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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 145

Coffman's Commentaries on the BibleCoffman's Commentaries



This is the last of the psalms in Book V which are ascribed to David; but it is impossible to determine the occasion of it with any certainty. “Like Psalms 25 and Psalms 34, which are also Davidic, this psalm is an acrostic, and like them it is incomplete, the letter `nun’ being omitted.”(F1) Addis noted that the Septuagint (LXX) supplies the missing line beginning with “nun.” “It came after Psalms 145:13 and reads, `Faithful is Yahweh in his words, and holy in all his works.’“(F2)

The theme here is the righteousness and goodness of God; and like most of the other acrostic psalms, this single theme dominates the thought throughout.

As for the organization of this composition, we shall follow the finding of Rawlinson who described it as being, “A metrical arrangement in three stanzas of seven verses each.”(F3) The first paragraph speaks of God’s righteousness and goodness to all mankind; the second division stresses these blessings upon God’s own people; and the final stanza tells of God’s special concern for “all.”

Verses 1-7


“I will extol thee my God, O King; And I will bless thy name forever and ever. Every day will I bless thee; And I will praise thy name forever and ever. Great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised; And his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall laud thy works to another, And shall declare thy mighty acts. Of the glorious majesty of thine honor, And of thy wondrous works, will I meditate. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts; And I will declare thy greatness. They shall utter the memory of thy great goodness, And shall sing of thy righteousness.”

“Every day will I bless thee” God blesses all of us every day. If one will only think, he can name a dozen blessings God has bestowed upon him even before he eats breakfast. “It is proper then that we should give thanks to God every day.”(F4) No Christian should think of omitting prayers of thanksgiving three times daily at mealtimes. It was the neglect of this simple duty that began the long decline and eventual debauchery of the pre-Christian Gentile world (Romans 1:20-26).

“One generation shall laud thy works to another” “The great and mighty acts of God are told from one generation to the next. The Bible is a divine record of such actions”;(F5) and our own lives bear witness to the same truth. This writer’s mother read the entire Bible to him before he was old enough to attend school.

“Men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts… and utter the memory of thy greatness… and… sing of thy righteousness” “David could have had little inkling in store for the fulfilment of his words.”(F6) Just think of all the praises spoken and sung to the honor and glory of God all over the world continually, in every language spoken on earth, in all nations, and by all races of mankind! Today, there is no nation on earth where the present generation is not telling to the next generation the mercies and love of God, even in Russia, and in the nations once behind the iron curtain!

“Men shall speak of thy terrible acts” (Psalms 145:6). What are the terrible acts of God? There is no catalogue of all of them, but a few are surely revealed in the holy Bible.

(1) The Great Deluge must head the list. How terrible is the thought of drowning the entire human race in one disastrous flood! In this terrible act, God achieved a new beginning for his Operation Adam, in the family of Noah.

(2) The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as recorded in Genesis is another of God’s terrible acts. Two prosperous cities were completely devoured by fire from heaven, which God sent upon them because of their intolerable wickedness. This, in the New Testament, is made a type of the final destruction of all men upon the occasion of the Final Judgment. The same thing is also true of the Great Deluge.

(3) The overthrow of the army of Pharaoh in the Red Sea, an action which delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, must be added to the list.

(4) The extermination of the pagan peoples of Canaan in order to settle the children of Israel in the Promised Land was terrible indeed. Whole cities were destroyed, young and old, soldiers and infants, everyone, upon the specific orders of God himself.

(5) The destruction of No-Amon in the overthrow of Egypt by Nineveh was terrible indeed, as described in Nahum 3.

(6) The destruction of 185,000 of the army of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19).

(7) The destruction of Nineveh “with an over-running flood” (Nahum 1:9). See the detailed prophecy of this in Nahum 3.

(8) The destruction of Jerusalem by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar.

(9) The destruction of Babylon with “a drought upon her waters.”

