The Hymns of the Temple

Part 2

by Matthew L. Bowen

Praise is a dominant word in the latter third of the Psalter. The imperative plural Hebrew verbal expression hallelujah (halĕlû-yāh), “praise ye the Lord,” marks the beginning and ending of many of these temple hymns. In ancient Judah, ascending into the temple to praise Jehovah was a fundamental religious obligation. The gospel writer Luke notes that after the Ascension, Jesus’s earliest disciples “were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God” (Luke 24:53). The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ had given the disciples a sense of how the temple pointed to his incarnation and his unique role in saving Israel and all humanity (compare, for example, Mark 14:58; John 1:14; 2:19).

Moreover, as in the last reading, another key term is ḥesed (“covenant love,” “covenant mercy,” “grace,” “charity”). This term represents a defining characteristic of God, demonstrated fully in the life and atonement of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 102 – The Prayer of an Overwhelmed Individual

Psalm 102 is superscripted “A Prayer of the afflicted [ʿonî], when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the Lord.” John S. Kselman and Michael L. Barré suggest that this psalm represents “[A]n individual lament of someone seriously sick.”[1] As a class of individuals, the ʿonî or ʿănāwîm were those in ancient Israel whose life circumstances had utterly “humbled” or “afflicted” them, through illness, poverty, distress, etc.

In the Book of Mormon, Mormon presents the reader with the stark contrast between proud, self-satisfied Zoramites who were “high” and “lifted up” (Hebrew rām, Deuteronomy 8:14) and displayed the symbols of that pride and wealth atop the Rameumptom)[2] and the poor and afflicted whose circumstances had humbled them. Hence Mormon’s mention of the name of the hill Onidah (which may mean “he knows my affliction”), from which Alma preached to the poor.[3]

As part of this contrast, Mormon contrasts the Zoramites’ self-exalting prayer (Alma 31:15-18) with Alma’s humble prayer as recorded in Alma 31:26-35.[4] Like Alma’s prayer, Psalm 102 is prayer that stands in stark contrast to the types of prayers offered by the Zoramites (see also Alma 38:13-14) and the Pharisee in Jesus’s parable (Luke 18:11-12). Alma’s teaching was able to reach and reconvert poor and afflicted at Onidah because he prayed in humility and faith, consonant with the prayer in Psalm 102.

In Psalm 102:13-14, the Psalmist pleads with the Lord, “Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time [or appointed time], is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof.” The revelation given to the Latter-day Saints on January 19, 1841 which followed on the heels of the Missouri persecutions, including Joseph Smith and his associates confinement in the Liberty Jail, as well as the Kirtland apostasy, made direct reference to this passage in Psalm 102: “For it shall be given you by the Holy Ghost to know my will concerning those kings and authorities, even what shall befall them in a time to come. For, behold, I am about to call upon them to give heed to the light and glory of Zion, for the set time has come to favor her” (D&C 124:5-6). A commandment to build the Nauvoo temple followed in this revelation together with instructions on baptisms for the dead (D&C 124:26-48). The set time—or appointed time—to favor Zion on both sides of the veil in this dispensation had finally come.

The Psalmist also looked forward to the time when Yahweh (Jehovah) would appear in Zion in glory. The scriptures record limited fulfillment of this hope (e.g., at the temple in Bountiful in 3 Nephi 11–26). However, as Latter-day Saints, we anticipate the complete fulfillment of this hope at the time of Jesus’s Second Coming and millennial reign: “When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord. For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death; to declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem; when the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord. (Psalm 102:16-22). At that time, we will all much more fully appreciate “[h]ow great, how glorious, how complete redemption’s grand design, where justice, love, and mercy meet in harmony divine!”[5]

Psalm 102:25-27 emphasizes that the Lord’s incomparable role in creation stands and his unchangeability as the firm basis for individual (and communal) faith in him: “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no bend.” These verses are quoted by the author of Hebrews in reference to Jesus Christ vis-à-vis the angels (see Hebrews 1:10-12). Psalm 102 concludes with an allusion to surety of the Abrahamic covenant: “The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.”

Psalm 103 – “Bless the Lord, O My Soul”

One key term in this psalm of thanksgiving is the verb “bless,” Hebrew bārak. The verb is repeated twice at the outset of this psalm, with the Psalmist commanding his soul to bless the Lord: “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:1-5).

