PSALM 135 OVERVIEW.
General Remarks. This Psalm has no title. It is mainly made up of selections from other Scriptures. It has been called a mosaic, and compared to a tessellated pavement. At the outset, its first two verses ( Psalms 135:1-2 ) are taken from Psalms 134:1-3 ; while the latter part of Psalms 135:2 and the commencement of Psalms 135:3 put us in mind of Psalms 116:19 ; and Psalms 135:4 suggests Deuteronomy 7:6 . Does not Psalms 135:5 remind us of Psalms 95:3 ? As for Psalms 135:7 , it is almost identical with Jeremiah 10:13 , which may have been taken from it. The passage contained in Ps 135:13 is to be found in Exodus 3:15 , and Psalms 135:14 in Deuteronomy 32:36 . The closing verses, Ps 135:8-12, are in Psalms 136. From Psalms 135:15 to the end the strain is a repetition of Ps 115:1-18 This process of tracing the expressions to other sources might be pushed further without straining the quotations; the whole Psalm is a compound of many choice extracts, and yet it has all the continuity and freshness of an original poem. The Holy Spirit occasionally repeats himself; not because he has any lack of thoughts or words, but because it is expedient for us that we hear the same things in the same form. Yet, when our great Teacher uses repetition, it is usually with instructive variations, which deserve our careful attention.
Division. The first fourteen verses contain an exhortation to praise Jehovah for his goodness ( Psalms 135:3 ), for his electing love ( Psalms 135:4 ), his greatness ( Psalms 135:5-7 ) his judgments ( Psalms 135:8-12 ), his unchanging character ( Psalms 135:13 ), and his love towards his people. This is followed by a denunciation of idols ( Psalms 135:15-18 ), and a further exhortation to bless the name of the Lord. It is a song full of life, vigour, variety, and devotion.
Verse 1. Praise ye the LORD, or, Hallelujah. Let those who are themselves full of holy praise labour to excite the like spirit in others. It is not enough for us to praise God ourselves, we are quite unequal to such a work; let us call in all our friends and neighbours, and if they have been slack in such service, let us stir them up to it with loving exhortations. Praise ye the name of the LORD. Let his character be extolled by you, and let all that he has revealed concerning himself be the subject of your song; for this is truly his name. Specially let his holy and incommunicable name of "Jehovah" be the object of your adoration. By that name he sets forth his self existence, and his immutability; let these arouse your praises of his Godhead. Think of hint with love, admire him with heartiness, and then extol him with ardour. Do not only magnify the Lord because he is God; but study his character and his doings, and thus render intelligent, appreciative praise. Praise him, O ye servants of the Lord. If others are silent, you must not be; you must be the first to celebrate his praises. You are "servants", and this is part of your service; his "name" is named upon you, therefore celebrate his name with praises; you know what a blessed Master he is, therefore speak well of him. Those who shun his service are sure to neglect his praise; but as grace has made you his own personal servants, let your hearts make you his court musicians. Here we see the servant of the Lord arousing his fellow servants by three times calling upon them to praise. Are we, then, so slow in such a sweet employ? Or is it that when we do our utmost it is all too little for such a Lord? Both are true. We do not praise enough; we cannot praise too much. We ought to be always at it; answering to the command here given -- Praise, Praise, Praise. Let the Three-in-one have the praises of our spirit, soul, and body. For the past, the present, and the future, let us render threefold hallelujahs.
Jehovah, infinitude, immensity itself, in all things, to all things, beyond all things, everywhere, wholly, essentially, continually present: as Jehovah, constancy, immutability, eternity itself, without any variableness, or shadow of change; yesterday, today, and for ever the same. In a word, when we think of the Most High God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we should think of him as Jehovah, Unity in Trinity, Trinity in Unity, Three Persons, One Being, One Essence, One Lord, One Jehovah, blessed for ever. This is that glorious, that Almighty Being, which the Psalmist here means when he saith, "Praise ye the name of the LORD." -- William Beveridge, 1636-1708.
Verse 1. Praise him, O ye servants of the LORD. For ye will do nothing out of place by praising your Lord as servants. And if ye were to be for ever only servants, ye ought to praise the Lord; how much more ought those servants to praise the Lord who have obtained the privilege of sons? --Augustine.
