Psalm 150 – “Summons to Praise”

music_scoreHebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Psalm 150 is the last psalm in the Psalter. It calls on everyone to praise God’s greatness with musical instruments.

II. Photo
The psalmist calls on everyone to praise God with musical instruments: “Praise Him with blasts of the horn; praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dance; praise Him with lute and pipe. Praise Him with resounding cymbals; praise Him with loud-clashing cymbals.” (vv. 3-5)
III. Important Verses
vv. 3-5: Praise Him with blasts of the horn; praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dance; praise Him with lute and pipe. Praise Him with resounding cymbals; praise Him with loud-clashing cymbals.
v. 6: Let all that breathes praise the LORD. Hallelujah.

IV. Outline
1a. Superscription
1b-6a. Summons to praise
6b. Postscript

V. Comment
Psalm 150 is the last psalm in the Psalter. While most hymns begin with a call to praise (cf. Ps. 96:1-3, 100:1-4, 105:1-3, etc.), Psalm 150 is a call to praise in its entirety. Another example of this phenomenon is Ps. 134, and it is possible that these psalms “served as a general response or introit to the recitation of other hymns or thanksgivings” (Gerstenberger, 458). It is fitting that the Psalter, which is traditionally called Tehillim (from the root hll “praise”), ends with a psalm that contains the word hll “praise” a total of 13 times.

The psalm opens, “Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the sky, His stronghold.” The word ‘qodesho “His sanctuary” is used elsewhere, often to describe the place from which God speaks or makes an oath (cf. Ps. 60:8, 89:36, 108:8, Am. 4:2). The word reqia’ “sky” also seems to be the place where God dwells: the word appears quite often in Ezekiel’s vision of God (Ezek. 1:22-26). The next verse, which calls on people to praise God’s “mighty acts” and “exceeding greatness” also has its parallels (e.g. Ps. 54:3, 79:11).

What makes Psalm 150 unique is its extensive call to use instruments in vv. 3-5. A total of eight instruments are listed, and some are known from non-hymnic contexts:
1. shofar “ram’s horn trumpet” – this was also used for military purposes and at certain festivals such as the day of atonement (cf. Josh 6:4-6, Am. 3:6, Lev. 25:9).
2. nevel “harp” – this instrument, often accompanied by the lyre, is regularly mentioned in the context of hymn singing (cf. Ps. 33:2; 57:9, 2 Sam 6:5, 1 Kings 10:12).
3. khinnor “lyre” – this instrument, often accompanied by the harp, is regularly mentioned in the context of hymn singing (cf. Ps. 33:2; 57:9, 2 Sam 6:5, 1 Kings 10:12). It also was used for pleasure (cf. Job 21:12).
4. tof “timbrel” – these were the hand-drums used by Miriam in her dance at the sea (Ex. 15:20). They were also used for pleasure (cf. Job 21:12).
5. minnim “corded instrument” – it is not clear what this was (only other occurrence: Ps. 45:9).
6. ‘ugav “flute” – this instrument, which appears in Gen. 4:21, is rarely mentioned. In addition to hymn singing, it was used for funerary purposes (cf. Job 30:31). It also was used for pleasure (cf. Job 21:12).
7-8. two types of tzeltzelim “cymbals” – these instruments are only mentioned in 2 Sam. 6:5 where they accompanied a hymnic dance. They are probably related to the metziltayim “cymbals” mentioned throughout Tanakh.

It is interesting that the instruments themselves have been used to date the psalm. Allen writes, “The reference in v 3 to the more ancient horn, rather than to the metal trumpet, indicates a pre-Chronicles period of origin, since Chronicles, apart from 1 Chr 15:28; 2 Chr 15:14, always refers to trumpets.” While this is speculative, it is interesting that Chronicles I and II mention the chatzotzerot “trumpets” 16 times (mostly in a hymnic setting), and the shofar twice.

The psalm ends with an all-inclusive call to praise: “Let all that breathes praise the LORD.”

Psalm 149 – “Hymn to God and His Faithful Warriors”

metal_chainHebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Psalm 149 begins with a call to praise God amidst the “congregation of the faithful.” It then praises God’s warriors who praise God and enact revenge on the enemy.

