Psalm 80:1-7

Psalm 80:1-7
Advent C4


To the leader:I on Lilies, a Covenant.II Of Asaph.III A Psalm.IV

Notes on superscript

I “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.
II “Lilies, a Covenant” = Shushan Eduth. 2x in OT. From shushan (lily, Shoshan, or Shoshannah; other flowers that look like lilies, architecture decoration in the shape of a lily, a musical tune, or trumpets due to the similar appearance); {perhaps from sus (to rejoice, be glad; properly, to be bright or cheerful)} + eduth (testimony, ordinance, decree, warning, or witness); {from ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve)}. This is perhaps “lily of testimony.” It might be the name of a song tune to be used when singing this psalm.
III “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.
IV “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.

1 Give ear,V O ShepherdVI of Israel,VII

Notes on verse 1a

V “give ear” = 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.
VI “Shepherd” = ra’ah. This is to tend a flock, pasture, or graze. It can mean to rule or to associate with someone. Figuratively, it can be ruler or teacher.
VII “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). 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.

    you who leadVIII JosephIX like a flock!X
You who are enthronedXI upon the cherubim,XII shine forthXIII

Notes on verse 1b

VIII “lead” = nahag. This is to drive as in driving flocks, but also driving in animal or vehicle like a chariot. It can mean to carry away, lead, drive away, proceed, or guide. It can also relate to behavior and what one is accustomed to.
IX “Joseph” = Yoseph. From yasaph (to add, increase, continue, exceed). This is Joseph, meaning “he increases” or “let him add.”
X “flock” = tson. This is a flock of sheep and goats.
XI “enthroned” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
XII “cherubim” = kerub. Perhaps related to Akkadian (“to bless” or “one who blesses”). This is a cherub – perhaps a class of angels. See
XIII “shine forth” = yapha. 8x in OT. This is to shine out beams, look favorably.

    beforeXIV EphraimXV and BenjaminXVI and Manasseh.XVII

Notes on verse 2a

XIV “before” = 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.
XV “Ephraim” = Ephrayim. From the same as epher (ashes or dust – properly something strewn) OR from parah (to grow, increase, be fruitful in a literal or figurative sense). This is Ephraim, one of Joseph’s sons, his descendants, and their land.
XVI “Benjamin” = Binyamin. From ben (son, age, child); {from banah (to build)} + from yamin (right hand or side; that which is stronger or more agile; the south); {perhaps yamam (to go or choose the right, use the right hand; to be physically fit or firm)}. This is Benjamin, meaning “son of the right hand.” It could refer to Benjamin himself, his offspring, their tribe, or their territory.
XVII “Manasseh” = Menashsheh. From nashah (to forget, neglect, remove, deprive). This is Manasseh, literally “causing to forget.” It is Manasseh, his tribe, or the lands of the tribe.

Stir upXVIII your might,XIX
    and comeXX to saveXXI us!

Notes on verse 2b

XVIII “stir up” = ur. This is to arise, lift, exult, or stir. It is to wake in a literal or figurative sense.
XIX “might” = geburah. From gabar (to be strong or mighty; to prevail or be insolent). This is force in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be strength, power, courage, triumph, victory, or mastery.
XX “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.
XXI “save” = yeshuah. From 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). This is salvation, deliverance, health, victory, prosperity.

RestoreXXII us, O God;XXIII
    let your faceXXIV shine,XXV that we may be saved.XXVI

Notes on verse 3

XXII “restore” = 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.”
XXIII “God” = Elohim. Related to “Israel” in v1. See note VII above.
XXIV “face” = paneh. Same as “before” in v2. See note XIV above.
XXV “let…shine” = or. This is to light, shine, set on fire – to be luminous in a literal or figurative sense.
XXVI “saved” = yasha. Related to “save” in v2. See note XXI above.

O LordXXVII God of hosts,XXVIII
    how long will you be angryXXIX with your people’sXXX prayers?XXXI

Notes on verse 4

XXVII “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.
XXVIII “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.
XXIX “be angry” = ashan. 6x in OT. From ashan (to smoke or burn in a literal or figurative sense; to be angry). This is smoke, vapor, dust, or anger.
XXX “people’s” = 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.
XXXI “prayers” = tephillah. From palal (to judge for oneself or in an official capacity; to pray or make supplication, to entreat). This is prayer or intercession. It can also be a hymn.

You have fedXXXII them with the breadXXXIII of tears,XXXIV
    and given them tears to drinkXXXV in full measure.XXXVI

Notes on verse 5

XXXII “fed” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
XXXIII “bread” = lechem. From lacham (to eat, feed on). This is bread, food, loaf. It can refer to food more generally for people or for animals.
XXXIV “tears” = dimah. From dema (juice, liquor); from dama (to weep). This is tears from weeping.
XXXV “given…to drink” = shaqah. This is to give water to, to cause to drink – to irrigate, drown. It can be used for watering plants or giving water to flocks.
XXXVI “full measure” = shaliysh. 17x in OT. From shalosh (three, fork, triad). This is literally a third. So, it could refer to some kind of musical instrument like a triangle or a lute with three strings. It could also refer to a triple measure. Additionally, it could be a highly ranked person like a captain, lord, or prince.

You makeXXXVII us the scornXXXVIII of our neighbors;XXXIX
    our enemiesXL laughXLI among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved.XLII

Notes on verses 6-7

XXXVII “make” = sum. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
XXXVIII “scorn” = madon. 17x in OT. From din (to judge, defend, dispute, govern, quarrel, plead). This is contention, strife, quarrel.
XXXIX “neighbors” = shaken. From shakan (to settle down in the sense of residing somewhere or staying there permanently; to abide or continue). This is resident or neighbor. It is related to mishkan, the Hebrew word for “tabernacle.”
XL “enemies” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.
XLI “laugh” = 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.
XLII “saved” = yasha. Same as “saved” in v3. See note XXVI above.

Image credit: “Ocean of Sorrow” by Javad Alizadeh, 2010.

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