Psalm 107: just the beginning

I love the depth, order, and intricate goodness of Psalm 107. I have not studied many psalms – I wonder if they are all this amazing. I would not be surprised if they are. But for weeks I kept opening my Bible up to Psalm 107. I finally decided to memorize it and study it rather than just skimming it each time I opened my Bible. The binding of my Bible is broken, making it easy to land on that psalm, but it also caught my eye because I like the vignettes of faith in times of trouble. In each of the stanzas, God seems far off, but then he is quickly found and mercifully blesses the people who call out to him.

There are too many good things in this psalm, and I have only studied a few bits of the overall structure and first four stanzas. And I still have three more stanzas to memorize and research. But brace yourself for the awesomeness of what I have learned so far.

AWESOMENESS #1: “Yadah” literally means throw your hands up in the air.

"Extend your hand in thanksgiving to the I AM, for he is good..."
“Extend your hand in thanksgiving to the I AM, for he is good…”

To begin, the very first word in this psalm is hodu from the word yadah, which is translated as “give thanks.” But I just found out that according to Strong’s, it literally means “to use (that is hold out) the hand.” It can also mean “to throw or cast.”  This transforms my concept of worship. Giving thanks to God is expressed through the throwing out of my hands. Thankfulness and worship in one’s heart and mind overflow to an outward expression with one’s body. When this psalm says “Give thanks” it is saying “Throw your hands up in the air to the I AM for he is good! His love endures forever!”

The same word, yadah, which is translated as “thank/thanks/thanksgiving/thankful/thanking” in forty places and “praise” in fifty-three places, is also translated as “shoot” in Jeremiah 50:14.  As in, “Shoot at her! Spare no arrows!” The arrows fling out in a motion perhaps similar to how our arms fling out to God in thanks.

The etymology of any word does not always prove that the user of that word intends it to be laden with that word’s literal or historic meaning. But other usages of a word can give insight. For example, if I say that a boy is sandwiched between his siblings, I am not talking about him being a literal sandwich. But knowing what a literal sandwich is paints a picture of a poor boy lodged between two siblings like turkey jammed between two pieces of bread.

Just to check, I also looked up other Hebrew words for praise, and I found that many of the words were descriptive of the type of action. This list is from justworship.com:

  1. barak: to kneel, to bless (Psalm 95:5 “…let us kneel before the LORD…”)
  2. guwl: to spin around, to rejoice (Psalm 35:9 “And my soul will be joyful in the LORD…”)
  3. halal: to foolishly rave and celebrate and boast, to praise (Psalm 22:23 “You that fear the LORD praise him…”)
  4. ranan: to creak, emit a cry, sing for joy, rejoice (Psalm 33:1 “Rejoice in the LORD…”)
  5. shachah: fall flat, prostrate in homage, worship (Psalm 29:2 “worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness…”)
  6. shuwr: strike with fingers to play an instrument, sing praise (Psalm 18:49 “…and sing praises to your name.”)
  7. towdah: extension of hand, thanksgiving and adoration (Psalm 50:14 “…offer thanksgiving to God…”)

This list is just the beginning. There are more words that describe worship.  Like, being joyful with jumping, rejoicing with banner waving, lots of singing words, lots of dancing words, so many descriptive ways to praise God. I think there has been a major fail in many translations of the psalms. But yadah! Let’s have a worship party.

 

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” ~ Psalm 107:1

 

Stay tuned for more AWESOMENESS to come.

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