Module 40: God the Wonder Working God - Wondering Worship
Module Guide: Psalms Book 2 Ps. 42-72 - Elohim, The Wonder-Working God (Wondering 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
God - The dominant name in this book is "God." It occurs in every Psalm at least twice and in one as many as 26 times. It is written in the singular (El) 16 times and in the plural (Elohim) 198 times.
Jehovah - "Jehovah" is found 32 times. From 15 Psalms it is absent altogether. In addition the title "Jah" is used once.
Lord - The general title "Lord" (Adonahy) only occurs 19 times scattered through 12 of the Psalms.
The Dominant Thought
Jehovah Mighty - In the second book the dominant thought is that of the might of God realized by His people, and manifest through them. The worship is that of Jehovah as the wonder-working God.
Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvellous deeds. Blessed be his glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and amen. - Psalm 72:18-19
The Title - Jehovah Elohim: The essential Helper Supreme.
The Relation - The God of Israel: Who only doeth wonderous things.
The Quality - Blessed: The Person. His Name. Amen and Amen.
The Quantity - For ever.
The Extent - The whole earth filled with His Glory.
The analyses are intended to help in the study of the collection, as to the conceptions impelling to worship.
Part A: MIGHTY DELIVERANCE - Psalms 42-51
A.1. Exile - Psalm 42-44
- The Desire: God remembered in exile - Ps. 42
- The Prayer: God leading the exiled home - Ps. 43
- The Despair: God the Author of good and evil - Ps. 44
A.2. Hope - Psalm 45-49
- The King: God gladdening the king and his bride - Ps. 45
- The Refuge: God the Refuge of His people - Ps. 46
- The Victor: God reigning over the nations - Ps. 47
- The Defender: God reigning over His own - Ps. 48
- The Life-Giver: God the Source of immortality - Ps. 49
A.3. Restoration - Psalm 50-51
- The Act of God: God manifesting Himself through His people - Ps. 50
- The Attitude of Man: God the Saviour of the sinful - Ps. 51
Part B: MIGHTY DEFENCE - Psalms 52-60
B.1. The Enemy - Psalm 52-55
- The Godless One: God the Destroyer of the sinful - Ps. 52
- The Godless One: God disappointed in man - Ps. 53
- The Cry of Distress: God the Helper of the oppressed - Ps. 54
- The Cry of Distress: God the Deliverer of the betrayed - Ps. 55
B.2. The Defender - Psalm 56-60
- Hope: God the tender Friend of the oppressed - Ps. 56
- Hope: God the Refuge in calamity - Ps. 57
- Prayer: God the God of vengeance - Ps. 58
- Prayer: God the High Tower of the oppressed - Ps. 59
- Prayer: God the Hope of His people - Ps. 60
Part C: MIGHTY DOMINION - Psalms 61-72
C.1. The Need - Psalm 61-64
- Assurance: God the Hope of man - Ps. 61
- Patience: God the only Hope of man - Ps. 62
- Confidence: God the perfect Hope of man - Ps. 63
- Certainty: God the Defence of the persecuted - Ps. 64
C.2. The Answer - Psalm 65-68
- Praise for Might: God the God of harvest - Ps. 65
- Praise for Deliverance: God the Object of worship - Ps. 66
- Universal Praise: God the perfect Governor of the nations - Ps. 67
- The Arising of God: God the Strength of His people - Ps. 68
C.3. The Process - Psalm 69-72
- The Suffering Witness: God the Succourer of the sorrowful - Ps. 69
- The Cry for Help: God the Hope of the despairing - Ps. 70
- The Cry of Confidence: God the Confidence of old age - Ps. 71
- The King and the Kingdom: God the King of the king - Ps. 72
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.