Psalms For Life
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Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 98

The God who remembers

This psalm celebrates God’s remembering and rescuing his people—not just for their sake, but for that of the whole world. His having done so points forward to his coming to rule with justice for all.

1 Sing a brand-new song to YHWH
because he’s done such awesome things.
He himself has won the victory—
his holy arm has revealed his saving power.
2 YHWH has made it clear
that he’s a God who saves
showing all of earth’s peoples
that he’s going to put the world to rights.
3 He remembered his promise
to show his people, Israel
unfailing love and faithfulness.
And he’s done it in such a way
that the whole world has witnessed
his act of deliverance.

4 Shout in triumph to YHWH
all the earth!
Burst into joyful song
and sing his praises!
5 Sing praise to YHWH with the lyre
with a sweet melody on the lyre.
6 With trumpets and ram’s horns
play a joyful tune to YHWH, our king.

7 Let the sea and everything in it
roar their applause.
Let the whole world
and everything living in it join in.
8 Let the ocean breakers clap and cheer
and the mountains sing together for joy.
9 Because YHWH is coming to reign on earth.
He will rule the world with justice
and judge its peoples with fairness.


The Psalter’s third book ended by expressing the psalmists’ sense of godforsakenness, asking God how he could have reneged on the promises he’d so solemnly made to David. Likely written after the Israelites’ second exodus—their exodus from Babylon—Psalm 98 celebrates the fact that God has faithfully remembered his promises and rescued his people.

As in their original exodus, from Egypt, the Israelites again bested the oppressive superpower without drawing a single sword. When they couldn’t save themselves, God’s holy arm overcame the power of evil. He thus revealed to a watching world that he’s still in control and the tragedy the Israelites had brought on themselves had in no way diminished his love for them.

Having repeatedly failed God, Israel seems a most unlikely choice. But we Gentiles are no different. Wonderfully, God remains faithful. And it’s joy not just for Israel, but for everyone because it tells us God hasn’t abandoned his plan: he’s still going to bless every people on earth through Abraham’s family.

This is cause for total joy—the sort of unrestrained elation a die-hard fan feels when their favorite team wins the playoffs. So the psalmist calls absolutely everyone and everything in the world to join in celebrating. God will assuredly keep his future appointment: he’s coming in person to reign over the earth with justice and fairness for all!

O God, as broken and rebellious as our race is, you refused to abandon us. We praise you that your heart is bigger than all our brokenness, your love stronger than all our hate. With your kingdom coming to stay, we rejoice and celebrate your unfailing faithfulness. Amen.

During your free moments today, meditate on these words:

YHWH has made it clear that he’s a God who saves
showing all of earth’s peoples
that he’s going to put the world to rights.

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.