1. The God Who Redeems (vv.1-6)
  2. The God Who Cares (vv.7-11)
  3. The God Who Commands (vv.12-20)
The God who Redeems (vv.1-6)
Call to Praise (v.1)

VERSE 1 Praise the LORD (Wll.h; [Piel.imper., halal, praise] Hy" [pr.n.])!

For it is good to sing praises to our God (bAj-yKi [conj., ki, is emphatic {as in "how", or "surely"} rather than explanatory, + adj.m.s., tobh, good] hr'M.z: [Piel.infin.cstr., zamar, sing praise] Wnyhel{a/ [n.m.p.w/1.c.p.sf., elohim]);

For it is pleasant and praise is becoming (~y[in"-yKi [conj. is emphatic, as in line 1, + adj.m.s., na-im, pleasant, delightful] hL'hit. [n.f.s., tehillah, praise] hw"an" [adj.f.s., naweh, beautiful, becoming; acts as an infinitive describing praise, rather than God or the one praising Him]).

For National Restoration (v.2)

VERSE 2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem (hw"hy> [pr.n.] hnEAB [, banah, build] ~l;iv'Wry> [pr.n.]);

He gathers the outcasts of Israel (`sNEk;y> [Piel.impf.3.m.s., kanas, gather] yxed>nI [, nadach, drive away; "outcasts"] laer'f.yI [pr.n.]).

For Healing Wounds (v.3)

VERSE 3 He heals the brokenhearted (aperoh' [, raphah, heal] [, shabhar, break, break in pieces] ble [n.m.s., lebh, heart]),

And binds up their wounds (vBex;m.W [conj.w/, chabhash, to tie, bind, bandage] `~t'AbC.[;l. [prep.w/n.f.p.w/2.m.p.sf., atstsebheth, wound]).

For Keeping Perfect Account (v.4)

VERSE 4 He counts the number of the stars (hn<Am [, manah, count] rP's.mi [n.m.s., misepar, number] ~ybik'AKl; [, kokabh, star]);

He gives names to all of them (`ar'q.yI [Qal.impf.3.m.s., qara, call, name] tAmve [n.m.p., shem, name] ~L'kul. [prep.w/n.m.s.w/3.m.p.sf., kal, all]).

For Omnipotence and Omniscience (v.5)

VERSE 5 Great is our Lord and abundant in strength (lAdG" [adj.m.s., gadhol, great] WnynEAda] [n.m.p.w/1.c.p.sf., adhon, lord, master] x;Ko-br;w> [conj.w/adj.m.s., rabh, great, much; "abundant", + n.m.s., koach, strength]);

His understanding is infinite (Atn" [prep.w/n.f.s.w/3.m.s.sf., tebunah, understanding] !yae [adv., ayin, nothing] `rP's.mi [n.m.s., misepar, number; infinite {with the negative}]).

For Making a Distinction (v.6)

VERSE 6 The LORD supports the afflicted (hw"hy> [pr.n.] ddeA[m. [, udh, surround; "support"] ~ywIn"[] [adj.m.p., anah, poor, afflicted]);

He brings down the wicked to the ground (lyPiv.m; [, shaphal, be or become low; bring down] ~y[iv'r> [adj.m.p., rasha, wicked] `#r,a'-yde[] [prep., adh, + n.f.s., erets, earth, ground]).


