Psalms For Life
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Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 117

The God whose love will win

We all choose between two kinds of power: self-centered, coercive power and the power of God’s love, which bears all for love’s sake. This psalm assures us God’s love will ultimately triumph.

Praise YHWH, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
2 For YHWH’s unrelenting love for us is strong
and his faithfulness endures forever.
Praise YHWH!


As the shortest psalm in the Psalter, this poem is nevertheless enormous in scope, calling everyone on earth to praise God. The Hebrew word rendered “strong” has clear military connotations. Thus, the psalmist implies that God must be worshipped universally because his unfailing love will triumph over evil and his faithfulness outlast all opposition: God will yet fulfill his promise to bless the whole world through Abraham

We see two kinds of power at work in the world. That of Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt, determined to maintain their egocentric existence through ruthless, dehumanizing coercion. And that of YHWH, whose commitment to the enslaved Israelites was unrelenting, though they didn’t deserve his compassion for them. Pharaoh’s gods stood for the cruelty that would destroy anyone not totally loyal to them. By contrast, YHWH forgave the Israelites’ unfaithfulness over and over.

The thought here is that the power represented by Pharaoh and his ilk will ultimately fail, while YHWH will realize all his loving designs for creation. Earth’s peoples and nations will remain confused, warring, chaotic, and self-destructive till they heed the psalmist’s call to submit to the God whose love alone is strong enough to hold everything together. So, singing or reading this psalm with heart is really an act of faith in the God who will yet heal the nations and bind all earth’s peoples together as one.

You call us to live by the power of your love, Jesus, to believe it will yet triumph over every rival power. Help me do that, Lord. And hasten the day when every people sees the love poured out triumphantly in your passion and worships the Lamb who died for them. Amen.

In your free moments today, meditate on these words:

YHWH’s unfailing love for us is strong
and his faithfulness endures forever.
Praise YHWH!

Why YHWH?

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.