Category Archives: Hebrew Poetry

Hallelujah in the Psalms

In Hebrew the word hallelujah (“praise the Lord”) is actually two words, not one – hallelu is an imperative form of the verb hallel, which means “to praise” + one of the words for God in the Old Testament, “Yah”. Hallelujah is more than an expression of praise, as it is often used today…it is a command or call to praise the Lord. Hallelujah occurs 24 times in the Old Testament (most of those in the book of Psalms). When it occurs in the Psalms it is often at the major divisions of the book itself. The book of Psalms is actually a collection of 5 books of poetry.

  1. Psalms 1-41
  2. Psalms 42-72
  3. Psalms 73-89
  4. Psalms 90-106
  5. Psalms 107-150

Each of the five books concludes with “hallelujah”, the Hebrew word that means “praise the Lord”

  1. Psalm 41:13
  2. Psalm 72:19
  3. Psalm 89:52
  4. Psalm 106:48
  5. Psalm 150:6

Psalms are constructed around the idea that God has worked in this world and as a result we are called to give Him praise. What is noticeably different is how book five, the final book of the psalms, concludes. Unlike the other four books of psalms, it doesn’t just give a final hallelujah…it concludes the psalter with five psalms (146-150) that all begin and end with “hallelujah”. It is like ending the psalms on a crescendo of praise to the Lord. What is God praised for in these verses?

His great works – 111:1-2
His provision for his covenant people – 111:5
His powerful works – 111:7-8
Redemption – 111:9
His superiority over all others – 112:5
His great love – 117:1-2
Upholding the cause of the oppressed – 146:7
Setting the prisoner free – 146:7
Giving sight to the blind – 146:8
Lifting up those who are bowed – 146:8
Watching over the foreigner – 146:9
Gathering the exiles – 147:2
Heals the brokenhearted & Binds up the wounds- 147:3
Great power – 147:5 & 150:2

We have much to be thankful for…in the psalms that thankfulness and being in awe of our Creator only naturally results in our giving God the praise He and He alone so richly deserves. Hallelujah!

God as Divine Warrior

When you hear people talk about salvation it is often in that some day, over there type discussion. It is true that salvation has components that have not yet taken place (Rom 13:11). But it is also true that in the here and now God is fighting for us. In both testaments the word salvationContinue Reading

What Can We Learn from False gods of the Bible?

There are some things that are just not up for debate when it comes to deciding what to believe as Christians. One of those things is that there is only one God.There are not household gods, city gods, and gods for different parts of nature and culture. There is only one God (Deut 6:4). ThereContinue Reading

Psalm 119 – An Appreciation for God’s Word

Psalm 119 is one of the most interesting psalms in the book of Psalms. Not only do modern translations retain the Hebrew letters to give us a heads up that this is a Hebrew acrostic, the contents of the psalm are fascinating and very worthwhile for us to glean something beneficial from. When you readContinue Reading

Overcoming the Christian Misperceptions of What Blessings are All About

One of the problems we face as we think about blessings is that Christian teaching and preaching have typically viewed the blessing as being about the receipt of material or spiritual benefit. As Kent Richards points out in his article on blessing in Anchor Bible Dictionary, “The primary factor of blessing is the statement ofContinue Reading

Growing Closer to God in All Seasons of Life

The 23rd Psalm is probably the most often quoted passage in the Bible. Our youth minister Joel and I were reflecting on how to teach teens about spirituality. It occurred to me that spirituality is more than just a series of consecutive mountaintop experiences. David writes about times like that with his shepherd but heContinue Reading

Is God Like the IRS?

Tax time is just around the corner. We have been getting all those forms in the mail and I have just started crunching the numbers (thanks to Turbo Tax!). Turbo Tax certainly makes things a lot easier because I used to do it all by hand. Either way there is this feeling as you decipherContinue Reading

Ugarit and the Old Testament

I have recently finished a book called Ugarit and the Old Testament by Peter Craigie. He tells the story of the discovery and translation of thousands of tablets of a culture contemporary with much of the early Old testament. What is so important about this archaeological discovery? The texts they have unearthed at Ugarit areContinue Reading

How Archaeology Helps Us Understand Scripture

Archaeology plays a major role in how we understand the Bible. It is more than Indiana Jones style trips to far away lands in search of lost treasures or the holy grail. In a practical way, archaeology illuminates scripture as we come to understand the culture and language of the time in more precise ways.Continue Reading

Rediscovering God – Hearing it Again for the First Time

Philip Yancey wrote, “Strangely, rediscovery may strike a deeper chord than discovery.” (What’s So Amazing About Grace, 52). There are fewer books in the Bible that is more true of than the Psalms. Written over half a century and read now for three thousand years the psalms are valuable in the process of rediscovering God.Continue Reading

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