Psalms For Life
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Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 150

Unending song

We readily sing and shout for shared achievements like winning goals, celebrating far lesser objects than God. The psalmist calls us to wholeheartedly celebrate the greatest object of all, just as we were created to.

Praise YHWH!
Praise God in his sanctuary
praise him in the immensity of his vaulted heavens.
2 Praise him for his powerful deeds
praise him for his surpassing greatness!
3 Praise him with the blast of the ram’s horn
praise him with lute and lyre.
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance
praise him with strings and flute.
5 Praise him with the sizzle of cymbals
praise him with an almighty crash of cymbals.
6 Let everything that lives and breathes
praise YHWH!
Praise YHWH!

Like the last four psalms, this one begins and ends with “Praise YHWH!” or “Hallelujah!” Praise should be raised from God’s sanctuary at the center of everything and fill the farthest reaches of the heavens, human and angelic praise resounding together.

Though the Psalter’s explosive finale gives just two reasons for praise, they cover everything the book says about God’s acting powerfully to redeem his people, showing himself to be unequaled in compassion and sovereignty. Such boundless love and power call for an equally unrestrained response from us: worship in song and dance with a full orchestra. Worship from every living creature in existence.

This last psalm joins with the first to frame the book with what’s difficult on one end and what’s easy on the other: rigorous individual discipline in Psalm 1—meditating day and night—leading to unfettered universal worship here. Exuberant praise is clearly central to God’s design for our lives. Why should anyone hold back when we’re all commoners blessed beyond measure by our heavenly king? And why should our worship be less than buoyant when celebrating the greatest object of all? But amidst life’s constant distractions, we need calls to praise like this—indeed, we need the entire Psalter—to remind us of the greatness of our Redeemer-king, who alone deserves unending praise.

Thank you, Jesus, for making your home among us, giving your all to defeat the powers of evil, and making it possible for us to experience the freedom and joy of knowing you. Thank you for your unconditional love. I gladly add my voice to the hallelujah chorus that will never ever end. Amen.

During your free moments today, meditate on these words:

Praise him for his powerful deeds
praise him for his surpassing greatness!

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.