Success comes from the heart! Psalm 112 is a beautiful description of a person who is blessed by God and successful in life. But only in Hebrew one can see the secret of the psalmist’s victory:
סָמוּךְ לִבּוֹ לֹא יִירָא (samuch libo lo yira)
His heart is upheld, he will not fear,
Until he looks with satisfaction on
his adversaries. (Psalm 112:8 NASB)
Trouble comes, but the psalmist is not afraid. He faces his foes, he looks at the source of his distress and he does not faint. A deeper look at the text tells the secret of this confidence and courage. It’s in the heart. The psalmist says, “His heart is upheld” (סָמוּךְ לִבּוֹ; samuch libo). But what does “upheld” mean? The verb סָמַךְ (samach) literally means “to sustain,” “to help,” “to support,” or “to lean on.”
Jewish sages began using the Hebrew word סְמִיכָה (semichah; based on the same psalmic verb, סָמַךְ) to describe the “ordination” of a rabbi sometime around the 3rd century CE. The term literally means “leaning,” and it refers to the ritual of “laying on of hands.” In this sense, “to be ordained” means that others “laid their hands on you” and now they can “lean on you.” Thus, סְמִיכָה (semicha) implies mutual support. But in the psalm the verb is passive and God is the one who extends the help. The Most High “lays hands” on the psalmist and “upholds” his heart. The psalm shows how God supports and sustains one’s heart through any time of stress.