Module 17: God the Helper - Adoring Worship
Module Guide: Psalms Book 1 Ps. 1-41 - Jehovah, The Becoming One. The Helper (Adoring Worship)
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
The word "Psalms" is the Anglicized form of a Greek word, which really means a poem set to music. The Hebrew title of the book was simply Praises, or Book of Praises. It is pre-eminently the worship book of the Hebrew people, and consists of a collection of songs which express the attitude of the soul in the presence of God, when contemplating past history, existing conditions, or prophetic hopes. The whole collection consists, in the Hebrew Bible, of five books. In the English and American Revisions this subdivision is shown.
We have no definite proof who the editor was. His method becomes evident by an examination of the grouping of the psalms. It is perfectly clear that neither authorship nor chronology was in his view. Eusebius declares that "the psalms are disposed according to a law of inward affinity," and Dr. Anderson says: "It must be remembered that every attempt to classify and arrange the psalms apart from the division of the whole Psalter into the five books as found in our Hebrew Bible, in the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate Versions - every such attempt is confessedly imperfect, and more or less arbitrary."
The key to the method of the editor is to be found in the doxologies with which the books close. Each of the five has such a doxology, and an examination of these will reveal a certain conception of God, and an attitude of the soul in worship resulting from such conception. They may be grouped thus:
- Book 1 Psalm 41:13 - Worship of Jehovah as the Becoming One, Who is the Helper.
- Book 2 Psalm 72:18-19 - Worship of Jehovah as the wonder-working God.
- Book 3 Psalm 89:52 - Worship of Jehovah ceaseless.
- Book 4 Psalm 106:48 - Worship of Jehovah rendered.
- Book 5 Psalm 150:1-6 - Worship of Jehovah consummated.
The individual psalms are natural expressions by many authors, at various times, under differing circumstances, of the consciousness of God. The editing gathers these individual songs around the notes of truth dominant in each.
These notes are indicated in each book by the particular title of Jehovah which preponderates. The subject of the Divine titles is too great a one to be discussed at length now, but as an introduction to the study of the Psalter, recognition of difference is necessary. The proportion in which the four titles are used in the book of Psalms, as indicated in the diagram, is a somewhat rough one. That is to say, under Elohim are included El and Eloah, because while there is a minor difference of suggestion between the singular and the plural, the underlying thought is the same. So also with reference to Adonahy and Adon.
In the ancient Hebrew Scriptures this particular title was always written in the form of a tetragrammaton - YHYH - and there are differences of opinion as to what the actual form of the word should be. Without entering into any discussion of the varied interpretations, I adopt that of Mr. Joseph Bryant Rotherham in the "Emphasized Bible," both as to spelling and significance. He claims that the word thus abbreviated is Yahweh, and interprets it as meaning "the Becoming One." In his Bible he says, "Yahweh is almost always regarded as the third person singular, masculine, imperfect tense, from the root Hawah, an old form of the root Hayah. The one meaning of Hawah is 'become.' So that the force of Yahweh, thus derived as a verb, would be, 'He will become,' or, as expressive of use and wont as a noun, it is, 'He who becometh,' 'The Becoming One.'" In a letter written to me in the course of correspondence on the subject, referring to this meaning, Mr. Rotherham says, "'He becometh'; that is, 'He who becometh,' The Becoming One': becoming to His people whatever in His rich favour He pleases, in order to meet their need, and at last becoming Man." The truth therefore suggested by the use of this word is always that, first of the essential Being of God which enables Him to become; and by deduction, that God in infinite grace does become whatever man needs.
This is a plural noun, but it is plural in a sense peculiar to the Hebrew language. Canon Girdlestone says: "It is well known that the Hebrews often expressed a word in the plural, so as to give it a special or technical meaning, as in the case of the words blood, water, wisdom, salvation, righteousness, life. ... It is implied that the word in the singular number is not large enough to set forth all that is intended; and so, in the case of the Divine Name, the plural form expresses the truth that the finite word conveys an inadequate idea of the Being Whom it represents. Other names of God will be found to be plural also, and it is worthy of notice that in the well-known passage in Ecclesiastes (12:1) the Hebrew runs thus, 'Remember now thy Creators in the days of thy youth.'" The root idea of the word is that of strength or might; and the thought of God suggested by it is that of His strength as revealed in creation, and in all the operations of His power.
This is again plural in form. Its simple signification is "Master" or "Lord"; and the thought it suggests is that of sovereign supremacy.
This is the shorter form of the name Jehovah, and is only found in Scripture; twice in Exodus, a few times in Isaiah, and in thirty- five passages in the book of Psalms.
These names reveal the doctrine of God, which creates the worship of man. Recognizing that Jehovah and Jah have the same essential significance, there are three lines of thought suggested. First, the essential Being of God, and the fact that He becomes in grace what man needs. Second, the essential Might of God, and the fact that it operates in power. Third, the essential Lordship of God, and His consequent sovereignty over man.
