Psalm 59

Psalm 59


To the leader:A Do Not Destroy.B Of David.C A Miktam,D

Notes on superscript-a

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 “Do Not Destroy” = al-tashcheth. 4x in OT. From al (not, never, nothing) + shachath (to go to ruin, perish, decay, batter, cast off, lose, one who destroys; literal or figurative). This is “Do Not Destroy,” probably the beginning words of a well known song whose melody was used for four different psalms.
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 “Miktam” = Miktam. 6x in OT. Perhaps from katham (to carve, mark, stain). This is Miktam, which is some kind of technical term in the Psalms, but its meaning is uncertain. It may mean engraving – a way to refer to a poem.

when SaulE orderedF his houseG to be watchedH in order to killI him.

Notes on superscript-b

E “Saul” = Shaul. From shaal (to ask, inquire, beg, borrow, desire, request; can also mean demand). This is Saul or Shaul, meaning “asked of the Lord.”
F “ordered” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
G “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
H “watched” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
I “kill” = mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body.

DeliverJ me from my enemies,K O my God;L
    protectM me from those who rise upN against me.

Notes on verse 1

J “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.
K “enemies” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.
L “God” = Elohim.
M “protect” = sagab. This is to raise, lifted, high, set secure on high, excellent, or strong. It is inaccessibly high in a literal and figurative sense. It implies something that is safe and, therefore, something that is strong.
N “rise up” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.

Deliver me from those who workO evil;P
    from the bloodthirstyQ saveR me.

Notes on verse 2

O “work” = paal. This is to do, make, work, or accomplish. Generally refers to regularly repeated or systematic action – so, to practice.
P “evil” = aven. Root may mean panting as one does when expending a lot of energy, especially when it comes to nothing. This is nothingness, trouble, sorrow, distress, wickedness, evil, harm, sorrow, misfortune, and mischief. It is also used specifically to refer to idols.
Q “bloodthirsty” = enosh + dam. Literally “men of blood.” Enosh is from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is human, humankind, another. It is mortal. Dam is perhaps from damam (to cease, be or become mute, silent, still, cut off, hold peace, be astonished, die). This is blood, bloodshed, bloodguilt, lifeblood, and death. It is used for people and animals. More often blood from a wound or the blood of the innocent. Used figuratively for violence or for wine. Closely tied to life and death.
R “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.

Even nowS they lie in waitT for my life;U
    the mightyV stir up strifeW against me.

Notes on verse 3a

S {untranslated} = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
T “lie in wait” = arab. This is to lie in wait, lurk, or ambush.
U “life” = 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.
V “mighty” = az. 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 strong or mighty. It can also refer to power or vehemence or mean greedy.
W “stir up strife” = guwr. Properly, this is the act of turning off the road for any reason. So, it means sojourning, becoming a guest. It can mean being fearful since one is outside of home territory. It can also mean dwelling, living, or inhabiting if one has turned off the root to encamp for a longer duration. It can also mean to fear or assemble for hostile purposes. This word is where the Hebrew “ger” comes from, which is the word translated “stranger” or “resident alien.”

For no transgressionX or sinY of mine, O Lord,Z

Notes on verse 3b

X “transgression” = pesha. From pasha (to rebel, offend, quarrel; making a break from proper authority so can also refer to an apostate). This is transgression, rebellion, or sin. It could be a revolt on a national scale or an individual moral one.
Y “sin” = chatta’ah. From chata’ (to miss or go wrong and so to sin, bear the blame; it can also include the sense of forfeiting or lacking). This is sin itself as well as punishment for sin. It is sometimes used specifically to refer to sin that is habitual.
Z “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.

    for no faultAA of mine, they runBB and make ready.CC

Notes on verse 4a

AA “fault” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.
BB “run” = ruts. This is to run or rush, divide quickly, bring swiftly. It can also refer to a footman or guard.
CC “make ready” = kun. Properly, this means in a perpendicular position. So, it is set up in a literal sense – establish, fix, fasten, prepare. In a figurative sense, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous.

RouseDD yourself, come to my helpEE and see!FF

Notes on verse 4b

DD “rouse” = ur. This is to arise, lift, exult, or stir. It is to wake in a literal or figurative sense.
EE “come…help” = qirah. From the same as qara (to happen, meet, bring about). This is any kind of encounter, whether peaceful, hostile, or incidental. It can also mean help or seek.
FF “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.

    You, Lord God of hosts,GG are God of Israel.HH
AwakeII to punishJJ all the nations;KK

Notes on verse 5a

GG “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.
HH “Israel” = Yisrael. Related to “God” in v1. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is 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.
II “awake” = quts. Related to qayits (fruit, harvest, dry season); from quts (summer, clip off). This is arise or watch. It is to awake in a literal or figurative sense.
JJ “punish” = 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.
KK “nations” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). 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.

    spareLL none of those who treacherously plotMM evil. SelahNN

Notes on verse 5b

LL “spare” = chanan. This is to beseech, show favor, be gracious. Properly, it is to bend in kindness to someone with less status.
MM “treacherously plot” = bagad. This is to cover or conceal. Figuratively, it is to act in a covert or treacherous way, to transgress or pillage.
NN “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.

Each evening they come back,OO
    howlingPP like dogs
    and prowling aboutQQ the city.RR

Notes on verse 6

OO “come back” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
PP “howling” = hamah. This is to growl or roar, be disturbed, mourn, yearn. It is being noisy so it can imply tumult, rage, war.
QQ “prowling about” = sabab. This is turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch. It is to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense.
RR “city” = iyr. Related to “rouse” in v4. From ur (see note DD above). 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.

There they are,SS bellowingTT with their mouths,UU
    with sharpVV words on their lipsWW
    for “Who,” they think, “will hearXX us?”

Notes on verse 7

SS {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as {untranslated} in v3. See note S above.
TT “bellowing” = naba. 11x in OT. This is to spring up, flow, gush, or spout. It can also mean to belch as in emitting a bad smell. Figuratively, it can mean to speak, whether positively or negatively.
UU “mouths” = peh. This is mouth in a literal or figurative sense. So, more literally, it can be beak or jaws. More figuratively, it refers to speech, commands, or promises.
VV “sharp” = chereb. From charab (to attack, slay). This is any sharp instrument like a sword, dagger, axe, or mattock.
WW “lips” = saphah. This is lip, edge border, bank – used for a boundary. It can also be speech or language.
XX “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.

But you laughYY at them, O Lord;
    you hold all the nations in derision.ZZ
O my strength,AAA I will watch for you;
    for you, O God, are my fortress.BBB

Notes on verses 8-9

YY “laugh” = sachaq. This is to laugh, celebrate, joke, mock, scorn. This is laughing, whether for joy or scorn. It can imply plays or holding a contest.
ZZ “hold…in derision” = laag. 19x in OT. This is to mock, deride, or laugh. It can also mean to stammer or speak incomprehensibly as though one were imitating a foreigner. So, it can be scorn or mock.
AAA “strength” = oz. Related to “mighty” in v3. From azaz (see note V above). 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.
BBB “fortress” = misgab. Related to “protect” in v1. 17x in OT. From sagab (see note M above). 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.

10 My God in his steadfast loveCCC will meetDDD me;
    my God will let me lookEEE in triumph on my enemies.FFF

Notes on verse 10

CCC “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.
DDD “meet” = qadam. Perhaps from qedem (front, formerly, before, east, eternal, everlasting, antiquity). This is to come in front or be in front and so meet, anticipate, confront, receive, or rise. It sometimes means to meet for help.
EEE “look” = raah. Same as “see” in v4. See note FF above.
FFF “enemies” = sharar. 5x in OT. Related to shorer (foe, a treacherous watcher); from shur (to behold, see, watch, perceive; to spy out, lie in wait, lurk for; can also be to care for). This is an enemy or watcher.

