Thursday, November 22, 2012

Not the Usual Thanksgiving Psalm


Psalm 113 is the first of six psalms (113-118) called “the Egyptian Hallel” (Hallel means praise).The Jews sang the first two psalms before the Passover meal and the other four afterwards. I’m going to go out on that limb and say that Jesus and his disciples probably sang these psalms in the upper room on the night of the Last Supper.

Here it is:
1 Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, you his servants;
praise the name of the Lord.
2 Let the name of the Lord be praised,
both now and forevermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
4 The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens.
5 Who is like the Lord our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high,
6 who stoops down to look
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
8 he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord.

The psalm falls into two main sections: the call to praise the Lord (1-3) and the causes for praising the Lord (4-9).

Vs. 1 – 3 Hallelujah = Praise the LORD. The phrase “praise his name” is in these verses three times. Why three? Praise to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Who should praise Him? His servants. When? Always. Where? Everywhere.

Vs. 4 – 5 God is great – examine verses “Praise God because He is great!” But if God were only great, we would cringe in fear and hesitate to approach Him. So the psalmist also affirms - Praise God because He is gracious – see vs. 6.

Vs. 6 – 9 God is gracious How? Look at verbs: raises, lifts, seats, settles. Look at people: poor, needy, princes, barren woman. Notice how the psalm goes from the needy (many people) to the single barren woman.
This would be a good Psalm to read on Thankgiving Day. Let us praise the Lord.