A Song of Praise
“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalms 145:8-9).
By Len Griehs
Psalm 145 is solely designated in the text as “David’s song of praise.” However, the remainder, 146-150, might be so classified as well, each beginning with the translated word, “Hallelujah!” or “Praise Ye Jehovah” (RVIC). This provides inspiration for reading them together as a testimony to our great Jehovah.
Psalm 145 is also one of nine “acrostic” Psalms, in which each verse begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet:
● Psalms 9, 10, 37 — two verses for each of the 22 Hebrew letters
● Psalms 25, 34 — one verse for each letter
● Psalms 111 and 112 — one-half verse for each letter
● Psalms 119 — eight verses for each letter
Psalm 145 contains one peculiarity as an acrostic psalm — translations omit the verse beginning with the 14th letter, Nun. The original Psalm, found in the Qumran scrolls and in the Septuagint version, contained all twenty-two letters and verses.
Besides the number of letters in the alphabet, Rabbinical writings from the first and second centuries BC reflect special significance to the number 22 itself: the number of generations from Adam to Jacob, forerunner of the Jewish nation; the number of works of creation in Genesis; and the number of books in the Jewish canon. Besides a tribute to the glory of God, Psalm 145 is an expression of faith in His dealings with His faithful ones. For example, David, like Moses, had a very personal relationship with God, being called, despite his three great failings, a man after God’s own heart (1Samuel 13:14). The Psalm can thus serve as a guide to developing solid faith in a benevolent Heavenly Father who invites us to draw near to Him (James 4:8), to rejoice in His mercy, love, justice, and wisdom.
Jehovah’s Divine Kingship
“A David song of praise. Let me exalt you, my God the king. And let me bless Your name forevermore. Every day let me bless You, and let me praise Your name forevermore. Great is the LORD and highly praised, and His greatness cannot be fathomed. Let one generation to the next extol Your deeds and tell of Your mighty acts” (verses 1-4, Alter translation).1
(1) Robert Alter is Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. His translations include The Five Books of Moses and The David Story (1 and 2 Samuel). Scriptures in this article from Psalms 145 are from his translation.
All scripture proclaims God’s sovereignty, although men do not appreciate His works today. When Jehovah revealed Himself to Moses, He said, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (Exodus 3:6). During the forty years he dwelt in Egypt, Moses had not really known Him. During the 40 year deliverance of Israel, Moses came to know Him closely (Exodus 33:11), and he marveled at the wonders of Jehovah. Deuteronomy 32 is the song Moses wrote to remind the children of Israel that their God was all powerful and able to deliver them through any trial: “I will proclaim the name of Jehovah; Ascribe ye greatness unto our God” (Deuteronomy 32:3 RVIC).
While captive in Babylon, Ezekiel became the mouthpiece of God to a dissident nation. The vision of four wheels, going in every direction, revealed to Ezekiel the omnipresence of God throughout the earth. He saw Jehovah as not merely the God of Israel, but the entire earth. God demonstrated through Ezekiel’s visions and those of Daniel, that His sovereignty extended beyond Israel to the entire world. In due time, He would make Himself known to the Gentiles, calling out of them a “people for His name” (Acts 15:14). Yet it would require faith such as Moses and David had to develop a relationship with Him. Others would not recognize His works, and many would deny His very existence, being blinded by the adversary (2 Corinthians 4:4). “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
As one understands more of God, the promise of Romans 8:28 (NASB) that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” takes on distinct meaning. This promise does not mean that all things in life will be perfect for a believer. There will be difficult experiences and many challenges. There will be failure and disappointment. Only when we are resurrected to a new life will we likely fully understand this promise. Then we may see how certain experiences were necessary to bring us to completion as a new creature in Christ — the ultimate good (1 Corinthians 13:12). Only then will we fully appreciate David’s summary, “His greatness cannot be fathomed.”
“Of the grandeur of Your glorious majesty and Your wondrous acts let me treat. And the power of Your awesome deeds let them say, and Your greatness let me recount. The fame of Your great goodness they utter, and of Your bounty they joyously sing, Gracious and merciful is the LORD, slow to anger, great in kindness” (Psalms 145:5-8).
For many, God serves as a kind of personal coach: successful sports heroes often thank God for their achievements and talk of their “God-given ability,” as though God’s role in the universe was to inspire people to win a gold medal. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NASB). Bereaving families remember loved ones by proclaiming that “God called him home,” or “God must have needed a good plumber.” Some assign non-believers to eternal separation from God or worse. Few understand or even know of God’s mercy reflected by His promise to bring all back from the dead, and to give them an opportunity for everlasting life in an earthly paradise with no more sin, sorrow, or death (Revelation 21:4). Although Isaiah was a prophet close to God, he was told “My thoughts and my ways are not like yours. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, my thoughts and my ways are higher than yours” (Isaiah 55:8, 9 CEV).
“Good is the LORD, to all, and His mercy is over all His creatures. All Your creatures, LORD, acclaim You, and Your faithful ones bless You. The glory of your kingship they say, and of Your might they speak, to make known to humankind His mighty acts and the grandeur of His kingship’s glory” (Psalms 145:9-12).
