Psalm 89:20-37

Psalm 89:20-37
Ordinary B34


20 I have foundA my servantB David;C

Notes on verse 20a

A “found” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
B “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.
C “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.”

    with my holyD oilE I have anointedF him;

Notes on verse 20b

D “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.
E “oil” = shemen. From shamen (to shine, which implies being oily, growing fat). This is fat, oil, grease, olive oil – often with perfume. Used figuratively for fertile, lavish, rich.
F “anointed” = mashach. This is smear, paint, spread, or paint. It can also be to rub with oil or, otherwise stated, to anoint. This implies a consecration. This root verb is where the word “messiah” comes from.

21 my handG shall always remainH with him;
    my armI also shall strengthenJ him.

Notes on verse 21

G “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.
H “remain” = kun. Properly, this means in a perpendicular position. So, it is set up in a literal sense – establish, fix, fasten, prepare. In a figurative sense, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous.
I “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.
J “strengthen” = amets. This is to be strong, stout, alert, or bold, It can also mean harden, make firm, be courageous or mighty, fortify, or establish. It can refer to physical alertness or mental courage or steadfastness.

22 The enemyK shall not outwitL him,
    the wickedM shall not humbleN him.

Notes on verse 22

K “enemy” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.
L “outwit” = nasha. 5x in OT. Perhaps from nasha (to deceive, lend with interest, debtor, delude, seduce). This is to deceive, lend with interest, or debt.
M “wicked” = ben + evel. Literally, “child of wickedness.” Ben is from banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Evel is perhaps from aval (to deal unjustly, act in a wrongful way, a wrongdoer). This is injustice, wrong, moral evil, acts of violence, or unrighteousness.
N “humble” = anah. This is to be bowed down. It can refer to a sense of humility or to a sense of being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed. This can be literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance.

23 I will crushO his foesP beforeQ him
    and strike downR those who hateS him.

Notes on verse 23

O “crush” = kathath. 17x in OT. This is to crush into pieces, to beat with a hammer, smash, bruise.
P “foes” = tsar. From tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). Properly, this is a narrow or constricted place. Figuratively, it can be trouble, a pebble, an enemy, anguish, or distress.
Q “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.
R “strike down” = nagaph. This is to strike, beat, hurt, stumble, defeat, inflict disease.
S “hate” = sane. This is an enemy or foe. It is one that is hated with a personal hatred.

24 My faithfulnessT and steadfast loveU shall be with him;
    and in my nameV his hornW shall be exalted.X

Notes on verse 24

T “faithfulness” = emunah. 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 word is literally firmness, but figuratively fidelity, faithfulness, honesty, responsibility, trust, truth, steadfastness. This word shares a root with the word “Amen.”
U “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.
V “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.
W “horn” = qeren. This is horn or hill. It can be a flask or cornet, ivory, altar corner, mountain peak, or figuratively power.
X “exalted” = rum. This is to rise or raise, to be high literally or figuratively. So it can also mean to exalt or extol.

25 I will setY his hand on the seaZ
    and his right handAA on the rivers.BB

Notes on verse 25

Y “set” = sum. Related to “name” in v24. See note V above.
Z “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.
AA “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.
BB “rivers” = nahar. From nahar (to flow, sparkle, be cheerful). This is a stream, river, or flood. Particularly used for the Nile or Euphrates. Figuratively, this can mean prosperity.

26 He shall cryCC to me, ‘You are my Father,DD
    my God,EE and the RockFF of my salvation!’GG

Notes on verse 26

CC “cry” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
DD “Father” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.
EE “God” = El.
FF “Rock” = tsur. From tsur (to confine, cramp, or bind in a literal or figurative sense; to besiege, assault, or distress). This is rock, stone, cliff, boulder, rocky. It can also be a refuge, a way to refer to God.
GG “salvation” = 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.

27 I will makeHH him the firstborn,II
    the highestJJ of the kingsKK of the earth.LL

Notes on verse 27

HH “make” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
II “firstborn” = bekor. From bakar (to bear fruit, be firstborn, firstling, that which opens the womb, give the birthright to). This is firstborn or chief.
JJ “highest” = 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.
KK “kings” = melek. From malak (to be or become king or queen, to rise to the throne, to be crowned; by implication, to take counsel). This is king or royal.
LL “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

28 ForeverMM I will keepNN my steadfast love for him,
    and my covenantOO with him will stand firm.PP

Notes on verse 28

MM “forever” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
NN “keep” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
OO “covenant” = berit. Perhaps from barah (to eat, choose, make clear); perhaps from bar (grain, wheat); from bara (to select, purify, cleanse, test, brighten, polish). This is a compact, covenant, alliance, treaty, or league.
PP “stand firm” = aman. Related to “faithfulness” in v24. See note T above. This is to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful. It is to put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid. This is where the word “amen” comes from.