II. Photo
The psalmist praises the warriors who carry out God’s decree against the foreign kings: “[they] bind their kings with shackles, their nobles with chains of iron.” (v. 8 )
III. Important Verses
v. 1: Hallelujah. Sing to the LORD a new song, His praises in the congregation of the faithful.
vv. 5-9: Let the faithful exult in glory; let them shout for joy upon their couches, with paeans to God in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to impose retribution upon the nations, punishment upon the peoples, binding their kings with shackles, their nobles with chains of iron, the doom decreed against them. This is the glory of all His faithful. Hallelujah.

IV. Outline
1a. Superscription
1b-3. Summons to praise
4. Hymnic rationale
5-9b. Praise of God’s warriors
9c. Postscript

V. Comment

Psalm 149, like many hymns, begins with a call to “sing to the Lord a new song” (cf. Ps. 33:3; 96:1; 98:1; Isa 42:10). The hymn’s setting is beqehal chasidim “in the congregation of the faithful.” The faithful – who are soldiers too – are the main subject of the psalm, appearing in vv. 1, 5, and 9.

The psalm contains a wish in v. 2: “Let Israel rejoice in its maker; let the children of Zion exult in their king.” Expressions to be glad and rejoice come up often in the psalter, e.g. Ps. 5:12, 9:3, 14:7, 31:8, etc. The next line, “Let them praise His name in dance; with timbrel and lyre let them chant His praises” is also standard for the hymn genre: see Ps. 135:3, 146:2, 147:1, 105:2-3 which all use the words hll “praise” and zmr “sing.”

What makes Psalm 149 unique is its turn in vv. 5-9: instead of praising God, or even Zion, the psalm praises God’s warriors (here called chasidim “the faithful”). They serve God “with paeans to God in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to impose retribution upon the nations, punishment upon the peoples, binding their kings with shackles, their nobles with chains of iron, the doom decreed against them.” (vv. 6-9) While the “nations” are not spelled out, divine revenge pervades the entire second half of this psalm.

While the brutal outlook of this psalm can be seen in a number of Biblical passages, a few stand out. For example, 2 Chr. 20:20-30 describes a mixture of war and hymn singing:
Early the next morning they arose and went forth to the wilderness of Tekoa. As they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: Trust firmly in the LORD your God and you will stand firm; trust firmly in His prophets and you will succeed.” After taking counsel with the people, he stationed singers to the LORD extolling the One majestic in holiness as they went forth ahead of the vanguard, saying, “Praise the LORD, for His steadfast love is eternal.” …  All the men of Judah and Jerusalem with Jehoshaphat at their head returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause for rejoicing over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem to the House of the LORD, to the accompaniment of harps, lyres, and trumpets. The terror of God seized all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the LORD had fought the enemies of Israel. The kingdom of Jehoshaphat was untroubled, and his God granted him respite on all sides.

The psalm speaks of carrying out the decree against the foreign kings: “binding their kings with shackles, their nobles with chains of iron, executing the doom decreed against them.” The decree is probably that written in Deut 20:10-13:
and when the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword. In the towns of the latter peoples, however, which the LORD your God is giving you as a heritage, you shall not let a soul remain alive. No, you must proscribe them — the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites — as the LORD your God has commanded you, lest they lead you into doing all the abhorrent things that they have done for their gods and you stand guilty before the LORD your God.
These exhortations were read literally: many biblical passages describe the killing of captured kings (e.g. Num 31:8) and the killing of prisoners of war (e.g. Judg 8:18-21, 2 Sam 8:2, etc.). One harsh example is Josh 10:24-27:
And when the kings were brought out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and ordered the army officers who had accompanied him, “Come forward and place your feet on the necks of these kings.” They came forward and placed their feet on their necks. Joshua said to them, “Do not be frightened or dismayed; be firm and resolute. For this is what the LORD is going to do to all the enemies with whom you are at war.” After that, Joshua had them put to death and impaled on five stakes, and they remained impaled on the stakes until evening. At sunset Joshua ordered them taken down from the poles and thrown into the cave in which they had hidden. Large stones were placed over the mouth of the cave, [and there they are] to this very day.”

