Prayer of thanksgiving (Isa 38:16-38:20)

“O Lord!

By these things

People live.

In all these is

The life of my spirit.

Restore me to health!

Make me live!

Surely it was for my welfare

That I had great bitterness.

But you held back my life

From the pit of destruction.

You have cast all my sins

Behind your back.

Sheol cannot thank you.

Death cannot praise you.

Those who go down to the pit

Cannot hope for your faithfulness.

The living,

The living,

They thank you,

As I do this day.

The father makes known to the children

Your faithfulness.

Yahweh will save me.

We will sing to stringed instruments

All the days of our lives,

At the house of Yahweh.”

Second Isaiah has King Hezekiah happy that his ordeal is over. However, he recognized that these difficulties are part of life. Once restored to health and life, he realizes that these things happened for his own good, even if he was a little bitter. Yahweh had his back, so that he never met the pit of destruction. All his sins were forgotten. Sheol and death were not able to grab him because there he would not have been able to praise or give thanks to Yahweh. There they lose all hope and faithfulness. However, it is the living ones who give praise and thanksgiving to Yahweh, as he did this day. Children learn from their fathers about faithfulness, so too Yahweh has saved him. Thus he and his friends will sing with stringed instruments at the house of Yahweh all the days of their lives.

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Doxology of praise to Yahweh (Ps 150:3-150:6)

“Praise him

With trumpet sound!

Praise him

With lute!

Praise him

With harp!

Praise him

With tambourine!

Praise him

With dance!

Praise him

With strings!

Praise him

With pipe!

Praise him

With clanging cymbals;

Praise him

With loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that breathes

Praise Yahweh!

Praise Yahweh!”

This psalm and the whole book of psalms end with the double phrase “praise Yahweh,” another way of saying alleluia, the Hebrew “Hallelujah.” This doxological praise of God explains how this is done here on earth. The various instruments were to be used in praising Yahweh, the trumpet, the lute, the harp, and the tambourine. There was to be dancing with stringed instruments, playing pipes, and clanging cymbals. Everything that breathes should praise Yahweh. This is a fitting end to a great book of praise to God.

Praise of Zion (Ps 76:1-76:3)

“In Judah

God is known.

His name is great

In Israel.

His abode has been established

In Salem,

His dwelling place is

In Zion.

There he broke

The flashing arrows,

The shield,

The sword,

And the weapons of war.”

Selah

Psalm 76 is another in the string of Asaph choral psalms. This one is a song with stringed instruments about the ultimate victory of God in Judah and Jerusalem. God was known in Judah, the southern stronghold. His name was great in northern Israel. His home was in Jerusalem or Salem, the ancient name of Jerusalem. He dwelt in Zion, the Temple on Mount Zion. There he broke all the instruments of war of the people who were attacking Jerusalem. He broke the arrows, shields, and swords. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.

Cry for help (Ps 61:1-61:2)

To the choirmaster leader, with stringed instruments, a psalm of David

“Hear my cry!

O God!

Listen to my prayer!

From the end of the earth

I call to you,

When my heart is faint.”

Psalm 61 is a simple choral psalm of David that used stringed instruments. The psalmist or David wants God to hear his cry. He wanted God to listen to his prayer, like the usual plea. However, he speaks from the ends of the earth, as if he were in exile. He calls to God, not Yahweh, when his heart is faint.

Cry for help to God (Ps 55:1-55:3)

To the choirmaster leader with stringed instruments, a Maskil of David

“Give ear to my prayer!

O God!

Do not hide yourself from my supplication!

Attend to me!

Answer me!

I am troubled in my complaint.

I am distraught,

By the noise of the enemy,

Because of the clamor of the wicked,

They bring trouble upon me.

In anger,

They cherish enmity against me.”

Psalm 55 is a prayer of David.  He felt that he was being persecuted and betrayed.  Once again this is a choral psalm with stringed instruments attributed to David.  David wanted God to hear his prayer and not hide from him.  He wanted an answer right away.  He was in trouble and distraught because of his enemies, a common theme of these psalms.  The wicked enemies were out to get him.  He was going to call on God to help him.

A prayer for help (Ps 54:1-54:2)

To the choirmaster leader, with stringed instruments, a Maskil of David, when the Ziphites went and told Saul, ‘David is in hiding among us’

“Save me!

O God!

By your name,

Vindicate me by your might.

Hear my prayer!

O God!

Give ear to the words of my mouth!”

This short Psalm 54 refers to an incident in the life of David from 1 Samuel, chapter 23. This event also involved Saul, who is generally the heavy or bad person in these psalms. He is usually the opposite of the good David, but rarely mentioned. This time it is a group of Ziphites who went to King Saul to tell him where David was hiding. In this choral psalm with stringed instruments, David wanted to be saved. He called on God to help him by hearing his prayer. He was trying to get away from King Saul. His plea was directly to God. He wanted to be vindicated.

The anointed one (Ps 45:6-45:9)

“Your throne!

O God!

Endures forever and ever.

Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity.

You love righteousness.

You hate wickedness.

Therefore God,

Your God!

Has anointed you

With the oil of gladness.

Thus you are beyond your companions.

Your robes are all fragrant

With myrrh, aloes, and cassia.

From ivory palaces

Stringed instruments make you glad.

Daughters of kings are

Among your ladies of honor.

At your right hand

Stands the queen in gold of Ophir.”

Is this throne the throne of God or the king that endures forever? Once again, the scribe psalmist treats the king like a mini-god. The royal crown helps insure equality. Then we have the famous saying about being anointed with the oil of gladness that had such a resonance with Christian prayers about anointing. This is a royal anointing of the new king. This new king was beyond his companions. His robes were fragrant or smelly. They were filled with myrrh, aloes, and cassia. Myrrh was an aromatic perfume from the Asian bushes. Aloes was a bitter tasting leaf that was used in perfumes. Cassia is an Asian evergreen tree with an aromatic bark that also was used in perfumes. Ivory and stringed instruments were also there. All this adds to the concept of wealth. Of course stringed instruments and beautiful ladies of honor were also added to the scene. Then there was queen in her gold from the mysterious unknown but often mentioned Ophir.