Today and tomorrow we wrap up our three weeks of readings and writings on the category of Psalms that we call “Praise Psalms.”
In the winter of early 2013 at Tri-State Fellowship, we did a series of sermons and writings on the Book of Deuteronomy – called “Revive.” I admit that I had some reservations about how that would go over with the congregation. It went well. But I mention it to say that it has struck me over and over how foundational that book is to understanding so much else that is written in the Scriptures. And we will see that again today.
This is again a song of praise to be sung by God’s own special people – those in covenant relationship with him, as it says today in verse 4 of Psalm 135: “For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession.”
In this Psalm at the beginning and end, the religious leadership in Israel is particularly called upon to set the example in singing God’s praise that rehearses His faithfulness to His people. In verses 1 and 2 – “…praise him, you servants of the Lord, 2 you who minister in the house of the Lord…” And then again in verse 19 the writer calls out specifically to the households of Aaron and Levi – the priestly order in Israel – to worship the Lord.
As we see in so many Psalms, the creation is written about as completely under the control of the Lord – again speaking of it as small relative to God. In an earlier Psalm, we saw where the seas were spoken of as contained in jars, and here the wind is presented as coming from a storehouse where God keeps it until he wants to use it.
And also again, as in so much of what we have read and written about in the past week, the history of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt is remembered as praiseworthy – the signs and wonders performed by Moses, most especially the final curse of the death angel striking down the firstborn throughout the land.
It was one thing to be released from Egypt, yet quite another to take and sustain several million people on a journey through barren wilderness areas and hostile nations to enter an inhabited Promised Land filled with giant Canaanites. Two of the biggest, baddest, worstest guys are mentioned in this Psalm in verses 10 to 12, “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.”
And finally, a God who did all of this is so praiseworthy relative to the dumb gods the peoples and nations around Israel worshipped. They were nothing but gold and silver who could not hear or speak or do anything worthwhile – and their followers were no different.
Think about what the masses of the people of our world worship – materials things, power, pleasure, etc. Can these “gods” control the forces of nature, affect the flow of history, or help anyone in the time of great personal need? In the final analysis, it makes great sense to worship and trust in God; so sing his praises.
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.
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 people and animals.
9 He sent his signs and wonders into your midst, 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, Lord, endures forever, your renown, Lord, through all generations.
14 For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.
15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by human hands.
16 They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but 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.
19 All you Israelites, praise the Lord; house of Aaron, praise the Lord; 20 house of Levi, praise the Lord; you who fear him, praise the Lord.
21 Praise be to the Lord from Zion, to him who dwells in Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.