Psalms For Life
Looking for content on a specific topic?
Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Book IV

Book IV is comprised of Psalms 90 through 106. Many of these psalms may be seen as answering the anguished cry of Psa. 89:49, which asks God what became of his faithful promises to David.  In Jerusalem’s fall and the death or exile of its royal family members, the Davidic covenant had apparently come to nothing. Thus, Book IV redirects our attention from the failed Davidic monarchy and covenant to YHWH’s kingship and the Mosaic covenant. It refers to Moses a total of 7 times and to Aaron multiple times as well,  in order to take the reader back to Israel’s beginning. God was Israel’s refuge long before David became king and continues to protect Israel though the monarchy is gone. It also proclaims the blessedness of all who trust in God.

Book IV is dominated by its enthronement psalms (Psa. 93, 96, 97, 98, 99, and Psa. 94 implicitly) likely used in an annual festival celebrating God’s rule over the nations after the Israelites’ return from exile. Like Book IV as a whole, these psalms respond to Psa. 89 by calling God’s people back to their first commitment, of serving God alone as king. Interestingly, the New Testament has it both ways since Jesus reigns as both David’s greater son and God incarnate.


Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH or YHVH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and sometimes transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Likewise, all modern translations either translate or transliterate it. Some other options for translating it are “the Eternal,” “the Almighty,” or “the Sovereign Lord.”

While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it seems to me more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. This roots it more firmly in the biblical story as the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Meaning “the self-existent One who answers to no one,” the name YHWH set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. I’ve chosen to transliterate only YHWH’s consonants since the earliest Hebrew manuscripts contain only consonants, the vowels being added much later. My aim in doing so is to honor God’s name and set it apart, as unique.

One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it out of reverence. (They read Adonai instead whenever they come to YHWH in the text.) I take the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard, who advocated pronouncing it as Yahveh (Yah·vay). He favored that over the standard Yahweh since the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish. It also makes it sound more robust, period.

Finding strength in the ancient psalms

May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.