Psalm 146 Translation and comment

Bright praise for Yah!

Bright praise for Yahweh, my soul!

While I have being I will boast of Yahweh;

While I live I will make music to my Lord.

Put no trust in princes,

Nor in Adam’s sons who can provide no safety:

When their spirit leaves, they return to the soil;

On that day their thinking is done.

How happy the one whose help is Jacob’s God

Whose hope is in Yahweh his God

Maker of heaven and earth,

The sea, and all that is in them,

Keeper of faith forever,

Organiser of justice for the oppressed,

Bringer of bread to the hungry.

Yahweh sets the prisoners free;

Yahweh opens the eyes of the blind;

Yahweh lifts up those who are bowed low;

Yahweh loves those who are just;

Yahweh has regard for the immigrant

Overrules for the widow and the orphan

Overthrows the way of the wicked.

Yahweh will reign forever, your God, Zion,

For generation upon generation to come.

This is the first of five psalms which start with the word Hallelujah. They are called the “great hallel” in Judaism, and recited daily. The root of Hallel signifies light amongst other things, hence my translation. This psalm gives a genial picture of Yahweh as the ideal ruler who favours those whom others do not favour. Yahweh’s preferences are matter-of-factly stated, as aspects of his character known to all. These preferences follow the description of Yahweh as the creator of the universe: they are not to be opposed or slighted.

This psalm could function as a basis of unity for Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

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