  1. This hymn probably was composed in the post-exilic era.
  2. This is surmised based on v.2.
  3. The psalm is naturally divided into three strophes (see outline).
  4. Each of the three strophes begins with a call to praise (vv.1,7,12).
  5. These calls to praise are followed with reasons to do so.
  6. There is a medley of two interwoven themes.
  7. Yahweh’s power as Creator and His patronage of the chosen people are apparent in each of the three strophes.
  8. This psalm begins and ends with "Praise Yah!/Hallelujah!", a feature common to the last five psalms (Pss.146-150).
  9. Before considering particular matters for praise, the psalmist considers the value of praise itself (v.1).
  10. An alternate translation of v.1 is as follows: "Praise Yah! How (understanding the particle ki here as a mark of emphasis rather than an explanatory conjunction) good it is to sing praises/psalms to our God, how pleasant (emphatic ki) to make fitting praise".
  11. The verse makes it clear that praise of God is a very positive and necessary endeavor.
  12. For those who engage in this spiritual exercise, it is a "pleasant/delightful" experience.
  13. Praise should be "becoming" or "fitting", in that it should give God credit for the things He does.
  14. God, under the right conditions, is into the regathering of dispersed Israel.
  15. He "builds up Jerusalem" following the devastation of the fifth cycle.
  16. God is into the restoration of the ancient capital and the regathering of dispersed Israel.
  17. God brought Jews out of the Babylonian captivity, restoring both the city and the exiles.
  18. He is to be praised for His efforts to rebuild the nation after devastation and exile.
  19. Today we see His hand in the return of Jews from all the places of their exile after 1,900 years of exile from their homeland.
  20. So the return from exile is an occasion for appreciation (praise/thanks) of Yahweh’s character and promises.
  21. He cares about those who have suffered a broken heart and who have suffered "wounds" of body and mind (v.3; cp. Isa.61:1).
  22. The heartaches associated with coming home are replaced with healing comfort.
  23. There was much pain and suffering associated with the rebuilding of the commonwealth.
  24. God was there to make the return a reality, and He was there to heal the emotions of those who had suffered in so many ways.
  25. Verse 4 interjects one of the two motifs of this psalm: God as Creator and Controller of creation.
  26. The transcendent power which controls the stars - innumerable to all but Yahweh - was there for His people in Babylonian exile.
  27. At the right time God brought His people home.
  28. He who put the stars in their place and knows their number and names is not unaware of the needs of His people at any given moment.
  29. So the Lord knows all those who are His by birth and by name.
  30. He is more than capable of meeting their individual and peculiar needs.
  31. Such a God is more than equal to the problems of His people, both in "strength" and in "understanding" (v.5).
  32. Compare vv.4,5 with Isa.40:26,28d.
  33. God’s "strength" is sufficient for any task (v.5a).
  34. His "understanding" of things "is infinite".
  35. There is not even one detail hidden from His eyes.
  36. Because He is who He is, He is able to "support the afflicted" and "bring down the wicked" (v.6).
  37. "The afflicted" are those who suffer in His name.
  38. He supplies material and spiritual support so that positive believers can be victorious in the face of adversity.
  39. He also has the capacity to "bring down the wicked".
  40. He does these things without fail.
  41. This could be an allusion to the demise of the Babylonian elite.
  42. If this psalm has as its background the return from Babylon, then "the afflicted" are the returnees and "the wicked" are those who oppressed them.
  43. He brings all who hate Him to the point of physical death and final judgment.
  44. His ability and knowledge extends to each and every person just as it does to the stars above.
  45. He should be praised for all these things.
The God who Cares (vv.7-11)
Call to Sing Praise (v.7)

VERSE 7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving (Wn[/ [Qal.imper., anah, be occupied with; be afflicted; "Sing"] hw"hyl; [prep.w/pr.n.] hd'AtB. [prep.w/n.f.s., todah, thanksgiving]);

Sing praises to our God on the lyre (WrM.z: [Piel.imper., zamar, sing praise] Wnyhel{ale [prep.w/n.m.p.w/1.c.p.sf., elohim] `rANkib. [prep.w/n.m.s., kinor, lyre]),

Provides Rain for Plant Life (v.8)

VERSE 8 Who covers the heavens with clouds (hS,k;m.h; [, kasah, cover] ~yIm;v' [n.m.p., shamayim] ~ybi['B. [prep.w/n.m.p., abh, cloud, dark cloud, cloud mass]),

Who provides rain for the earth (!ykiMeh; [, kun, to establish, do, provide] rj'm' [n.m.s., matar, rain] #r,a'l' [prep.w/n.f.s., erets, earth]),

Who makes grass to grow on the mountains (x;ymic.M;h; [, tsamach, sprout; cause to sprout] `rycix' [n.m.s., chatsir, grass, vegetation] ~yrIh' [n.m.p., har, mountain, hill]).

Feeds Beasts and Birds (v.9)

VERSE 9 He gives to the beast its food (!teAn [, nathan, give] hm' [prep.w/n.f.s., behemah, animal {wild or domestic}] Hm'x.l; [prep.w/n.m.s.w/3.f.s.sf., lechem bread, food]),

And to the young ravens which cry ( [prep.w/n.m.s., ben, son, young] bre[o [orebh, raven] rv,a] [] `War'q.yI [Qal.impf.3.m.p., qara, call]).


