Book #5: 107-150, cont’d.
Psalm 145 is a Hebrew alphabetic acrostic. However, the letter nun is missing between verses 13 and 14 (but it is found in the Septuagint, or LXX, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, and in a text from Qumran).
What is the Septuagint (usually abbreviated LXX)?
In simple terms the Septuagint (LXX) is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.
The Hebrew scholar Gesenius explains that "At the time when the old Hebrew language was gradually becoming extinct, and the formation of the O. T. canon was approaching completion, the Jews began to explain and critically revise their sacred text, and sometimes to translate it into the vernacular languages which in various countries had become current among them. The oldest translation is the Greek of the Seventy (more correctly Seventy-two) Interpreters (LXX), which was begun with the Pentateuch at Alexandria under Ptolemy Philadelphus, but only completed later. It was the work of various authors, some of whom had a living knowledge of the original, and was intended for the use of Greek-speaking Jews, especially in Alexandria. (Gesenius, F. W. Gesenius' Hebrew grammar. Page 17)
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia adds some interesting details regarding the importance of the Septuagint (LXX):
The Greek version of the Old Testament commonly known as the Septuagint holds a unique place among translations. Its importance is many sided. Its chief value lies in the fact that it is a version of a Hebrew text earlier by about a millennium than the earliest dated Hebrew manuscript extant (916 AD), a version, in particular, prior to the formal rabbinical revision of the Hebrew which took place early in the 2nd century AD. It supplies the materials for the reconstruction of an older form of the Hebrew than the Masoretic Text reproduced in our modern Bibles.
It is, moreover, a pioneering work; there was probably no precedent in the world’s history for a series of translations from one language into another on so extensive a scale.
It was the first attempt to reproduce the Hebrew Scriptures in another tongue.
It is one of the outstanding results of the breaking-down of international barriers by the conquests of Alexander the Great and the dissemination of the Greek language, which were fraught with such vital consequences for the history of religion. The cosmopolitan city which he founded in the Delta witnessed the first attempt to bridge the gulf between Jewish and Greek thought. The Jewish commercial settlers at Alexandria, forced by circumstances to abandon their language, clung tenaciously to their faith; and the translation of the Scriptures into their adopted language, produced to meet their own needs, had the further result of introducing the outside world to a knowledge of their history and religion.
Then came the most momentous event in its history, the starting-point of a new life; the translation was taken over from the Jews by the Christian church. It was the Bible of most writers of the New Testament. Not only are the majority of their express citations from Scripture borrowed from it, but their writings contain numerous reminiscences of its language. Its words are household words to them. It laid for them the foundations of a new religious terminology.
It was a potent weapon for missionary work, and, when versions of the Scriptures into other languages became necessary, it was in most cases the Septuagint and not the Hebrew from which they were made.
Preeminent among these daughter versions was the Old Latin which preceded the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.), for the most part a direct translation from the Hebrew, was in portions a mere revision of the Old Latin; our Prayer-book version of the Psalter preserves peculiarities of the Septuagint, transmitted through the medium of the Old Latin.
The Septuagint was also the Bible of the early Greek Fathers, and helped to mold dogma; it furnished proof-texts to both parties in the Arian controversy. Its language gives it another strong claim to recognition.
Uncouth and unclassical as much of it appears, we now know that this is not wholly due to the hampering effects of translation. “Biblical Greek,” once considered a distinct species, is now a rather discredited term. The hundreds of contemporary papyrus records (letters, business and legal documents, etc.) recently discovered in Egypt illustrate much of the vocabulary and grammar and go to show that many so-called “Hebraisms” were in truth integral parts of the koine, or “common language,” i.e. the international form of Greek which, since the time of Alexander, replaced the old dialects, and of which the spoken Greek of today is the lineal descendant.
The version was made for the populace and written in large measure in the language of their everyday life. (Orr, J., M.A., D.D. The International Standard Bible encyclopedia: 1915 edition - if you are interested in further study read Click Septuagint-1 and Septuagint-2)
Why study the Septuagint (LXX)?
The Hebrew Masoretic text (mentioned above) is the original language text used by virtually all popular English versions when translating the Old Testament into English. Virtually all modern English Bible translations utilize the original Hebrew text rather than the Septuagint to translate the Old Testament. This fact however by no means depreciates the value of the Septuagint (LXX) in the study of the Old Testament Scriptures.
Remember that Jesus and his disciples most often used the Septuagint (LXX) manuscripts rather than the original Hebrew Old Testament scrolls. Why? First, the Septuagint (LXX) was widely available and secondly the majority of the culture used Greek as the common language. Without getting too technical, it is notable that when quoting OT passages in the NT the New Testament writers chose to quote the Greek text (Septuagint) over the Hebrew text approximately 93% of the time. One can conclude that the "men moved by the Holy Spirit (who) spoke from God" clearly were confident that the Septuagint (LXX) manuscripts were authentic and reliable resources in their writings. It follows that the modern student can likewise use the Septuagint (LXX) with complete confidence.
