Psalm 113:2-3-Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord’s name is to be praised.
It is believed that Psalms 113 to 118 are the psalms that Jesus and His disciples sang during their last Passover together. Through these psalms, you will find words of praise to the Mighty God, who delivered His people out of bondage and led them to the Promised Land. As a part of the traditional Passover Feast, they ring with praise or “hālal” to the Great Deliverer!
Hālal is the Hebrew word from which we get our word “hallelujah,” and it literally means “Let us praise Yah!” Yah, of course, is a shortened version of the Hebrew name for God, which is Yahweh! Although I have a blog already addressing the word hālal, I realized that I had forgotten to make this point!
In our text, the psalmist declares that the name of the Lord is to be praised all day long! From sunrise to sunset! During their lifetime and during our lifetime! Any day and every day is a good day to give praise to the Lord. Whether we hālal, yādāh, tehillā, tôdāh, shabach, or barak the Lord, it is always a good time to offer praise to our God!
In the Old Testament, one of my favorite situations, where praise was used to bring a great deliverance, is found in the book of 2 Chronicles. It’s a familiar passage where we read of the three nations which decided to war against Jehoshaphat and the children of Judah. After praying and acknowledging their inability to handle this battle on their own, God sent them a word through a Levite, a son of Asaph. God told Jehosophat that they wouldn’t have to fight that battle because it belonged to Him!
And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.2 Chronicles 20:18 NKJV
The word for praise in this verse is hālal! The Levites that David had appointed to hālal the Lord, day and night and on special occasions, were still leading the people in praise to the God of Israel. The next day, when they arose to obey the word of God, Jehosophat appointed singers to praise the Lord. And this amazing thing happened next:
Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.2 Chronicles 20:22-23 NKJV
Look at God! He hadn’t told them how He would win the battle, just that He would handle it! But when they began to hālal and tehillah before the Lord, He caused the very people who had come to destroy Judah, to turn and destroy each other! Hallelujah! There’s a lesson in here for us! I hope you caught it! Some battles we are going to have to praise our way through because they are too great for us! Then we are going to have to trust that God will step into that battle and defeat our enemies!
The New Testament also has a favorite incident of mine surrounding praise found in the book of Acts! Paul and Silas were on their way to prayer when a girl with a spirit of divination followed behind them, crying,
“These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.”Acts 16:17 NKJV
She did this for several days, to the point of immensely annoying Paul. One day Paul turned around and rebuked that spirit out of her, and she was set free. Before you start shouting, remember that this was not good news to the men who made money off her bondage. (It’s a lesson for another day, but it’s pretty sad how many people profit from others being held in bondage and then they become angry when the people are set free!) They were so angry at what Paul had done that they dragged Paul and Silas to the magistrates and stirred up the people against them.
Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.Acts 16:22-23 NKJV
Paul and Silas were beaten by a mob and thrown into prison. This was not a few whacks to keep them in line, but it was mob action that was meant to be very painful, resulting in many wounds! You would think they would be so weak in their bodies and weary in their spirits that they would seek rest to maintain their strength. Luke, however, tells us a different story:
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.Acts 16:25-26 NKJV
I don’t know why I just thought of a book I once read to my students, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst! Alexander perceived he would have a terrible day because he went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair! We have no knowledge that Paul and Silas perceived their day would end the way it did, but things went south fast. From my point of view, it was a terrible day for Paul and Silas!
But when midnight came, they weren’t moaning and groaning. They weren’t complaining and pointing out their woes. They started praying and singing hymns to God! And did you see God move? He sent an earthquake that shook the prison’s foundations so much that all of the doors were opened, and everybody’s chains were loosed! Now that’s pretty amazing! Their praise caused an earthquake that brought their deliverance! Only God!
In both the Old and New Testaments, we can see that praise is powerful! Whether the attacks we face are physical or spiritual, praise is a weapon we can use to defeat the enemy. Although our praise is focused on the great God we serve, anything can happen when He steps into our praise!
David had this to say about praise:
I will bless (barak) the Lord at all times; His praise (tehilla) shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast (hālal)in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.Psalm 34:1-3 NKJV
Wonderful, wonderful Jesus!