The repetition of “Bless the Lord, O my soul” is a rhetorical technique known as anaphora. Richard Lanham defines anaphora as the “repetition of the same word at the beginning of successive clauses or verses.”[6] Kselman and Barré note that “[t]he association of the forgiveness of sin and healing of physical illness is a motif present in the NT (Mark 2:10-11)” and that “the association of sin and sickness is found in both the OT (Job; Pss 32:3-5; 107:17) and NT (John 9; James 5:14-16).”[7]

The verses that follow resonate with passages in the book of Isaiah. As Latter-day Saints, we believe that justice and righteousness are eternal aspects of the character of both God the Father and Jesus Christ, as is mercy: “The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. (Psalm 103:6-9). Isaiah 57:16 seems to echo this psalm (or vice versa): “For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.” Why does the Lord forgive us? The answer may surprise some: “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

Humanity, as mortal beings, have a very temporary existence in this world: “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them” (Psalm 103:15-18). These statements are consonant with Isaiah 40:6-8: “The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the aword of our God shall stand for ever.” The Psalmist stresses the generational nature of covenant blessings. We receive many divine blessings because of the faithfulness of parents and ancestors and we can effectuate such blessings for our children and posterity through our faithfulness. Similarly, we can face obstacles in mortality because of the unfaithfulness of a parent or ancestor and we can cast stumbling blocks before our own children by our own unfaithfulness.

Psalm 109 concludes with a second anaphora involving the verb “bless [ye].” The psalmist exhorts the family in heaven to bless the Lord: “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psalm 103:22). The psalm ends with the very words with which it began.

Psalm 110 – The Enthronement of the Davidic Priest-king

Psalm 110 is an enthronement song, likely composed very early in ancient Israel’s monarchic period. The Davidic king given a throne at the “right hand” of God—the position of divine favor:

“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1). The covenant and eschatological significance of enthronement at the divine right hand is particularly evident at the end of King Benjamin’s speech (Mosiah 5:8-15). The name Benjamin, notably, means “son of the right hand”:

And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters … therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ. (Mosiah 15:7-9)

On the occasion of his son Mosiah II’s ascension to the throne, King Benjamin combined the royal rebirth language of Psalm 2:7, part of another enthronement Psalm (“I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son [bĕnî]; this day have I begotten thee”) with the image of enthronement “sat my right hand [lîmînî]” (Psalm 110:1) and applied to his own people on the basis of his own name, Benjamin.[8] One might expect King Benjamin on such an occasion to apply these enthronement texts to his son, Mosiah II, but instead he uses this royal, psalm-based liturgy to teach his people that through the atonement of Jesus Christ they have the declared possibility of becoming kings and queens who will reign in the house of Israel, at the right hand of God forever, just as Christ does.[9]

The psalm also mentions the royal “rod” with which the Davidic king will rule: “The Lord shall send the rod [maṭṭēh] of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies” (Psalm 110:2). The rod spoken of here invites an easy comparison to the “rod of iron” with which the Davidic king would defeat his enemies: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:9).

The liturgy of Psalm 110 also decrees Melchizedek priesthood for the Davidic king: “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4). This is one of only two passages within the canonical text of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) that contain references to Melchizedek.

We learn more in restoration scripture. Perhaps the text that best helps us understand what it means to be a “priest … after the order of Melchizedek” is the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 14:

Now Melchizedek [malkîṣedeq] was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness [Heb. ṣedeq]; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire. And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch, it being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God; And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name. For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; to put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world. And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven. And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace [šālôm] in Salem [šālēm]. and was called the Prince of peace [śar šālôm]. And his people wrought righteousness [ṣedeq], and obtained heaven … And this Melchizedek [malkîṣedeq], having thus established righteousness, was called the king [melek/malkî] of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King [melek/malkî] of peace [šālôm]. (JST Genesis 14:26-34, 36)

The name Melchizedek means “my king is righteousness” or “king of righteousness” (cf. Hebrews 7:2). He was “king of Salem/peace” a community that sought heaven and obtained it, like Enoch’s people (see Moses 7). Wordplay on the name Melchizedek and his role as king/prince of Salem/peace abounds.

Alma 13 provides additional insight into what it means to become a priest of this order. “Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness [ṣedeq] before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness [ṣedeq] rather than to perish” (Alma 13:10). The term “righteousness” (ṣedeq) echoes the name Melchizedek:

Now this Melchizedek [malkîṣedeq] was a king [melek] over the land of Salem [šālôm]; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness [the opposite of ṣedeq!]; But Melchizedek [malkîṣedeq] having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek [malkîṣedeq] did establish peace [šālôm] in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace [śar šālôm], for he was the king of Salem [šālôm] and he did reign [wayyimlōk] under his father.

Alma’s message to the people of Ammonihah, at least some of whom had been (high) priests after the order of Melchizedek, were then practicing religion after the order of the Nehors.[10] Alma’s message to them—and one still relevant to us today—is one of repentance. We can repent and become like Melchizedek, who himself was a type of Christ. As noted above, we too can become royal sons and daughters—the children of Christ—enthroned at God’s right, reigning in the house of Israel forever. As Latter-day Saints we should hear echoes of these doctrines when we read Psalm 110.

Psalm 116-118 – The Second Half of the Hallel

Psalms 113–118 constitutes what has been designated within Judaism as the Hallel or the Egyptian Hallel. These Psalms were sung as a hymn “several dozen times per year … on the festivals and new moon.”[11] This set of Psalms was thus very familiar to Jews, including during Jesus’s time. The Passover (Pesach) was one of the festivals during which this hymn was sung. In fact, it may well have been the Hallel that Jesus and his disciples sung as a hymn at the conclusion of their Passover gathering on the night that Jesus went into Gethsemane and just prior to his prayer and suffering there. Mark and Matthew both record that after Jesus and his disciples had finished eating the Passover meal together in the upper room, they concluded by singing a hymn: “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives” (Mark 14:26; Matthew 26:30).

Psalm 116 begins with the Psalmist recounting a brush with death—whether physical in nature (disease, etc.), spiritual, or both—which the Lord had attended to and from which the Lord provided deliverance: “I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul” (Psalm 116:1-4).

The agony described by the Psalmist is very similar to the harrowing spiritual agony that Alma the Younger experienced as he related it to his son Helaman in the marvelous chiastic text comprising Alma 36, as discovered by John W. Welch.[12] Fittingly, Alma’s calling upon the name of the Lord comes at the turning point of the chiasm: “And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul. And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.” Both the Psalmist and Alma received deliverance and experienced relief by calling upon the name of the Lord.

The Psalmist then asks, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12). What can one render to the Lord his toward us? King Benjamin says, “I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:20-21).

The Psalmist’s answer was: “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people” (Psalm 116:13-14). Alma’s answer was similar: “Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Alma 36:24). We can bear testimony of our deliverance through Christ, continue to call upon the name of the Lord, and bring others to him. The Psalmist testified of the Lord’s valuation of life—yes, that of his own people, but surely too of all human life: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). Jesus argued this concept on analogy (i.e., he begins with a minor premise and proceeds to a major one in what the Rabbis later called qal wāḥômer): “Are not two sparrows sold for a  farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).[13] The Psalmist may be an “unprofitable servant,” but he is a servant nonetheless: “O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds” (Psalm 116:16). Like ancient Israel at the time of Moses, the Lord liberates us from the “service” (ʿăbōdâ) or slavery of Egypt to serve him upon his “mountain” (i.e., the temple; cf. Exodus 3:12).

Psalm 116 concludes with the Psalmist restating the intent to perform his acts of devotion, including true sacrifice, in the temple: “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 116:17-19).

Psalm 117 represents the shortest of the psalms in the Psalter (when I was young, I memorized it for this reason). The psalm begins with a longer version of the hallelujah expression and concludes with the stereotyped form: “O praise the Lord [halĕlû ʾet-yhwh], all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 117:1-2). The frequently paired expression ḥesed weʾĕmet (“mercy and truth” or “grace and truth”) occur again together here (…ḥasdô weʾĕmet…), but as part of separate lines of poetry.

Time would fail to speak adequately of Psalm 118 and its importance within Judaism, not least during the time of Jesus. Psalm 118:14, “[t]he Lord is my strengthen and song, and is become my salvation,” directly quotes from the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1-18): “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him” (Exodus 15:2). Isaiah quotes the same text: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2). All three of these texts constitute “song[s] of redeeming love.” If we have “experienced a change of heart, and … felt to sing the song of redeeming love, can [we] feel so now?”

The next part of this psalm was key to the early disciples’ understanding of who Jesus was (and is): “I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation []. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now [hôšîʿâ nāʾ > Hosanna!], I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord” (Psalm 118:21-26). Regarding the early disciples understanding of Jesus in terms of this Psalm, John Day writes: “We read in Ps. 118.22f., ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.’ These words are cited a number of times to refer to Jesus’ rejection and vindication (Mk 12.10-11; Mt. 21.42; Lk 20.17; Acts 4.11f; 1 Pet. 2.7). We know from Jewish sources that this psalm was interpreted messianically. The messianic overtones are clear in the citation from Ps. 118.25f at the time of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on an ass (Mk 11.9f; Mt. 21.9, 25; Lk 19.38; Jn 12.13).”[14] Jacob, the brother of Nephi, also quotes Psalm 118:22 with reference to Jesus as Messiah (see Jacob 4:15-18).

Lastly, this psalm (v. 25) is the source of “Hosanna” (hôšîʿâ nāʾ) as a liturgical shout or exclamation (see Matthew 21:9, 15; Mark 11:9-10; John 12:13; 1 Nephi 11:6; 3 Nephi 4:32; 3 Nephi 11:17; D&C 19:37; 36:3; 39:19; 109:79).

Psalm 119 – An Epic Acrostic

Psalm 119 constitutes by far the longest psalm in the Psalter and “the longest poem in the bible.”[15] It is an acrostic poem written in 22 stanzas of eight lines, initiated by and representing each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The main theme of this Psalm is the Law (i.e., the Law of Moses) – Torah. Although much more could be said about this Psalm, we will highlight what Rendsburg identifies as a significant verbal example of marking closure in a Hebrew text. He writes: “As a glance at any Bible will demonstrate, the first 175 verses of this psalm proceed in like fashion, line after line, stanza after stanza with only two stichs to each verse. In the last verse, however, the author interposes a two-word phrase between the two stichs, as he turns to God with his plea [baqqēš ʿabdekā] ‘seek your servant’. The inclusion of this phrase hardly constitutes literary creativity at its finest, but its presence in the last line nevertheless serves as a signal to the reader … that she has reached the final line of this exceedingly long composition.”[16]

For the Nephites anciently the “Law” held its greatest value in “pointing” to Christ. Jacob and Amulek both employ a wordplay on the noun tôrâ (“law,” “teaching,” “instruction”) in terms of the Hebrew verbal root yry/yrh (literally, “to teaching by pointing the finger”) whence this noun derives. Jacob wrote: “And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son” (Jacob 4:5). Amulek testified: “And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.”[17]

Psalm 127-128 – Temple, Family, and Posterity

The phrase “joy in one’s posterity” might summarize the common theme of Psalms 127–128. The concept of family (including posterity) as one’s “house” is intertwined with the temple as God’s “house” and representing God’s Son and his other sons and daughters.[18] “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Jesus taught this concept similarly at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, when he taught his disciples, including Peter the “Rock”: “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24-25). As Latter-day Saints today go to the temple, the Lord’s “house” to found and establish our own “houses” (families). We are members of his “house” (family)—the “house of Israel.”

The importance of posterity in the Abrahamic Covenant view of ancient Israel can be seen in the Psalmist’s declaration, which includes a “beatitude”: “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy [ʾašrê] is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5).

Joy in one’s posterity is the subtle theme of Lehi’s dream (1 Nephi 8) and Nephi’s subsequent vision. Lehi averred that he “beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy” (1 Nephi 8:10). The tree, of course, represents Jesus Christ as God’s Son and Offspring, but it also represents families—roots and branches. Lehi’s thoughts upon partaking of the fruit turn immediately to his family and posterity: “And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit” (1 Nephi 8:11-12).

Note how well this syncs up with what follows in Psalm 128 in terms of “joy in one’s posterity”: “Blessed [ʾašrê, happy] is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy [ʾašrêkā] shalt thou be, and it shall be dwell with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord” (Psalm 128:1-4). There follows a wordplay on Jerusalem that expresses the hope of long life in which one enjoys seeing not only children but grandchildren and “peace” upon Israel—that is, “peace” upon one’s posterity:

Psalm 128:5-6 (KJV) Psalm 128:5-6 (NRSV)
The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem [yĕrûšālaim] all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace [šālôm] upon Israel” (Psalm 128:5-6)


The Lord bless you from Zion.

May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem

all the days of your life.

May you see your children’s children.

Peace be upon Israel!


This conclusion of Psalm 128 in some respects resembles the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:24-27, with which the Aaronic priests were to put upon the children of Israel the name of the Lord and bless them with peace.

Psalm 135 – “For His Peculiar Treasure”

One of the most significant statements in this psalm comes in  Psalm 135:4: “For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure [lisgullātô].” The Hebrew word translated by the expression “peculiar treasure” is sĕgullâ, which essentially denotes “personal property.”[19] This term is cognate with Akkadian sugullu(m)/sukullu(m) (Neo-Assyrian sakullu), “herd, cattle”[20]; Akkadian sikiltu(m), “acquisition(s), (hoarded) property”[21]; and Ugaritic sglt, “treasure, private property.”[22] Since cattle, as personal property, were often branded with the owner’s name, the idea of sĕgullâ seems to be that of “property” that bears the unique mark, symbol, or name of its owner—that is, “sealed” property.

The Pentateuchal narratives that describe the Lord bringing Israel first to the mountain-temple[23] at Sinai and then into the promised land, describe the Lord making them a people who are “his” by covenant: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine” (Exodus 19:5); “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6).

