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Book IV

Book IV is comprised of Psalms 90 through 106. Many of these psalms may be seen as answering the anguished cry of Psa. 89:49, which asks God what became of his faithful promises to David.  In Jerusalem’s fall and the death or exile of its royal family members, the Davidic covenant had apparently come to nothing. Thus, Book IV redirects our attention from the failed Davidic monarchy and covenant to Yahveh’s kingship and the Mosaic covenant. It refers to Moses a total of 7 times and to Aaron multiple times as well,  in order to take the reader back to Israel’s beginning. God was Israel’s refuge long before David became king and continues to protect Israel though the monarchy is gone. It also proclaims the blessedness of all who trust in God.

Book IV is dominated by its enthronement psalms (Psa. 93, 96, 97, 98, 99, and Psa. 94 implicitly) likely used in an annual festival celebrating God’s rule over the nations after the Israelites’ return from exile. Like Book IV as a whole, these psalms respond to Psa. 89 by calling God’s people back to their first commitment, of serving God alone as king. Interestingly, the New Testament has it both ways since Jesus reigns as both David’s greater son and God incarnate.

Why Yahveh?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and occasionally transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Modern translations, likewise, either translate or transliterate it. While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it is more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. I’ve chosen to transliterate it to root it more firmly in the biblical story as the name—meaning the “self-existent One”—that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. This name set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it in order better to hallow it. In transliterating it, I follow the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard. He advocated transliterating it as Yahveh—pronounced yah·vay—arguing that following the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish than Yahweh.
May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Robert Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.