When was this psalm composed? Gerstenberger believes that psalms were written for a current and practical reason: “Disinterested eulogies to [God] are imagined by interpreters rather than met in the Psalms. Ancient hymn singing grew out of contemporaneous contexts of belligerence, oppression, and divine violence.” (p. 456) Based on the fact that the community calls itself ‘anawim “the lowly” in v. 4 he speculates that the psalm is postexilic (a time in which foreign forces controlled the region). Allen concurs, “Linguistic and thematic links with Isa 40–66… indicate a postexilic origin for this psalm. Kraus… envisioned the period of Nehemiah as suitable for what he regarded as a cultic representation of the ancient tradition of the attack of the nations on Jerusalem in anticipation of an actual attack. A Maccabean dating, once prevalent, is now generally abandoned.” (p. 401)

Psalm 148 – “Hymn of the Heavens and Earth”

young_old_smHebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Psalm 148 is a grandiose call for the heavenly powers and the earthly entities to praise God. It ends with the hope that God will raise Israel’s status in the world.

II. Photo

The psalmist calls on people of all ages to praise God: “[Praise the Lord,] youths and maidens alike, old and young together!” (v. 12)
III. Important Verses
vv. 1-6: Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise Him on high… Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all bright stars… Let them praise the name of the LORD, for it was He who commanded that they be created. He made them endure forever, establishing an order that shall never change.
vv. 11-12: [Praise the Lord,] all kings and peoples of the earth, all princes of the earth and its judges, youths and maidens alike, old and young together.

IV. Outline
1a. Superscription
1b-5a. Summons for the heavenly bodies to praise God
5b-6. Hymnic rationale
7-13a. Summons for the earthly bodies to praise God
1b. Hymnic rationale
14. Wish

V. Comment
Psalm 148 has two major units: the first calls upon the heavenly powers to praise God (vv. 1-6), and the second calls upon the earthly bodies to do the same (vv. 7-13). Both sections begin with the words “praise the LORD” (vv. 1, 7) and close with the words “Let them praise the name of the LORD” (vv. 5, 13). But, there are differences between the two sections: the word halel “praise” occurs 8 times in the first section but only twice in the second. Also, while the first section lists 7 bodies to praise God, the second lists 23 groups of beings. Another key difference is that the first section uses imperative verbal forms while the second uses vocatives.

The first section has a similar meaning to Psalms 19 and 29: Ps. 19 begins by saying “The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky proclaims His handiwork,” and Ps. 29 begins by saying “Ascribe to the LORD, O divine beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.” The vocabulary of this section is found elsewhere (e.g. Gen 1:9, 37:9, Ps 136:8-9, 68:13, 103:20-21, etc.), but nowhere else is such a large list of heavenly bodies compiled. The mention of “his messengers” and “his hosts” in v. 2 refers to heavenly figures, not humans (cf. Isa. 24:21 which clarifies this, “In that day, the LORD will punish The host of heaven in heaven And the kings of the earth on earth.”).

The second section calls upon 23 groups to praise God: first the mythical powers, then the forces of nature, and then humans. While there are other lists of creatures in Tanakh (e.g. Job 38:22-30 and Gen. 1:20-25), the list here is clearly the largest.  The group of humans includes kings, nations, princes, judges, young men, young women, old people, and boys. It seems to be a descending hierarchy: the kings are listed first and the young boys last. Interestingly, the list does not include groups like the priests/Levites, or even social categories like the downtrodden and oppressed.

The vocabulary of the Psalm has affinities to other passages in Tanakh. For example, Gunkel pointed to a parallel between vv. 9-10, 13 to Genesis 1-2: compare v. 9 to Gen. 1:11, v. 10 to Gen. 1:24-25, and v. 13 to Gen. 2:4.

Psalm 147 – “Hymn”

snowlikefleeceHebrew-English Text

I. Summary
Psalm 147 is a hymn which praises God for being the creator, controller, and sustainer of the world. It also praises God for helping Israel, watching over Jerusalem, and teaching Israel His commandments and statutes.

II. Photo
The psalmist praises God’s control of nature: “He sends forth His word to the earth; His command runs swiftly. He lays down snow like fleece.” (vv. 15-16)
III. Important Verses
v. 3: He heals their broken hearts, and binds up their wounds.
v. 4: He reckoned the number of the stars; to each He gave its name.
v. 11: the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, those who depend on His faithful care.
vv. 16-17: He lays down snow like fleece, scatters frost like ashes. He tosses down hail like crumbs — who can endure His icy cold?

IV. Outline
1. Superscription, call to praise
2-6. Hymnic praise
7. Summons to give thanks
8-9. Hymnic praise
10-11. Wisdom statement
12. Summons for Jerusalem to praise
13-14. Hymnic rationale
15-20b. Hymnic praise
20c. Postscript

V. Comment

To be added at a later date.

Psalm 146 – “Homiletical Hymn”

polio1Hebrew-English Content
I. Summary
Psalm 146 is a hymn that praises God for helping the underprivileged. The speaker’s message to his community is, “Do not put your faith in man; praise God because He is benevolent and helps those who need Him.”

II. Photo

The psalmist praises God for helping those with physical ailments: ” the LORD makes those who are bent stand straight” (v. 8 )
III.Important Verses
v. 2: I will praise the LORD all my life, sing hymns to my God while I exist.
vv. 3-4: Put not your trust in the great, in mortal man who cannot save. His breath departs; he returns to the dust; on that day his plans come to nothing.
vv. 8-9: The LORD restores sight to the blind; the LORD makes those who are bent stand straight; the LORD loves the righteous; The LORD watches over the stranger; He gives courage to the orphan and widow, but makes the path of the wicked tortuous.

IV. Outline
1a. Superscription
1b-2. Summons to praise (directed towards oneself)
3-4. Wisdom admonition
5. Beatitude
6-9. Hymnic praise (creation, social justice)
10ab. Wish/blessing
10c. Postscript

V. Comment
Psalm 146 is a hymn that was said by an individual to a community that surrounded him. It is in the section of psalms that begin and end with the words halelu-yah “praise the Lord” (Ps. 146-150). It contains the three major elements of the hymn genre: (1) a summons to praise (vv. 1-2), (2) praise of God because of his works/deeds/qualities (vv. 6-9), and (3) a blessing/wish (v. 10).

While most hymns begin with an exhortation for others to praise God, the summons to praise in Psalm 146 is self-directed: “Praise the LORD, O my soul!  will praise the LORD all my life, sing hymns to my God while I exist.” But, this type of self-directed summons to praise can still be found in other psalms like 103 and 104 which begin “Bless the LORD, O my soul!”

After addressing himself, the speaker addresses those around him with a wisdom statement in vv. 3-4: “Put not your trust in the great, in mortal man who cannot save. His breath departs; he returns to the dust; on that day his plans come to nothing.” For a similar homiletical wisdom admonition, see Ps. 75:5-9.

The next section (v. 5) is a beatitude that praises the righteous man’s connection to God: “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God.” The beatitude paves the way for a hymn which begins by praising God’s creative deeds (a common element of the hymn genre): “maker of heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever.” The speaker then praises God’s benevolence to eight categories of socially/physically underpriveleged persons: ‘ashuqim “those who are wronged,” re’evim “the hungry,” ‘asurim “the prisoners,” ‘iwrim “the blind,” kefufim “the bent,” gerim “the stranger,” yatom “the orphan” and the ‘almanah “widow.” While there are many parallels for each section of the hymn, there is a clear connection to the triad of socially weak persons (“stranger, orphan, and widow”) mentioned in Deut 16:11, 14; 24:19-21. Also, note how the hymn mentions God’s name five times in a cluster of three verses.

Like many hymns, the psalm contains a wish/blessing, “The LORD shall reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.” This is very similar to v. 13 of the previous psalm: “Your kingship is an eternal kingship; Your dominion is for all generations.” For a similar blessing, see Ps. 104:33-35.

Allen writes that “the psalm is generally attributed to the postexilic [i.e. 2nd Temple] period on the grounds of its form-critical development, its apparent use of earlier material, and the lateness of its language, viz. she “who” (vv 3, 5) ‘eshtenot “thoughts” (v 4) sivro “hope” (v 5) and zaqaf “raise” (v 8).” (p. 366)

Psalm 145 – “Acrostic Hymn”

servefoodHebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Psalm 145 is a hymn of praise and adoration directed to God. The speaker praises God’s great qualities, vows to praise Him forever, and repeatedly expresses his wish that others will do the same.
II. Photo
The psalmist praises God’s benevolence in vv. 15-16: “The eyes of all look to You expectantly, and You give them their food when it is due. You open your hands, feeding every creature to its heart’s content.”
III. Important Verses
v. 2: Every day will I bless You and praise Your name forever and ever.
v. 9: The LORD is good to all, and His mercy is upon all His works.
v 14: The LORD supports all who stumble, and makes all who are bent stand straight.
v. 19: He fulfills the wishes of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and delivers them.

