Psalm 18:1-6

Psalm 18:1-6
Easter Tuesday – A Women’s Lectionary


To the leader.I A Psalm of DavidII the servantIII of the Lord,IV

Notes on superscript-a

I “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.
II “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.”
III “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.
IV “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.

who addressedV the wordsVI of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord deliveredVII him from the handVIII of all his enemies, and from the handIX of Saul.X He said:

Notes on superscript-b

V “addressed” = 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.
VI “words” = dabar. Related to “addressed” in v-Superscript. From dabar (see note V above). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
VII “delivered” = 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.
VIII “hand” = 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.
IX “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.
X “Saul” = shaul. From shaal (to ask, inquire, beg, borrow, desire, request; can also mean demand). This is Saul or Shaul, meaning “asked of the Lord.”

I loveXI you, O Lord, my strength.XII

The Lord is my rock,XIII my fortress,XIV and my deliverer,XV

Notes on verses 1-2a

XI “love” = racham. From racham (compassion, tender love, womb, compassion; the womb as that which cherishes the fetus); from the same as rechem (womb). This is to love, fondle, have mercy, have or show compassion.
XII “strength” = chezeq. 1x in OT. From chazaq (to strengthen, seize, be courageous, repair, bind, heal, conquer, harden). This is strength or help.
XIII “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.
XIV “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.
XV “deliverer” = palat. This is to escape, slip out, deliver, carry away, or calve.

    my God,XVI my rockXVII in whom I take refuge,XVIII
my shield,XIX and the hornXX of my salvation,XXI my stronghold.XXII

Notes on verse 2b

XVI “God” = el. God, a god.
XVII “rock” = tsur. Perhaps from tsur (to confine, cramp, or bind in a literal or figurative sense; to besiege, assault, or distress). This is rock, tone, cliff, boulder, rocky. It can also be a refuge, a way to refer to God.
XVIII “take refuge” = chasah. This is to take refuge or flee for protection. Figuratively, it means to hope or trust in someone or something.
XIX “shield” = magen. From ganan (to surround, cover, defend, protect). This is a shield, defense, or figuratively a protector. It can also be used for a crocodile’s hide.
XX “horn” = qeren. This is horn or hill. It can be a flask or cornet, ivory, altar corner, mountain peak, or figuratively power.
XXI “salvation” = yesha. From 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). This is salvation, deliverance, rescue, safety, welfare, liberty.
XXII “stronghold” = misgab. 17x in OT. From sagab (raise, lifted, high, secure on high, excellent, strong; literal and figurative). This is a high or inaccessible location. Abstractly, it can be altitude. Concretely it is a cliff or height. Figuratively, it is a refuge or stronghold – a high fort or tower. There is also a place called Misgab in Moab.

I callXXIII upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,XXIV
    so I shall be savedXXV from my enemies.

Notes on verse 3

XXIII “call” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
XXXIV “praised” = 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.
XXV “saved” = yasha. Related to “salvation” in v2. See note XXI above.

The cordsXXVI of deathXXVII encompassed me;
    the torrentsXXVIII of perditionXXIX assailedXXX me;

Notes on verse 4

XXVI “cords” = chebel. From chabal (to bind, pledge, or wind tight; figuratively, can refer to perverting or destroying something; can also be used of writhing in pain, particularly in reference to childbirth). This is a band, rope, measuring line, noose. It can be a company, territory, or country. It can also refer to a throe of labor or ruin.
XXVII “death” = mavet. From muth (to die in a literal or figurative sense). This can be death, deadliness, the dead, or the place where the dead go. It can be used figuratively for pestilence or ruin.
XXVIII “torrents” = nachal. From nachal (to take as heritage, inherit, or distribute). This is a river or stream. It could be a wadi or arroyo – sometimes a narrow valley with no water at all, but in strong rains or when winter snow melts, it swells or floods with water.
XXIX “perdition” = beliyyaal. From beli (lack, nothing, without, wearing out, failure, destruction); {from balah (to grow old, wear out, waste away, consume, spend)} + yaal (to gain, profit, do good, ascend, be useful or valuable; benefitted). This is lacking profit i.e. worthlessness, destruction, evil, ungodly person, wickedness, or Belial.
XXX “assailed” = baath. 16x in OT. This is to terrify, startle, overwhelm, terrorize, or fall upon.

the cords of SheolXXXI entangledXXXII me;
    the snaresXXXIII of death confrontedXXXIV me.

Notes on verse 5

XXXI “Sheol” = sheol. Perhaps related to “Saul” in v-Superscript. Perhaps from sha’al (see note X above).
XXXII “entangled” = sabab. This is turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch. It is to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense.
XXXIII “snares” = moqesh. From yaqosh (ensnare, lay bait, lure, trapper; to snare literally or figuratively). This is bait, barb, snare, trap; a noose or hook to trap animals in a literal or figurative sense.
XXXIV “confronted” = qadam. Perhaps from qedem (front, formerly, before, east, eternal, everlasting, antiquity). This is to come in front or be in front and so meet, anticipate, confront, receive, or rise. It sometimes means to meet for help.

In my distressXXXV I called upon the Lord;
    to my GodXXXVI I cried for help.XXXVII

Notes on verse 6a

XXXV “distress” = 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.
XXXVI “God” = Elohim.
XXXVII “cried for help” = shava. This is crying or shouting aloud, generally seeking freedom from some kind of trouble.

From his templeXXXVIII he heardXXXIX my voice,XL
    and my cryXLI to himXLII reached his ears.

Notes on verse 6b

XXXVIII “temple” = hekal. Perhaps from yakol (to be able, endure, overcome, prevail). This is a large building with public access such as a palace or temple.
XXXIX “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.
XL “voice” = 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.
XLI “cry” = shava. Related to “cried for help” in v6. 11x in OT. From shava (see note XXXVII above). This is cry or a cry for help.
XLII “to him” = paneh. Literally “before his face.”

Image credit: Mosaic of David at the Chester Cathedral in England.

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