Psalms in Liturgy 8 - Psalm 92 A Song for the Sabbath Day

The Garden of Eden by Thomas Cole (c. 1828). (British and American, d. 1848)

By Thomas Cole - The Athenaeum: Home - info - pic, Public Domain,

0. What is the opposite of Shabbat?

Colossal Bust of Rameses II (reigned in Egypt 1279-1213 BCE), The British Museum

By Jon Bodsworth - from en.wikipedia to Commons by Innotata using CommonsHelper., Public Domain,

Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

(note: in Greek, Rameses II was known by this name)

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."



Tzaddik KaTamar - Louis Lewandowski (1821-1894) - HaZamir Festival 2015

Tzaddik kaTamar / The righteous [bloom] like a date palm... (Psalms 92:13)

"HaZamir sings Tzaddik Katamar (from Psalm 92; Mizmor Shir L'yom HaShabbat), composed by Louis Lewandowski, at the HaZamir Gala Concert in 2015, conducted by Guest Conductor Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer and Matthew Lazar, Founder & Director of the Zamir Choral Foundation Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center Soloists for this piece are Juliana Lynch of HaZamir Baltimore, Sandy Gooen of HaZamir North Jersey and Samuel Dylan Rosner of HaZamir Westchester. HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir is a program of the Zamir Choral Foundation,"

1. Our Psalm: Psalm 92

Introduction to Psalm 92

(ד) הַשִּׁיר שֶׁהָיוּ הַלְוִיִּם אוֹמְרִים בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ,

בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן הָיוּ אוֹמְרִים (תהילים כ״ד:א׳), לַה' הָאָרֶץ וּמְלוֹאָהּ תֵּבֵל וְיֹשְׁבֵי בָהּ. ....

בְּשַׁבָּת הָיוּ אוֹמְרִים (שם צב), מִזְמוֹר שִׁיר לְיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת, מִזְמוֹר שִׁיר לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא, לְיוֹם שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ שַׁבָּת מְנוּחָה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָמִים:

(4) The following is a list of each daily psalm that the Levites would recite in the Temple.

On the first day of the week they would recite the psalm beginning: “A psalm of David. The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world and all who live in it” (Psalms, chapter 24). ...

On Shabbat they would recite the psalm beginning: “A psalm, a song for Shabbat day” (Psalms, chapter 92). This is interpreted as a psalm, a song for the future, for the day that will be entirely Shabbat and rest for everlasting life.1

1for everlasting life: Or: for the Life of the Worlds (=God) - see commentary of Rabbi Ovadia of Bertinoro.

Psalm 92 in liturgy

  • Kabbalat Shabbat, Friday night
  • Additional Morning Psalms, Shabbat and Festival mornings
  • Psalm of the Day for Shabbat
  • In some traditions: Sung during the Shabbat Afternoon (Minchah) service

Our Text

(א) מִזְמ֥וֹר שִׁ֗יר לְי֣וֹם הַשַּׁבָּֽת׃ (ב) ט֗וֹב לְהֹד֥וֹת לַה' וּלְזַמֵּ֖ר לְשִׁמְךָ֣ עֶלְיֽוֹן׃ (ג) לְהַגִּ֣יד בַּבֹּ֣קֶר חַסְדֶּ֑ךָ וֶ֝אֱמ֥וּנָתְךָ֗ בַּלֵּילֽוֹת׃ (ד) עֲֽלֵי־עָ֭שׂוֹר וַעֲלֵי־נָ֑בֶל עֲלֵ֖י הִגָּי֣וֹן בְּכִנּֽוֹר׃ (ה) כִּ֤י שִׂמַּחְתַּ֣נִי ה' בְּפׇעֳלֶ֑ךָ בְּֽמַעֲשֵׂ֖י יָדֶ֣יךָ אֲרַנֵּֽן׃ (ו) מַה־גָּדְל֣וּ מַעֲשֶׂ֣יךָ ה' מְ֝אֹ֗ד עָמְק֥וּ מַחְשְׁבֹתֶֽיךָ׃ (ז) אִֽישׁ־בַּ֭עַר לֹ֣א יֵדָ֑ע וּ֝כְסִ֗יל לֹא־יָבִ֥ין אֶת־זֹֽאת׃ (ח) בִּפְרֹ֤חַ רְשָׁעִ֨ים ׀ כְּמ֥וֹ־עֵ֗שֶׂב וַ֭יָּצִיצוּ כׇּל־פֹּ֣עֲלֵי אָ֑וֶן לְהִשָּׁמְדָ֥ם עֲדֵי־עַֽד׃

(ט) וְאַתָּ֥ה מָר֗וֹם לְעֹלָ֥ם ה'׃

(י) כִּ֤י הִנֵּ֪ה אֹיְבֶ֡יךָ ׀ ה' כִּֽי־הִנֵּ֣ה אֹיְבֶ֣יךָ יֹאבֵ֑דוּ יִ֝תְפָּרְד֗וּ כׇּל־פֹּ֥עֲלֵי אָֽוֶן׃ (יא) וַתָּ֣רֶם כִּרְאֵ֣ים קַרְנִ֑י בַּ֝לֹּתִ֗י בְּשֶׁ֣מֶן רַעֲנָֽן׃ (יב) וַתַּבֵּ֥ט עֵינִ֗י בְּשׁ֫וּרָ֥י בַּקָּמִ֖ים עָלַ֥י מְרֵעִ֗ים תִּשְׁמַ֥עְנָה אׇזְנָֽי׃ (יג) צַ֭דִּיק כַּתָּמָ֣ר יִפְרָ֑ח כְּאֶ֖רֶז בַּלְּבָנ֣וֹן יִשְׂגֶּֽה׃ (יד) שְׁ֭תוּלִים בְּבֵ֣ית ה' בְּחַצְר֖וֹת אֱלֹקֵ֣ינוּ יַפְרִֽיחוּ׃ (טו) ע֭וֹד יְנוּב֣וּן בְּשֵׂיבָ֑ה דְּשֵׁנִ֖ים וְֽרַעֲנַנִּ֣ים יִהְיֽוּ׃ (טז) לְ֭הַגִּיד כִּֽי־יָשָׁ֣ר ה' צ֝וּרִ֗י וְֽלֹא־[עַוְלָ֥תָה] (עלתה) בּֽוֹ׃ {פ}

(1) A psalm. A song; for the sabbath day. (2) It is good to praise the LORD,
to sing hymns to Your name, O Most High,
(3) To proclaim (le-haggid) Your steadfast love at daybreak,
Your faithfulness each night
(4) With a ten-stringed harp,
with voice and lyre together.

(5) You have gladdened me by Your deeds, O LORD;
I shout for joy at Your handiwork.
(6) How great are Your works, O LORD,
how very subtle Your designs!
(7) A brutish man cannot know,
a fool cannot understand this:
(8) though the wicked sprout like grass,
though all evildoers blossom,
it is only that they may be destroyed forever.

(9) But You are exalted, O LORD, for all time.

(10) Surely, Your enemies, O LORD,
surely, Your enemies perish;
all evildoers are scattered.
(11) You raise my horn high like that of a wild ox;
I am soaked in freshening oil.
(12) I shall see the defeat of my watchful foes,
hear of the downfall of the wicked who beset me.
(13) The righteous bloom like a date-palm;
they thrive like a cedar in Lebanon;
(14) planted in the house of the LORD,
they flourish in the courts of our God.
(15) In old age they still produce fruit;
they are full of sap and freshness,
(16) attesting (le-haggid) that the LORD is upright,
my rock, in whom there is no wrong.

2. Commentaries

The purpose of Psalm 92 as a whole

מזמור שיר לעתיד לבא ליום שכולו שבת מנוחה לחיי העולמים
כל מזמור צ"ד [והיינו בתמיד השחר. אבל במוסף אמרו בשיר פרשת שירת האזינו, שחלקו הפרשה הזאת לו חלקים (הזיו לך) ואמרו כסדר זה בכל שבת ושבת חלק א' מהו' חלקים. ובתמיד הערביים אמרו בשבת בשיר אז ישיר משה, עד מי כמוך. ובשבת שאחריו ממי כמוך עד סוף השירה. ובשבת השלישי אז ישיר ישראל וכו' עלי באר וגו'. וכן חוזר חלילה לעולם (עי' ר"ה דל"א א') ודברי הרמב"ם בפ"ו מתמידין תמוהין]. והא דקאמר מזמור שיר לעתיד לבוא, אין ר"ל שהלוים אמרו כן רק התנא נקט הטעם שיאמרו זה המזמור. משום דבכל הנך דלעיל, בכל מזמור מפורש בו עניינו של יום, ולהכי אמרוהו ביום ההוא. אבל במזמור שיר ליום השבת, לא נזכר בהמזמור שום דבר מעניין של שבת, ויש לכאורה לתמוה למה התייחד מזמור זה ליום השבת. לכן מפרש התנא טעמו של דבר, דאינו כשיר של שאר הימים שהן כולן על העבר, רק זה שיר לעתיד לבוא. דמדהוא יום מנוחה מטרדת עסקים שבחיי הזמניים, לכן אחר היקף ימי הבריאה, נאות לו לאדם להתבונן ולשורר חסדי ה' על ג' מיני עתיד שהן לעומות מגמת פני כל אדם. והם (א) מזמור שיר לעתיד לבוא, על מה שעתיד לבוא על האדם בעה"ז, כי לא כלו רחמיו ית'. (ב) מזמור שיר ליום שכולו שבת, הוא חיי עה"ב אחר פרידת הנפש מהגוף, כי גם אז יחסה האדם בסתר כנפי רחמיו ית'. (ג) מזמור שיר גם לעתיד הג' שנועד לאדם, בעת שיהיה מנוחה לחיי העולמים, דהיינו לאחר שיחרב העולם בסוף אלף הששי, אשר אז ינוחו כל חיי העולמים כולם אלף שנה, עד שיחזור הקב"ה לבנות אח"כ העולם מחדש. וכל אלו הג' מיני תקוה לעתיד לטובה, כלולים במזמור הזה, למעיין בכל דבריו היטב. ...

Part of the Mishnah commentary Tiferet Yisrael by Rabbi Israel Lipschitz (1782-1860) of Königsberg (currently Kaliningrad).

A psalm, a song for the time to come, for a day that will be all-Sabbath, rest for the life of the worlds...

[that is,] all of Psalm 94 [in our Tanach, Psalm 92] (that is, with the daily offering of the morning...)

The fact that [the Mishnah] says 'a psalm, a song for the time to come,' does not mean that the Levites said that phrase [when singing the psalm in the Temple]. Rather, the Tanna (the Teacher of this Mishnah) explains the reason why they recited this Psalm.

In the case of the preceding (weekday psalms), the character of each day is clear in the [corresponding] psalm, which is why they recited it on that day. However, nothing in the 'psalm, song for the Sabbath day' refers to Shabbat itself, so that it appears surprising that this psalm was designated for the Sabbath day. Therefore the Teacher explains that this [psalm] is distinct from the psalms of the other days of the week, all of which refer to the past, while this psalm refers to the time to come.

Since this is a day of rest from the troublesome matters of everyday life, therefore, after [completing] the round of the days of creation, it is fitting for one to consider and to express in song the kindnesses of the Name for three aspects of the future toward which everyone aims:

  1. A psalm, a song for the time to come: That is, what is to come to a person in this world, for "His mercies, may He be blessed, never end."
  2. A psalm, a song for a day which will be all Shabbat. This is the life of the World to Come, after the soul departs the body. Even then one will take shelter under the wings of His mercy, may He be blessed.
  3. A psalm, a song for the third future that is appointed to one, at the time that will be 'rest for the life of the worlds.' After the world is destroyed at the end of the sixth millennium, all the life of the worlds will rest for a millennium, until the Holy One will rebuild the world anew.

All three of these hoped-for, positive outcomes are included in this psalm, as one can see when one looks well at all of its words. ...

(There follows a commentary on Psalm 92!)

The Sabbath Day and Adam praise God (vv. 1-2)

(ד) לָאֵל אֲשֶׁר שָׁבַת מִכָּל הַמַּעֲשים. בַּיּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי הִתְעַלָּה וְיָשַׁב עַל כִּסֵּא כְבודו. תִּפְאֶרֶת עָטָה לְיום הַמְּנוּחָה. ענֶג קָרָא לְיום הַשַּׁבָּת. זֶה שֶׁבַח שֶׁל יום הַשְּׁבִיעִי. שֶׁבּו שָׁבַת אֵל מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּו: וְיום הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְשַׁבֵּחַ וְאומֵר. מִזְמור שִׁיר לְיום הַשַּׁבָּת. טוב לְהודות לה': ...

To God who rested from all works. / On the seventh day He ascended and sat on His throne of glory. / He wrapped Himself in beauty for the day of rest. / He called the Sabbath Day 'delight.'

This is the praise of the Seventh Day, / on which God ceased all his labor. / The Seventh Day pronounces in praise: / "A psalm, a song for the Sabbath Day. 1 It is good to praise the Lord." ...

1a song for the Sabbath Day can be understood as 'a song written/recited by the Sabbath Day'

מזמור שיר ליום השבת. ...

עשירית חטא. אחת עשרה נידון. שתים עשרה נתגרש. בא ליתן לו איפופסין נכנס השבת פינהו משם ... בא יום שבת נעשה לו סניגור ואמר לפני הקב"ה רבון העולמים בששת ימי המעשה לא נענש אדם בעולם ובי אתה מתחיל זו היא קדושתי וזו היא מנוחתי.

ובשביל השבת ניצל מדינה של גהינם.

כיון שראה אדם כחה של שבת בא אדם לומר הימנון לשבת מזמור שיר ליום השבת. אמר לו השבת לי אתה אומר הימנון אני ואתה נאמר הימנון להקב"ה שנאמר טוב להודות לה'':

A psalm, a song for the Sabbath day...

In the tenth [daylight] hour [of the first Friday] he [Adam] sinned. In the eleventh he was judged. In the twelfth he was banished. [God] came to issue his sentence; the Sabbath entered and [Adam] was ushered out [of court]...

The Sabbath day came and became an advocate for Adam. It said to the Holy One, "Master of the Worlds, during the six days of creation no person (no Adam) was punished in the world. Would you start on me? Is this my holiness, is this my rest?!" It was on account of the Sabbath that Adam was saved from the punishment of Gehinnom. When Adam saw the power of Shabbat, Adam began to declare a hymn to Shabbat, "a psalm, a song for the Sabbath day." Sabbath said to him, "would you declare a hymn to me?! Let you and me sing a hymn to the Holy Blessed One, as it is written, "it is good to praise the Name."

Why is Shabbat a fitting time for praising God? (v. 2)

טוב. יום השבת טוב להודות בו לה' משאר ימי השבוע כי האדם פנוי מעסקי העולם ונשמתו נח מטרדת הגוף ומתעסקת בחכמה ובעבודת האלהים, וטוב לומר לשמך עליון כי הנשמה העליונה תמצא מקום לשבח לך שאתה עליון:

Good [It is good to praise the Name]: The Sabbath Day is better for praising the Name than the other days of the week. For one is free of the business of the world and one's spirit rests from physical troubles. The spirit occupies itself in Wisdom and the service of God. And it is good to say [praise] "to your name, O Exalted one." For the exalted soul finds an opportunity to praise You, who are Exalted.

Who are the perishable enemies? (v. 10)

Adele Berlin & Marc Zvi Brettler, Jewish Study Bible

[Verse 10 is] a reuse and revision of the material known from the Baal epic, where Baal defeats the rebellious Sea, a myth that is reflected in much of the Bible (see 8.3 n.): "Now your enemy, O Baal, Now your enemy will you smite; Now will you cut off your adversaries" (ANET, p. 131, slightly modified). In style as well as in contents the biblical verse resembles its Canaanite predecessor. Here God's enemies are not mythological creatures but human evildoers (compare v. 8).

Righteous / Trees (vv. 13-16)

Sacred Grove Island in Tori Parish, Pärnumaa, Estonia

"Based on historical data, it is estimated that there are around 2500 sacred natural sites in Estonia, the largest of them covering up to 100 hectares." (

By Auli Kütt - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Richard J. Clifford, New Oxford Annotated Bible

The righteous person is compared to a tree as in Pss 1.3; 52.8; Jer 17.8. The tree grows in the garden within the Jerusalem Temple. Ancient temples had orchards that symbolized the fertility that comes from God. The eventual flourishing of the righteous, like creation, testifies to God's power and righteousness.

R. Menachem Meiri (Ha-Meiri), Commentary

"planted in the house of the LORD, / they flourish in the courts of our God" (v. 14).

This is an allusion to the wisdoms/sciences which are the source of 'the fruit of the goodly tree.'

Review of the Psalm

Robert Alter, Writings, commentary to Psalms

It is good to acclaim the Lord (92:2). Although the language of acclaim or thanksgiving (hodot, v. 2) and hymning (zamer) immediately aligns this text with the psalms of thanksgiving, it also has a strong Wisdom coloration as an attempt to explain why the wicked seem to flourish and what is the true order of justice in the world.