Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
1 Praise ye the LORD.
Praise ye the name of the LORD;
Praise him, O ye servants of the LORD.
2 Ye that stand in the house of the LORD,
In the courts of the house of our God,
3 Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good:
Sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant.
4 For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself,
And Israel for his peculiar treasure.
5 For I know that the LORD is great,
And that our LORD is above all gods.
6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he
In heaven, and in earth,
In the seas, and all deep places.
7 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.
8 Who smote the firstborn of Egypt,
Both of man and beast.
9 Who sent tokens and wonders
Into the midst of thee, O Egypt,
Upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants.
10 Who smote great nations,
And slew mighty kings;
11 Sihon king of the Amorites,
And Og king of Bashan,
And all the kingdoms of Canaan:
12 And gave their land for a heritage,
A heritage unto Israel his people.
13 Thy name, O LORD, endureth for ever;
And thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations.
14 For the LORD will judge his people,
And he will repent himself concerning his servants.
15 The idols of the heathen are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
16 They have mouths, but they speak not;
Eyes have they, but they see not;
17 They have ears, but they hear not;
Neither is there any breath in their mouths.
18 They that make them are like unto them:
So is every one that trusteth in them.
19 Bless the LORD, O house of Israel:
Bless the LORD, O house of Aaron;
20 Bless the LORD, O house of Levi:
Ye that fear the LORD, bless the LORD
21 Blessed be the LORD out of Zion,
Which dwelleth at Jerusalem.
Praise ye the LORD.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
CONTENTS AND COMPOSITION.—An exhortation to praise the name of Jehovah, addressed to His servants who stand in the sanctuary and its courts prepared for His worship (Psalm 135:1, 2). Such praise is a pleasant employment, and one befitting the People of Jehovah’s choice and inheritance (Psalm 135:3, 4). For Jehovah hath made Himself known as the great God and Lord by mighty deeds in the realm of nature (Psalm 135:5–7), and in history, specially in leading His people forth from Egypt (Psalm 135:8, 9) and into the Promised Land (Psalm 135:10–12), and, in His helpful and saving power, proves Himself to His people, who transmit His memory to all generations upon the ground of His self-revelation (Psalm 135:13, 14), to be the Living God as contrasted with worthless idols and their powerless worshippers (Psalm 135:15–18). Finally a repeated exhortation to the whole house of Israel, in all the classes of all its members, to praise Jehovah, passes over into the hymn of praise itself (Psalm 135:19–21).
This Psalm is indisputably one of the latest in the Psalter; for it is almost wholly composed of passages taken from other Psalms, and interwoven with allusions to the law and the prophets. The beginning, Psalm 135:1, is from Psalm 134:1, enlarged by an allusion to Ps. 116:19, or 92:14. Psalm 135:3 points to Ps. 147:1, comp. Prov. 22:18, from which it becomes manifest that the subject is not Jehovah (Hupfeld), but either His name, as in Ps. 54:8 (Sept., Chald., Jerome, Luther, Hitzig), or His praise (Del.). Psalm 135:6 is like Ps. 115:3. Psalm 135:7 is an echo of Jer. 10:13: 51:16, with an allusion to the three departments of creation, as in Ex. 20:4. The effects of lightning as bringing rain, as in Zech. 10:1, Psalm 135:8 f., follows Ps. 136:10 f. The form: בְּתוֹכֵכִי, Psalm 135:9, is probably an imitation of Ps. 116:19. Psalm 135:10 alludes to Deut. 4:38, and the related passages, Numb. 7:1; 9:1; 11:23; Josh. 23:9. Psalm 135:13 is from Ex. 13:15, comp. Ps. 102:13, and Psalm 135:14 from Deut. 32:36, comp. Ps. 90:13. Finally, Psalm 135:15 f. are taken with slight modifications from Ps. 115:4–11, comp. 118:2, 4. In the very midst of expressions taken from Deut., linguistic indications of a late period suddenly appear.
[DELITZSCH: “This Psalm is composed like a piece of mosaic. The early Italian poet Lucilius makes a comparison between mosaic-work and certain styles of writing: quam lepide lexeis compostæ ut tesserulæ omnes,—Ps. 135 is not the first instance of the employment of such a style. We have already seen specimens of it in Pss. 107; 98. These Psalms are chiefly composed of passages from the second part of Isaiah, while Ps. 135 selects its tesserulæ from the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”—J. F. M.]
[Psalm 135:1, 2. HENGSTENBERG: “The hallelujah at the beginning announces in one word the subject of the Psalm. That by the expression: the servants of the Lord, the whole people are to be understood, and not the priests, as in Ps. 134, is rendered more evident from the mention of the courts in Psalm 135:2, and from the conclusion, Psalm 135:19, 20, where the whole of the Lord’s servants are distributed into their several divisions, priests, Levites, and believers. But the difference between this and Ps. 134 is of no great moment. For there the priests must praise the Lord as from the heart of believers; and that here, too, the priests stand at the head, is manifest from Psalm 135:19.”—J. F. M.]
