Verse 5. For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. The greatness of God is as much a reason for adoration as his goodness, when we are once reconciled to him. God is great positively great comparatively, and great superlatively -- "above all gods." Of this the Psalmist had an assured personal persuasion. He says positively, "I know." It is knowledge worth possessing. He knew by observation, inspiration, and realization; he was no agnostic, he was certain and clear upon the matter. He not only knows the greatness of Jehovah, but that as the Adonai, or Ruler, "our Lord" is infinitely superior to all the imaginary deities of the heathen, and to all great ones besides.
"Let princes hear, let angels know,
How mean their natures seem;
Those gods on high, and gods below,
When once compared with him."
Many have thought to worship Jehovah, and other gods with him; but this holy man tolerated no such notion. Others have thought to combine their religion with obedience to the unrighteous laws of tyrannical princes; this, also, the sweet singer of Israel denounced; for he regarded the living God as altogether above all men, who as magistrates and princes have been called gods. Observe here the fourth of the five "fors." Psalms 135:3-5 Psalms 135:14 contain reasons for praise, each set forth with "for." A fruitful meditation might be suggested by this.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 5. For I know. The word "I" is made emphatic in the original. Whatever may be the case with others, I have had personal and precious experience of the greatness of Jehovah's power, and of his infinite supremacy above all other gods. The author of the Psalm may either speak for all Israel as a unit, or he may have framed his song so that every worshipper might say this for himself as his own testimony. --Henry Cowles.
Verse 5. For I know that the LORD is great, etc. On what a firm foundation does the Psalmist plant his foot -- "I know!" One loves to hear men of God speaking in this calm, undoubting, and assured confidence, whether it be of the Lord's goodness or of the Lord's greatness. You may perhaps say, that it required no great stretch of faith or knowledge, or any amount of bravery, to declare that God was great; but I think that not many wise nor mighty had in the Psalmist's days attained unto his knowledge or made his confession, that Jehovah, the God of Israel, was "above all gods." Baal and Chemosh, and Milcom and Dagon, claimed the fealty of the nations round about; and David, in the Court of Achish, would have found his declaration as unwelcome, as it would have been rejected as untrue. Moses once carried a message from Jehovah to the king of Egypt, and his reply was, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? I know not the Lord;" and even of Jehovah's peculiar treasure, all were not Israel that were of Israel.
There is a knowledge that plays round the head, like lightning on a mountain's summit, that leaves no trace behind; and there is a knowledge that, like the fertilizing stream, penetrates into the very recesses of the heart, and issues forth in all the fruits of holiness, of love, and peace, and joy for evermore. --Barton Bouchier.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 5. I know that the LORD is great.
- By observing nature and providence.
- By reading his word.
- By my own conversion, comfort, and regeneration.
- By my after experience.
- By my overpowering communion with him.
Verse 5. Delicious dogmatism. "I know", etc.
- What I know.
- The Lord,
- That he is great.
- That he is above all.
- Why I know it.
- Because he is "our Lord."
- By his operations in nature, providence, and grace ( Psalms 135:6-13 ).
- My incorrigible obstinacy in this regard is proof against worshippers of all other gods: which gods are effeminate; without sovereignty; no god, or any god. --W. B. H.