Praise Him with the Fractal


Psalms 111 to 117 are the “Praise the Lord” psalms, an obvious unit due to the repetition of that phrase. Are they arranged in any order, or is there some internal logic going on? You know what I’m going to say next, don’t you?

As a unit, they follow they follow the matrix (Creation/Feasts/Dominion), which means that besides whatever structure is going on internally, each of the seven Psalms will have a theme corresponding to a single step in the constructive process of God.

111: Creation – Great Are the Lord’s Works (Sabbath)
(The Transcendence of God)

112: Division – The Righteous Will Never Be Moved (Passover)
(The Sanctified Servant of God)
The righteous endure but the wicked perish

113: Ascension – Q: Who is Like the Lord Our God? (Firstfruits)
(The Exalted Servant of God)
A: His princes are.

114: Testing – Tremble at the Presence of the Lord (Pentecost)
(Under the Law of God.)

115: Maturity – Riches, False and True (Trumpets)
(Plagues and Plunder, and the Nations)

116: Conquest – The Valley of Death (Covering)
(Atonement, the Mediator)

117: Glorification – Exhortation to Gentiles to praise God (Tabernacles)
(Covenant Succession)

The first four begin with Praise the Lord. The last three end with Praise the Lord (well, the last one actually begins and ends with the phrase).
You can see the first seven books of the Bible in there as well, most notably the references to the Book of Numbers in Psalm 114. Tomorrow, Lord willing, we’ll have a closer look at Psalm 111.

Share Button

2 Responses to “Praise Him with the Fractal”

  • Victor Says:

    Great post, Mike! The sevenfold pattern is especially clear in this set of seven chapters.

    Psalm 111 is very emphatic on the Creation theme, more than the other six. Then Psalm 112 marks the division between the wicked and the righteous.

    Psalm 113 and “Ascension” have everything to do with each other – verse 7 explicitly says that God ‘raises up’ and ‘lifts’ the poor and needy.

    The association between Psalm 114 and Numbers is very clear. Plus there is yet another subpattern in the chapter. It alludes to both the division of the Red Sea (Book 2) and the Jordan River (Book 6). Well, 2 and 6 are chiastically centered around 4! Now that’s elegance. And this “centering around” is reiterated within the chapter itself, because the Red Sea and the Jordan are mentioned together in verses 3 and 5, which are themselves symmetrically arranged around the number 4! The text is divided just like the waters were divided.

    Psalm 115 hammers the theme of “blessing,” and the first blessing took place on Day 5.

    Psalm 116 picks up on the subject of death and resurrection, and contains liturgical references to the “cup of salvation” and “sacrifices”. And of course Psalm 117 links to Booths for its call that the Gentiles praise God.

    Note that Steps 1 and 2 are alphabetic since Psalms 111 and 112 are acrostic chapters. But we know that Letters 1 and 2 are Aleph and Bet, and these two letter names, when read together, spell Aleph-bet, that is, the Alphabet! So the first two steps of the pattern are self-descriptive!

    Now the distribution of the Hallelujahs. The FIRST three BEGIN with Hallelujah. Then the next three END with Hallelujah (at least in the Septuagint text). Then the Seventh begins AND ends with “Praise the Lord”.

    This is a 3 + 3 + 1 pattern, reflecting the seven days of creation: 3 days of forming, 3 days of filling and 1 set apart for rest.

    Praise Him Who inspired such beauty!

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Thanks Victor! You are doing all my work for me! Yes, going with the LXX makes more sense. And I’m glad I’m not the only one seeing these things.