The Bible – Old Testament
1 [Psalm 150] The psalm is a closing doxology both for the fifth book of the Psalms (Psalm 150:107-149) and for the Psalter as a whole. Temple musicians and dancers are called to lead all beings on earth and in heaven in praise of God. The psalm proclaims to whom praise shall be given, and where (⇒ Psalm 150:1); what praise shall be given, and why (⇒ Psalm 150:2); how praise shall be given (⇒ Psalm 150:3-5), and by whom (⇒ Psalm 150:6).
2  His holy sanctuary: God’s temple on earth. The mighty dome of the heavens: literally, “[God’s] strong vault”; heaven is here imagined as a giant plate separating the inhabited world from the waters of the heavens.
1 [Psalm 149] A hymn inviting the people of Israel to celebrate their God in song and festive dance (⇒ Psalm 149:1-3, 5) because God has chosen them and given them victory (⇒ Psalm 149:4). The exodus and conquest are the defining acts of Israel; the people must be ready to do again those acts in the future at the divine command (⇒ Psalm 149:6-9).
2  Make music with tambourine and lyre: the verse recalls the great exodus hymn of ⇒ Exodus 15:20.
3  At their banquet: literally, “upon their couches.” The people reclined to banquet.
4  The glory: what brings honor to the people is their readiness to carry out the divine will, here conceived as punishing injustice done by the nations.
2  Highest heavens: literally, “the heavens of the heavens,” i.e., the space above the firmament, where the “upper waters” are stored. Cf ⇒ Genesis 1:6-7; ⇒ Deut 10:14; ⇒ 1 Kings 8:27; ⇒ Psalm 104:3, ⇒ 13.
3  The LORD has lifted high the horn of his people: horn = strength, the concrete noun for the abstract. Of all peoples God has chosen Israel to return praise and thanks in a special way.
1 [Psalm 147] The hymn is divided into three sections by the calls to praise in ⇒ Psalm 147:1; 7,12. The first section praises the powerful creator who restores exiled Judah (⇒ Psalm 147:1-6); the second section, the creator who provides food to animals and humans; the third and climactic section exhorts the holy city to recognize it has been re-created and made the place of disclosure for God’s word, a word as life-giving as water.
4 [15-19] God speaks through the thunder of nature and the word of revealed law. Cf ⇒ Isaiah 55:10-11. The weather phenomena are well known in Jerusalem: a blizzard of snow and hail followed by a thunderstorm that melts the ice.
1 [Psalm 146] A hymn of someone who has learned there is no other source of strength except the merciful God. Only God, not mortal humans (⇒ Psalm 146:3-4), can help vulnerable and oppressed people (⇒ Psalm 146:5-9). The first of the five hymns that conclude the Psalter.
1 [Psalm 145] A hymn in acrostic form; every verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Acrostic poems usually do not develop ideas but consist rather of loosely connected statements. The singer invites all to praise God (⇒ Psalm 145:1-3, ⇒ 21). The “works of God” make God present and invite human praise (⇒ Psalm 145:4-7); they climax in a confession (⇒ Psalm 145:8-9). God’s mighty acts show forth divine kingship (⇒ Psalm 145:10-20), a major theme in the literature of early Judaism and in Christianity.
1  The psalm may reflect a ceremony in which the king, as leader of the army, asked God’s help (⇒ Psalm 144:1-8). In ⇒ Psalm 144:9 the poem shifts abruptly from pleading to thanksgiving, and (except for ⇒ Psalm 144:11) shifts again to prayer for the people. The first section (⇒ Psalm 144:1-2) is a prayer of thanks for victory; the second (⇒ Psalm 144:3-7a), a humble acknowledgment of human nothingness and a supplication that God show forth saving power; the third (⇒ Psalm 144:9-11), a promise of future thanksgiving; the fourth (⇒ Psalm 144:12-15), a wish for prosperity and peace. A prayer for deliverance from treacherous foes serves as a refrain after the second and third sections (⇒ Psalm 144:7b-8, ⇒ 11). Except for its final section, the psalm is made up almost entirely of verses from other psalms.
3  Similar to ⇒ Psalm 8:5.
6 [8b,11b] Their right hands are raised in lying oaths: the psalmist’s enemies give false testimony.
1 [Psalm 143] One of the Church’s seven Penitential Psalms, this lament is a prayer to be freed from death-dealing enemies. The psalmist addresses God, aware that there is no equality between God and humans; salvation is a gift (⇒ Psalm 143:1-2). Victimized by evil people (⇒ Psalm 143:3-4), the psalmist recites (“remembers”) God’s past actions on behalf of the innocent (⇒ Psalm 143:5-6). The psalm continues with fervent prayer (⇒ Psalm 143:7-9) and a strong desire for guidance and protection (⇒ Psalm 143:10-12).
2 [Psalm 144] They have crushed: literally, “he crushed”; the singular is used typically, hence the plural translation.
1 [Psalm 142] In this lament imploring God for help (⇒ Psalm 142:2-4), the psalmist tells how enemies have set a trap (⇒ Psalm 142:4-5), and prays for rescue (⇒ Psalm 142:6-8). The speaker feels utterly alone (⇒ Psalm 142:5), exhausted (⇒ Psalm 142:7), and may even be imprisoned (⇒ Psalm 142:7). Prison is possibly a metaphor for general distress. The last two verses are the vow of praise, made after receiving an assurance of divine help (⇒ Psalm 142:7).
3  Then the just shall gather around me: in the temple, when the psalmist offers a thanksgiving sacrifice.
1 [Psalm 141] A lament of an individual (⇒ Psalm 141:1-2) who is keenly aware that only the righteous can worship God properly and who therefore prays to be protected from the doomed wicked (3-10).
2  Incense: literally, “smoke,” i.e., the fragrant fumes arising from the altar at the burning of sacrificial animals or of aromatic spices; also used in ⇒ Rev 5:8 as a symbol of prayer. My plifted hands: the gesture of supplication. Cf ⇒ Psalm 28:2; ⇒ 63:5; ⇒ 88:10; ⇒ 119:48; ⇒ 134:2; ⇒ 143:6.
3 [5-7] the Hebrew text is obscure.