Psalm 90

Psalm 90


A PrayerA of Moses,B the manC of God.D

Notes on verse superscript

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 “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.
C “man” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
D “God” = Elohim.

Lord,E you have beenF our dwelling placeG
    in all generations.H

Notes on verse 1

E “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.
F “been” = hayah. This is to be or exist.
G “dwelling place” = maon. 17x in OT. From anah (to answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify; to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk; singing, shouting, testifying, etc.) OR from the same as onah (marriage, living together, marital duty). This is dwelling, den, haunt, retreat. It can refer to the Tabernacle or Temple. It can also be used for homes or animal lairs.
H “in all generations” = dor + dor. Literally, “in generation and generation.” From dur (to move in a circle, which implies living somewhere or remaining there; it can also be the sense of piling or heaping up). This is a revolution of time, which is to say, an age or generation. It can also be a dwelling or one’s posterity.

Before the mountainsI were brought forth,J
    or ever you had formedK the earthL and the world,M
    from everlastingN to everlasting you are God.O

Notes on verse 2

I “mountains” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
J “brought forth” = yalad. This is to bear or bring forth. It can mean to act as midwife or to show one’s lineage. This is often used for birth or begetting.
K “formed” = 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.
L “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
M “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.
N “everlasting” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
O “God” = El. Related to “God” in Superscript. See note D above.

You turn usP backQ to dust,R
    and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”S

For a thousandT yearsU in your sightV

Notes on verses 3-4a

P “us” = enosh. Related to “man” in Superscript. See note C above.
Q “turn…back” = 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.”
R “dust” = dakka. 3x in OT. From daka’ (to crush or break into pieces; to bruise, be contrite or oppressed, to destroy, be humble). This is crushed, powder, contrite, destruction.
S “mortals” = ben + adam. Literally, “children of humanity.” Ben is from banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Adam is 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.
T “thousand” = eleph. Perhaps from the same as eleph (herd, cattle); from alaph (to learn, speak, associate with). This is thousand.
U “years” = shanah. From shana (to change, alter). This is a year, age, old. It can also mean yearly.
V “sight” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).

    are like yesterdayW when it is past,X
    or like a watchY in the night.Z

Notes on verse 4b

W “yesterday” = yom + ethmol. Yom has a 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. Ethmol 8x in OT. Probably from et (with, among, beside, including, toward, near); {from anah (to meet, happen, approach)} + mul (front, opposite, toward); {from mul (to cut short, circumcise, blunt, destroy)}. This is recently, formerly, yesterday.
X “is past” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
Y “watch” = ashmoreth. 7x in OT. From shamar (to keep, watch, or preserve; to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something). This is a watch.
Z “night” = layil. Properly, this refers to light twisting away. It is used for night or midnight. Figuratively, this can mean adversity.

You sweep them away;AA they are like a dream,BB
    like grassCC that is renewedDD in the morning;EE

Notes on verse 5

AA “sweep…away” = zaram. 2x in OT. This is to flood, pour. It is to carry something off as a flood does.
BB “dream” = shenah. From yashen (to be languid or go slack; it can mean to sleep, become old or stale, or die). This is asleep.
CC “grass” = chatsir. Perhaps from the same as chatsir (village, settlement); from chatser (enclosure or court – a yard that is fenced in. It could also be a village or hamlet that is walled in); from chatsar (to blow a trumpet, trumpeter, to surround); from chatsotsrah (trumpet). This is grass, plant, hay, leeks.
DD “renewed” = chalaph. This is to slide by or rush like a flood. It can mean to pass through, change, sprout, renew, break a promise, pierce, or violate.
EE ”morning” = boqer. From baqar (to seek, plow, break forth, admire, care for). This refers to the break of day. So it is dawn, early, morning, or morrow.

6 in the morning it flourishesFF and is renewed;
    in the evening it fadesGG and withers.HH

For we are consumedII by your anger;JJ
    by your wrathKK we are overwhelmed.LL

Notes on verses 6-7

FF “flourishes” = tsuwts. 9x in OT. This is to twinkle, shine, blossom. Figuratively, it is to flourish.
GG “fades” = mul. Related to “yesterday” in v4. See note W above.
HH “withers” = yabesh. This is to be dry, withered, confused, or ashamed. It can also be to fail.
II “consumed” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.
JJ “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.
KK “wrath” = chemah. From yacham (to be hot, mate; figuratively, to conceive). This is heat – figuratively it can be anger or fury. It can also refer to poison or venom as they can cause fever.
LL “overwhelmed” = bahal. To be afraid or dismayed or amazed. This is deep trembling within. So, figuratively, it refers to being suddenly agitated. This implies moving or acting quickly/anxiously.

You have setMM our iniquitiesNN beforeOO you,
    our secretPP sins in the lightQQ of your countenance.RR

Notes on verse 8

MM “set” = shith. This is to place, set, bring, appoint, consider, bring, array or look.
NN “iniquities” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.
OO “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.
PP “secret” = alam. This is to conceal, cover from sight in a literal or figurative sense. Could be to escape, liar, neglect, or secret thing.
QQ “light” = maor. 19x in OT. From or (to be or become light, shine). This is light as an element, something that gives off light, the quality of brightness, or cheerfulness.
RR “countenance” = 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.

For allSS our daysTT pass awayUU under your wrath;VV
    our years come to an endWW like a sigh.XX

Notes on verse 9

SS “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
TT “days” = yom. Same as “yesterday” in v4. See note W above.
UU “pass away” = panah. Related to “countenance” in v8. See note RR above.
VV “wrath” = ebrah. Related to “is past” in v14. From eber (the region beyond, passage, quarter, opposite side; generally the east); from abar (see note X above). This is overflow or a passionate outburst. So, fury, anger, or rage.
WW “come to an end” = kalah. Related to “consumed” in v7. See note above.
XX “sigh” = hegeh. 3x in OT. From hagah (to speak, declare, make a sound, imagine, or mutter; a murmur, moan, or growl, whether from delight or anger; to study, ponder, or meditate). This is a moaning, sigh, or sound. It can refer to thunder or grieving.

10 The days of our lifeYY are seventyZZ years,
    or perhaps eighty,AAA if we are strong;BBB

Notes on verse 10a

YY “life” = shanah. Same as “years” in v4. See note U above.
ZZ “seventy” = shibim. From sheba (seven – the number of perfection/sacred fullness). This is seventy.
AAA “eighty” = shemonim. From the same as shemoneh (eight or eighth; abundance as being more than 7, the number of sacred fullness); perhaps from shamen (to shine, which implies being oily, growing fat); from shaman (to grow fat, shine, be oily). This is eighty.
BBB “strong” = 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.

even then their spanCCC is only toilDDD and trouble;EEE
    they are soonFFF gone,GGG and we fly away.HHH

Notes on verse 10b

CCC “span” = rohab. 1x in OT. From rahab (to act arrogantly, storm, be bold, capture). This is pride, span, or strength.
DDD “toil” = amal. From amal (to work – hard labor). This is trouble, toil, labor as well as misery, sorrow, or iniquity. It is work that wearies through effort so hence worry – can refer to body or mind.
EEE “trouble” = aven. Root may mean panting as one does when expending a lot of energy, especially when it comes to nothing. This is nothingness, trouble, sorrow, distress, wickedness, evil, harm, sorrow, misfortune, and mischief. It is also used specifically to refer to idols.
FFF “soon” = chish. 1x in OT. From chish (to hurry, be eager, ready); from the same as chush (to hurry, be eager). This is quickly or a hurry.
GGG “gone” = guz. 2x in OT. This is to cut off, pass quickly, bring.
HHH “fly away” = uph. This is to fly, flee, be weary. It can also mean to cloak with wings or darkness.

11 Who considersIII the powerJJJ of your anger?
    Your wrathKKK is as great as the fearLLL that is due you.

Notes on verse 11

III “considers” = 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.
JJJ “power” = 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.
KKK “wrath” = ebrah. Same as “wrath” in v9. See note VV above.
LLL “fear” = yirah. From yare (to fear, be afraid, dreadful; also fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect). This is fear or reverence.

12 SoMMM teachNNN us to countOOO our days
    that we may gainPPP a wiseQQQ heart.RRR

Notes on verse 12

MMM “so” = ken. Perhaps 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 to set upright. Generally used figuratively to mean thus, so, afterwards, rightly so.
NNN “teach” = yada. Same as “considers” in v11. See note III above.
OOO “count” = manah. To weigh out, reckon, count, number, set, tell. By implication, it is allotting or providing something officially.
PPP “gain” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
QQQ “wise” = chokmah. From chakam (to be wise or teach wisdom; this is wisdom in thought, word, or action). This is wisdom, wit, or skillfulness.
RRR “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.

13 Turn, O Lord!SSS How long?
    Have compassionTTT on your servants!UUU

14 SatisfyVVV us in the morning with your steadfast love,WWW
    so that we may rejoiceXXX and be gladYYY all our days.

Notes on verses 13-14

SSS “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “been” in v1. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note F above). 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.
TTT “have compassion” = 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.
UUU “servants” = 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.
VVV “satisfy” = saba. To be satisfied or full in a literal or figurative sense. Also, to have plenty of.
WWW “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.
XXX “rejoice” = ranan. This is a cry of joy or a joyful song. Properly, it is emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy.
YYY “be glad” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.

15 Make us glad as many days as you have afflictedZZZ us,
    and as many years as we have seenAAAA evil.BBBB

Notes on verse 15

ZZZ “afflicted” = 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.
AAAA “seen” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
BBBB “evil” = ra’. From ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is bad, disagreeable, that which causes pain, misery, something having little or no value, something that is ethically bad, wicked, injury, calamity. This refers to anything that is not what it ought to be – a natural disaster, a disfigurement, an injury, a sin.

16 Let your workCCCC be manifestDDDD to your servants,
    and your glorious powerEEEE to their children.FFFF

Notes on verse 16

CCCC “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.
DDDD “be manifest” = raah. Same as “seen” in v15. See note AAAA above.
EEEE “glorious power” = hadar. From hadar (to honor or adorn; majestic, respected, glorious; to favor or honor; to be proud). This is ornament, splendor, beauty, dignity, majesty, magnificence, and glory.
FFFF “children” = ben. Same as “mortals” in v3. See note S above.

17 Let the favorGGGG of the LordHHHH our GodIIII be upon us,
    and prosper for us the workJJJJ of our handsKKKK
    O prosperLLLL the workMMMM of our hands!

Notes on verse 17

GGGG “favor” = noam. 7x in OT. From naem (to be pleasant, beautiful, sweet, or agreeable in a literal or figurative sense) This is pleasantness, beauty, favor, agreeableness, delight, splendor, or grace.
HHHH “Lord” = Adonai. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note E above.
IIII “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in Superscript. See note D above.
JJJJ “work” = 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.
KKKK “hands” = 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.
LLLL “prosper” = kun. Related to “so” in v12. See note MMM above.
MMMM “work” = maaseh. Same as “work” in v17. Se note JJJJ above.

Image credit: “Yellow Field” at Galil, Israel by Chany Crystal, 2006.

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