Tag Archives: Hebrew




David writes in Psa_23:1, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” After using God’s covenant name LORD and then picturing such a personal relationship by likening Him to a Shepherd, the first blessing David mentions receiving from his Shepherd is that he does not want for anything.

The Hebrew chāsēr (H2637) means “to be lacking or needy or to decrease.” The first two of its some twenty occurrences reflect that latter idea when the waters of the Flood “were abated” and “decreased” (Gen_8:3; Gen_8:5). The idea of lacking is apparent in the third occurrence when Abraham found a “lack” of righteous people in Sodom (Gen_18:28).

Our text, however, says that David did not lack for anything, that he was not needy, that there was no decrease of any necessary thing in his life. The most frequent use of chāsēr, in fact, is to show that God’s provision is sufficient to meet the needs of His people. As one might expect, we find this very word in the account of God feeding His people in the wilderness. God’s provision of manna was so miraculous that “he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating” (Exo_16:18).

That is, indeed, the Shepherd’s promise. If we follow Him, we will want for nothing. As Spurgeon writes, “I shall not lack for temporal things. Does he not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can he leave his children to starve? I shall not want for spirituals, I know that his grace will be sufficient for me. Resting in him he will say to me, ‘As thy day so shall thy strength be’ [Deu_33:25]. I may not possess all that I wish for, but ‘I shall not want.’”

Is there a prerequisite for such provision, or is it automatic no matter how one might live? As David makes clear elsewhere, “They that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing” (Psa_34:10; also Mat_6:25-34). In contrast, when God’s people turned to idol worship, “[They] wanted all things, and [were] consumed by the sword and by the famine” (Jer_44:18). While there are starving people in many places in the world, the problem is not a lack of resources, rather a wrong response to God, not a lack of food, rather a lack of faith.

Scriptures for Study: Read the following passages, noting the promise of God’s provision in each: Deu_8:3; Deu_8:9 (also Mat_4:4); Mat_6:25-34; Php_4:19. Is there ever a reason to doubt?



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David (2)



Of the many events in David’s life, few were as far-reaching as his adultery with Bathsheba. That act, along with his attempted cover-up, brought incalculable misery to David’s household, just as Nathan predicted (2Sa_12:10-11), starting with the death of the child conceived in that sin and then encompassing rape, rebellion, revenge, and revolt within his house (2Sa_12:15 to 2Sa_20:26).

Psalms 51, however, is a light in the darkness. While the consequences of sin were not diminished, this psalm records David’s confession and forgiveness. It stands even today as a model for Christians.

First, we see David’s repentance (Psa_51:1-6). “Acknowledge” (Psa_51:3) is yāḏa‘, which speaks of knowledge acquired by the senses. David uses personal pronouns thirteen times to underscore that only he was to blame for his sin, not Bathsheba, his parents, society, or even an aberrant gene in his DNA. His sin was willful (“transgressions” in Psa_51:1 is pesha‘, April 2), and was against God alone. Yes, he had betrayed and hurt his family, Bathsheba, Uriah, and the entire nation, but sin is always against God, the breaking of Hislaw. This passage emphasizes the broken heart brought on by sin, and the desire to turn from it and be forgiven.

Second, we see David’s refinement (Psa_51:7-12). He prayed that God would “purge [him] with hyssop” (Psa_51:7). Because of its stiff branches and hairy leaves, this common plant from the mint family was used for sprinkling purifying water (Lev_14:2-7; Lev_14:49-52; Num_19:1-19). David also prayed that God would “wash” him (Num_19:2; Num_19:7). The Hebrew kāḇas (H3526) commonly referred to washing clothes, both the ordinary task (Gen_49:11; 2Sa_19:24) and ritual cleansing (Exo_19:10; Exodus 14; Lev_11:25). Further, David wanted a “clean heart” (Lev_11:10). Clean is tāhôr (H2889), which speaks of the absence of impurity, filthiness, defilement, or imperfection, such as “pure gold” (Exo_37:11) or “pure words” (Psa_12:6). David did, indeed, want refinement, for only with such cleansing comes joy, “gladness,” and “[rejoicing]” (Psa_12:8).

Third, we see David’s restoration (Psa_51:13-19). Upon being delivered from sin, David now declares God’s salvation. He desires to proclaim to others what God will do in the repentant heart. As God recommissioned Peter for service (John 21), the restored believer is one who proclaims the gospel of Christ with new fervor.

