“Blessed be Yahweh!
The God of Israel!
From everlasting to everlasting!
Let all the people say.
This 4th book of psalms ends with a rousing Alleluia, praise to Yahweh, the Hebrew “Hallelujah.” This doxology praise is an addition to this psalm since it probably belonged at the end of Psalm 105. However, it seems a fitting end to this book of psalms with this everlasting praise to Yahweh with the great “Amen.”
Gather us from among the nations!
Thus we may give thanks to your holy name!
Thus we may glory in your praise!”
This is an obvious cry from the captivity when the Israelites were scattered into various Middle Eastern countries. The psalmist wants Yahweh, his God, to save them so that they might give thanks to his holy name and glory in praising God. However, there is no reason why they cannot praise and glory God in the time of their exile. It is however, inconvenient for them.
“Nevertheless Yahweh regarded their distress,
When he heard their cry.
For their sake,
He remembered his covenant.
He showed compassion
According to the abundance of his steadfast love.
He caused them to be pitied
By all those who held them captive.”
Despite the many incidents when Israel turned against their leaders and Yahweh himself, he always kept his covenant with them. Whenever they cried to Yahweh, he heard their cry. He remembered his covenant and showed compassion out of his abundant steadfast love. Even those who captured them had pity on them.
“Then the anger of Yahweh was kindled against his people.
He abhorred his heritage.
He gave them into the hand of the nations.
Thus those who hated them ruled over them.
Their enemies oppressed them.
They were brought into subjection under their power.
Many times he delivered them.
But they were rebellious in their purposes.
They were brought low through their iniquity.”
Yahweh was angry with his people. He abhorred his heritage. Thus he gave them over to other nations. They were ruled by people who hated them. They were oppressed by their enemies. They were subject to the power of other people. Yahweh had saved them a number of times. However, they were always rebelling against Yahweh. Then once again they would be brought low because of their iniquity and evil ways.
“The Israelites did not destroy the peoples,
As Yahweh commanded them.
But they mingled with the nations.
They learned to do as they did.
They served their idols.
This became a snare to them.
They sacrificed their sons to the demons.
They sacrificed their daughters to the demons.
They poured out innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters.
They sacrificed them to the idols of Canaan.
The land was polluted with blood.
Thus they became unclean by their acts.
They prostituted themselves in their doings.”
This section of this psalm is based on the description in Judges, chapter 2, when the Israelites worshipped Baal in their new home. Instead of destroying the people of Canaan as Yahweh had instructed, they mingled and intermarried with the local inhabitants. With that, they did what the locals were doing, worshiping the local gods of Baal as they served these local idol gods. Part of their rituals was the sacrificial offering up of sons and daughters. They sacrificed their children to the demons. In thus killing their own children the blood of the young children polluted the land. The psalmist here calls them prostitutes who became unclean by their own acts.
“The Israelites angered Yahweh at the waters of Meribah.
It went ill with Moses on their account.
They made his spirit bitter.
He spoke words that were rash.”
Then there was another incident from Numbers, chapter 20. Once again, the Israelites were angry with Moses and Aaron since they had no water. This was when Moses struck the rock at Meribah, where water came pouring out. This is similar to Exodus, chapter 12 that was mentioned in the previous psalm. However, there was a twist here in the story of Numbers. Moses and Aaron were punished for not believing that water could come from a rock. Their punishment was that they too would die before they reached the Promised Land. Moses was rash in his hesitation to strike the rock.
“Then the Israelites attached themselves to the Baal of Peor.
They ate sacrifices offered to the dead.
They provoked Yahweh to anger with their doings.
A plague broke out among them.
Then Phinehas stood up.
Then the plague was stopped.
That has been reckoned to him as righteousness
From generation to generation forever.”
Once again Yahweh was angry with the Israelites as they sacrificed to the pagan god Baal at Mount Peor in Numbers, chapter 25. They had sex with the local women and began to worship the local gods of Baal on their way into the Promised Land. This proved Yahweh to anger again, so that a plague broke out among the Israelites. Phinehas, who was the grandson of Aaron, stood up and killed an Israelite who brought a local Midian woman into his family. He also killed her with a sword in front of everybody. With that, the plague that had killed 24,000 Israelites stopped. Thus his name, Phinehas, is still honored for generations. This killing was considered righteousness because of the wicked Israelites.
“Then they despised the pleasant land.
They had no faith in his promise.
They grumbled in their tents.
They did not obey the voice of Yahweh.
Therefore he raised his hand.
He swore to them.
He would make them fall in the wilderness.
He would disperse their descendants among the nations.
He would scatter them over the lands.”
Based on Numbers, chapter 14, the Israelites were reluctant to enter the Promised Land. In fact, some wanted to return to Egypt. They had no faith in the promise of Yahweh. They grumbled. They said that they would not obey the voice of Yahweh. This made Yahweh angry. Once again, Moses intervened. This time Yahweh said that the grumblers would not see the Promised Land. Instead they would die in the wilderness before they got there. On top of that, their descendents would be scattered among many nations and various lands. This seems to be a justification for the later Exile.
“They made a calf in Horeb.
They worshiped a cast image.
They exchanged the glory of God
For the image of an ox that eats grass.
They forgot God!
He had done great things in Egypt.
He had done wondrous works in the land of Ham.
He had done awesome things by the Red Sea.
Therefore he said
That he would destroy them.
His chosen one,
Stood in the breach before him.
He wanted God
To turn away his wrath
From destroying them.”
This is a sanitized version of the story in Exodus, chapter 32. While Moses was at the top of the Sinai Mountain with Yahweh, Aaron and the Israelites built a golden calf at Horeb or Sinai as it is called. They then worshipped this golden ox as they turned away from Yahweh. They forgot how he had saved them in Egypt and the all the deeds that he done for them in the land of Ham, Egypt, and the Red Sea. Yahweh wanted to destroy them all. However, Moses interceded with God to turn his anger away so that he did not destroy them.
“However they soon forgot his works.
They did not wait for his counsel.
But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness.
They put God to the test in the desert.
He gave them what they asked.
But he sent a wasting disease among them.
They were jealous of Moses in the camp.
They were jealous of Aaron,
The holy one of Yahweh.
The earth opened.
It swallowed up Dathan.
It covered the faction of Abiram.
Fire also broke out in their company.
The flame burned up the wicked.”
This psalmist points out that they soon forgot about Yahweh’s works in Egypt and the Red Sea. They did not wait for his counsel. Instead they had a wanton carving while in the wilderness. They put God to the test. Nevertheless, he gave them what they asked for, food and drink. However, after the revolt against Moses and Aaron, he also sent a disease among them. This story and the one about Dathan and Abiram can be found in Numbers, chapter 16. They were jealous of Moses and Aaron who believed that they were becoming holier than the others. They had a test with censors that favored Moses and Aaron. The punishment for the 250 rebellious men was death. The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan. Then a fire burned the people with Abiram. This ended this unhappy tale of the revolt in the desert.