IV. Outline
1a. Superscription
1b-2. Invocation, vow to praise
3. Hymnic praise
4-7. Anticipated praise, vow to praise
8-9. Hymnic praise
10-12. Anticipated praise
13-20. Hymnic praise (mix of 2nd and 3rd person formulations)
21. Anticipated praise

V. Comment
Psalm 145 is an acrostic hymn, and each of its 21 verses begins with a different letter of the alphabet. The only letter missing is nun, but both the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls have a verse beginning with that letter: “The Lord is faithful (ne’eman) in his words, and holy in all his works.” It is not clear if these versions are preserving an original version of the text or merely filling in the gap. Other acrostics can be found in the book of Lamentations and Ps. 9, 10, 25, 34,3 7, 111, and 119. In terms of form, our psalm is most like Ps. 111.

The superscription, tehilla ledawid “A song of praise, of David,” is interesting for two reasons: (a) it is the last of the “Davidicsuperscriptions, and (b) it is the only superscription to use the word tehilla (but see Ps. 33, 65, 109, 147, 149 where the word is used near the beginning of the psalm). This is probably because the psalm’s last verse begins with the word tehilla, and the psalm’s essence is just that, i.e. praise. Indeed, the psalm’s grandiose praise of God is indicated by the universal word kol “all” appearing an astonishing 17 times.

The name of God, which appears 10 times (9 times as the Tetragrammaton and once as ‘elohay), only appears in the first half of each verse, indicating that the 2nd half of each verse explicates the first. The psalm routinely turns from 2nd person address to 3rd person address and vice versa, indicating that the suppliant was speaking to God in the midst of a congregation.

The psalm has many phrases that are used in other psalms. One example is vv. 15-16: “The eyes of all look to You expectantly, and You give them their food when it is due. You give it openhandedly, feeding every creature to its heart’s content.” Its parallel is Ps. 104:27-28: “All of them look to You to give them their food when it is due. Give it to them, they gather it up; open Your hand, they are well satisfied.” Another interesting connection is that our psalm contains the word melekh “king” (vv. 1, 11, 13), a key feature of the “Kingship Psalms” (Ps. 95-99) which all incorporate the word.

The psalm ends with an emphasis of everlasting endurance: “My mouth shall utter the praise of the LORD, and all creatures shall bless His holy name forever and ever.” This is a popular way of ending a psalm, e.g. 121:8 “The LORD will guard your going and coming now and forever,” and 131:3 “O Israel, wait for the LORD now and forever.”

Psalm 144 – “Royal Prayer (Praise/Petition)”


Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Psalm 144 seems to be a king’s prayer. The speaker blesses God, asks for His protection, and vows to sing His praise. He ends with a description of a community blessed by God.

II. Photo
The psalmist vows to praise God in v. 9: “O God, I will sing You a new song, sing a hymn to You with a ten-stringed harp.”
III. Outline
1a. Superscription
1b-2. Blessing/praise/thanks
3a. Invocation
3b-4. Wisdom saying: humility
5-8. Hymnic petition
9. Vow to praise
10-11. Petition
12-14. Description of Blessing
15. Beatitude

IV. Comment
Psalm 144 is a curious mixture of form elements: it contains a blessing (vv. 1-2), a wisdom saying (vv. 3-4), a grandiose petition (vv. 5-6), normal petitions (vv. 7-8, 10-11), a vow (v. 9), a beatitude (v. 15), and an enigmatic description of blessing (vv. 12-14). The speaker’s mention of battle (v. 1), people being subjected under him (v. 2), kings (v. 10), and David (v. 10) make it seem as if Psalm 144 was said by – or on behalf of – a king. Another indicator that Psalm 144 is a “royal psalm” is its strong connection to psalm 18 (which is classified as a royal thanksgiving psalm). Since the two psalms are so intertwined, Psalm 144 will now be explained while comparing it to Psalm 18.

