Hallelujah in the Psalms

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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!

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