Psalms For Life
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Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 145

The kingdom, the power, the glory

Distracted by lesser things, we may view praising God a needless imposition. But when we God’s mind-blowing goodness and greatness, we can’t help but praise him as David did.

A David song of praise.

I will exalt you, my God and king—
I will bless your name forever and ever.
2 Day after day I’ll bless you—
I will praise your name forever and ever.

3 YHWH is great
supremely worthy of praise
his greatness transcends understanding.
4 One generation will praise your deeds to the next
recounting your mighty acts
5 recalling the splendor of your glorious majesty
speaking of your breathtaking deeds.
6 People will describe your powerful miracles
and I will acclaim your greatness.
7 They will celebrate your matchless grace
and overflow with praise of your saving justice.

8 YHWH is gracious and compassionate
slow to anger and rich in unrelenting love.
9 YHWH is good to everyone everywhere—
he shows compassion to all he’s made.

10 All you’ve made will respond with thanks
and your faithful servants will bless you.
11 They’ll talk about your glorious reign
and acclaim your splendor
12 letting all humanity know of your acts of power
and the glorious majesty of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom—
your reign will go on through all generations.

YHWH is always true to his word
and loving toward all he’s made.
14 YHWH lifts up all who fall down
and raises up all who are bent low.
15 The eyes of all look expectantly to you
and you give them their food when it’s time.
16 Opening your hand
you satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 Just in all he does
YHWH acts only out of his lavish love.
18 YHWH is near to all who call on him
to all who call on him sincerely.
19 He fulfills the desires of all who revere him:
he hears their cry and rescues them.
20 YHWH watches over all who love him
but all the wicked he stops dead.

21 My mouth will praise YHWH
and everything that lives
will bless God’s holy name forever and ever.


This acrostic psalm presents the whole scope of God’s kingship and creation’s response to it. David begins with his own commitment to praise God forever. Midway through the psalm, David pictures creation and God’s faithful people praising God, and he ends the psalm with every living creature joining in. He means to catch us up in this grand crescendo of praise by interspersing between these three statements some of the many reasons we worship our supremely great and good God.[1]

One reason is God’s miraculous acts, which included the exodus, crossing the sea, and crossing the Jordan River. David repeats part of God’s self-description at Sinai: he’s gracious, slow to anger, and rich in unrelenting love. Indeed, says David, God is compassionate toward all he’s made.

Another reason David gives is the glorious majesty of God’s kingdom, a glory seen in his providing for all and protecting his own. He’s near all who cry out to him, lifts up all who fall down, cares for the oppressed, and fulfills the desires of all who revere him. He’s a God of justice too, uttering not just a resounding yes to all who lovingly embrace him, but also an emphatic no to all whose arrogance puts them beyond the scope of his loving care.

Caught up in defending my little tin-pot kingdom, Jesus, I often forget how much more fulfilling being part of your kingdom is. How wonderful that you lift the fallen and care about my deepest desires. Help me to discern those desires and trust you to fulfill them, as you alone can. Amen.

During your free moments, meditate on these words:

He fulfills the desires of all who revere him.
He hears their cry and rescues them.

 

[1] The psalm’s structure is as follows: A: the psalmist’s commitment to worship (vv. 1-2), B: God’s greatness calls for worship (vv. 3-6), C: God’s goodness calls for worship (vv. 7-9), A: the psalmist, creation, and faithful community’s commitment to worship (v. 10), B: God’s greatness calls for worship (vv. 11-13b), C: God’s goodness calls for worship (vv. 13c-20), A: the psalmist and every creature’s commitment to worship (v. 21).

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.