Psalm 36:5-11

Psalm 36:5-11
Monday of Holy Week ABC


Your steadfast love,A O Lord,B extends to the heavens,C
    your faithfulnessD to the clouds.E

Notes on verse 5

A “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.
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 “heavens” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.
D “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.”
E “clouds” = shachaq. From shachaq (to rub off, wear away, pulverize). This is powder, dust, vapor. It can also refer to the sky or a cloud.

Your righteousnessF is like the mightyG mountains,H

Notes on verse 6a

F “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.
G “mighty” = el. This can refer to God of a god. It can also refer to power, an idol, or one that is powerful.
H “mountains” = harar. 12x in OT. From the same as har (mountain, hill, hilly region). This is hill or mountain.

    your judgmentsI are like the greatJ deep;K

Notes on verse 6b

I “judgments” = 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.
J “great” = 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.
K “deep” = tehom. Perhaps from hum (to roar, murmur, cause an uproar, agitate; to defeat in battle, destroy). This is the deep or the abyss. Either understood as a formless empty place of nothingness or as a place of confusion filled with water – the deep the feeds the waters of the earth.

    you saveL humansM and animalsN alike, O Lord.

Notes on verse 6c

L “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.
M “humans” = adam. Perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
N “animals” = behemah. This is animal or cattle. It is often used of large quadrupeds.

How preciousO is your steadfast love, O God!P
    All peopleQ may take refugeR in the shadowS of your wings.T

Notes on verse 7

O “precious” = yaqar. From yaqar (to be precious, costly, rare, valued; properly, to be heavy; figuratively, valuable or inhibit). This is precious, splendid, noble, weighty, or rare. It is valuable in a subjective or objective sense.
P “God” = Elohim. Related to “mighty” in v6. See note G above.
Q “people” = ben + adam. Literally, “children of humanity.” Ben is from banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Adam is the same as “humans” in v6. See note M above.
R “take refuge” = chasah. This is to take refuge or flee for protection. Figuratively, it means to hope or trust in someone or something.
S “shadow” = tsel. From tsalal (to be or become dark, shade; this is the shade as during twilight or shadow as associated with something opaque). This is shade in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be shadow, shade, protection, shelter, or defense.
T “wings” = kanaph. This is wing, edge, corner, extremity. It can also be a flap or fold of a garment or the pinnacle of a building.

They feastU on the abundanceV of your house,W

Notes on verse 8a

U “feast” = ravah. 14x in OT. This is to have one’s thirst satisfied (or figuratively other cravings). It can also mean to soak, water, or satisfy.
V “abundance” = deshen. 15x in OT. From dashen (to be fat, become greasy, be anointed or prosperous; can also mean to remove ashes from the fat offered for sacrifice). This is the ashes from that fat, fatness more broadly speaking, or, figuratively abundance.
W “house” = bayit. Related to “people” in v7. Probably from banah (see note Q above). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.

    and you give them drinkX from the riverY of your delights.Z

Notes on verse 8b

X “give…drink” = shaqah. This is to give water to, to cause to drink – to irrigate, drown. It can be used for watering plants or giving water to flocks.
Y “river” = 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.
Z “delights” = eden. 5x in OT. From adan (to luxuriate, revel; also, to be pleasant or soft). This is delicate, luxury, or a delight.

For with you is the fountainAA of life;BB
    in your lightCC we seeDD light.

Notes on verse 9

AA “fountain” = maqor. 18x in OT. From qur (to dig, destroy, wall up). This is a spring or fountain. Properly, it is a site that was dug and so it is used for a wellspring. It also refers to natural water sources. It can be used of tears, blood, female genitalia. Figuratively, it can be offspring, posterity, wisdom, or happiness.
BB “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.
CC “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.
DD “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.

10 O continueEE your steadfast love to those who knowFF you,
    and your salvationGG to the uprightHH of heart!II

Notes on verse 10

EE “continue” = mashak. This is to draw, drag, or pull. It can mean sow, march, remove, draw along, continue, extend, or prolong.
FF “know” = 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.
GG “salvation” = tsedaqah. Same as “righteousness” in v6. See note F above.
HH “upright” = yashar. From yashar (to be straight, right, even, smooth, or agreeable; figuratively, to make something pleasant or prosperous). This is straight, right, level. Also, it is pleasing, whether pleasing God or pleasing other people. So, it is upright or righteous.
II “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.

11 Do not let the footJJ of the arrogantKK treadLL on me,

Notes on verse 11a

JJ “foot” = regel. This is foot, endurance, or journey. It is a foot as the means of walking and so it implies a step or a greater journey. It can be used euphemistically for private parts.
KK “arrogant” = gaavah. 19x in OT. From gaah (to rise up, be exalted, triumph; figuratively, be majestic). This is majesty, excellency, pride, or arrogance. It can also mean ornament.
LL “tread” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.

    or the handMM of the wickedNN drive me away.OO

Notes on verse 11b

MM “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.
NN “wicked” = rasha. This is morally wrong so it refers to someone who is actively bad as wicked, criminal, an evil person, offender, condemned, or ungodly. This is morally wrong so it refers to someone who is actively bad as wicked, criminal, an evil person, offender, condemned, or ungodly.
OO “drive…away” = nud. This is to nod, waver, wander, flee, show grief, disappear. It can be nodding the head as a sign of sympathy or consolation. It could also be tossing one’s head to show contempt or to taunt.

Image credit: “Fountain & Lights” by Thomas Cizauskas, 2011.

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