Psalm 135 is what you call a hallelujah Psalm. There’s a couple of those in the Psalms. The words that open up this Psalm “Praise the LORD!” are actually the very word hallelujah. The Psalmist commands us to join him in praise of Yahweh.
The Psalmist commands us to join him in praise of Yahweh.
“The application of Psalm 135 is not complicated or tricky or sneaky – for you to go and come up with all these complicated ways of going about it’s instructions. Rather, it is to help you do exactly what the Psalmist commands the readers to do, at the very beginning. Which is to join him in ‘hallelujah-ing'”
So there’s two portions of that word hallelujah as the English breaks it down. The first portion of the word hallelujah is praise and the last portion of the word ‘-ujah’ is Yahweh. Praise Yahweh. That’s what the Psalmist is inviting us to do here.
A Special Kind Of Prayer
“The Psalms have a lot to say. You find confession of sin in the Psalms, don’t you. Ah! The example of what true confession is. That’s what you find right here in the Psalms. You find prayers of lament in the Psalms; what Saints do when they are suffering. They’ve been battered by sin and pain in this world. They lament. You find that in the Psalms.
You find supplications in the Psalms. When God’s people are asking for very specific things from God. But do you know how it all ends? It ends with five hallelujah’s. And the very last word in the Psalms is a hallelujah. It’s a beautiful thing if you think about it.”
The very last word in the Psalms is a hallelujah. It’s a beautiful thing
An Example and A Command
Listen to Ken Mbugua as he explores Psalm 135. We are being encouraged to a boastful praise. Indeed, our whole being can be engaged in this celebration – our hearts, our minds and our bodies. It is a shout of praise! Only this is appropriate worship of our great God. Hallelujah!
Text: Psalm 135
Preached: 20 September 2020
Location: Emmanuel Baptist Church, Nairobi, Kenya
Praise the LORD!
Praise the name of the LORD,
give praise, O servants of the LORD,
2 who 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 to his name, for it is pleasant!
4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel as his own possession.
5 For I know that the LORD is great,
and that our Lord is above all gods.
6 Whatever the LORD pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
7 He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
8 He it was who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
both of man and of beast;
9 who in your midst, O Egypt,
sent signs and wonders
against Pharaoh and all his servants;
10 who struck down many nations
and killed mighty kings,
11 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
and Og, king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan,
12 and gave their land as a heritage,
a heritage to his people Israel.
13 Your name, O LORD, endures forever,
your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages.
14 For the LORD will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants.
15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
16 They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
17 they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them.
19 O house of Israel, bless the LORD!
O house of Aaron, bless the LORD!
20 O house of Levi, bless the LORD!
You who fear the LORD, bless the LORD!
21 Blessed be the LORD from Zion,
he who dwells in Jerusalem!
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 135 is what you call a hallelujah Psalm, a hallelujah Psalm. There’s a couple of those in the Psalms. The words that open up this Psalm “Praise the LORD!” are actually the very word hallelujah. So, I bet if you have a Christian standard Bible, the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) I think that’s what it is called – you should see the word “hallelujah” written at the beginning. Because that’s actually the word that opens up this Psalm. Hallelujah!
The Application Before We Begin…
The aim of the time that we have together and I think my ignorance is bliss here because I do not know what time I am supposed to pause! But I might plead to the gallery that I can go over just a little bit. My aim for the time ahead of us is to just cause us to do exactly that. To do exactly that. I am giving you the application before we begin. What’s the application? Praise the Lord. That’s the application.
The application is not complicated or tricky or sneaky – for you to go and come up with all these complicated ways of going about this morning’s instructions. Rather, it is to help you do exactly what the Psalmist commands the readers to do, at the very beginning. Which is to join him in ‘hallelujah-ing’ if you so please.
Hallelujah: A Word Of Two Parts
So there’s two portions of that word hallelujah as the English breaks it down. The first portion of the word hallelujah is praise and the last portion of the word hallelujah is Yahweh. Praise Yahweh. That’s what the Psalmist is inviting us to do here.
So we will look at that first word ‘praise’ briefly. And then we will spend the rest of the time looking at that word ‘Yahweh’ as it is fleshed out in the rest of the Psalm. Both who He is and what He has done that makes Him praiseworthy. And hopefully, if we have time, wrap that up in the New Testament.
Part 1: Praise
Praise is what the Psalmist is inviting us to do. Make a boastful shout. That’s the call here. A boastful shout. It’s not just merely to say right things to the Lord. Like kinda to offer him some compliments – right? But he is inviting us to a place where that which is coming out of us is a boastful praise.
You can think about it as the word itself – that praise – that first portion ‘halle’. Hallel – it is used in other places as acclamations that are rendered to a king; a triumphant king; a mighty king. And those who are his subjects are articulating glorious things about him.
More Than Correct Words
But I must tell you a shout is quite important, you see. Because it kind of allows you, again, to get what this traction is. It involves your whole being. It’s not just merely correct words from your lips. You see? You think of King David coming back from killing Goliath. And the people are doing what? They are singing. And what are they singing? Accurate facts about David? That’s not quite it, is it.
And are they just merely saying “well David, you did kill Goliath, right? That’s the praise that we are giving to you. Yeah you killed him dead. Amazing. Good job.” No! They are celebrating! Their hearts, their minds, their bodies are involved in giving these acclamations to David. They have seen what he has gone out and done.
Singing, Shouting, Rejoicing!
“Goliath was big! He had all of us in fear! But David went out there, little David! And David took him down! “And this one who had been hurling curses to God and to the armies of the Lord was defeated. And Israel was given victory and all of it was through David! And so they come back with him. Singing, rejoicing, celebrating, shouting acclamations to him.
Hallelujah! This kind of praise is what we ought to think of as appropriate worship.
This is what hallelujah is. You can tell that there is no way you say hallelujah in a sort of bored monotone, isn’t it? Hallelujah is that shout of praise to Yahweh! And it’s beautiful that the Psalmist isn’t merely just giving us instructions. You notice how in that very first verse, how he does it, right?
He says it first. Before he asks us to do it, he actually, he himself is doing it. He starts off with “Hallelujah! Praise the name of the Lord.” He himself is doing exactly what he is asking us to do.
The 3 Hallelujah Psalms
These ‘hallels’ if you so please, are found in multiple portions of the Psalms. The hallels are kind of this unit of Psalms that are all about praising God. These hallelujah Psalms. There’s three of them distinctly in the Psalms. They begin in Psalm 104 and this first one is called the Egyptian Hallel. You call it the Egyptian Hallel especially because of the references to the deliverance that God gave to the Israelites from Egypt.
The last one is called the Final Hallel. If you go from Psalm 146 to Psalm 150, all of them are hallelujah Psalms. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! That’s how the Psalms come to an end. And the one that we are looking at could be termed The Great Hallelujah.
Psalm 136, which God willing is what we will be looking at next week (after that will be two Sundays from Musyimi, he will be coming up afterwards to finish up what he started off last week.) So next week hopefully I will be teaching from Psalm 136, which is called The Great Hallelujah Psalm. But there’s those who would also include Psalm 135 in that description.
With all the other things that you find in the Psalms, there’s this place for ascribing a shout of praise to God.
But all we are emphasising here is to say that this is typical in the Psalms. That this kind of praise is what we ought to think of as appropriate worship. With all the other things that you find in the Psalms, there’s this place for ascribing a shout of praise to God.
Old Testament Instances Of A Shout of Praise
Without using that term you see that happening in other portions of the Old Testament. This is what Moses does after they Cross the Red Sea. What do they do? They gather together with their people and you know what they do? They boast – in their great God. Right? They ascribe to Him praises that are fitting of Him for just how He showed Himself.
So again, when you are thinking of David and the people singing praises to him, think very similarly of Moses and the people and they’ve just seen God deliver them. What else would they do? What else would they do? Other than give to God a hallelujah? A praise to Him?
It’s what Joshua does after their conquest. It’s what Deborah and Barak do. It’s what Mordecai and Esther do after their survival. Praise is fitting for God’s people.
Do you know how it all ends? It ends with five hallelujah’s.
I love that the last Psalm ends with that praise. Just go over to Psalm 150. The very last Psalm. As you are wrapping up this entire book – Psalm 150. You see that there? Right? It starts off with it, doesn’t it? Hallelujah. And how does it end? With a hallelujah. Isn’t that beautiful?
The Psalms Have A Lot To Say
Think about it saints. The Psalms have a lot to say. You find confession of sin in the Psalms, don’t you. Ah! The example of what true confession is. That’s what you find right here in the Psalms. You find prayers of lament in the Psalms; what Saints do when they are suffering. They’ve been battered by sin and pain in this world. They lament. You find that in the Psalms.
You find supplications in the Psalms. When God’s people are asking for very specific things from God. But do you know how it all ends? It ends with five hallelujah’s. And the very last word in the Psalms is a hallelujah. It’s a beautiful thing if you think about it.
‘Hallelujah’ Is How The Story Ends
Because this is how the story will end for us. This truly is how the story will end for us. And I hope we will see that when we come to the very end of the Bible itself. Which to again, to take my rabbit out of the hat, in that sense, the word hallelujah shows up only once in the New Testament. Guess where? In Revelation 19. When it’s speaking about the wedding feast of the lamb. This ending of the Psalm is actually the ending of the entire story.
When everything comes to an end, Saints, we will not be lamenting! Isn’t that a good thing? In eternity, that’s not what will characterise our worship! In this broken world, lament is a part of our worship – that’s how we cling to God. That’s how we go through suffering. That’s how we glorify Him, by leaning on Him and trusting Him.
When it comes to the end we will not be confessing. Think about it. We will not be coming to God and grieving about our sins because we shall sin no more!
We will not be coming to God and grieving about our sins because we shall sin no more!
An End To Supplicating…
In some ways when it comes to an end we shall not be supplicating, isn’t it? Because our primary supplication now – right – OK people will still be praying for stuff – but our primary supplication is “may your kingdom come.” So much of our supplication will be answered with the arrival of His kingdom.
Hallelujah Will Have The Final Say
But do you know what we will be doing in heaven still? Do you know how this story will end? It will end with a hallelujah. It’s a pretty glorious thing. That the Saints today – even in this broken and fallen world – are rendering to God these boastful shouts to Him.
When it’s all been said and done, the wicked who plot in Psalm 2 will not win. Boastful shouts by His people will still be offered up to Him. When it comes to an end, the sin that plagues God’s people will not win. Boastful shouts of praise are what will have the final say.
The designation of His people who are in exile, exile from their land, will not have the final say. The boastful shouts of hallelujah are what will have the final say. After everything has been said and done it is hallelujah that will have the final say.
So Why Is Praise So Hard?
This ought to typify us. Do you know we say even in our service planning here, that one of the hardest prayers to pray is the prayer of praise. It’s very interesting when you think about it. If you ask us to pray a prayer of supplication, we have a lot of prayer requests. Amen?
When Jesus taught us how to pray, he didn’t just teach us to ask for bread.
My buddy – OK I just dared call him my buddy – haha. Conrad Mbewe, I have such a high regard for this man I fear calling him my buddy! I was at a session with him once and he was saying how bad churches – if that’s the phrase – or unhealthy churches – when you ask for prayer requests, all you hear are just various types of supplication. When Jesus taught us how to pray, he didn’t just teach us to ask for bread. But he said in an unhealthy setting, that’s all you get.
You ask “what do you want us to pray for today?” “I want some bread.” “What do you want us to pray for?” “My bread ran out.” “What do you want us to pray for?” “I’d like some brown bread. My white bread is getting a bit stale.” “What do you want us to pray for?” “I don’t really like gluten in my bread, it makes me feel stuffed. I’d like some non-gluten bread.” “What do you want us to pray for?” “Ah just bread, bread, bread…” Supplication is all we know!
Like how can I pray for you