Monday, December 9, 2013

CCXVI – Psalms 135-150

We will finish with the Book of Psalms with this post. 

Psalms 135 and 136 seem to have been written at about the same time, which is generally regarded as the time of Ezra.  It’s as though Psalm 135 was sung aloud by Ezra and the Levite musicians assigned to the Temple.  Then (Psalm 136) the musicians would sing each verse and the congregation would sing after each phrase, “His love endures forever”.  The fashion in which 136 was written seemed to strongly suggest a song sung in an organized worship service.

Psalm 137 is a different type of Psalm with a different subject.  A close reading reveals the heart and mind of the psalmist, which is not pleasant at this time.  He reflects back when he was in captivity in Babylon.  There are three predominant thoughts.  First, he is sad when he is a prisoner and thinks about how wonderful it was before the captivity when he was in Zion (Jerusalem).  He then expresses bitter thoughts of his captors (Babylonians).  Then, the exact time of this writing is revealed when the psalmist is witnessing Persia defeating the evil Babylonians, hoping to inflict as much pain on them as they inflicted on the Jews.  This is one of the few times bitterness of the Jews toward the Babylonians is expressed in such certain terms.

Psalm 139 is a psalm that has been used for centuries in worship services among Jews and Christians alike.  This psalm speaks of the omniscience and omnipresence of God.  Omniscience means having an infinite awareness, understanding, and insight.  Omnipresence means being everywhere at all times.  This psalm speaks of God’s intimate knowledge of us as individuals.  He knows when we lie down to sleep and when we awake.  He knows every thought behind every word our tongues speak.  The writer says in verse 6 that God’s abilities are beyond his understanding, therefore his words are inadequate to describe them.  Then in the following six verses, the psalm proceeds to speak of God being everywhere.  A child of God is not able to escape God’s presence even if he wanted to.  If we were to be on the “far side of the sea”, God would be there with us.  (Vss 11, 12)  The darkness cannot hide us from God, as He sees in the darkness as though it is perfect light.  The rest of this Psalm breaks out in praise to God and his power, but the focal verses are 13 and 14, “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…….”  Paraphrase:  God, You knew me before I was born, and You made me just the way You want me.

Psalm 140 tells again how much David was emotionally hurt by the many people who spoke evil of him.  David cared about how people perceived him.  This is expressed in quite a few of his writings.  {I believe this was a characteristic that may have tormented David.  Sometimes we can be too preoccupied with the concern about the thoughts of others.  Try not to get caught up in this trap.}

Psalms 141-144 are psalms written by David in difficult times, some when Absalom was trying to kill him, some when Saul was after him.  142 shows David in a depressed and forlorn state of mind.  He is lonely, frightened, and desperate.

Psalms 145 – 150 are an outpouring of praise and worship, which are a befitting conclusion to this collection of Hebrew songs and poems.  Serving as the final section, they deal specifically and exclusively with praise.  Psalm 145 is described as lively hymn.  It is another of the “acrostic” or “alphabetic” psalms.  Many sections have been put to music throughout the generations.  There are many notable verses.  Verse 4 again indicates the importance of handing down from generation to generation the knowledge of God and His greatness.
The last five Psalms are known as “The Hallelujah Psalms”.  This is because they all start with the Hebrew word “Halelujah”  This is from the Hebrew word “Halel”, which means “tell someone how great they are”.  The “u” in the middle of the word means “You”, to whom one is speaking.  “Jah” is one of the many names the Hebrews used for God.  Although we generally spell this word “HALLELUJAH”, its proper spelling is with only two L’s:  “HALELUJAH”, which renders the phrase, halel-u-jah.  Praise You God.  {This word has not been translated into other languages, for which I am thankful.  I like the word “hallelujah”.  In this single word, we are giving God the praise He deserves, although sometimes we don’t even realize it.}
Psalm 150 climaxes this book of Psalms.  It encourages all generations to worship God, praising Him everywhere, from inside our church buildings to the greater reaches of heaven.  Praise Him for everything about Him.  Then comes an important part of this psalm.  We are again reminded to praise Him with music of every beautiful instrument designed to be pleasant to the ears.  We are to sing songs of praise, accompanied by instruments in our worship services.  We should begin our worship with songs, and end it with songs.

I stated in the beginning of this book of Psalms that it is a rather difficult study to present.  I hope you have gotten something valuable out of this.  The next post will begin our study of the Book of Proverbs.

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