Aside from Ashrei, this mizmor is preeminent amongst those we have studied prior to this point. The Ibn Ezra writes that it is “nichbad m’od (very distinguished)” and contains deep secrets.
It also has priority in halachah. The Shulchan Aruch in Orach Chayim siman 52 discusses priorities for one who came late to shul and will not be able to reach Shemoneh Esrei at the same time as the minyan. Since tefilah b’tzibur (davening with a minyan) really means davening Shemoneh Esrei specifically with the minyan, one is instructed to skip parts of P’sukei D’Zimrah if need be, in order to arrive at Shemoneh Esrei together with the minyan. Baruch SheAmar, Ashrei, and Yishtabach are the minimum. If there is more time, then he adds this mizmor and the last Hallelukah. We therefore again see that it’s a priority over the other Hallelukos. Rashi in the Gemara (Shabbos 118b) also indicates the preeminence of this mizmor.
It is well beyond this writer’s scope and qualifications to delve into the writings of most of the earlier commentators who explore the deeper understandings of this mizmor. We will therefore present a general overview of the structure of this mizmor, in order to provide greater understanding and meaning to what we are saying and why this mizmor is highlighted by Rashi and others in its importance.
Several commentators understand this mizmor as stating that we human beings are, in a sense, “commanding” the upper celestial beings and lower terrestrial beings to praise Hashem. HaRav Avraham Grodzinski zt”l (in his Toras Avraham) explains that, aside from the continuation from previous mizmorim, which express praise and thanks to Hashem, this one adds the unique component of “gadlus ha’adam,” the greatness of man.
We are the “conductors” of the orchestra of all of Hashem’s creations unifying in praising Hashem, conducting the symphony and harmony of the “world orchestra.” We “command” the upper and lower worlds to praise Hashem. The entire world was created by Hashem for our benefit, and we were given the charge to elevate the world and utilize everything in it to serve Hashem. All of the creations wait for us to instruct them to praise Hashem. This is what we are doing in this mizmor. Together, all creations of Hashem praise Him under the leadership of man.
The Y’sod V’Shoresh HaAvodah (by Rav Alexander Ziskind) writes that one should recite this mizmor with greater fervor because, according to Rashi, this mizmor is “ikar P’sukei D’Zimrah” – the primary part of the P’sukei D’Zimrah – and because it contains allusions to great hidden secrets, which are discussed in the Zohar and by the Arizal.
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