Psalm 99

Psalm 99


1 The LordA is king;B let the peoplesC tremble!D

Notes on verse 1a

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 “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.
D “tremble” = ragaz. This is shaking from any strong emotion, particularly anger or fear. It can be agitated, excited, perturbed, afraid, quaking, quivering.

    He sits enthronedE upon the cherubim;F let the earthG quake!H

Notes on verse 1b

E “sits enthroned” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
F “cherubim” = kerub. Perhaps related to Akkadian (“to bless” or “one who blesses”). This is a cherub – perhaps a class of angels. See
G “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
H “quake” = nut. 1x in OT. This is to dangle or shake.

2 The Lord is greatI in Zion;J
    he is exaltedK over allL the peoples.

Notes on verse 2

I “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.
J “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.
K “is exalted” = rum. This is to rise or raise, to be high literally or figuratively. So it can also mean to exalt or extol.
L “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.

3 Let them praiseM your great and awesomeN name.O
    HolyP is he!

Notes on verse 3

M “praise” = 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.
N “awesome” = 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.
O “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.
P “holy” = qadosh. From qodesh (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); related to qadash (set apart, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified; something or someone set apart for a holy purpose or use – ceremonially or morally clean). This is sacred or holy in a ritual or moral sense. As a noun, it refers to a holy one (like a saint or angel), a holy place (the sanctuary), or God (the Holy One).

MightyQ King,R loverS of justice,T

Notes on verse 4a

Q “mighty” = 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.
R “king” = melek. Related to “is king” in v1. From malak (see note B above). This is king or royal.
S “Lover” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.
T “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.

    you have establishedU equity;V
you have executedW justice
    and righteousnessX in Jacob.Y

Notes on verse 4b

U “established” = 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.
V “equity” = meshar. 19x in OT. From yashar (to be straight, right, even, agreeable). This is evenness, straightness, prosperity, or uprightness.
W “executed” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
X “righteousness” = tsedaqah. From the same as tsedeq (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). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.
Y “Jacob” = Yaaqob. From the same as aqeb (heel, hind part, hoof, rear guard of an army, one who lies in wait, usurper). This is Isaac’s son and his descendants. The name means heel-catcher or supplanter.

5 ExtolZ the Lord our God;AA
    worshipBB at his footstool.CC
    Holy is he!

Notes on verse 5

Z “extol” = rum. Same as “is exalted” in v2. See note K above.
AA “God” = Elohim.
BB “worship” = shachah. This is to bow down, make a humble entreaty, to do homage to royalty or to God.
CC “footstool” = hadom + regel. Hadom is 6x in OT. May come from a word meaning stamp on. This is a stool. Regel is foot, endurance, or journey. It is a foot as the means of walking and so it implies a step or a greater journey. It can be used euphemistically for private parts.

6 MosesDD and AaronEE were among his priests,FF

Notes on verse 6a

DD “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.
EE “Aaron” = Aharon. Derivation uncertain. May mean “bearer of martyrs” OR be related to Ancient Egyptian ꜥḥꜣ rw (warrior lion) OR elevated, exalted, high mountain. This is Aaron. See
FF “priests” = kohen. This is literally the one who officiates i.e. the priest. This is where the Jewish last name “Cohen” (and its variants) comes from.

    SamuelGG also was among those who calledHH on his name.
    They criedII to the Lord, and he answeredJJ them.

Notes on verse 6b

GG “Samuel” = Shemuel. Related to “name” in v3 & “God” in v5. From shem (see note O above) + el (see note AA above) OR from shama (hear, call, consent, or consider; implies listening intelligently, giving attention; obedience and action are often implied) + el (see note AA above). This is Samuel meaning either the “name of God” or “heard of God.”
HH “called” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
II “cried” = qara. Same as “called” in v6. See note HH above.
JJ “answered” = 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.

He spokeKK to them in the pillarLL of cloud;MM

Notes on verse 7a

KK “spoke” = dabar. This is generally to speak, answer, declare, or command. It might mean to arrange and so to speak in a figurative sense as arranging words.
LL “pillar” = ammud. From amad (to stand up in a literal or figurative sense; to establish, continue, endure, take a stand, act, be a servant, stand still, remain, stand against an enemy). This is a pillar, stand, or platform.
MM “cloud” = 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.

    they keptNN his decrees,OO
    and the statutesPP that he gaveQQ them.

Notes on verse 7b

NN “kept” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
OO “decrees” = edah. From ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is testimony or witness.
PP “statutes” = choq. 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 statute, boundary, condition, custom, limit, ordinance It is something that is prescribed or something that is owed.
QQ “gave” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.

O Lord our God, you answered them;
    you wereRR a forgivingSS GodTT to them,
    but an avengerUU of their wrongdoings.VV
9 Extol the Lord our God,WW
    and worship at his holyXX mountain;YY
    for the Lord our GodZZ is holy.AAA

Notes on verses 8-9

RR “were” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v1. See note A above.
SS “forgiving” = 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.
TT “God” = El. Related to “God” in v5 & “Samuel” in v6. See note GG above.
UU “avenger” = naqam. This is to avenge, punish, have a grudge, execute.
VV “wrongdoings” = alilah. From alal (to affect, do, practice, mock, overdo, glean, abuse, pain). This is a deed or action – something that causes an effect. It could be a wanton or shameful deed or an opportunity.
WW “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v5. See note AA above.
XX “holy” = qodesh. Related to “holy” in v3. See note P above.
YY “mountain” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
ZZ “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v5. See note AA above.
AAA “holy” = qadosh. Same as “holy” in v3. See note P above.

Image credit: “A Pillar of Cloud” by Schristia, 2009.

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