Psalm 144 begins with a blessing, “Blessed is the LORD, my rock (tzuri), who trains my hands for battle (melamed yaday laqerav), my fingers for warfare.” The same vocabulary can be found in Ps. 18:3, 35: “O LORD… my rock (tzuri) in whom I seek refuge… who trained my hands for battle (melamed yaday lemilchama)…” V. 2 of our psalm describes God as “my faithful one, my fortress, my haven and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take shelter, who makes peoples subject to me.” Both the long list of affirmations and the mention of “subjugated people” have parallels in Psalm 18: “O LORD, my crag, my fortress, my rescuer, my God, my rock in whom I seek refuge, my shield, my mighty champion, my haven… the God who has vindicated me and made peoples subject to me.” (18:3, 48)

The next section of the psalm (vv. 3-4), which seems to be a piece of sapiential wisdom adapted for prayer, is a declaration of humility: “O LORD, what is man that You should care about him, mortal man, that You should think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” This teaching has parallels in the book of Job, e.g. Job 7:17 “What is man, that You make much of him, That You fix Your attention upon him?” and Job 15:14 “What is man that he can be cleared of guilt, One born of woman, that he be in the right?” Yet, it is interesting that the clearest parallel to our verse is Ps. 8:5 “what is man that You have been mindful of him, mortal man that You have taken note of him?” Our verse, which is a rhetorical way of saying “man is absolutely nothing compared to You,” has the opposite meaning of 8:5 which continues by elevating man: “You have made him master over Your handiwork, laying the world at his feet, sheep and oxen, all of them, and wild beasts, too; he birds of the heavens, the fish of the sea, whatever travels the paths of the seas.”

Psalm 144 continues with two sections of petition (vv. 5-8, 9-11), both of which begin with an invocation and end with the phrase “Rescue me, save me… from the hands of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies, and whose oaths are false.” Vv. 5-6 seem to be a universal, if not grandiose petition: “O LORD, bend Your sky and come down (hat shamekha watered); touch the mountains and they will smoke. Make lightning flash and scatter them (utefitzeim); shoot Your arrows and rout them (shelach chitzekha utehumeim).” As one might expect, there are parallels to Ps. 18: 18:10 says “He bent the sky and came down (wayet shamayim wayered), thick cloud beneath His feet,” and 18:15 says “He let fly His shafts (wayishlack chitzav) and scattered them (wayafitzeim); He discharged lightning and routed them (wayehumeim).” Yet, in terms of meaning, the closest parallel is the grandiose petition of Isa. 63:19b-64:1: “If You would but tear open the heavens and come down, So that mountains would quake before You — As when fire kindles brushwood, And fire makes water boil — To make Your name known to Your adversaries So that nations will tremble at Your Presence.”

The petition of v. 7 asks God to “Reach Your hand down from on high; rescue me, save me from the mighty waters, from the hands of foreigners.” All parts have parallels in Ps. 18: v. 17 says “He reached down from on high, He took me; He drew me out of the mighty waters” and v. 45 mentions the beney nekhar “foreign peoples.” 

The next section of the psalm is the vow of v. 9: “O God, I will sing You a new song, sing a hymn to You with a ten-stringed harp!” While the “new song” is usally reserved for communal worship (cf. Isa. 42:10, Ps. 33:3, 96:1, 149:1), here it is used by an individual. Allen believes that this vow indicates that the psalm is thanksgiving.

Like the verses before it, v. 10 has a strong affinity to Psalm 18. V. 10 describes God as “You who give victory to kings, who rescue His servant David from the deadly sword,” and Ps. 18:51 describes God by saying “He accords great victories to His king, keeps faith with His anointed, with David and his offspring forever.” Both verse mention great victory to kings, and David.

The last section of the psalm is unique for the Psalter. It begins with the enigmatic word “’asher” and proceeds to describe a blessing of sons, daughters, stored goods, sheep, and cattle, i.e. the main assets of an ancient Near Eastern family. While there are no direct parallels to this section, there are other lists of blessing in Tanakh (cf. Deut. 28:3-6, Gen. 30:43, Ex. 20:1, Job 42:12-13). The psalm ends with a beatitude, much like that of Ps. 33:12 “Happy the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen to be His own.”

Scholars are not unified in their dating of Psalm 144 (see Allen who views vv. 1-11 as preexilic and vv. 12-15 as a later edition). Yet, no matter its date, it is clear that the psalm is strongly tied to Psalm 18.

V. Important Verses
v. 4: Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. 
v. 9: O God, I will sing You a new song, sing a hymn to You with a ten-stringed harp
v. 15: Happy are the people who have it so; happy the people whose God is the LORD.