Year of the Bible – Psalm 134 – 140


My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. – Psalm 130:6

Psalm 134-140 (139)  

Psalm 134

Why is the “way” that we worship on earth so important? Well, there are two Jerusalems! One is above, the heavenly Jerusalem, often called “Zion” in the Bible. It is heaven. The other is an “earthly Jerusalem.” It is our congregational worship, an image of the Zion above telling us something about what is happening in heaven above. Our worship on earth is like a shadow, an image of a cloud high above on a bright summer day. So it is very important that God is properly praised on earth – so that we may see something of the perfect praise of God in heaven. Therefore, when the ministers of the house below faithfully praise God, the psalmist asks God to bless them from the heavenly Jerusalem above.

Psalm 135

What do we say when we praise God in our worship? God is not just an idea. He is a real, living Being who acts inside our daily lives. The people of Israel gave Him praise for His wonderful acts of redemption and kindness that He had done for them in their history: God had chosen their ancestor and His children to be His chosen possession (4); He delivered them from oppression in Egypt (8); He destroyed kings and nations when they rose up against them (10). The great difference between the God of Jacob and all other gods was that Jacob’s God was real and living, unlike the worthless idols of the nations. Their God rules the heavens and the earth on their behalf (6). So what should and can we praise God for in our worship?

Psalm 136

What part of our liturgy is reflected in the litany of this psalm? A litany is a form of praise that uses simple repetition to include all people in worship (even children) and to emphasize an important theme. The theme of Psalm 136: His love endures forever. The three elements of praise reflected in this psalm emphasize truths about God that are reflected in our own Apostles Creed: God is our creator; God is our redeemer; God is our sanctifier – that is, He is the God who preserves and protects us on our lifelong journey to heaven.

Psalm 137

Besides praise, what else do God’s children include in their worship of God? When Israel was taken away into captivity to Babylon, they lost their Holy Temple – and with it, the privilege and joy of worshipping God. That is why they wept in captivity, for they could not joyfully worship God as long as they were strangers in a foreign land and slaves to evil men. The worship of God is not only the praise of God. It can also include requests to God, “petitions”, that God would remember His children and redeem them from their enemies.

Psalm 138

What moves us to have the right “spirit” in worship? Remember that we have outward actions in worship – for instance, we fold our hands, stand for important parts of the liturgy (like the Gospel), sing hymns, etc. But these actions mean nothing unless our spirit, our heart, is also involved in worship. Certainly God does many great things for us for which we want to praise Him, but the greatest thing of all, something that only the real God does, is that He binds Himself to His Word. The Word of God is not only the true statements. His Word is full of promises that God makes, promises that He will never break – despite our own failing or sins. David, therefore, in this psalm, shows us what is behind the true spirit of worship. It is gratitude to God for His unfailing Word of promise. By relying upon God’s unfailing Word, David and all the lowly people of the earth like him, are preserved and delivered from all their troubles (7).

Psalm 139

This Psalm reminds us that God is everywhere, that there is no place that we can go where He cannot find us or come to us. The omnipresence of God also tells us that God is also present within us, that is, He knows our thoughts and actions, the very things that we do in private. And why not? He was present in our mother’s wombs making us into human beings. His thoughts and ways are beyond those of man who is limited by power and space. The person of faith knows that he can stand before God and invite Him to look into his heart. Where Christ is, there all sin is washed away.

Psalm 140

This Psalm reflects upon a problem that rises up time and time again in the lives of God’s people. God’s children are hated, so often without any cause or justification. Only God is capable of stopping gossip and slander, so this psalm directs the heart of the worshipper to rely upon God for protection and justice.
© John W. Fiene | Artwork by Brian McFarland