This psalm opens with the words “praise Yah,” transliterated Alleloúia (Hallelujah) in the Septuagint. “Yah” is the abbreviated form of the divine name (YHWH), which incorporates the verb meaning “to be.” It identifies the Almighty as the ultimate source of everything that exists and that will come to be in fulfillment of his word and purpose. The name stands as a sure guarantee that he would never deviate from what he has declared or revealed he would prove himself to be.
Servants of YHWH or his devoted people are called upon to praise him. In the parallel expression, the invitation is to “praise the name of YHWH” or the Most High, the one who bears the name.
“Let the name of YHWH be blessed from now and to time without end.” The “name” or YHWH himself is deserving of praise for all ages to come.
Everywhere, from where the sun rises to where it sets, “the name of YHWH” or he himself is to be praised or lauded for the great and loving God he is.
YHWH is “high” or exalted above the nations. This suggests that they are as nothing when they choose to oppose his will. God’s glory, magnificence, or splendor is unsurpassingly great, as if reaching above the sky (literally, “heavens”).
“Who is like YHWH our God?” asked the psalmist, indicating that YHWH is beyond compare. Portrayed as seated or dwelling above the visible heavens, the Almighty is depicted as looking down far below upon the heavens and the earth.
From the very dust or the low position to which the poor have been brought down, YHWH raises them. From the refuse heap (as where Job came to be in his diseased state), YHWH lifts the needy.
He then exalts them, making it possible for them to sit with princes, the princes of his people. A historical example of such exaltation would be Joseph. He was liberated from suffering unjust imprisonment and exalted to the second highest ruling position in Egypt.
As for the barren woman, YHWH is said to give her a house, making her joyful as the mother of children. Historical examples would be Sarah, the wife of Manoah, Hannah, and the hospitable woman of Shunem in the time of Elisha. (Genesis 18:13, 14; 21:1; Judges 13:2-24; 1 Samuel 1:25-28; 2:21; 2 Kings 4:12-17) The psalm concludes, as it commenced, with “praise Yah.”
Note: For additional comments about the divine name (YHWH), see Psalm 1.
The Septuagint does not conclude with the transliterated expression for “praise Yah,” but it appears at the start of the next psalm (where it is missing in the Masoretic Text).