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Sal 113 - 118 om Hallel

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Psalms 113–118. The Egyptian Hallel: A Cantata of Salvation

Anything that relates to the Lord Jesus Christ is of supreme value and attractiveness for the Christian. Consequently, the strong likelihood that this group of psalms formed part of his Passover celebrations enhances their interest and importance. At the last Passover, the first Supper, he and his company would have sung Psalms 113–114 before the meal and 115–118 would be the ‘hymn’ they sang at the end (Mt. 26:30). No doubt each psalm in the group had its own literary history but together they are well called ‘the Egyptian Hallel/Act of Praise’, a commentary in song on Exodus 6:6–7.

Psalm 113 grounds the whole enterprise in the Lord—how it is intrinsic to his exalted dignity to exalt the poor and needy. 114 majestically records the exodus as the Creator manages his creation for his people’s welfare. 115, 116 balance each other as, respectively, the community and the individual rescued from spiritual (115) and physical (116) death. 117 extends exodus truth to its worldwide limits—what was done for Israel was done for all. Finally 118 enables us to join in the great procession through the gates and into the very presence of the Lord himself.

Thanksgiving and Worship

The psalms are full of praise, both corporate and individual, and were thus fit for use in Israel’s worship. This praise is wholehearted (Ps. 103:1), often exuberant (Pss. 98; 148) and consistently responsive, because it was based on what God had done, whether for the whole world (Ps. 96), the nation (Ps. 48), the individual believer (Ps. 40) or some combination of these (Pss. 66; 147). The Egyptian Hallel (Pss. 113–118) and the Songs of Ascents (Pss. 120–134), by their use at the festivals that celebrated the nation’s origin in the great, divine, saving events of the past, show how even material making only brief references to these events could be employed to extol the God who had liberated and blessed his people. Psalm 118, the climax of the Egyptian Hallel, is quoted and alluded to several times in the NT (*e.g. in Matt. 21:42; Acts 4:11; Heb. 13:6) and, because it was read at the Passover, could well have been the last Scripture read or heard by Jesus before his death.

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