God is Great
Psalms 135: 1-21 September 27 2009
This is one of the Hallelujah-psalms; that is the title of it, and that is the Amen of it, both its Alpha and its Omega. It begins with a call to praise God, particularly a call to the "servants of the Lord” to praise him, as in the foregoing psalm (Psalms 135:1-3). It goes on to furnish us with matter for praise. God is to be praised, As the God of Jacob (Psalms 135: 4). As the God of gods (Psalms 135: 5). As the God of the whole world (Psalms 135: 6,7). As a terrible God to the enemies of Israel (Psalms 135: 8-11). As a gracious God to Israel, both in what he had done for them and what he would do (Psalms 135:12-14). As the only living God, all other gods being vanity and a lie (Psalms 135: 15-18). It concludes with another exhortation to all persons concerned to praise God (Psalms 135:19-21). In singing this psalm our hearts must be filled, as well as our mouths, with the high praises of God.
1. God to be praised for his mercy. (Psalms 135 :1-4)
Ps. 135:1 Praise the LORD. Praise the name of the LORD; praise him, you servants of the LORD, 2 you who minister in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God. 3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant. 4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession.
(Psalms135:1-21) A call to praise the Lord —the one true God: Lord of all creation, Lord over all the nations, Israel’s Redeemer. No doubt postexilic, it echoes many lines found elsewhere in the OT. It was clearly composed for the temple liturgy. For its place in the Great Hallel see note on (Psalms 120) title. Framed with “Hallelujahs” (as are also Psalms 146-150), its first and last stanzas are also calls to praise. Recital of God’s saving acts for Israel in Egypt and Canaan (Psalms 135: 8-12) makes up the middle of seven stanzas, while the remaining four constitute two pairs related to each other by theme and language (Psalms 135: 3-4, 13-14; Psalms 135:5-7, 15-18). (Psalms 135:1-2) Initial call to praise, addressed to priests and Levites (Psalms 134:1-2). (Psalms 135:1,3,13) NAME. (Psalms 5:11). (Psalms 135:3-4) A central reason for Israel to praise the Lord (Psalms 135: 13-14). (Psalms 135:3) That is pleasant. (Psalms 133:1). Or “he (the Lord) is beautiful” (Psalms 27:4). Jacob. A synonym for Israel (Gen 32:28). His treasured possession. (Ex 19:5).
The subject-matter of praise, is the blessings of grace flowing from the everlasting love of God. The name of God as a covenant God and Father in Christ, blessing us with all spiritual blessings in him, is to be loved and praised. The Lord chose a people to himself, that they might be unto him for a name and a praise. If they do not praise him for this distinguishing favour, they are the most unworthy and ungrateful of all people.
2. For his power and judgments. (Psalms135: 5-14)
Ps. 135:5 I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. 6 The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. 7 He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. 8 He struck down the firstborn of Egypt, the firstborn of men and animals. 9 He sent his signs and wonders into your midst, O Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants. 10 He struck down many nations and killed mighty kings — 11 Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan and all the kings of Canaan — 12 and he gave their land as an inheritance, an inheritance to his people Israel. 13 Your name, O LORD, endures forever, your renown, O LORD, through all generations. 14 For the LORD will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.
(Psalms 135:5-7) The Lord is great as well as good (Psalms 135: 3); he is the absolute Lord in all creation (the word about idols in Psalms 15-18; Jer 10:11-16; Psalms 115:3 and 96:5; 97:7 ). Does whatever pleases Him. The idols can do nothing (Psalms 135: 16-17); they are themselves “done” (made) by their worshipers (Psalms 135:18). Heavens. . . Earth. . . Seas. The three great domains of the visible creation, as the ancients viewed it (Gen 1:8-10 and introduction to Psalms 104). He makes Clouds . The Lord, not Baal or any other god, brings the life-giving rains (Psalms 29). Wind. (Psalms104:4; 148:8). The idols do not even have any “wind” (breath) in their mouths (Psalms 135: 17). Storehouses. (Psalms 33:7; Job 38:22). (Psalms 135:8-12) The Lord’s triumph over Egypt and over the kings whose lands became Israel’s inheritance, a concise recollection of (Ex 7-14; Nu 21:21-35; Joshua). (Psalms 135:13-14; Psalms 135:3-4). Vindicate. Uphold against all attacks by the world powers both Israel’s cause and her claim that the Lord is the only true God. Have compassion on. (Ex 34:6-7). His servants. His covenant people.
God is, and will be always, the same to his church, a gracious, faithful, wonder-working God. And his church is, and will be, the same to him, a thankful, praising people: thus his name endures for ever. He will return in ways of mercy to them, and will delight to do them good.
3. The vanity of idols. ( 135 :15-18)
Ps. 135:15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. 16 They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; 17 they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. 18 Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.
(Psalms 135:15-18) The powerlessness of the false gods and of those who trust in them (see vv. 5-7 and note; see also 115:4-8 and notes). (Psalms 135:19-21) Concluding call to praise, addressed to all who are assembled at the temple (Psalms 115:9-11; 118:2-4).
These verses arm believers against idolatry and all false worship, by showing what sort of gods the heathen worshipped. And the more deplorable the condition of the Gentile nations that worship idols, the more are we to be thankful that we know better. Let us pity, and pray for, and seek to benefit benighted heathens and deluded sinners. Let us endeavour to glorify his name, and recommend his truth, not only with our lips, but by holy lives, copying the example of Christ’s goodness and truth.
To stir up the people of God to true devotion in the worship of the true God, The more deplorable the condition of the Gentile nations that worship idols is the more are we bound to thank God that we know better. Therefore, Let us set ourselves about the acts of devotion, and employ ourselves in them: Bless the Lord, and again and again, bless the Lord. In the parallel place by way of inference from the impotency of idols, the duty thus pressed upon us is to trust in the Lord; here to bless him; by putting our trust in God we give glory to him, and those that depend upon God shall not want matter of thanksgiving to him. All persons that knew God are here called to praise him—the house of Israel (the nation in general), the house of Aaron and the house of Levi (the Lord’s ministers that attended in his sanctuary), and all others that feared the Lord, though they were not of the house of Israel. Let God have the glory of all: Blessed be the Lord. The tribute of praise arises out of Zion. All God’s works do praise him, but his saints bless him; and they need not go far to pay their tribute, for he dwells in Jerusalem, in his church, which they are members of, so that he is always nigh unto them to receive their homage. The condescensions of his grace, in dwelling with men upon the earth, call for our grateful and thankful returns, and our repeated Hallelujahs.
God Bless My Friend
Robert G O’Haver