The History Lesson ContinuesBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Praise G-d and give thanks because He is good and His kindness lasts forever. Who could possibly relate all of G-d’s deeds or all the praise He deserves? On the other hand, a human’s praises are easy: a person is fortunate if he guards justice and constantly performs charity.
David asks G-d to include him when He ultimately redeems the nation, in Messianic times. David desires to personally witness all the good things that have been promised. The Jews of the exile will recognize their sins and return to G-d. Sadly, forgetting G-d is not uncommon. The Jews who left Egypt, who personally saw miracles, failed to show complete faith. They questioned G-d almost immediately, when the Egyptian army was approaching them at the Red Sea. G-d split the sea and led the Jews through it on dry land, then closed it up on their pursuers. They sang to G-d, but they tested Him soon after, by demanding meat, with the rebellion of Korach and his followers and, most blatantly, with the Golden Calf. David puts it quite poignantly: “They traded their glory for the image of a cow, which eats grass” (verse 20).
The Jews of the Exodus, who saw the miracles G-d wrought for them, forgot Him. G-d offered to wipe them out and start over with Moses, but Moses prayed for them and G-d granted his request. Nevertheless, the people were soon complaining again, so G-d decided to give them real, rather than perceived, problems; at that time it was decreed that the people would ultimately be subject to exile. The people worshipped idols and performed disgusting acts, so G-d sent a plague, which Pinchas halted by acting zealously on G-d’s behalf. For this, Pinchas and his descendants earned a prominent position in the kehuna (Jewish “priesthood”). The nation again provoked G-d by demanding water and the angry reaction of Moses resulted in him not being permitted to enter the land of Israel.
Even after they entered the land, the Jews failed to listen to all G-d had said. Rather than completely driving out the Canaanite nations, they permitted some to remain, counter to G-d’s command. These nations exerted a negative influence and led the people into idolatry and even human sacrifice. This angered G-d until He eventually permitted the Jews’ enemies to subjugate them. In the days of the Judges, the nation was constantly saved, but they refused to learn their lesson. Nevertheless, G-d continued to save them, because of His kindness.
We ask that G-d likewise save us from our oppressors and gather the exiles back to praise Him. Blessed is G-d from this world to the Next World. Let the whole nation praise G-d!
At first glance, one might think that the first part of this Psalm is the prayer “Hodu,” which is said as part of the daily morning services (“Pesukei D’Zimrah”). In fact, that is the similar, but not identical, version of this Psalm found in I Chronicles chapter 16.
This is the final Psalm in the fourth “book.”