Psalm 146
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
This Psalm is “the praise of Jehovah as the one true Helper.” Israel is warned against putting its trust in men, however powerful they may seem for the moment to be—a warning demanded perhaps by the particular circumstances and tendencies of the time—and reminded of the privileges it enjoys in the guardianship of Jehovah, the celebration of Whose power, beneficence, and eternal dominion forms the main subject of the Psalm.

It is the first of the five ‘Hallelujah Psalms’ with which the Psalter ends, and it has several points of contact with Psalms 145[88].

[88] Cp. Psalm 146:2 with Psalm 145:2; Psalm 145:5; Psalm 145:7 with Psalm 145:15; Psalm 146:8 with Psalm 145:14; Psalm 146:10 with Psalm 145:13.

To this and the three following Psalms (145–148 of LXX = 146–148 of Heb., 147 being divided), the LXX prefixes the title of Haggai and Zechariah, as it does to Psalms 138. Whether this title represents some tradition, or was simply a conjecture from the use of these Psalms in the services of the Second Temple, is quite uncertain. They can however hardly be earlier than the time of Nehemiah, to the circumstances of which Psalms 147, vv3, 4 of this Psalm may refer.

The use of Psalms 146-150 in the daily Morning Service of the Synagogue is of great antiquity, though not, according to Dr Schiller-Szinessy, so ancient as that of Psalms 145.

Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.
1. Praise ve Jah] Hallelujah! See note on Psalm 104:35. The words are omitted in P.B.V. as belonging to the title rather than to the Psalm.

praise Jehovah, O my soul] Cp. Bless Jehovah, O my soul, Psalm 103:1; Psalm 103:22; Psalm 104:1; Psalm 104:35. In this and the following verse the worship of the congregation is individualised: the Psalmist speaks for himself, and offers to each worshipper words wherewith to stir himself up to praise, and to express his purpose.

While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
2. Almost identical with Psalm 104:33.

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
3. Cp. Psalm 118:8-9, and see notes there for illustration of the kind of circumstances which may have suggested the warning. Cp. also Jeremiah 17:5 ff. Heathen princes doubtless are meant. It is possible that a party in Jerusalem was advocating a foreign alliance.

in whom there is no help] Or, salvation. Cp. Psalm 33:16; Psalm 60:11 (= Psalm 108:12) and note.

3, 4. The central thought of the Ps., expressed in Psalm 146:5 ff., is prefaced by a warning against the temptation to rely upon the favour and protection of men, however powerful. Princes to-day, they may be I dust to-morrow; and their loftiest schemes crumble into dust with them.

His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
4. Cp. Psalm 104:29; Isaiah 2:22.

to his earth] The ‘ground’ (ădâmâh) from which he was taken and ‘of which his name (âdâm = ‘man’) reminds him.

his thoughts] Or, purposes. The word is common in Aramaic, but occurs here only in the Heb. of the O.T.

The author of 1 Macc, appears to have had both this passage and Psalm 104:29 in his mind when he wrote (1Ma 2:63), “To-day he will be exalted, and to-morrow he will not be found, because he is returned to his dust, and his thought is perished.”

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:
5. Happy is he, whose help is the God of Jacob;

Whose hope resteth upon Jehovah his God.

Cp. Psalm 33:12; Psalm 144:15; Psalm 20:1. The word for hope is Aramaic, and is found elsewhere only in Psalm 119:116 : the cognate verb is used in Psalm 145:15 (A.V. wait).

Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:
6. The omnipotence and faithfulness of Jehovah are contrasted with the frailty and transitoriness of man (Psalm 146:3-4). For similar references to the power of Jehovah manifested in creation as a ground for trusting Him see Psalm 121:2; Psalm 124:8; cp. Nehemiah 9:6; Acts 4:24.

all that in them is] In heaven and earth and sea; all being wherever found. Cp. Exodus 20:11.

Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:
7. Illustrations of Jehovah’s beneficent action, not without allusion to the circumstances of Israel. Observe how these Divine works were literally manifested in Christ’s miracles. 7 a is abbreviated from Psalm 103:6; with 7 b cp. Psalm 107:9.

the Lord &c.] Five times the name of Jehovah stands emphatically at the beginning of the line, to shew that it is He and no other Who does all these things. Prison may be a figure for exile, or for suffering generally (cp. Psalm 107:10; Psalm 107:14). Releasing from prison and giving sight to the blind are coupled together in Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 61:1, “to prisoners opening of eyes.”

The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:
8. Blindness is a figure for moral and spiritual ignorance and insensibility, and helplessness in general. Cp. Isaiah 29:18; Isaiah 35:5; Deuteronomy 28:19; Job 12:25; Isaiah 59:9-10.

raiseth up them that are bowed down] As Psalm 145:14.

loveth] And therefore, as P.B.V., careth for them. But is not this an accidental mistake, introduced into the Great Bible of 1540? Coverdale (1535) and the Great Bible of 1539 have loveth.

The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
9. As in Psalm 94:6 the sojourners[89] or resident aliens who had no rights of citizenship, orphans, and widows are typical examples of defencelessness. They are therefore specially under Jehovah’s protection, and are commended in the Law to the care of the Israelites.

[89] The LXX regularly renders gçr, ‘sojourner,’ by προσήλυτος; but this does not mean ‘proselyte’ in the later technical sense of “a Gentile who through circumcision and observance of the law had been admitted into full religious fellowship with Israel,” but, as the Vulg. renders it here, ‘advena.’ See Schürer’s Hist. of Jewish People, § 31, E.T. ii. ii. 315.

relieveth] R.V. upholdeth.

turneth upside dawn] Lit. as R.V. marg., maketh crooked; turns aside from its goal, so that it leads to destruction. Cp. Psalm 1:6. That which they would fain do to innocent men (Psalm 119:78) He does to them.

The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.
10. Cp. Exodus 15:18. Such is Jehovah, Zion’s God: and His reign is eternal, not transitory, like the dominion of earthly princes (Psalm 146:3-4). Cp. Psalm 145:13.

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