Worthy of Praise

Psalm 135

“the whole Psalm is a compound of many choice extracts, and yet it has all the continuity and freshness of an original poem. The Holy Spirit occasionally repeats himself; not because he has any lack of thoughts or words, but because it is expedient for us that we hear the same things in the same form. Yet, when our great Teacher uses repetition, it is usually with instructive variations, which deserve our careful attention.” CHS

Pluralism – “condition in which numerous distinct ethnic, religious, or cultural groups are present and tolerated within a society.” American Heritage Dictionary 4th Ed Have gone beyond definition here in our culture – diverse views not simply tolerated, must be affirmed as equally valid… except biblical Christianity! Perhaps a significant part of reason for Christianity being left out in the cold is that from the beginning, Christianity has been unashamedly exclusive – there is one true God to be worshiped… to the exclusion of all the rest.

Clear from this psalm who it is that must be worshiped because he is worthy: Yah/Yahweh, 19x. “Psalm 135 is such a document, focusing on God (there are twenty-one appellations and seventeen pronouns in Hebrew). This depiction rests on tradition and history, with practically every verse similar or identical to another in the Bible.” Segal

A. he deserves praise from all v.1-2, 19-21

psalm begins and ends with same words – Hallelujah, Praise the Lord; pentecostal form of baptist “amen”, also common among blacks

“The use of the “envelope” technique is a poetic way of reminding us that we shall never be done with this theme. It is as eternal as God Himself.” John Phillips, Exploring Psalms

saw last week from John’s vision of heaven: since their creation angels have continually been praising God; clear also from Isaiah’s call to ministry

praise, sing praise, bless the Lord – all refer to same activity, the worship of God; reflect the principle that praise can take multiple forms

in our western church culture, most often associate praise with music – let’s do some praise and worship, then so-and-so will share what God has laid on his heart

to offer praise, to bless God requires words, use of mouth; may also include other things: music, applause, movement

to be genuine praise, must have real content that expresses objective truth about the one being praised, in this case God

examples: Isa. 6:1-3; Rev. 4:8, 11; 5:9-10, 12-13; 9:11-12; 11:16-18; 15:3-4; 16:5-7

all of them have something to say about who God is, what God is like, what God has done/is doing/will do

don’t have to get to NT to find principle “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess” – God thru prophet Isa. 45:23-24 “I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, And shall not return, That to Me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall take an oath.He shall say, ‘Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come, And all shall be ashamed Who are incensed against Him.”

God has right to receive praise, authority to command it, character to encourage it – made and owns all things, is ultimate source of all authority, is benevolent toward his creatures

all w/o exception should give praise; definitely true for those who might seem closest to God, ones who serve in some ministry capacity

while God deserves praise from all, he is especially pleased with praise from his people, those whose hearts and lips act in sync

“servants of the Lord” “who stand in the house of the Lord” – those who would lead worship must do it well by God’s definition

by no means limited to leaders: house of Israel – all those called to be the people of God; house of Aaron and Levi – those designated to serve the Lord; those who fear the Lord – all true worshipers

God deserves their praise, he is worthy of their praise, they/we all should desire to give praise that is due to him

B. he is good v.3-4

“The goodness of God is his inclination to deal well and bountifully with his creatures.” Cocceius, Dutch theologian “goodness of God encompasses all his attributes” Charnock

Moses’ request, God’s response – “I will make all my goodness pass before you , and I will proclaim the name of the LORD” Ex. 33:19

what did God proclaim? “And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” Ex. 34:6-7

“The goodness of God is His moral attractiveness which is both satisfying, pleasing, and praiseworthy.” Horner

God is good by nature, in his essence, in all his works; because he is perfectly infinitely good, source of all other good, is pleasant to praise him for his goodness

Ps. 147:1 “Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.”

God not only declares and displays his goodness, he demonstrates it in all his works of both creation and providence, especially in work of redemption

“the manifestation of this goodness in redemption. The whole gospel is nothing but one entire mirror of divine goodness. The whole of redemption is wrapt up in that one expression of the angel’s song, Luke ii. 14, ‘ Good will towards man.'” Charnock

God “was under no obligation to pity our misery and repair our ruins; he might have stood to the terms of the first covenant”

not satisfied to leave us in our misery, God chose a people for himself, to be his treasured possession, at cost of his own Son

C. he is great v.5-12

great, gâdôl in Hebrew & μέγας in Greek, a complex word bursting with meaning and significance – does not map to single English concept or word, instead covers broad range of nuances and meanings

God’s greatness as essential to our well-being as his goodness, vice versa – good God but powerless no comfort; great God but no goodness no security

above all gods (5)

gets into more of God’s superiority over idols (v.15ff); here emphasizes God’s authority over any other god man might worship

God is majestic, incomparably more so than anyone or anything else we can conceive, even what man elevates to worship

nothing can even begin to approach God’s majestic and glorious splendor – more of difference than birthday candle to sun

does whatever he pleases (6)

no place is off-limits or out of reach for God; nowhere outside his authority, his ability to exercise his will anywhere in all creation

psalmist talking here about self-existent covenant making and keeping God who is the I AM – nothing can make God break a sweat

is absolutely no power or authority that can effectively resist God’s will… even the fortress of a sinful man or woman’s heart

sovereignly rules his creation (7)

anyone who believes in Mother Earth or Mother Nature needs to read this verse – is God who rules absolutely over nature

Isa.45:7 “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.”

just because we can’t figure out what God is up to with “natural disasters” does not mean he isn’t in charge, even of calamity

sovereignly rules his creatures (8-9)

God as source of life has ultimate sovereign authority… over life of man and beast – God gives and takes away as he pleases

God at his pleasure can demonstrate his mercy or execute justice, even within same circumstances – mercy to Hebrews, judgment to Egyptians, either acting directly or thru agents

God used signs and wonders more in OT than now… we have full revelation; don’t be fooled, God is just as sovereign today

sovereignly overrules governments (10-12)

in immediate view here: conquest of Canaan; clear from beginning who was in charge… Commander of the Lord’s Army

At the coronation of Queen Elisabeth II on June 2, 1953 “the Orb [a 6.5” diameter hollow gold sphere] with the Cross [at the top was] brought from the Altar by the Dean of Westminster and delivered into the Queen’s right hand by the Archbishop [of Canterbury], saying: “Receive this Orb set under the Cross, and remember that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire of Christ our Redeemer.”

doesn’t matter how much rulers and governments may posture and threaten, is a higher authority who is absolutely sovereign

D. he is eternal v.13-14

God has a name and fame – they and consequently he endures forever, without changing; perfection is immutable

“God is, and will be always the same to his church, a gracious, faithful, wonder-working God; and his church is, and will be the same to him, a thankful, praising people; and thus his name endures forever. Matthew Henry

God has the final word – he will vindicate his people: hold them up as trophies of his grace and declare them righteous

to fully vindicate the righteous requires judging the unrighteous: God has the last word on that subject also – Lord Jesus is final judge

God’s final judgments will also last forever – the one declared righteous need not fear relapse; one declared condemned has no hope of recovery… ever

E. he is real v.15-18

man tries to turn things upside down, making god in their image – one thing man cannot do: breathe life into dead idol

just like anything else Satan encourages – has the appearance of reality but lacks substance of what is promised

cannot speak, hear, see, live or move – unable to achieve anything except seduce their creators and worshipers to become like them

our God, the God of the Bible not like the idols – he is the real and true God, all others are pretenders and nothing more

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