain; used particularly for the pain of childbirth or from writhing due to fear; can also be falling in pain or waiting) OR from chayil (strength, wealth, ability, activity; a soldier or a company of soldiers; goods; a force of people, means, or goods; valor, virtue, or strength); from chul (to be firm, strong, prosperous; to endure). This is an army, entrenchment, fortress, wall, or host.
DD “security” = shalvah. Relate to “may…prosper” in v6. 8x in OT. From shalah (see note AA above). This is ease, prosperity, tranquility – it is security, whether real or imagined.
EE “towers” = armon. Root might mean to be high in elevation. So, this is any kind of fortified building like a citadel, castle, tower, or palace.

For the sake of my relativesFF and friendsGG
    I will say,HHIIPeace be within you.”

Notes on verse 8

FF “relatives” = ach. This is brother, kindred, another, other, like. It is literally brother, but it can also be someone who is similar, resembling, or related to.
GG “friends” = rea. From raah (to associate with). This is the same as neighbor in Leviticus 19:18 “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is friend, companion, fellow, neighbor. It is someone with whom you associate, whether more or less close.
HH “say” = 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.
II {untranslated} = na. This particle is used for requests or for urging. It can be we pray, now, I ask you, oh. This is the same “na” in “hosanna.”

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,JJ
    I will seekKK your good.LL

Notes on verse 9

JJ “God” = Elohim.
KK “seek” = baqash. This is to seek, ask, desire, or request. It can be any kind of searching. It can also mean to worship or pray – implies a striving for.
LL “good” = 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.

Image credit: “Peace” by Andrea Michnay, 1959 in Hungary.

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