Psalms 1:1 – An In Depth Hebrew Word Study

13 May

Note: I have tried to incorporate a Hebrew font into my WordPress theme but at this time I cannot figure out how or know if it is even possible.  I would like to try to make a pdf file for this post where I can use real Hebrew letters and thus expound more into the particulars of the Hebrew language but do not see that happening at this time.  I apologize in advance for any errors.

 Sincerely, John.

Psalms 1:1  (Please see note 1)

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

Psalms 1:1  (Translation)

Happy [a] are those [b] who are boldly able to enter into God’s presence, who choose not to model their lives after those who are not walking on the right path! [c]  They do not form close friendships with those who habitually sin, nor do they purposely spend their free time in the homes of those who make fun of God’s laws.   

Introduction:

Psalms one is a wisdom Psalm (see note 2)  teaching us what God expects of us if we are to enter fully into his divine and holy presence.  “As Perowne has observed: in form (Psalms One) is little more than the expansion of a proverb” (see note 3).  It is believed by some that King Solomon wrote this psalm as an introduction to his father’s writings as it was not uncommon for a son “to gather the writings of his father” (again see note 3).

Note: I have taken a great deal of time in going by word by word through each word in this Psalm… verse 1 is finally complete!  Hope you enjoy it and may God richly bless you.

Verse 1: Blessed is the man (or woman)…

 Blessed –  The Hebrew word here for blessed is “esher” (eh-sher) which literally means “happy is the one who walks the straight path” (AHLB)(4).  This can only be done by a rich study of God’s word and communion with the Holy Spirit.  Many Christians feel that they can loosely take God’s precious word for granted, come into his presence on Sunday and there receive a rich blessing.  Not so!  Believers must walk a straight path before the Lord if they want their lives to be fruitful and truly blessed.(5)

Man –  The word here for man is “iysh” (eesh) and can be translated as mankind or steward.  God is not unjust and neither were the writers of the Psalms.  He loves all of his creation equally, and each of us are assigned a special place in his eternal and glorious kingdom.  Thus you should be able to put your mind to rest (for all you women out there) that this Psalm was meant only for men.  I personally choose the translation “steward,” as each of us as believers are called to be stewards of God’s holy word.

That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…

Walketh –  The Hebrew word for walk is halak (haw-lak) which basically means to walk a certain way along life’s journey (AHLB).  A great example of halak in connection to this verse can be seen in Genesis 17:1 where God tells Abraham “I am the Almighty God; walk (halak) before me, and be thou perfect.”  Obviously God is not telling Abraham to physically walk before him (that would be ridiculous) but to continue spiritually to direct his life in such a way so that he will receive all that God had promised to him.  The Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary translates this word as ‘behave’.  This is also good, but behave is an abstract term and we are talking ancient Biblical Hebrew here, not modern day English or even Greek!  Thus we will stick with the first definition – to walk in a particular way along life’s journey.   This is the basic meaning of halak.

Counsel –  The Hebrew word for counsel is ‘etsah’ (ay-tsaw) and comes from the root word ya’ats (yaw-ats) which means to advise or to counsel, receive plans from or purpose.

Ungodly – Hebrew word here is rasha’ (raw-shaw) which means “one who has departed from the correct path (AHLB)… thus to be or to do wrong (hence morally wrong) (strong’s def).

Nor standeth in the way of sinners…

Standeth – Translators used many words to portray this one Hebrew word “amad” (aw-mad).  The Hebrew word amad can be found in scripture in the KJV as stand, stay, stood, set, withstand, continue, endure, appoint, present, remain, endure… the list goes on and on.  This word can be tricky.  As you can see from the words given, ‘amad’ can take on many different meanings, but thanks once again to the AHLB (please see note 5) I have found a very simple answer to solidify this passage of scripture for me.  The original concrete meaning of the word amad is that of a pillar.  This is where we get the idea to stand, be strong with, endure, remain, etc.  Thus, we get the picture from amad as God’s warning to the pious not to stand strong with or form pillars with someone who refuses to believe the truth.  In 2 Corinthians 6:17 the Bible says: “Come out from among them, be separate and clean and I will receive you.  Two verses before we find – “Do not be unequally yoked with those who resist the truth”(please see note 6).  In other words, be strong and do not form pillars of friendship with the unsaved where you are not the stronger vessel.  This is what I learned from amad!

