A Sabbath Song – Psalm 92

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night

Psalm 92 is titled in Hebrew mizmor shiyr layom hashabbat, “A Psalm, a Song for the Sabbath Day.” The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says it is “unclear if there is any appreciable difference” between a psalm (Strong’s #H2167 mizmor) and a song (Strong’s #H7892 shyir). According to Dr. John Gill, “a psalm was sung upon musical instruments, a song with the voice; it may be this psalm was sung both ways” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible). Though the author is unknown, we do know from the title where this Psalm fits into the overall scheme of worship. It is for the first of Yahweh’s feast days, the “holy convocation” (Leviticus 23:3) on the Sabbath. “It was the Levite’s song for the Sabbath Temple service” (Rashi).

At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion VaYakhel, Moses reinforces one of the most frequently stated instructions from the Father.

Then Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and said to them, “These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do: For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a Sabbath of complete rest to the LORD” (Exodus 35:1,2).

The injunction is not optional. We are commanded to consecrate the seventh day as holy, setting it apart as different, and resting after completing six days of our regular work. According to the Ten Words (or the Ten Commandments), it is a memorial to God’s work in creation as recorded in the first chapters of Genesis.

“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:11).

“By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3).

The seventh day is blessed (Strong’s #H1288 barak) – the same word used at the beginning of Psalms 103 and 104, “Bless the LORD, O my soul” – and sanctified (Strong’s #H6942 qadash) – the same word translated as holy in Exodus 20:8, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” This day has been “holy” since the week of creation.

Matthew Henry (1662-1714), a well-known Christian commentator, observes “The proper work of the sabbath is praising God; every sabbath day must be a thanksgiving-day; and the other services of the day must be in order to this, and therefore must by no means thrust this into a corner” (from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible). This is what we find here in this “Song for the Sabbath Day.”

It is good to give thanks to Yahweh
And to sing praises to Your name, Elyon (Most High)
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night
With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp
With resounding music upon the lyre
For You, Yahweh, have made me glad by what You have done
I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands
How great are Your works, Yahweh!
(Psalm 92:1-5)

Although the Sabbath itself is never mentioned, woven within the poetry is a beautiful thread which many Jewish writers find significant in this Sabbath Psalm: The divine name Yahweh appears exactly seven times. This thread passes through words of praise for the completed work of creation, a description of the eventual demise of the wicked, and the ultimate endurance and perfection of the righteous. The conclusion is that “this psalm refers not to the weekly Sabbath, but to the world to come” (Rashi). Matthew Henry’s comments agree that, even more than the weekly Sabbath, this is about “the kingdom of the Messiah … a psalm or song for the age to come, which shall be all sabbath.” God Himself called it “forever.”

“You shall surely observe My Sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you… It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:13,17).

Such an understanding brings even greater meaning to the words of Yeshua (Jesus), “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27,28). Our observance of the weekly Sabbath is our forward-looking preparation for eternity with our Savior and Redeemer, Yeshua, in the world to come, a time when every day is Sabbath. Then our Song for the Sabbath Day will be, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns” (Revelation 19:6).

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