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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Psalms Chapter 146


psa 146:0

Hallelujah to God the One True Helper

The Psalter now draws to a close with five Hallelujah Psalms. This first closing Hallelujah has many points of coincidence with the foregoing alphabetical hymn (compare אחללה in Psa 146:2 with Psa 145:2; שׂברו in Psa 146:5 with Psa 145:15; "who giveth bread to the hungry" in Psa 146:7 with Psa 145:15.; "who maketh the blind to see" in Psa 146:8 with Psa 145:14; "Jahve reigneth, etc.," in Psa 146:10 with Psa 145:13) - the same range of thought betrays one author. In the lxx Psa 146:1 (according to its enumeration four Psalms, viz., Psa 145:1, Psalms 147 being split up into two) have the inscription Ἀλληλούια. Ἀγγαίου καὶ Ζαχαρίου, which is repeated four times. These Psalms appear to have formed a separate Hallel, which is referred back to these prophets, in the old liturgy of the second Temple. Later on they became, together with Psa 149:1, an integral part of the daily morning prayer, and in fact of the פסוקי דזמרה, i.e., of the mosaic-work of Psalms and other poetical pieces that was incorporated in the morning prayer, and are called eve in Shabbath 118b Hallel,

(Note: Rashi, however, understands only Psa 148:1-14 and Psa 150:1-6 by פסוקי דזמרה in that passage.)

but expressly distinguished from the Hallel to be recited at the Passover and other feasts, which is called "the Egyptian Hallel." In distinction from this, Krochmal calls these five Psalms the Greek Hallel. But there is nothing to oblige us to come down beyond the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. The agreement between 1 Macc. 2:63 (ἔστρεψεν εἰς τὸν χοῦν αὐτοῦ καὶ ὁ διαλογισμὸς αὐτοῦ ἀπώλετο) and Psa 146:4 of our Psalm, which Hitzig has turned to good account, does not decide anything concerning the age of the Psalm, but only shows that it was in existence at the time of the author of the First Book of Maccabees, - a point in favour of which we were not in need of any proof. But there was just as much ground for dissuading against putting confidence in princes in the time of the Persians as in that of the Grecian domination.

Psalms 146:1

psa 146:1

Instead of "bless," as in Psa 103:1; Psa 104:1, the poet of this Psalm says "praise." When he attunes his sole to the praise of God, he puts himself personally into this mood of mind, and therefore goes on to say "I will praise." He will, however, not only praise God in the song which he is beginning, but כּחיּי (vid., on Psa 63:5), fillling up his life with it, or בּעודי (prop. "in my yet-being," with the suffix of the noun, whereas עודנּי with the verbal suffix is "I still am"), so that his continued life is also a constant continued praising, viz., (and this is in the mind of the poet here, even at the commencment of the Psalm) of the God and Kings who, as being the Almighty, Eternal, and unchangeably Faithful One, is the true ground of confidence. The warning against putting trust in princes calls to mind Psa 118:8. The clause: the son of man, who has no help that he could afford, is to be understood according to Ps 60:13. The following לאדמתו shows that the poet by expression בּן־אדם combines the thoughts of Gen 2:7 and Gen 3:19. If his breath goes forth, he says, basing the untrustworthiness and feebleness of the son of Adam upon the inevitable final destiny of the son of Adam taken out of the ground, then he returns to his earth, i.e., the earth of his first beginning; cf. the more exact expression אל־עפרם, after which the εἰς τὴν γῆν αὐτοῦ of the lxx is exchanged for εἰς τὸν χοῦν αὐτοῦ in 1 Macc. 2:63: On the hypothetical relation of the first future clause to the second, cf. Psa 139:8-10, Psa 139:18; Ew. 357, b. In that day, the inevitable day of death, the projects or plans of man are at once and forever at an end. The ἅπ. λεγ. עשׁתּנת describes these with the collateral notion of the subtleness and magnitude.

Psalms 146:5

psa 146:5

Man's help is of no avail; blessed is he (this is the last of the twenty-five אשׁרי of the Psalter), on the contrary, who has the God of Jacob (שׁאל like שׁיהוה in Psa 144:15) as Him in whom is his succour (בּעזרו with Beth essentiae, vid., on Psa 35:2) - he, whose confidence (שׂבר as in Psa 119:116) rests on Jahve, whom he can by faith call his God. Men often are not able to give help although they might be willing to do so: He, however, is the Almighty, the Creator of the heavens, the earth, and the sea, and of all living things that fill these three (cf. Neh 9:6). Men easily change their mind and do not keep their word: He, however, is He who keepeth truth or faithfulness, inasmuch as He unchangeably adheres to the fulfilling of His promises. שׁמר אמת is in form equivalent substantially to שׁמר חסד and שׁמר הבּרית. And that which He is able to do as being the Almighty, and cannot as being the Truthful One leave undone, is also really His mode of active manifestation made evident in practical proofs: He obtains right for the oppressed, gives bread to the hungry, and consequently proves Himself to be the succour of those who suffer wrong without doing wrong, and as the provider for those who look for their daily bread from His gracious hand. With השּׁמר, the only determinate participle, the faithfulness of God to His promises is made especially prominent.

Psalms 146:7

psa 146:7

The five lines beginning with Jahve belong together. Each consists of three words, which in the main is also the favourite measure of the lines in the Book of Job. The expression is as brief as possible. התּיר is transferred from the yoke and chains to the person himself who is bound, and פּקח is transferred from the eyes of the blind to the person himself. The five lines celebrate the God of the five-divisioned Tra, which furnishes abundant examples for these celebrations, and is directed with most considerate tenderness towards the strangers, orphans, and widows in particular. The orphan and the widow, says the sixth line, doth He recover, strengthen (with reference to עודד see Psa 20:9; Psa 31:12). Valde gratus mihi est hic Psalmus, Bakius observes, ob Trifolium illud Dei: Advenas, Pupillos, et Viduas, versu uno luculentissime depictum, id quod in toto Psalterio nullibi fit. Whilst Jahve, however, makes the manifold sorrows of His saints to have a blessed issue, He bends (יאוּת) the way of the wicked, so that it leads into error and ends in the abyss (Psa 1:6). This judicial manifestation of Jahve has only one line devoted to it. For He rules in love and in wrath, but delights most of all to rule in love. Jahve is, however, the God of Zion. The eternal duration of His kingdom is also the guarantee for its future glorious completion, for the victory of love. Hallelujah!

Next: Psalms Chapter 147