Yahweh is great (Ps 145:1-145:3)

A song of praise of David

Aleph

“I will extol you!

My God!

My king!

Bless your name forever and ever!

Bet

Every day,

I will bless you!

I will praise your name forever and ever!

Gimel

Great is Yahweh!

He is greatly to be praised.

His greatness is unsearchable!”

Psalm 145 is an acrostic or Hebrew alphabet praise psalm of David about the God of Israel. David would extol God as his king. He would bless his name forever. Every day he blessed and praised his name. Yahweh was great with an unsearchable greatness. The first 3 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are found here in italic.

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The happy ones follow the law (Ps 119:1-119:8)

Aleph

“Happy are those whose way is blameless!

They walk in the law of Yahweh.

Happy are those who keep his decrees!

They seek him with their whole heart.

They also do no wrong.

They walk in his ways!

You have commanded your precept.

You have commanded it to be kept diligently.

O that my ways may be steadfast!

That I may keep your statutes!

Then I shall not be put to shame.

I have my eyes fixed on all your commandments.

I will praise you with an upright heart.

I will learn your righteous ordinances.

I will observe your statutes.

Do not utterly forsake me!”

Psalm 119 is one of the longest psalms. However, there are not any titles to this acrostic alphabet psalm about the importance of the law. There are 8 verses to every consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet instead of just a line or two as in some of the other acrostic psalms. In this eulogy to the law, the happy ones are the blameless ones because they walk in the law of Yahweh. They are happy because they keep his decrees. They seek Yahweh with their whole hearts. They do not do anything wrong because they keep Yahweh’s commandments diligently. They are steadfast in their determination to follow the law. The psalmist will try not to be ashamed as he tries to follow the law. He gets personal since he has an upright heart. Using the first person singular, he wanted to learn all the right ordinances and statutes. He wanted to observe them. He asked Yahweh not to forsake him. This section on the first consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, comes to an end.

The righteous (Ps 112:1-112:6)

“Praise Yahweh!

Aleph 

Happy are those who fear Yahweh!

Bet      

Happy are those who greatly delight in his commandments!

Gimel

Their descendants will be mighty in the land.

Dalet  

The generation of the upright will be blessed.

He      

Wealth and riches are in their houses.

Vav     

Their righteousness endures forever.

Zain   

They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright.

Het     

They are gracious, merciful, and righteous.

Tet      

It is well with those who deal generously and lend.

Yod     

They conduct their affairs with justice.

Kaph  

The righteous will never be moved.

Lamed

They will be remembered forever.”

Psalm 112 is a companion psalm to Psalm 111. Even though it is fairly short, it is another line by line acrostic or Hebrew alphabet psalm without any title. Just like the preceding psalm, it also starts with the refrain “Praise Yahweh” or the Alleluia cry, the Hebrew word “Hallelujah.” Although there is a comparison between the righteous and the wicked, the emphasis is mostly on the righteous. The righteous are happy because they fear God. They delight in his commandments. Their descendants will be mighty. The generations of the upright are blessed and happy since their righteousness endures forever. They will have wealth and riches in their houses. They will be the light in the darkness. They are gracious, merciful, and righteous, just like Yahweh. They will be generous and just. They will be remembered because of their righteousness.

 

Hymn of praise for the works of Yahweh (Ps 111:1-111:4)

“Praise Yahweh!

Aleph 

I will give thanks to Yahweh,

With my whole heart,

Bet      

In the company of the upright,

In the congregation.

Gimel

Great are the works of Yahweh,

Dalet  

Studied by all who delight in them.

He      

Full of honor and majesty is his work.

Vav     

His righteousness endures forever.

Zain   

He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds.”

Psalm 111 is a hymn of praise to Yahweh because he has kept his covenant with Israel. Although there is no title, this fairly short acrostic or Hebrew alphabet psalm has a letter for every line. Like the next 2 psalms, it starts with the refrain “Praise Yahweh” or the Alleluia cry, which is the Hebrew word “Hallelujah.” The psalmist will give thanks to Yahweh with his whole heart at the congregational meeting. He talked about the great works of Yahweh that delights those who study them. Yahweh is full of honor and majesty in his work. Of course, his righteousness lasts forever because he has become well known by his wonderful actions.

Do not worry about the evildoers (Ps 37:1-37:2)

“A psalm of David

Alep

Do not fret because of the wicked!

Do not be envious of wrongdoers!

They will soon fade like the grass.

They will wither like the green herbs.”

Once again, Psalm 37 is a long acrostic psalm with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet starting each verse, like Psalms 9, 10, 25, and 34. Thus it is a little incoherent as a simple wisdom psalm of David. The evildoers seem to be doing okay. We should not fret, worry, or be envious about wicked evildoers. They would soon fade like the grass and wither up like the green herbs.

Blessed be Yahweh (Ps 34:1-34:3)

A psalm of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away

Aleph 

“I will bless Yahweh at all times!

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Bet      

My soul makes its boast in Yahweh.

Let the humble hear and be glad.

Gimel 

O magnify Yahweh with me!

Let us exalt his name together!”

Psalm 34 is a long sapiential psalm about what happened to David in 1 Samuel, chapter 21. It is also an acrostic or alphabet psalm as each verse starts with another letter of the Hebrew alphabet like Psalms 9, 10, and 25. In the 1 Samuel story, David pretended to be deranged when he appeared before the Philistine King Achish at city of Gath. David had spit all over his beard and started to scratch at everything around him. However, the king’s name was not Abimelech, who was another Philistine King of Gerar around the time of Abraham and Isaac. However, this psalmist did not use this name within the psalm, so that it might have been a title misidentification. However, the story in 1 Samuel did have David pretend that he was mad so that he was dismissed by the Philistine king of Gath as a crazy person and not David. This psalm actually makes very little reference to that story. David or the psalmist began by blessing and praising Yahweh as he boasted in Yahweh. He wanted his name to be magnified. He wanted the humble ones to hear and be exalted.

Thanksgiving to Yahweh (Ps 9:1-9:2)

To the choirmaster leader, according to Muth-labben, a psalm of David.

I will give thanks to Yahweh!

With my whole heart!

I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad.

I will exult in you.

I will sing praise to your name.

O Most High!”

There is some confusion here as to whether this is 1 psalm or 2 psalms. Sometimes this is referred to as psalms 9 and 10 or should it be 1 psalm only. The Greek Septuagint had it as only 1 psalm. I will use the Oxford Bible notataion since the Jerusalem Bible puts the numbering in italics. So this is Psalm 9. This is also an acrostic psalm as every 2nd verse starts with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Thus the content is a little incoherent at times. Nevertheless we do have a longer psalm or psalms compared to the previous short psalms. Once again, there is a remark about the choirmaster leader as a psalm of David, without any particular event. The meaning of Muth-labben is unclear. Literally it might mean upon the death of a fool or upon the death of Labben. However, it might simply mean a harp. This psalm starts out as a thanksgiving to Yahweh. David gave thanks with his whole heart. He wanted to tell everyone about the wondrous deeds of Yahweh. He was glad and exalted in the name of Yahweh, the most high one. This might be some kind of vow of thanksgiving.