Psalm 145 Translation and comment

A Song of Praise. For David. An alphabetical psalm

A high place I will give you, my God and king

And bless your name forever and ever.

Blessing you every day

And praising your name forever and ever.

Call Yahweh great and praise him greatly;

No one can comprehend his greatness.

.

Down generations your deeds are applauded

Your acts of power retold.

Excellence and splendour of your majesty,

Your marvels too- are mine to meditate.

Fierce things you did, their might is mentioned

And I will publicise your power.

Goodness abundant is how they record you in words

And they sing for joy of your justice.

.

How to tell the mercy and grace of Yahweh

Slow to anger and lavish in lovingkindness?

I say that Yahweh is good to all ;

His compassion covers all his creation.

Joyfully creation brings its thanks to you

And your holy people bless you.

King as you are they announce your glory

And speak of your strength,

Letting your strength be known to the sons of Adam

And the splendour of your kingly rule.

.

Master, your rule is a rule over all times

And your jurisdiction is for all generations.

No words of Yahweh are untrustworthy

Nor any of his actions unfaithful.

Oh, Yahweh has firm hands for all who are falling

And lifts up all who are bowed down.

Pleadingly, the eyes of all look to you

And you give them the food they need.

Quick to open your hand

You meet the need of every living creature.

Right is Yahweh in all his ways

And loving in all that he does.

Surely Yahweh is close to all who cry to him

To those who cry to him in truth.

The desire of those who fear him he fulfils:

He hears their cry and rescues them.

Upon those who love him he sets watch,

But he will waste all the wicked.

.

Vigorously my mouth will speak Yahweh’s praise;

And let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Like the preceding psalm this one also makes use of quotations from other psalms, well-worn phrases that remind us of the collegiate nature of psalm- writing, which had no place for individual glory. As is evident most of them wrote “for David”, that is with the great singer and the events of his life in mind.

This psalm urges praise of Yahweh and gives some reasons why he should be praised. It is notable that although his mighty deeds are mentíoned, the focus is on his goodness to all creatures, especially to who are in need. In his lovingkindness he is open to their cries.

I have tried to translate the acrostic nature of the psalm. English has more letters in its alphabet than Hebrew, so it doesn’t reach wxyz, but apart from that, the effect is similar. Indeed due to the fluidity of word order in Hebrew, and the variety of meanings attached to a single root, it may have been easier in Hebrew than in English. Readers were meant to notice the both the artifice and the artificiality of the poem. in the ancient world the alphabet was still a thing of wonder, a symbol of completeness, very suitable for praise of the completeness of God.

Although in my own life I have more than enough evidence that in this world God does not have firm hands for those who are falling, yet I believe that beyond my knowledge and my world, she does. So I welcome the faith of the psalmist.

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