Psalm 27

Psalm 27


Of David.A

The LordB is my lightC and my salvation;D
    whom shall I fear?E

Notes on superscript-verse 1a

A “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.”
B “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.
C “light” = or. From or (to be or become light). This is light, sun, sunshine, dawn, or daylight. Figuratively, it can refer to light from instruction, light of a face (that is to say one that is cheerful or finds favor). It can refer to prosperity or salvation; a light that guides, a light eternal from Zion.
D “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.
E “fear” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.

The Lord is the strongholdF of my life;G
    of whom shall I be afraid?H

Notes on verse 1b

F “stronghold” = maoz. From uz (to run for refuge, to seek safety, be strong) OR from azaz (to be strong, become fixed, be bold, prevail, be impudent; to be stout literally or figuratively). This is a defense, refuge, safety, fortress, rock, strength, or stronghold. It is somewhere one goes to be safe and protected or something one uses to be safe. Figuratively, it could be a defense or a force.
G “life = 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.
H “be afraid” = pachad. To dread, be afraid, thrill, be in awe. This is properly feeling startled from a sudden sound or alarm and so, more generally, to be afraid.

When evildoersI assailJ me
    to devourK my fleshL
my adversariesM and foes—
    they shall stumbleN and fall.

Notes on verse 2

I “evildoers” = ra’a’. This is to be evil, bad, afflict. Properly, it means to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces. Figuratively, it is to cause something to be worthless. It is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense – something that displeases, does harm or mischief, punishes or vexes.
J “assail” = qarab. This is to come near, offer, make ready, approach, take.
K “devour” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
L “flesh” = sar. From basar (being a messenger, publish, carry preach; properly, this is being fresh, rosy or cheerful as one bearing news). This is flesh, a body, an individual, nakedness, humankind. It can also refer to male genitalia.
M “adversaries” = 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.
N “stumble” = kashal. This is to stumble, fail, be weak or decayed, be overthrown, to totter. It can refer to weak legs or ankles so it is falter, faint, or fall.

Though an armyO encampP against me,
    my heartQ shall not fear;R

Notes on verse 3a

O “army” = machaneh. Related to “encamp” in v3. From chanah (see note P below). This is an encampment, whether of people traveling together or soldiers. So, it can be a camp band, or company as well as an army of soldiers. Also can be used of other groups like animals, angels or stars.
P “encamp” = chanah. This is decline, bending down, or living in tents. It can be camping to create a home or camping as a part of battle.
Q “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.
R “fear” = yare. Same as “fear” in v1. See note E above.

though warS rise upT against me,
    yet I will be confident.U

Notes on verse 3b

S “war” = milchamah. From lacham (to eat or feed on; figuratively, to battle as a kind of consumption/destruction). This is battle, war, fighting, or one who fights (i.e. a warrior).
T “rise up” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.
U “be confident” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.

One thing I askedV of the Lord,
    that will I seekW after:
to liveX in the houseY of the Lord
    all the days of my life,

Notes on verse 4a

V “asked” = shaal. This is to ask, inquire, beg, borrow, desire, request. It can also mean to demand.
W “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.
X “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.
Y “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.

to beholdZ the beautyAA of the Lord,
    and to inquireBB in his temple.CC

Notes on verse 4b

Z “behold” = chazah. This is to gaze at – to see or behold. It can also refer to perceiving as a mental process or looking at something with pleasure. It can be used particularly to mean seeing a vision.
AA “beauty” = noam. 7x in OT. From naem (to be pleasant, beautiful, sweet, or agreeable in a literal or figurative sense) This is pleasantness, beauty, favor, agreeableness, delight, splendor, or grace.
BB “inquire” = baqar. 7x in OT. This is to plow or break forth. Figuratively, it is to inquire, inspect, seek out, admire, or consider.
CC “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.

For he will hideDD me in his shelterEE
    in the day of trouble;FF

Notes on verse 5a

DD “hide” = tsaphan. This is to hide something by covering it. It implies hoarding or keeping something in reserve. It can mean to protect or to lurk.
EE “shelter” = sok. 4x in OT. From sakak (to interweave, knit). This is a lair, thicket, den, or hiding place. It could also be a den or pavilion as made of intertwined boughs.
FF “trouble” = ra’. From ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is bad, disagreeable, that which causes pain, misery, something having little or no value, something that is ethically bad, wicked, injury, calamity. This refers to anything that is not what it ought to be – a natural disaster, a disfigurement, an injury, a sin.

he will concealGG me under the coverHH of his tent;II
    he will set me highJJ on a rock.KK

Notes on verse 5b

GG “conceal” = sathar. This is hide, conceal, or be absent. It is hiding because something is covered – used in a literal or figurative sense.
HH “cover” = sether. Related to “conceal” in v5. From sathar (see note GG above). This is covering, shelter, protection, hiding place. It can be hidden by a mountain, by clouds, in the womb, in a matter of secrecy, through slander, or of nations.
II “tent” = ohel. Perhaps from ahal (to shine, be clear). This is a tent, covering, home, or side pillar.
JJ “set…high” = rum. This is to rise or raise, to be high literally or figuratively. So it can also mean to exalt or extol.
KK “rock” = tsur. Perhaps 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.

Now my head is lifted upLL
    above my enemies all aroundMM me,
and I will offerNN in his tent
    sacrificesOO with shouts of joy;PP
I will sing and make melodyQQ to the Lord.

Notes on verse 6

LL “lifted up” = rum. Same as “set…high” in v5. See note JJ above.
MM “all around” = sabib. From sabab (turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch; to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense). This is a circuit or a circle. It could refer to an environment, one’s neighbors, or a circular path round about.
NN “offer” = zabach. This is slaughtering an animal, generally for the purpose of sacrifice. It can mean kill or offer.
OO “sacrifices” = zebach. Related to “offer” in v6. From zabach (see note NN above). This is a slaughter – literally of an animal. So, it implies the act or the animals used in sacrifice. Further, it can mean offering.
PP “shouts of joy” = teruah. From rua (to break or destroy something so figuratively, an ear splitting sound such as a call of alarm or a joyful sound). This is an alarm, trumpet sound, battle cry, rejoicing, joyful shout, or jubilee.
QQ “make melody” = zamar. Perhaps from zamar (to trim or prune). This is making music. It is used specially of music to worship God. So, music with singing, singing praise, or singing psalms.

Hear,RR O Lord, when I crySS aloud,TT
    be graciousUU to me and answerVV me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”WW
    Your face, Lord, do I seek.

Notes on verses 7-8

RR “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.
SS “cry” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
TT “aloud” = 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.
UU “be gracious” = chanan. This is to beseech, show favor, be gracious. Properly, it is to bend in kindness to someone with less status.
VV “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.
WW “face” = 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.

    Do not hide your face from me.
Do not turn your servantXX awayYY in anger,ZZ
    you who have been my help.AAA

Notes on verse 9a

XX “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.
YY “turn…away” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
ZZ “anger” = aph. From anaph (to be angry; properly, breathing hard as a signifier of being enraged). This properly refers to the nose or nostril and by extension the face. It can specifically refer to anger or wrath as one breathes hard and nostrils flare in times of great anger.
AAA “help” = ezrah. From ezer (help, aid, helper); from azar (to help, protect, support, ally; properly, to surround so as to provide aid). This is help, helper, support.

Do not cast me off,BBB do not forsakeCCC me,
    O GodDDD of my salvation!
10 If my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will take me up.EEE

Notes on verses 9b-10

BBB “cast…off” = natash. Properly, this is to beat or pound as when something is beaten in order to expand or disperse. It can be leave, abandon, allow, neglect, spread, fall, or thrust out.
CCC “forsake” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.
DDD “God” = Elohim.
EEE “take…up” = asaph. This is to gather, assemble, or bring. It can also mean to take away, destroy, or remove.

11 TeachFFF me your way,GGG O Lord,
    and leadHHH me on a levelIII pathJJJ
    because of my enemies.KKK

Notes on verse 11

FFF “teach” = yarah. This is to throw, shoot, be stunned. It is to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach. This is the same root that “Jerusalem” and “Torah” draw from.
GGG “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.
HHH “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.”
III “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.
JJJ “path” = orach. From arach (to go, travel, wander). This is a road that is widely used, highway, caravan, traveler, troop.
KKK “enemies” = sharar. 5x in OT. Related to shorer (foe, a treacherous watcher); from shur (to behold, see, watch, perceive; to spy out, lie in wait, lurk for; can also be to care for). This is an enemy or watcher.

12 Do not give me up to the willLLL of my adversaries,
    for falseMMM witnessesNNN have risen against me,
    and they are breathing outOOO violence.PPP

Notes on verse 12

LLL “will” = 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.
MMM “false” = sheqer. Perhaps related to shaqar (to lie, cheat, deal falsely – usually refers to words). This is deception, lie, or disappointment. It can also be something that is vain or wrongfully.
NNN “witnesses” = ed. From ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is a witness, testimony, or one who records testimony. It can also refer to a prince.
OOO “breathing out” = yapheach. 1x in OT. Form yaphach (to breath, gasp, sigh, bewail). This is puffing, breathing, or meditating.
PPP “violence” = chamas. From chamas (to violate, do violence, to wrong; implies mistreatment). This is violence, cruelty, damage, wrong, injustice, or unrighteous. Violence implies a wrong done. The term is also used to describe unjust gain.

13 I believeQQQ that I shall seeRRR the goodnessSSS of the Lord
    in the landTTT of the living.

Notes on verse 13

QQQ “believe” = aman. This is to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful. It is to put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid. This is where the word “amen” comes from.
RRR “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
SSS “goodness” = tub. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is goodness, gladness, something that is good. It can also be beauty, welfare, or joy.
TTT “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

14 WaitUUU for the Lord;
    be strong,VVV and let your heart take courage;WWW
    wait for the Lord!

Notes on verse 14

UUU “wait” = qavah. It can mean to bind or gather together, especially in the sense of twisting together. In that light, it can mean collect. Figuratively, this can mean to wait, await, expect, or tarry.
VVV “be strong” = chazaq. This is to strengthen, seize, be courageous, repair, bind, heal, conquer, harden.
WWW “take courage” = amets. This is to be strong, stout, alert, or bold, It can also mean harden, make firm, be courageous or mighty, fortify, or establish. It can refer to physical alertness or mental courage or steadfastness.

Image credit: “The Jerusalem Hills. Sunset” in Israel by Alexander Shchukin, 2010.

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