Scriptures for Study: Read Psalms 32, where David tells of his joy after God forgave him. What does 1Jn_1:9 say about God’s forgiveness of His children?



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David (1)



While no more inspired than any other Scripture, Psalms 23 is, indeed, one of its crown jewels. “Using common ancient near-eastern images,” writes one expositor, “David progressively unveils his personal relationship with the LORD.” David refers to the LORD as his Shepherd (Jehovah-Rā‘â,), and then in beautiful poetry speaks of what he receives from his Shepherd: protection (Psa_23:1-4), provision (Psa_23:5), and permanence (Psa_23:6).

Let us consider the nameDavid. While the etymology is uncertain, it is commonly believed that Dāwiḏ (H1732) is derived from the root dôḏ (H1730), meaning “beloved, loved one, and even uncle” (e.g., Lev_20:20). Most of its fifty-eight occurrences refer to “the beloved” in Song of Solomon. As David prefigures Messiah (Eze_34:23-24; Eze_37:24-25; Hos_3:5; Jer_30:9), who in turn was spoken of as the Father’s “beloved Son” (Mat_3:17), this etymology seems at least possible.

While there is much detail about this pivotal character—his name appears more than 1,000 times—we can briefly summarize David with seven words:

(1) Son. The youngest of eight brothers, David was the son of Jesse of Bethlehem, grandson of Ruth and Boaz, tracing his heritage back to Abraham and then forward to Messiah (Mat_1:1-17). Anointed secretly by Samuel as the next king (1Sa_16:1-13), this young man was infused with the Spirit and destined for true greatness. (2) Shepherd. Oh, the lessons he learned as a shepherd! Courage, compassion, care, and much more helped mold a leader. (3) Singer. A musician and poet without equal, David penned most of the Psalms, providing unprecedented praise to God. (4) Soldier. Facing Goliath in his youth and later entire armies, David was a true warrior who received his power from God. (5) Sovereign. In a forty-year reign (1010–970 BC), the Hebrew nation reached the peak of its unity and power under King David’s leadership. (6) Sinner. As no one is perfect, David fell into sin, the most grievous of which was adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. The consequences of sin are great, and untold misery came to David’s household. (7) Savior. Not David himself, of course, but the “Son of David,” Jesus Christ, who would save His people from their sins and sit on David’s throne.

Scriptures for Study:Read Psalms 51, David’s great psalm of repentance.



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Anoint (2)



The Hebrew māšach (H4886), is the most common word for anointing. Occurring about seventy times, its basic meaning is nothing special, simply to smear something, such as oil on a shield to prevent the leather from cracking (Isa_21:5), paint on a house (Jer_22:14), or oil on wafers as we might spread butter on bread (Exo_29:2). Other nonreligious significance in the ancient Near East included anointing with oil to confirm such things as diplomatic agreements and business contracts.

It is the theological sense of māšach, however, that is crucial. Its primary significance is as a symbol of sanctification and service. In its first occurrence, for example, Jacob awakens from his dream of “the ladder,” builds a monument to the event, consecrating it with oil, and even renaming the place “Bethel” (bēyṯ-‘ēl, H1008, “the house of God,” Gen_31:13). We see this symbol often. Aaron and his sons were anointed to “consecrate them, and sanctify them” so they could “minister unto [God] in the priest’s office” (Exo_28:41), as were prophets (1Ki_19:16; Isa_61:1). The tabernacle, the Ark, and various vessels were anointed and thereby set apart unto God (Exo_30:26-28). Even kings were anointed, such as Saul (1Sa_9:15-16; 1Sa_10:1; 1Sa_2:10) and David (1Sa_16:13; 2Sa_12:7), to set them apart for service to God and leading the people in sanctified obedience.

It is extremely significant that another form of māšach, namely māšiyach (H4899), is the source of the word Messiah. While OT references to Jesus as this future anointed one are not numerous, conservative scholars agree that passages such as Dan_9:24-26 and Psa_2:2, with its context, could not be clearer. Additionally, the Septuagint almost always renders this chriō (G5548), “to daub, smear, anoint with oil,” from which is derived christos (G5547), “Christ.” Chriō appears, in fact, five times in the NT, four of which refer to the Father’s anointing of Christ.

The final appearance of chriō declares that all believers have been anointed by God (2Co_1:21), demonstrating that we all are set apart, “sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2Ti_2:21).

Scriptures for Study: The noun chrisma (G5545) also comes from chriō (G5548). Read its only two occurrences in 1Jn_2:20 (“unction”) and 27 (“anointing”), noting what we have in the Holy Spirit.



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Heritage (Inheritance)



The verb nāchal (H5157) means “to receive, to take property as a permanent possession, usually as the result of succession.” Appearing some sixty times in the OT, its first occurrence is in Exo_23:30, where God promises to drive the Canaanites from the land of promise, enabling His people to “be increased, and inherit the land.” Interestingly, two verses before, God promised to send “hornets” to aid in this task. This divine judgment could refer to literal hornets, but could possibly be figurative language for the Egyptians, as they raided Canaan regularly and the word for hornet (sir‘āh, or zirāh, H6880) is similar to the one for Egyptians (misrayim, H4714). We also find nāchal several times in Joshua (Jos_1:6; Jos_11:23; Jos_13:6-7; Jos_13:33; Jos_19:9;).

A wonderful occurrence of nāchal is in Psa_119:111 : “Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever,” or more literally, “I have inherited Thy testimonies.” While we might get really happy when someone does leave us something valuable in their will, that is merely temporal. God’s Word is the greatest inheritance we possess. Do we truly grasp that truth? Nothing, absolutely nothing, equals the value of the Word of God.

It is extremely significant that the Septuagint often translates nāchal as the Greek klēronomia (G2817), or a similar form. The NT repeatedly speaks of the inheritance we have as believers. There is no better place to see this emphasis, in fact, than in Ephesians 1. As the Urim and Thummim were used in the OT to discover God’s will (e.g., Num_27:21; 1Ch_24:5-6) and to divide land (1Ch_6:54-81), the same idea is found in Classical Greek, as lots were drawn to discover the will of the gods. The root klēros (G2819), in fact, referred to “the fragment of stone or piece of wood which was used as a lot (December 22). Paul, therefore, tells us in Eph_1:11, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” In other words, the lot of inheritance has fallen to us, not by chance, but by the sovereign will of God. He goes on to say that the “earnest” (literally, “first installment,” arrabōn, G728) of our inheritance is the Holy Spirit, who has sealed (sphragizō,G4972) us in Christ (Eph_1:14). He then reveals the “riches of the glory of [Christ’s] inheritance in the saints” (Eph_1:18). Oh, what a heritage we have!

Scriptures for Study: Read Ephesians 1 today and rejoice in your riches!



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Rod [and] Staff


šēḇet [and] miš‘eneṯ

Today we discover a twofold provision of the Shepherd that is rooted in the simplicity of ancient sheepherding. Psa_23:4 assures us, “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

While there are times when these two words are a little difficult to differentiate—in some contexts perhaps even interchangeable—there is little problem in the present context. Rod is šēḇet (H7626), which is used in a variety of ways in the OT: a crude weapon (2Sa_23:21, staff), a threshing tool (Isa_28:27, rod), the shaft of a spear (2Sa_18:14, “darts”), and an instrument of discipline (Pro_13:24; Pro_22:15; Pro_29:15, rod). It is also used to refer to a tool to collect and count sheep (Lev_27:32; Eze_20:37).

Staff, then, is miš‘eneṯ (H4938), which refers to a “staff, pole, or support,” such as a cane or crutch (Exo_21:19; Zec_8:4). It is also a symbol of authority, such as a ruler’s scepter (Num_21:18) or the prophet’s staff (2Ki_4:29). Regarding the shepherd, this brings to mind the familiar image of the staff with a crook at the top used to rescue a sheep from a cliff or gully.

This provides us with the complete picture. As we journey through “the valley of the shadow of death,” it is with the rod the Shepherd protects us from the predators that attack and it is with the staff He rescues us from other perils that befall. That is why David says, in short, it is in this there is complete “comfort.” Just the sight of these “shepherd’s tools,” in fact, is a comfort; just knowing they are there ready for use is enough to calm our concerns. While much of the world’s so-called “comfort” comes from syrupy sentimentality, psychobabble, and philosophical clichés—into which even many Christians have been lured—the Shepherd provides true comfort by His very presence though His Word.

Dear Christian Friend, are you trusting in the Shepherd and His “tools” to safely protect and rescue you as you walk daily through life’s dangerous valley?

Scriptures for Study: What is the source of our comfort in Psa_119:50 (also Rom_15:4)?




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Today’s Hebrew word is one of those that permeates the OT, appearing some 1,150 times, and having equivalents in Akkadian, Aramaic, Arabic, Ugaritic, and Ethiopic. Šāma‘ (H8085) basically means “to hear with the ear” with several shades of meaning derived from it that generally denote effective hearing, that is, truly listening. Ideas conveyed by šāma‘, then, are “paying attention, regarding, and obeying.”

The first occurrence of šāma‘ well illustrates the above concepts. After they sinned, Adam and Eve “heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen_3:8). Here was, as many expositors believe, the pre-incarnate Word, the Lord Jesus, walking in the Garden. Adam and Eve recognized Him as such and knew fully how they had disobeyed His one and only command. We find šāma‘ again in Gen_3:10 and still again in Gen_3:17, where God told Adam that he “hearkened” (listened to, obeyed, or at least followed the lead of) his wife instead of His God.

We repeatedly find this word, therefore, in reference to obeying God. We are told to “hear the word of the LORD” (e.g., Isa_66:5; Jer_22:29), “hear [His] voice” (Isa_28:23), “[hearken] unto counsel” (Pro_12:15), and obey His law and “commandments” (Isa_42:24; Neh_9:16). Two passages that sum it all up are, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deu_6:4-5), followed by the command to keep these words in one’s heart and teach them to your children (Deu_6:6-9). Those verses actually comprise the “Shema,” the basic confession of faith of Judaism recited both morning and evening.

The challenge to us today is both clear and convicting. As šāma‘ indicates “hearing with the intent to obey,” so does the Greek akouō (G191), which is how the Septuagint renders šāma‘ here. It means not only to hear in general (e.g., Mat_2:3), to hear with attention (e.g., Mar_4:3, “hearken”), and to understand (e.g., Mar_4:33), but also to obey (e.g., Luk_16:19-31). In a day when Christ is presented as a way to salvation without Lordship, and when Christian living is viewed as not involving strict obedience to anything definitive, Scripture’s emphasis on obedience has never been more critical.

Scriptures for Study: Who hears God, according to Pro_1:5 (cf. Pro_1:7)? To what should we hearken and what is the result in Pro_1:33; Pro_8:32-35? What comes by “hearing” in Rom_10:17?



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HEBREW – LORD of Recompense [Jehovah-Gemula]


Yāhweh Gemûlāh

Jeremiah 51:56

  1. Because of His perfect, absolute righteousness, God is also called by two names that speak of His judgment upon unrighteousness. 

    A. First, for example, in Jer_51:56, where He is called Jehovah Gemûlāh. The prophet foretells that God will come “upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for the LORD God of recompences shall surely requite.”

    B. The Hebrew gemûlāh (H1578)—a derivative of gāmal (H1580), “to deal, to recompense, to ripen”—speaks of full repayment for what is deserved.


  2. There are many instances of this word (and other derivatives) that speak of recompense, both of judgment and blessing.

    A. Used positively, for example, when David was fleeing from Absalom, Barzillai provided him with supplies (2Sa_19:32), and David returned the favor (2Sa_19:36).

    B. It is even used to speak of benefits God has given (Psa_103:2). Here, benefits is the same Hebrew word as recompense.

    C. At times, the positive and negative are actually contrasted, as in the Virtuous Woman, who “will do [gāmal] him [her husband] good and not evil all the days of her life” (Pro_31:12).


  3. It is the negative, however, that is truly sobering.

    A. The instance here in our text speaks of God’s retribution on His enemies, as does Isa_59:18 : “According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.”

    B. The psalmist calls upon this God of Recompense to “give [the wicked] according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert [gemûl]” (Psa_28:4).

  1. We cannot help but make special note of Psa_94:2 :

    A. “Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward [gemûl] to the proud.”

    B. Pride is never used in a positive way of man in Scripture.

    C. Here we read of, in fact, its costliness; God will recompense it, judging it as harshly as He did the Babylonians. How this should show us what a serious sin pride is!

  2. The New Testament has – antapodidomi – translated as reward.

    A. Romans 12:17 leaves us with a positive virtue to all that are believers in the Lord. “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

    B. We further find the Lord claiming the right to recompense the enemies of believers. II Thessalonians 1:6 – “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you.

