Find your way to Psalm 135. Starting in verse one it says:
Psalm 135.1-21 – Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord! Praise him, you who serve the Lord, you who serve in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; celebrate his lovely name with music.
For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel for his own special treasure.
I know the greatness of the Lord— that our Lord is greater than any other god.
The Lord does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths.
He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.
He destroyed the firstborn in each Egyptian home, both people and animals.
He performed miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt against Pharaoh and all his people.
He struck down great nations and slaughtered mighty kings— Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan, and all the kings of Canaan.
He gave their land as an inheritance, a special possession to his people Israel.
Your name, O Lord, endures forever; your fame, O Lord, is known to every generation.
For the Lord will give justice to his people and have compassion on his servants.
The idols of the nations are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands.
They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.
O Israel, praise the Lord! O priests—descendants of Aaron—praise the Lord! O Levites, praise the Lord! All you who fear the Lord, praise the Lord!
The Lord be praised from Zion, for he lives here in Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!
On first glance, we get the sense that this song was written by a very excited person who was amped up about praising the Lord.
Spurgeon points out that this Psalm has no title. There are no instructions before the lyrics. And interestingly, almost the entire Psalm is cut and pasted from other parts of the Old Testament.
“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.”
Reading these verses you can definitely feel the urgency in the writing. You almost get a picture of someone running through Jerusalem interrupting people, telling them that they’ve got to start worshipping God right then and there because of how great and awesome the Lord is.
It reads sort of like a 5 star review. I like reviews, whether it’s a business review on Yelp or a product review on Amazon. Reviews are helpful because they help you know whether you’re going to be satisfied with the product you’re thinking about purchasing.
Right now the go-to source for movie reviews is RottenTomatoes.com. They’re built into a lot of apps and online video stores. Currently, the highest scoring movie of all time according to Rotten Tomatoes is…any guesses?…Toy Story 2.
Wen you look at the Psalms you find that a big part of worship is to thoughtfully review who God is and what He’s done. Not because worship is for our benefit. It’s not. A product review on Amazon is something I read solely for my own benefit. But our review of God in our praise is not the same. Our praise is something that is rightfully owed to God. So, it’s a mistake if we ever start thinking that our enjoyment is the purpose of congregational worship.
However, as is the case in all the other areas of our walk with the Lord, as we submit to God and offer our lives and our worship to Him, He is then able and faithful to bless us. As we proclaim God’s greatness and thoughtfully review all that He is, we will be impacted and blessed as a byproduct. We’ll become more and more excited as we realize what has been done for us. And that excitement grows and expands and multiplies, leading to more worship and more service and more devotion to the Lord.
So, as seen in this Psalm, praise is urgent. It’s something we’re commanded to do. It’s something that the Lord is worthy of. But it also spiritually benefits us. Because when we worship God, for a few moments everything can stop. All the concerns and struggles and temptations and discouragements can be put on hold because God is outside time and space. And, really, when we allow ourselves to not be distracted and really bring an offering of praise to the Lord, meditating on His power and His nature, doesn’t it seem sometimes as if the world has stood still for a few moments? As we sing of the Lord’s greatness and faithfulness we get calibrated and comforted and connected with a God who is high above and in control and seeking to reveal more of Himself to us.
Which is all the more reason why we should do it often as we can! So, let’s look at this Psalm and review the greatness of God and His dealings with us.
It begins in verse 1 and says:
Psalm 135.1-3 – Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord! Praise him, you who serve the Lord, you who serve in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; celebrate his lovely name with music.
As believers, let’s try to find more ways to really celebrate God.
You know, we celebrate holidays and birthdays and anniversaries, most often with some sort of special meal. God gave us a special meal to remember our salvation, we call it communion or the Lord’s Supper and we’re going to share in it tonight, but I think it would benefit us greatly if we each found ways to really celebrate God more and more in our personal lives. In real, tangible ways. Maybe that means giving something extra to a mission’s ministry just for the fun of it, or maybe it means having a special meal with your family and reading Scripture and throwing a little party. That will probably work out differently for different people, but here we’re encouraged to celebrate the Lord’s goodness and His lovely name. Not just philosophically, but actively.
We should celebrate God’s great affection for us as well. Look at verse 4:
Psalm 135.4 – For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel for his own special treasure.
This verse highlights for us the fact that we are a special treasure in God’s eyes. Not just collectively, but also personally. You are a special treasure to God. The Bible says so. You are the pearl of great price! The thing He gave all for.
And the Lord has chosen you for a specific calling and place in His will here on the earth. Sometimes we see that word ‘chosen’ and can get a little nervous. Rather than always think about the theological debates that surround election, that word would serve us better if it reminded us of what God wants to do with your life as a Christian between now and eternity.
If you’re a Christian, the Bible says that God has a special path that He’s carved out for you. He has special gifts that He gives out personally. He has special, unique opportunities for ministry and service that He has prepared just for you! He has a plan and a purpose for your life. It’s not cookie cutter, it’s hand crafted. And He’s tapped you on the shoulder and said, “I’ve chosen you for this life. These gifts. These opportunities. These victories. These fields, white with harvest, if you want to come and be a part of Me.” Because you are a special, chosen treasure in God’s hands.
Psalm 135.5-7 – I know the greatness of the Lord— that our Lord is greater than any other god. The Lord does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths. He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.
The Lord is great and He bends time and space and nature to do whatever He pleases.
So what does He do with all of that power?
Well, Luke 12 says it pleases God to give you the Kingdom. It pleases God to bear fruit in your life. It pleases Him to cover us with His mercy and grace and to give us His peace and His joy. It pleases Him to use His power to complete the good work that He began in your life.
And, on our end, it pleases God when we involve ourselves in that process, pursuing Him and keeping pace with Him.
Psalm 135.8-12 – He destroyed the firstborn in each Egyptian home, both people and animals. He performed miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt against Pharaoh and all his people. He struck down great nations and slaughtered mighty kings— Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan, and all the kings of Canaan. He gave their land as an inheritance, a special possession to his people Israel.
Obviously these verses recount stories that are directly connected to Israelite history, but they can speak to us on a devotional level this evening.
Like Israel, God has given us an inheritance, but we have not received it yet. We’re still on our way. Along the way, there are foes who seek to take us captive and block our way. But our God brings victory to His people. The Bible says that the Lord has slaughtered your spiritual enemies. Those captors and opponents and obstacles have been defeated by Christ’s death and resurrection.
As you walk forward toward your inheritance in heaven, it doesn’t matter how great the opponent may seem, the Lord has defeated them. So we must walk in victory and choose to never surrender in fear of the Ogs or Sihons who harass us. Those temptations and discouragements and obstacles. The problem is not that there are obstacles, the problem is when we give in to fear and surrender in battle, forgetting the victory of God. If we’re walking in the way that the Lord has shown us we have no reason to fear because the Bible says no one can stand against us.
We are God’s special people who have been given a special place and possession in eternity. And into our accounts the Lord has deposited peace and endurance along with the weapons and defenses we need to overcome whatever adversity there may lie before us.
Psalm 135.13 – Your name, O Lord, endures forever; your fame, O Lord, is known to every generation.
This is the second reference to the name of the Lord. We’re given many different names of God in the Scriptures, but maybe the most comforting one of all is Emmanuel, ‘God With Us.’
We may be many generations from when this song was originally written, we’re many generations from Christ’s ascension into heaven, but, as the song says:
Never once did we ever walk alone.
We are not alone or abandoned. The Lord is with us. He’s not hiding. He’s not removed. He is with us.
And, as our comforting companion, here’s how He treats us:
Psalm 135.14 – For the Lord will give justice to his people and have compassion on his servants.
Because of God’s compassion, He moves and acts on our behalf. He’s not a passive watcher, but He’s actively involving Himself in your life right now as you allow Him to get His hands on your heart and your decisions. Then He can shield you and pour out His compassion on your circumstances and situations.
Psalm 135.15-18 – The idols of the nations are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.
The more we think about the Lord, thoughtfully reviewing who He is and what He does, the more we should realize that He is the only pursuit that matters. All the other things that people spend their lives chasing after, all the other idols that people give their love and devotion and energy to are so silly and worthless in comparison to an eternal God who’s doing an eternal work for a eternal, heavenly Kingdom.
You think about the way people pursue wealth and money. It all seems so secure in that bank in Cypress until you wake up one morning and the government sends you a note that says, “That’s ours now.”
