Psalm 143

Psalm 143
Easter Vigil C


A PsalmA of David.B

HearC my prayer,D O Lord;E

Notes on superscript - verse 1a

A “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.
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 “hear” = 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.
D “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.
E “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.

    give earF to my supplicationsG in your faithfulness;H
    answerI me in your righteousness.J

Notes on verse 1b

F “give ear” = azan. Perhaps from ozen (ear, hearing, audience, show; properly, broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape). Properly, this is to expand or broaden one’s ear i.e. listen intently, pay attention, heed.
G “supplications” = tachanun. 18x in OT. From chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is entreaty, prayer, or supplication. It is looking for favor earnestly.
H “faithfulness” = emunah. From aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This word is literally firmness, but figuratively fidelity, faithfulness, honesty, responsibility, trust, truth, steadfastness. This word shares a root with the word “Amen.”
I “answer” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.
J “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.

Do not enterK into judgmentL with your servant,M

Notes on verse 2a

K “enter” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
L “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.
M “servant” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.

    for no oneN livingO is righteousP beforeQ you.

Notes on verse 2b

N “one” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
O “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.
P “is righteous” = tsadeq. Related to “righteousness” in v1. From tsedeq (see note J above). This is being just or righteousness. It refers to right in a moral or legal sense. So, it can be doing justice, clearing oneself, or turning to righteousness.
Q “before” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.

For the enemyR has pursuedS me,T
    crushingU my lifeV to the ground,W

Notes on verse 3a

R “enemy” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.
S “has pursued” = radaph. This is to chase after, pursue, hunt, or persecute. It is running after someone or something, generally with hostile motives.
T “me” = 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.
U “crushing” = daka. 18x in OT. This is to crush or break into pieces. It can also mean bruise, being contrite or oppressed, to destroy, or be humble.
V “life” = chay. Same as “living” in v2. See note O above.
W “ground” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

    making me sitX in darknessY like those longZ dead.AA

Notes on verse 3b

X “making…sit” = 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.
Y “darkness” = machshak. 7x in OT. From chashak (to be or become dark). This is darkness or a place that is dark.
Z “long” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).    
AA “dead” = mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body.

Therefore my spiritBB faintsCC withinDD me;
    my heartEE within me is appalled.FF

Notes on verse 4

BB “spirit” = ruach. This is breath, wind, air, cool, spirit. This is wind, which resembles the breath and so this can be used figuratively for life itself or being frail/mortal/impermanent. It can refer to the air of the sky or the spirit.
CC “faints” = ataph. 16x in OT. This is to turn, faint, hide, be overwhelmed, cover, fail.
DD “within” = tavek. This is among, middle, in the midst, the center. Perhaps, properly, to sever.
EE “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.
FF “is appalled” = shamem. This is to amaze or be astonished. It can also mean devastate, stun, become numb, or be appalled.

I rememberGG the daysHH of old,II

Notes on verse 5a

GG “remember” = zakar. This is to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention.
HH “days” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
II “old” = qedem. Perhaps from qadam (to come in front or be in front; to meet, anticipate, confront, receive, or rise; sometimes to meet for help). This is front, formerly, before, east, eternal, everlasting, antiquity.

    I thinkJJ about allKK your deeds,LL

Notes on verse 5b

JJ “think” = hagah. This is to speak, declare, make a sound, imagine, or mutter. It could be a murmur, moan, or growl, whether from delight or anger. It can also mean to study, ponder, or meditate.
KK “all” = kol. Same as “one” in v2. See note N above.
LL “deeds” = poal. From paal (to do, make, work, or accomplish; generally refers to regularly repeated or systematic action – to practice). This is an action or deed, conduct. It is the act of working or the work itself. It can also be wages or maker.

    I meditateMM on the worksNN of your hands.OO

Notes on verse 5c

MM “meditate” = siach. From siach (musing, meditation, communication, babbling, prayer, contemplation). This is to muse, meditate, complain, sing, sigh, speak, or utter.
NN “works” = maaseh. From asah (to do, make, accomplish, become). This is a word – any action whether positive or negative. It can also be a transaction, construction, activity, property, or something that is produced.
OO “hands” = 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.

I stretch outPP my hands to you;
    my soulQQ thirsts for you like a parchedRR land.SS SelahTT

Notes on verse 6

PP “stretch out” = paras. This is to spread or stretch out, extend, break up, chop to pieces, disperse, display.
QQ “soul” = nephesh. Same as “me” in v3. See note T above.
RR “parched” = ayeph. 17x in OT. From iph (to be faint or weary, to languish). This is faint, languid, weary, or thirsty.
SS “land” = erets. Same as “ground” in v3 See note W above.
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.

