1. Summons to Praise the Lord for His Name and Election of Israel (vv.1-4)
  2. As Lord of Nature (vv.5-7)
  3. As Lord of History (vv.8-18)
  4. Renewed Call to Praise (vv.19-21)
Summons to Praise (vv.1-4)

VERSE 1 Praise the LORD ( Wll.h [Piel.imper., halal, praise] Hy"; [pr.n.])!

Praise the name of the LORD ( Wll.h; [Piel.imper., halal, praise] ~ve-ta [dir.obj. marker + n.m.s.cstr., shem, name] hw"hy>, [pr.n.]);

Praise Him, O servants of the LORD ( Wll.h; [Piel.imper., halal, praise] ydeb.[; [n.m.p.cstr., ebhedh, servant] `hw"hy> ]),

VERSE 2 You who stand in the house of the LORD ( ~ydIm.[ov [prep.w/, amadh, stand] tybeB [prep.w/n.m.s.cstr., bayith, house] hw"hy> [pr.n.]),

In the courts of the house of our God ( tArc.x;B [prep.w/n.m.p.cstr., chatser, enclosure] tyBe. [n.m.s.cstr., bayith, house] `Wnyhel{a/ [n.m.p.w/1.c.p.sf.])!

VERSE 3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good ( Hy"-Wll.h [Piel.imper., halal, + pr.n.] bAj-yKi [conj. + adj.m.s.] hw"hy>; [pr.n.]);

Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely ( WrM.z: [Piel.imper., zamar, sing] [prep.w/n.m.s., shem, w/3.m.s.sf.] yKi [conj.] `~y[in" [adj.m.s., na-im, delightful, pleasant]).

VERSE 4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself ( bqo[]y:-yKi [conj. + pr.n., Jacob] Hy" [pr.n.] rx;B' [, bachar, choose] Al [prep.w/3.m.s.sf., "Himself"]),

Israel for His own possession ( laer'f.yI [pr.n.] `AtL'[prep.w/n.f.s.w/3.m.s.sf., hL'gUs seghellah, possession, property; cp. Ex.19:5]).


  1. Psalm 135 is a song of praise.
  2. It is an anthology of praise of God for His name and for His sovereignty and power over the earth.
  3. The call to "Praise the LORD" is directed towards the "servants of the LORD", which includes both priests as well as the general congregation (cp. Ps.134:1, where priests and Levites are in view).
  4. Verse 1a calls upon all who have assembled for worship to "Praise Yah", and the reasons to do so follow.
  5. Praise of God, whether in a context of corporate worship or private devotion, is wonderful therapy for the soul.
  6. In v.1b the summons to "Praise the name of Yahweh" means to extol His reputation.
  7. God’s reputation is based on His divine attributes and His works.
  8. Those "who stand in the house of the LORD/In the courts of our God" refers to all who are assembled for worship, perhaps at the feast of tabernacles.
  9. The basis for the praise is first stated in general terms based on Yah’s goodness toward His people.
  10. The affirmation that "Yah is good" sums up all His immeasurable grace benefits (cp. Pss.100:5; 119:68).
  11. The congregation is summoned to praise the Lord via song (v.3b).
  12. The people are reminded that He Himself is good based on His deserved reputation ("name").
  13. The name of God, which is the manifestation of His concentrated attributes, is worthy of vocal praise.
  14. His name is "lovely", or delightful, to contemplate.
  15. One of the important ways in which we celebrate the divine essence is via song.
  16. The assembly is summoned to praise the name that is above all names on earth and in heaven (v.3b).
  17. Singing within the local church is a prescribed and important part of worship (cf. Eph.5:19; Col.3:16,17).
  18. God’s self-revelation of Himself through His Word and His works (including the blessings of life) should be a constant part of our everyday experience.
  19. We are to praise Him (silently and out loud) and thank Him for all the things He accomplishes on our behalf.
  20. Capacity for praise and thanksgiving is the consequence of being both a hearer and a doer of BD.
  21. In v.4 the psalmist draws the hearers attention to the dynamic event of Israel’s election of Israel and His special "possession".
  22. This is defined in what we call the Abrahamic Covenant.
  23. The Covenant was first made with the first Jew, Abraham, when he was called by God to leave Ur for the land of promise (Gen.12:1-3).
  24. "Jacob" is another name for the people of the Covenant.
  25. The patriarch Jacob was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel.
  26. Among all the nations of the earth, Israel was chosen to be God’s special "possession".
  27. The word "possession" indicates that which is rare, unique, and highly prized.
  28. The sovereign choice of Israel was reiterated in connection with the giving of the Law (Ex.19:5; Deut.7:6; 10:15).
  29. Believing Israel should be ever mindful and appreciative of their privileged position before God.
  30. We who are incorporated into the Royal Family of the Church Age likewise are so privileged (cf. Ti.2:14; 1Pet.2:9).
  31. Only believing Jews come under the blessings of the Covenant (Mal.3:16,17).
As Lord of Nature (vv.5-7)

