Showing posts with label Agape Class. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Agape Class. Show all posts

Saturday, July 25, 2020

An Overview of Four (4) Psalms over Four (4) Weeks, This Sunday: Psalm 111 הַלְלוּ יָהּ Hallelujah!

SUNDAY, JULY 26, 2020

An Overview of Four (4) Psalms over Four (4) Weeks, Psalm 100, Psalm 33, 103, and 111

This Sunday: Psalm 111  הַלְלוּ יָהּ  Hallelujah!

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Hugh C. Wood, Esq., Atlanta, Georgia

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Last week we looked at Psalm 103, the Mount Everest of the Psalms of Thanksgiving.

This week we look at Psalm 111  ::  הַלְלוּ יָהּ  Hallelujah!

Psalm 111 Is a Magnificent song of Praise to the Lord.    הַלְלוּ יָהּ  Hallelujah!

Hallelujah! to the Lord.  

Many times we look down and consider what we do not have or what is wrong, but Psalm 111, asks us to look up and thank the Lord and Praise the Lord for what we do have.  

We are to praise Him for everything that he has brought our way - for all of it is for our edification and development as Christians.  And we develop and grow every single day that we are here.  

"This Psalm [111] is a hymn of praise to Yahweh for the wondrous works which he has created.

Both Psalms 111 and 112 begin with “Praise Yahweh.”  Both are 22 line acrostic poems.  The last verse of Psalm 111 says, “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom.”  Psalm 112 takes up that theme with “Blessed is the man who fears Yahweh” (112:1).  The two psalms were apparently written as a pair, and may have been sung that way in Jewish worship––just as we sing two verses of a hymn that follow the same form and meter.

PSALM 111:1-3.  I WILL GIVE THANKS TO YAHWEH
1 Praise Yahweh!
I will give thanks to Yahweh with my whole heart,
in the council of the upright, and in the congregation.

2 Yahweh’s works are great,
pondered by all those who delight in them."   [1]

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For some reason the study of this particular Psalm, has lead me into the hymnody surrounding it.  This is unusual for me, since I am a word person and have not been in the choir like so many that have come through this class(es) over the decades.

So, lets look at this great psalm in some of the magnificent hymns written about it.

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Let us open today with a Hymn of Praise "O Praise Ye the Lord" as sung by the Choir at Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, UK.





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Psalm 111  in the King James Version (for historical style) reads as follows:

111 Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.

2 The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

3 His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever.

4 He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

5 He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.

6 He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen.

7 The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure.

8 They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.

9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: [2] a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.  [3]

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Psalm 111

Here is Pastor Paul LeBoutillier of Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon reviewing the magnificence of Psalm 111.





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GF HANDEL: Messiah - Hallelujah




Hallelujah



[4]

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Psalm 111:  The Choir of Westminster Abbey





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Calvin's full Commentary on Psalm 111 is at [5].

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An overview of how Psalms is assembled in the Bible Project is at [6].

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I am hopeful this overview of these four (4) magnificent Psalms over the last four (4) weeks has been uplifting and beneficial to your spiritual journey.

Much Love to you,

Hugh Wood
Atlanta, Georgia

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[1]

Here is Richard Neil Donovan's Commentary on Psalm 111.

Biblical Commentary
(Bible study)
Psalm 111
CONTEXT:
Hebrew poetry follows different forms (parallelism, dirges, acrostics, etc.), as does poetry in the English language (sonnet, narrative, epic, free verse, etc.).  This poem follows the acrostic model in which each line begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  That is obviously a rigorous discipline––especially so in the case of this psalm, which has 22 short lines to accommodate the 22 characters of the Hebrew alphabet

The first line of the poem, “Praise Yahweh,” is not included in the 22 acrostic lines.

To appreciate the difficulty posed by the acrostic model, consider how difficult you would find it to compose a 26 line poem with each line starting with the next letter of the alphabet from A to Z.

This psalm is a hymn of praise to Yahweh for the wondrous works which he has created.

Both Psalms 111 and 112 begin with “Praise Yahweh.”  Both are 22 line acrostic poems.  The last verse of Psalm 111 says, “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom.”  Psalm 112 takes up that theme with “Blessed is the man who fears Yahweh” (112:1).  The two psalms were apparently written as a pair, and may have been sung that way in Jewish worship––just as we sing two verses of a hymn that follow the same form and meter.

PSALM 111:1-3.  I WILL GIVE THANKS TO YAHWEH
1 Praise Yahweh!
I will give thanks to Yahweh with my whole heart,
in the council of the upright, and in the congregation.

2 Yahweh’s works are great,
pondered by all those who delight in them.

3 His work is honor and majesty.
His righteousness endures forever.

“Praise Yahweh!    I will give thanks to Yahweh with my whole heart”  (Hebrew: lebab) (v. 1a).  The psalmist begins by calling the congregation to praise Yahweh, and then affirms that he will do so personally with his whole heart (lebab), which means that his outward expression of praise finds its source in his deepest inner nature.

“in the council of the upright (Hebrew: yasar), and in the congregation” (v. 1b).  Furthermore, the psalmist will praise Yahweh in the context of public worship––”in the counsel of the upright” (yasar)––those who are straight or right or upright––those who are walking the straight and narrow path that leads to life (Matthew 7:14).

“Yahweh’s works are great” (v. 2a).   Yahweh’s works are great.  Verse 5 will mention Yahweh’s gift of food (manna) and his remembrance of his covenant with Israel as examples.

But Yahweh’s works (as far as humans are concerned) began with the creation:  Light, the sky, dry land and the seas, vegetation, lights in the sky (the sun, moon, and stars), fish and fowl, animals of every kind, and finally the man and woman (Genesis 1).

 “pondered (Hebrew: daras) by all those who delight in them” (v. 2b).   The word daras means to seek or examine or study.

The psalmist is saying that those who delight in Yahweh’s works ponder (seek, examine, study) those works.

Even people of no faith can study Yahweh’s works and find delight in them.  Even if they don’t acknowledge that God created those things, they take delight in their grand and intricate nature.

But those who approach God’s works in faith find a special blessing there.

“His work is honor (Hebrew: hod) and majesty” (Hebrew: hadar). The word hod means authority or majesty, and was sometimes used to describe the majestic appearance of a strong man or a horse.  In this verse, the psalmist is saying that Yahweh’s works embody that kind of authority or majesty.

The word hadar means glory or majesty.  These two words then (hod and hadar) are similar.  The psalmist uses both words to describe the awe-inspiring nature of Yahweh’s works.

That brings to mind one more thought.  If Yahweh’s works are authoritative, glorious, and majestic, what must Yahweh be like?  Wouldn’t the creator be even greater than the creation!

“His righteousness (Hebrew: sedaqah) endures forever” (v. 3).  Righteousness is one of the defining attributes of Yahweh’s character.  Yahweh’s righteousness is reflected in his covenant faithfulness.   His righteousness is not subject to whim, but endures forever.

PSALM 111:4-6.  YAHWEH IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL
4 He has caused his wonderful works to be remembered.
Yahweh is gracious and merciful.

5 He has given food to those who fear him.
He always remembers his covenant.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the heritage of the nations.

He has caused his wonderful works to be remembered” (Hebrew: zeker) (v. 4a).  The noun zeker is related to the verb zakar (to remember), and means remembrance or memorial.

Yahweh called his people to remember his mighty works:  The Exodus (Exodus 6ff)––his provision for Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 16ff)­­––his commandments (Exodus 20ff)––his leadership into the Promised Land (Joshua 1ff)––his deliverance of Israel from its enemies.

Yahweh also gave Israel tools for remembering:

The Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11).
Feast days, especially the Passover (Exodus 13:3; 23:14; Deuteronomy 16:1-17; 24:18).
Various rites and ceremonies (Leviticus 5:12; 6:15; Esther 9:26-28).
Physical reminders (Genesis 9:16-17; Exodus 39:7; Numbers 31:54; Deuteronomy 6:6–9; Joshua 4:1-9).
Scriptures, especially the law and the prophets.
“Yahweh is gracious (Hebrew: hannun) and merciful” (Hebrew: rahum) (v. 4b).  The word hannum means gracious or merciful, and rahum means compassionate or merciful or forgiving.  The two words are roughly synonymous, and are often used together to describe God (2 Chronicles 30:9; Nehemiah 9:17, 31; Psalm 111:4; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2).

That Yahweh is gracious and merciful is hugely important, because “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God”––so our only hope is “being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23).  Jesus is the ultimate expression of Yahweh’s graciousness and mercy.