The (kosher) food laws of Deuteronomy 14 are introduced with this statement: “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people [ʿam sĕgullâ] unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2). The adherence of the Lord’s people to his covenant and commandments constituted one aspect of the mark of distinctiveness. Living in God’s kingdom requires adherence to the divine laws governing that kingdom (see especially D&C 88:36-39). Ancient Israel was to live up to this status in the land of promise by adhering closely to his covenant and commandments as prerequisite for retaining an inheritance in that land: “And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people [ʿam sĕgullâ], as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments” (Deuteronomy 26:18). To be a ʿam sĕgullâ in the foregoing sense of this expression was—and is—as Hugh Nibley put it, to be a “sealed people.” The temple exists for this purpose. Through its ordinances we come to belong to each other as families and collectively to belong to the Lord.

The prophet Malachi had reference to this concept in the same prophetic text in which he exhorted the Lord’s people in Judah to cease “robbing” God and to bring their tithes to the Lord’s “storehouse” or treasury at his “house” or temple (see Malachi 3:7-12) and in which he mentions the “book of remembrance” (cf. temple records)[24] kept by the faithful (Malachi 3:16). Through Malachi, the Lord proclaimed regarding the faithful who fear the Lord: “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels [sĕgullâ]; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (Malachi 3:17).[25] Much of the restoration of the gospel in this dispensations has been about restoring the priesthood authority, covenants, and ordinances for this purpose.

The Psalmist’s critique of idols resembles the type of critique that we find in the book of Isaiah (see, e.g., Isaiah 44 and 46). He states: “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not; neither [ʾap, however/nose] is there any breath in their mouths” (Isaiah 135:15-17). The Psalmist mentions all the entry points of the face directly (eyes, ears, mouth) except for the nose. Rendsburg notes the wordplay or pun on ʾap in verse 17: “In the most clever of linguistic turns, the author of Psalm 135 also follows the ears line with the word … ʾap—but at some point in the reading process the listener to v. 17b becomes aware that her expectation for this one-syllable word to mean ‘nose’ has not been realized, for instead the word is employed here with the connotation ‘however’ [in the KJV construed as part of ‘neither’].”[26] The Psalmist has worked the word ‘nose’ into the poem by using it in its adverbial meaning.

Psalm 136 – Hymn of Thanksgiving

Psalm 136, a “hymn of praise containing some elements of [a] historical psalm,”[27]  is sometimes called the Great Hallel. The first three verses employ an anaphora on the Hebrew verb hôdû (“O give [ye] thanks”). All of the verses end with the epistrophe[28] or refrain: “for his mercy endureth forever [kî lĕʿôlām ḥasdô].” These expressions provide a framework of meaning for the content of the Psalm which include short reminiscences of Genesis creation account and the history recounted in Exodus. Latter-day Saints should appreciate the value of a liturgical recounting of the creation in a temple setting as a part of teaching our relationship to God the Father and Jehovah, which helps us understand our place in the cosmos and within the plan of salvation. All of the “great wonders” that the Lord has done, all creation, every act of deliverance is an expression of his enduring “mercy” or “covenant love.” And everyone of these is worthy of our thanks and praise.

Psalm 137 – “By the Rivers of Babylon We Wept”

Psalm 137 constitutes a “communal lament” that is “clearly exilic or postexilic.”[29] Indeed, the pain and sorrow of Judah’s exiles finds powerful expression in this Psalm. Many moderns have become familiar with this Psalm through the Melodians’ song “By the Rivers of Babylon” popularized by Bob Marley, Boney M. and others, the lyrics of which are based on this Psalm.

The shame of the exiles at what they experienced in Babylon as expressed in Psalm 137:1-4 is palpable: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged [hung, tālînû] our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us [i.e., those who bound us and dragged us away, tôlālênû] required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” Gary Rendsburg notes the alliterative wordplay on tālînû and tôlālênû.[30]

One of the notable details in this Psalm is the declaration, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.” The KJV shows how the wordplay in this verse was missed by early translators of the Bible into English. Rendsburg writes, “In this well known verse (v. 5) the root š-k-ḥ occurs twice with two different meanings. In the first case, it bears its common meaning, ‘forget’, while in the second instance, it bears a much rarer connotation, ‘be paralyzed’. … The composer of Psalm 137 took advantage of the two meanings of the same Hebrew root … š-k-ḥ ‘forget’ and ‘be paralyzed’, and placed them in close proximity to each other, thereby producing an exquisite wordplay.”[31] If Rendsburg is correct, KJV translators could have better translated the verse: “If I forget thee, O Jeruselm, let my right hand be paralyzed.”

Kselman and Barré note that “despite the poignant beauty of the opening verses, it contains some of the most vengeful language in all the Psalter”[32] (see especially v. 9). Although Psalm 137:9 almost certainly reflects what some of the exiles saw done to their own children in the war that brought the southern kingdom of Judah, Solomon’s temple, and (temporarily) Jerusalem to an end, it cannot be recommended as consistent with God’s desires for humanity.

Psalm 138 – Worship in the Lord’s Temple and the Lord’s Protective Power

Psalm 138 is traditionally considered a “Psalm of David” (per its superscription), but can be classified more generally as “an individual psalm of thanksgiving.”[33] The phrase “before the gods” in Psalm 138:1 constitutes one of numerous clear allusions to the divine council (or heavenly council) in the Psalms. The divine council is closely associated with the temple and the holy of holies in particular (see Isaiah 6). We might briefly note here that the mention of the Lord’s saving “right hand” is also meaningful in a temple context, where divine deliverance through Jesus Christ and his atonement is commemorated.

Psalm 139 – God Knows Us

Psalm 139 begins with the Psalmist’s assertion that God has “searched and known” him (Psalm 139:1) and elaborates on how well God knows him (Psalm 139:2-6). God’s omniscience is rooted in his omnipresence (Psalm 139:7-13), or as the Lord told Moses, “all things are present with me, for I know them all.” The Psalmist recognizes the miracle of the human body’s creation: “am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

The Psalmist’s attitude towards the Lord’s enemies is not dissimilar to that of the prophet Jonah toward the people of Nineveh, not understanding God’s love for humankind: “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies” (Psalm 139:21-22). Father Alexander Di Lella, one of my teachers at the Catholic University of America, was fond of quoting the Presbyterian minister and poet Thomas John Carlisle from his poem You! Jonah!:

“I hate God’s enemies
with perfect hatred!
Why can’t God do as much?”[34]

Jesus called his disciples to walk a more excellent way: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44; see also 3 Nephi 12:44; Luke 6:27). We must learn to love perfectly. That will take more than a lifetime.

Psalm 146 – Hallelujah I

Psalm 146 counsels against putting trust in mortals versus the Lord. Using the language and imagery of Genesis, the Psalmist emphasizes just how ephemeral humankind is: “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man [ben-ʾādām; human being or son of Adam], in whom there is no help [tĕšûʿâ, literally salvation]. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth [lĕʾadmātô]; in that very day his thoughts [ʿeštōnōtâw] perish” (Psalm 146:3-4).

In the Genesis account Adam (ʾādām) is taken from the ground (ʾădāmâ) and in consequence of partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, is fated to return to that same ground (Genesis 3:19). This Psalm employs a similar wordplay involving the idiom ben-ʾādām, “son of man/Adam” who inevitably returns to “his earth.” As Rendsburg notes, this wordplay works in Latin and thus English in the terms humus (“ground, soil”) and humanus (human).[35] He notes an additional alliterative wordplay on tĕšûʿâ (“salvation,” “help”) and ʿeštōnōtâw (“his thoughts”).[36]

There follows in v. 5 a “beatitude” (Latin beatus = happy): “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Isaiah 146:5). The actions that the Psalmist subsequently ascribes to the Lord match the works of the Messiah: “Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth the prisoners: the Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous” (Psalm 146:6-8). Jesus loosed the bands of those imprisoned in sin by Satan in fulfillment of Isaiah 42:7; 49:9; 61:1. Jesus opened the eyes of the blind and unstopped the ears of the deaf in fulfillment of this Psalm and Isaiah 29:18; 35:5; JST Isaiah 42:19 (see, e.g., Matthew 20:30-34; Mark 7:31-37; 10:46-52; John 9:6; 10:21; 11:37. The Lords emissaries (including apostles and missionaries) can do similar works (see D&C 84:69). Jesus fed the five thousand (Matthew 14:15-21; 16:9; Mark 6:34-44; 8:19; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-15) and the four thousand (Matthew 15:32-38; 16:10; Mark 8:1-9, 20). Jesus did all he could to heal and undo the heavy burdens of others. And, as the Psalmist further testified, the Lord’s special concern is immigrants, orphans, and widows—the most vulnerable members of society: “The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow” (Psalm 146:9).

Psalm 147 – Hallelujah II

Like the previous Psalm and those that follow, Psalm 147 begins with the command “Praise ye the Lord,” adding “for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely” (Psalm 147:1). Kselman and Barré suggest that Psalm 147 is a “communal hymn, generally dated to the postexilic era.”[37] They further suggest the evidence for this dating of the hymn is evident in Psalm 147:2: “The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.”[38] This verse seems to refer to the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the exile and a limited gathering of Israel. These words are still relevant to the Jewish community, especially those living in the Holy Land.

