Psalm 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. (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 Pharoah 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. NIV
Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. In Hebrew, Hallelu Yah.
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.Matthew Henry, English minister, 1662-1714
Psalm 135 is a beautiful compilation of many texts already in the Old Testament. And here are few of its titles from different Bible translations- Your Name, O LORD, Endures Forever (ESV); Praise to God in Creation and Redemption (NKJV); Praise the LORD’s Wonderful Works. Vanity of Idols. (NASB); and simply, God Saves, Idols Do Not. (ICB).
[Psalm 135] is mainly made up of selections from other Scriptures. It has been called a mosaic and compared to a tessellated pavement.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD! Praise him, you who serve the LORD, you who serve in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God. Psalm 135:1-2 NLT
Interestingly, Psalm 135:1-2 is similar to the previous psalm (Psalm 134:1-3) where we saw an end to the fifteen psalms collectively called The Song of Ascents. Jewish pilgrims had celebrated with family and worshiped God with their festivals and their gifts and were now heading home. The first three verses of Psalm 134 were a last call back to the temple in excitement and joy as they turn their backs on the Holy City and make their way home. Again- Praise the Lord!
The call is to praise the Lord from the temple. Those who serve the Lord, be glad and praise Him. Those who live within the courts of the God’s house, praise Him. Such a great reminder for us to encourage, pray for, and support our pastors, their wives and children, and all religious leaders. Most especially those in our lives. Many of us already pray for our pastors and their families, but let’s also tell them. Let’s praise the Lord with them.
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; celebrate his lovely name with music. For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel for his special treasure. Psalm 135:3-4 NLT
Why should we praise the Lord? Because He is good and lovely, and we are His chosen treasure. God loves us, and we love Him. Other translations say, because He is gracious (RSV); for it is delightful (HCSB); for it is pleasant (ESV); and because He is kind (GNBDC).
A reminder that Jacob and Israel are the same person. Jacob was the son of Isaac (grandson of Abraham). God changed his name to Israel, and he had twelve sons, “the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Genesis 35:9-10, Genesis 35:23-26) God often refers to Jacob as Israel, and He also refers to Jacob’s family line as the Israelites.
I know the greatness of the LORD- that our Lord is greater than any other god. The LORD does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths. He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses. He destroyed the firstborn in each Egyptian home, both people and animals. He performed miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt against Pharoah and all his people. He struck down great nations and slaughtered mighty kings- Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan, and all the kings of Canaan. He gave their land as an inheritance, a special possession to his people Israel. Psalm 135:5-12 NLT
The stories of Sihon and Og (both kings of the Amorites during Moses’s time) are found in Numbers 21:21-35. Canaan is the land that God promised the Israelites, the Promised Land. After wandering in the wilderness for forty years, the people finally crossed into the land God promised to Abraham (Genesis 17:3-8). Today, the ancient land of Canaan is believed to include Lebanon, parts of southern Syria, and Israel.
The Lord is great. He is above all things for all things were created by Him. He does what pleases Him. He causes the sun to rise and set. He brings the rain, and He calms the storm. But what we always must remember is that all He does is good and for His glory.
God is always good.
Even when bad things happen, God is good.
As my family mourns the loss of a young friend this week, this is real to us. Is God good? If so, why do these bad things happen, especially to His children?
In Psalm 135, the psalmist lists ways that God enacted His justice upon Egypt and Pharoah, upon Og and Sihon and the kings of Canaan. But even in those cases, when God served justice due, there were innocent lives in the way. The first-born children and the animals of Egypt, and certainly war always causes innocents to suffer, for example.
It is with these questions and with the loss of our young friend that we must walk in faith. We must trust God. His promises are true. And He is always, always good. Even Jesus said this, knowing the suffering He would face. The suffering that His Father would allow, Jesus still claimed God’s goodness.
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good- except God alone. Luke 18:19 NIV
Why would Jesus not consider Himself good? Jesus was so good when He walked this earth. It’s hard to understand.
So, when we don’t understand, we walk in faith. When the tornado comes or the earthquake or war or the loss of someone so young, we just say it out loud: God is good all the time.
He is not only “good” when He stops bad things from happening. Although, He does this more than we even know. But He is always good. He is always good because He is there. He is there in the storm. He is there through the storm. He is even there after the storm has past and a new life must be forged.
His hand of goodness is upon us all of the time, even through death and grief.
For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100:5 NLT
The Lord is good. Always. We just keep saying it.
The idols of the nations are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, and mouths but cannot breathe. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them. Psalm 135:15-18 NLT
These four verses are repeated from Psalm 115:4-8. In ancient days and even now, there are people worship actual idols made by human hands. Objects made by the hands of man that cannot respond, that do not see, that do not understand, do not breathe, have never walked the earth. And yet, people put their trust and worship into them. They look to them for protection, for comfort, and peace.
Likewise, we create objects for ourselves. Things that we put our faith in, our trust in. Things we worship and put above God in our hearts.
Whatever these things are, they will never be what we need.
I love these verses because we are reminded that while an idol made by man does not see, speak, hear, breathe, or understand, but God does.
God sees us. God hears us. God speaks to us. God is trustworthy. He is real and present and faithful. He is alive.
So because of this great news Psalm 135 comes to a beautiful conclusion:
Family of Israel, bless God! Family of Aaron, bless God! Family of Levi, bless God! You who fear God, bless God! Oh, blessed be God of Zion, First Citizen of Jerusalem! Hallelujah! Psalm 135:19-21 MSG
Father in heaven, thank you. When our hearts are broken, we thank you that you see us, and you know us. You walk with us through the storms of life, and you see us to the other side. You are always good. And all you do is good and for your glory. When times are hard, help us to keep our eyes on you. Amen.