Now, money is a part of life. It’s fine to have bank accounts. But when you see people devoting their lives to wealth building or some human career or worldly idol rather than allowing God to dictate what they should do and what they should build, it’s very sad, because it doesn’t last.
All around the world for the last 5 years in particular we’ve been seeing again and again that money can’t defend itself. It can’t warn you that it’s about to disappear. As an idol it’s deaf and mute. But still, multiplied thousands of people spend their lives pursuing it.
Our God is alive and He is ruling and reigning. And if we pursue Him, if we make Him the central focus of our devotion and efforts then we will never be put to shame. We’ll never be robbed of our investments. Because He is not impacted by housing bubbles or stock market crashes or elections. He is the highest and the greatest and He will secure our investments and multiply them beyond our understanding and we can trust in Him to care for our futures.
Psalm 135.19-21 – O Israel, praise the Lord! O priests—descendants of Aaron—praise the Lord! O Levites, praise the Lord! All you who fear the Lord, praise the Lord! The Lord be praised from Zion, for he lives here in Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!
At the time of the writing of this song God’s Shekhinah glory still inhabited the Temple in Jerusalem.
These days the Lord’s dwelling place is not in a temple of stone, but in the hearts of His people. And just as the brightness and presence of God would emanate from the temple, God’s glory and presence should be seen in our lives, through our worship. Praise is meant to be the fruit of our lips and the overflow of our hearts. As we commune with God and meditate on who He is and all that He’s done for us, that relationship will produce passionate, excited, Gospel-proclaiming worship.
We will live out what the Sons of Korah wrote in Psalm 45:
Psalm 45.1 – My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
That kind of personal worship is born out of a close, intimate relationship with God. As He dwells in our hearts, He can’t just be a roommate. Have you ever had a bad roommate? I’ve had some and I’m pretty sure I’ve been one. The roommate relationship is a little bit strange. You have to occupy the same space, but you live 2 separate lives. That’s not how our hearts are set up. The Lord calls us His bride, not His roommate.
Bringing praise and worship to God helps us move closer to Him because it stirs up an excitement and a remembrance of the goodness and greatness of our Lord. You can see how important it was to the writer of this Psalm. He can’t invite us enough to get to the business of praising God. It is our duty and the Lord is worthy of it, but on top of that it pleases God. It stands as a testimony to the world. And the impact that proper worship has on our lives is incredible.
First, it calibrates us. As we sing about the Lord and think about Him it not only adjusts our perspective on ourselves and how much we need the Lord to save us, but it also adjusts our perspective on our struggles and our pursuits. It reminds us that we don’t have to manage our own lives, the Lord desires to do that for us. And our proper position is on our knees, at the foot of His throne, submitting to whatever He asks us to do, investing our whole selves into the service of His Kingdom.
Worship also comforts us. As we thoughtfully review the nature of God it reminds us that we are known and loved by a Savior who will not abandon us. He’s in it for the long haul and He is a seeing, hearing, feeling God who is acquainted with our griefs and struggles.
Worship cleanses us. As we sing and reflect on the Lord, worshiping the beauty of His holiness it gives us opportunity to lay down our burdens and confess our sins to Him. It reminds us that we’ve been bought with a price as a precious treasure in God’s eyes and if there is anything that is distracting us or distancing us from proper intimacy in our relationship with Jesus, it needs to be cast aside so that the Lord’s work in our lives can continue undeterred and uninterrupted.
And finally, worship connects us with God in communion, where we’re reminded that we can interact with our Savior. As we praise and remember the natural result is what we see in the author of this song – a growing excitement in the Lord and a desire to draw nearer and nearer to Him. The more we press in the more we’ll understand how incredible our God is and we’ll want to go deeper and deeper in our relationship with Him. And because of who He is, there is no limit to the depth of His grace or the communion that we can have with Him.
This Psalmist understood that there is so much value to praising God and he couldn’t contain himself. He wanted more and more and he wanted everyone else to get in on it as well.
Tonight we have a few moments to stop the world and interact with the King of Heaven. We have a few moments to worship and review and be ministered to by the Spirit as we glorify the Lord.
So, let’s not wait to perform our duty and let’s praise the Lord and allow Him to pour on us the blessings of His fellowship.