How could David proclaim that the Lord is good to all? Poverty, sickness, and destitution have plagued much of humanity for centuries. Comments sometimes heard among Bible Students focus on the future blessings: “It is so bad in the world, we need the kingdom!” Yet in reality, the entire creation now benefits from the blessing of life itself, although under less than ideal conditions. Despite centuries of anatomic and biomedical research and discovery, there are functions of the human body that remain a mystery. William McGuire Bryson, an American-British author of books on topics including travel, the English language, and science, recently published The Body: A Guide for Occupants. He cites many wondrous things about the human body. For example, every few moments your lungs will inhale and exhale some 300 sextillion oxygen molecules, and your bone marrow will create about 200 million red blood cells. Dr. Lissa Rankin, MD, an integrative medicine physician, writes in Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, “As doctors, we learn that the body can heal itself. Our physiology texts teach us that it is brilliantly equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that kill the cancer cells we produce every day, fight infectious agents, repair broken proteins, keep our coronary arteries open, and naturally fight the aging process.”
When Adam sinned, his body began a dying process (Genesis 2:17 RVIC). In the resurrection, as mankind progresses in the way of righteousness, this ability of the human body to produce the sustaining endurance for eternal life, will be restored. Outside materials such as water, food, and air will be necessary, but the restored earth will once again provide life-sustaining nutrition. It is incredible as we endure the challenges of life under sin to contemplate the time when there will be no inhibitors such as sickness, disease, and scarcity. All who have ever lived will have an opportunity to experience a miraculous recovery leading to eternal human life. “And I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt. Nothing about me is hidden from you! I was secretly woven together deep in the earth below” (Psalms 139:14, 15 CEV).
“Your kingship is a kingship for all time, and Your dominion for all generations. The LORD, props up all who fall and makes all who are bent stand erect. The eyes of all look in hope to You and You give them their food in its season, opening Your hand and sating to their pleasure all living things” (Psalms 145:13- 6, with no verse for Nun, letter 14 of the Hebrew alphabet).
God created earth’s environment to sustain life. Psalms 84:11 reads, “Our LORD, and our God, you are like the sun, and also like a shield. You treat us with kindness and with honor, never denying any good thing to those who live right” (CEV). The sun rises every day from the East and sets in the West. God provided nature with everything it needs to work and everything God designed was made to do work (the first and second laws of thermodynamics).
The food chain begins with energy from the sun. This energy is captured by plants. Plants use light energy to produce food (sugar) from carbon dioxide and water. Animals must eat plants and/or other animals — they cannot make their own food. God, like the sun, is the sustainer of all life for all creatures which inhabit the earth. He promises never to destroy this environment for man (Ecclesiastes 1:4).
God is also like a shield, protecting and surrounding those who are His. In Ephesians 6:16, this shield is called the “shield of faith,” as it provides protection mainly during spiritual battles. When we encounter difficult experiences, we have God’s promise that He will never allow us to face it alone (Deuteronomy 31:6). This metaphor of God as a shield appears 11 times in the Psalms and seven times elsewhere in the Bible. Besides having God as our protector, He also provides us with a defense against fear, one of our greatest enemies (Isaiah 41:10). We are strangers in a hostile land. God Himself is our shield (Psalms 28:7), and while Satan physically harmed Job and other faithful individuals, it was never beyond what God permitted for their instruction and development.
The Missing Verse 14
“The LORD, is faithful in His words and holy in all His works” (Septuagint, also see footnote in RVIC).
The missing verse from this Psalm appears in the Septuagint, the text used in Jesus’ day, and in the Qumran scrolls. When reading in most English translations, it appears as the second sentence of verse 13. Since the Psalm is an acrostic, this missing verse would have likely been part of the original writing. It assures us that God’s Word is always consistent and His creation will one day truly reflect His holiness.
“Just is the LORD, in all His ways, and faithful in all His deeds. Close is the LORD, to all who call Him, to all who call to Him in truth” (Psalms 145:17, 18).
Jehovah is a righteous God and we must focus on His goodness during the most difficult times of our life, when our human nature cries out, “Why would God allow this to happen?” “The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these” (Isaiah 45:7 NASB). Peter tells us that we may expect to suffer afflictions common to others (1 Peter 5:9). Yet with us, His love and mercy ease the pain of not knowing why they happen. When Adam and Eve sinned, Jehovah’s mercy and grace provided a pathway of redemption. He also promises to never allow more pain than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). Today’s evil is temporary (Psalms 5:4, 5). Societal problems will be eradicated in a future reign of righteousness (Psalms 5:4,5, Zephaniah 3:5, Deuteronomy 32:4).
“The pleasure of those who fear Him: He performs, and their outcry He hears and rescues them. And the Lord guards all who love Him, and all the wicked He destroys” (Psalms 145:19, 20).
Even Jesus needed strength from our Heavenly Father, which he sought through prayer (Luke 5:16). When we cry out to Him, He listens. We can have full assurance of faith that He will give us all that we need to complete our earthly course. Eventually, the conditions that adversely affect creation will be dissolved, and those out of harmony with God and His principles of truth and righteousness will be vanquished.
The evil in our world is permitted for a purpose. Jesus identifies the source of this evil: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 NASB).
When the Millennium draws to a close and the “little season” is ended, all evil and evildoers will have been destroyed along with the source of that evil. “When all things are subjected to him [Jesus], then the son himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28 NASB). Thereafter, there will be no opposition to God’s will. All who pass the final test of obedience will have been brought to the knowledge of the truth under the favorable reign of righteousness and have a love for God instilled in their hearts. God Himself will welcome them into eternal life. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34 RVIC).
“The Lord’s praise let my mouth speak, and let all flesh bless His holy name forevermore” (Psalms 145:21). When man graduates into eternity, the years of trouble and testing will be complete. Creation will be as God planned. Praise for Him will resound “forevermore.”
Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more — a grateful heart.
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise.