George Booker
Psalms Studies - Book 5

Psalm 145

1. Title

David’s Psalm of praise. How modest this title is, for there is no hymn of praise anywhere to match this — the last psalm to bear David’s name. Some commentators suggest that 145 is the “new song” mentioned (by David) in 144:9. But it is not David’s praise only, but also — as the structure makes plain — the praise which he inspired in his people.

2. Structure

David’s personal outpouring of praise
Others join in the great anthem
The glory of God’s kingdom
God’s kindly care for His people
The king and his people now praise God together

This is also an acrostic psalm (Psalms Studies, Intro., Part 4). But at v. 13 the letter Nun is missing. Ancient versions and a Qumran text (1,000 years older than the AV “Received Text”) supply the missing verse:

“The Lord is faithful to all his promises, and loving towards all he has made” (cp. RSV, NEB).

There is also a remarkable oscillation between direct address to the Lord (1,2; 4-7; 10,11; 13; 15,16 — all second person pronouns), and the praise of God spoken about Him (3; 8,9; 12; 14; 17-21 — all third person pronouns). In the temple this may have been expressed in alternation between men’s and women’s choirs. Thus this psalm becomes the perfect introduction to the five Hallelujah psalms (146-150) with which the Psalter ends.

3. Historical setting

A few hints in the phrasing of the psalm suggest as historical setting the period of 2 Samuel 6 through 8 — David bringing the ark to Zion, the great Promise made to him through Nathan, and the unexpected and rapid expansion of his kingdom into an empire.

I will bless thy name for ever and ever. “The throne and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee [i.e., in your presence]” (2 Sam. 7:16). Thus David was assured of an eternal life in which to praise his God.
One generation shall praise thy works to another suggests the unbroken continuity of David’s dynasty — right up to the present day, in Jesus.
And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts. Possibly an allusion to the startling victories wrought for David when his new kingdom teetered on the brink of extinction (2 Sam. 8; Psa. 2; 60).
Thy saints shall bless thee. Either those now dedicated to the service of the sanctuary, or David’s holy nation thronging in enthusiasm to the Tabernacle newly set up in Zion (2 Sam. 6:1).
Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. Compare the repetition in 2 Sam. 7:13,16 of “for ever”.
The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. A reminiscence of David’s sickness and recovery (see on Psa. 30).
Thou givest them their meat (simply, “food”) in due season. An allusion to the great feast provided by David when the Ark was established in Zion (2 Sam. 6:19); or, to the extraordinary fruitfulness of a Year of Jubilee (cp. v. 16 here; see on Psa. 133). The Year of Jubilee began on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 25:9), and...

The eyes of all wait upon thee uses the language of the Day of Atonement — the worshipers assembled in the court of the sanctuary, praying and waiting for God’s acceptance of the special sin-offering to be communicated to them through the blessing of the High Priest.
The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. This last word is often used as a technical term; here it refers to the great Promise of 2 Sam. 7.
He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him. That is, He will bring about all that the Promise entailed. “Fulfil” normally refers to the fulfillment of a prophecy (2 Sam. 7).

He will also hear their cry, and will save them. See perhaps on Psa. 60.
The Lord preserveth all them that love him. For example, David, who was himself struck down by a grievous illness (see on Psa. 30) because of his own personal responsibility for the way in which the ceremony of the Ark miscarried (1 Chron. 15:2,13).

But the wicked will he destroy. This is a rather unexpected sentiment in this psalm especially, but in the historical context it is appropriate to the death of Uzzah (2 Sam. 6:6,7).

4. Hezekiah reference

After the time of David, none was so fully dedicated to the praise of Yahweh as was Hezekiah. It is easy to see with what enthusiasm he would add this psalm to his Psalter. Here are a few details:

Every day will I bless thee. This is Isa. 38:20.
One generation shall praise thy works to another. The maintaining of the continuity of the line of David was a matter of great concern to Hezekiah, especially since, at the time of his “fatal” sickness, he had no son to succeed him (Isa. 38:19).
Thy mighty acts... thy wondrous works... thy terrible acts. Even David had nothing to point to in his own reign comparable to what Hezekiah knew.
Hezekiah’s ravaged kingdom and plundered people would scarcely be able to believe it when, in the Year of Jubilee, they were so astonishingly blessed with God-given prosperity (Isa. 37:30,31).
The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him: Isa. 37:1.
The Lord preserveth all them that love him. This is the extension of Hezekiah’s life.

But all the wicked will he destroy. And this is the signal judgment on the Assyrian horde.

5. Messiah’s kingdom

The splendid reference of all this psalm to the kingdom of which David’s was a prototype is easy enough. From beginning to end, there is no difficulty.

I will bless thy name for ever and ever. The eternal King will set the example to all others.
His greatness is unsearchable (unfathomable: NIV). Literally, “Of His greatness... no end!” Note the terrific contrast in Eph. 3:8 (and the different kind of contrast in Psa. 139:1,23). In Rom. 11:32,33 this wonderful word describes God’s redeeming purpose, involving both Jews and Gentiles:

“For God hath concluded them all [Jews and Gentiles] in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all [Jews and Gentiles]. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”
One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. Here “praise” is singular and “declare” is plural. Christ teaches the members of his family; and in due course they will all join together in this Hallelujah (cp. vv. 6,7). See also Deut. 4:9; 6:7; 11:19; Exod. 13:8 (s.w.). After the resurrection they will all — every generation! — be there together: “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets” also.
All thy works shall praise thee. These works of God are His re-deemed, as the parallel with “saints” makes plain (so also in v. 17; cp. Psa. 77:11-20; 102:18; 104:31; 111:2-9; John 9:3; 2 Cor. 5:14-19; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:1-10; 4:22-24; Col. 1:15-18; 3:9,10; James 1:18; Rev. 3:14; 15:3,4). Isaiah often uses “the work of God’s hands” to describe men and women in process of redemption (19:25; 29:23; 45:11; 60:21; 64:8). For “praise thee”, read “give thanks unto thee”, further emphasizing that here God’s “works” are people. Contrast Isa. 45:9,10.
These references to Messiah’s kingdom are very eloquent, and need no commentary.
The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The s.w. occurs in Luke 13:11: The bent woman in the synagogue illustrated the future, more complete blessing.
The eyes of all wait upon thee: and thou givest them their meat in due season. Both halves of this verse were fulfilled by Jesus:

“And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him” (Luke 4:20).

“And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would” (John 6:11).

And these are the merest tokens of the greater blessings yet to come. Thou givest them their meat (food) in due season is quoted in Luke 12:42:

“Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?”
And let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever. The final phrase here demands reference to the future kingdom:

“And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Rev. 5:13).

6. Other details

Every day (for this is the meaning of Yahweh/Jehovah: the eternally Existent One: Rev. 1:4,8; 11:17) will I bless thee. No doubt this was literally true for Christ in the days of his flesh. For those in Christ it remains an ideal. “Every day” means the “bad” days as well as the “good”: cp. v. 21.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised is quoted in Psa. 48:1.

His greatness is unsearchable: “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding” (Isa. 40:28).

Thy wondrous works is, in Hebrew, debarim — “words”, i.e., Holy Scripture.
They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness. “Abundantly”! Weak praise is no praise at all! Is Yahweh to be “damned with faint praise”? The word for “utter” — naba — signifies ‘to bubble forth’, like a spring gushing out water (s.w. Psa. 19:2; 78:2; 119:171; Prov. 15:2; cp. Prov. 18:4). The word for “prophet” (nabi) is probably derived from this — he is a spokesman who “pours forth” the word of God.
The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy (Exod. 34:6,7; Psa. 86:15; 103:8; 111:4; 112:4; Matt. 5:7; Luke 6:36). With this verse cp. Num. 14:18,19, and note its context.
The Lord is good to all. Here the LXX has: “to those who patiently wait”, which seems right.
Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. This is quoted by a repentant Nebuchadnezzar in Dan. 4:3,34:

“How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation... And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation.”
The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. In another, very different, sense this is also true: cp. the examples of Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:28; 2:2) and the apostle John ( Rev. 1:17), both of whom fell to the ground in the presence of divine power, but were then lifted up in divine mercy.
Thou givest them their meat (food) in due season (Psa. 104:27). This is cited by Jesus in Matt. 24:45 and Luke 12:42: The faithful and wise servant, who has been appointed ruler over the household of his Lord, is doing the work of God when he provides for the (New) Creation their food (both physical and spiritual?) day by day. (Provision of physical food is seen in Acts 6:2-6; and of spiritual “food”, throughout the New Testament!)
The Lord is righteous. Quoted in Rev. 16:5.
But all the wicked will he destroy. The punishment of the wicked is eternal death, not endless torture: Psa. 37:20; 92:7; 104:35; Prov. 10:30; 11:31; 13:13; Job 20:7,8; 21:30; Ezek. 18:4; Matt. 21:41; Luke 19:27; Rom. 1:32; 6:23; 2 Thes. 1:9; 2 Pet. 2:12; Heb. 6:8.

7. Postscript

“All thy works shall praise thee” (v. 10):

O God, who heaven and earth hath made,
        And spread the glorious landscape wide;
Whose power and wisdom are displayed,
        Above, below, on every side;
Whose love is like a shoreless sea,
We lift adoring hearts to Thee.

The sun, whose ever-radiant might
        Its blessing sheds on all beneath,
The constellations of the night,
        The silvery moon, the cloudlet’s wreath.
With every leaf and bird and stream,
Repeat the universal theme.

In that bright day, when every stain
        Which mars this fair and fruitful earth,
Shall flee before the righteous reign
        Of him who brings the glad new birth,
May we, whose days are like the grass,
To endless life and glory pass!

Then shall immortal gifts and powers
        To strains divine attune our lays,
And from restored Edenic bowers
        Ascend glad antiphons* of praise,
Which saints in light alone may sing,
To God and His Redeemer-king.

                                        B. Warrender

* Antiphon: a hymn or psalm sung in alternate parts.
Next Next Next