Psalm 105

Psalm 105[a]

God’s Faithfulness to the Covenant

1 [b]Give thanks to the Lord, invoke his name;[c]
proclaim his deeds among the peoples.
2 Offer him honor with songs of praise;
recount all his marvelous deeds.
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts[d] of those who seek the Lord exult.
4 Reflect on the Lord and his strength;
seek his face continually.
5 Remember the marvels he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments[e] he has set forth.
6 You are the offspring of his servant Abraham,
the children of Jacob, his chosen ones.[f]
7 He is the Lord, our God;
his judgments prevail all over the earth.
8 He is mindful of his covenant[g] forever,
the promise he laid down for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant he made with Abraham
and the oath he swore to Isaac.[h]
10 [i]He established it as a decree for Jacob,
and as an everlasting covenant for Israel,
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as the portion of your heritage.”
12 [j]When they were few in number,
an insignificant group of strangers in it,
13 they wandered from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another.
14 He permitted no one to oppress them,
and in their regard he warned kings:[k]
15 “Do not touch my anointed ones;
do no harm to my prophets.”[l]
16 Then he invoked a famine on the land
and destroyed their supply of bread.
17 But he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who had been sold as a slave.
18 They shackled his feet with fetters
and clamped an iron collar around his neck,
19 until what he had prophesied was fulfilled
and the word of the Lord proved him true.
20 The king ordered that he be released;
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
21 He appointed him as master of his household
and as ruler of all his possessions.
22 He was to instruct[m] his princes as he deemed fit
and to impart wisdom to his elders.
23 Then Israel went down into Egypt;
Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.[n]
24 God greatly increased the number of his people
and made them too strong for their foes,
25 whose hearts he then turned[o] to hate his people
and to conspire against his servants.
26 He sent his servant Moses,
and Aaron whom he had chosen.
27 They performed his signs among them
and worked wonders in the land of Ham.
28 [p]He sent darkness that enveloped the land,
but they rebelled against his warnings.
29 He turned their waters into blood,
and all their fish were destroyed.
30 Their land was saturated with frogs,
even in the royal chambers.
31 At his command there came hordes of flies
and gnats throughout their country.
32 He sent them hail instead of rain,
and flashes of lightning in all their land.
33 He struck down their vines and their fig trees
and demolished the trees of their country.
34 At his word the locusts came,
as well as grasshoppers beyond all count.
35 They gobbled up every green plant in the land
and devoured the produce of the soil.
36 He struck down all the firstborn of the land,
the firstfruits of their manhood.
37 Then he led out his people with silver and gold,
and there was not one among their tribes who stumbled.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of Israel had overwhelmed them.
39 He spread a cloud over his people as a cover[q]
and a fire to give light by night.
40 At their request he supplied them with quail,
and he filled them with bread from heaven.[r]
41 He split open a rock and water gushed forth,
flowing through the wilderness like a river.[s]
42 For he remembered the sacred promise
that he had made to Abraham, his servant.
43 He led forth his people with rejoicing,
his chosen ones with exultation.[t]
44 He gave them the lands of the nations,
and they inherited the fruit of other people’s toil,
45 so that they might keep his decrees
and observe his laws.


  1. Psalm 105:1 The magnificent hymn in praise of God for creation (see Ps 104) does not suffice for believers. God is he who comes among human beings; hence, they proclaim God’s greatness in history by delivering the human race from slavery and leading it to salvation. In order to voice its joy and thanks, Israel loves to recall the events that marked the beginnings of its adventure: the promise made to Abraham and renewed to the patriarchs (vv. 8-15), the adventure of Joseph (vv. 16-23; see Gen 37–50), Moses and the plagues in Egypt (vv. 24-36; see Ex 1–13), the Exodus and the miracles in the wilderness (vv. 37-43; see Ex 14–15), and lastly the entrance into Canaan, the land promised as an inheritance (v. 44).
    Contrary to the following psalm (Ps 106), the author is silent about Israel’s sins; he wishes to sing of nothing but the action of God. The Lord has always kept his word; he has multiplied wonders for his people, and his providence has guided their steps. Now he has a right to expect them to be faithful to him (v. 45).
    This psalm becomes the song of the Church, a people chosen by God in Christ and saved by his Passover (see Eph 1). Since our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Mk 12:26), unchanged and also faithful, we can legitimately base our confidence in him on the promises and proofs he gave to our distant spiritual ancestors. Let us not forget, however, that these promises have received eminent confirmation in the life of Christ, whom God has led—through the dreadful detour of death—from this exile to the true Promised Land. This last proof constitutes the primary foundation of our enthusiasm and confidence.
    The first fifteen verses of this psalm are found again in 1 Chr 16:8-22.
  2. Psalm 105:1 These three verses can be regarded as a prelude, and they are counterbalanced by the conclusion comprising verses 44-45.
  3. Psalm 105:1 Name: see note on Ps 5:12. Proclaim his deeds among the peoples: see note on Ps 9:2.
  4. Psalm 105:3 Hearts: see note on Ps 4:8.
  5. Psalm 105:5 Judgments: see note on Ps 48:11.
  6. Psalm 105:6 Here begin the allusions to Genesis (Gen 22:17; see Isa 51:2). Children of Jacob, his chosen ones: most manuscripts read instead: “Children of Jacob, his chosen one,” which seems to fit better with the previous line.
  7. Psalm 105:8 Covenant: see Gen 15:9-21. This verse (and v. 9) are alluded to in Lk 1:72f.
  8. Psalm 105:9 The oath he swore to Isaac: another possible translation is “the oath concerning Isaac.”
  9. Psalm 105:10 These verses recall the promise (see Gen 15:18) on which rest the hopes of Israel (see Pss 47:5; 72:8; Deut 4:31, 40).
  10. Psalm 105:12 The psalmist recapitulates God’s saving acts for Israel from the making of the Covenant (see Gen 15:9-21) to its fulfillment (see Jos 21:43). In this connection, see the short summary of salvation prescribed to be said by the individual Israelite reaching the Promised Land (see Deut 26:1-11).
  11. Psalm 105:14 He warned kings: see Gen 12:11ff; 20:7; 26:7ff.
  12. Psalm 105:15 My anointed ones . . . my prophets: the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were in a sense anointed, that is, consecrated to God, and the recipients of his revelations.
  13. Psalm 105:22 Instruct: literally, “bind.” The one whose head had been shackled was now empowered to control the princes of Pharaoh as he wished and to impart wisdom to the counselors of Pharaoh, who were also delegates of the people. These elders most likely had the same function as the elders of Israel: arbitration (see Deut 22:13-19), military commands (see Jos 8:10), and counsel (see 1 Sam 4:3).
  14. Psalm 105:23 Land of Ham: i.e., Egypt.
  15. Psalm 105:25 Whose hearts he then turned: the ancients regarded every happening as coming from God, even evil (see Ex 4:21; 7:3; Jos 11:20; 2 Sam 24:1; Isa 10:5-7; 37:26f; Jer 34:22).
  16. Psalm 105:28 As in Ps 78:43-51, here also the plagues of Egypt are recalled with poetic license so that their order and number are different from Ex 7:14—12:30.
  17. Psalm 105:39 As a cover: the psalmist indicates that the cloud symbolizing God’s presence served as a protection for the people against the sun, somewhat like his shading wings (see note on Ps 17:8). Other functions of the cloud given are: to guide the people in the wilderness (see Ps 78:14; Ex 13:21; Num 9:17; Neh 9:12), to protect the people from the Egyptians as a cover of darkness (see Ex 14:19f), and to insulate them from the glorious manifestations of God’s overwhelming presence (see Ex 16:10; Num 11:25; Deut 31:15; 1 Ki 8:11).
  18. Psalm 105:40 Bread from heaven: the psalmist names it thusly because it was the immediate gift of the heavenly Father in contrast to the ordinary natural bread. See also note on Ps 78:25 and Christ’s use of this phrase in Jn 6:31.
  19. Psalm 105:41 The psalmist concludes his account of God’s saving deeds for Israel with one of the most admired of them: creating a river of water from a rock in the wilderness (see Ps 114:8; Isa 43:19f).
  20. Psalm 105:43 An allusion to the song of victory of Ex 15.

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