Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hallelujah!! - Psalm 135 (part 1)

"Praise the LORD!
Praise the name of the LORD;
praise Him, O servants of the LORD,
you who stand in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God!
Praise the LORD for the LORD is good;
sing praises to His name, for it is lovely.
For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself,
Israel for His own possession."
(Psalm 135:1-4)

Psalm 135 begins the final contextual group of psalms in God's hymnbook. The previous group (120-134) is known as the psalms of ascent. These (135ff) are the psalms of praise. Matthew Henry refers to them as the "hallelujah psalms" - I like that!

Each of these begins with a hallelujah and ends with a hallelujah and in between they are full of the reasons why we should shout hallelujah to our great God.

Henry says that hallelujah is the "alpha and omega" of each of these songs. How I pray that examining these hymns of Zion would move me to make praise the alpha and omega of my songs and of my life!

This morning I only want to focus on the first 4 verses of the first of these psalms. While I read the entire passage this morning, my meditation never got beyond these first few words. There is much to digest here and I don't want to gorge myself on this festive feast but savor it slowly and fully enjoy all the amazing flavors that it contains.

In verse 1 we are told to "praise the Lord." The psalms of ascent have given us much reason to thank the Lord - He has done great things. The psalms of hallelujah remind us that we are not only to thank God for what He has done but praise Him for who He is!!
Let us magnify the Lord!
Let us lift high His name and offer to Him the sacrifice of praise!
Praise the name of the Lord with me!

But who is to do this act of worship?

The latter half of verse 1 and the whole of verse 2 tell us who is expected to do this. "Praise Him, O servants of the Lord, you who stand in the house of our God, in the courts of the house of our God."

Children of Zion,
heirs of salvation,
my fellow Christians -
WE are to do this act of worship!!

You and I are called to cry out in joyful shouting to our God! It is the privileged duty of the people of God to praise Him and the writer of this particular anthem is about to tell us why we should. (As if we truly needed instruction in it!)

We should "praise the Lord for the Lord is good." Not only has He done good - He IS good. He alone is good. There is none like Him in heaven or on earth. His innate goodness is a reason for our shouts of adoration and for our songs of joy! Praise Him oh people, praise Him for He is good!!

We should "sing praises to His name for it is lovely." Our God is the essence of true beauty. All beauty in this created world is simply a shadow of the greater beauty of the One who formed it. Just as a glorious sunset that is painted on the evening sky causes us to pause and shake our head in amazement at its beauty, so the loveliness of our God should evoke the praise of His people. Specifically, verse 3 tells us that His name is lovely. The name of Jehovah is a beautiful name. It is a name that bespeaks power and authority and eternality and sovereign dominion. It is the name of the Lord - the great I AM. Sing praises with me to this lovely name!!

We should "praise the Lord... for the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His own possession." As if His goodness and beauty were not enough reason to worship, His remarkable kindness and amazing mercy in making us His own prized possession certainly seals the deal. Beloved (and this verse reminds us that this is our proper title), the good God with the strong and lovely name has chosen you for Himself. Christian, you are His own possession. Pause and let it sink in!!

My husband is currently preaching through 1 Peter and just last week encouraged our congregation with these glorious words from chapter 2:

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for God's own possession,
that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you
out of darkness into His marvelous light;
for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God;
you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

Is that not an incredible parallel to Psalm 135:1-4?

Oh my friends, the good and lovely God has chosen us - we who were not a people, we who were His enemies. He has chosen us to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and His prized possession!! The God who would have been perfectly just and righteous to make us objects of His wrath has made us recipients of His mercy!! Why? "That we might proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light."

Sounds like Peter understands the hallelujah psalms!!

Come! Over these next few days, come and join me in these psalms of hallelujah! Come and praise the Lord with me! Come and praise the name of the Lord with me, O you servants of the Lord. He is good. His name is lovely. He has chosen us as His own possession. Let us praise Him for who He is and for what He has done!


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