Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 8 2019 - Psalm 113 – Praise the Lord

Psalm 113 is a short psalm beginning and ending with the words, "Praise the Lord", or, in the original Hebrew, "Hallelujah". It is one of a series of psalms, spanning 113-118, which were regularly used at Passover time as part of the remembrance of all that God had done in rescuing his people from slavery in Egypt and setting them free to worship and serve him.

The psalm reminds us, the servants of the Lord, that we have abundant reasons for praising him. Firstly, he is to be praised simply because he is the sovereign God who reigns over all the earth. There is no-one else like our God, the living God; his glory is above the heavens. So exalted is he that he even has to stoop down to take a look at the sky and the earth (v.6).

But this mighty and exalted God has not stayed far off. He came down to live among us in the Lord Jesus; he came down to save us. In the words of this psalm:

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. (vv.7-8)

He found us in the mire of our sin and has raised us up from the dust of death to sit not just with "the princes of his people," but to be enthroned with the Son of God:

Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

But the immediate reference in this psalm is to the song of Hanna. Hanna, the wife of Elkanah, was childless and the object of mockery by her husband's other wife, Peninnah. She cried out to the Lord in prayer and the Lord answered her and gave her a son whom she named Samuel and whom she dedicated to the service of the Lord. In her song of praise recorded in 1 Samuel 2 she uses the words which are then quoted in Psalm 133:7-8 (see 1 Samuel 2:8 and the quotation given from the psalm above). That is why the psalm continues by saying:

He settles the childless woman in her home
    as a happy mother of children. (v.9)

Hannah's song in turn is outshone by the wonderful words of Mary in the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55. Mary, who as a virgin should have been childless, is filled with joyful wonder at the grace of God that he, the Mighty One, should have chosen her to be the mother of the one who would be Saviour of the world. This is what our God is like. He delights to choose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and to turn them into trophies of his grace. That is what he has done with us and so we also have every reason to praise his name.

The psalmist tells us that the Lord's name is to be praised from one end of the earth to the other, "From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets" (v.3). His love and saving mercy is wide enough to embrace all humanity, so his praises should rise from every corner of the world. Moreover, the Lord's name is to be praised, "both now and for evermore." Praise should be the keynote of our daily lives even as it will be our preoccupation for all eternity.

Father God, open our eyes to the wonder of your grace and our mouths to declare your praises. May our praise of you attract many others to recognise that there is none other like you. May they also recognise your love and goodness and come to trust in your salvation in the Lord Jesus. So may praise be multiplied until it fills all the earth and will resound through all eternity. 

Peter Misselbrook