What Doesn’t Impress Him (v.10)

VERSE 10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse (al{ [neg.] #P'x.y< [Qal.impf.3.m.s., chaphats, delight in] tr;Wbg>bi [prep.w/n.f.s.cstr., nebhurah, strength] sWSh; [, sus, horse]);

He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man (yqeAvb.-al{ [neg. + prep.w/n.f.dual., shoq, leg] vyaih' [, ish, man] `hc,r>yI [Qal.impf.3.m.s., ratsah, be pleased with]).

What Does (v.11)

VERSE 11 The LORD favors those who fear Him (hc,Ar [, ratsah, be pleased with, be favorable to] hw"hy> [pr.n.] wya'rey>-ta, [dir.obj. +, yare, fear]),

Those who wait for His lovingkindness (~ylix]y:m.h;-ta, [dir.obj. +, yachal, to wait] `ADs.x;l. [prep.w/n.f.s.w/3.m.s.sf., chesedh]).


  1. With v.7 the song takes a new flight.
  2. The call to "sing to the LORD" is directed to those who are assembled for worship.
  3. The verbal root (anah) has at least four different meanings.
  4. Anah means "to answer", "to be bowed down", "to be concerned about", and "to sing".
  5. Here the idea is to strike up a song in honor of any one (cp. Isa.27:2).
  6. The worshipers are called upon to sing "with thanksgiving" to the One who demonstrates His care and favor towards His creatures.
  7. The psalmist calls for instrumental accompaniment.
  8. The lyre/harp was the most common musical instrument among the Jews of antiquity.
  9. This strophe amplifies the twin motifs already broached: Yahweh’s relations to nature and to His people.
  10. The psalmist uses a particular example from nature to celebrate Yahweh’s praise.
  11. The scene of vv.8,9 is northern Palestine during the rainy season.
  12. The highlands of northern Israel are lush with greenery by February/March.
  13. The winter/spring rains follow months of drought.
  14. Nature’s cycle of clouds (v.8a), rain (v.8b), and greenery (v.8c) is to be traced back to Him.
  15. Vegetation for the herbivores (v.9a) and flesh for the carnivores (v.9b; cp. Gen.8:7; Prov.30:17).
  16. All living things are dependent upon God who controls the forces of nature (e.g., the weather) for their survival (cp. Ps.104:10-30).
  17. All living things within that ecosystem depend upon the annual rains (as elsewhere around the earth) for their food.
  18. He makes mention of the "young ravens" who are cast off by their mothers at a very early stage of their development and are made to fend for themselves.
  19. The fact of their early abandonment is specifically noted in Job.38:41.
  20. If they do not find food readily, they will perish.
  21. Abundance of food has everything to do with the annual rains.
  22. The winter rains bring the highlands of Israel alive with flora and fauna.
  23. This is an impressive cycle that God has set up and supports.
  24. Towards Him, the gracious Sustainer of all things, the ravens "cry" for their food (cp. Lk.12:24).
  25. This is the response God wants from man, who has the capacity to consciously look to God for all things.
  26. What impresses God is when man "fears" and "waits" on the Creator for his needs and wants.
  27. Things which people envy and admire do not turn God’s head.
  28. Verse 10 illustrates this fact.
  29. A fast horse and strong legs do not impress God.
  30. While these things exist, they are not items which God "delights in".
  31. The best examples of speed and strength within the lower creation of man and beast do not win favor with God.
  32. Athletic prowess is not a way to gain favor with God.
  33. Typically people are impressed with people based on non-spiritual factors.
  34. What God "favors" is stated in v.11.
  35. Those who fear Him are those who pursue BD and who apply BD.
  36. To fear Him is to be duly impressed with His power to bring retribution upon those who oppose Him.
  37. Such a person willingly humbles himself and waits upon God to deliver and provide.
  38. God favors those who "wait" on Him for deliverance and provision.
  39. As far as the divine estimation is concerned, there is no comparison between what man puts a premium on and what God puts a premium on.
  40. A fast horse (car) and strong legs are a poor substitute for having God in your corner.
  41. While men’s eyes are upon examples of physical prowess, God’s approbation is directed towards living examples of fear and trust in Him in the face of pressure to fold.
  42. God is most impressed with a believer who waits upon God to validate His promises.
  43. God is to be praised because He will make public, in the most demonstrative terms, those who subscribe to a value system that is not of this world.
The God who Commands (vv.12-20)
Call to Praise (v.12)

VERSE 12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem (yxiB.v; [Piel.imper., shabhach, soothe, still, stroke; "praise"] hw"hy>-ta, [dir.obj. + pr.n.] ~l;iv'Wry> [pr.n.])!