29 I will establishQQ his lineRR forever,SS
    and his throneTT as long as the heavens endure.UU

Notes on verse 29

QQ “establish” = sum. Same as “set” in v25. See note Y above.
RR “line” = zera. Related to “arm” in v21. From zara (see note I above). This is seed or sowing. It can, thus, mean a fruit, plant, sowing time, child, offspring, or posterity.
SS “forever” = ad. From adah (to advance or continue; to take away or remove; adorning oneself with ornaments). This is old, perpetuity, eternity. It is a duration going back or forward.
TT “throne” = kisse. From the same as kese (full moon); perhaps from kasah (to cover, conceal, overwhelm; to cover as clothes do or to hide a secret). This is throne – a seat that is covered or has a canopy. Thus, it is a seat that conveys authority.
UU “as long as the heavens endure” = yom + shamayim. Literally, “as the days of heaven.” 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. Shamayim – root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.

30 If his childrenVV forsakeWW my lawXX
    and do not walkYY according to my ordinances,ZZ

Notes on verse 30

VV “children” = ben. Same as “wicked” in v22. See note M above.
WW “forsake” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.
XX “law” = torah. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach). This is law, instruction, teaching, or statute. It can also refer to the first five books of the Bible – the Torah.
YY “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.
ZZ “ordinances” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.

31 if they violateAAA my statutesBBB
    and do not keep my commandments,CCC

Notes on verse 31

AAA “violate” = chalal. This is to pierce, which implies to wound. It is used figuratively for making someone or something profane or breaking your word. It can also mean to begin as though one opened a wedge. Also, to eat something as a common thing.
BBB “statutes” = chuqqah. From choq (statute, boundary, condition, custom, limit, ordinance; something that is prescribed or something that is owed); from chaqaq (to inscribe, carve, or decree; a lawmaker; literally, this is engraving, but it implies enacting a law because laws were carved into stone or metal). This is something prescribed such as a statue, custom, or ordinance.
CCC “commandments” = mitsvah. From tsavah (to charge, command, order, enjoin). This is a commandment, law, ordinance obligation, or tradition. It is something commanded whether by God or by a human authority. This term is sometimes used collectively to refer to the Law.

32 then I will punishDDD their transgressionEEE with the rodFFF
    and their iniquityGGG with scourges;HHH

Notes on verse 32

DDD “punish” = paqad. This is to attend to or visit – can be used for a friendly or violent encounter. So, it can be to oversee, care for, avenge, or charge.
EEE “transgression” = pesha. From pasha (to rebel, offend, quarrel; making a break from proper authority so can also refer to an apostate). This is transgression, rebellion, or sin. It could be a revolt on a national scale or an individual moral one.
FFF “rod” = shebet. This is a rod, staff, club, scepter, dart, or tribe. Literally a stick that can be used for punishing, writing, fighting, walking, ruling; thus, used figuratively for a clan.
GGG “iniquity” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.
HHH “scourges” = nega. From naga (touch, reach, arrive, come near, strike; touching for any reason including sexual or violent). This is a blow or stroke, wound, sore, mark plague. It can refer to someone with leprosy or to dress.

33 but I will not removeIII from him my steadfast love,
    or be falseJJJ to my faithfulness.
34 I will not violate my covenant,
    or alterKKK the word that went forthLLL from my lips.MM

Notes on verses 33-34

III “remove” = pur. 3x in OT. From parar (to break, defeat, frustrate, caste off, clean, cease). This is to break, crush, or take utterly.
JJJ “be false” = shaqar. 6x in OT. From sheqer (deception, lie, disappointment, or thing that is vain). This is to deal falsely, generally to lie. It can be to cheat, but it usually refer to lying words.
KKK “alter” = shanah. This is to fold, repeat, double, alter, or disguise.
LLL “word that went forth” = motsa. From yatsa (to go or come out, bring forth, appear; to go out in a literal or figurative sense). This is going forth as an act or the site from which something goes forth. It could mean exiting a place or the place where one exits. It can also be a source or a produce. Specifically, it can be a spring or fountain, the dawn as the rising of the sin, an export, gate mine, and so on.
MMM “lips” = saphah. This is lip, edge, border, bank – used for a boundary. It can also be speech or language.

35 OnceNNN and for all I have swornOOO by my holiness;PPP
    I will not lieQQQ to David.

Notes on verse 35

NNN “once” = 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.
OOO “sworn” = 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.
PPP “holiness” = qodesh. Same as “holy” in v20. See note D above.
QQQ “lie” = kazab. 18x in OT. This is to lie, be false or in vain, to fail. It is to deceive in a literal or figurative sense.

36 His line shall continueRRR forever,SSS
    and his throne endure beforeTTT me like the sun.UUU

Notes on verse 36

RRR “continue” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
SSS “forever” = olam. Same as “forever” in v28. See note MM above.
TTT “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.
UUU “sun” = shemesh. This is sun or toward the east. Its root may mean being brilliant. Figuratively, this could be a ray or an arch.

37 It shall be establishedVVV foreverWWW like the moon,XXX
    an enduringYYY witnessZZZ in the skies.”AAAA SelahBBBB

Notes on verse 37

VVV “established” = kun. Same as “remain” in v21. See note H above.
WWW “forever” = olam. Same as “forever” in v28. See note MM above.
XXX “moon” = yareach. Perhaps from the same as yerach (month). This is moon.
YYY “enduring” = aman. Same as “stand firm” in v28. See note PP above.
ZZZ “witness” = ed. From ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is a witness, testimony, or one who records testimony. It can also refer to a prince.
AAAA “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.
BBBB “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.

Image credit: “David the King Composes a Psalter.” A Miniature from the Psalter of the XIII century.

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