Psalm 82

Psalm 82


A PsalmA of Asaph.B

GodC has taken his placeD in the divineE council;F

Notes on superscript - verse 1a

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 “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.
C “God” = Elohim.
D “taken his place” = natsab. This is to station, appoint, establish, take a stand.
E “divine” = el. Related to “God” in v1. See note C above.
F “council” = edah. From yaad (to appoint, assemble or gather selves, agree) OR from ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is a congregation, assembly, or company. It could be a family, crowd, or fixture.

    in the midst ofG the godsH he holds judgment:I

Notes on verse 1b

G “in the midst of” = qereb. Perhaps from qarab (to come near or approach). This is among, in the midst, before, the center It is the inward part, whether literal or figurative. It can also be used for the heart, the site of thoughts and feelings. This word is also used as a technical term for the entrails of the animals who are sacrificed.
H “gods” = elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note C above.
I “holds judgment” = shaphat. This is to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, or govern. It can refer to God judging or to human judges. This is pronouncing a verdict in favor or against so it implies consequences or punishment. It can also mean to litigate or govern as one with authority.

“How long will you judgeJ unjustlyK
    and show partialityL to the wicked?M SelahN

Notes on verse 2

J “judge” = shaphat. Same as “holds judgment” in v1. See note I above.
K “unjustly” = evel. Perhaps from aval (to deal unjustly, act in a wrongful way, a wrongdoer). This is injustice, wrong, moral evil, acts of violence, or unrighteousness.
L “show partiality” = panehnasa. Paneh is 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. Nasa 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.
M “wicked” = rasha. This is morally wrong so it refers to someone who is actively bad as wicked, criminal, an evil person, offender, condemned, or ungodly.
N “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.

Give justiceO to the weakP and the orphan;Q
    maintain the rightR of the lowlyS and the destitute.T

Notes on verse 3

O “give justice” = shaphat. Same as “holds judgment” in v1. See note I above.
P “weak” = dal. From dalal (to be low, hang, fade, be emptied, become poor, be oppressed). This is lean, weak, needy, poor. Properly, it is one who is dangling.
Q “orphan” = yathom. This is a child without a father or more generally a person who is bereaved.
R “maintain the right” = tsadeq. From tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, just cause, vindication; that which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense; abstractly equity; figuratively prosperity). This is being just or righteousness. It refers to right in a moral or legal sense. So, it can be doing justice, clearing oneself, or turning to righteousness.
S “lowly” = ani. From anah (to be bowed down; humility or being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed; literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance). This is humble, lowly, poor, or afflicted.
T “destitute” = rush. This is in want, lack, poor, needy.

RescueU the weak and the needy;V
    deliverW them from the handX of the wicked.”

Notes on verse 4

U “rescue” = palat. This is to escape, slip out, deliver, carry away, or calve.
V “needy” = ebyon. From abah (to consent, obey, want, yield, accept). This is needy, poor, beggar. Someone who is wanting.
W “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.
X “hand” = 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.

5 They have neither knowledgeY nor understanding,Z
    they walk aroundAA in darkness;BB
    all the foundationsCC of the earthDD are shaken.EE

Notes on verse 5

Y “have…knowledge” = 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.
Z “understanding” = bin. This is to discern, consider, attend to. It refers to distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand.
AA “walk around” = 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.
BB “darkness” = chashekah. 5x in OT. From chashak (to be or become dark). This is darkness or, figuratively, misery.
CC “foundations” = mosad. 2x in OT. From yasad (to establish, appoint, instruct; to set in a literal or figurative sense; also, to sit down together and so to consult or take counsel). This is foundation.
DD “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
EE “are shaken” = mot. This is to shake, slip, falter, stagger, move, fall, give way, waver, be carried.

6 I say, “You are gods,
    childrenFF of the Most High,GG all of you;
nevertheless,HH you shall dieII like mortals,JJ

Notes on verses 6-7a

FF “children” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
GG “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.
HH “nevertheless” = aken. 18x in OT. From kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is surely, truly, nevertheless.
II “die” = mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body.
JJ “mortals” = adam. Perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.

    and fallKK like anyLL prince.”MM

Notes on verse 7b

KK “fall” = naphal. This is to fall, whether by accident, to fall prostrate, or to fall in violent death. Figuratively, it can refer to personal ruin or calamity, a city falling, an attack or a falling away. It can also be a deep sleep or wasting away.
LL “any” = echad. Perhaps from achad (to unify, continue on a path; figuratively, to gather one’s thoughts). This is the number one, first, united. It can also be alone, altogether, a certain, a few.
MM “prince” = sar. This is chief, leader, ruler, lord, official, governor, prince, military leader. It refers to someone at the top of a rank or class.

8 Rise up,NN O God, judge the earth;
    for all the nationsOO belongPP to you!

Notes on verse 8

NN “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.
OO “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.
PP “belong” = nachal. From nachalah (properly something that was inherited; can mean occupancy generally or, more particularly, an heirloom or an estate; can be an inheritance, gift, possession, or portion). This is to gain as a possession, divide for inheritance. Also, to occupy for any reason.

Image credit: “Complete Darkness” by darkday, 2014.

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