Psalm 31:9-16

Psalm 31:9-16
Passion Sunday C20


Be graciousA to me, O Lord,B for I am in distress;C

Notes on verse 9a

A “be gracious” = chanan. This is to beseech, show favor, be gracious. Properly, it is to bend in kindness to someone with less status.
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 “am in distress” = tsarar. This is to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary.

    my eyeD wastes awayE from grief,F
    my soulG and bodyH also.

Notes on verse 9b

D “eye” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
E “wastes away” = ashesh. 3x in OT– used only in the psalms for eyes and bones wasting away. This is to shrink or waste away. By analogy, this would be to fail or be consumed.
F “grief” = ka’as. From ka’as (to be angry, trouble, provoke, spite, grieve, have sorrow). This is vexation or anger.
G “soul” = 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.
H “body” = beten. Root may mean to be hollow. This is the belly or womb. It can also refer to a body more broadly.

10 For my lifeI is spentJ with sorrow,K
    and my yearsL with sighing;M

Notes on verse 10a

I “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.
J “spent” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.
K “sorrow” = yagon. 14x in OT. From yagah (to suffer, grieve, afflict). This is grief or sorrow.
L “years” = shanah. From shana (to change, alter). This is a year, age, old. It can also mean yearly.
M “sighing” = anachah. 11x in OT. From anach (to sigh, groan, or mourn). This is sighing or groaning.

my strengthN failsO because of my misery,P
    and my bonesQ waste away.

Notes on verse 10b

N “strength” = koach. Root may mean to be firm. This is power, strength, force. It can be literal or figurative, positive or negative. It can also mean capacity or means – what something produces. Additionally, it could refer to some kind of small reptile.
O “fails” = 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.
P “misery” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.
Q “bones” = etsem. From atsam (vast, numerous, strong; to close one’s eyes, to make powerful; to break bones). This is self, life, strength, bone, or substance.

11 I amR the scornS of allT my adversaries,U
    a horrorV to my neighbors,W

Notes on verse 11a

R “am” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v9. See note B above.
S “scorn” = cherpah. From charaph (to expose and so figuratively to reproach, defame, carp at, defy). This is reproach, rebuke, shame, or disgrace. It can also refer to genitals.
T “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
U “adversaries” = tsarar. Same as “am in distress” in v9. See note C above.
V “horror” = meod. Perhaps from the same as uwd (firebrand, a poker). This is very, greatly, exceedingly. It can also mean vehemence, force, abundance.
W “neighbors” = shaken. From shakan (to settle down in the sense of residing somewhere or staying there permanently; to abide or continue). This is resident or neighbor. It is related to mishkan, the Hebrew word for “tabernacle.”

an object of dreadX to my acquaintances;Y
    those who seeZ me in the streetAA fleeBB from me.

Notes on verse 11b

X “object of dread” = pachad. From pachad (to dread, be afraid, thrill, be in awe; feeling startled from a sudden sound or alarm). This is dread, fear, awe, panic. It can also refer to what someone fears or dreads.
Y “acquaintances” = 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.
Z “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
AA “street” = chuts. Root may mean to sever. So, this is something that is separated by a wall – the outside, the street, a field, highway, or abroad.
BB “flee” = nadad. This is to wave back and forth. Figuratively, it is to flee, stray, flutter chase away, shake, or shrink. It can also refer to a fugitive.

12 I have passedCC out of mindDD like one who is dead;EE
    I have becomeFF like a brokenGG vessel.HH

Notes on verse 12

CC “passed” = shakach. This is to forget because of not remembering something or not paying attention to it. It can also mean to mislay.
DD “mind” = 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.
EE “dead” = mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body.
FF “become” = hayah. Same as “am” in v11. See note R above.
GG “broken” = abad. To wander off, lose self. This implies to perish, destroy, die, vanish, or be broken or corrupt.
HH “vessel” = keli. Related to “spent” in v10. This is something that was prepared – any implement, utensil, article, vessel, weapon, or instrument. Also includes jewels, weapons, bags, carriages, and furniture.

13 For I hearII the whisperingJJ of manyKK
    terrorLL all around!MM

Notes on verse 13a

II “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.
JJ “whispering” = dibbah. 9x in OT. From dabab (to glide, flow gently, move slowly, speak). This is flowing so it can mean whispering, bad report, slander, or infamy.
KK “many” = rab. From rabab (increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.). This is abundance, many, elder, exceedingly, great. It refers to abundance of amount, rank, or status.
LL “terror” = magor. 8x in OT. From gur (to quarrel, stir, attack). This is fear, panic, or terror.
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.

as they schemeNN togetherOO against me,
    as they plotPP to takeQQ my life.RR

Notes on verse 13b

NN “scheme” = yasad. This is to establish, appoint, instruct. It is to set in a literal or figurative sense. Also means to sit down together and so to consult or take counsel.
OO “together” = yachad. From yachad (to join, be united). This is a unit, both, altogether, unitedness, alike.
PP “plot” = zamam. 13x in OT. This is to devise, plot, imagine, intend, scheme, think evil. It is usually used in an evil sense.
QQ “take” = laqach. This is to take, accept, carry away, receive. It can also have the sense of take a wife or take in marriage.
RR “life” = nephesh. Same as “soul” in v9. See note G above.

14 But I trustSS in you, O Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”TT
15 My timesUU are in your hand;VV

Notes on verses 14-15a

SS “trust” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.
TT “God” = Elohim.
UU “times” = eth. Probably from anah (to answer, sing, announce); 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.
VV “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.

    deliverWW me from the hand of my enemiesXX and persecutors.YY

Notes on verse 15b

WW “deliver” = 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.
XX “enemies” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.
YY “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 faceZZ shineAAA upon your servant;BBB
    saveCCC me in your steadfast love.DDD

Notes on verse 16

ZZ “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.
AAA “shine” = or. This is to light, shine, set on fire – to be luminous in a literal or figurative sense.
BBB “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.
CCC “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.
DDD “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: “Melancholy (The Reinhardt Frieze)” by Edvard Munch, 1906-1907.

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