The Old Testament was originally written in the Hebrew language. For those of us who speak and write in English, Hebrews is a rather strange language.
For instance, it only has 22 letters as opposed to the 26 letters in the English alphabet. Furthermore, the Hebrew alphabet’s 22 letters have rather strange names, not to mention their unfamiliar shapes.
If these differences were not enough, those 22 letters are put together backwards to form words which are spelled from right to left, and Hebrew sentences have to be read from right to left, rather than left to right.
And to top it off, the books comprising the Hebrew Bible are backward, with Genesis starting at the back of the Bible and Malachi ending at what to us is the Bible’s front.
In spite of the peculiarities of Hebrew when compared with English, all of us who have been in church for any length of time know a little Hebrew. We may not realize at first that we do, but we really do. If you have ever uttered the word hallelujah you have spoken a bit of Hebrew. In either language, this word means “praise the Lord.”
Psalm 150 is the “hallelujah psalm.” It opens with a hallelujah, and this word occurs not only in the opening and closing verses of the psalm, but also 11 times in between. Thus the call to praise the Lord occurs a total of 13 times. Interestingly, the term occurs only 24 times in the whole Book of Psalms. This means over half the occurrences are in this one psalm — which makes it quite unique, being composed of six verses of pure praise.
“Lift our hearts’
Psalm 150 makes no request, although elsewhere God invites His people to present their requests to Him. The psalm contains no intercession, although other psalms contain intercession for the nation as well as for one’s enemies. This hallelujah psalm doesn’t contain any confession, although other psalms confess personal sins, as well as national sins.
Throughout this month, Theology 101 will explore the theme of praising the Lord, using this hallelujah psalm as the focal point. The Bill Gaither Trio and the Gaither Vocal Band have made this month’s theme popular with a song which begins, “Let’s just praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let’s just lift our hearts to heaven and praise the Lord.”
Share with others: