Read Psalm 135
1 Praise the Lord.
Praise the name of the Lord;
praise him, you servants of the Lord,
2 you who minister 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 praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
4 For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own,
Israel to be his treasured possession.
5 I know that the Lord is great,
that our Lord is greater than all gods.
6 The Lord does whatever pleases him,
in the heavens and on the earth,
in the seas and all their depths.
7 He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
he sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
8 He struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
the firstborn of people and animals.
9 He sent his signs and wonders into your midst, Egypt,
against Pharaoh and all his servants.
10 He struck down many nations
and killed mighty kings—
11 Sihon king of the Amorites,
Og king of Bashan,
and all the kings of Canaan—
12 and he gave their land as an inheritance,
an inheritance to his people Israel.
13 Your name, Lord, endures forever,
your renown, Lord, through all generations.
14 For the Lord will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants.
15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
16 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
17 They have ears, but cannot hear,
nor is there breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.
19 All you Israelites, praise the Lord;
house of Aaron, praise the Lord;
20 house of Levi, praise the Lord;
you who fear him, praise the Lord.
21 Praise be to the Lord from Zion,
to him who dwells in Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.
Reading through this psalm, there were numerous little details that stood out, not least of which were the callbacks to other Old Testament stories throughout Jewish history. To show the greatness of God, the psalmist writes of the defeat over Pharaoh of Egypt, Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og of Bashan. While there were many other examples the psalmist could have chosen, these make the point loud and clear: God is worthy to be praised!
Following these remembrances of Israel’s past, and of God’s faithfulness, the psalmist makes a move to contrast idols with this Mighty God, worthy of praise. In verses 15-18 we learn a lot about these idols. We learn they are made by human hands, using parts of creation that God gave us (silver and gold). We learn that they have the features of humanity, but none of the life. They cannot see, hear, or speak, even though they have been “made in the image” of those who can. This, whether inadvertent or intentional, calls back to Genesis 1, where God made humans in His image. Looking at this story alongside this psalm, we can see how the two creations absolutely do not compare.
When God created humanity, He gave us the ability to enjoy Him and His creation. We can see the beauty of a sunrise, we can hear the birds chirping, and we can sing His praises with our voice. These are only some of the ways we can enjoy Him. The greatest difference between God’s creation of humans and humans’ creation of idols is this: “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7).
God gave His creation, humans, the breath of life, but as we read in Psalm 135:17, “…nor is there breath in their mouths.” The idols we create have no breath! If they can’t even compare to humans, how can they come close to comparing to God? Therefore, we are reminded to do as the psalm commands from beginning to end: “Praise the Lord,” serve Him, love Him, and see how He loves His creation far more than any man-made idol ever could.
- What does “idol” mean to you? Do you think of some little statue, or something else?
- What is an idol you see in your life? What have you given devotion and praise to instead of God?
- How can we take steps to remove idols in our life? Where can we “reorder our love” from idols to the things of the Lord’s heart?
Did You Know?
The phrase, “Praise the Lord” (sometimes left untranslated as “Hallelujah”) at the beginning and the end of Psalm 135 serves as what’s called an “inclusio.” An inclusio is the repetition of a word or phrase that serves as a bracket around a section of text to help give the text more meaning. In this psalm, the phrase “Praise the Lord” serves as both the thesis statement of the psalm and a beautiful reminder that only through praise of God, the Beginning and the End, do our created lives make any sense! That’s what we were made to do, so go and do!
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