In Psalm 147:3, the Psalmist makes an additional attribution to the Lord of works of the Messiah: “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” In Isaiah 61:1, the prophet declared: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”

The omniscience of the Lord over his creation is evident in that “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names” (Psalm 147:4). This Psalmist’s statement is consistent with what the Lord revealed to Moses: “And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:33); “there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them” (Moses 1:35); “And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine. And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words” (Moses 1:37-38).

Psalm 147 also includes a wordplay on Jerusalem in terms of peace: “Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem [yĕrûšālaim]; praise thy God, O Zion. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee. He maketh peace [šālôm] in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat” (147:12-14). This statement is of a kind with the Isaianic prophecy in Isaiah 54 and recited by the Savior himself: “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13; 3 Nephi 22:13). The events recorded in 3 Nephi 17 help us envision what the “peace” described in this Psalm and in Isaiah’s prophecy might look like.

Psalm 148 – Hallelujah III

This hymn appears to be “a late communal hymn of praise to the Creator.”[39] The Psalmist exhorts all creation and all creatures within that creation to praise the Lord.

Jacob, who served the Nephites as temple priest, was familiar with the sentiments evident in this temple hymn, though probably not the Psalm itself. He spoke the following to the people of Nephi in the temple in the land of Nephi “And now, my brethren, I have spoken unto you concerning pride; and those of you which have afflicted your neighbor, and persecuted him because ye were proud in your hearts, of the things which God hath given you, what say ye of it? Do ye not suppose that such things are abominable unto him who created all flesh? And the one being is as precious in his sight as the other. And all flesh is of the dust; and for the selfsame end hath he created them, that they should keep his commandments and glorify him forever” (Jacob 2:20-21). There is no legitimate basis for human pride and all praise belongs to God. The purpose of our existence is to glorify him by becoming more like him through the atonement of Jesus Christ and keeping his laws (cf. Moses 1:39). Lastly, this Psalm inspired the words of St. Francis of Assisi which have come down to us in marvelous the hymn “All Creatures of Our God and King.”[40]

Psalm 149 – Hallelujah IV

The first part of this psalm (Psalm 149:1-5) calls for joy in the worship of the Lord. Contrastively, the second half of the psalm is characterized by a striking militarism (Psalm 149:6-9). Rather than a call to or sanctioning of religious violence, an eschatological (end-times or last-things) interpretation of this part of the psalm draws it together with Malachi 3–4, a set of prophecies quoted by Moroni to the prophet Joseph Smith four times on September 21-22, 1823 (see Joseph Smith—History 1:36-37) among Old Testament prophecies that would soon be fulfilled. Malachi prophesied: “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 4:1-3). There follows in the same prophecy the Lord’s preparation against the faithful being left without “root” or “branch”—“ancestors” and “descendants.” The Lord would send Elijah the prophet to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6). In the meantime, the Lord has explicitly instructed the saints thus: “Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children; and again, the hearts of the Jews unto the prophets, and the prophets unto the Jews; lest I come and smite the whole earth with a curse, and all flesh be consumed before me” (D&C 98:16-17).

Psalm 150 – Hallelujah V

The final psalm in the Psalter begins and ends again with hallelujah (“praise ye the Lord”). The imperative “Praise God in his sanctuary” enjoins the Lord’s people to praise God in the temple. The form halēlûhû (Halleluhu,” praise him!”) recurs as an anaphora over nine successive lines over five successive verses. This psalm specifies the musical instruments that are to be used. All musical instruments today have this same capacity to praise if the Lord, if used with that intent. Appropriately, the entire Psalter is punctuated with the final word hallelujah which fittingly summarizes the entire body of these texts. Indeed, if one were to distill the essence of the Psalms down to just one word, that word might have to be hallelujah.

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[1] John S. Kselman and Michael L. Barré, “Psalms,” in New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Roland E. Murphy (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990), 543.

[2] Matthew L. Bowen, “‘See That Ye Are Not Lifted Up’: The Name Zoram and Its Paronomastic Pejoration,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 19 (2016): 109–143; on the symbolism of the Zoramites’ costly apparel, see Parrish Brady and Shon Hopkin, “The Zoramites and Costly Apparel: Symbolism and Irony,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 22, no. 1 (2013): 40–53.

[3] Matthew L. Bowen, “He Knows My Affliction: The Hill Onidah as Narrative Counterpart to the Rameumptom,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-Day Saint Faith and Scholarship 34 (2020): 195–220.

[4] See Steven L. Olsen, “Abridging the Records of the Zoramite Mission: Mormon as Historian,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 52 (2022): 183-190.

[5] Eliza R. Snow, “How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” Hymns (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985), no. 195.