The Divine Name
Jehovah - The Prevailing Name in tthis book is "Jehovah." It occurs in every Psalm at least twice and in one (Ps. 29) as many as 18 times.
God - "God" is found 18 times in the singular, 50 times in the plural; in all 68 times. From 13 Psalms it is absent altogether.
Lord - The general title "Lord" (Adonahy) only occurs 14 times in all, and these occasions are all in 8 Psalms.
The Dominant Thought
Jehovah Helper - The dominant thought in this book of Psalms is that of God as Jehovah, the Helper of His people. The Psalms are songs of varying emotion and differing condition, but all express themselves in harmony with this note.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen. - Psalm 41:13
The Title - The mysterious name, suggestive of essential Being, becoming whatever is needed by men, and therefore uniformly used as indicating God's relation to His people as Helper.
The Relation - The God of Israel: "God" "Elohim" The idea of supremacy; "of Israel" The Chosen People.
The Quanity - From Everlasting to Everlasting: The word 'everlasting' means the concealed or vanishing point; and suggests the mysterious past and the unknown future. In its use here it reminds the heart of the eternity of God.
The Quality - Blessed: The root idea is that of prostration in the attitude of adoration Amen and Amen: The consent of all to such adoration.
The analyses are intended to help in the study of the collection, as to the conceptions impelling to worship.
Part A: AUTHORITY ESTABLISHED - Psalms 1-8
A.1. The Foundations - Psalm 1-2
- Jehovah's Law. A contrast. Obedience and disobedience - Ps. 1
- Jehovah's King. Folly of rebellion. Wisdom of submission - Ps. 2
A.2. The Experiences - Psalm 3-7
- Jehovah's salvation. Confidence in peril - Ps. 3
- Jehovah's countenance the cause of confidence - Ps. 4
- Jehovah's leading in time of persecution - Ps. 5
- Jehovah's deliverance in time of chastisement - Ps. 6
- Jehovah's deliverance confidently hoped in - Ps. 7
A.3. The Ultimate Purpose - Psalm 8
- Jehovah's excellence manifest in Nature and man - Ps. 8
Part B: AUTHORITY DEFENDED - Psalms 9-15
B.1. The Need - Psalm 9-10
- The throne and the enemy: Jehovah's righteous rule rejoiced in - Ps. 9
- Appeal for action: Jehovah's judgment besought - Ps. 10
B.2. The Activity - Psalm 11-15
- Jehovah's throne the foundation - Ps. 11
- Jehovah's rule in the midst of ungodliness - Ps. 12
- Jehovah's succour sought by the afflicted - Ps. 13
- Jehovah's knowledge of the godless - Ps. 14
- Jehovah's friend described - Ps. 15
Part C: AUTHORITY ESTABLISHED - Psalms 16-41
C.1. The Person - Psalm 16-24
- Jehovah the Portion of the trusting - Ps. 16
- Jehovah appealed to, to exercise judgment - Ps. 17
- Jehovah worshipped - Ps. 18
- Jehovah revealed in Nature and Law - Ps. 19
- Jehovah appealed to for help on behalf of the king - Ps. 20
- Jehovah praised as the Strength of the king - Ps. 21
- Jehovah the Succourer of the afflicted one - Ps. 22
- Jehovah the Shepherd of His own - Ps. 23
- Jehovah conquering through His King - Ps. 24
C.2. The Process - Psalm 25-39
- Songs of Assurance: Jehovah besought for deliverance - Ps. 25
- Songs of Assurance: Jehovah worshipped. Conditions - Ps. 26
- Songs of Assurance: Jehovah worshipped. Experience - Ps. 27
- Songs of Assurance: Jehovah appealed to and worshipped - Ps. 28
- Songs of Assurance: Jehovah in the majesty of the storm - Ps. 29
- Songs of Appropiation: Jehovah delivering from affliction - Ps. 30
- Songs of Appropiation: Jehovah the Refuge of the afflicted - Ps. 31
- Songs of Appropiation: Jehovah and the backsliding soul - Ps. 32
- Songs of Appropiation: Jehovah the mighty Deliverer - Ps. 33
- Songs of Appropiation: Jehovah the constant Succourer - Ps. 34
- Songs of Aspiration: Jehovah besought for help against enemies - Ps. 35
- Songs of Aspiration: Jehovah forgotten and recognised. A contrast - Ps. 36
- Songs of Aspiration: Jehovah the Confidence of His people - Ps. 37
- Songs of Aspiration: Jehovah appealed to in penitence - Ps. 38
- Songs of Aspiration: Jehovah the Hope of the afflicted - Ps. 39
C.3. The Person - Psalm 40-41
- Jehovah worshipped in praise and prayer - Ps. 40
- Jehovah recognised as rewarding compassion - Ps. 41
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.