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Sunday, February 5, 2017 pm                                                    Psalms Index

 

STUDIES IN PSALMS
Out of Zion, Bless the LORD
Psalm 135

 

We have concluded our study of the psalms of ascents.  But, here is another psalm with a similar tone that calls for us to both bless the LORD and to praise Him.  We could call it one of the “hallelujah psalms” as it begins and concludes with that phrase.  It could very easily fit the call to worship God as this psalm acknowledges His greatness in various ways. 

There is nothing new in this psalm.  In fact, it has been noted that virtually every verse can be found in other portions of the Old Testament (including the law, psalms and prophets).  It weaves these together giving us a good picture about God.  And in this we see wisdom as to how we can handle the word of God in our thoughts and recall. 

Coffman in his introduction to this psalm notes that God is presented as: 1) God of Jacob, 2) God of gods, 3) God of all creation, 4) God over Israel’s enemies, 5) God of gracious love for His people and 6) God who lives in contrast with idols.   

Let us notice this psalm. 

 I.                     Hallelujah (1-14)

a.       Praise the LORD – as we have noted the expression “hallelujah” is a Hebrew transliteration of the phrase, “praise you YHWH”.  We have emphasized this throughout our studies. 
We certainly need to speak well of Him.   

“Praise the name of the LORD” – also we have emphasized our need to praise His name.  And it bears repeating what is involve in this.  It means that when we think of Him, however He is described (and He is described with many terms), we do so with honor and dignity. 
Be reminded that the name of the LORD is not something to be used loosely (including the term hallelujah, knowing its meaning).  Exodus 20:7 – one of the 10 commandments. 
We are continually warned against blasphemy in scripture as well -
Many today use His name loosely, without thinking about it – euphemisms, saying, “O my God”, or even worse using Him name in profanities. 
Others speaks of Him hatefully or mockingly because they despise Him and His followers.
In our psalm this was a call to the servants of the LORD – primarily, the writer probably had His priests and the Levites in mind, but more than that all Israel was to respect Him. 
Recall this morning, we are NOW the priesthood of God – 1 Peter 2:5,9.  Let us praise Him and praise His name truthfully.

b.       The LORD is good – because we are His chosen (3-4).  The psalmist addresses how He chose Jacob.  Israel as His special treasure – there is an understanding of His goodness by reflection as this is written. 
His word is good – Hebrews 6:5, Romans 12:2 – His will is good and acceptable and perfect
We are reminded of His goodness – Romans 2:4, 2 Thessalonians 1:11 – Paul’s prayer that He fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness for us.   Let us understand that God DOES know what is best. 
His ways are better than ours. 
Finally, heed the warning of Romans 11:22 – consider the goodness and severity of God.

c.        He is a God above all gods (5) - none can compare to Him.  In fact, He is the only God!
Deuteronomy 10:17 – He is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality not takes a bribe. 
This also is an acknowledgement of the ten commandments – Exodus 20:3.
He will elaborate on this more as this psalm continues. 

d.       He does as He pleases (6-7) – God is sovereign.  Why does He do what He wants?  Because He IS God.  He created all things.   Job 42:2 as Job repents before God the first thing he says is, “I know that You can do everything.  And that no purpose of yours can be withheld from You. 
Isaiah 46:10 in a passage indicting idolatry He declares this noting, Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’

In our text, examples are given of how He controls nature.  In mythology, typically there were multiple gods who ruled various portions of the world or universe.  But YHWH rules the whole – He controls it all from sea to sky to land.  
Understanding who He is, gives us cause to trust Him and thank Him for what we have.
NOTE:  IN this psalm we see that He is not selfish, but knows what is best. 
What pleases Him?  NOT the death of the wicked – Ezekiel 33:11, But sending Jesus to die for our sins – Isaiah 53:10, 1 Corinthians 1:21 – to preach His message of salvation, Ephesians 1:5 to adopt us as His children, etc. 

