Open to the Psalms, the Bible is in one hand and a Hebrew dictionary in the other. The focus, to discover what is hiding beneath the printed words of the Psalms. There is richness and depth to be found, and it can only be found by digging deeper into God’s Word.
I love doing this! Digging into God’s Word and really studying what lies beneath opens my eyes to seeing God in a whole new way. Looking up the meanings of Hebrew words in the Bible adds a richness and depth that goes beyond just the printed word, and this is true with the Psalms.
For anyone who has spent time in church, you have probably heard people using the expression “Hallelujah!” It’s a common phrase whose meaning and action go hand in hand. Hallelujah is derived from two Hebrew words; Hallel and Yah. Hallel means to praise, to glorify; and Yah is the name for God. Hallelujah quite literally means “Praise Yah,” praise the Lord, or glorify the Lord. Hallel is also the name given to a group of Psalms (113-118) that have been a part of the Passover celebration for thousands of years. Interwoven throughout the Hallel is prophetic imagery centered around Messiah and the coming of a King. These songs of praise were what Jesus sang the night before His death.
Scripture tells us Jesus had come into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast. The focus of the Feast, to observe and commemorate the saving of the Israel from the hands of the Egyptians. This annual celebration takes place with a meal, known as the Seder. At different times throughout the Seder, the Hallel is sung, with Psalm 116 being recited at the end of the meal.
Hidden within Psalm 116
The meal was drawing to a close, the last cup of wine was being poured, and there, with His disciples gathered around Him, Jesus recited the words He had sung every year since He could speak.
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. (Psalm 116:13-14 NIV)
Jesus was speaking of Himself. He was singing the prophetic words about Messiah knowing He was just hours from fulfilling each one of them. But there is more to the Psalm, there is more hidden within the words. Stay with me as we uncover the deeper meanings to some of the words, and I promise, in the end you will be saying “Hallelujah, praise the Lord.”
In Hebrew, to “lift up” means to declare freedom and signifies the taking away of sin. The word “salvation” is Yeshua, the same Hebrew name given to Jesus. The word “call” means to cry out, proclaim, and to proclaim a prophetic message. “Fulfill,” is to pay debts, make restitution, be complete; and “people” means not only nation but the whole human race.
Through the singing of the Hallel, Jesus was praising His Father saying:
I, Yeshua, the Son of God will be lifted up and will take away the sins of the world. I will declare freedom for those who believe in Me. My voice will cry out to the Lord as my words and actions fulfill the prophetic message written about Me. The penalty for sin is death, but through Me restitution will be made, the debt will be paid, and it will be complete. For not only will I fulfill My vow, My promise to the Lord, but I am the Vow, the New Covenant, given not just for the nation of Israel but for the entire world.
A few verses later in Psalm 116:17, the verse says:
I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord, (NASB).
“Sacrifice” here means in the flesh slaughter (literally) and covenant sacrifice (biblically). “Thanksgiving” means the extension of the hand, or to give praise to God. Jesus fulfilled every part of this Psalm both literally and symbolically.
As His arms were stretched, extended beyond His body, nails were driven down into His hands. His body was slaughtered as a sacrifice for the payment of sin, and through this act He ushered in the New Covenant. The vow had been fulfilled. Jesus not only cried out to the Father as He was taking His last breaths, but it is through Him that we have the privilege to call upon the name of the Lord.
Hidden within the Psalms and songs of the Passover celebration was a declaration so personal, so significant, I often wonder what Jesus might have been feeling as those Psalms of praise were being uttered from His mouth that night. With the humility, calmness and joy that could only come from the One True God, Jesus was praising what was about to become of Himself.
“Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,” over and over Jesus would have sung. Hallelujah, praise the Lord.