These are only a few of the “terrible acts of God,” and by no means all of them. Even since the First Advent of Christ, there has been another destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and many other `terrible acts of God’ throughout history. The fall of Rome, the Fall of France, the destruction of Nazi Germany, the collapse of Communism, and many other historical events betray indelible marks of the hand of God in the record of what happened.

Verses 8-14


“Jehovah is gracious, and merciful; Slow to anger, and of great lovingkindness. Jehovah is good to all; And his tender mercies are over all his works. All thy works shall give thanks unto thee, O Jehovah; And thy saints shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, And talk of thy power; To make known unto the sons of men his mighty acts, And the glory of the majesty of his kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. Jehovah upholdeth all that fall, And raiseth up all those that are bowed down.”

“Thy saints… thy kingdom… his kingdom… thy kingdom… everlasting kingdom… and… dominion” These show that the emphasis in this stanza is upon the kingdom of God. During the long and trying inter-testamental period in which Israel had no king, no prince, and no “kingdom,” there were many devout souls who “waited for the kingdom of God.” What an electric shock it must have been when John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judaea, preaching, and saying, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of God is at hand”!

Was it really true? Of course. Christ came into the world for the purpose of establishing the kingdom of God; and no one who knows the New Testament can doubt that he did so. The apostles assured the Christians of the New Testament age that they had indeed been “Translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love” (Colossians 1:13). What a pitiful shame it is that our radio and TV programs are loaded with prime-time preachers proclaiming that the kingdom has NOT yet been established!

“Jehovah is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, etc” Other Old Testament passages setting forth the attributes of God are Exodus 34:6-7 and Jonah 4:2.

“All thy works shall give thanks unto thee, O Jehovah” Reginald Heber, in his immortal hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” honors this line in the last verse.

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty! All thy works shall praise thy name,
In earth and sky and sea.”(F7)

“Thy saints shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom… and make known to the sons of men God’s mighty acts” This sets forth the primary duty of God’s saints, i.e., to spread far and near to the fullest extent of their ability the knowledge of God and the salvation he has provided for all men through the Atoning death of His Beloved Son.

“Jehovah upholdeth all that fall” God recognizes that mortal men are prone to stumble and fall, and he is ever ready to support the feeble, strengthen the fainting, sustain the struggling, and lift up the fallen. One of the strongest lessons of the whole Psalter is simply this “No matter what the situation is, take it to the Lord in prayer.”

Verses 15-21


“The eyes of all wait for thee; And thou givest them their food in due season. Thou openest thy hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. Jehovah is righteous in all his ways, And gracious in all his works. Jehovah is nigh unto all them that call upon him, To all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him; He will also hear their cry and save them. Jehovah preserveth all them that love him; But all the wicked will he destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of Jehovah; And let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.”

“All wait… every living thing… all that call upon him… all that call upon him in truth… all them that love him… all the wicked… all flesh” It is clear that the universality of God’s involvement with his creation is in focus here. He feeds every living creature; he is especially solicitous for the well-being of those who love him and those who call upon him sincerely. He is even concerned with “all” the wicked. Not a one of them shall escape the special attention that God has in mind for evil men.

Many of the sentiments of these verses find echoes in the New Testament, Christ mentioned the sparrow that cannot fall to ground without the knowledge of God.

The logic of the last commandment here is convincing. Since all living things owe their lives and their continued existence upon earth to God’s special loving care, then, “Let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.”

It is a fact that challenges the attention of thoughtful men that God indeed maintains every species of life which he has created. Take a look at those tiny little hummingbirds, or the robust red-breasted robins, or any type of living creature on earth, and then remember that for countless generations God has preserved, maintained, and continued them upon the earth. Furthermore, this has sometimes been done in spite of men and in the face of their efforts to destroy a given species. It is remarkable that men’s efforts have so often been checkmated, and that human efforts have really been responsible for the extinction of very few orders of living creatures, the dodo bird being one exception. Why is this? God takes care of His creation.

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 145". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/psalms-145.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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