[6] Richard A. Lanham, A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms, 2nd ed. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1991), 11.

[7] Kselman and Barré, “Psalms,” 243.

[8] Matthew L. Bowen, “Becoming Sons and Daughters at God’s Right Hand: King Benjamin’s Rhetorical Wordplay on His Own Name,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 21, no. 2 (2012): 2–13.

[9] See, e.g., see Acts 2:33; Moroni 7:27; D&C 20:24; 76:19–24; and JST Luke 3:7.

[10] On the issue of priesthood within the book of Mormon, see Avram Shannon, “After Whose Order? Kingship and Priesthood in the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies Quarterly 60, no. 4 (2021): 75-91.

[11] Rendsburg, How the Bible Is Written, 269.

[12] John W. Welch, Chiasmus in Alma 36 (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1989). John W. Welch, “A Masterpiece: Alma 36,” in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, ed. John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1991), 114-131.

[13] See Matthew L. Bowen, “Jewish Hermeneutics in the New Testament Period,” in New Testament History, Culture, and Society: A Background to the Texts of the New Testament, ed. Lincoln H. Blumell (Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2019), 87-90.

[14] John Day, Psalms (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1992), 138-139.

[15] Rendsburg, How the Bible Is Written, 295.

[16] Rendsburg, How the Bible Is Written, 295.

[17] See Matthew L. Bowen, “Scripture Note: “Pointing Our Souls to Him,” Religious Educator 20, no. 1 (2019): 164-171.

[18] On the interrelationship of these concepts, see, Matthew L. Bowen, “Founded Upon a Rock: Doctrinal and Temple Implications of Peter’s Surnaming,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 9 (2014): 1–28.

[19] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 742.

[20] A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian, ed. Jeremy Black, Andrew George, and Nicolas Postgate; SANTAG 5 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2000), 326. Hereafter cited as CDA.

[21] CDA, 322.

[22] Gregorio Del Olmo Lete and Joaquín Sanmartín, A Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition, 3rd rev. ed. 2 vols. (Leiden, NDL: Brill, 2015), 2:742.

[23] John M. Lundquist, Temples of the Ancient World: Ritual and Symbolism, ed. Donald W. Parry (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1994), 85. Lundquist writes: ““These conceptions of Zion as a holy mountain go back ultimately to the inner-Israelite experience at Sinai. The temple of Solomon would seem ultimately to be little more than the architectural realization and the ritual enlargement of the Sinai experience.”

[24] D&C 127:5-9; 128:7-14, 24; see also D&C 85:9; cf. Moses 6:5, 46.

[25] For additional uses of the term sĕgullâ, see Ecclesiastes 2:8; 1 Chronicles 29:3.

[26] Rendsburg, How the Bible Is Written, 294.

[27] Kselman and Barré, “Psalms,” 549.

[28] Lanham (Handlist, 16) defines epistrophe as “repetition of a closing word or words at the end of several (usually successive) clauses.”

[29] Kselman and Barré, “Psalms,” 550.

[30] Rendsburg, How the Bible Is Written, 351-352.

[31] Rendsburg, How the Bible Is Written, 364-365.

[32] Kselman and Barré, “Psalms,” 550.

[33] Kselman and Barré, “Psalms,” 550.

[34] Thomas John Carlisle, You! Jonah! (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968). See jacket.

[35] Rendsburg, How the Bible Is Written, 252.

[36] Rendsburg, How the Bible Is Written, 252.

[37] Kselman and Barré, “Psalms,” 551.

[38] Kselman and Barré, “Psalms,” 551.

[39] Kselman and Barré, “Psalms,” 551.

[40] St. Francis of Assisi, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” Hymns, no. 62.


Matthew L. Bowen is an associate professor of Religious Education at Brigham Young University–Hawaii where he has taught since 2012. He holds a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where he also earned an M.A (Biblical Studies). He previously earned a B.A. in English with a minor in Classical Studies (Greek emphasis) from Brigham Young University (Provo) and subsequently pursued post-Baccalaureate studies in Semitic languages, Egyptian, and Latin there. In addition to having taught at Brigham Young University–Hawaii, he has previously taught at the Catholic University of America and at Brigham Young University. Bowen is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles on scripture- and temple-related topics as well as the recent book Name as Key-Word: Collected Essays on Onomastic Wordplay and the Temple in Mormon Scripture. With Aaron P. Schade, he is the coauthor of the newly released volume The Book of Moses: From the Ancient of Days to the Latter Days. Bowen grew up in Orem, Utah, and served a two-year mission in the California Roseville Mission. He and his wife, the former Suzanne Blattberg, are the parents of three children, Zachariah, Nathan, and Adele.

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