Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, you his servants;
praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
both now and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look
on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord.(Ps. 113:1-9 NIV)
In Christ alone:
Psalms 113-118 form a collection that is called the Egyptian Praise. The people of God would sing these Psalms at the time of major religious festivals like Passover, Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. The reference to Egypt stems from the fact that Passover was celebrated in Egypt for the first time. Psalms 113-114 were sung at the start of the Passover service, while Psalms 115-118 were used at the conclusion.
Passover was an annual festival where the people were told to celebrate the time when God redeemed them out of Egypt. It is a salvation celebration.
Only the second of this collection (Ps.114) speaks directly of the Exodus, but the theme of raising the poor (113) and the note of corporate praise (115), personal thanksgiving (116), world vision (117) and festal procession (118) make it an appropriate series to mark the salvation which began in Egypt and will spread to the nations.
You will remember that the Lord celebrated the Passover meal just hours before he was taken to the cross. These were probably the last Psalms Christ would have sung before his cross event. We will see that these Psalms have a great relevance to the Exodus, but in the light of Christ’s death as the Lamb of God, these songs of Exodus celebration take on a greater significance to this greater Exodus in the salvation that has come in Jesus Christ.
If you look at Ps.113 you will see that it begins and ends with the phrase, ‘Praise the Lord’. That sets the scene for what the Psalm is about. All that we find and see within this Psalm will give us reason to praise the Lord.
Within those two phrases we have three very evenly balanced stanzas.
The first stanza is the rest of verse 1 and verses 2-3. The theme here is absolutely clear, it is the praising of the name of the Lord.
In the prelude to the Exodus event, there is a great deal of time given over to the name of God. It is in the account of the call of Moses that we have God revealing the name Yahweh, for the first time. Up until this time, God was known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God Almighty who resides in the high place. Now this is the God who is present, the God of intervention. The warrior God who will come and fight battles.
In the prelude to the salvation event in the Gospels of the New Testament quite an emphasis is placed upon the name:
‘You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’.
‘They will call him Immanuel – which means, “God with us”’
The Psalms often celebrate or remember the name of the Lord as the object of thanksgiving, confidence and prayer. The name Yahweh is the revelation of the glory of God in His acts of creation and redemption and in the revelation of his person. The faithful love and rejoice in the name.
“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you”.(Ps. 5:11, 9:2, 18:49).
He freely revealed to Israel His name when He graciously chose them out of all the nations.
God’s name is reliable, as He promises that all who seek Him and call on His name will be saved. Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord have never forsaken those who seek You. The name guarantees Yahweh’s blessing and protection.
The promise has been the same from the beginning to this day. Those who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
To call on the name of Jesus is to understand that Jesus is the one who saves us from our sin.
Back in Exodus we are told that in heaven, God heard the cry of His suffering people in Egypt. Again and again throughout Scripture those who call on the name of the Lord are those who have appreciated their need and they look up and call upon God.
The proud and the self-sufficient, the self-righteous person, will not call out.
Jesus tells the story of the two men supposedly calling on the name of God. The first man, a religious man – like a man brought up in a Christian home, full of self-opinion and using his opportunity so that others could share his good opinion of himself – said: ‘I thank you that I am not like this wretch, I fast, I give money’. He was so in love with himself. But the other man, without the religious background, had an honest view of himself. He cried out calling upon the name of the Lord: ‘Lord be merciful to me the sinner’. God heard this man and from heaven answered and this man was blessed by God and sent on his way rejoicing. If you were to call upon the name of God today, God promises that you will be saved. God is a God with an attentive ear, willing to respond to those who call on Him.
All over the world, round the clock from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun, God’s name is praised because many have called upon that name and have cause to praise that name.
We may conclude our Sunday worship thinking that the worship of God is complete, but as we conclude, others in other parts of the world are just beginning:
All over the world the Spirit is moving,
All over the world as the prophet said it would be,
All over the world, there’s a mighty revelation
Of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
The name of God is precious. Can you see how it plays a major part in our understanding of God. Praise the name of the Lord, Let the name of the Lord be praised both now and evermore, from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The first stanza places the focus on the name of God. The second stanza tells how high the Lord God is exalted:
(1) Over all the nations.
(2) His glory is above the heavens.
(3) No-one else quite like the Lord
(4) He has to get down on hands and knees to see the heavens and the earth.
Many nations behave in a manner that denies there is a God. It’s hard to convince proud people that they have a God to whom they must give an account. They feel that they have survived OK without God until now, and they will tough out the future without Him. But all nations will one day account to God. We cannot possibly escape the creator God. God speaks of the future as though it had already happened. At times it looks as if God is behind, that He is losing. When you look at church buildings across our country being used for other purposes, when you look at the laws that are being passed, you might feel the battle is lost. The nations already shake the fist in triumph at the defeat of God, but the battle is not over. God can see the end of the battle, the triumph of the crucified Christ. From our perspective we’re looking at generations and the clock passes so slowly for us, but God has been building the NT church for almost 2000 years. When will the gospel be preached in every nation, when will the glory of the Lord cover the earth as the waters cover the sea? Maybe long generations are still to come, but it is only a moment in God’s estimation. So near is the end game, that God has declared victory.
The glory of the Lord is way up above the heavens. So high is the glory of the Lord that he has to stoop down to view the heavens. If you visit many of the modern cities of the world, you can have your breath taken away at the height of some of the great buildings. So high they’re called skyscrapers. You get the details about how far those buildings sway back and forward in the wind. You can imagine what it must be like way up there on the top floor in the middle of a thunderstorm. They’re built high up into the sky. Higher than that go the aeroplanes, higher than that go the rockets, higher than that the great telescopes of this world penetrate to give us information about other galaxies. Higher than that is God, so far beyond that highest height that he has to stoop down to look on what we call massive.
But the point is also made that he does stoop. Down and down God comes, to view the heavens, down and deeper down to view the earth. As God stoops down to intervene in our lives the third stanza of this Psalm tells us what he does:
(1) He raises the poor from the dust
(2) He lifts the needy from the ash heap
(3) He seats them with princes
(4) He settles the barren women in her home as a happy mother of children.
The greatest poverty is not that we are short of cash, it is that we are short of salvation. We’re in debt to God because of every sin. We’ve squandered our lives in the service of Satan, we have frittered our lives away with doing what is wrong. Our poverty is that we are not rich towards God.
Sin leaves us poverty stricken, it leaves us needy. Many will stubbornly refuse to acknowledge any such need. But the grace of God stoops to raise us out of our poverty, out of our need. God does not just stoop to sympathise; he stoops to raise us, to give us a seat with princes.
That stooping down to where we were has taken place in Christ coming into this world. Out of the ivory palaces of heaven he came into this world of sin:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!(Phil. 2:6-8 NIV)
God stooped down in Christ to raise us up:
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,NIV Ephesians 2:6
It is no surprise that the Psalmist begins and ends this psalm with the words, ‘praise the Lord’. If you get a sight of the greatness of the name and glory of the Lord and see how low He has stooped to raise us up to sit in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, then you too will praise the Lord.
Our heavenly Father, we thank You that Christ has become the Passover Lamb, and that in Christ You have come to where we are, taken our sin and laid it upon the Saviour. We thank You that You have lifted us out of sin, set our feet upon the rock and put a new song of praise in our hearts. We praise Your great and glorious name through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.