    C. We often hear the phrase, “Vengence is mine sayeth the Lord.” Hebrews 10:30 is very effective in showing God’s attitude to the enemies of his people and also the judgment that will be brought to bear on His people. “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belogeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

  3. Being “born again” by trusting in Jesus death, burial and resurrection has the greatest recompense. Luke 14:14 “And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompense at the resurrection of the just.


  4. Scriptures for Study: On the positive side, what does Psa_116:12 command? On the negative side, what does Isa_3:9 warn?


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HEBREW – Tremble (1)

In our study of the tabernacle, we referred to Isa_66:1-2 in passing, but there is a truth there that deeply affects this writer and that is well worth our serious consideration in light of our modern day: “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”
Does God demand magnificent structures, such as the breathtaking St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, to worship Him? Not according to Isaiah, who in this chapter continues his prophecy concerning the glorious future. He begins, however, by contrasting the attitude of the true and faithful servant of God with the apostate and worldly character of most of the nation. He declares that there are only two places where God dwells: first in heaven and second in the contrite heart of the person who trembles at His Word. God is not looking for a temple made of stone or sacrifices made without thought. He is concerned rather with what is in the heart, specifically, our attitude toward His Word.
Paul declared the same truth: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Php_2:12). To our shame, we see little, if any, fear and trembling in our churches. Oh, we see much excitement, activity, and other user-oriented attitudes, but where is the trembling before God’s Word?
Trembleth is a translation of chārēḏ (H2730), “to shake,” from which are derived the ideas of trembling and fear. God told Gideon, for example, to limit the number of soldiers by observing who was afraid, which sent 22,000 back home (Jdg_7:3). In 1Sa_4:13, Eli sat “by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God,” because the Ark of the Covenant was in danger of being captured by the Philistines.
As we continue these thoughts in coming days, let us each ask ourselves, “Do I tremble before God’s Word? Do I have a deep reverence for God’s revelation and a fear in my heart of disobeying it?”
Scriptures for Study: Read the following verses, noting the emphasis on trembling at God’s Word: Ezr_9:4; Ezr_10:3; Psa_119:120.


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Hebrew – Valley of Achor (2)

‘ēmeq ’aḵôr
Yesterday we considered the Valley of Achor (Joshua 7), the “valley of pain and trouble.” We conclude today by noting that not only does its history demonstrate how sin subtly overtakes us, but it also shows us sin’s results.
First, sin defeats us. As noted yesterday, Israel relied not on God but on her own understanding of the situation and so took only a small army of “about three thousand men” to Ai (Jos_7:4). The result of that attitude of self-sufficiency, along with Achan’s action of disobedience, was not only Israel’s defeat—her men “fled before the men of Ai” (Jos_7:4)—but also her disgrace, as the army of Ai “chased [her]” as she retreated (Jos_7:5; Jos_7:12). Indeed, sin destroys, dishonors, and debases us.
Second, sin hinders fellowship with God. As God Himself declared, “Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people” (Jos_7:12-13). Accursed appears six times in Jos_7:11-15. The Hebrew is chērem (H2764), which speaks here of “devoted to destruction.” While Jericho itself was “accursed” (Jos_6:17-18), Israel had permitted that accursed thing to enter the camp, so God demanded that it be purged before she could know full fellowship again. While God “will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb_13:5), and while the true believer does not lose fellowship with God, since such fellowship is part of salvation (1Jn_1:3), fellowship and communion are certainly hindered by sin.
Third, even with confession, the results of sin remain. While Achan admitted his sin (Jos_7:20-21), he and his family were still put to death (Jos_7:23-25). While this might seem harsh to some today, it is a consistent principle. Even though God forgives us, the “wages of sin is death” (Rom_6:23), which is why Jesus had to die for sin. While God can certainly forgive, each sin can still have consequences.
Fourth, sin affects others. Achan’s sin affected his entire family (who were probably accomplices, see Deu_24:16), as he led them astray into sin. Even his innocent livestock and possessions were destroyed (Jos_7:24). One of Satan’s most effective lies is reflected in the often-used phrase, “My sin only affects me.” Families, churches, and entire nations are affected by the sin of individuals. Let us steer clear of the Valley of Achor.
Scriptures for Study: Read the following, noting what each says about sin: Jer_17:9-10; Jer_23:24; Amo_9:3. What is our provision for sin in those times it does overtake us (1Jn_1:9)?


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