Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
This Psalm was obviously intended for use in the worship of the Second Temple. It begins with a call to those who minister there to praise Jehovah, Who has chosen Israel to be His peculiar people (Psalm 135:1-4). His omnipotence is manifested in Nature (Psalm 135:5-7), and in History (Psalm 135:8-12). He will not forsake His people, whereas the idols of the heathen are nought, and cannot save their worshippers (Psalm 135:13-18). Let all Israel unite in praising this glorious God (Psalm 135:19-21).
Though the Psalm is little more than a mosaic of fragments and reminiscences from Law, Prophets, and other Psalms, it possesses real vigour of rhythm and spirit. It is an expansion of Psalms 134, and it should be compared with the blessing of the Levites in Nehemiah 9:4 ff., though there the whole course of Israel’s history is reviewed at length.
Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, O ye servants of the LORD.1. Praise ye the Lord] Heb. Hallelujah. The verse is identical with Psalm 113:1, except that the clauses are transposed.
1–4. A call to Jehovah’s servants to praise Him, since he has chosen Israel to be His own people.
Ye that stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God,2. Ye that stand &c.] As in Psalm 134:1, those who minister in the Temple and its precincts are summoned to praise. It is less natural to suppose that the first line refers to the priests and Levites, and the second line (ye that stand being supplied) to the worshippers in the outer court.
Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant.3. for it is pleasant] Either ‘His name is lovely,’ or ‘it is pleasant to sing praise.’ Cp. Psalm 147:1.
For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.4. the Lord] Heb. Jah. The verse is based upon Deuteronomy 7:6; cp. Exodus 19:5.
For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.5. For I know] A further reason for praising Jehovah. I is emphatic. Though the nations are ignorant of it, Israel in whose name the Psalmist speaks, knows the supreme greatness of Jehovah.
above all gods] It is clear from Psalm 135:15 ff. that the Psalmist does not intend by this comparison to imply that the gods of the heathen have any real existence.
5–7. Jehovah’s greatness and sovereignty exhibited in Nature.
Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.6. Whatsoever Jehovah pleased hath he done,
In heaven, and in earth, in the seas and all deeps.
The first line is identical with Psalm 115:3 b: the second is based on Exodus 20:4. The deeps are “the waters under the earth,” the subterranean abyss of waters on which the earth was thought to rest. Cp. Psalm 24:2; Psalm 136:6.
He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.7. Taken almost verbatim from Jeremiah 10:13 (= Psalm 51:16), where the words occur in a similar context, contrasting Jehovah with idols.
from the ends of the earth] From the most remote quarters; so that “thou knowest not whence they arise” (S. Aug.); or from the horizon, where they seem to rise as they come into view. Cp. 1 Kings 18:44.
for the rain] Along with the rain.
his treasuries] Cp. Psalm 33:7; Job 38:22.
Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast.8–12. Jehovah’s sovereignty exhibited in the deliverance of His people from Egypt and their establishment in the land of Canaan.
Who sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants.9. Who sent tokens] He sent signs.
Who smote great nations, and slew mighty kings;10. great nations] Or, many nations. Cp. Deuteronomy 7:1.
Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan:11. Sihon and Og, “the two kings of the Amorites,” are mentioned as the first and some of the most formidable enemies whom the Israelites met. See Numbers 21:21 ff., Numbers 21:33 ff.; Deuteronomy 2:30 ff; Deuteronomy 3:1 ff.; and cp. Amos 2:9.
kingdoms] Cp. Deuteronomy 3:21; Joshua 12:7-24.
And gave their land for an heritage, an heritage unto Israel his people.12. an heritage] Cp. Deuteronomy 4:38.
Thy name, O LORD, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations.13. Cp. Exodus 3:15; Psalm 30:4; Psalm 102:12. Jehovah’s Name is called His memorial, as bringing to mind all that He is and does. Such as He has once revealed Himself to be He will continue for ever. Cp. Hebrews 13:8.
13–18. Jehovah is eternally the same, and will not forget His people; whereas the impotent gods of the heathen cannot protect their worshippers.
For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants.14. Taken verbatim from Deuteronomy 32:36; cp. Psalm 90:13. In virtue of His relation to Israel He will do them justice, and not finally abandon them.
The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.15–18. Taken with some alterations from Psalm 115:4-8. The nonentity of the heathen gods is contrasted with the sovereignty of Jehovah.
They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not;
They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.
They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.18. Like unto them shall their makers become,
Even everyone that trusteth in them.
Bless the LORD, O house of Israel: bless the LORD, O house of Aaron:19, 20. The three-fold call of Psalm 115:9-11; Psalm 118:2-4 is here expanded by the addition of the house of Levi.
19–21. All Israel is summoned to praise Jehovah.
Bless the LORD, O house of Levi: ye that fear the LORD, bless the LORD.
Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.21. Blessed be Jehovah out of Zion] This final adoration corresponds to the prayer with which Psalms 134 concludes. From Zion, which is His earthly dwelling-place, Jehovah’s blessing goes forth upon His people: from Zion where they meet to worship, must ring out His people’s answer of adoring praise.
Praise ye the Lord] Hallelujah; omitted by the LXX.