In Psalm 105 (ESV), the Psalmist asks Israel to "remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered" (v5), where he reviewed how the LORD delivered them from Egypt and brought them to the promised land. The Psalmist therefore exhorted Israel

  • to give thanks and sing praises to the LORD (1a,2a)
  • to make known his deeds and wondrous works among the peoples (1b,2b)
  • to rejoice and seek the LORD and his strength and presence (3-4), as well as
  • to trust that the LORD remembers his covenant forever, the covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (8-11).

In the first stanza (Ps 105:1-6) the "judgments he uttered" is past tense, to evoke the factual basis for the exhortation: past works of God showing his faithfulness to the covenant so far, the reason for Israel to give thanks and to trust Him for the future.

In the second stanza (Ps 105:7-11) "his judgments are in all the earth" is present tense, to evoke actions issued from God's character to bring justice to all peoples, implicating that when other peoples persecute Israel unjustly, their God will avenge on their behalf to make things right. But the Psalmist also warns Israel to "keep his statues and observe his laws" (v. 45) because their God can also bring judgment against Israel if they break the covenant, which they later learned the hard way.

I think the general meaning of "judgment" in both verses (5 and 7) is quite clear from the context. My question is the specific meanings that the Psalmist had in mind for mishpat (the Hebrew root word used in both verses). It's clear that justice in OT is more than punishment for crime, as Tim Keller explained What is Biblical Justice (book excerpt from Generous Justice) and C.S. Lewis contrasted OT vs. modern justice in a book excerpt (from Reflections on the Psalms). There is a concern for the vulnerable, relational (righteousness), generosity aspects not usually tied with "justice" / "judgment" by the modern minds. It is very clear in later prophetic writings that God demanded Israel to act justly toward the vulnerable because their God is just. If Israel petitioned God to avenge them from inhumane treatment by their oppressors then it is fair for God to demand the same to Israel.

My question has to do with specific, present acts of judgments that God is doing (present tense) implied in verse 7. Both Christians and Jews agree that not all injustice has been avenged; this is waiting for the coming Day of Judgment. But in Psalm 105 what is prominent seems to me not the future (although not excluded either), but the present anticipation of God's acting in response to Israel's faithful execution of the Abrahamic covenant:

NLT translation:

7 He is the LORD our God. 
  His justice is seen throughout the land. 
8 He always stands by his covenant— 
  the commitment he made to a thousand generations

ESV translation:

7 He is the LORD our God; 
  his judgments are in all the earth. 
8 He remembers his covenant forever, 
  the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations

So my question is the range of possibilities of specific meanings of "judgment" in verse 7 that the Psalmist has in mind when the final version of the poem was composed (which should be earlier than when the final collection was made and committed to manuscript). The earliest date (1051 BC) is based on the chart from the Blue Letter Bible assigning the occassion to 1 Chr 16:43. A very late date is 6th century BC, based on stylistic and rhetorical analysis of Ps 105 especially comparing it to Second Isaiah (see 1979 Journal Article Style and Purpose in Psalm 105) by Richard J. Clifford, S.J..

2 Answers 2


What does "His-Judgments" (מִשְׁפָּטָֽיו) refer to in Psalm 105:7? - God's Mercy to all nations.

Tehillim / Psalms 105:7 [MT]

[7] "He is YHVH our-God; throughout all the earth [are] His-Judgements." ( הוּא יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵ֑ינוּ בְּכָל־הָ֜אָ֗רֶץ מִשְׁפָּטָֽיו )

Mishpatav (מִשְׁפָּטָֽיו) / "His-Judgements" refers to the eternal mercy offered in portion by YHVH your-God (יְהֹוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ) when conscious beings seek forgiveness after questioning the affects of their moral & immoral behavior towards others [Deuteronomy 30:1-3].

Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:1-3 [MT]

[1] "And it will be, when all these things come upon you the blessing and the curse which I have set before you that you will consider in your heart, among all the nations where YHVH your-God has banished you" (וְהָיָה֩ כִֽי־יָבֹ֨אוּ עָלֶ֜יךָ כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה הַבְּרָכָה֙ וְהַקְּלָלָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תִּי לְפָנֶ֑יךָ וַֽהֲשֵֽׁבֹתָ֙ אֶל־לְבָבֶ֔ךָ בְּכָ֨ל־הַגּוֹיִ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֧ר הִדִּיחֲךָ֛ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ שָֽׁמָּה)

[2] "And you will return to YHVH your-God with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you this day you and your children" (וְשַׁבְתָּ֞ עַד־יְהֹוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֶ֨יךָ֙ וְשָֽׁמַעְתָּ֣ בְקֹל֔וֹ כְּכֹ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־אָֽנֹכִ֥י מְצַוְּךָ֖ הַיּ֑וֹם אַתָּ֣ה וּבָנֶ֔יךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכָל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ)

[3] "then YHVH your-God will bring back your exiles, and He will have Mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where YHVH your-God had dispersed you." (וְשָׁ֨ב יְהֹוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ אֶת־שְׁבֽוּתְךָ֖ וְרִֽחֲמֶ֑ךָ וְשָׁ֗ב וְקִבֶּצְךָ֙ מִכָּל־הָ֣עַמִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֧ר הֱפִֽיצְךָ֛ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ שָֽׁמָּה)

God will always offer opportunities to reconcile differences, reconnect families, discover hidden truths, and regenerate life in His children.


Right. Mishpat justice/judgment means not only punishment for doing evil but also reward for doing good.

Psalm 105:5 New International Version

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,

This refers to the punitive judgments against the Egyptians and the gods of Egypt as well as God's pronounced positive miracles performed for the welfare of the Israelites. These events had already taken place when the psalmist wrote these words.

Psalm 105:7

He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.

Now the Psalmist generalizes God's past judgments on Egypt and applies it to the whole world. Idols and bad people everywhere will be judged and good people will be rewarded, Jews and Gentiles alike. God will pronounce positive and negative mishpat judgments on all nations and peoples. By hindsight, we see that this is fulfilled in the persons of all the major and minor prophets and ultimately in Christ.

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