The first four books of Psalms end with a variation of the doxology found in verse 13: “Blessed is the Eternal, the True God of Israel. Always and Eternal. Amen and Amen.” This declaration not only provides a natural break—a seam—between the five books, but it also summarizes an essential theme of the psalms. You see, the Book of Psalms is primarily a book of praise to God for His creation, mercy, and salvation. Even when life is hard, our enemies strong, and our health poor, God can be praised for life itself and the ultimate victory to come for those who trust Him.
1 Blessed are those who consider the helpless. The Eternal will stay near them, leading them to safety in times of bitter struggle. 2 The Eternal defends them and preserves them, and His blessing will find them in the land He gave them. He moves ahead to frustrate their enemies’ plans. 3 When sickness comes, the Eternal is beside them— to comfort them on their sickbeds and restore them to health.
4 And me? I cry out to Him, “Heal my soul, O Eternal One, and show mercy because I have sinned against You!” 5 My enemies are talking about me even now: “When will death come for him and his name be forgotten?” 6 As they sit with me under my roof, their well wishes are empty lies. They listen to my story and then turn it around to tell their own version on the street. 7 Across the city, crowds whisper lies about me. Their hate is strong, and they search for ways to harm me.
8 Some are saying: “Some vile disease has gotten hold of him. The bed he lies in will be his deathbed.” 9 Even my best friend, my confidant who has eaten my bread will stab me in the back.[a] 10 But You, Eternal One, show mercy to me. Extend Your gracious hand, and help me up. I need to pay them back for what they’ve done to me.
11 I realize now that Your favor has come to me, for my enemies have yet to declare victory over me. 12 You know and uphold me—a man of honor. You grant me strength and life forever in Your presence.
13 Blessed is the Eternal, the True God of Israel. Always and Eternal. Amen and Amen.
This second book of psalms (Psalms 42–72) has a few unique features. First, it is the only book of the five that contains psalms ascribed to the sons of Korah, a group of Levite temple singers. Second, it uses two rather obscure Hebrew terms in the superscriptions of almost half of these psalms. Maskil, which may be related to contemplation, is translated “contemplative poem” or “song” (42; 44–45; 52–55) and miktam, whose meaning is unclear, is translated “a prayer” (56–60). Third, in referring to God this second book shows a preference for the word “God” over the name “the Eternal One” that appears as “YHWH” in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Throughout the Bible, the creator and covenant God is referred to in many ways. Generally speaking, the names and titles used indicate something of His character and nature. The title “God” implies His unique majesty and power; no one is like Him. The name, translated “The Eternal One” and also “The Eternal,” is God’s covenant name revealed uniquely to Israel. As the translation suggests, the divine name implies that the one True God transcends time and yet He is “with” His people.
For the worship leader. A contemplative song[b] of the sons of Korah.
1 My soul is dry and thirsts for You, True God, as a deer thirsts for water. 2 I long for the True God who lives. When can I stand before Him and feel His comfort? 3 Right now I’m overwhelmed by my sorrow and pain; I can’t stop feasting on my tears. People crowd around me and say, “Where is your True God whom you claim will save?”
4 With a broken heart, I remember times before When I was with Your people. Those were better days. I used to lead them happily into the True God’s house, Singing with joy, shouting thanksgivings with abandon, joining the congregation in the celebration. 5 Why am I so overwrought? Why am I so disturbed? Why can’t I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One who saves me and is my life. 6 My God, my soul is so traumatized; the only help is remembering You wherever I may be; From the land of the Jordan to Hermon’s high place to Mount Mizar. 7 In the roar of Your waterfalls, ancient depths surge, calling out to the deep. All Your waves break over me; am I drowning? 8 Yet in the light of day, the Eternal shows me His love. When night settles in and all is dark, He keeps me company— His soothing song, a prayerful melody to the True God of my life.
9 Even still, I will say to the True God, my rock and strength: “Why have You forgotten me? Why must I live my life so depressed, crying endlessly while my enemies have the upper hand?” 10 My enemies taunt me. They shatter my soul the way a sword shatters a man’s bones. They keep taunting all the day long, “Where is He, your True God?”
11 Why am I so overwrought, Why am I so disturbed? Why can’t I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One who saves me, my God.
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