e.       He has manifested His greatness (8-12) – recalling the history of Israel. 
A handful of events mentioned – from Egypt through the conquest of Canaan.  
He delivered Israel from Egypt by defeating Pharaoh.  He defeated Bashan and Og in the wilderness headed toward Canaan.  Israel overthrew the kings of Canaan as well to inherit their land.  This became a heritage (inheritance) for Israel His people.
At times, we need to step back and consider what He has done.

f.         His name and fame (remembrance) will endure forever (13) – We have already noted how we ought to honor His name.  This verse and psalm reminds us of why.  Here it is note that His name and fame (remembrance) endures forever.  Man has tried to destroy and discredit Him.  He has tried to destroy His word and every reminder of Him.  But what He has done is forever preserved and will always be around.   And the results of His power CANNOT be denied! 

g.       He will judge His people and have compassion on His servants (14) – here is the confidence, the FAITH of His followers, as we consider these things – He can govern His people with compassion for His servants – those who follow Him. 

 II.                   Other gods (15-18)

a.       The idols of other nations are the works of men’s hands (15).  First, let us notice this is very similar to Psalm 115:4-8.    And it notes that mankind has always sought to worship something greater than himself (I wonder where that thought process came from – evolution can’t explain it anymore than it can explain the eternity of matter).  Furthermore, we find that when man creates idols he does so in forms he can relate to which is what Paul explained in Romans 1:20-23. Vs. 25 notes in this that he worshipped the creature rather than the creator.
Look at the gods of antiquity and you see this to be true!

b.       They are formed but they are powerless. (16-17)  They have body parts, but they are useless in doing what the body can do.   Giving your idol hands will not give it the ability to pick things up or work, etc.
Isaiah challenged Israel and Judah with the foolishness of Idolatry often.   Consider Isaiah 40:18-20 which speaks of the workman molding idols that cannot even hold themselves up.
Isaiah 44:9-20 again describes this attribute. 

c.        What is the result?  Note vs. 18 - Those who make them are like them.  To the one TRUE God they are as useless and are powerless against Him.

d.       NOTE: What about idols today?  Idols back then were obvious.  And while there are still some in our midst who create statutes to their gods, often ours are a little subtler – the things we own, our prideful attitudes we refuse to let go of, etc.  Then there are the mindsets and worldviews that reject God and His word – modernism, naturalism, worshipping nature, pantheism (God is everything), humanism, etc.   But just like the idols of Canaan around Israel, these are useless and cannot save us.  They are powerless to give us standing before our one and true God. 

 III.                 Bless the LORD (19-21)

a.       Bless the LORD - Finally, we have the call to bless the LORD.  Mentioned 5 times in these 3 verses.

b.       In our last psalm we addressed blessing God.  We noted that while He blesses us (bestows favor on us, looks upon us well), we ought to bless Him and His name (speak well of Him, seek to glorify Him in conduct, reverence Him in our thoughts, attitudes and actions, proclaim Him to others, praise Him both privately and publicly, be thankful to Him, etc.).

c.        O house of Israel, O house of Aaron (the priesthood), O house of Levi (those who ministered) and finally, you who fear Him, bless the LORD – all who turn to Him ought to bless Him. 

d.       Let Him be blessed out of Zion – the place where He dwells.  Recall our understanding of Zion – the place where God meets with His people.  In the case Israel, to whom the psalms were originally addressed, it was Jerusalem.  As we have seen, by His decree that is where His name was to come from.  May we seek to bless Him where He is, which obviously includes submitting to His will in what we do.  For example:  Let the church be HIS church!  Let worship be HIS way! Etc.

e.       Hallelujah

 

And thus we see another psalm of praise to God.  May we in studying such poetry more greatly appreciate who our Creator is and may we without reservation surrender to Him.  Do not be like the idolaters whose hope and power is as great as the pieces of wood and metal they bow before.  Bless the LORD and He will bless you.  Think about it!