“He has given food to those who fear (Hebrew: yare) him” (v. 5a).  To fear (yare) God can mean to be afraid of God, as the Israelites were at Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 5:5), but it more often means holding God in awe or reverence.

God has created a world that is rich in food.  That many people are hungry is often due to poor distribution of food supplies or some sort of dysfunctionality (personal or governmental).

God’s provided food in the wilderness in response to Israel’s complaints about their lack of food.  God promised to “rain bread from the sky” (Exodus 16:4), and the bread that he gave them was known as manna (Hebrew: man hu––what is it?).  The bread that God provided was not food for the ages, but was instead food for the day (Exodus 16:4-5, 20-21).  In keeping with that principle, Jesus teaches us to pray, not for wealth, but for daily bread (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3).

“He always remembers (Hebrew: zakar) his covenant” (Hebrew: berit) (v. 5b). A covenant is an agreement binding on both parties.  Typically, Yahweh dictated the terms of the covenant, which were always favorable to the other party––but which required their compliance.

Yahweh established a number of covenants with the Hebrew people.  Some of the more important Biblical covenants were between God and Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3); Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 2:24; Leviticus 26:42); Noah (Genesis 8:21-22; ) Moses (Exodus 6:4-5; 19:5; 24:7-8; 25:21); David  (2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:2-4; 105:8-11); and Israel (Jeremiah 31:3-4, 31-37).

Yahweh “always remembers (zakar) his covenant” just as a faithful husband always remembers his wedding vows.  This kind of remembering goes beyond bringing something to mind.  It also involves action––being faithful to one’s promises.  Yahweh was not only faithful to his promises, but also forgave Israel time after time when she betrayed her side of the covenant.

“He has shown his people the power of his works,  in giving them the heritage of the nations” (v. 6).  This hearkens back to the time when Yahweh gave Israel the Promised Land––a term that never appears in the Bible, but is implied in promises made to Abram (Genesis 13:14-17; 15:7-21)––Isaac (Genesis 26:2-3––and Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15) See also 1 Chronicles 16:16-18; Psalm 105:9; Hebrews 11:9.

Joshua led Israel in its successful effort to conquer the Promised Land (Joshua 1-12).  That land helped to confirm their identity as a people––and particularly as the people of God.

However, the land didn’t belong to Israel, but to Yahweh (Leviticus 25:23).  Yahweh allowed Israel to live in the land when they were faithful, and exiled them when they were not.

PSALM 111:7-9.  THE WORKS OF HIS HANDS
7 The works of his hands are truth and justice.
All his precepts are sure.

8 They are established forever and ever.
They are done in truth and uprightness.

9 He has sent redemption to his people.
He has ordained his covenant forever.
His name is holy and awesome!

“The works of his hands are truth (Hebrew: ’emet) and justice” (Hebrew: mispat) (v. 7a).   Truth (’emet) is that which is real or dependable––the opposite of false.

Justice (mispat) is a legal word that speaks of judgment or legal decisions.  In this instance, the psalmist is saying that the works of Yahweh’s hands involve true justice––judgments with integrity––decisions based on fairness rather than favoritism.

“All his precepts (Hebrew: piqqud) are sure” (Hebrew: ‘aman) (v. 7b).  The word piqqud means precept or instruction.  My dictionary defines precept as “a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought”––and that’s what the psalmist is talking about here.

We usually refer to God’s precepts as his laws or commandments.  The psalmist is saying that God’s laws are sure (‘aman).  Being trustworthy, they lead rightly––provide stability––instill confidence.

That brings to mind Psalm 19, which says:

“Yahweh’s law is perfect, restoring the soul.
Yahweh’s testimony is sure, making wise the simple.
Yahweh’s precepts are right, rejoicing the heart.
Yahweh’s commandment is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:7-8).

“They are established (Hebrew: samak) forever and ever” (v. 8a).  The word samak has a variety of meanings.  In this context, it means that God sustains or upholds his precepts (laws, commandments) forever.  They have an eternal quality.

“They are done in truth (Hebrew: ’emet) and uprightness” (Hebrew: yasar) (v. 8b).  See verse 7a above for the meaning of ’emet.

The word yasar (uprightness) means straight or right or upright or without guile.  The psalmist is saying that God’s precepts (laws, commandments) are exactly what they ought to be.  They incorporate no guile or pretense or favoritism.  We can depend on them to lead us rightly.

“He has sent redemption (Hebrew: pedut) to his people” (v. 9a).   The word pedut means ransom or redemption.  Redemption involves bringing liberty to a captive, usually through the payment of a price (a ransom).

While pedut could mean deliverance from any adversity, in the context of this psalm it brings to mind the Exodus––deliverance from slavery and possession of the Promised Land.

“He has ordained (Hebrew: sawah) his covenant forever” (v. 9b).  The word sawah means to order or to command.  In the Old Testament, sawah is usually used for someone issuing an order.  But it can also mean to set up something, and that’s the intent here.  Yahweh set up or ordained his covenant forever.

For more on covenants, see the comments on verse 5b above.

“His name is holy (Hebrew: qadosh) and awesome!” (Hebrew: yare) (v. 9c).  The Hebrew Scriptures consistently present God and God’s name as holy.  All holiness is derivative––derived from the holiness of God.  The Sabbath is holy because God made it so.  The tabernacle and temple are holy because of God’s presence.  The nation Israel is to be holy because it is in a covenant relationship with God.

The word yare (awesome) is sometimes translated fear, as in Psalm 85:9, which says, “Surely his salvation is hear those who fear (yare) him.

But yare can also mean awe or reverence, and that is what the psalmist probably means here.  Yahweh’s name inspires awe or reverence.

I hesitate to use the word awesome, which our culture has so trivialized, i.e., “Your fingernail polish is so awesome!”

PSALM 111:10.  THE FEAR OF YAHWEH IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM
10 The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom.
All those who do his work have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!

“The fear (Hebrew: yir’ah) of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom” (v. 10a).  The noun yir’ah is related to the verb yare’ (to fear, respect, or reverence) and the adjective yare’ (fearing, afraid).

Fear of (reverence for) Yahweh makes a person receptive to Godly wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10).  That person will obey Yahweh and observe his commandments (Deuteronomy 6:13; 28:58).

“All those who do his work have a good understanding” (Hebrew: sekel) (v. 10b).  The person who does God’s work will have sekel––insight or understanding––the kind of uncommon sense that enables a person to make good decisions and to avoid bad consequences (Proverbs 9:10).

 “His praise endures forever!” (v. 10c).    I didn’t find anything in the commentaries on this line that was particularly helpful.  I take it to mean that the person who fears (reverences) God and does his works will praise God forever.  That makes sense in two ways:

The person whose faith results in wisdom and understanding will be able to praise God through thick and thin. I have seen that kind of positive spirit in a number of faithful people who were facing various adversities––to include the death of a spouse or their own illness and impending death. The deeper our faith, the better we are likely to understand that the Lord is with us even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death (or any other adversity) (Psalm 23:4).  Note that Psalm 23 speaks of walking THROUGH the valley, and not just into it.  God is with us even as we make that journey.
• The person of faith can expect to live eternally, so he/she can praise God forever.

SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.

[ Citations to works omitted.  They are available with the original commentary] 

https://sermonwriter.com/psalm-111-commentary/

Copyright 2017, Richard Niell Donovan

[2]

There is an obvious cross citation here to Proverbs 9.  Technically, the Psalm came before the Proverb.  

Proverbs 9
New International Version
Invitations of Wisdom and Folly
9 Wisdom has built her house;
    she has set up[a] its seven pillars.
2 She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
    she has also set her table.
3 She has sent out her servants, and she calls
    from the highest point of the city,
4     “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
5     “Come, eat my food
    and drink the wine I have mixed.
6 Leave your simple ways and you will live;
    walk in the way of insight.”

7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
    whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
    rebuke the wise and they will love you.
9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
    teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For through wisdom[b] your days will be many,
    and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
    if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

13 Folly is an unruly woman;
    she is simple and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house,
    on a seat at the highest point of the city,
15 calling out to those who pass by,
    who go straight on their way,
16     “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
17     “Stolen water is sweet;
    food eaten in secret is delicious!”
18 But little do they know that the dead are there,
    that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.

Footnotes
Proverbs 9:1 Septuagint, Syriac and Targum; Hebrew has hewn out

Proverbs 9:11 Septuagint, Syriac and Targum; Hebrew me

[3]

Here is Psalm 111 in the New International Version

Psalm 111[a]
1 Praise the Lord.[b]

I will extol the Lord with all my heart
    in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

2 Great are the works of the Lord;
    they are pondered by all who delight in them.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
    the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
    he remembers his covenant forever.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
    giving them the lands of other nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
    all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are established for ever and ever,
    enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He provided redemption for his people;
    he ordained his covenant forever—
    holy and awesome is his name.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
    To him belongs eternal praise.

Footnotes
Psalm 111:1 This psalm is an acrostic poem, the lines of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Psalm 111:1 Hebrew Hallelu Yah

[4]

Hallelujah

"Hallelujah" (hllw yh) in Hebrew script

French manuscript of Psalm 149; the words "Hallelu-Yah" are visible next to the pointing man's face.
Hallelujah (/ˌhælɪˈluːjə/ HAL-i-LOO-yə) is an interjection. It is a transliteration of the Hebrew phrase הַלְלוּ יָהּ (Modern Hebrew hallūyāh, Tiberian haləlūyāh), which is composed of two elements: הַלְלוּ (second-person imperative masculine plural form of the Hebrew verb hillel: an exhortation to "praise" addressed to several people[1]) and יָהּ (the name of God Yah).[2][3][4] The term is used 24 times in the Hebrew Bible (in the book of Psalms), twice in deuterocanonical books, and four times in the Christian Book of Revelation.[5]

The phrase is used in Judaism as part of the Hallel prayers, and in Christian prayer,[5] where since the earliest times[6] it is used in various ways in liturgies,[7] especially those of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church,[8] both of which use the form "alleluia" which is based on the alternative Greek transliteration.

In the Bible
הַלְלוּיָהּ is found in 24 verses in the Book of Psalms [9] (104–106, 111–117, 135, 145–150), but twice in Psalm 150:6. It starts and concludes a number of Psalms.

The Greek transliteration ἀλληλούϊα (allēlouia) appears in the Septuagint version of these Psalms, in Tobit 13:17 and 3 Maccabees 7:13, and four times in Revelation 19:1–6, the great song of praise to God for his triumph over the Whore of Babylon.[5][6] It is this usage that Charles Jennens extracted for the Hallelujah Chorus in Handel's Messiah. This transliteration is the basis of the alternative English transliteration of "Alleluia" that is also used by Christians.

Interpretation
In the Hebrew Bible hallelujah is actually a two-word phrase, not one word. The first part, hallelu, is the second-person imperative masculine plural form of the Hebrew verb hillel.[1] However, "hallelujah" means more than simply "praise Jah" or "praise Yah", as the word hallel in Hebrew means a joyous praise in song, to boast in God.[10][11]

The second part, Yah, is a shortened form of YHWH, the name for the Creator.[5] The name ceased to be pronounced in Second Temple Judaism, by the 3rd century BC due to religious beliefs.[12] The correct pronunciation is not known, however, it is sometimes rendered by Christians as "Yahweh" or "Jehovah". The Septuagint translates Yah as Kyrios (the LORD), because of the Jewish custom of replacing the sacred name with "Adonai", meaning "the Lord".

In Psalm 150:6 the Hebrew reads kol han'shamah t'hallel yah halelu-yah;[13] the first "hallel" and "yah" in this verse are two separate words, and the word "yah" is translated as "the LORD", or "YHWH". In Psalm 148:1 the Hebrew says "הללו יה halelu yah". It then says "halelu eth-YHWH" as if using "yah" and "YHWH" interchangeably. The word "Yah" appears by itself as a divine name in poetry about 49 times in the Hebrew Bible (including halelu yah), such as in Psalm 68:4–5 "who rides upon the skies by his name Yah" and Exodus 15:2 "Yah is my strength and song". It also often appears at the end of Israelite theophoric names such as Isaiah "yeshayah(u), Yahweh is salvation" and Jeremiah "yirmeyah(u), Yahweh is exalted".[5]

The word hallelujah occurring in the Psalms is therefore a request for a congregation to join in praise toward God. It can be translated as "Praise Yah" or "Praise Jah, you people".[2][7][14]

Most well-known English versions of the Hebrew Bible translate the Hebrew "Hallelujah" (as at Psalm 150:1) as two Hebrew words, generally rendered as "Let us praise" and "the LORD", but the second word is given as "Yah" in the Lexham English Bible and Young's Literal Translation, "Jah" in the New World Translation, "Jehovah" in the American Standard Version, and "Hashem" in the Artscroll Tanach (Orthodox Jewish). Instead of a translation, the transliteration "Hallelujah" is used by JPS Tanakh, International Standard Version, Darby Translation, God's Word Translation, Holman Christian Standard Bible, and The Message, with the spelling "Halleluyah" appearing in the Complete Jewish Bible. The Greek-influenced form "Alleluia" appears in Wycliffe's Bible, the Knox Version and the New Jerusalem Bible.

In the great song of praise to God for his triumph over the Whore of Babylon[5] in chapter 19 of the New Testament book of Revelation, the Greek word ἀλληλούϊα (allēluia), a transliteration of the same Hebrew word, appears four times, as an expression of praise rather than an exhortation to praise.[6] In English translations this is mostly rendered as "Hallelujah",[15] but as "Alleluia" in several translations,[16] while a few have "Praise the Lord",[17] "Praise God",[18] "Praise our God",[19] or "Thanks to our God".[20]

The linguist Ghil'ad Zuckermann argues that the word Hallelujah is usually not replaced by a praise God! translation due to the belief in iconicity: the perception that there is something intrinsic about the relationship between the sound of the word and its meaning.[21]:62

Usage by Jews
The word "hallelujah" is sung as part of the Hallel Psalms (interspersed between Psalms 113–150).[22] In Tractate Shabbat of the Talmud, Rabbi Yose is quoted as saying that the Pesukei dezimra Psalms should be recited daily.[23] Psalms 145-150, also known as the Hallel of pesukei dezimra, are included to fulfill this requirement in the liturgy for the traditional Jewish Shacharit (morning) service.[24] In addition, on the three Pilgrimage Festivals, the new moon and Hanukkah, Psalms 113-118 are recited.[25] The latter psalms are known simply as Hallel with no additional qualification.

Psalms 146:10, ending with Halleluja, is the third and final biblical quotation in the Kedushah. This expanded version of the third blessing in the Amidah is said during the Shacharit and Mincha (morning and afternoon) services when there is a minyan present.[26]

Usage by Christians
Main article: Alleluia
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Christian Mass, singing Hallelujah
For most Christians, "Hallelujah" is considered a joyful word of praise to God, rather than an injunction to praise him. "The Alleluia" refers to a traditional chant, combining the word with verses from the Psalms or other scripture. In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, and in many older Protestant denominations, the Alleluia, along with the Gloria in excelsis Deo, is not spoken or sung in liturgy during the season of Lent, instead being replaced by a Lenten acclamation, while in Eastern Churches, Alleluia is chanted throughout Lent at the beginning of the Matins service, replacing the Theos Kyrios, which is considered more joyful. At the Easter service and throughout the Pentecostarion, Christos anesti is used in the place where Hallelujah is chanted in the western rite expressing happiness.


In contemporary worship among many Protestants, expressions of "Hallelujah" and "Praise the Lord" are acceptable spontaneous expressions of joy, thanksgiving and praise towards God, requiring no specific prompting or call or direction from those leading times of praise and singing.[27]  wiki.

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Bible Commentaries

Bible Commentaries
Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 111

Verse 1
1I will praise Jehovah The best and most efficient method of inculcating the performance of any duty is to be exemplary; and, accordingly, we find that the prophet, in the present instance, sets himself for an example, to lead others to engage in the celebration of God’s praises. His resolution to praise God consists of two parts; that he would celebrate God’s praises unfeignedly, with all his heart, and that he would do it publicly, in the assembly of the faithful. He very properly begins with heart-praise, because it is much better to praise in secret, and when no one is conscious of it, than to lift up our voice, and shout forth his praises with feigned lips. At the same time, the person who, in secret, pours out his heart in grateful emotions towards God, will also set forth his praises in swelling strains, otherwise God would be deprived of one half of the honor which is due to him. The prophet then determines to praise God with the whole heart, that is, with an upright and honest heart; not that he engages to come up to the full measure of his duty, but he declares that he would not be like the hypocrites, who, coldly and with a double heart, or rather guilefully and perfidiously, employ their lips only in the praises of God. This is a point worthy of notice, lest any should be discouraged, in consequence of not being able to cherish the hope of attaining to that perfection of heart which is so desirable; for however defective our praises may be, they may nevertheless be acceptable to God, provided only we strive unfeignedly to render unto him this act of devotion. We come now to the other part of his resolution, in which he says he would proclaim the praises of God before men; for although the Hebrew term סוד , sod, denotes a private assembly, (337) yet I think that, in this passage, he employs two words of synonymous import. At the same time, should any one be inclined to take a more refined view of the passage, he may do so if he please. He says, in the congregation of the just, because the principal object for which holy assemblies are convened, is to afford the worshippers of God an opportunity of presenting to him sacrifices of praise, agreeably to what is stated in Psalms 65:1,

“Praise waits for thee, O Jehovah! in Zion.”

Verse 2
2The works of Jehovah are great He now proceeds to inform us that there are abundant materials for praising God, supplied by his works, to which at present he makes only a general reference, and which he, subsequently, defines more explicitly in relation to the government of the Church. The magnitude of God’s works is a subject which, generally, eludes the observation of men, and, therefore, few of them are acquainted with it. This ignorance the prophet ascribes to the indifference and ingratitude of men, comparatively few of whom condescend to notice the great wisdom, goodness, justice, and power, which shine forth in these works. Expositors are divided in their sentiments about the second clause of the verse. Some translate it, sought out for all their delights; and, indeed, the Hebrew term חפף, chaphets, signifies good pleasure; but as this is too harsh an interpretation of the word, it is better to understand it as an adjective, expressing the idea of loving or desiring. As to the participle, sought out, which, according to the Hebrew verb, דרש, darash, properly denotes, to search with diligence, we yet find that the works of Jehovah are, in this place, called דרושים, derushim, that is, perceived or found out. Hence, in Isaiah 65:1, it is said, “I was found of them who sought, me not.” I must, however, not lose sight of the prophet’s design, namely, that in consequence of so few applying themselves to the study of the works of God, he teaches us that that is the reason why so many are blind amidst a flood of light; for, when he says that the excellency of the works of God is known to all who desire it, he means that none are ignorant of it, except such as are wilfully blind, or rather, malignantly and contemptuously quench the light which is offered to them. We must, however, attend to the means which we possess for arriving at the knowledge of these words because we know, that as long as the faithful are on earth, their understandings are dull and weak, so that they cannot penetrate the mysteries, or comprehend the height of the works of God. But, incomprehensible as is the immensity of the wisdom, equity, justice, power, and mercy of God, in his works, the faithful nevertheless acquire as much knowledge of these as qualifies them for manifesting the glory of God; only it becomes us to begin the study of his works with reverence, that we may take delight in them, contemptible though they be in the estimation of the reprobate, who treat them with impious scorn. The LXX. having rendered it, sought out in all his wills, Augustine has therefore taken occasion, with philosophic finesse, to ask, How can there be, or, at least, appear to be, a plurality of wills in God? And it is indeed a pleasing consideration, that though God manifest his will in his law, nevertheless there is another secret purpose by which he is guided in the wonderful management of human affairs. This doctrine, however, is, foreign to the exposition of this passage.

Verse 3
3His work is beautiful Others render it splendor. The meaning of the clause is this, That every act of God is replete with glorious majesty. In the following part of the verse he specifies more clearly in what this beauty and magnificence consist, by stating that the justice of God is everywhere conspicuous. It is not the design of God to furnish us with such a display of his power and sovereignty in his works, as might only fill our minds with terror, but he also gives us a display of his justice in a manner so inviting as to captivate our hearts. This commendation of the works and ways of God is introduced in opposition to the clamor and calumny of the ungodly, by which they impiously endeavor, to the utmost extent of their power, to disfigure and deface the glory of the works of God. In the next verse, he more especially extols the wonderful works in which God has principally set forth his power. To cause his marvellous works to be remembered, is equivalent to the doing of works worthy of being remembered, or the renown of which shall continue for ever. (338) And having above called upon us to contemplate his justice, now, in like manner, and almost in like terms, he celebrates the grace and mercy of God, principally in relation to his works, because that justice which he displays in the preservation and protection of his people, issues from the source of his unmerited favor which he bears towards them.

Verse 5
5He hath given a portion to them that fear him The Church being a mirror of the grace and justice of God, what the prophet said respecting them is here expressly applied to her; not that he designs to treat of the justice of God, in general, but only of that which he peculiarly displays towards his own people. Hence he adds, that God’s care of his people is such as to lead him to make ample provision for the supply of all their wants. The word טרף, tereph, which we have translated portion, is frequently taken for a prey: (339) others render it meat; but I rather choose to render it portion, in which sense it is taken in Proverbs 30:8, and Proverbs 31:15; as if he should say, that God had given his people all that was needful, and that, considered as a portion, it was large and liberal; for we know that the people of Israel were enriched, not in consequence of their own industry, but by the blessing of God, who, like the father of a family, bestows upon his household every thing necessary for their subsistence. In the following clause of the verse, he assigns as the reason for his care and kindness, his desire of effectually demonstrating that his covenant was not null and void. And here it must be carefully observed, that if, in former times, and from a respect to his gracious covenant, he manifested so great kindness towards the people of Israel, in like manner, the goodness which we receive from him is the result of our adoption into his family; and because God is never weary in showing kindness to his people, he says that the remembrance of his covenant shall never be effaced. Moreover, as he daily and constantly loads us with his benefits, so our faith must, in some measure, correspond with it: it must not fail, but must rise above life and death.

The next verse is subjoined, by way of exposition, for the purpose of showing that God, in bestowing upon his people the heritage of the heathen, had manifested to them the power of his works. He does indeed employ the term show, but he means a true showing; because the possession of the Holy Land was not acquired by mere human power, but it was given to them by Divine power, and through the working of many miracles; and thus God, as it were, openly testified to the descendants of Abraham with what incomparable power he is invested. It is on this account that he sets up the people of Israel as a match for so many other nations, who would assuredly never have vanquished so many enemies, unless they had been sustained from on high.

Verse 7
7The works of his hands In the first clause of the verse he exclaims that God is known to be faithful and upright in his works, and then he goes on to extol the same truth and rectitude as pervading the doctrine of the law; the amount of which is, that a beautiful harmony characterises all the sayings and doings of God, because every where he shows himself to be just and faithful. We have a memorable proof of this fact in the redemption of his ancient people. Yet I doubt not, that, under the term, works, the prophet comprehends the constant government of the Church; because God daily and unceasingly shows that he is just and true, and unweariedly pursues the same course. Among men it is reckoned to be of more importance for one to be found just in practice than in profession; yet, as the doctrine of the law was the very life and safety of the people, the prophet very properly, and in several expressions, dwells upon the sentiment contained in the second clause of the verse; saying, all his statutes are true, they are established for ever, and are drawn up in perfect accordance with the strict law of truth and equity And assuredly, but for God’s having kept the people united to him by the sacred chain of the law, the fruit of their redemption would have been very small, and even that benefit would have soon been lost by them. We ought to observe, then, that this subject is brought prominently forward in this place; because, in attesting the eternal love of God, it became the means of imparting life.

Verse 9
9He sent redemption to his people What he had already stated is here repeated in different words. And as the deliverance of his people was the commencement of their salvation, it is first introduced; next is subjoined its confirmation in the law, by reason of which it comes to pass that God’s adoption could never fail. For though, long prior to this, God had established his covenant with Abraham, which also was the occasion of the redemption of the people; yet what is here mentioned refers exclusively to the law, by which the covenant was ratified, never to be disannulled. The amount is, that, in the deliverance of the people, God did not act the part of a beneficial father, merely for a day, but that, in the promulgation of the law, he also establishedhis grace, that the hope of eternal life might continue for ever in the Church. Moreover, you must attend carefully to what I have elsewhere cautioned you against, and to which I shall advert more at length on Psalms 119:0, where the law is spoken of, That the commandments must not be taken always abstractly, for the Holy Spirit, in an especial manner, refers to the promises which are in Christ, by which God, in gathering his chosen people to himself, hath begotten them again to eternal life.

Verse 10
10.The fear of Jehovah Having treated of the kindness of God, and paid a well-merited tribute to the law, the prophet goes on to exhort the faithful to reverence God, and be zealous in the keeping of the law. In calling the fear of God, The beginning or source of wisdom, he charges with folly those who do not render implicit obedience unto God. As if he should say, They who fear not God, and do not regulate their lives according to his law, are brute beasts: and are ignorant of the first elements of true wisdom. To this we must carefully attend; for although mankind generally wish to be accounted wise almost all the world lightly esteem God, and take pleasure in their own wicked craftiness. And as the very worst of men are reputed to be superior to all others in point of wisdom; and, puffed up with this confidence, harden themselves against God, the prophet declares all the wisdom of the world, without the fear of God, to be vanity or an empty shadow. And, indeed, all who are ignorant of the purpose for which they live are fools and madmen. But to serve God is the purpose for which we have been born, and for which we are preserved in life. There is, therefore, no worse blindness, no insensibility so grovelling, as when we contemn God, and place our affections elsewhere. For whatever ingenuity the wicked may possess, they are destitute of the main thing, genuine piety. To the same effect are the words which immediately follow,a good understanding have all they who keep God’s commandments. There is great emphasis upon the qualifying adjunct טוב, tob; because the prophet, in inveighing against the foolish opinion to which we have already adverted, tacitly condemns those who delight in their own wicked craftiness. His meaning is, I admit, that they are usually deemed wise who look well to their own interests, who can pursue a temporising policy, who have the acuteness and artifice of preserving the favorable opinion of the world, and who even practice deception upon others. But even were I to grant that this character belongs to them, yet is their wisdom unprofitable and perverse, because true wisdom manifests itself in the observance of the law. Next he substitutes the keeping of God’s commandments for the fear of God. For though all men, without exception, boast that they fear God, yet nothing is more common than for them to live in the neglect of his law. Hence the prophet very properly inculcates upon us the voluntary assumption of his yoke, and submission to the regulations of his word, as the most satisfactory evidence of our living in the fear of God. The term beginning (340) has misled some, leading them to imagine that the fear of God was denominated the entrance of wisdom, as it were the alphabet, because it prepares men for true piety. Such an opinion is scarcely deserving of notice, seeing that, in Job 28:28, it is called “wisdom.” In this passage fear is not to be understood as referring to the first or elementary principles of piety, as in 1 John 4:18, but is comprehensive of all true godliness, or the worship of God. The conclusion of the psalm requires no explanation; it being the object of the prophet simply to inculcate upon the faithful, that nothing is more profitable for them, than to spend their lives in the celebration of the praises of God.

Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 111". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-111.html. 1840-57

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An Overview of the Psalms from The Bible Project




The Bible Project 2015.

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Hugh C. Wood, Atlanta, Georgia

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

© Richard Neil Donovan's Commentary on Psalm 111.

Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 111". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible"  (Public Domain)

© The Bible Project. 2015.

17 USC § 107 Fair Use. No claim of monetary remuneration on same.


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Labels:  Hugh C. Wood, הַלְלוּ יָהּ,  Hallelujah!, Hugh Wood, Peachtree Church, Presbyterian Church, Psalms of Worship John Calvin, , Psalm 111, Agape Class, Martha Wilson Class,




Sunday, July 19, 2020

An Overview of Four (4) Psalms over Four (4) Weeks, This Sunday: Psalm 103 "Bless the Lord, O my soul"

SUNDAY, JULY 19, 2020

An Overview of Four (4) Psalms over Four (4) Weeks, Psalm 100, Psalm 33, 103, and 111

This Sunday: Psalm 103.  "Bless the Lord, O my soul".

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Hugh C. Wood, Esq., Atlanta, Georgia

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Last week we looked at that grand mainstay of Worship -- Psalm 33.
This week we look at Psalm 103, the Mount Everest of the Psalms of Thanksgiving.




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Psalm 103

King James Version [1]

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6 The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;
18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
19 The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
20 Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
21 Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
22 Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.

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We have a great treat today.   

Today's sermon on Psalm 103 is by Dr. W. Frank Harrington, Senior Minister of Peachtree Presbyterian Church. [2]   Dr.  Harrington preaches on his diagnosis of cancer in 1981 and then his announcement to the congregation on November 23, 1986 that he has beaten cancer and was cured of that cancer.   No doubt, some of you, were in the pews of Peachtree on that very day.  




Dr. W. Frank Harrington



Dr. Harrington on Psalm 103.

Click on the link below to listen to the Dr. Harrington Sermon.

http://7f094d01bb9fba132184-dc497b519f7359b4bdf2faac32a1db57.r95.cf5.rackcdn.com/WFHAUDIO.861123.One%20Mans%20Anatomy%20Of%20An%20Illness%20!.mp3

[A personal note]  [3]

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The links to All Dr. Frank Harrington Sermons are at [4]

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Psalm 103 in Luttrell Psalter c. 1325–1335
Other name
Psalm 102 (Vulgate)
"Benedic anima mea Domino"
Original Language: Hebrew (original)
Author: (Probably) King David
Alternate Author:  Daniel




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Unlocking the Power of Psalm 103, Rev. Cheryl Hauer

10,102 views.   Published: Oct 4, 2017

The Psalm as the Mount Everest of the Psalms.




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Psalm 103 - Bless the Lord, O My Soul

And, if you feel so inclined to watch an entire sermon on Psalm 103, here is Psalm 103 taught by Pastor Paul LeBoutillier of Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon.



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Calvin's full Commentary on Psalm 103 is at [5].

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And, an overview of how Psalms is assembled in the Bible Project is at [6].

QUESTIONS FOR YOU:

1.  How has this Psalm (Psalm 103) strengthened my foundation as Christian in giving thanks (thanksgiving)?
2.  How does this Psalm (Psalm 103) provide guidance for giving thanks (thanksgiving) to God in my life?

Next week we will look to Psalm 111.

Till then,

Much Love to you,
Hugh Wood
Atlanta, Georgia

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[1]

I normally cite to the NIV.  But so much poetry and literature is tied to Psalm 103 in the 1611 KJV that I choose to post it first above.   

Listed below is Psalm 103 in the NIV.

New International Version

Psalm 103

Of David.

1 Praise the Lord, my soul;

    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the Lord, my soul,

    and forget not all his benefits—

3 who forgives all your sins

    and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit

    and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things

    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord works righteousness

    and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,

    his deeds to the people of Israel:

8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

    slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse,

    nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve

    or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

    so great is his love for those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,

    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,

    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

14 for he knows how we are formed,

    he remembers that we are dust.

15 The life of mortals is like grass,

    they flourish like a flower of the field;

16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,

    and its place remembers it no more.

17 But from everlasting to everlasting

    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,

    and his righteousness with their children’s children—

18 with those who keep his covenant

    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,

    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,

    you mighty ones who do his bidding,

    who obey his word.

21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,

    you his servants who do his will.

22 Praise the Lord, all his works

    everywhere in his dominion.


Praise the Lord, my soul.


[2]

Some would say that I should write "former" Senior Minister of Peachtree Presbyterian Church.  However, all I can tell you is -- I don't think that this giant of the Presbyterian Faith ever left us.  Every time I go into the Harrington Library, I tell you -- I feel that he is there.  So, yes, he is the former Sr. Minister (1969 - 1999).   Or not.  :) :) :)    



The Dr. W. Frank Harrington Library at Peachtree Church, 3434 Roswell Road, Atlanta, GA

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At audio 7:50 minutes into this sermon on Psalm 103, Dr. Harrington makes reference to "Dr. David Steel of the Scottish Presbyterian Church".   When I met and was to marry Anne Motz (Wood) out of the then the "Roaring 20s", Harrington arraigned for us to be married at the 3rd oldest Church in Scotland - Saint Cuthburt's (directly below Edinburgh Castle).  (St. Giles is not the oldest) (Saint Anne's Geneva, Suisse is the birthplace).   We flew our parents, our brothers and sisters, my best man, a (ΦΔΘ) and his wife all to Scotland.  We had our marriage license issued by the Council of Midlothan of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.  It was put out in public notice (the Banns) for 14 days in the Edinburgh public square.  The Very Right Reverend Doctor David Steel married us.  All of this great backdrop for this wedding was set up by that giant of the Presbyterian faith - Dr. W. Frank Harrington. 




[4]

https://www.ctsnet.edu/library/special-collections-and-archives/harrington-sermon-archives/

[5]

Bible Commentaries





Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms  103
Chapter Specific

Verse 1
1.Bless Jehovah, O my soul! The prophet, by stirring up himself to gratitude, gives by his own example a lesson to every man of the duty incumbent upon him. And doubtless our slothfulness in this matter has need of continual incitement. If even the prophet, who was inflamed with a more intense and fervent zeal than other men, was not free from this malady, of which his earnestness in stimulating himself is a plain confession, how much more necessary is it for us, who have abundant experience of our own torpor, to apply the same means for our quickening? The Holy Spirit, by his mouth, indirectly upbraids us on account of our not being more diligent in praising God, and at the same time points out the remedy, that every man may descend into himself and correct his own sluggishness. Not content with calling upon his soul (by which he unquestionably means the seat of the understanding and affections) to bless God, the prophet expressly adds his inward parts, addressing as it were his own mind and heart, and all the faculties of both. When he thus speaks to himself, it is as if, removed from the presence of men, he examined himself before God. The repetition renders his language still more emphatic, as if he thereby intended to reprove his own slothfulness.

Verse 2
2.And forget not any of his benefits Here, he instructs us that God is not deficient on his part in furnishing us with abundant matter for praising him. It is our own ingratitude which hinders us from engaging in this exercise. In the first place, he teaches us that the reason why God deals with such liberality towards us is, that we may be led to celebrate his praise; but at the same time he condemns our inconstancy, which hurries us away to any other object rather than to God. How is it that we are so listless and drowsy in the performance of this the chief exercise of true religion, if it is not because our shameful and wicked forgetfulness buries in our hearts the innumerable benefits of God, which are openly manifest to heaven and earth? Did we only retain the remembrance of them, the prophet assures us that we would be sufficiently inclined to perform our duty, since the sole prohibition which he lays upon us is, not to forget them.

Verse 3
3.Who forgiveth all thy iniquities He now enumerates the different kinds of the divine benefits, in considering which he has told us that we are too forgetful and slothful. It is not without cause that he begins with God’s pardoning mercy, for reconciliation with him is the fountain from which all other blessings flow. God’s goodness extends even to the ungodly; but they are, notwithstanding, so far from having the enjoyment of it, that they do not even taste it. The first then of all the blessings of which we have the true and substantial enjoyment, is that which consists in God’s freely pardoning and blotting out our sins, and receiving us into his favor. Yea, rather the forgiveness of sins, since it is accompanied with our restoration to the favor of God, also sanctifies whatever good things he bestows upon us, that they may contribute to our welfare. The second clause is; either a repetition of the same sentiment, or else it opens up a wider view of it; for the consequence of free forgiveness is, that God governs us by his Spirit, mortifies the lusts of our flesh, cleanses us from our corruptions, and restores us to the healthy condition of a godly and an upright life. These who understand the words, who healeth all thy diseases, as referring to the diseases of the body, and as implying that God, when he has forgiven our sins, also delivers us from bodily maladies, seem to put upon them a meaning too restricted. I have no doubt that the medicine spoken of has a respect to the blotting out of guilt; and, secondly, to the curing us of the corruptions inherent in our nature, which is effected by the Spirit of regeneration; and if any one will add as a third particular included, that God being once pacified towards us, also remits the punishment which we deserve, I will not object. Let us learn from this passage that, until the heavenly Physician succor us, we nourish within us, not only many diseases, but even many deaths.

Verse 4
4Who redeemeth thy life from the grave The Psalmist expresses more plainly what our condition is previous to God’s curing our maladies — that we are dead and adjudged to the grave. The consideration that the mercy of God delivers us from death and destruction ought, therefore, to lead us to prize it the more highly. If the resurrection of the soul from the grave is the first step of spiritual life, what room for self-gloriation is left to man? The prophet next teaches us that the incomparable grace of God shines forth in the very commencement of our salvation, as well as in its whole progress; and the more to enhance the commendation of this grace, he adds the word compassions in the plural number. He asserts that we are surrounded with them; as if he had said, Before, behind, on all sides, above and beneath, the grace of God presents itself to us in immeasurable abundance; so that there is no place devoid of it. The same truth he afterwards amplifies in these words, thy mouth is satisfied, by which metaphor he alludes to the free indulgence of the palate, to which we surrender ourselves when we have a well-furnished table; for those who have scanty fare dare scarcely eat till they are half satisfied. (165) Not that he approves of gluttony in greedily devouring God’s benefits, as men give loose reins to intemperance whenever they have great abundance; but he borrowed this phraseology from the common custom of men, to teach us that whatever good things our hearts can wish flow to us from God’s bounty, even to perfect satisfaction. Those who take the Hebrew word עדי, adi, for ornament, (166) mar the passage by a mere conceit of their own; and I am surprised how so groundless an imagination should have come into their minds, unless it may be accounted for from the circumstance that it is usual for men of a prying or inquisitive turn of mind, when they would show their ingenuity, to bring forward mere puerilities. The Psalmist next adds, that God was constantly infusing into him new vigor, so that his strength continued unimpaired, even as the Prophet Isaiah, (Isaiah 65:20) in discoursing on the restoration of the Church, says that a man of a hundred years old shall be like a child. By this mode of expression, he intimates that God, along with a very abundant supply of all good things, communicates to him also inward rigor, that he may enjoy them; and thus his strength was as it were continually renewed. From the comparison of the eagle, the Jews have taken occasion to invent, for the purpose of explanation, a fabulous story. Although they know not even the first elements of any science, yet so presumptuous are they, that whatever may be the matter treated of, they never hesitate to attempt to explain it, and whenever they meet with any thing which they do not understand, there is no figment so foolish that they do not bring forward, as if it were an oracle of God. Thus, for expounding the present passage, they give out that eagles, every tenth year, ascend to the elemental fire, that their feathers may be burnt, (167) and that then they plunge themselves into the sea, and immediately new feathers grow upon them. But we may easily gather the simple meaning of the Prophet from the nature of the eagle, as described by philosophers, and which is well-known from observation. That bird continues fresh and vigorous, even to extreme old age, unenfeebled by years, and exempt from disease, until it finally dies of hunger. That it is long-lived is certain; but at last, its beak or bill grows so great that it cannot any longer take food, and, consequently, is forced to suck blood, or to nourish itself by drinking. Hence the ancient proverb in reference to old men who are addicted to drinking, The eagle’s old age; for necessity then constrains eagles to drink much. But as drink alone is insufficient to maintain life, they die rather through hunger, than fail by the natural decay of strength. (168) Now we perceive, without the help of any invented story, the genuine meaning of the Prophet to be, that as eagles always retain their rigor, and even in their old age are still youthful, so the godly are sustained by a secret influence derived from God, by which they continue in the possession of unimpaired strength. They are not always, it is true, full of bodily vigor while in this world, but rather painfully drag on their lives in continual weakness; still what is here said applies to them in a certain sense. This unquestionably is common to all in general, that they have been brought out of the grave, and have experienced God to be bountiful to them in innumerable ways. Were each of them duly to reflect how much he is indebted to God, he would say with good reason that his mouth is filled with good things; just as David, in Psalms 40:5, and Psalms 139:18, confesses that he was unable to reckon up the Divine benefits, because “they are more in number than the sands of the sea.” Did not our own perverseness blind our understandings, we would see that, even in famine, we are furnished with food in such a manner, as that God shows us the manifold riches of his goodness. With regard to the renovation of our strength, the meaning is, that since, when our outward man decays, we are renewed to a better life, we have no reason to be troubled at the giving way of our strength, especially when he sustains us by his Spirit under the weakness and languishing of our mortal frames.

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles.”
Isaiah 40:31

The eagle seems to have borrowed its Hebrew name נשר, nesher, from the shedding of its plumage. Its root is the Chaldee verb נשר, nashar, decidit, defluxit ,he fell, he shed “The name agrees with שור, to look at, ” says Bythner, “because the eagle can look at the sun with a straight and steady gaze; also with ישר, to be straight, because it flies in a straight course.”

Verse 6
6.Jehovah executeth righteousness David having recounted the Divine benefits bestowed upon himself, now passes from this personal consideration to take a wider view of the subject. There is, however, no doubt that when he declares God to be the succorer of the oppressed, he includes himself among the number, for he had enjoyed the Divine help under many persecutions; and, from his own experience, he describes the character in which God is accustomed to manifest himself towards all who are unrighteously afflicted. As the faithful, while in this world, are always living among wolves, by using the plural number, he celebrates a variety of deliverances, to teach us that it is God’s ordinary work to succor his servants whenever he sees them injuriously treated. Hence we are taught to exercise patience when we find that God takes it upon him to avenge our wrongs, and that he covers us with the shield of his justice, or defends us with the sword of his judgment, as often as we are assaulted wrongfully.