Answer me quickly,UU O Lord;
    my spirit fails.VV
Do not hideWW your faceXX from me,

Notes on verse 7a

UU “quickly” = maher. 18x in OT. From mahar (being liquid, which implies flowing; so, hurrying forward, whether in a positive or negative sense). This is speedy, quickly, soon, suddenly, or at once.
VV “fails” = kalah. From kalah (to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed). This is completion, destruction, end, consummation.
WW “hide” = sathar. This is hide, conceal, or be absent. It is hiding because something is covered – used in a literal or figurative sense.
XX “face” = paneh. Same as “before” in v2. See note Q above.

    or I shall be likeYY those who go downZZ to the Pit.AAA

Notes on verse 7b

YY “be like” = mashal. 17x in OT. From mashal (proverb, parable, taunt, discourse, maxim, adage, poem). This is to compare, speak in a proverb or riddle – to speak in allegory or liken.
ZZ “go down” = yarad. This is to go down, descend; going down in a literal or figurative sense. It can be going to the shore or a boundary, bringing down an enemy.
AAA “Pit” = bor. From bur (to bore; figuratively, to explain, examine, or clear up). This is a pit – generally a cistern or dungeon. It could also be a well or fountain.

Let me hear of your steadfast loveBBB in the morning,CCC
    for in you I put my trust.DDD

Notes on verse 8a

BBB “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.
CCC “morning” = boqer. From baqar (to seek, plow, break forth, admire, care for). This refers to the break of day. So it is dawn, early, morning, or morrow.
DDD “put…trust” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.

TeachEEE me the wayFFF I should go,GGG
    for to you I lift upHHH my soul.

Notes on verse 8b

EEE “teach” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
FFF “way” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
GGG “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.
HHH “lift up” = nasa. This is to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept.

SaveIII me, O Lord, from my enemies;
    I have fled to you for refuge.JJJ
10 TeachKKK me to doLLL your will,MMM

Notes on verses 9-10a

III “save” = 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.
JJJ “fled…for refuge” = kasah. This is to cover, conceal, overwhelm. It is to cover as clothes do or to hide a secret.
KKK “teach” = lamad. Properly, this refers to goading (using a pointed stick to guide or prod one’s flock). By implication, it means teaching or instructing.
LLL “do” = asah. Related to “works” in v5. See note NN above.
MMM “will” = ratson. From ratsah (to be pleased with, delight, take pleasure in, or accept with favor; to approve or consent regarding something; can be used specifically of satisfying debts or being pardoned). This is delight shown in favor, good will, something that is accepted or acceptable.

    for you are my God.NNN
Let your goodOOO spirit leadPPP me
    on a levelQQQ path.RRR

Notes on verse 10b

NNN “God” = Eloah. From el (God or god). This is God or a god.
OOO “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.
PPP “lead” = nachah. This is lead, guide, or bring. It can be used for transporting into exile or coming in as colonists. This is the word used in Psalm 23 “he leads me in the paths of righteousness.”
QQQ “level” = mishor. From yashar (to be straight, right, even, smooth, or agreeable; figuratively, to make something pleasant or prosperous) This is a level place like a plain. It can also be the proper name of a level place. Figuratively, it can refer to straightness in the sense of justice, equity, fairness, righteousness, or uprightness. It can also refer to a concord.
RRR “path” = erets. Same as “ground” in v3 See note W above.

11 For your name’sSSS sake, O Lord, preserve my life.TTT
    In your righteousness bringUUU meVVV out of trouble.WWW

Notes on verse 11

SSS “name’s” = 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.
TTT “preserve my life” = chayah. Related to “living” in v2. See note O above.
UUU “bring” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
VVV “me” = nephesh. Same as “me” in v3. See note T above.
WWW “trouble” = tsarah. From tsar (properly, a narrow or constricted place; figuratively, trouble, a pebble, an enemy, anguish, or distress); from tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). This is tightness, distress, affliction, trouble, or adversary.

12 In your steadfast love cut offXXX my enemies,
    and destroyYYY all myZZZ adversaries,AAAA
    for I am your servant.

Notes on verse 12

XXX “cut off” = tsamath. 15x in OT. This is to destroy, cut off, silence, or vanish. It is to put an end to in a literal or figurative sense.
YYY “destroy” = abad. To wander off, lose self. This implies to perish, destroy, die, vanish, or be broken or corrupt.
ZZZ “my” = nephesh. Same as “me” in v3. See note T above.
AAAA “adversaries” = tsarar. Related to “trouble” in v11. See note WWW above.

Image credit: “Contemplation – Dartmoor, Devon” by Jan Faborsky, 2012.

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