Where the world comes to study the Bible

Psalm 147

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Praise for Jerusalem's Restoration and Prosperity
No MT Intro
Praise to God for His Word and Providence Hymn Praising God for His Universal Power and Providential Care In Praise of God the Almighty Hymn to the All-Powerful
147:1-6 147:1 147:1-6 147:1-3 147:1-4
  147:2-6      
      147:4-6  
        147:5-6
147:7-11 147:7-9 147:7-11 147:7-9 147:7-9
  147:10-11   147:10-11 147:10-11
147:12-20 147:12-14 147:12-20 147:12-14 147:12
        147:13-14
  147:15-18   147:15-18 147:15-16
        147:17-18
  147:19-20c   147:19-20b 147:19-20b
  147:20d   147:20c  

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. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 147:1-6
 1Praise the Lord!
 For it is good to sing praises to our God;
 For it is pleasant and praise is becoming.
 2The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
 He gathers the outcasts of Israel.
 3He heals the brokenhearted
 And binds up their wounds.
 4He counts the number of the stars;
 He gives names to all of them.
 5Great is our Lord and abundant in strength;
 His understanding is infinite.
 6The Lord supports the afflicted;
 He brings down the wicked to the ground.

147:1-6 This first strophe (Ps. 147:1-6), like Psalm 146, lists several characteristics of God which can be ascertained by His acts (this Psalm is post-exilic).

1. for Israel

a. builds up Jerusalem

b. gathers her outcasts (i.e., exiles, cf. Isa. 11:12; Ezek. 39:28)

2. for the needy

a. heals the broken hearted (possibly refers to repentant Israel in exile, cf. Ps. 51:17,18)

b. supports the afflicted (i.e., often used of faithful followers)

c. brings down the wicked

(1) foreign nations

(2) unfaithful covenant partners

3. against paganism (i.e., astral idolatry)

a. counts the number of stars (Gen. 1:16; Isa. 40:26, i.e., not gods, cf. Ps. 8:3)

b. calls them by name (i.e., controls them)

c. YHWH is abundant in strength (cf. Isa. 40 26e)

d. YHWH has infinite understanding (BDB 108, cf. Isa. 40:28)

147:1

NASB"becoming"
NKJV"beautiful"
TEV, REB"fitting"
JPSOA"glorious"

This adjective (BDB 610) can mean

1. beautiful - Sol. 1:5; 2:14; 4:3; 6:4

2. fitting, appropriate when used of praise to God - Ps. 33:1; 93:5; Pro. 17:7

 

147:4b "He gives names to all of them" The naming of something demonstrates authority over it (cf. Gen. 2:18-20).

147:6 "to the ground" This can be understood in several ways.

1. the defeated enemy bowing to the ground

2. a circumlocution for death/Sheol

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 147:7-11
 7Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
 Sing praises to our God on the lyre,
 8Who covers the heavens with clouds,
 Who provides rain for the earth,
 Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.
 9He gives to the beast its food,
 And to the young ravens which cry.
 10He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
 He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.
 11The Lord favors those who fear Him,
 Those who wait for His lovingkindness.

147:7-11 As the first strophe began with "praise" (Piel imperative), this one (Ps. 147:7-11) begins with "singing."

1. sing - BDB 777, KB 854, Qal imperative

2. sing praises - BDB 274, KB 273, Piel imperative

The object of this singing is YHWH and His great acts.

1. as sustainer of creation and the normal cycles of nature (cf. Ps. 104:10-17)

a. clouds

b. rain

c. plant growth

d. food for animals (cf. Ps. 104:27b; 136:25)

2. who He does not trust and who He does

a. negative (cf. Ps. 33:16-17)

(1) military power (i.e., the horse)

(2) strength of men (lit. legs)

b. positive

(1) those who fear (see Special Topic: Fear [OT]) Him

(2) those who wait on His lovingkindness (see Special Topic: Lovingkindness [hesed])

 

147:9b The UBS Text Project (p. 1176) mentions a cultural proverb which asserted that ravens do not feed their young well (cf. Job 38:41), but here it is asserted that the compassionate provider God does!

It may also be significant that the raven (BDB 788) was considered an unclean bird (cf. Lev. 11:15) but God still cares for them!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 147:12-20
 12Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
 Praise your God, O Zion!
 13For He has strengthened the bars of your gates;
 He has blessed your sons within you.
 14He makes peace in your borders;
 He satisfies you with the finest of the wheat.
 15He sends forth His command to the earth;
 His word runs very swiftly.
 16He gives snow like wool;
 He scatters the frost like ashes.
 17He casts forth His ice as fragments;
 Who can stand before His cold?
 18He sends forth His word and melts them;
 He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.
 19He declares His words to Jacob,
 His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.
 20He has not dealt thus with any nation;
 And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.
 Praise the Lord!

147:12-20 This third strophe (Ps. 147:12-20) also starts off with imperatives of praise.

1. praise - BDB 986, KB 1387, Piel imperative

2. praise - BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperative

He is worthy of praise because of His covenant fidelity (esp. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-30) towards Israel (i.e., Jerusalem. . .Zion).

1. strengthens the fortifications of Jerusalem (i.e., gate bars)

2. blesses

a. the children of the city (i.e., health, their number)

b. the people inside the city (TEV)

3. brings peace to the land

4. provides a good crop

5. controls the weather (Ps. 147:16-18) so as to sustain agricultural abundance (i.e., covenant promises, cf. Ps. 147:19)

6. His special relationship (i.e., revelation) to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob

 

147:14b "the finest of wheat" This is a metaphor of agricultural abundance (cf. Ps. 81:16) because grain was such a staple of the ANE diet.

147:15 God's word is personified as running rapidly (i.e., going into all creation). In Hebrew thought God's word was a creative power (cf. Genesis 1). Once given, it would accomplish its purpose (cf. Isa. 45:23; 55:11).

147:19 "words. . .statutes. . .ordinances" See SPECIAL TOPIC: TERMS FOR GOD'S REVELATION.

147:20b "they have not known them" God's revelation was a special gift. It was meant to be lived out as a witness to the nations. Israel failed in this! See Special Topic: YHWH Eternal Redemptive Plan.

The UBS Text Project rates this phrase as "C" (considerable doubt). It recommends it as over against the NEB, "he does not let them know." This difference is

1. MT, NASB - ידעום - בל

2. NEB, REB - ידיעם - בל

 

147:20c The Psalm closes as it began—"Hallelujah"!

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 n 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. How do you explain Ps. 145:6,8-13 focusing on "all men" and Psalm 147 focusing on Israel (esp. Ps. 147:19-20)?

2. Why is Ps. 147:4 so theologically significant in an ANE setting?

3. How is Ps. 147:7-9 related to Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-30?

4. God's sustaining providence described in Ps. 147:16-18 provides nature with consistent patterns. How did this affect the development of the "scientific method" in western culture?

5. Does Ps. 147:20 imply that God does not share Himself or His revelation with Gentiles?