1 Hallelujah! Praise the name of Yahweh. Give praise, you servants of Yahweh 2 who stand in the house of Yahweh, in the courts of the house of our God. 3 Praise Yahweh, for Yahweh is good; sing praise to His name, for it is delightful. 4 For Yahweh has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel as His treasured possession. 5 For I know that Yahweh is great; our Lord is greater than all gods. 6 Yahweh does whatever He pleases in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the depths. 7 He causes the clouds to rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain and brings the wind from His storehouses. 8 He struck down the firstborn of Egypt, both man and beast. 9 He sent signs and wonders against you, Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his officials. 10 He struck down many nations and slaughtered mighty kings: 11 Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan, and all the kings of Canaan. 12 He gave their land as an inheritance, an inheritance to His people Israel. 13 Yahweh, Your name endures forever, Your reputation, Yahweh, through all generations. 14 For Yahweh will vindicate His people and have compassion on His servants. 15 The idols of the nations are of 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; indeed, there is no breath in their mouths. 18 Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them. 19 House of Israel, praise Yahweh! House of Aaron, praise Yahweh! 20 House of Levi, praise Yahweh! You who revere the Lord, praise the Lord! 21 May the Lord be praised from Zion; He dwells in Jerusalem. Hallelujah!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
When carefully reading Psalm 135, one cannot miss the sense of excitement, awe and wonder at who the Lord is and what He has done. Most likely composed for the Jews who had returned from the Babylonian exile, the psalmist pulled from multiple places in Scripture to remind them of God’s history of faithfulness.
As the Israelites had now been restored after a period of utter devastation, the psalmist called to mind one of the greatest times in their history, the exodus from Egypt and the conquering of the Promised Land. While he included historical facts, they were merely contextual to the main point of the Psalm, which is to worship the God who has proved Himself worthy of all praise.
When the Jews read about Egypt, it meant one thing to them: slavery. For four hundred years, the Israelites were enslaved in this foreign land under the merciless control of Egyptian pharaohs and overseers. “They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.” (Ex 1:14)
Eventually they were not even given the bricks they needed to do the required labor, but were forced to make their own without any of their workload being cut back. “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.” (Ex 2:23-24)
Thus began one of the greatest rescue operations in all of history. God sent Moses to command Pharaoh to let His people go. He sent signs and wonders, proving that He was more powerful than any of the false gods worshiped in Egypt or Canaan. Eventually, Pharaoh set them free.
What child isn’t completely captivated by the telling of the parting of the Red Sea, when God brought His people across on dry ground, but the minute the pursuing Egyptian army attempted to cross, all the soldiers were swallowed up by the rushing waters? It makes an amazing bedtime story!
But this isn’t just any story. It’s the true story of a God who loved His people so much that He refused to allow them to be enslaved any longer than was required for His specific purposes. He not only brought them out of slavery, but He brought them into a land He had prepared for them, the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
Even when they continued to disobey, He provided for their every need in the desert. He went before them, wiping out their enemies and feeding them manna from heaven. Why did He do this? Because He loved them and chose them for His own.
What other people had such a God? No one. The psalmist reminds us, we don’t worship idols that have eyes but can’t see, or ears but can’t hear. We worship a living God whose name will be famous through all generations. He couldn’t help but sing, “Hallelujah!”
- What enslaves you today? Is it a broken marriage? A house payment? Your children’s activities? A demanding job or overbearing boss? Is it your own expectations, disappointments or fears?
- The Israelites recited this Psalm to remember all that the Lord had done for them and how He had brought them out of slavery. Take the time to write down all that the Lord has done for you in your personal redemptive history. Pay special attention to the part where you put your trust in Christ. Note all that the Lord did to bring you to that moment.
- When you remember where you came from, it helps put in perspective where you want to go. What are some changes you can make to get out from under your burden of slavery? 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
- It’s time to take Jesus seriously when He says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30) Don’t accept slavery when Christ died to set you free!