1 Of David. I praise You with all my heart, sing a hymn to You before the divine beings;
l’-da-VID o-d’-KHA v’-khol li-BEE NE-ged e-lo-HEEM a-za-m’-RE-ka
א לְדָוִד אוֹדְךָ בְכָל־לִבִּי נֶגֶד אֱלֹהִים אֲזַמְּרֶךָּ׃
138:1 Sing a hymn to You before the divine beings
King David begins this psalm by declaring that he will sing praises to Hashem “before the divine beings.” The commentators wonder to which divine beings, in Hebrew elohim (אלהים), the verse refers? Often, the term Elohim refers to God, but in this context many medieval commentators, such as Rashi and Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, translate elohim as ‘ministers’ or ‘judges’. According to this understanding, David is praising Hashem in the presence of the ministers. Other interpretations say that it refers to prophets. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, on the other hand, understands the word elohim as a reference to false gods. According to Hirsch, David is juxtaposing God’s true, virtuous acts with the false, inauthentic gods of the surrounding nations.