Psalm 46

Psalm 46


To the leader.A Of the Korahites.B According to Alamoth.C A Song.

Notes on superscript

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 “Korahites” = ben + Qorach. Literally “sons of Korah.” Ben is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Qorach is from qarach (to shave bald, perhaps freeze). This is Korah, perhaps meaning “ice.”
C “Alamoth” = alamoth. 2x in OT. From almah (young woman or girl; a maid as one who is veiled; by extension, virgin since a girl/young woman was presumed to be a virgin); from elem (youth, lad, stripling; something that remains out of view); perhaps from alam (to hide, conceal, a dissembler; to conceal in a literal or figurative sense). This is Alamoth, perhaps referring to girls or sopranos. It could mean falsetto.

GodD is our refugeE and strength,F
    a very presentG helpH in trouble.I

Notes on verse 1

D “God” = Elohim.
E “refuge” = machaseh. From chasah (to take refuge or flee for protection; figuratively, to hope or trust in someone or something). This is a shelter in a literal or figurative sense. It is refuge or place of refuge. It could also be hope or trust.
F “strength” = oz. From azaz (to be strong, become fixed, be bold, prevail, be impudent; it means to be stout literally or figuratively. A Late Hebrew word). This is strength in the sense of force, majesty, praise, material and physical strength, the abstract notion of security. It can also speak of social or political power.
G “present” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
H “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.
I “trouble” = tsarah. From tsar (properly, a narrow or constricted place; figuratively, trouble, a pebble, an enemy, anguish, or distress); from tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). This is tightness, distress, affliction, trouble, or adversary.

Therefore we will not fear,J though the earthK should change,L
    though the mountains shakeM in the heartN of the sea;O

Notes on verse 2

J “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.
K “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
L “change” = mur. 15x in OT. This is to change, substitute, stand by, alter, remove.
M “shake” = mot. This is to shake, slip, falter, stagger, move, fall, give way, waver, be carried.
N “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.
O “sea” = yam. Root may mean to roar. This is the sea, often referring to the Mediterranean. It comes from the root in the sense of the roar of crashing surf. This word is sometimes used for rivers or other sources of water. It can mean to the west or to the south.

though its watersP roarQ and foam,R
    though the mountains trembleS with its tumult.T SelahU

Notes on verse 3

P “waters” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
Q “roar” = hamah. This is to growl or roar, be disturbed, mourn, yearn. It is being noisy so it can imply tumult, rage, war.
R “foam” = chamar. 6x in OT – including plastering Moses’s basket with bitumen and pitch in Exodus 2:3. This is to boil up, ferment, be red, befoul, trouble, daub with pitch.
S “tremble” = raash. This is to quake, shake, tremble, shake from fear; leap like a locust.
T “tumult” = 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.
U “Selah” = selah. From salal (to lift up, build, pile, extol, exalt; can also be used for opposing as a dam holds back water). This is to lift up or exalt. Also, “selah” in the psalms where its precise meaning is uncertain. It could be a pause in the music, a moment of silence. It could signal a change in the service or mean something akin to amen.

There is a riverV whose streamsW make gladX the cityY of God,

Notes on verse 4a

V “river” = nahar. From nahar (to flow, sparkle, be cheerful). This is a stream, river, or flood. Particularly used for the Nile or Euphrates. Figuratively, this can mean prosperity.
W “streams” = peleg. 10x in OT. This is a channel, canal, or streamlet. It can be a small stream of water used to irrigate plants.
X “make glad” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
Y “city” = iyr. From uwr (to awaken or wake oneself up). This can mean excitement in the sense of wakefulness or city. Properly, this is a place that is guarded. Guards kept schedules according to watches. This sense of the word would include cities as well as encampments or posts that were guarded.

    the holyZ habitationAA of the Most High.BB

Notes on verse 4b

Z “holy” = qadosh. From qodesh (set apart and so sacred; God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart; things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy); related to qadash (set apart, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified; something or someone set apart for a holy purpose or use – ceremonially or morally clean). This is sacred or holy in a ritual or moral sense. As a noun, it refers to a holy one (like a saint or angel), a holy place (the sanctuary), or God (the Holy One).
AA “habitation” = mishkan. From shakan (to settle down in the sense of residing somewhere or staying there permanently; to abide or continue). This is a place where one lives – a tabernacle, tent, or other kind of dwelling. It can also be a lair where animals live, the grave, the Temple, or the Tabernacle.
BB “Most High” = Elyon. From alah (to go up, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense). This is most high, upper. It refers to elevation – so, lofty.

God is in the midstCC of the city; it shall not be moved;DD
    God will helpEE it when the morningFF dawns.GG

Notes on verse 5

CC “midst” = qirbah. Perhaps from qarab (to come near, offer, make ready). This is inward part, heart, among, before, the center. It can be literal or figurative – house, city, mental or emotional faculty, entrails in animal sacrifice.
DD “moved” = mot. Same as “shake” in v2. See note M above.
EE “help” = azar. Related to “help” in v1. See note H above.
FF “morning” = boqer. From baqar (to seek, plow, break forth, admire, care for). This refers to the break of day. So it is dawn, early, morning, or morrow.
GG “dawns” = panah. This is to turn, regard, appear, look, prepare.

The nationsHH are in an uproar,II the kingdomsJJ totter;KK

Notes on verse 6a

HH “nations” = goy. Related to “tumult” in v3. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (see note T above). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.
II “are in an uproar” = hamah. Same as “roar” in v3. See note Q above.
JJ “kingdoms” = mamlakah. From the same as melek (king, royal). This is kingdom, dominion, sovereignty, rule. It can also refer to the realm.
KK “totter” = mot. Same as “shake” in v2. See note M above.

    he uttersLL his voice,MM the earth melts.NN

Notes on verse 6b

LL “utters” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
MM “voice” = 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.
NN “melts” = mug. 17x in OT. This is to let, dissolve, soften, flow. It can also mean to fear, dishearten, be faint, or disappear.

The LordOO of hostsPP is with us;
    the God of JacobQQ is our refuge.RR Selah

Notes on verse 7

OO “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.
PP “hosts” = tsaba. From tsaba (to wage war, serve, assemble, fight, perform, muster, wait on). This is a large group of persons (used figuratively for a group of things). It implies a campaign literally as with army, war, warfare, battle, company, soldiers. Can also be used figuratively for hardship or for worship.
QQ “Jacob” = Yaaqob. From the same as aqeb (heel, hind part, hoof, rear guard of an army, one who lies in wait, usurper). This is Isaac’s son and his descendants. The name means heel-catcher or supplanter.
RR “refuge” = msgab. 17x in OT. From sagab (raise, lifted, high, secure on high, excellent, strong; literal and figurative). This is a high or inaccessible location. Abstractly, it can be altitude. Concretely it is a cliff or height. Figuratively, it is a refuge or stronghold – a high fort or tower. There is also a place called Misgab in Moab.

Come,SS beholdTT the worksUU of the Lord;
    see what desolationsVV he has broughtWW on the earth.

Notes on verse 8

SS “come” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
TT “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.
UU “works” = miph’al. 3x in OT. From pa’al (to do, make, work, or accomplish; generally refers to regularly repeated or systematic action – to practice). This is work, deed, something manufactured, thing.
VV “desolations” = shammah. From shamem (to be appalled, astonished; to stun or devastate, be destitute). This is desolation, horror, dismay, waste, astonishment.
WW “brought” = sim. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.

He makes warsXX ceaseYY to the endZZ of the earth;

Notes on verse 9a

XX “wars” = 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).
YY “makes…cease” = shabath. This is to rest, stop, repose, cease working. It implies to celebrate (as celebrating the Sabbath).
ZZ “end” = qatseh. From qatsah (to cut off, cut short; figuratively, to destroy). This is end, brink, border, edge, frontier. It can refer to that which is within set boundaries.

    he breaksAAA the bow,BBB and shattersCCC the spear;DDD
    he burnsEEE the shieldsFFF with fire.

Notes on verse 9b

AAA “breaks” = shabar. This is break, collapse, destroy, break in pieces, tear. It is bursting in a literal or figurative sense.
BBB “bow” = qeshet. Perhaps from qush (to set a trap, lure, ensnare) OR from qashah (to be fierce, cruel, dense, tough, severe). This is a bow, arrow, or archer. Bow can be used figuratively for strength.
CCC “shatters” = qatsats. 14x in OT. This is to cut or chop off in a literal or figurative sense. It an also be to cut in pieces.
DDD “spear” = chanith. From chanah (to decline, bending down, or living in tents; can be camping to create a home or camping as a part of battle). This is a spear or lance as a weapon that is thrust in the same way one pitches a tent.
EEE “burns” = saraph. This is to burn or kindle. This is the root that “seraphim” comes from.
FFF “shields” = agalah. From the same as egel (male calf as one that frisks about; often one that is almost grown up); may be from the same as agol (round, circular – root meaning revolve). This is something that turns like a cart or chariot – a vehicle with wheels.

10 “Be still,GGG and knowHHH that I am God!
    I am exaltedIII among the nations,
    I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Notes on verses 10-11

GGG “be still” = raphah. This is to slacken in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be to hang, be feeble, fail, drop, be helpless, relax, slink, subside, or wait.
HHH “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.
III “exalted” = rum. This is to rise or raise, to be high literally or figuratively. So it can also mean to exalt or extol.

Image credit: “Dead Sea at Dusk from Mövenpick, Jordan” by Arwcheek, 2010.

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