Psalm 97:1-12

Psalm 97:1-12
Christmas Day ABC


The LordA is king!B Let the earthC rejoice;D
    let the manyE coastlandsF be glad!G

Notes on verse 1

A “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.
B “is king” = malak. To be or become king or queen, to rise to the throne, to be crowned. By implication, to take counsel. This word may be from the Hebrew word for king “melek” or vice versa.
C “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
D “rejoice” = gil. Properly, this is twirling around because of a strong feeling whether of rejoicing or from fear. This can be rejoice, be glad or joyful, or to cry.
E “many” = 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.
F “coastlands” = i. Perhaps from avah (to desire, crave, wish for, lust after). This is coastland, island, or region. It is a desirable place to live – dry land, coast.
G “be glad” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.

CloudsH and thick darknessI are all aroundJ him;

Notes on verse 2a

H “clouds” = anan. May be from anan (cover, cloud over; figuratively, acting in a secret way, practicing magic or soothsaying). This is a cloud as something that covers the sky.
I “thick darkness” = araphel. 15x in OT. From araph (to droop, drip, drop). This is a cloud or deep darkness. It is gloom or gloomy as the sky being lowered.
J “all around” = sabib. From sabab (turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch; to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense). This is a circuit or a circle. It could refer to an environment, one’s neighbors, or a circular path round about.

    righteousnessK and justiceL are the foundationM of his throne.N

Notes on verse 2b

K “righteousness” = tsedeq. This is rightness, righteousness, vindication. It is everything that is just or ethical. That which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense. It also includes just weights (i.e. true weights). Figuratively, this is justice, righteousness, equity – even prosperity.
L “justice” = 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.
M “foundation” = makon. 17x 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 a foundation, fixture, basis. It can also be a place or abode as somewhere that is established.
N “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.

FireO goesP beforeQ him,
    and consumesR his adversariesS on every side.T

Notes on verse 3

O “fire” = esh. This is fire, burning, flaming, hot. It is fire in a literal or figurative sense.
P “goes” = 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.
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 “consumes” = lahat. 11x in OT. This is to set on fire, burn, kindle, be ablaze, consume.
S “adversaries” = 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.
T “on every side” = sabib. Same as “all around” in v2. See note J above.

4 His lightningsU light upV the world;W
    the earth seesX and trembles.Y

Notes on verse 4

U “lightnings” = baraq. From baraq (to flash, a flash of lightning). This is lightning. Figuratively, it could be a gleaming or glittering. Concretely, it could be a flashing sword.
V “light up” = or. This is to light, shine, set on fire – to be luminous in a literal or figurative sense.
W “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.
X “sees” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
Y “trembles” = 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.

The mountainsZ meltAA like wax beforeBB the Lord,
    beforeCC the LordDD of allEE the earth.

Notes on verse 5

Z “mountains” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
AA “melt” = masas. This is to melt, discourage, faint. It can be to deteriorate from a sickness or weaken because of sleepiness or an emotional response.
BB “before” = paneh. Same as “before” in v3. See note Q above.
CC “before” = paneh. Same as “before” in v3. See note Q above.
DD “Lord” = adon. From a root that means ruling or being sovereign. This is lord, master, or owner.
EE “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.

The heavensFF proclaimGG his righteousness;
    and all the peoplesHH beholdII his glory.JJ

Notes on verse 6

FF “heavens” = 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.
GG “proclaim” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
HH “peoples” = 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.
II “behold” = raah. Same as “sees” in v4. See note X above.
JJ “glory” = kabod. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is weighty. Figuratively, glorious, abundant, riches, honor, splendor – a reference to one’s reputation or character. This word is often used to describe God and God’s presence.

All worshipersKK of imagesLL are put to shame,MM
    those who make their boastNN in worthless idols;OO
    all godsPP bow downQQ before him.

Notes on verse 7

KK “worshipers” = abad. This is to work, serve, or compel. It can describe any kind of work or service (including religious devotion).  Also, till or cultivate. Used causatively, it can mean to enslave or keep in bondage.
LL “images” = pesel. From pasal (to hew, carve; used for wood or stone). This is an idol or image.
MM “put to shame” = bosh. Properly, this means to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion.
NN “make…boast” = 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. Here, it is Hitpael, meaning to glory, to boast confidently in oneself, to be praised.
OO “worthless idols” = elil. Perhaps from al (not, nothing, lacking value). This is futility, vanity. It can also refer to an image or idol.
PP “gods” = elohim. From eloah (God, a god); from el (God, a god). This is most commonly used as a name for God. Technically, it’s in the plural, i.e. gods. It can also mean great, mighty, judge, or ruler.
QQ “bow down” = shachah. This is to bow down, make a humble entreaty, to do homage to royalty or to God.

ZionRR hearsSS and is glad,
    and the townsTT of JudahUU rejoice,
    because of your judgments,VV O God.WW

Notes on verse 8

RR “Zion” = Tsiyyon. Related to tsyiyyun (signpost, monument); from tsavah (to charge someone, to command, order); from the same as tsiyyah (dryness drought); from a root meaning parched as desert, dry land. Zion can refer to a mountain in Jerusalem as well as another name for Jerusalem itself or the people.
SS “hears” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
TT “towns” = bat. From ben (son literal or figurative; also, grandson, subject, nation); from banah (to build or obtain children). This is daughter in a literal or figurative sense.
UU “Judah” = Yehudah. Probably from yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise); from yad (hand). This is Judah, meaning “praised.”
VV “judgments” = mishpat. Same as “justice” in v2. See note L above.
WW “God” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note A above.

For you, O Lord,XX are most highYY over all the earth;
    you are exaltedZZ farAAA above all gods.

Notes on verse 9

XX “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note A above.
YY “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.
ZZ “exalted” = alah. Related to “most high” in v9. See note YY above.
AAA “far” = meod. Perhaps from the same as uwd (firebrand, a poker). This is very, greatly, exceedingly. It can also mean vehemence, force, abundance.

10 The LordBBB lovesCCC those who hateDDD evil;EEE

Notes on verse 10a

BBB “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note A above.
CCC “loves” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.
DDD “hate” = sane. This is to hate, an enemy. It is a personal hatred and not an abstract one.
EEE “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.

    he guardsFFF the livesGGG of his faithful;HHH
    he rescuesIII them from the handJJJ of the wicked.KKK

Notes on verse 10b

FFF “guards” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
GGG “lives” = 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.
HHH “faithful” = 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.
III “rescues” = 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 “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.
KKK “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.

11 LightLLL dawnsMMM for the righteous,NNN

Notes on verse 11a

LLL “light” = or. Related to “light up” in v4. From or (see note V above.). This is light, sun, sunshine, dawn, or daylight. Figuratively, it can refer to light from instruction, light of a face (that is to say one that is cheerful or finds favor). It can refer to prosperity or salvation; a light that guides, a light eternal from Zion.
MMM “dawns” = zara. This is to sow or scatter seed, conceive or yield. It can also refer to a sower. Figuratively, this can refer to other forms of dissemination.
NNN “righteous” = tsaddiq. Related to “righteousness” in v2. From the same as tsedeq (see note K above). This is just, innocent, righteous, righteous one, or lawful.

    and joyOOO for the uprightPPP in heart.QQQ

Notes on verse 11b

OOO “joy” = simchah. Related to “be glad” in v1. From samach (see note G above). This is joy, rejoicing, pleasure, or glee.
PPP “upright” = yashar. From yashar (to be straight, right, even, smooth, or agreeable; figuratively, to make something pleasant or prosperous). This is straight, right, level. Also, it is pleasing, whether pleasing God or pleasing other people. So, it is upright or righteous.
QQQ “heart” = leb. 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.

12 RejoiceRRR in the Lord,SSS O you righteous,
    and give thanksTTT toUUU his holyVVV name!

Notes on verse 12

RRR “rejoice” = samach. Same as “be glad” in v1. See note G above.
SSS “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note A above.
TTT “give thanks” = yadah. Related to “Judah” in v8. See note UU above.
UUU {untranslated} = zeker. From zakar (to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention). This is remembrance, renown, memento, recollection, or commemoration.
VVV “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.

Image credit: “In the Distance” in Florence, Italy by Wasif Akab, 2009

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply