Psalm 41:1-4, 12-13
A Women’s Lectionary – Second Sunday of Easter
To the leader.A A PsalmB of David.C
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.”
1 HappyD are those who considerE the poor;F
D “happy” = esher. From ashar (to go straight, lead, guide; to be level and so to be right, blessed, honest, happy). This is happy or blessedness.
E “consider” = sakal. This is to consider or be prudent and so it can mean to instruct or be an expert. It can also mean dealing prudently, which implies success and prospering. This verb presumes intelligence of the subject. In one form of the verb, it can mean laying cross-wise.
F “poor” = dal. From dalal (to be low, hang, fade, be emptied, become poor, be oppressed). This is lean, weak, needy, poor. Properly, it is one who is dangling.
the LordG deliversH them in the dayI of trouble.J
G “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.
H “delivers” = malat. This is to be smooth, which implies to escape as slipping away from. It can also be release, rescue, deliver, or preserve. It can be used specifically to meaning giving birth or making sparks.
I “day” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
J “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.
2 The Lord protectsK them and keeps them alive;L
they are called happyM in the land.N
You do not give them upO to the willP of their enemies.Q
K “protects” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
L “keeps…alive” = chayah. This is to live or keep alive in a literal or figurative sense. So, it an be revive, nourish, or save.
M “called happy” = ashar. Related to “happy” in v1. 16x in OT. See note D above.
N “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
O “give…up” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
P “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.
Q “enemies” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.
3 The Lord sustainsR them on their sickbed;S
in their illnessT you healU allV their infirmities.W
R “sustains” = saad. 12x in OT. This is to support – usually used in a figurative sense. So it is sustain, hold, refresh, comfort, establish.
S “sickbed” = eres + devay. Eres is 10x in OT. Root may refer to an arch. So, this would be a couch or bed that has a canopy. Devay is 2x in OT. From daveh (faint, ill, sick from menstruation); from davah (to be sick). This is illness, languishing, loathsome.
T “illness” = choli. From chalah (properly, this is to be worn; hence, being weak, sick, or afflicted; it can also mean to grieve or, positively, to flatter or entreat). This is sickness, affliction, grief, worry, or calamity.
U “heal” = haphak. This is to turn, overturn, change, return, turn over, pervert.
V “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
W “infirmities” = mishkab. From shakab (to lie down, lodge; lying for sleep, sex, or other reasons). This is a place where one lies down i.e. a bed, couch, or bedchamber. It can also be used in an abstract sense to refer to sleep or euphemistically for sex.
4 As for me, I said, “O Lord, be graciousX to me;
healY me,Z for I have sinnedAA against you.”
X “be gracious” = chanan. This is to beseech, show favor, be gracious. Properly, it is to bend in kindness to someone with less status.
Y “heal” = rapha. Properly, this is to repair by stitching – figuratively this means to heal or cure. It can also mean to make whole.
Z “me” = nephesh. Same as “will” in v2. See note P above.
AA “sinned” = chata. This is properly to miss, and so figuratively it is used for sinning, bearing the blame. It implies a forfeiture or loss of something.
12 But you have upheldBB me because of my integrity,CC
and setDD me in your presenceEE forever.FF
BB “upheld” = tamak. This is to sustain, support, maintain, grasp. Figuratively, it can be to help or uphold.
CC “integrity” = tom. From tamam (to finish or accomplish; to make perfect, demonstrate that you are upright; consume; to complete in a literal or figurative sense). This is completeness or full measure. So, it can be blameless, moral innocence, prosperity, or integrity. Also used to refer to a portion of the high priest’s breastplate.
DD “set” = natsab. This is to station, appoint, establish, take a stand.
EE “presence” = 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.
FF “forever” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
13 Blessed beGG the Lord, the GodHH of Israel,II
from everlastingJJ to everlasting.
AmenKK and Amen.
GG “blessed be” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.
HH “God” = Elohim.
II “Israel” = Yisrael. Related to “God” in v13. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (see note HH above). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
JJ “everlasting” = olam. Same as “forever” in v12. See note FF above.
KK “amen” = amen. 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. Properly, it is to be sure, certain, or firm. This is a word of emphasis indicating that something crucial follows.
Image credit: “A Desperately Unhappy Woman Cradling her Sick Child” by T.A. Steinlen, 1902.