Psalms 111


This psalm is composed of a sort of shorthand acrostic.  Except for v. 1, the initial letters of each verse appear in their order in the Hebrew alphabet, obviously omitting 12 of its letters.  If we assume the first letter of the third word starts the acrostic, we have the following pattern.  The psalm begins with the first letter of the alphabet, then for each of the next seven verses one letter of the alphabet is skipped, then from the ninth verse to the tenth verse two letters are skipped, so the last verse starts with the third from last letter of the alphabet.

הַלְלוּ יָהּ אֹודֶה יְהוָה בְּכָל־לֵבָב בְּסֹוד יְשָׁרִים וְעֵדָה׃   111:1

Psal. 111:1   Hallelujah!

                                I will thank the Lord wholeheartedly

                         in the assembly of the upright and the congregation.

גְּדֹלִים מַעֲשֵׂי יְהוָה דְּרוּשִׁים לְכָל־חֶפְצֵיהֶם׃   111:2

Psal. 111:2   Great are the works of the Lord,

                                demanding to all delighting in them.

הֹוד־וְהָדָר פָּעֳלֹו וְצִדְקָתֹו עֹמֶדֶת לָעַד׃   111:3

Psal. 111:3   His work is honor and majesty,

                                and His righteousness is enduring forever.

זֵכֶר עָשָׂה לְנִפְלְאֹתָיו חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם יְהוָה׃   111:4

Psal. 111:4   He makes a memorial for His wonders;

                               the Lord is gracious and compassionate.

טֶרֶף נָתַן לִירֵאָיו יִזְכֹּר לְעֹולָם בְּרִיתֹו׃   111:5

Psal. 111:5   He gives food to those revering Him;

                               He will “remember” His covenant forever.

כֹּחַ מַעֲשָׂיו הִגִּיד לְעַמֹּו לָתֵת לָהֶם נַחֲלַת גֹּויִם׃   111:6

Psal. 111:6   He declares the might of His works to His people,

                                giving the inheritance of the nations to them.

This psalmist apparently believed that the future of the nations belonged to the Lord’s people, Israel.

מַעֲשֵׂי יָדָיו אֱמֶת וּמִשְׁפָּט נֶאֱמָנִים כָּל־פִּקּוּדָיו׃   111:7

Psal. 111:7   The works of His hands are truth and justice;

                                 all His precepts are sure.

סְמוּכִים לָעַד לְעֹולָם עֲשׂוּיִם בֶּאֱמֶת וְיָשָׁר׃   111:8

Psal. 111:8   They are upheld for perpetuity forever,

                                 having been done in truth and uprightness.

פְּדוּת שָׁלַח לְעַמֹּו צִוָּה־לְעֹולָם בְּרִיתֹו קָדֹושׁ וְנֹורָא שְׁמֹו׃   111:9

Psal. 111:9   He has extended ransom for His people,

                                 has commanded His covenant forever;

                        Holy and Fearsome is His name.

רֵאשִׁית חָכְמָה יִרְאַת יְהוָה שֵׂכֶל טֹוב לְכָל־עֹשֵׂיהֶם תְּהִלָּתֹו עֹמֶדֶת לָעַד׃   111:10

Psal. 111:10   The beginning of wisdom is reverence of the Lord,

                                  good understanding is for all observing them;

                          His praise is enduring forever.

I imagine the pronoun them at the end of the second English line must refer to either the words of the Lord’s covenant (v. 9) or His mighty works (v. 7).


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