Psalm 63

Psalm 63


A PsalmA of David,B when he wasC in the WildernessD of Judah.E

Notes on superscript

A “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.
B “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.”
C “was” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
D “Wilderness” = midbar. From dabar (to speak, command, declare). This is mouth or speech. It can also be desert or wilderness. Additionally, it can be used for a pasture to which one drives cattle.
E “Judah” = Yehudah. Probably from yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise); from yad (hand). This is Judah, meaning “praised.”

O God,F you are my God,G I seekH you,
    my soulI thirstsJ for you;

Notes on verse 1a

F “God” = Elohim.
G “God” = El. Related to “God” in v1. See note F above.
H “seek” = shachar. 12x in OT. From shachar (dawn, early light, or morning). This is to seek in a diligent or eager way. It is to look for early as someone who stays up for the morning watch to see at the dawn. Often used for seeking God or seeking good.
I “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.
J “thirsts” = tsame. 10x in OT. This is to thirst in a literal or figurative sense.

my fleshK faintsL for you,
    as in a dryM and wearyN landO where there is no water.P

Notes on verse 1b

K “flesh” = basar. From basar (being a messenger, publish, carry preach; properly, this is being fresh, rosy or cheerful as one bearing news). This is flesh, the body, fat, skin, self, nakedness, humankind, or kin. It can also refer to private parts.
L “faints” = kamah. 1x in OT. This is to faint or yearn.
M “dry” = tsiyyah. 16x in OT. This is dryness or parched. So, it can also mean drought or dry places. By extension, it can mean a solitary place or a wilderness.
N “weary” = ayeph. 17x in OT. From iph (to be faint or weary, to languish). This is faint, languid, weary, or thirsty.
O “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
P “water” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.

So I have looked uponQ you in the sanctuary,R
    beholdingS your powerT and glory.U

Notes on verse 2

Q “looked upon” = 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.
R “sanctuary” = qodesh. This is 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, etc.
S “beholding” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
T “power” = 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.
U “glory” = kabod. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is weighty. Figuratively, glorious, abundant, riches, honor, splendor – a reference to one’s reputation or character. This word is often used to describe God and God’s presence.

Because your steadfast loveV is betterW than life,X
    my lipsY will praiseZ you.

Notes on verse 3

V “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.
W “better” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.
X “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.
Y “lips” = saphah. This is lip, edge, border, bank – used for a boundary. It can also be speech or language.
Z “praise” = shabach. 11x in OT. This is to glory, praise, triumph. It can also mean still or soothe. Properly, it is speaking to loudly or to calm through speech.

So I will blessAA you as long as I live;
    I will lift upBB my handsCC and call on your name.DD

Notes on verse 4

AA “bless” = 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.
BB “lift up” = nasa. This is to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept.
CC “hands” = kaph. From kaphaph (to bend – from a root meaning curve or bend down). This is palm of the hand or sole of the foot, footstep, grasp. Figuratively, it can also mean power.
DD “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.

My soul is satisfiedEE as with a richFF feast,GG

Notes on verse 5a

EE “is satisfied” = saba. To be satisfied or full in a literal or figurative sense. Also, to have plenty of.
FF “rich” = 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.
GG “feast” = cheleb. This is fat, finest, marrow. It is fat in a literal or figurative sense. It refers to the richest or best part.

    and my mouthHH praisesII you with joyfulJJ lips

Notes on verse 5b

HH “mouth” = 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.
II “praises” = halal. This is to be clear – it originally referred to a sound, then a color. It was to shine and then make a show or boast then to rave. In a causative sense it came to mean celebrate, give glory, sing praise, or be worth of praise. Because of the celebratory nature of the word, it could also mean to give in marriage. This is where Hallelujah comes from.
JJ “joyful” = renanah. 4x in OT. From ranan (a cry of joy or a joyful song; properly, emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy). This is a joyful cry, singing, triumph.

when I think ofKK you on my bed,LL
    and meditateMM on you in the watchesNN of the night;

Notes on verse 6

KK “think of” = zakar. This is to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention.
LL “bed” = yatsua. 8x in OT. From yatsa (to go or come out, bring forth, appear; to go out in a literal or figurative sense). This is couch (i.e. bed), chamber, or, in architecture, a wing.
MM “meditate” = hagah. This is to speak, declare, make a sound, imagine, or mutter. It could be a murmur, moan, or growl, whether from delight or anger. It can also mean to study, ponder, or meditate.
NN “watches” = ashmoret. 7x in OT. From shamar (to keep, watch, or preserve; to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something). This is a watch.

7 for you have been my help,OO
    and in the shadowPP of your wingsQQ I sing for joy.RR

Notes on verse 7

OO “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.
PP “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.
QQ “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.
RR “sing for joy” = ranan. Related to “joyful” in v5. See note JJ above.

My soul clingsSS to you;
    your right handTT upholdsUU me.

Notes on verse 8

SS “clings” = dabaq. This is to follow closely or abide fast, to cling or be joined together. Figuratively, it can mean to catch something by chasing after it, to overtake, or to stick. A man clings to his wife in Genesis 2:24, Shechem was deeply attracted to Dinah in Genesis 34:3, Ruth clung to Naomi in Ruth 1:14, Solomon clung to his foreign wives and concubines in 1 Kings 11:2. It is also used of a tongue sticking to the mouth, pursuing or overtaking as in battle, and also clinging to God.
TT “right hand” = yamin. May be from yamam (to go or choose the right, use the right hand; to be physically fit or firm). This can mean right hand, right side, or south. Since most people are right-handed, the metaphorical usage of this word presumes that the right hand is stronger and more agile. Thus, it is the instrument of power and action.
UU “upholds” = tamak. This is to sustain, support, maintain, grasp. Figuratively, it can be to help or uphold.

But those who seekVV to destroyWW my lifeXX
    shall go downYY into the depthsZZ of the earth;AAA

Notes on verse 9

VV “seek” = baqash. This is to seek, ask, desire, or request. It can be any kind of searching. It can also mean to worship or pray – implies a striving for.
WW “destroy” = sho. 12x in OT. This is ruin, desolation, storm. It’s from a root that means rushing over – hence a storm and hence devastation.
XX “life” = nephesh. Same as “soul” in v1. See note I above.
YY “go down” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
ZZ “depths” = tachti. 19x in OT. From tachat (underneath, below, the bottom, instead of). This is beneath, the depths, foot of a mountain, a pit, the womb.
AAA “earth” = erets. Same as “land” in v1. See note O above.

10 they shall be given overBBB to the powerCCC of the sword,DDD
    they shall be preyEEE for jackals.FFF

Notes on verse 10

BBB “given over” = nagar. 10x in OT. This is to pour, flow away, spill, run, deliver over, or stretch.
CCC “power” = 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.
DDD “sword” = chereb. From charab (to attack, slay). This is any sharp instrument like a sword, dagger, axe, or mattock.
EEE “prey” = menath. 7x in OT. From manah (to weigh out, reckon, count, number, set, tell; by implication, it is allotting or providing something officially). This is portion or prey. It is any kind of allotment, whether personal, legal, or of fate.
FFF “jackals” = shual. 7x in OT. May be from the same as sho’al (to hollow, the palm, a handful). This is a fox or jackal. Refers to an animal that spends its time in ruins or wastelands and eats carrion.

11 But the king shall rejoiceGGG in God;HHH
    all who swearIII by him shall exult,JJJ
    for the mouths of liarsKKK will be stopped.LLL

Notes on verse 11

GGG “rejoice” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
HHH “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note F above.
III “swear” = shaba. Perhaps from sheba (seven – the number of perfection/sacred fullness). This is to swear, curse, vow, make a covenant. Properly, it can mean to be complete. This is to seven oneself – as in affirming something so strongly it is as though it were said seven times.
JJJ “exult” = halal. Same as “praises” in v5. See note II above.
KKK “liars” = dabar + sheqer. Literally “those who speak lies.” Dabar is related to “wilderness” in Superscript. See note D above. Sheqer is deception, lie, or disappointment. It can also be something that is vain or wrongfully.
LLL “stopped” = saker. 3x in OT. This is to stop, give over, or surrender.

Image credit: “another beautiful night begin ! [Explored]” by Israel Nature Photography by Ary in southern Israel, 2015.

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