To reiterate, the Septuagint (LXX) was the "version" most often quoted by Jesus and the New Testament writers. Stated another way, most of the New Testament quotes of the Old Testament are not taken directly from the Hebrew but the Greek translation of the Hebrew.
In view of the widespread use of the Septuagint (LXX) by Jesus and the NT writers, it is surprising that the value of the Septuagint especially for exposition and interpretation by pastors and teachers has been underestimated and underutilized. It would be interesting to know how many pastors routinely study the Septuagint when preparing expositional messages from the Old Testament.
Psalm 145:1-7-David begins with a declaration that he will praise God, that generation after generation will praise God, and that men in general will do the same. In verses 1 and 2 he uses three different words to describe his praise:
- “extol” (:1)…to be raised up, lifted up, exalted
- “bless” (:1)…literally to show reverence to someone by kneeling before them
בָּרַךְ bârak, baw-rak'; a primitive root; to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration)
- “praise” (:2)…to commend someone so as to bring them honor
David says that God is “great” (meaning that He is distinguished among all others, exceedingly far beyond all others) and that His greatness is “unsearchable” (:3, meaning that it is infinite, innumerable). Generation after generation will proclaim His greatness (:4). David says that he meditates on God’s nature and on His works (:5). When men gather to talk about such things he will tell them all that he knows about the greatness of God (:6). When they hear these things they will be eager to tell others (:7).
Psalm 145:8-13-David gives a list of the characteristics of the nature of God and how they benefit His people. He is…
- “gracious” (:8)
חָנַן chânan, khaw-nan'; a primitive root (compare H2583); properly, to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, bestow;
- “merciful” (:8)…to love, to show compassion (this word is always used of God, with one possible exception)
- “Slow to anger” (:8)…the word “slow” means “long” and “anger” speaks of the appearance of the face
- “great in lovingkindness” (:8)
- “good to all” (:9)…”good” means “kind, beneficial, helpful”
- “His mercies are over all His works” (:9).
Men will tell of the character and works of God and bring Him glory (:10-13).
Psalm 145:14-21-The LORD will provide all that we need and protect us...when we fear Him. David continues with his list demonstrating how God cares for His people. He…
- “sustains all who fall” (:14)…”sustains” means to “support, uphold, brace”
- “raises up all who are bowed down” (:14)…”raises” means to “comfort”
- “dost give them their food in due time” (:15)
- “dost open Thy hand” (:16)…He doesn’t hold any good thing back
- “dost satisfy the desire of every living thing” (:16)
- “is righteous in all His ways” (:17)…He always does the right thing for His people
- “kind in all His deeds” (:17)
- “near to all who call upon Him” (:18)
- “will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him” (:19)
- “will also hear their cry” (:19)
- “will save them” (:19)
- “keeps all who love Him” (:20).
David concludes by saying that he will give praise to God and that eventually all men will do so (:21).
Psalm 146 is the first of the last 5 psalms. They are joyous hymns of praise that conclude the book of Psalms, the Psalter. Each of these Psalms begins and ends with the Hebrew words "Hallelujah"..."praise the Lord".
Psalm 146:1-10-The Psalmist says that he will praise God as long as he lives (:1-2). He warns against trusting in man because he cannot deliver the salvation he promises and his life is only for a short period of time…then he is gone (:3-4). He praises the LORD because He will meet the needs of His people "forever" (:6,10,11) as compared to man whose life ends. The Psalmist lists some of the wonderful characteristics of God…
- “made heaven and earth, the sea” (:6)…He is the creator of all things
- “keeps faith forever” (:6)…He lives forever and will forever be faithful to His people
- “executes justice for the oppressed” (:7)
- “gives food to the hungry” (:7)
- “sets the prisoners free” (:7)…God saves those who have been imprisoned for their faith
- “opens the eyes of the blind” (:8)
- “raises up those who are bowed down” (:8)
- “loves the righteous” (:8)
- “protects the strangers” (:9)
- “supports the fatherless and the widow” (:9)
- “thwarts the way of the wicked” (:9).
David says that God will live forever and will rule His people in a manner that is in keeping with His character that was just described, forever (:10).
This psalm is in 3 stanzas, each beginning with a call to give praise to God (:1-6,7-11,12-20).
Psalm 147:1-6-The Psalmist calls upon the people to give praise to God because of what He has done for His people (:1-3), His infinite wisdom of all things (:4-5) and His provision and protection of His people (:6).
Psalm 147:7-11-The Psalmist tells us to "Sing to the LORD" in thanksgiving for His power (:7-9), and His protection (:11). God is not happy with those who trust in the strength of man instead of trusting in Him (:10).
Psalm 147:12-20-He tells the Jewish people to praise God because of the unique relationship they share with Him which is demonstrated by the blessings He has given them (:12-18). There is no other nation that He has dealt with in such a blessed manner (:20a), nor is there any other nation to which He directly gave His law (:19,20b).
Prayer: Father, help me to extol You, to bless You, and to praise You. Let my life be a place of worship.