Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20

Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Ordinary C31


To the leader:A according to Jeduthun.B Of Asaph.C A Psalm.D

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 “Jeduthun” = Yeduthun. 17x in OT. From yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise, to give thanks, or make a confession); from yad (hand, ability, power; hand in a literal sense; what one can do or the means by which one does it). This is Jeduthun or Yeduthun, meaning “laudatory.” He was a temple choir leader.
C “Asaph” = Asaph. From asaph (to gather, assemble, bring, take away, destroy, or remove). This is Asaph, meaning “gatherer” or “collector.” It is a personal name.
D “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.

I cryE aloudF to God,G
    aloud to God, that he may hearH me.

Notes on verse 1

E “cry” = tsaaq. This is to cry out or call together, to shriek. It can mean, by implication, calling for an assembly.
F “aloud” = qol. Literally, “with my voice.” 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.
G “God” = Elohim.
H “hear” = azan. Perhaps from ozen (ear, hearing, audience, show; properly, broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape). Properly, this is to expand or broaden one’s ear i.e. listen intently, pay attention, heed.

In the dayI of my troubleJ I seekK the Lord;L

Notes on verse 2a

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” = 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.
K “seek” = darash. This is seek, ask, inquire, care for. Generally it means following in pursuit or following as part of a search, which implies seeking or asking. Also used specially to mean worship.
L “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.

    in the nightM my handN is stretched outO without wearying;P
    my soulQ refuses to be comforted.R

Notes on verse 2b

M “night” = layil. Properly, this refers to light twisting away. It is used for night or midnight. Figuratively, this can mean adversity.
N “hand” = yad. Related to “Jeduthun” in superscript. See note B above.
O “stretched out” = nagar. 10x in OT. This is to pour, flow away, spill, run, deliver over, or stretch.
P “wearying” = pug. 4x in OT. This is to be faint, sluggish, grow numb, be spent.
Q “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.
R “comforted” = nacham. Properly, this is a strong breath or a sigh. This can be to be sorry, to pity, console. Comfort, or repent. But, one can also comfort oneself with less righteous thoughts, so this can also mean to avenge oneself.

11 I will call to mindS the deedsT of the Lord;U
    I will rememberV your wondersW of old.X

Notes on verse 11

S “call to mind” = zakar. This is to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention.
T “deeds” = maalal. From alal (to affect, do, practice, mock, overdo, glean, abuse, pain). This is a deed, action, invention or practice whether good or bad.
U “Lord” = Yah. From YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; God, Lord; the self-existent or eternal one); from havah (to become) or hayah (to be, become, happen)}. This is Lord or God – a shortened form of God’s most holy name.
V “remember” = zakar. Same as “call to mind” in v11. See note S above.
W “wonders” = pele. 13x in OT. This is a wonder, marvelous thing, or a miracle.
X “old” = qedem. Perhaps from qadam (to come in front or be in front; to meet, anticipate, confront, receive, or rise; sometimes to meet for help). This is front, formerly, before, east, eternal, everlasting, antiquity.

12 I will meditateY on allZ your workAA
    and museBB on your mighty deeds.CC

Notes on verse 12

Y “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.
Z “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
AA “work” = poal. From paal (to do, make, work, or accomplish; generally refers to regularly repeated or systematic action – to practice). This is an action or deed, conduct. It is the act of working or the work itself. It can also be wages or maker.
BB “muse” = siach. From siach (musing, meditation, communication, babbling, prayer, contemplation). This is to muse, meditate, complain, sing, sigh, speak, or utter.
CC “mighty deeds” = alilah. Related to “deeds” in v11. From alal (see note T above). This is a deed or action – something that causes an effect. It could be a wanton or shameful deed or an opportunity.

13 Your way,DD O God,EE is holy.FF
    What godGG is so greatHH as our God?II

Notes on verse 13

DD “way” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
EE “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note G above.
FF “holy” = 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.
GG “god” = el. Related to “God” in v1. See note G above.
HH “so great” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.
II “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note G above.

14 You are the GodJJ who worksKK wonders;
    you have displayedLL your mightMM among the peoples.NN

Notes on verse 14

JJ “God” = El. Same as “god” in v13. See note GG above.
KK “works” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
LL “displayed” = 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.
MM “might” = 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.
NN “peoples” = 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.

15 With your strong armOO you redeemedPP your people,
    the descendantsQQ of JacobRR and Joseph.SS SelahTT

Notes on verse 15

OO “arm” = zeroa. Perhaps from zara (to sow, scatter seed, conceive). This is the arm, shoulder, or foreleg of an animal. It is figuratively used for power, force, might, or help.
PP “redeemed” = gaal. This is to redeem someone or something according to kinship laws. So, it could be acting on a relative’s behalf to buy back their property, to marry one’s brother’s widow, etc. This could be more briefly translated as to redeem, acts as kinsman, or purchase. As a noun, it could be deliverer or avenger.
QQ “descendants” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
RR “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.
SS “Joseph” = Yoseph. From yasaph (to add, increase, continue, exceed). This is Joseph, meaning “he increases” or “let him add.”
TT “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.

16 When the watersUU sawVV you, O God,WW
    when the waters saw you, they were afraid;XX
    the very deepYY trembled.ZZ

Notes on verse 16

UU “waters” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
VV “saw” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
WW “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note G above.
XX “were afraid” = chul. This is whirling around so dancing as in a circle or writhing in pain. It is used particularly for the pain of childbirth or from writhing due to fear. It can also be falling in pain or waiting.
YY “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.
ZZ “trembled” = ragaz. This is shaking from any strong emotion, particularly anger or fear. It can be agitated, excited, perturbed, afraid, quaking, quivering.

17 The cloudsAAA poured outBBB water;
    the skiesCCC thundered;DDD
    your arrowsEEE flashed on every side.FFF

Notes on verse 17

AAA “clouds” = ab. Perhaps from uwb (to be a think or dark cloud, a cloud covering). This is a dark or thick cloud that can envelope in darkness. It can also refer to a copse or to clay.
BBB “poured out” = zaram. 2x in OT. This is to flood, pour. It is to carry something off as a flood does.
CCC “skies” = shachaq. From shachaq (to rub off, wear away, pulverize). This is powder, dust, vapor. It can also refer to the sky or a cloud.
DDD “thundered” = qol + natan. Literally, “gave a sound.” Qol is the same as “aloud” in v1. See note F above. Natan is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
EEE “arrows” = chatsats. 3x in OT. From chatsats (to divide, chop, pierce, distribute, shoot an arrow, an archer). This is something that cuts or is cut. So, it can be gravel or an arrow.
FFF “flashed on every side” = 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.

18 The crashGGG of your thunderHHH was in the whirlwind;III

Notes on verse 18a

GGG “crash” = qol. Same as “aloud” in v1. See note F above.
HHH “thunder” = raam. 6x in OT. Perhaps from raam (to trouble, be agitated, irritated, angered; a peal of thunder). This is thunder (the noun).
III “whirlwind” = galgal. 11x in OT. From galal (to roll, roll away, wallow, commit, remove; rolling in a literal or figurative sense). This is wheel, wagon, whirl, whirlwind; something that rolls.

    your lightningsJJJ lit upKKK the world;LLL
    the earthMMM trembled and shook.NNN

Notes on verse 18b

JJJ “lightnings” = baraq. From baraq (to flash, a flash of lightning). This is lightning. Figuratively, it could be a gleaming or glittering. Concretely, it could be a flashing sword.
KKK “lit up” = or.  This is to light, shine, set on fire – to be luminous in a literal or figurative sense.
LLL “world” = tebel. From yabal (to lead, bring, carry, conduct; properly, to flow; to bring or lead with fanfare). This is world, confusion, inhabited part of the earth, but also used for the whole world.
MMM “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
NNN “shook” = raash. This is to quake, shake, tremble, shake from fear; leap like a locust.

19 Your way was through the sea,OOO
    your pathPPP through the mightyQQQ waters,
    yet your footprintsRRR were unseen.SSS

Notes on verse 19

OOO “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.
PPP “path” = shebil. 2x in OT. From the same as shobel (the train of a skirt that flows after a woman). This is a path or track as something that flows.
QQQ “mighty” = 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.
RRR “footprints” = aqeb. Related to “Jacob” in v15. 13x in OT. See note RR above.
SSS “unseen” = lo + yada. Yada is same as “displayed” in v14. See note LL above.

20 You ledTTT your people like a flockUUU
    by the hand of MosesVVV and Aaron.WWW

Notes on verse 20

TTT “led” = nachah. This is lead, guide, or bring. It can be used for transporting into exile or coming in as colonists. This is the word used in Psalm 23 “he leads me in the paths of righteousness.”
UUU “flock” = tson. This is a flock of sheep and goats.
VVV “Moses” = Mosheh. From mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose.
WWW “Aaron” = Aharon. Derivation uncertain. May mean “bearer of martyrs” OR be related to Ancient Egyptian ꜥḥꜣ rw (warrior lion) OR elevated, exalted, high mountain. This is Aaron. See

Image credit: “Lightning Strikes a Mountain Top” by Yintan, 2002.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply