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An egalitarian Conservative congregation serving the diverse Orange County Jewish Community

Psalm 138

“For high above is Adonai, yet the lowly God sees.” The Psalmist of 138 is apparently among those lowly and “on the day that I called, You answered me.” This Psalm of acclaim moves from God’s heights to earthly kings who “will sing of the ways of Adonai.”

As is the nature of poetry, there is an ambiguity of a phrase, “and the lofty from a distance [God] knows,” which can be read neutrally or as divine distancing from the arrogant. It could also be translated as “and the Lofty from a distance knows.” But, Professor Robert Alter points out that although God is situated in the heavens, God is not called “Lofty.” For God identifies with the lowly, which is why the Creator is worthy of praise and emulation by all who dwell on earth.

Please join me for a close reading of the eight verses of Psalm 138.

This morning’s study is dedicated to Luis Garcia with gratitude for his aid in posting Psalms and in celebration of his completion of his engineering degree.