11 Do not killGGG them, or my peopleHHH may forget;III

Notes on verse 11a

GGG “kill” = harag. This is to strike with deadly intent so it can be kill, destroy, murder, or put to death.
HHH “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
III “forget” = shakach. This is to forget or mislay – it is not knowing because of forgetfulness or inattentiveness.

    make them totterJJJ by your power,KKK and bring them down,LLL
    O Lord,MMM our shield.NNN

Notes on verse 11b

JJJ “make…totter” = nua. This is to waver in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be to tremble, quiver, totter. It could also refer to a fugitive.
KKK “power” = chayil. From chul (to be firm, strong, prosperous; to endure). This is strength, wealth, ability, activity. It can refer to soldier or a company of soldiers as well as goods. It is a force of people, means, or goods. It can speak of valor, virtue, or strength.
LLL “bring…down” = yarad. This is to go down, descend; going down in a literal or figurative sense. It can be going to the shore or a boundary, bringing down an enemy.
MMM “Lord” = Adonai. From adon (lord, master, owner); root means to rule or be sovereign. This is the actual Hebrew word for Lord used (in a different form) of humans and (in the present form) of God. It means someone who is in control.
NNN “shield” = magen. From ganan (to surround, cover, defend, protect). This is a shield, defense, or figuratively a protector. It can also be used for a crocodile’s hide.

12 For the sin of their mouths, the wordsOOO of their lips,
    let them be trappedPPP in their pride.QQQ

Notes on verse 12a

OOO “words” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
PPP “trapped” = lakad. This is to capture, seize, or imprison. It is to catch something in a snare or net or trap. It can also mean to occupy of select something by casting lots.
QQQ “pride” = ga’own. Perhaps related to “nations” in v5. From the same as ga’avah (majesty, excellency, pride, arrogance, ornament); from gaah (see note KK above). This is majesty, pride, redemption, pomp, excellency, swelling, or arrogance.

For the cursingRRR and liesSSS that they utter,TTT

Notes on verse 12b

RRR “cursing” = alah. From alah (to swear, take an oath, curse – usually negative). This is oath, curse, swearing.
SSS “lies” = kachash. 6x in OT. From kachash (to deceive, fail, or deny; lying or disappointing; also becoming lean or cringe). This is lie, hypocrisy, or leanness.
TTT “utter” = saphar. From sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.

13     consumeUUU them in wrath;VVV
    consume them until they are no more.
Then it will be knownWWW to the ends of the earthXXX
    that God rulesYYY over Jacob.ZZZ Selah

Notes on verse 13

UUU “consume” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.
VVV “wrath” = chemah. From yacham (to be hot, mate; figuratively, to conceive). This is heat – figuratively it can be anger or fury. It can also refer to poison or venom as they can cause fever.
WWW “known” = 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.
XXX “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
YYY “rules” = mashal. This is to rule, reign, govern, have authority, wield.
ZZZ “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.

14 Each evening they come back,
    howling like dogs
    and prowling about the city.
15 They roam aboutAAAA for food,BBBB
    and growlCCCC if they do not get their fill.DDDD

Notes on verses 14-15

AAAA “roam about” = nua. Same as “make…totter” in v11. See note JJJ above.
BBBB “food” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
CCCC “growl” = luwn. This is to stay somewhere, usually for the night. It can mean abide, dwell, or endure. By implication, it can mean staying somewhere permanently. Taken in a negative sense, this would mean obstinance, particularly verbal. So, it can also mean murmur, grudge, or complaining.
DDDD “get their fill” = saba. To be satisfied or full in a literal or figurative sense. Also, to have plenty of.

16 But I will sing of your might;EEEE
    I will sing aloudFFFF of your steadfast love in the morning.GGGG

Notes on verse 16a

EEEE “might” = oz. Same as “strength” in v9. See note AAA above.
FFFF “sing aloud” = ranan. This is a cry of joy or a joyful song. Properly, it is emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy.
GGGG “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.

For you have been a fortress for me
    and a refugeHHHH in the day of my distress.IIII
17 O my strength, I will sing praisesJJJJ to you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress,
    the God who shows me steadfast love.

Notes on verses 16b-17

HHHH “refuge” = manos. 8x in OT. From nus (to flee, vanish away, hide, escape, be displayed). This is a place to which one escapes. It is a refuge in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean fleeing.
IIII “distress” = tsar. From tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). Properly, this is a narrow or constricted place. Figuratively, it can be trouble, a pebble, an enemy, anguish, or distress.
JJJJ “sing praises” = zamar. Perhaps from zamar (to trim or prune). This is making music. It is used specially of music to worship God. So, music with singing, singing praise, or singing psalms.

Image credit: “sa-m-wild-dog1” by Shawn Kinkade – wild dogs at the Madikwe National Game Reserve in South Africa, 2014.

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