Verse 1. Praise, praise, praise. When duties are thus inculcated, it notes the necessity and excellency thereof; together with our dulness and backwardness thereunto. --John Trapp.
Verse 1-2,21. Praise. To prevent any feeling of weariness which might arise from the very frequent repetition of this exhortation to praise God, it is only necessary to remember that there is no sacrifice in which he takes greater delight than in the expression of praise. Thus ( Psalms 1:14 ), "Sacrifice unto the Lord thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High;" and ( Psalms 116:12-13 ), "What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD." Particular attention is to be paid to those passages of Scripture which speak in such high terms of that worship of God which is spiritual; otherwise we may be led, in the exercise of a misguided zeal, to spend our labour upon trifles, and in this respect imitate the example of too many who have wearied themselves with ridiculous attempts to invent additions to the service of God, while they have neglected what is of all other things most important. That is the reason why the Holy Spirit so repeatedly inculcates the duty of praise. It is that we may not undervalue, or grow careless in this devotional exercise. It implies, too, an indirect censure of our tardiness in proceeding to the duty; for he would not reiterate the admonition were we ready and active in the discharge of it. --John Calvin.
Verse 1-3. As Gotthold was one day passing a tradesman's house, he heard the notes of a Psalm, with which the family were concluding their morning meal. He was deeply affected, and, with a full heart, said to himself: O my God, how pleasing to my ears is the sound of thy praise, and how comforting to my soul the thought that there are still a few who bless thee for thy goodness. Alas, the great bulk of mankind have become brutalized, and resemble the swine, which in harvest gather and fatten upon the acorns beneath the oak, but show to the tree, which bore them, no other thanks than rubbing off its bark, and tearing up the sod around it. In former times, it was the law in certain monasteries, that the chanting of the praise of God should know no interruption, and that one choir of monks should, at stated intervals, relieve another in the holy employment. To the superstition and trust in human works, of which there may have been here a mixture, we justly assign a place among the wood, hay, and stubble ( 1 Corinthians 3:12 ). At the same time it is undeniably right that thy praise should never cease; and were men to be silent, the very stones would cry out. We must begin eternal life here below, not only in our conscience, but also with our praise. Our soul ought to be like a flower, not merely receiving the gentle influence of heaven, but, in its turn, and as if in gratitude, exhaling also a sweet and pleasant perfume. It should be our desire, as it once was that of a pious man, that our hearts should melt and dissolve like incense in the fire of love, and yield the sweet fragrance of praise: or we should be like the holy martyr who professed himself willing to be consumed, if from his ashes a little flower might spring and blossom to the glory of God. We should be ready to give our very blood to fertilize the garden of the church, and render it more productive of the fruit of praise.
Well then, my God, I will praise and extol thee with heart and mouth to the utmost of my power. Oh, that without the interruptions which eating, and drinking, and sleep require, I could apply myself to this heavenly calling! Every mouthful of air which I inhale is mixed with the goodness which preserves my life; let every breath which I exhale be mingled at least with a hearty desire for thy honour and praise.
Hallelujah! Ye holy angels, ye children of men, and all ye creatures, praise the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. --Christian Scriver Gotthold, 1629-1693.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The Employment. Praise three times commended, and in three respects.
- With respect to God: not his works merely, but himself.
b) With respect to ourselves: it is pleasant and profitable.
c) With respect to others: it best recommends our religion to all who hear it. All others are religions of fear, ours of joy and praise.
- The Persons: servants in attendance at his house, who stand there by appointment, ready to hear, ready to obey.
- The Motives.
- In general. It is due to God, because he is good; and it is pleasant to us: Ps 135:3.
b) In particular. Those who are specially privileged by God should specially praise him. Psalms 135:4 . "This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise." --G. R.
Verse 1. Praise ye the LORD.
- The Lord ought to be praised.
- He ought to be praised by you.
- He ought to be praised now: let us remember his present favours.
- He ought to be praised in everything for ever.
Verse 1. Praise him, O ye servants of the LORD.
- Praise him for the privilege of serving him.
- Praise him for the power to serve him.
- Praise him for the acceptance of your service.
- Praise him as the chief part of your service.
- Praise him that others may be induced to engage in his service. --W. H. J. P.