PSALM 111 – 1

Psalm 111 is classified as an Individual Hymn of Thanksgiving, a psalm type in which the singer gives thanks for God’s goodness in delivering him/her from various life-threatening situations such as illness, oppression, or enemy attack.

The words of thanks by this individual worshiper are unusual, however, for they recount not an event of God’s deliverance of an individual, but God’s deliverance of an entire community.

In addition, Psalm 111 is a succinct and masterful acrostic poem. It consists of twenty-two phrases (excluding verse 1a), each of which begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In a mere seventy-two words, the psalmist summarizes the whole history of God’s deliverance of ancient Israel in the following structure:

Verse 1: A Vow to Give Thanks
Verses 2-4: The Deeds of the Lord Praised
Verses 5-9: The Deeds of the Lord Described
Verse 10: An Introduction to Wisdom

The psalm begins with “hallelujah,” initiating a whole series of psalms (Psalms 111-118) in which the word “hallelujah” reverberates, occurring eight times at the beginnings and endings of these psalms.

Verse 1 of Psalm 111 suggests that its words are those of an individual worshiper giving thanks to God in a public setting of worship; the council of the upright and the assembly. While some scholars suggest that these two terms imply different groups of people, the first a small group that gathered around the worshiper and the second the entire congregation of worshipers, most make no distinction between the two.

The words “I will give thanks (yadah) to the LORD” tie Psalm 111 to the psalms that precede it in Book Five (Psalms 107-150). In Psalm 107, the reader encounters the words “Give thanks to the LORD” in verses 1, 8, 15, 21, and 31. They occur as well in Psalms 108:3 and 109:30.

Verses 2-4 of Psalm 111 describe God’s “works” and “wonderful deeds.” The Hebrew word translated “wonderful deeds” is niphla’oth.” It means “something that I simply cannot understand,” or “something different, striking, remarkable; something transcending the power of human intelligence and imagination.” The word is used many times in recounting the events of the exodus from Egypt. We find it in the stories of the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the manna, the provision of water in the desert. All of these are referred to as “wonderful deeds,” things transcending the power of human intelligence and imagination.

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Published by johnranjit

Lifestyle Blogger

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