Ashrei – Praiseworthy
Many of my readers know that I spent 6 + years studying and preparing for Orthodox Jewish Conversion. During that time, this particular psalm became my favorite for many reasons. It is the inspiration of the ‘Blessing before meals’ that I recite in thanking the Creator for His provision of food. I have used it to express a prayer to express myself before the Creator. It plainly says everything.
There is a lot of good and beneficial information about this particular psalm that I do not want to leave out but I have to due to space. The Sages of Israel has given us so much amazing teachings practically on every verse, if I used it, this blog would become a book. For In depth studying of the Psalms I recommend the Artscroll Tanach Series Tehillim, it is a two volume set.
The following is the majority from the introduction to the psalm in the Artscroll Tanach Series Tehillim. You will get a taste of the power of this psalm.
“This is the only composition in the entire Book of Tehillim/Psalms, which is actually entitled ‘Tehillah’, a praise, because these verses embody the essence of the Psalmist’s passionate love and appreciation for God.
Eish Das (Vol. 10, pg 98) observes that the Psalmist distilled the essence of all the psalms and incorporated it into the words of this psalm, which contains exactly one hundred and fifty words (In the Hebrew), corresponding to the one hundred and fifty psalms in the Book.
First, the initial letters of the verses follow the order of the alphabet (Hebrew Alef-Beit), implying that this work is fundamental, as basic and essential as the alohabet. The alphabetical arrangement also alludes to the fact that this psalm presents an orderly program and design for life. Its consecutive verses demonstrate how to progress towards God in constant spiritual ascent.
When a person recognizes that every bit of his energy and vitality is a personal gift of the Almighty God, Who constantly gives life, he will dedicate every moment of his existence to an effort to draw ever closer to his Creator.”
As I stated above, this Psalm is rich with informative commentary. One thing I would recommend doing is sitting down with this Psalm and take a sentence at a time and read it aloud, meditate on it and pray about what it is saying to you. Remember from the introduction, this Psalm contains a progression, it builds and takes a person on a journey through it.
When I began this series of blogs, I pondered what to title it Like I said this is my favorite psalm, thus it was befitting to title it after the first line of this psalm – “I will exalt You, my God the King…”
A psalm of praise by David:
I will exalt You, my God the King, and I will bless Your Name forever and ever. Everyday I will bless You, and I will laud Your Name forever and ever. Hashem is great and exceedingly lauded, and His greatness is beyond investigation. Each generation will praise Your deeds to the next and Your mighty deeds they will tell; the splendorous glory of Your power and Your wondrous deeds I shall discuss. And your awesome power they will speak, and Your greatness I shall relate. A recollection of Your abundant goodness they utter, and Your righteousness they will sing exultantly. Gracious and merciful is Hashem, slow to anger, and great in [bestowing] kindness. Hashem is good to all; His mercies are on all His works. All Your works shall thank You, Hashem, and Your devout ones will bless You. Of the glory of Your kingdom they will speak, and of Your power they will tell. To inform human beings of His mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of His kingdom. Your kingdom is a kingdom spanning all eternities, and Your dominion is through every generation. Hashem supports all the fallen ones and straightens all the bent. The eyes of all look to You with hope and You give them their food in its proper time. You open Your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Righteous is Hashem in all His ways and magnanimous in all His deeds. Hashem is close to all who call upon Him – to all who call upon Him in truth. The will of those who fear Him He will do; and their cry He will hear, and save them. Hashem protects all who love Him; but all the wicked He will destroy. May my mouth declare the praise of Hashem, and may all flesh bless His Holy Name forever and ever.
Terry W. Hayes
Photo Credit: Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash