Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
Fifth Sunday of Easter A
To the leader.A A PsalmB of David.C
1 In you, O Lord,D I seek refuge;E
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 “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.
C “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.”
D “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.
E “seek refuge” = chasah. This is to take refuge or flee for protection. Figuratively, it means to hope or trust in someone or something.
do not let me everF be put to shame;G
in your righteousnessH deliverI me.
F “ever” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
G “be put to shame” = bosh. Properly, this means to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion.
H “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.
I “deliver” = palat. This is to escape, slip out, deliver, carry away, or calve.
2 InclineJ your earK to me;
rescueL me speedily.M
J “incline” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
K “ear” = ozen. This is ear, hearing, audience, show. Properly, it is broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape.
L “rescue” = 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.
M “speedily” = meherah. From mahar (being liquid, which implies flowing; hurrying forward, whether in a positive or negative sense). This is speed, quickly, shortly, promptly.
BeN a rockO of refugeP for me,
N “be” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v1. See note D above.
O “rock” = tsur. 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.
P “refuge” = 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.
a strongQ fortressR to saveS me.
Q “strong” = 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.
R “fortress” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
S “save” = 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.
3 You are indeed my rockT and my fortress;
for your name’sU sakeV leadW me and guideX me;
T “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.
U “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.
V “sake” = maan. From anah (to answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify; to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk; singing, shouting, testifying, etc.). This is because of, occurring because of a motive or purpose.
W “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.”
X “guide” = nahal. 10x in OT. This is leading or guiding – specifically to a resting place or somewhere where there is water. So, it can mean to refresh or feed, protect or sustain. The word itself carries a sense of flowing, sparkling water. This is the word used in Psalm 23 “he leads me beside still waters.”
4 take me outY of the netZ that is hiddenAA for me,
for you are my refuge.
Y “take…out” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
Z “net” = resheth. From yarash (inheriting or dispossessing; refers to occupying or colonizing – taking territory by driving out the previous inhabitants and living there instead of them; by implication, to seize or rob, to expel, ruin, or impoverish). This is a net used to capture animals.
AA “is hidden” = taman. This is to hide, bury, keep in reserve. It is hiding something by covering it.
5 Into your handBB I commitCC my spirit;DD
BB “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.
CC “commit” = paqad. This is to attend to or visit – can be used for a friendly or violent encounter. So, it can be to oversee, care for, avenge, or charge.
DD “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.
you have redeemedEE me, O Lord, faithfulFF God.GG
EE “redeemed” = padah. This is to sever, which is to say to ransom. To secure someone’s release (by paying their debt to free them from slavery) and thus redeem, rescue, deliver, preserve. Can also be the redemption price.
FF “faithful” = emet. 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 is firmness or stability. Figuratively, it is faithfulness, truth, or trustworthiness. This is the same root that “amen” comes from.
GG “God” = El. This is God or a god.
15 My timesHH are in your hand;
deliverII me from the hand of my enemiesJJ and persecutors.KK
HH “times” = et. Related to “sake” in v3. Probably from anah (see note V above); from ad (forever, all, old); from adah (to pass on, advance, decorate oneself). This is a period or season. It can also mean whenever or continually.
II “deliver” = natsal. Same as “rescue” in v2. See note L above.
JJ “enemies” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.
KK “persecutors” = radaph. This is to chase after, pursue, hunt, or persecute. It is running after someone or something, generally with hostile motives.
16 Let your faceLL shineMM upon your servant;NN
save me in your steadfast love.OO
LL “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.
MM “shine” = or. This is to light, shine, set on fire – to be luminous in a literal or figurative sense.
NN “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.
OO “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.
Image credit: “Waterfall Cave” by Amaury Laporte, 2004.