4 My whole being is stricken with terror, while You, Hashem—O, how long!
v’-naf-SHEE niv-ha-LAH m’-OD v’-a-TAH a-do-NAI ad ma-TAI
ד וְנַפְשִׁי נִבְהֲלָה מְאֹד ואת [וְאַתָּה] יְהֹוָה עַד־מָתָי׃
6:4 My whole being is stricken with terror
David mentions the idea of behala (בהלה) meaning ‘terror’ or ‘fear’, three times in this short, sad psalm. The first two times, he laments being in this melancholy state. The third time, he wishes it upon his enemies. The same term appears in the Torah as the first punishment for the Children of Israel when they begin to sin in the Land of Israel. In Vayikra (26:16), God begins His list of punishments for not listening to the Lord and abandoning His commandments by saying, “I will wreak misery upon you,” using the same Hebrew word behala. Yet, despite the long list of punishments delineated in that section, it ends with a divine promise to remember the covenant made with the forefathers and Eretz Yisrael: “Then will I remember My covenant with Yaakov; also My covenant with Yitzchak, and also My covenant with Avraham I will remember; and I will remember the land” (Leviticus 26:42).