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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Psalms 147

Psalms 147:0

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
Praise for Jerusalem's Restoration and ProsperityNo MT IntroPraise to God for His Word and ProvidenceHymn Praising God for His Universal Power and Providential CareIn Praise of God the AlmightyHymn to the All-Powerful
Psalms 147:1-6Psalms 147:1Psalms 147:1-6Psalms 147:1-3Psalms 147:1-4
Psalms 147:2-6
Psalms 147:4-6
Psalms 147:5-6
Psalms 147:7-11Psalms 147:7-9Psalms 147:7-11Psalms 147:7-9Psalms 147:7-9
Psalms 147:10-11 Psalms 147:10-11Psalms 147:10-11
Psalms 147:12-20Psalms 147:12-14Psalms 147:12-20Psalms 147:12-14Psalms 147:12
Psalms 147:13-14
Psalms 147:15-18 Psalms 147:15-18Psalms 147:15-16
Psalms 147:17-18
Psalms 147:19-20c Psalms 147:19-20bPsalms 147:19-20b
Psalms 147:20d Psalms 147:20c

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

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

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 1-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 147:1-6 1Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant and praise is becoming. 2The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. 3He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. 4He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. 5Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. 6The Lord supports the afflicted; He brings down the wicked to the ground.

Psalms 147:1-6 This first strophe (Psalms 147:1-6), like Psalms 146:0, lists several characteristics of God which can be ascertained by His acts (this Psalm is post-exilic).

1. for Israel

a. builds up Jerusalem

b. gathers her outcasts (i.e., exiles, cf. Isaiah 11:12; Ezekiel 39:28)

2. for the needy

a. heals the broken hearted (possibly refers to repentant Israel in exile, cf. Psalms 51:17, Psalms 51:18)

b. supports the afflicted (i.e., often used of faithful followers)

c. brings down the wicked

(1) foreign nations

(2) unfaithful covenant partners

3. against paganism (i.e., astral idolatry)

a. counts the number of stars (Genesis 1:16; Isaiah 40:26, i.e., not gods, cf. Psalms 8:3)

b. calls them by name (i.e., controls them)

c. YHWH is abundant in strength (cf. Isaiah 40:26e)

d. YHWH has infinite understanding (BDB 108, cf. Isaiah 40:28)

Psalms 147:1

NASB“becoming” NKJV“beautiful” TEV, REB“fitting” JPSOA“glorious”

This adjective (BDB 610) can mean

1. beautiful - Song of Solomon 1:5; Song of Solomon 2:14; Song of Solomon 4:3; Song of Solomon 6:4

2. fitting, appropriate when used of praise to God - Psalms 33:1; Psalms 93:5; Proverbs 17:7

Psalms 147:4b “He gives names to all of them” The naming of something demonstrates authority over it (cf. Genesis 2:18-20).

Psalms 147:6 “to the ground” This can be understood in several ways.

1. the defeated enemy bowing to the ground

2. a circumlocution for death/Sheol

Verses 7-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 147:7-11 7Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises to our God on the lyre, 8Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains. 9He gives to the beast its food, And to the young ravens which cry. 10He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. 11The Lord favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.

Psalms 147:7-11 As the first strophe began with “praise” (Piel imperative), this one (Psalms 147:7-11) begins with “singing.”

1. sing - BDB 777, KB 854, Qal imperative

2. sing praises - BDB 274, KB 273, Piel imperative

The object of this singing is YHWH and His great acts.

1. as sustainer of creation and the normal cycles of nature (cf. Psalms 104:10-17)

a. clouds

b. rain

c. plant growth

d. food for animals (cf. Psalms 104:27b; Psalms 136:25)

2. who He does not trust and who He does

a. negative (cf. Psalms 33:16-17)

(1) military power (i.e., the horse)

(2) strength of men (lit. legs)

b. positive

(1) those who fear (see Special Topic: Fear [OT]) Him

(2) those who wait on His lovingkindness (see Special Topic: Lovingkindness [hesed])

Psalms 147:9b The UBS Text Project (p. 1176) mentions a cultural proverb which asserted that ravens do not feed their young well (cf. Job 38:41), but here it is asserted that the compassionate provider God does!

It may also be significant that the raven (BDB 788) was considered an unclean bird (cf. Leviticus 11:15) but God still cares for them!

Verses 12-20

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 147:12-20 12Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! 13For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your sons within you. 14He makes peace in your borders; He satisfies you with the finest of the wheat. 15He sends forth His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly. 16He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes. 17He casts forth His ice as fragments; Who can stand before His cold? 18He sends forth His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow. 19He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. 20He has not dealt thus with any nation; And as for His ordinances, they have not known them. Praise the Lord!

Psalms 147:12-20 This third strophe (Psalms 147:12-20) also starts off with imperatives of praise.

1. praise - BDB 986, KB 1387, Piel imperative

2. praise - BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperative

He is worthy of praise because of His covenant fidelity (esp. Leviticus 26:0; Deuteronomy 27-30) towards Israel (i.e., Jerusalem. . .Zion).

1. strengthens the fortifications of Jerusalem (i.e., gate bars)

2. blesses

a. the children of the city (i.e., health, their number)

b. the people inside the city (TEV)

3. brings peace to the land

4. provides a good crop

5. controls the weather (Psalms 147:16-18) so as to sustain agricultural abundance (i.e., covenant promises, cf. Psalms 147:19)

6. His special relationship (i.e., revelation) to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob

Psalms 147:14b “the finest of wheat” This is a metaphor of agricultural abundance (cf. Psalms 81:16) because grain was such a staple of the ANE diet.

Psalms 147:15 God's word is personified as running rapidly (i.e., going into all creation). In Hebrew thought God's word was a creative power (cf. Genesis 1:0). Once given, it would accomplish its purpose (cf. Isaiah 45:23; Isaiah 55:11).

Psalms 147:19 “words. . .statutes. . .ordinances” See SPECIAL TOPIC: TERMS FOR GOD'S REVELATION.

Psalms 147:20b “they have not known them” God's revelation was a special gift. It was meant to be lived out as a witness to the nations. Israel failed in this! See Special Topic: YHWH Eternal Redemptive Plan.

The UBS Text Project rates this phrase as “C” (considerable doubt). It recommends it as over against the NEB, “he does not let them know.” This difference is

1. MT, NASB - ידעום - בל

2. NEB, REB - ידיעם - בל

Psalms 147:20c The Psalm closes as it began”Hallelujah”!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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. How do you explain Psalms 145:6, Psalms 145:8-13 focusing on “all men” and Psalms 147:0 focusing on Israel (esp. Psalms 147:19-20)?

2. Why is Psalms 147:4 so theologically significant in an ANE setting?

3. How is Psalms 147:7-9 related to Leviticus 26:0 and Deuteronomy 27-30?

4. God's sustaining providence described in Psalms 147:16-18 provides nature with consistent patterns. How did this affect the development of the “scientific method” in western culture?

5. Does Psalms 147:20 imply that God does not share Himself or His revelation with Gentiles?

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 147". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-147.html. 2021.