To do a service,
They are obedient.
So also the lightning.
When it flashes,
It is widely seen.
The wind likewise blows
In every land.
When God commands
The clouds to go
Over the whole world,
They carry out
The fire sent from above
To consume mountains
Does what it is ordered.
But these idols
Are not to be
Compared with them
Must not think
That they are gods.
They are not called gods.
They are not able
Either to decide a case
Or to do good to anyone.
Since you know then
That they are not gods,
Do not fear them!”
This author notes that the sun, the moon, and the stars are bright. However, they do what they are told to do. The same is true about lightning flashes and the wind. It blows wherever God commands it. The clouds go all over the whole world as they carry out God’s commands also. Fire does what it is ordered to do. How can you compare these great works of obedient nature to these false idol gods, since they have no power. They cannot solve cases or do good for any humans. How can you call them gods, since you know that they are not gods? Thus there is no need to fear them.
I will give thanks to Yahweh,
With my whole heart,
In the company of the upright,
In the congregation.
Great are the works of Yahweh,
Studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work.
His righteousness endures forever.
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.
“Yahweh established a decree in Jacob.
He appointed a law in Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
To teach their children.
Thus the next generation might know them,
The children yet unborn.
Thus they might rise up.
They then could tell them to their children.
Therefore they should set their hope in God.
They should not forget the works of God.
They should keep his commandments.
They should not be like their ancestors.
They were a stubborn and rebellious generation.
They were a generation
Whose heart was not steadfast.
They were a generation
Whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
In recalling the introduction of the law to Jacob or Israel, Asaph, the psalmist, reminded his audience that their ancestors were not that faithful to the law. There are no specific incidents cited. What was indicated clearly was that they were supposed to teach the law to their children just as their ancestors had done for them. This may be a reference to the “shema” love of God law in Deuteronomy, chapter 6. There is no direct reference to Moses and the 10 Commandments. In one sense, this may be an indication of a non-written oral law that was passed on by word of mouth in an oral tradition. They should set their hope in God. They should remember his great works. In a twist of fate, he reminds them not to be like their ancestors, who were stubborn and rebellious. They did not have steadfast love of God, nor was their spirit faithful to God. This paints a bleak picture of their ancestors. The works of Exodus and Deuteronomy show the so-called warts of their ancestors.
“A psalm of David, a song at the dedication of the Temple
I will extol you!
You have drawn me up!
You did not let my foes rejoice over me!
I cried to you for help!
You have healed me!
You have brought up my soul from Sheol!
You restored me to life
From among those gone down to the pit!”
Psalm 30 is another psalm of David, but explicitly mentioned as from the dedication of the Temple. However, the Temple was not completed until the time of King Solomon his son. Thus it is a thanksgiving psalm for the great works of Yahweh. David or this psalmist wanted to extol Yahweh. There was a specific reason for this thanksgiving. David had been healed in some way because his foes or enemies could not rejoice. He had cried for help and Yahweh healed him. He must have been on his death bed because he was brought back from Sheol or the pit, the underworld of death. He was restored to life, almost like a resurrection. He was saved from death.
Consider the wondrous works of God!
Do you know how God lays his command upon them?
He causes the lightning of his cloud to shine.
Do you know the balancing of the clouds?
His wondrous works is perfect in knowledge.
Your garments are hot
When the earth is still
Because of the south wind,
Spread out the skies?
Can you make it as hard as a molten mirror?
Teach us what we shall say to him!
We cannot draw up our case because of darkness.
Shall it be told him that I want to speak?
Did anyone ever wish to be swallowed up?”
Elihu turned to Job. He asked him how he compared to the great works of God. God puts the light in the clouds to produce lightning. God balances the clouds so that there is a heat differential. Your garments get cold and hot depending on the winds. We are in the dark and cannot speak in the face of God. Otherwise we would be swallowed up.