Our Praiseworthy God
Genuine worship honors the Lord and transforms believers. Perhaps the best biblical examples of such praise are found in the Psalms—a collection of sacred poems used for centuries by both Jews and Christians. In this study, we will explore Psalm 135 to learn more about praising our awesome God. Begin by reading the chapter.
A. The opening of the passage (vv. 1-2)
In Hebrew, verse one begins with a single word: Halleluiah, which means "praise the Lord." The "servants of the Lord" and "those who stand in the house of the Lord" refer to the priests and other Levites, who were the caretakers of the temple and aides to the priests. The people who worship "in the court of the house of the Lord" were the Israelite laity (the Hebrews). "Holman Bible Dictionary" says they were prohibited from entering the court of the priests or the holy place.
- What type of person is not mentioned?
- If we were to rephrase verses 1 and 2 to reflect the participants in a present-day church service, what groups of people would be included?
Although God is everywhere, His presence was represented by the Ark of the Covenant, which remained in the Holy of Holies. On the Day of Atonement each year, the high priest alone would enter this sacred place after carefully preparing himself according to the Lord's instructions (Lev. 16). In contrast, Christians have access to the heavenly Father at any time (Rom. 8:9).
- Do you take for granted the privilege of approaching God's throne? How is your attitude impacted when you consider the restrictions placed on the average Israelite in the Old Testament?
- According to Hebrews 4:14-16, what should our outlook be? Why?
B. Reasons to praise God (vv. 3-18)
According to "Holman Bible Dictionary," the ancient world believed that a name expressed essence or character. God was mysterious, lofty, and unapproachable. By disclosing His name—which expressed power, authority, and holiness—the Lord bridged the gap with humankind and indicated to the Hebrews that they would be His people. God's revealed name is Yahweh, which is rendered as "LORD" (using small capital letters) in many English translations of the Bible.
Read Exodus 3:14-15 and then Psalm 135:3 and 13.
- Why does the psalmist praise the Lord for His name?
- Why do you think the author rejoices that God will judge His people (v. 14)?
Verse 4 refers to Israel as God's "treasured possession."
- According to 1 Peter 2:9, what is the church? How does that make you feel?
Praise reminds us that God is sovereign, regardless of our circumstances.
- In Psalm 135, what do verses 5-7 describe? ("Vapors" in verse 7 can be translated "rising mist.")
- Why do you think this psalm focuses on deliverance from Egypt and conquering Canaan, rather than on other miracles (v. 6-12)?
Note: Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan, were the first and most powerful kings the Hebrews conquered as they battled for Canaan (Deut. 3:1-11). The Israelite victories over these two leaders foreshadowed other triumphs over the Amorites and were often remembered in Hebrew history and poetry.
Verses 15-18 condemn idolatry. In the western world, we don't typically worship statues. But we do allow pleasures or problems to hamper our devotion to the Lord.
- What hinders your ability to wholeheartedly praise the Father?
- To what do you turn instead of God? What limitations do those "idols" have?
- Review verses 3-18. List the reasons the psalmist praises the Lord.
Note: Verses 5-7 and 15-18 echo the imagery in Jeremiah 10:2-17. This may be an indication that the psalm was written after the Hebrew exiles returned from Babylon (circa 538 B.C.).
C. Conclusion of the psalm (vv. 19-21)
Fill in the blanks (remember that the closing of the psalm parallels its opening).
In verses 19-21, the "House of Israel" means ________________; the "House of Aaron" refers to _______________; the "House of Levi" describes _________________; and "you who revere the Lord" means ________________. The last word of the psalm is ________________.
"Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology" explains that "Zion" originally meant simply the "City of David" (Jerusalem). After the temple was built, the name also came to signify the dwelling place of Yahweh. "Zion" occurs frequently in prophetic and poetic passages as a synonym for all Jerusalem.
Closing: All people—not just pastors and spiritual leaders— are called to join in the chorus of praise around God's throne. Finish this study with a time of praising the Lord in song, through prayer, or by journaling your gratefulness for His ways and character.
Prayer: Lord, help me to rid my life of anything that interferes with genuine praise. I want to experience pure worship and adore You with a thankful heart. Amen.
Worthy Of Our Praise
Praise should be an essential part of a believer's life, but many Christians fail to realize the importance of praise. What makes the Lord worthy of our praise? (Listen to Worthy Of Our Praise.)