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Psalm 113

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Lord Exalts the Humble No MT Intro The Majesty and Condescension of God Hymn Celebrating the Lord as Helper of the Humble In Praise of the Lord's Goodness To the God of Glory and Mercy
113:1-4 113:1a 113:1 113:1a 113:1a
  113:1b-3   113:1b-4 113:1b-3
    113:2-4    
  113:4-6     113:4-6
113:5-9   113:5-9 113:5-9b  
  113:7-9b     113:7-9b
  113:9c   113:9c 113:9c

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 113:1-4
 1Praise the Lord!
 Praise, O servants of the Lord,
 Praise the name of the Lord.
 2Blessed be the name of the Lord
 From this time forth and forever.
 3From the rising of the sun to its setting
 The name of the Lord is to be praised.
 4The Lord is high above all nations;
 His glory is above the heavens.

113:1 This verse has the same imperative repeated three times for emphasis (BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperative; see same technique in Ps. 96:1-2). It starts out like Psalms 111; 112 (see note at Ps. 111:1). This Psalm reveals why YHWH should be praised.

1. He is above all nations, Ps. 113:4

2. His glory is above the heavens, Ps. 113:4

3. he is unique (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM), Ps. 113:5

4. He humbles Himself to know and be involved in the lives of His faithful followers, Ps. 113:6 (cf. Ps. 18:35c)

5. He cares for those who are socially ostracized and who have no power, Ps. 113:7-9 (cf. Ps. 109:31)

a. the poor

b. the needy

c. the barren

 

▣ "the Lord" See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY.

▣ "O servants of the Lord" The AB (p. 131) changes the vowels and makes this "the works of the Lord." This form (BDB 714) is found in Eccl. 9:1.

If the MT is correct, "servants" would refer to

1. angels (cf. Ps. 103:20-22)

2. worshipers in the temple (cf. Deut. 32:43; Ps. 34:22; 69:36; 105:25; 135:14)

3. Levites/priests in the temple (cf. Ps. 134:1; 135:1-2)

 

▣ "the name of the Lord" See Special Topic: "The Name" of YHWH.

113:2 "Blessed" This verb (BDB 138, KB 159, Pual participle combined with the jussive form of theverb "to be") is parallel to "praise" (cf. Ps. 145:21).

113:2b-3a These two lines are parallel and in figurative language to express the extent of the praise of YHWH

1. for all time, Ps. 113:2b

2. in all places, Ps. 113:3a

 

113:4 "high above all nations" This verse tells why He should be praised.

1. He is high above all nations (cf. Ps. 97:9; 99:2)

2. His glory is above the heavens (cf. Ps. 8:1; 57:11; 148:13)

 

▣ "glory" See SPECIAL TOPIC: GLORY (DOXA).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 113:5-9c
 5Who is like the Lord our God,
 Who is enthroned on high,
 6Who humbles Himself to behold
 The things that are in heaven and in the earth?
 7He raises the poor from the dust
 And lifts the needy from the ash heap,
 8To make them sit with princes,
 With the princes of His people.
 9He makes the barren woman abide in the house
 As a joyful mother of children.
 Praise the Lord!

113:5 "Who is like the Lord our God" Notice both YHWH and Elohim are used for the Deity of Israel (see SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY.

▣ "Who is enthroned on high" This is parallel to Ps. 113:4b. It is an idiom of kingship (cf. Ps. 103:19). YHWH is king (note 1 Sam. 8:7). The ancient Israelites viewed their God as sitting on His throne above the atmosphere of the earth with His feet resting (i.e., footstool) on the ark of the covenant. The ark's lid was where heaven and earth symbolically met!

113:6

NASB, NKJV"Who humbles Himself"
NRSV"who looks far down"
TEV, NET"he bends down to see"
NJB"he stoops to look down"
JPSOA"see what is below"
REB"deigns to look down so low"

This unusual phrase denotes that YHWH knows what is happening on earth, especially to His people (cf. Exod. 3:7-8; Ps. 138:6a,b).

The LXX translates this verse as YHWH looking on the "lowly" (i.e., humans).

The Peshitta translates it as "the deep" and makes it one of three levels of this planet.

1. atmosphere

2. land

3. water

 

▣ "in heaven and in the earth" This is speaking of this planet and its atmosphere. See SPECIAL TOPIC: HEAVEN.

113:9a,b All of the wives of the early Patriarchs were barren, but YHWH opened their wombs.

1. Sarah - Gen. 21:6

2. Rebekah - Gen. 25:21

3. Rachel - Gen. 30:22-23

However, a child was a special act of YHWH to show

1. His care

2. His power

3. His plan for Israel and the whole world (cf. Ps. 113:4)

See Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan.

113:9c The Psalm ends as it began. Some scholars see this line as the beginning of the next Psalm (LXX). This phrase is the introduction to Psalms 111; 112; 113.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. List the descriptions of God.

2. How does God humble Himself? (Ps. 113:6)

3. Which verse speaks of monotheism?