Psalm 149

“Let them sing happily upon their couches.” (149:5)

I remember when my children were very young and would lie in their cribs or beds late at night or early in the morning, happily babbling to themselves. They would read or recite a book, sing songs or prayers, or just make adorable noises. But all reached a stage when they could lie in their bed before falling asleep or wake up in the morning by themselves and keep themselves happy with music or words. They, and we, haven’t changed much. They still hum or sing or talk out loud, as do we all. It helps us organize ourselves, rid ourselves of anxiety, or express joy.

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Psalm 148

“He commanded and they were created.” (148:5)

What power this is, the power to express a desire and know that people will make it happen! This is a power I associate with the very rich or the very rich and powerful CEO who can afford to hire people to take care of every expressed wish. It is a god-like power, one that may seduce the user with delusions of divinity. I am far more impressed by the rich and powerful who have the humility to do things for themselves and others, than I am of seeing them pass the tasks off to their minions.

Psalm 147

“He counts the number of the stars; He names them all.” (147:4)

Dale Carnegie said, ““A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” To be able to recall a name and use it in conversation, to greet a person by name, to remember names of people we meet, are signs of caring at a deep level. Jewish tradition discourages us from counting people, thinking, perhaps, that to count them is to assign them an impersonal number rather than acknowledging their uniqueness with a name.

Psalm 146

“Put not your trust in the noble.” (146:3)

It is hard to avoid the trap of celebrity worship. There is something electric about being in the company of the influential, the powerful, and the famous. When we are in the company of politicians, actors, entertainers, or the uber-wealthy, we can be overwhelmed by the aura of their physical presence. They have talents and abilities and the power to get things done over and above that of the average mortal. Yet they also have outstanding moral faults and failures, just like every other human being. So value them for their abilities, but worship them not!

Psalm 145

“Every day I will bless You.” (145:2)

It is not enough to say ‘thank you’ once and expect that it will serve to affirm one’s gratitude for an indeterminate period of time. The world does not owe us anything; the debt goes the other way. We owe the world, and we ought to cultivate the mindset that we justify our existence when we spend our lives giving. So any time that we receive, we bless the giver in order to remind ourselves of our obligation to show gratitude for all that the Giver of life has given us.