Learning from Psalms 135-142
135:1-21 - ‘Praise the Lord’ (1-3,19-21). ‘The Lord is good... The Lord is great’ (3,5). In our worship, we focus on both God’s greatness and His goodness. God is great in power: ‘Great is our Lord and mighty in power’ (147:5). He is also great in love: ‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!’ (1 John 3:1). When we praise the Lord, singing of His greatness, let us not think only of the greatness of His power: ‘I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed’. Let us think also of His goodness, the greatness of His love: ‘And when I think that God His Son not sparing, sent Him to die - I scarce can take it in, that on the Cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin’ (Mission Praise, 506).
136:1-26 - ‘His love endures for ever’. This is the great message contained in every single verse of this Psalm. It’s a message worth repeating - over and over again! God’s love is an everlasting love - ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3). God’s love is an unfailing love - ‘My unfailing love for you will not be shaken’ (Isaiah 54:10). Let us ‘give thanks’ to God for His love (1-3,26). In His love, the Lord has provided for us ‘an everlasting salvation’. His ‘salvation will last for ever’ (Isaiah 45:17; 51:6). We must not be like those who refuse to love the Lord - ‘Pharaoh... great kings... mighty kings ...’ (15,17-20). Those who reject God’s love will not receive ‘eternal life’. Their future will be very different - the ‘raging fire that will consume the enemies of God’ (John 3:16-18; Hebrews 10:26-27).
137:1-138:8 - ‘How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?’ (137:4). It is not easy to keep on worshipping the Lord when so many show no interest in worshipping Him. What are we to do when our faith seems so weak and we are on the verge of giving up? ‘Ask the Saviour to help you, comfort, strengthen and keep you’. What will we find when we come to the Lord, looking to Him for strength? ‘He is willing to aid you. He will carry you through’. God gives us strength - ‘You answered me when I called to You. With Your strength, You strengthened me’ (138:3). ‘To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown. Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down. He who is our Saviour, our strength will renew. Look ever to Jesus. He will carry you through’ (Church Hymnary, 482).
139:1-24 - Through Christ our Saviour, we are led ‘in the way everlasting’: ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son’ (24; 1 John 5:11). God’s great purpose of eternal salvation seems ‘too wonderful’ - ‘too good to be true’! ‘It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be, that God’s own Son should come from heaven and die to save a child like me, and yet I know that it is true...’ (6; Church Hymnary, 385). God has a glorious future planned for us. We can hardly even begin to take it in: ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain’. We know that ‘no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ yet we rejoice in this: ‘God has revealed it to us by His Spirit’ (6; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). ‘Lead me in the way everlasting!’(24).
140:1-13 - When we are threatened by ‘men of violence’, we must must put our trust in the Lord, our ‘strong Deliverer’. We must pray that the ‘men of violence’ will not succeed in their ‘evil plans’: ‘Do not let their plans succeed... May disaster hunt down the men of violence’ (1-2,7-8,11). The ‘men of violence’ may seem to be getting things all their own way. We must not allow ourselves to be brought down to their level. In our battle against the ‘men of violence’, we must use God’s ‘weapons’: ‘truth... righteousness... peace... faith... salvation... prayer’. These ‘weapons’ have ‘divine power to demolish the strongholds’ of Satan (Ephesians 6:13-18; 2 Corinthians 10:4). Never forget this: ‘“Vengeance is mine, I will repay”, says the Lord’ (Romans 12:19).
141:1-142:7 - The Psalmist continues to emphasize the importance of ‘prayer’ in our battle against ‘evildoers’: ‘My prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers’ (141:5). We pray that their ‘wicked deeds’ will not succeed. We pray that they will see ‘the error of their way’, returning to the Lord and being ‘led in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake’ (141:5; 23:3; James 5:19-20). We may feel that our ‘persecutors’ are ‘too strong’ for us. We must never think that ‘no one cares’. We must bring our fear to God, praying, ‘Set me free from my prison, that I may praise Your Name’. Faced with powerful enemies, we must remember this: The Lord is our ‘portion in the land of the living’. In the face of fierce opposition, we must learn to say, ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for ever’ (142:4-7; 23:6).