Praise your God, O Zion (ylil.h; [Piel.imper., halal, praise] %yIh;l{a/ [n.m.p.w/2.f.s.sf., elohim] `!Ayci [pr.n.])!

For Security (v.13)

VERSE 13 For He has strengthened the bars of your gates (qZ:xi-yK [conj. +, chazaq, strengthen] yxeyrIB. [n.m.p.cstr., beriach, bar] %yIr'['v. [n.m.p.w/2.f.s.sf., sha-ar, gate]);

He has blessed your sons within you (%r;Be [, barak, bless] %yIn:B' [n.m.p.w/2.f.s.sf., ben, son] `%Ber>qiB. [prep.w/n.m.s.w/2.f.s.sf., qerebh, midst]).

For Peace and Prosperity (v.14)

VERSE 14 He makes peace in your borders (%leWbG>-~F'h [, sum put, establish; "makes", + n.m.s.w/2.f.s.sf., bebhul, border, territory] ~Alv' [n.m.s., shalom, peace]);

He satisfies you with the finest of the wheat (`%[eyBif.y: [Hiphil.impf.3.m.s.w/2.f.s.sf., saba, satisfy] bl,xe [n.m.s., chelebh, fat; best] ~yJixi [n.f.p., chittah, wheat, wheat flour]).

For His Unseen Hand (v.15)

VERSE 15 He sends forth His command to the earth (x;leVoh; [, shalach, send] Atr' [n.f.s.w/3.m.s.sf., imerah, utterance; "command"] #r,a' [n.f.s., erets, earth]);

His word runs very swiftly (`Arb'D> [n.m.s.w/3.m.s.sf., dabhar, word] #Wry" [Qal.impf.3.m.s., ruts, run] hr'hem.-d[; [prep. + adv., meherah, speedily]).

For the Winter Effect (vv.16,17)

VERSE 16 He gives snow like wool (!teNOh; [, nathan, give] gl,v, [n.m.s., shelegh, snow] rm,C'K; [, tsemer, wool]);

He scatters the frost like ashes (;`rZEp;y> [Piel.impf.3.m.s., pazar, scatter] rApK. [prep.w/n.m.s., kephor, frost] rp,aeK' [, epher, ashes]).

VERSE 17 He casts forth His ice as fragments (%yliv.m; [, shalach, throw] Axr>q; [n.m.s.w/3.m.s.sf., qorah, frost, ice crystal] ~yTipik. [prep.w/n.f.p., peth, fragment, piece]);

Who can stand before His cold (ymi [] `dmo[]y: [Qal.impf.3.m.s., amadh, stand] [prep.w/n.m.p.cstr., panim, faces; "before"] Atr'q' [n.f.s.w.3.m.s.sf., qarah, cold])?

For the Reverse Effect (v.18)

VERSE 18 He sends forth His word and melts them (xl;v.yI [Qal.impf.3.m.s., shalach, send] Arb'D> [n.m.s.w/3.m.s.sf., dabhar, word] ~sem.y:w> [conj.w/Hiphil.impf.3.m.s.w/3.m.p.sf., masah, melt]);

He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow (bVey: [Hiphil.impf.3.m.s., nashabh, blow] AxWr [n.f.s.w/3.m.s.sf., ruach, wind] `~yIm'-WlZ>yI [Qal.impf.3.m.p., nazal, flow, + n.m.p., mayim, water]).

For His Favor upon Israel (vv.19,20)

VERSE 19 He declares His words to Jacob (dyGIm; [, naghadh, to declare] Arb'D> [n.m.s.w/3.m.s.sf., dabhar, word] bqo[]y:l. [prep.w/pr.n.]),

His statutes and His ordinances to Israel (wyQ'xu [n.m.p.w/3.m.s.sf., choq, statute] wyj'P'v.miW [conj.w/n.m.p.w/3.m.s.sf., mishepat, ordinance] `laer'f.yIl. [prep.w/pr.n.]).

VERSE 20 He has not dealt thus with any nation (al{ [neg.] hf'[' [, asah, do] !ke [adv., so, thus] yAG-lk'l. [prep.w/n.m.s.cstr., kal, all, + n.m.s., goi, nation]);

And as for His ordinances, they have not known them (~yjiP'v.miW [conj.w/n.m.p., mishephat, judgment, ruling, ordinance] ~W[d'y>-lB [neg. +, yada, know]).

