Sunday, August 16– Saturday, August 22
Psalm 141 – Psalm 150
What to look for in Psalms 141-150
We have almost arrived at the end of the Psalter! The final psalms are marked by a general sense of gratitude for who God is and what God has done. We find some of these psalms used frequently as part of the verbal liturgically in worship services, because much of the language is so clearly oriented around worshipping God with everything we are and everything we have.
A few of the psalms in this final segment continue the tension between the already and the not yet that we have experienced throughout the psalter: Yahweh (The Lord) has been established as King of Zion! Is kingdom will endure forever, and He is King over all the nations! BUT. We still experience the angst expressed by the psalmists crying out for the restoration of Israel and the restoration of God’s favor upon His people. Although these psalms were written with the exile in Babylon in view, it is striking how much resonance we find with our present situation. God has conquered sin and death through Jesus! God has promised that He is in the process of making all things new through Jesus, and will establish His peaceful kingdom on earth forever! BUT. We still experience the heartache, anguish, and sorrow that has marked humanity since our first parents rebelled against God. Like the original psalmists, we also are a people living in between the already of God’s work of salvation through Christ’s life, death and resurrection, and the not-yet of the fulfillment of God’s kingdom when Jesus comes in glory. These psalms help us wait for that fulfillment with hope.
And, finally, the final five psalms are known as the Hallelujah Psalms, (hallelujah meaning “y’all praise the Lord!”), for they are punctuated with language of praise. Indeed, the summons to praise the Lord that we see in these final five psalms is indicative of the ultimate aim of the entire psalter, and really, the ultimate aim of the life of faith: for all creation to praise the Lord for ever and ever.
This dramatic, worshipful finale echoes the major themes of the entire psalter: how God is the creator of the entire world, and thus all of creation worships God; how the Lord sustains and provides for the universe He has made; how the Lord is the redeemer or Savior of His people; how God has been crowned as King, ruling jointly with His Messiah (most frequently described in the English translations as God’s “servant” or “anointed one”); and how God has established His home or dwelling place on earth with His people, which reflects His dwelling place in heaven. “By this dual representation of God’s permanent dwelling place, these concluding psalms underscore the union of the Lord’s rule in heaven and His kingdom on earth.” 1
Ultimately, all of this points back to the twin themes that were established at the opening of psalter in Psalm 1 and Psalm 2: how God’s kingdom of righteousness, that is wholly in accord with God’s good law or instruction, has been fully established, and God reigns forever.
Praise the Lord!
As we read these final, climactic psalms, may our own lives be swept up in the song of the Psalter as everything that has breath gives praise to the Lord!
1 O. Palmer Robertson, The Flow of the Psalms.
Questions to ask of Psalms 141-150
Look back at Psalm 1 and Psalm 2. As you read the final five psalms, how do the themes that are presented in the opening psalms about God’s righteousness and God’s kingdom find their conclusion or summation in the Hallelujah Psalms?
According to the Hallelujah Psalms, what does it mean to praise the Lord? Use the content and language of the psalms themselves to form your answer.
Psalm 145 is an acrostic or alphabetical poem in the original Hebrew. This means that each verse of the psalm begins with a successive letter in the Hebrew alphabet, so verse 1 in Hebrew begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet; verse 2 in Hebrew begins with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and so on through the entire 21-letter Hebrew alphabet. How might the alphabetical form of the poem be saying something about what it means to worship God? In other words, how might the alphabetical form be symbolic or representative of the expansiveness of worship in all of life?
Did the Lord meet you in particular ways through any of these final psalms?
What is the most striking thing your study of the Psalms has impressed upon you this summer?
Prayer (from Psalm 146, CEB)
Praise the Lord!
Let my whole being praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with all my life; I will sing praises to my God as long as I live. The person whose hope rests on the Lord their God is truly happy!
God: the maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them,
God: who is faithful forever, who gives justice to people who are oppressed, who gives bread to people who are starving!
The Lord: who frees prisoners.
The Lord: who makes the blind see.
The Lord: who straightens up those who are bent low.
The Lord: who loves the righteous.
The Lord: who protects immigrants, who helps orphans and widows, but who makes the way of the wicked twist and turn!
The Lord will rule forever! Zion, your God will rule from one generation to the next!
Praise the Lord!