Psalm 135:5 being introduced as supporting the exhortation to praise God, refers to the conviction of the Psalmist, 20:7, confirmed by experience, that the matter of praise is most abundant, and that the appeal drawn therefrom is most just. It contains no reference to the duty of marking God’s revelation in nature as contrasted with the practice of the heathen, Romans 1:19 f. (Kimchi, Calvin).
Psalm 135:7–14. The end of the earth does not mean the horizon, the boundary line of vision (Grotius, Rosen., De Wette), or the sea, the limit of the solid land (Kimchi, Amyrald); but it defines the earth as separate from the heavens (Aben Ezra, Flaminius, Hupfeld). Psalm 135:7b. probably does not allude to any miraculous mixture of the opposite elements, fire and water (Kimchi, Calvin, Geier, and others), but to the usual occurrence of lightning together with rain in a thunder-storm. [The rendering of Psalm 135:7c. in E. V. would be improved by the substitution of: store-houses for: treasuries. Psalm 135:14. PEROWNE: “Here is the proof and evidence that Jehovah’s name abideth for ever, that He will manifest, as in the past, so in the future, His righteousness and His mercy to Israel.”—J. F. M.]
Psalm 135:21. It is worthy of attention in the final verse, that Zion, which elsewhere designates the seat of Jehovah, from out of which He dispenses blessing (Pss. 128:5; 134:3), is mentioned here as the place from which a blessing is directed to Jehovah, that is, the answer to Jehovah’s blessing proceeding from Zion, and acknowledging with praise that it is a true blessing of God. This corresponds fully, however, to the actual relations of Zion.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
What we know of God, we are also to utter in the Church in His presence, and to confess in the face of the whole world.—Those only can praise the Lord aright, who know His name, love His honor, and, as God-fearing men, trust to the disposing will of the Eternal.—God’s judgments in the world are deeds of deliverance for the people of His choice.—God has chosen us to be the people of His inheritance, but are we ever ready to offer that which is due to Him and becoming to us?—Idols can give no help, and yet the heathen cleave to them tenaciously, even until their certain destruction; but how often do we suffer ourselves to be called in vain to God’s worship, while that worship is given to the only good, mighty and living God.—God has done so much for us that we can never thank Him sufficiently for it; but what do we do for Him?—If we seriously believe that the Almighty Ruler of the universe is our gracious God and faithful Father, what need we fear from the elements and the forces of the world?
STARKE: Your election to blessedness is an inestimable gift of God’s mercy, but just for this reason be the more diligent to make your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).—Great benefits entail great obligations; if we have been purchased by God as His inheritance, we must not live according to our own will, but the will of Him who died for us and rose again.—As soon as a man becomes small in his own heart, God becomes great there. In proportion as he has true humility in his heart, will he have a lofty regard for God in his soul.—God has His power in His will, and His will is all power, so that it can fail of nothing.—Look around everywhere, go whither thou wilt, thou wilt find everywhere proofs of the Divine omnipotence and wisdom.—It is a sign that a man is altogether dead in his heart, when he can look upon the heavens without rejoicing that He who created them is his Father, and that his inheritance there is eternal.—The hearts of many are still like those of the Egyptians, first they would see signs and wonders, and when they see them they do not believe.—Sin drives people from their own land and brings them to misfortune, with regard both to their temporal and spiritual life.—Be not overanxious, dear soul, about the Christian Church, as though it will be quite extirpated. No; as God abides for ever, so is He ever able to preserve and protect His little band, and to judge its enemies.—God does not judge His people otherwise than in mercy.—Satan easily urges from one folly and state of blindness to another, the victims of his delusion.—How many are like idol-images, when they have eyes, ears and mouths as though they had none, that is, when they, do not use them when and how they should—God’s praise is a part of His true fear; it cannot therefore be intermitted without sin.—God who once dwelt in Jerusalem, desires to dwell in thy heart; it shall be His Zion and His Temple. Refuse it not to Him (John 14:23).
FRISCH: I am chosen to be God’s inheritance, and therefore I cannot conform myself to the great mass of the world. I am God’s and not my own. I am a vessel of His mercy, alas for me if I should become a vessel of His wrath! I am an instrument of His mercies, whose influence I would have shed upon me. I am His heir, a joint-heir with His, Son; with this I am satisfied.—GUENTHER: Cast your idols away from your heart and house, and you will become a priest of the Highest.—DIEDRICH: According to a man’s God, is he himself.—TAUBE: Zion and Jerusalem are the starting-place and goal of all God’s revelations of Himself. They have an eternal significance.—L. HARMS: To have a living God, to whom we can pray, is bliss.
[MATT. HENRY: The reasons why we should praise God: (1) because He whom we are to praise is good; (2) because the work is its own wages; (3) because of the peculiar privileges of God’s people.—God is and ever will be the same to His Church, a gracious, faithful, and wonder-working God; and His Church is and will be the same to Him, a thankful, praising people; and thus His name endures for ever.—BISHOP HORNE (Psalm 135:8, 9): The objects of a man’s sin frequently become in the end the instruments of his punishment.—BARNES: Who, in reading this Psalm, can fail to catch the feeling of the Psalmist, and say amen and amen?—J. F. M.]
Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, O ye servants of the LORD.