Praise the LORD (Hy"-Wll.h; [Piel.imper., halal, praise, + pr.n.])!


  1. The situation envisaged in the opening lines of the third and final strophe is that of regathered and restored Israel prospering in the land of promise.
  2. Verse 12 calls for the citizens of the commonwealth to praise God for His considerable blessing upon the citizenry.
  3. The inhabitants of the capital are called to praise Yahweh for His grace benefits upon them.
  4. The city is secure because its fortifications are solid and its defenders are capable (v.13).
  5. This blessing is traced back to the God of Zion.
  6. Verse 14 credits God with peace and prosperity upon the nation.
  7. Peace indicates freedom from outside aggression.
  8. Peace on the borders means her enemies are kept at bay because God is blessing those responsible for national security.
  9. "The finest of the wheat" indicates prodigious harvests of the highest quality wheat.
  10. The mention of the most desirable strain of wheat implies economic prosperity at all levels.
  11. The One who decrees blessing upon Israel when the conditions are favorable is the One who is behind climate and weather.
  12. The nature motif is present in all three strophes (vv.4, 8-9, and 16-18).
  13. Verse 15 introduces the subject by informing us that the ongoing "command" (or "utterance") of God is behind all of nature as well as the whole course of history.
  14. Here the psalmist directs our attention to earth’s weather, in particular winter weather.
  15. God’s Word is the expression of the divine will.
  16. What God wants, God gets, simply because He has the Sovereign power to bring about whatever He wills.
  17. The cold weather cycle is the result of His Sovereign choice at any given place and time.
  18. The stream of divine directives for such phenomena as the weather accomplishes exactly what God desires.
  19. Verse 15 presents God’s effortless control of the forces of nature.
  20. God freely establishes the precise weather patterns He wants around the world.
  21. "His word/His command" is His Omnipotent and all-seeing will imposed upon the natural world.
  22. Winter precipitation is presented here in three forms: snow, frost, and ice.
  23. Snow is compared to wool, which is white and at times in deep layers.
  24. He scatters hoarfrost about like ashes, so that trees, roofs, etc., are crusted over with frozen dew as though powdered with ash distributed by the wind.
  25. Ice storms deposit their icy fragments over the land as sleet or hail.
  26. There are times and places in which the cold is frightful.
  27. In Siberia birds die in mid flight and trees explode.
  28. The rhetorical question of v.17b has to do with extreme cold that threatens man and beast (some of the wooly mastodons died instantly and can be found in the Arctic regions).
  29. Job 37 sets forth the same truth.
  30. Verse 18 deals with the reverse effect - winter thaw.
  31. He is behind its timing and magnitude.
  32. He melts the snow and ice, causing streams and rivers "to flow" violently.
  33. God issues His command and it is executed; He speaks and, presto, it is done.
  34. Verses 16 and 18a frame this poetic account of winter weather and its reversal.
  35. Like a child delighting in the snow, He revels in an excited description of severe winter conditions such as were comparatively rare in Palestine.
  36. Snowflakes, frost, and ice (hail/sleet) are tossed down from above like confetti.
  37. The warm wind is the warm breath of God directed at the icy conditions, causing the snow and ice to melt.
  38. God is present and active in natural phenomena.
  39. Switching to the other motif dealing with God’s care for His people, the psalmist retains the concept of the word that is sent forth (v.19).
  40. Here it is used of special revelation (BD).
  41. The divine command/word in nature has as its counterpart Yahweh’s communication of His moral and spiritual law to His people.
  42. His reference here is to the Mosaic Covenant.
  43. At Sinai God revealed Himself to the chosen people and extended to them the unique privilege of being His ambassador/priest to the nations.
  44. No other nation had ever been so honored (v.20a).
  45. The peoples at large were not privy to "His ordinances", but Israel was.
  46. As the standard bearer of BD, Israel takes the place of honor among the nations (Deut.4:7ff and vv.32-34).
  47. But with privilege comes responsibility.
  48. The final hallelujah exults over the fact that Israel is so privileged.
  49. God’s word never comes back to Him void of effect.
  50. His word over the creation never falls short, and His spoken and written Word will be validated in all its detail.
JULY, 1998

© Copyright 1998, Maranatha Church, Inc.