VERSE 5 For I know that the LORD is great ( yKi [conj.] ynIa] [] yTi[.d;y" [, yadha, know] lAdg"-yKi [conj. + adj.m.s., gadhol, great] hw"hy> [pr.n.]),

And that our Lord is above all gods ( WnynEdoa]w: [conj.w/n.m.p.w/1.c.p.sf., adhonai, master] `~yhil{a/-lK'mi [prep., min, w/n.m.s.cstr, kal, all, + n.m.p., elohim]).

VERSE 6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does ( lKo [n.m.s.] #pex'-rv,a [ +, chaphets, delight in] hw"hy> [pr.n.] ; hf'[' [, ashah, do]),

In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps ( ~yIm;V'B [prep.w/n.m.p., shamayim] #r,a'b'W [conj.w/, erets, earth] ~yMiY:B; [prep.w/n.m.p., yam, sea] `tAmAhT.-lk'w> [conj.w/n.m.s. + n.f.p., tehom, deep]).

VERSE 7 He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth ( hl,[]m; [, alah, to go up, ascend] ~yaifin> [n.m.p., nashi, leader; rising mist] hceq.mi [prep., min, w/n.m.s.cstr., qatseh, end] #r,a'h' [, erets]);

Who makes lightnings for the rain ( hf'[ [, ashah, make] ~yqir'B [n.m.p., baraq, lightning] rj'M'l [prep.w/, matar, rain]);

Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries ( x;Wr-aceAm [, yatsa, go out; cause to go out, + n.f.s., ruach, spirit; wind] `wyt'Arc.Aame [prep., min, w/n.m.p.w/3.m.s.sf., otsar, treasure]).


  1. The psalmist introduces the next part of the psalm (vv.5-18) as a personal confession of faith.
  2. He echoes the testimony of Jethro (Ex.18:11), which extols the superiority of Yahweh over the gods of the nations (v.5).
  3. From his knowledge of BD he "knows" that his God is "great" and that He reigns supreme "above all gods" (Ps.97:7-9).
  4. "Gods" includes both the so-called gods of the nations as well as the race of angels.
  5. His sovereign power allows Him the complete freedom to do "whatever He pleases" (Ps.115:3-8).
  6. He is, therefore, worthy of our complete trust and confidence.
  7. It is folly to put our trust in anything or anyone else.
  8. His sovereign power extends to all arenas in heaven and on earth.
  9. He does what He pleases "in heaven and on earth".
  10. The entire universe – heaven, earth, and the subterranean deeps – assigned by pagan peoples to a pantheon of gods is, in fact, at the bidding of God’s sovereign will.
  11. In Isaiah 44 there is a devastating assault upon the futility and folly of false worship.
  12. The earth’s oceans provide a marvelous example of divine diversity and strength.
  13. For the implications of v.7, see Jer.10 (espec. v.13; cp. 51:16).
  14. Evaporation due to the heat of the sun is a major player in the earth’s weather patterns (v.7a).
  15. That God controls worldwide weather is the clear implication of v.7, whether beneficial or destructive.
  16. Thunderstorms which generate lightning and rain benefit the environment in all manner of ways (Job.28:25,26; 28:35,36; Zech.10:1).
  17. Rain, ozone, and increased negative ions purify the air.
  18. Air movement (wind) is the third weather-related phenomena God is said to be the author of (Jer.10:13; 51:16).
  19. God "causes the vapors to ascend (evaporation) from the ends (everywhere there is surface water) of the earth" references the physical process necessary to sustain life on the earth.
  20. God "makes lightnings (, asah) for the rain" credits Him with the friction resulting from wind currents.
  21. God "brings forth the wind from His treasuries" is a tribute to His power and wisdom in the realm of earth’s weather patterns.
  22. The inexact science of weather forecasting speaks to His sovereignty and power over forces that both bless and curse mankind.
As Lord of History (vv.8-18)

VERSE 8 He smote the first-born of Egypt ( hK'hiv [prep.w/, nakhah, strike] yreAkB [n.m.p.cstr., bekhor, firstborn] ~yIr'c.mi., [pr.n.]),

Both of man and beast ( ~d'a'me [prep.w/n.m.s., adham, man] `hm'heB.-d[; [prep. + n.f.s, behemah, beast]).

VERSE 9 He sent signs and wonders into your midst, O Egypt ( xl;v' [, shalach, send] tAtao [n.m.p., oth, sign] ~ytip.moW [conj.w/n.m.p., mopheth, wonder] ykikeAtB. [prep.w/n.m.s.w/2.f.s.sf., tawekh, midst] ~yIr'c.mi [pr.n.]),

Upon Pharaoh and all his servants ( h[or>p;B [pr.n., means "great house"] `wyd'b'[]-lk'b.W [conj.w/prep.w/n.m.s. + n.m.p.w/3.m.s.sf., ebhedh, servant]).

VERSE 10 He smote many nations ( hK'hiv, [, nakhah, strike] ~yBir; [adj.m.p., rabh, great; many] ~yIAG [n.m.p., goi, nation]),

And slew mighty kings ( gr;h'w [conj.w/, haragh, kill, slay] `~ymiWc[] [adj.m.p., atsum, mighty] ~ykil'm [n.m.p., melek, king]),

VERSE 11 Sihon, king of the Amorites ( !Axysil [prep.w/pr.n., "warrior"] %l,m,. [n.m.s.] yrImoa/h' []),

And Og, king of Bashan ( gA[l.W [conj.w/pr.n., "long-necked"] %l,m, [n.m.s.] !v'B'h [, "fruitful"]),

And all the kingdoms of Canaan ( lkol.W [conj.w/prep.w/n.m.s.] tAkl.m.m; [n.f.p.cstr., mamelakhah, kingdom] `![;n"K. [pr.n.; "lowland"]);

VERSE 12 And He gave their land as a heritage ( !t;n"w> [conj.w/, nathan, give] ~c'r>a; [n.f.s.w/3.m.p.sf., erets, land] hl'x]n: [n.f.s., nachalah, heritage, inheritance]),

A heritage to Israel His people ( hl'x]n [n.f.s.] laer'f.yIl [prep.w/pr.n.] `AM[;.: [n.m.s. w/3.m.s.sf., am, people]).

VERSE 13 Your name, O LORD, is everlasting ( ^ [n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., shem, name] hw"hy [pr.n.] ~l'A[l [prep.w/n.m.s., olam, everlasting]),

Your remembrance, O LORD, throughout all generations ( ^r>k.zI [n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., zekher, memorial, remembrance, memory] hw"hy [pr.n.] `rdow"-rdol [prep.w/n.m.s., dor, generation, + conj.w/n.m.s., dor]).

VERSE 14 For the LORD will judge His people ( !ydIy"-yKi [conj. + Qal.impf.3.m.s., din, judge] hw"h [pr.n.] AM[; [n.m.s.w/3.m.s.sf., am, people]),

And will have compassion on His servants ( wyd'b'[]-l[;w> [conj.w/prep. + n.m.p. w/3.m.s.sf., am, people] `~x'n<t.yI [Hithpael.impf.3.m.s., nacham, have compassion]).

VERSE15 The idols of the nations are but silver and gold ( yBec;[] [n.m.p.cstr., atsabh, idol] ~yIAGh; [, goi, nation] @s,K [n.m.s., keseph, silver] bh'z"w>, [conj. w/n.m.s., zahabh, gold]),

The work of man's hands ( hfe[]m; [n.m.s., ma-asheh, work] ydey> [n.f.dual.cstr., yadh, hand] `~d'a' [n.m.s., adham, man]).

VERSE 16 They have mouths, but they do not speak ( ~h,l'-Hp [n.m.s., peh, mouth, + prep.w/3.m.p.sf.; "They have"] al{w>, [conj.w/neg.] WrBed;y> [Piel.impf.3.m.p., dabar, speak]);

They have eyes, but they do not see ( ~h,l' [prep.w/3.m.p.sf.; "They have"] ~yIn:y[e [n.f.dual., ayin, eye] al{w> [conj.w/neg.] `War>yI [Qal.impf.3.m.p., ra-ah, see]);

VERSE 17 They have ears, but they do not hear ( ~h,l' [prep.w/3.m.p.sf.; "They have"] ~yIn:z>a' [n.f.dual., ozen, ear] al{w> [conj.w/neg.] WnyzIa]y: [Hiphil.impf.3.m.p., azan, hear]);

Nor is there any breath at all in their mouths ( x;Wr-vy<-!yae [adv., nothing; ; "Nor", + adv., yesh, there is, + n.f.s, ruach, breath] @a; [conj., aph, furthermore; "at all"] `~h,ypiB. [prep. w/n.m.s.w/3.m.p.sf., peh, mouth]).

VERSE 18 Those who make them will be like them ( ~h,yfe[ [, ashah, make] Wyh.yI [Qal.impf.3.m.p., hayah, be] ~h,AmK [prep.w/3.m.p.sf., "like them"]),

Yes, everyone who trusts in them ( lK [n.m.s., "everyone"] x;jeBo-rv,a] [ +, batach, trust] `~h,B' [prep.w/3.m.p.sf.; "in them"]).


  1. This section of the song celebrates God’s control of history on behalf of His chosen people (vv.8-14), including His judgment upon those who embrace false religion.
  2. Yahweh’s almighty power has been used specifically in history on Israel’s behalf.
  3. Two events are selected for mention.
  4. The death of Egypt’s first-born is singled out as the climax of the divinely instigated plagues which resulted in a great nation’s submission to God’s program for Israel.
  5. The death of the first-born was the just consequence of Pharaoh’s hardness of heart in the face of overwhelming proof that Israel’s God was for real.
  6. Pharaoh, the absolute monarch, brought maximum wrath upon his people in connection with the cursing clause of the Abrahamic Covenant.
  7. Every first-born male of man and beast, regardless of age or station in life, died on that fateful night.
  8. Only those who sacrificed a lamb and applied the blood to the doorposts and lintels of their dwellings survived (Ex.12:12; Ps.78:51; 105:36).
  9. The psalmist addresses the Egyptians directly in v.9a.
  10. The "signs and wonders" which preceded the awful curse of the tenth plague were designed to produce a change of heart among the general population as well as in the Egyptian leadership (Ex.7:10; Deut.6:22; Ps.78:43).
  11. "Pharaoh and his servants" is a specific reference to the ruling classes.
  12. The second example is taken from Num.21:21ff and 21:31ff (cp. Deut.2:30-37; 3:1-11).
  13. The Amorites occupied the territory north of the Arnon river, which flowed into the Dead Sea just north of its midpoint.
  14. The Amorites were an alien race (not related to the Israelites) who settled on the east side of the Jordan.
  15. As a result of their degenerate idolatrous practices, they had to be destroyed (Gen.15:13-16).
  16. Following the defeat of the Amorites, Israel encountered Og, king of Bashan (Num.21:33-35; Deut.3:1-11).
  17. Og represented the last of the Rephaim or giant race who occupied territory on both sides of the Jordan (cf. Deut.3:11).
  18. Bashan was the region just east of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan.
  19. Under Moses’ leadership Israel conquered Transjordan and the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh settled there.
  20. As a result of these victories on to the east of the Jordan valley, Israel controlled the territory from Arnon to Mt. Hermon (cf. Deut.3:8).
  21. Verses 11c and 12 refer to the conquest of Canaan proper under Joshua.
  22. Verses 13 and 14 allude to Ex.3:15 and Deut.32:36.
  23. Verse 13 celebrates the eternal reputation of Israel’s God "throughout all generations", as He is unchanging in His love and protection of His people.
  24. Again and again God has proven (and will prove) Himself as the protector and deliverer of His people.
  25. Verse 14 makes it very clear that the rescue of His people is undeserved.
  26. God’s punitive wrath is directed against those who do not know Him.
  27. God deals differently with "His people".
  28. His compassionate judgment upon "His people" is in contrast to His dealings with unbelievers.
  29. God cuts believers a lot of slack based on His gracious and compassionate character.
  30. God is free to bless and deliver believers because of the grace accorded them under the three adjustments.
  31. Even the best of us need His gracious compassion.
  32. Divine forgiveness is a demonstration of His compassion toward believers.
  33. Israel was judged repeatedly for her sins, and God was always there when she turned to Him.
  34. Verses 15-18 almost exactly reproduce Ps.115:4-6,8.
  35. These verses present the futility of idolatry (false religion).
  36. This satire on false religion enhances the pre-eminence of Yahweh.
  37. The human physical characteristics of cult images depicting the human anatomy have no corresponding anatomical functions.
  38. While they are made of the most costly materials and reflect the skills of craftsmen, they are incapable of basic human functions such as speech, sight, hearing, and respiration.
  39. The craftsmen and the worshippers will end up just like the objects of their religious devotion (v.18).
  40. In Sheol-Hades the unbeliever will sit in silent darkness under torment.
  41. A lifeless idol should elicit the logical conclusion concerning the doom of their devotees.
  42. Yahweh’s devotees are not so, as their God has time and again come to His people’s aid.
  43. The one who has proven Himself so powerful and gracious in nature and history will always come to His people’s aid.
Renewed Call to Praise (vv.19-21)

VERSE 19 O house of Israel, bless the LORD ( tyB [n.m.s.cstr., bayith, house] laer'f.yI [pr.n.] Wkr]B' [Piel.imper., barakh, bless] hw"hy>-ta [dir.obj. marker + pr.n.]);

O house of Aaron, bless the LORD ( tyBe, [n.m.s.cstr., bayith] !roh]a [pr.n.] Wkr]B' [Piel.imper., barakh, bless] `hw"hy>-ta, [dir.obj. + pr.n.]);

VERSE 20 O house of Levi, bless the LORD ( tyB [n.m.s.cstr., bayith, house] ywILeh [pr.n.; "joined to"] Wkr]B' [Piel.imper., barakh] hw"hy>-ta [dir.obj. + pr.n.]);

You who revere the LORD, bless the LORD ( yaer>yI [, yare, fear; "revere"] hw"hy> [pr.n.] Wkr]B' [Piel.imper., barakh] `hw"hy>-ta [dir.obj. + pr.n.]).

VERSE 21 Blessed be the LORD from Zion ( %WrB' [, barakh, bless] hw"hy> [pr.n.] !AYCimi [prep.w/pr.n.]),

Who dwells in Jerusalem ( !kevo [, shakhan, dwell] ~l'iv'Wry [pr.n.]).

Praise the LORD ( `Hy"-Wll.h [Piel.imper., halal, praise, + pr.n.])!


  1. The psalm ends with renewed calls to praise.
  2. Each sector of the religious community is urged to join in praise of Yahweh.
  3. Layman (v.19a), Aaronic priest (v.19b), and assisting Levite (v.20a). In fact, every worshiper gathered in the Temple, Yahweh’s earthly home, is bidden to bless the divine name of Yahweh.
  4. All His attributes and works are in view.
  5. The overt display of gratitude and praise is seen in the verb "to bless".
  6. God’s earthly dwelling place is Zion/Jerusalem (v.21).
  7. It corresponds to the true and heavenly Zion.
  8. The responsive blessing that ascends to Him does not compare with the blessing He imparts.
  9. As Mt.21:16 reminds us, He is not too aloof to be delighted to accept our praise.
MARCH, 1998
© Copyright 1998, Maranatha Church, Inc.