Praise the Lord! - Psalm 135

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The aim and focus of Psalm 135 is pretty straightforward, it’s a call for the people of God to give praise to God. And yet most of us know that this is a call we all need to hear. Apart from Sunday mornings it can be easy to neglect our praise of God; and even on the Lord’s Day we can gather with hearts that are complacent or cool toward the greatness of God and the praise that He deserves. Thankfully, God has given us passages of Scripture like Psalm 135 to remind us of who He is, to awaken our hearts to see Him rightly and to encourage us to praise Him.

For those who are familiar with the Scriptures, Psalm 135 may sound familiar. That’s because much of this psalm is made up of verses and phrases that are also found in other psalms or songs of praise in the Old Testament. It seems that the writer of this psalm compiled some of the great truths about God that had already been written, or that were well known among the people of God, and brought them together to spur the people of God on to the praise of God.  

A Call to Praise (135:1-2)

  • A repeated call – The introduction and the conclusion of this psalm work together to leave no doubt about the primary aim. In the first four verses we are told four times to give praise to the Lord. And in the final verses there is the repeated call to bless the Lord.
  • A specific call – The psalm is specific both in who is to be praised and who is to be doing the praising. The object of praise is the LORD – Yahweh – the God of Israel – the One True and only God. And those who are being called to praise are His people. 

Praise the Lord, For He is Good (135:3-4)

  • The Lord is good – This is an important reality. God is good in every way. In fact, He is the source and the means of everything that is good (James 1:16-17).
  • The Lord’s goodness is shown in who He is (v. 3) – To speak of “God’s name” is to speak of who He is. His name represents His character and the whole of His being. And what the psalmist tells us is that His name is pleasant – which is a synonym for good.
  • The Lord’s goodness is shown in His sovereign election (v. 4) – The Scriptures are clear that no person is good, no not one. We are born in sin and deserving of God’s wrath. Yet out of His goodness and love God has rescued a people and set us apart for Himself (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Praise the Lord, For He is Great (135:5-14)

  • The Lord’s greatness is shown in His sovereignty over creation (vv. 6-7) – Not only did God create all things, but He also rules as the sovereign One over all things. The psalmist describes His sovereignty this way: He does whatever He pleases (Daniel 4:34-35; Job 38-41; Psalm 115:2-3; Isaiah 46:8-11). 
  • The Lord’s greatness is shown in His sovereign care of His people in the past (vv. 8-12) – In verses 8-12 we have a summary of what God did in bringing His people out of slavery and leading them into the land He had promised them. This story of deliverance and provision is an example for us of God’s sovereign care for His people.
  • The Lord’s greatness is shown in His promised and certain care of His people in the future (vv. 13-14) – In verse 13 the psalmist records some of his own praise of God and then he expresses his confidence that God will vindicate and show compassion on His people. We not only praise God for what He has done, but we should praise Him in hope of the promises that He has made (Hebrews 1:10-12; Lamentations 3:22-23).

Praise the Lord, For He is Above all Gods (135:15-18)

  • Lifeless and impotent idols (vv. 15-17) – The psalmist magnifies the reality that God is alive and powerful by contrasting Him with the idols of men who are lifeless and impotent (Isaiah 44:13-20).
  • The folly of trusting idols (v. 18) – Idols are impotent and dead, and those who trust in them can expect that they too will be left void and empty. On the other hand, there is great joy and purpose in knowing and worshipping God.

 A Concluding Call to Praise (135:19-21) 

  • A call for all of the people of God – The psalm ends as it began, with a repeated call for the worship and praise of God. And this call is one that goes out to all of the people of God. We are all called to bless the Lord, to give praise to His name. And as those who live on this side of the coming of Christ, we should praise Him still more as we consider the lengths to which He has gone in order to save us.