Verse 7
7He hath made known his ways to Moses David now speaks in the name of the chosen people; and this he does very suitably, being led to it by the consideration of the benefits which God had bestowed upon himself. Convinced that it was only as a member of the Church that he had been enriched with so many blessings, he immediately carries back his contemplations to the common covenant made with the people of Israel. He, however, continues the same train of thought as in the preceding verse; for these ways, which he says had been shown to Moses, were nothing else than the deliverance wrought for the people until they entered the promised land. He selected this as an instance of God’s righteousness and judgment, surpassing all others, to prove that God always shows himself righteous in succoring those who are oppressed. But since this instance depended upon the Divine promise, he doubtless has an eye principally to it; his language implying that God’s righteousness was clearly demonstrated and seen in the history of the chosen people, whom he had adopted, and with whom he had entered into covenant. God is said to have made known his ways first to Moses, who was his servant and messenger, and afterwards to all the people. Moses is here represented as invested with the office to which he was Divinely appointed; for it was God’s will to be made known to the people by the hand and working of that distinguished man. The ways, then, and the doings of God, are his rising up with wonderful power to deliver the people, his leading them through the Red Sea, and his manifesting his presence with them by many signs and miracles. But as all this flowed from the free covenant, David exhorts himself and others to give thanks to God for having chosen them to be his peculiar people, and for enlightening their minds by the truths of his law. Man, without the knowledge of God, being the most miserable object that can be imagined, the discovery which God has been pleased to make to us in his Word, of his fatherly love, is an incomparable treasure of perfect happiness.

Verse 8
8.Jehovah is merciful and gracious David seems to allude to the exclamation of Moses, recorded in Exodus 34:6, where the nature of God, revealed in a remarkable way, is more clearly described than in other places. When Moses was admitted to take a nearer view of the Divine glory than was usually obtained, he exclaimed upon beholding it, “O God! merciful and gracious, forgiving iniquity, slow to wrath, and abundant in goodness.” As, therefore, he has summarily comprehended in that passage all that is important for us to know concerning the Divine character, David happily applies these terms, by which God is there described, to his present purpose. His design is to ascribe entirely to the goodness of God the fact that the Israelites, who by their own wickedness forfeited from time to time their relation to him, as his adopted people, nevertheless continued in that relation. Farther, we must understand in general, that the true knowledge of God corresponds to what faith discovers in the written Word; for it is not his will that we should search into his secret essence, except in so far as he makes himself known to us, a point worthy of our special notice. We see that whenever God is mentioned, the minds of men are perversely carried away to cold speculations, and fix their attention on things which can profit them nothing; while, in the meantime, they neglect those manifestations of his perfections which meet our eyes, and which afford a vivid reflection of his character. To whatever subjects men apply their minds, there is none from which they will derive greater advantage than from continual meditation on his wisdom, goodness, righteousness, and mercy; and especially the knowledge of his goodness is fitted both to build up our faith, and to illustrate his praises. Accordingly, Paul, in Ephesians 3:18, declares that our height, length, breadth, and depth, consists in knowing the unspeakable riches of grace, which have been manifested to us in Christ. This also is the reason why David, copying from Moses, magnifies by a variety of terms the mercy of God. In the first place, as we have no worse fault than that devilish arrogance which robs God of his due praise, and which yet is so deeply rooted in us, that it cannot be easily eradicated; God rises up, and that he may bring to nought the heaven-daring presumption of the flesh, asserts in lofty terms his own mercy, by which alone we stand. Again, when we ought to rely upon the grace of God, our minds tremble or waver, and there is nothing in which we find greater difficulty than to acknowledge that He is merciful to us. David, to meet and overcome this doubting state of mind, after the example of Moses, employs these synonymous terms: first, that God is merciful; secondly, that he is gracious; thirdly, that he patiently and compassionately bears with the sins of men; and, lastly, that he is abundant in mercy and goodness.

Verse 9
9He will not always chide David, from the attributes ascribed to God in the preceding verse, draws the conclusion, that when God has been offended, he will not be irreconcilable, since, from his nature, he is always inclined to forgive. It was necessary to add this statement; for our sins would be continually shutting the gate against his goodness were there not some way of appeasing his anger. David tacitly intimates that God institutes an action against sinners to lay them low under a true sense of their guilt; and that yet he recedes from it whenever he sees them subdued and humbled. God speaks in a different manner in Genesis 6:3, where he says, “My Spirit shall no longer strive with man,” because the wickedness of men being fully proved, it was then time to condemn them. But here David maintains that God will not always chide, because so easy is he to be reconciled, and so ready to pardon, that he does not rigidly exact from us what strict justice might demand. To the same purpose is the language in the second clause: nor will he keep anger for ever The expression, to keep anger for ever, corresponds with the French phrase, Je lui garde, Il me l’a garde, (171) which we use when the man, who cannot forgive the injuries he has received, cherishes secret revenge in his heart, and waits for an opportunity of retaliation. Now David denies that God, after the manner of men, keeps anger on account of the injuries done to him, since he condescends to be reconciled. It is, however, to be understood that this statement does not represent the state of the Divine mind towards all mankind without distinction: it sets forth a special privilege of the Church; for God is expressly called by Moses, (Deuteronomy 5:9) “a terrible avenger, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children.” But David, passing by unbelievers, upon whom rests the everlasting and unappeasable wrath of God, teaches us how tenderly he pardons his own children, even as God himself speaks in Isaiah, (Isaiah 54:7,) “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from them for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee.”

Verse 10
10.He hath not dealt with us after our sins The Psalmist here proves from experience, or from the effect, what he has stated concerning the Divine character; for it was entirely owing to the wonderful forbearance of God that the Israelites had hitherto continued to exist. Let each of us, as if he had said, examine his own life; let us inquire in how many ways we have provoked the wrath of God? or, rather, do we not continually provoke it? and yet he not only forbears to punish us, but bountifully maintains those whom he might justly destroy.

Verse 11
11.For in proportion to the height of the heavens above the earth The Psalmist here confirms by a comparison the truth that God does not punish the faithful as they have deserved, but, by his mercy, strives against their sins. The form of expression is equivalent to saying that God’s mercy towards us is infinite. With respect to the word גבר, gabar, it is of little consequence whether it is taken in a neuter signification, or in a transitive, as is noted on the margin; for in either way the immeasurableness of God’s mercy is compared to the vast extent of the world. As the mercy of God could not reach us, unless the obstacle of our guilt were taken away, it is immediately added, (verse 12th,) that God removes our sins as far from us as the east is distant from the west The amount is, that God’s mercy is poured out upon the faithful far and wide, according to the magnitude of the world; and that, in order to take away every impediment to its course, their sins are completely blotted out. The Psalmist confirms what I have just now stated, namely, that he does not treat in general of what God is towards the whole world, but of the character in which he manifests himself towards the faithful. Whence also it is evident that he does not here speak of that mercy by which God reconciles us to himself at the first, but of that with which he continually follows those whom he has embraced with his fatherly love. There is one kind of mercy by which he restores us from death to life, while as yet we are strangers to him, and another by which he sustains this restored life; for that blessing would forthwith be lost did he not confirm it in us by daily pardoning our sins. Whence also we gather how egregiously the Papists trifle in imagining that the free remission of sins is bestowed only once, and that afterwards righteousness is acquired or retained by the merit of good works, and that whatever guilt we contract is removed by satisfactions. Here David does not limit to a moment of time the mercy by which God reconciles us to himself in not imputing to us our sins, but extends it even to the close of life. Not less powerful is the argument which this passage furnishes us in refutation of those fanatics who bewitch both themselves and others with a vain opinion of their having attained to perfect righteousness, so that they no longer stand in need of pardon.

Verse 13
13.As a father is compassionate towards his children, The Psalmist not only explains by a comparison what he has already stated, but he at the same time assigns the cause why God so graciously forgives us, which is, because he is a father It is then in consequence of God’s having freely and sovereignly adopted us as his children that he continually pardons our sins, and accordingly we are to draw from that fountain the hope of forgiveness. And as no man has been adopted on the ground of his own merit, it follows that sins are freely pardoned. God is compared to earthly fathers, not because he is in every respect like them, but because there is no earthly image by which his unparalleled love towards us can be better expressed. That God’s fatherly goodness may not be perverted as an encouragement to sin, David again repeats that God is thus favorable only to those who are his sincere worshippers. It is indeed a proof of no ordinary forbearance for God to “make his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,” (Matthew 5:45;) but the subject here treated is the free imputation of the righteousness by which we are accounted the children of God. Now this righteousness is offered only to those who entirely devote themselves to so bountiful a Father, and reverently submit to his word. But as our attainments in godliness in this world, whatever they may be, come far short of perfection, there remains only one pillar on which our salvation can securely rest, and that is the goodness of God.

Verse 14
14.For he knoweth David here annihilates all the worth which men would arrogate to themselves, and asserts that it is the consideration of our misery, and that alone, which moves God to exercise patience towards us. This again we ought carefully to mark, not only for the purpose of subduing the pride of our flesh, but also that a sense of our unworthiness may not prevent us from trusting in God. The more wretched and despicable our condition is, the more inclined is God to show mercy, for the remembrance that we are clay and dust is enough to incite him to do us good.

Verse 15
To the same purpose is the comparison immediately following, (verse 15,) that all the excellency of man withers away like a fading flower at the first blast of the wind. Man is indeed improperly said to flourish. But as it might be alleged that he is, nevertheless, distinguished by some endowment or other, David grants that he flourishes like the grass, instead of saying, as he might justly have done, that he is a vapor or shadow, or a thing of nought. Although, as long as we live in this world, we are adorned with natural gifts, and, to say nothing of other things, “live, and move, and have our being in God,” (Acts 17:28;) yet as we have nothing except what is dependent on the will of another, and which may be taken from us every hour, our life is only a show or phantom that passes away. The subject here treated, is properly the brevity of life, to which God has a regard in so mercifully pardoning us, as it is said in another psalm: “He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again,” (Psalms 78:39.) If it is asked why David, making no mention of the soul, which yet is the principal part of man, declares us to be dust and clay? I answer, that it is enough to induce God mercifully to sustain us, when he sees that nothing surpasses our life in frailty. And although the soul, after it has departed from the prison of the body, remains alive, yet its doing so does not arise from any inherent power of its own. Were God to withdraw his grace, the soul would be nothing more than a puff or blast, even as the body is dust; and thus there would doubtless be found in the whole man nothing but mere vanity.

Verse 17
17.But the goodness of Jehovah, etc The Psalmist leaves nothing to men to rely upon but the mercy of God; for it would be egregious folly to seek a ground of confidence in themselves. After having shown the utter emptiness of men, he adds the seasonable consolation, that, although they have no intrinsic excellence, which does not vanish into smoke, yet God is an inexhaustible fountain of life, to supply their wants. This contrast is to be particularly observed; for whom does he thus divest of all excellence? The faithful who are regenerated by the Spirit of God, and who worship him with true devotion, these are the persons whom he leaves nothing on which their hope may rest but the mere goodness of God. As the Divine goodness is everlasting, the weakness and frailty of the faithful does not prevent them from boasting of eternal salvation to the close of life, and even in death itself. David does not confine their hope within the limits of time — he views it as commensurate in duration with the grace on which it is founded. To goodness is subjoined righteousness, a word, as we have had occasion frequently to observe before, denoting the protection by which God defends and preserves his own people. He is then called righteous, not because he rewards every man according to his desert, but because he deals faithfully with his saints, in spreading the hand of his protection over them. The Prophet has properly placed this righteousness after goodness, as being the effect of goodness. He also asserts that it extends to the children and children’s children, according to these words in Deuteronomy 7:9, “God keepeth mercy to a thousand generations.” It is a singular proof of his love that he not only receives each of us individually into his favor, but also herein associates with us our offspring, as it were by hereditary right, that they may be partakers of the same adoption. How shall He cast us off, who, in receiving our children and children’s children into his protection, shows to us in their persons how precious our salvation is in his sight?

Verse 18
Farther, as nothing is more easy than for hypocrites to flatter themselves under a false pretext, that they are in favor with God, or for degenerate children groundlessly to apply to themselves the promises made to their fathers, it is again stated, by way of exception, in the 18th verse, that God is merciful only to those who, on their part, keep his covenant, which the unbelieving make of none effect by their wickedness. The keeping, or observing of the covenant, which is here put instead of the fear of God, mentioned in the preceding verse, is worthy of notice; for thus David intimates that none are the true worshippers of God but those who reverently obey his Word. Very far from this are the Papists, who, thinking themselves equal to the angels in holiness, nevertheless shake off the yoke of God, like wild beasts, by trampling under foot his Holy Word. David, therefore, rightly judges of men’s godliness, by their submitting themselves to the Word of God, and following the rule which he has prescribed to them. As the covenant begins with a solemn article containing the promise of grace, faith and prayer are required, above all things, to the proper keeping of it. Nor is the additional clause superfluous — who remember his statutes; for, although God is continually putting us in mind of them, yet we soon slide away to worldly cares — are confused by a multiplicity of avocations, and are lulled asleep by many allurements. Thus forgetfulness extinguishes the light of truth, unless the faithful stir up themselves from time to time. David tells us that this remembrance of God’s statutes has an invigorating effect when men employ themselves in doing them. Many are sufficiently forward to discourse upon them with their tongues whose feet are very slow, and whose hands are well nigh dead, in regard to active service.

Verse 19
19.Jehovah hath established his throne in the heavens David having recounted the benefits by which God lays each of us in particular, and also the whole Church, under obligation to him, now extols in general his infinite glory. The amount is, that whenever God is mentioned, men should learn to ascend in their contemplations above the whole world, because his majesty transcends the heavens; and they should farther learn not to measure his power by that of man, since it has under its control all kingdoms and dominions. That none may think that earthly creatures only are here put in subjection to God, the Psalmist chiefly addresses the angels. In calling upon them to join in praising God, he teaches both himself and all the godly, that there is not a better nor a more desirable exercise than to praise God, since there is not a more excellent service in which even the angels are employed. The angels are doubtless too willing and prompt in the discharge of this duty, to stand in need of incitement from us. With what face then, it may be said, can we, whose slothfulness is so great, take it upon us to exhort them? But although these exalted beings run swiftly before us, and we with difficulty come lagging after them, yet David enjoins them to sing God’s praises for our sake, that by their example he may awaken us from our drowsiness. The object he has in view, as I have adverted to before, is to be noted, which is, by addressing his discourse to the angels to teach us, that the highest end which they propose to themselves is to advance the divine glory. Accordingly, while in one sentence he clothes them with strength, in the immediately following, he describes them as hanging on God’s word, waiting for his orders, — Ye who do his commandment However great the power, as if he had said, with which you are endued, you reckon nothing more honorable than to obey God. And it is not only said that they execute God’s commandments, but to express more distinctly the promptitude of their obedience, it is asserted, that they are always ready to perform whatever he commands them.

Verse 21
21Bless Jehovah, all ye his hosts. By hosts is not to be understood the stars, as some explain it. The subject of the preceding verse is still continued. Nor is the repetition superfluous; for the word hosts teaches us that there are myriads of myriads who stand before the throne of God, ready to receive every intimation of his will. Again, they are called his ministers who do his pleasure, to intimate to us, that they are not there intent in idly beholding God’s glory, but that having been appointed as our ministers and guardians, they are always ready for their work. Instead of word, the term pleasure is here used, and both are employed with much propriety; for although the sun, the moon, and the stars, observe the laws which God has ordained for them, yet being without understanding, they cannot properly be said to obey his word and his voice. The term obey is indeed sometimes transferred to the mute and insensible parts of creation. (175) It is, however, only in a metaphorical sense that they can be said to hearken to God’s voice, when by a secret instinct of nature they fulfill his purposes. But this in the proper sense is true of angels, who actively obey him upon their understanding from his sacred mouth what he would have them to do. The word pleasure expresses more plainly a joyful and cheerful obedience, implying that the angels not only obey God’s commandments, but also willingly and with the greatest delight receive the intimations of his will, that they may perform what he would have them to do. Such is the import of the Hebrew noun, as has been stated elsewhere.

Verse 22
22Bless Jehovah, all ye his works The Psalmist in conclusion addresses all creatures; for although they may be without speech and understanding, yet they ought in a manner to re-echo the praises of their Creator. This he does on our account, that we may learn that there is not a corner in heaven or on earth where God is not praised. We have less excuse, if, when all the works of God by praising their Maker reproach us for our sloth we do not at least follow their example. The express mention of all places of his dominion, seems to be intended to stir up the faithful to greater ardor in this exercise; for if even those countries where his voice is unheard ought not to be mute in his praise, how can we lawfully remain silent to whom he opens his mouth, anticipating us by his own sacred voice? In short, David shows that his design in recounting God’s benefits, and magnifying the extent of his empire, was to animate himself the more to the exercise of praising him.

Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 103". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-103.html. 1840-57

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An Overview of the Psalms from The Bible Project





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