Psalm 86

Psalm 86


A PrayerA of David.B

InclineC your ear,D O Lord,E and answerF me,

Notes on superscript - verse 1a

A “Prayer” = 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.
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 “incline” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
D “ear” = ozen. This is ear, hearing, audience, show. Properly, it is broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape.
E “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.
F “answer” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.

    for I am poorG and needy.H
PreserveI my life,J for I am devotedK to you;
    saveL your servantM who trustsN in you.

Notes on verses 1b-2a

G “poor” = 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.
H “needy” = ebyon. From abah (to consent, obey, want, yield, accept). This is needy, poor, beggar. Someone who is wanting.
I “preserve” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
J “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.
K “devoted” = chasid. 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 faithful, kind, pious, merciful, or gracious. It can also refer to godly or pious people. This is where Chasidic Jews take their name from.
L “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.
M “servant” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.
N “trusts” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.

You are my God;O be graciousP to me, O Lord,Q
    for to you do I cryR all dayS long.

Notes on verses 2b-3

O “God” = Elohim.
P “be gracious” = chanan. This is to beseech, show favor, be gracious. Properly, it is to bend in kindness to someone with less status.
Q “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.
R “cry” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
S “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.

4 GladdenT the soulU of your servant,
    for to you, O Lord,V I lift upW my soul.
For you, O Lord,X are goodY and forgiving,Z

Notes on verses 4-5a

T “gladden” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
U “soul” = nephesh. Same as “life” in v2. See note J above.
V “Lord” = Adonai. Same as “Lord” in v3. See note Q above.
W “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.
X “Lord” = Adonai. Same as “Lord” in v3. See note Q above.
Y “good” = 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.
Z “forgiving” = sallach. 1x in OT. From salach (to forgive, spare). This is forgiving or placeable.

    aboundingAA in steadfast loveBB to all who callCC on you.

Notes on verse 5b

AA “abounding” = 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.
BB “steadfast love” = chesed. Related to “devoted” in v2. From chasad (see note K above). 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.
CC “call” = qara. Same as “cry” in v3. See note R above.

Give ear,DD O Lord,EE to my prayer;
    listenFF to my cryGG of supplication.HH
In the day of my troubleII I call on you,
    for you will answer me.
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,JJ
    nor are there any worksKK like yours.

Notes on verses 6-8

DD “give ear” = azan. Related to “ear” in v1. From ozen (see note D above). Properly, this is to expand or broaden one’s ear i.e. listen intently, pay attention, heed.
EE “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note E above.
FF “listen” = qashab. To listen, pay attention to, incline – used in the phrase incline the ears.
GG “cry” = qol. 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.
HH “supplication” = tachanun. Related to “be gracious” in v3. 18x in OT. From chanan (see note P above). This is entreaty, prayer, or supplication. It is looking for favor earnestly.
II “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.
JJ “Lord” = Adonai. Same as “Lord” in v3. See note Q above.
KK “works” = maaseh. From asah (to do, make, accomplish, become). This is a word – any action whether positive or negative. It can also be a transaction, construction, activity, property, or something that is produced.

All the nationsLL you have madeMM shall comeNN
    and bow downOO beforePP you, O Lord,QQ
    and shall glorifyRR your name.SS

Notes on verse 9

LL “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.
MM “made” = asah. Related to “works” in v8. See note KK above.
NN “come” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
OO “bow down” = shachah. This is to bow down, make a humble entreaty, to do homage to royalty or to God.
PP “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.
QQ “Lord” = Adonai. Same as “Lord” in v3. See note Q above.
RR “glorify” = kabad. To be heavy, weighty, or severe. It can also be positive abounding in, rich, or honorable. The Hebrew word for “glory,” kabod, is taken from this root.
SS “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.

10 For you are greatTT and doUU wondrous things;VV
    you aloneWW are God.

Notes on verse 10

TT “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.
UU “do” = asah. Same as “made” in v9. See note MM above.
VV “wondrous things” = pala. From pele (wonder, miracle, wonderful, marvelous thing). This is to be extraordinary, to arise, to be great or accomplish.
WW “alone” = bad. From badad (to divide or be separated; alone, solitary, lonely, isolated, straggler). This is apart, alone, separation, body part, tree branch, except. It can also be a city’s chief.

11 TeachXX me your way,YY O Lord,ZZ
    that I may walkAAA in your truth;BBB

Notes on verse 11a

XX “teach” = yarah. This is to throw, shoot, be stunned. It is to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach. This is the same root that “Jerusalem” and “Torah” draw from.
YY “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.
ZZ “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note E above.
AAA “walk” = 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.
BBB “truth” = emet. From aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This is firmness or stability. Figuratively, it is faithfulness, truth, or trustworthiness. This is the same root that “amen” comes from.

    give me an undividedCCC heartDDD to revereEEE your name.
12 I give thanksFFF to you, O LordGGG my God, with my whole heart,
    and I will glorify your name forever.HHH

Notes on verses 11b-12

CCC “give…undivided” = yachad. 3x in OT. This is to be one, to be united.
DDD “heart” = lebab. May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
EEE “revere” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
FFF “give thanks” = yadah. From yad (hand). This is to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise. So, it is to praise, give thanks, or make a confession.
GGG “Lord” = Adonai. Same as “Lord” in v3. See note Q above.
HHH “forever” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).

13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
    you have deliveredIII my soul from the depthsJJJ of Sheol.KKK
14 O God, the insolentLLL rise upMMM against me;

Notes on verses 13-14a

III “delivered” = 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.
JJJ “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.
KKK “Sheol” = Sheol. Perhaps from sha’al (to ask, request). This is the place where the dead go, the grace, the underworld.
LLL “insolent” = zed. 13x in OT. From zud (to cook, boil up, or seethe; figuratively, it can mean to act with arrogance or insolence, to be rebellious). This is arrogant, proud, or presumptuous. It can also refer to an arrogant person.
MMM “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.

    a bandNNN of ruffiansOOO seeksPPP my life,
    and they do not setQQQ you beforeRRR them.

Notes on verse 14b

NNN “band” = 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.
OOO “ruffians” = arits. From arats (to tremble, dread, stand in awe, oppress, harass). This is awe-inspiring or terror-inducing, ruthless, tyrant, oppressor, violent, powerful.
PPP “seeks” = 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.
QQQ “set” = sum. Related to “name” in v9. See note SS above.
RRR “before” = neged. From nagad (to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain). This is in front of, opposite to. It can refer to a counterpart or partner, one corresponding to or in the sight of.

15 But you, O Lord,SSS are a GodTTT mercifulUUU and gracious,VVV
    slowWWW to angerXXX and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.YYY

Notes on verse 15

SSS “Lord” = Adonai. Same as “Lord” in v3. See note Q above.
TTT “God” = El. Related to “God” in v2. See note O above.
UUU “merciful” = rachum. 13x in OT. From the same as rechem (womb); from racham (to love, have compassion, have mercy); from racham (compassion, tender love, womb, compassion; the womb as that which cherishes the fetus). This is compassionate or merciful.
VVV “gracious” = channun. Related to “be gracious” in v3 & “supplication” in v6. 13x n OT. From chanan (see note P above). This is gracious, compassionate, merciful, having pity on.
WW “slow” = arek. 15x in OT. From arak (to be long in a literal or figurative sense, to continue, defer, draw out, endure, delay). This is long, patience, or slow.
XX “anger” = aph. From anaph (to be angry; properly, breathing hard as a signifier of being enraged). This properly refers to the nose or nostril and by extension the face. It can specifically refer to anger or wrath as one breathes hard and nostrils flare in times of great anger.
YY “faithfulness” = emet. Same as “truth” in v11. See note BBB above.

16 TurnZZZ to me and be gracious to me;
    giveAAAA your strengthBBBB to your servant;
    save the childCCCC of your serving girl.DDDD
17 ShowEEEE me a signFFFF of your favor,GGGG

Notes on verses 16-17a

ZZZ “turn” = panah. Related to “before” in v9. See note PP above
AAAA “give” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
BBBB “strength” = 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.
CCCC “child” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
DDDD “serving girl” = amah. This is female servant or slave, handmaid.
EEEE “show” = asah. Same as “made” in v9. See note MM above.
FFFF “sign” = eth. Probably from anah (to answer, sing, announce); from ad (forever, all, old); from adah (to pass on, advance, decorate oneself). This is a period or season. It can also mean whenever or continually.
GGGG “favor” = tob. Same as “good” in v5. See note Y above.

    so that those who hateHHHH me may seeIIII it and be put to shame,JJJJ
    because you, Lord,KKKK have helpedLLLL me and comfortedMMMM me.

Notes on verse 17b

HHHH “hate” = sane. This is an enemy or foe. It is one that is hated with a personal hatred.
IIII “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
JJJJ “put to shame” = bosh. Properly, this means to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion.
KKKK “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note E above.
LLLL “helped” = azar. This is to surround, which implies encircling to protect someone or help them out. It can also be help, ally, or support.
MMMM “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.

Image credit: “Ruth – The Outsider” from the Lion Comic Book Hero Bible by Edge Group – Lion Hudson, 2015. Illustration by Jeff Anderson, Siku, and Richard Thomas.

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