Way – The Hebrew word for way is derek (deh-rek) and concretely means “a road” and by implication “a way of life”.  It comes from the root word darak  (daw-rak) which means to take a step (AHLB) and also “to tread.”  This word implies a journey, manner, custom, conduct, etc and is used often in scripture.

Sinners – The Hebrew word chatta’ (khat-taw) basically means criminal or one who is found guilty and comes from the root word chata’ (khaw-taw) where we find the word the english word “sin” – or one who has missed the mark.  A hardened criminal usually does not have remorse for the things he has done and that is what makes him all the more guilty in God’s eyes, thus once again missing the mark.

Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful…

Sitteth – This is why I study Hebrew!  The word is yashab (yaw-shab) which means to dwell, to marry, etc.  Translators used the english word “sit” but this word lacks so much as to the picture of what the psalmist is actually saying.  God’s word is precious and thus every letter, every word must be examined for clarification, meaning, interpretation, etc.  The overall picture of this word implies one of resting in a particular place for an extended period of time.  Thus, it is not to merely “sit” but to dwell, abide, interact with… that is the beauty of knowing the Hebrew language!

Seat – The Hebrew word for seat is mowshab (mo-shawb) whose root has the concrete meaning of a dwelling place.  Its root is the word yashab, the word right above.

Scornful – The word here is luwts (loots) and is made up of only two Hebrew letters.  The first letter is lamed which is a picture of a staff and thus is a symbol of authority, namely God’s.  It also is a representation of the human tongue.  The second letter is tsadik and is a picture of a man laying on his side which represents trouble (AHLB).  Thus, it is easy to draw the conclusion by combining these two letters that the word luwts describes a man who is fighting God’s authority.  Another example of why I love Hebrew!

Happy [a] are those [b] who are boldly able to enter into God’s presence, who choose not to model their lives after those who are not walking on the right path! [c]  They do not form close friendships with those who habitually sin, nor do they purposely spend their free time in the homes of those who make fun of God’s laws.   


Notes on Word Study:

1) Psalms One is also a Torah Psalm (as is Psalms 19 and 119) as its emphasis is placed on the man who delights in the Torah or Law of the Adonai.

2) Taken from a Study By Bob Deffinbaugh entitled: A Psalm for All Seasons: Studies in the Book of Psalms

3) Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible by Jeff Benner

4) The Septuagint or LXX translates this word esher (blessed) as “makarios.”  We find the word in the New Testament many times, most notably perhaps in the Beatitudes.

5)

To learn more about Jeff Benner and his amazing research and studies please visit the Ancient Hebrew Research Center’s website.  Jeff’s work and dedication to the Hebrew Text is an invaluable source of wisdom to me.  You can find more about this man and his wonderful family by clicking here.

6) In the KJV the term is “unbelievers”

Commentary for Bible Translation:

a) or those who are truly able to enter into God’s presence

b) anyone who is called to be a steward of God’s word

c) they themselves being led astray

 

Advertisements

10 Responses to “Psalms 1:1 – An In Depth Hebrew Word Study”

  1. The Toy Box: sub-urban farm February 12, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    Oh my gracious! Thank-you. I am doing a word study on The Way this season and needed a better description of HALAK (walk) to describe what Jacob was doing in Genesis 32:1. I knew the word translated “went” (RSV) was HALAK and that this word speaks of how we live in the kingdom, but it was not so easy to find a bottom line, clean explanation with an example. I found it here, as a bonus, I found your blog. Joy! Debs at The Toy Box sub-urban farm in Everett, WA

    • jbutzu February 12, 2015 at 11:01 am #

      Thank you so much… much more Hebrew audio and video coming soon!

    • jbutzu March 7, 2015 at 10:57 am #

      Thank you so much… your website rocks btw… thank you!

  2. yiliketorun November 14, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    Totally awesome account of Psalms 1. I love the original language of the bible. Blessings

    • jbutzu November 20, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

      Thank you!

  3. Grant Christian Ngonyani January 1, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    Amen,thanks a lot and this is the reason why I need to understand the Hebrews text when it comes into translation of the holy scriptures,cause nothing can be further from the truth.

  4. walter plews April 13, 2016 at 6:34 am #

    John, Go to Bible study tools.com to download Free BST Hebrew font

    • jbutzu July 25, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

      Thank you Walter!

  5. David August 18, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

    Very good translation of a Psalms which clearly shows the way a man or woman’s life should be to be blessed by God.

    • jbutzu August 18, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

      Thank you David!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: