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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 146

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Psalms 146:0


The Lord An Abundant HelperNo MT IntroThe Happiness of Those Whose Help Is In the LordHymn Praising God for His HelpIn Praise of God the SaviorHymn to the God of Help
Psalms 146:1-7Psalms 146:1aPsalms 146:1-2Psalms 146:1-2Psalms 146:1-2
Psalms 146:1-2
Psalms 146:3-4Psalms 146:3-4Psalms 146:3-4Psalms 146:3-4
Psalms 146:5-7Psalms 146:5-7bPsalms 146:5-7bPsalms 146:5-6b
Psalms 146:6-7
Psalms 146:7-9Psalms 146:7-9
Psalms 146:8-10Psalms 146:8-9 Psalms 146:8-9
Psalms 146:8c
Psalms 146:9c
Psalms 146:10Psalms 146:10Psalms 146:10Psalms 146:10

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


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.

Verses 1-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 146:1-7 1Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! 2I will praise the Lord while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 3Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. 4His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish. 5How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the Lord his God, 6Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever; 7Who executes justice for the oppressed; Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.

Psalms 146:1-2 This strophe (Psalms 146:1-7) starts with a double “hallelujah” (BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperatives). This is followed by two personal commitments of the psalmist.

1. I will praise - BDB 237, KB 248, Piel cohortative

2. I will sing praises - BDB 274, KB 273, Piel cohortative)

Praise of YHWH characterizes Psalms 146-150. The Psalter closes on this affirmation.

Psalms 146:1 “soul” This is the term nephesh (BDB 659), which denoted the entire person (cf. Psalms 103:1). See notes online at Genesis 35:18.

Psalms 146:2 Notice the parallel between

1. while I live - BDB 313

2. while I have my being - BDB 728

These reflect the Hebrew concept that there is no praise of God after death (cf. Job 10:21-22; Job 38:17; Psalms 63:4; Psalms 104:33; Isaiah 38:18). The OT has a rudimentary theology of life after death. New Testament progressive revelation supplements this theology. See Special Topic: Sheol.

Psalms 146:3 YHWH is praised because with Him, and Him alone, is salvation/deliverance (BDB 448), certainly not in frail, fallen mankind (MT, “a son of man”; LXX, “sons of men”; cf. Psalms 60:11; Psalms 108:12). The singular stands for all humans, as in Psalms 118:8.

Psalms 146:4 This verse picks up the thought of Psalms 146:2. At death the body returns to dust (cf. Genesis 3:19; Job 34:15; Psalms 104:29; Ecclesiastes 12:7). The spirit (ruah, BDB 924) or life force goes to Sheol.

“his thoughts” This word (BDB 799) occurs only here in the OT and is translated by most modern translations as “plans/designs.”

Psalms 146:5 The Psalm praises YHWH but also notes how “blessed” (BDB 80) are the faithful followers. Psalms 146:6-7 and 8-9 list the power and mercy of the God of Jacob.

“help” This noun (BDB 740 I) is often associated with deliverance and protection (cf. Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:7, Deuteronomy 33:26; Psalms 33:20; Psalms 70:5; Psalms 115:9, Psalms 115:10, Psalms 115:11).

“hope” The noun (BDB 960 II) can be translated

1. wait - Psalms 104:27; Psalms 145:15

2. hope - Psalms 119:166, Isaiah 38:18

Psalms 146:6-7 There is a series of Qal participles that describe YHWH

1. as Creator (i.e., Elohim)

a. made heaven, earth, sea, cf. Psalms 115:15; Psalms 121:2; Psalms 124:8; Psalms 134:3; Isaiah 37:16; Jeremiah 32:17

b. created all that is in them

c. this is a summary statement related to this planet

2. as covenant God (i.e., YHWH)

a. keeps faith/trust (see Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith and Faithfulness in the OT)

b. executes justice for the oppressed (the NEB and REB see “forever,” לעולם, of Psalms 146:6c as “the oppressed,” לעולים, UBS Text Project, p. 440)

c. gives food to the hungry, cf. Psalms 145:15

d. sets the prisoners free, cf. Psalms 68:6; Psalms 102:20; Psalms 107:10, Psalms 107:14; Isaiah 61:1

(1) metaphor of problems

(2) slavery for debts

(3) exiles

Verses 8-10

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 146:8-10 8The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises up those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous; 9The Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts the way of the wicked. 10The Lord will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!

Psalms 146:8-9 Like Psalms 146:6-7, these verses describe the God who acts, so different from the lifeless idols (see Special Topic: Characteristics of Israel's God).

1. opens blind eyes - BDB 824, KB 959, Qal participle

2. raises the bowed down - BDB 279, KB 279, Qal participle, cf. Psalms 145:14 (these are the only usages of the verb in the OT)

3. loves the righteous - BDB 12, KB 17, Qal participle, cf. Psalms 11:7; Psalms 33:5

4. protects the stranger - BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal participle (for a good brief article see Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel, pp. 74-76)

5. supports the orphan and the widow - BDB 728, KB 795, Piel imperfect

6. thwarts the way of the wicked - BDB 736, KB 804, Piel imperfect

This list is a composite of God's acts from Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and the Prophets.

Number 6 is literally “to be bent” (BDB 736) or “to be crooked.” This may be a play on the word “righteous” of Psalms 146:8c, which means “to be straight” (see SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS). All words for sin are a play on this metaphor for God's character, in light of which all humans are crooked.

Psalms 146:10 This speaks of the sovereignty of the God of Israel and His plans (cf. Exodus 15:18; Psalms 10:16; Psalms 29:10).

Just a theological note, how will YHWH reign and where and over who? Please look at Special Topic: Why Do OT Covenant Promises Seem So Different from NT Covenant Promises.


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. What did the Israelites expect after death (Psalms 146:2, Psalms 146:4)?

2. Does Psalms 146:6 speak of the universe or this planet?

3. How is the depiction of the character and acts of God related to ANE thought about how a king should act?

4. Will YHWH reign in/from Zion or is His reign universal? How has the NT changed this OT concept?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 146". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-146.html. 2021.
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