This Week's Focus Passage

Psalms 146-150 ‘Praise ye Jehovah……Praise ye Jehovah.’

According to theologians and biblical historians, the Hallel—sometimes spoken of as the Great Hallel—is made up of Psalms 113-118. According to more than one source there are more portions of the book of Psalms that are considered to be hallels, or songs of praise, referring us to the Hallelujah. This may put us in mind of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ contained in the well-known musical composition with the generally accepted title of ‘Handel’s Messiah.’ One bible encyclopedia informs us in the following citation, that:

“In the fifth book of the Pss (107-50) there are several groups of Hallelujah Psalms: 104-6; 111-13; 115-17; 135; 146-50. In the worship of the synagogue Pss 135-136 and 146-50 were used in the daily morning service. Pss 113-118 were called the ‘Egyp Hallel,’ and were sung at the feasts of the Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, and Dedication. At the Passover, Pss 113 and 114 (according to the school of Shammai only Ps 113) were sung before the feast, and Pss 115-18 after drinking the last cup. The song used by Our Lord and the disciples on the night of the betrayal (Mt 26 30), just before the departure for the Mount of Olives, probably included Pss 115-18.”—John Richard Sampey

While it is very common to find that the term ‘The Hallel’ is, more often than not, being employed to refer to Psalms 113-118, it is evidently not the case in every instance. Charles Spurgeon has called Psalm 113, ‘The Commencement of the Hallel.’ But in these last five of the Psalms of David, 146-150, we have what may also be known as the Hallel; or to put it another way; these are the psalms of praise.

Among those numbered above by Sampey, there are but two that both begin and end with ‘Praise ye Jehovah,’ namely 106 and 113, while each of these five final psalms both begin and end with ‘Praise ye Jehovah.’ This is the rendering in English of the Hebrew, ‘Hallelujah.’ Hallel, Praise, Hallel-u, Praise ye, Jah, Jehovah; in other words; Hallelujah: Praise ye Jehovah! Can we even remotely imagine that we might ever Praise Jehovah; Praise our God; our Father in heaven, more than we should, or can praise Him? We join many others in thanking our God the Holy Spirit for having men of old—inspiring them—to pen these Hallel choruses; these true Hallelujah choruses for us to sing praise to our Father in Heaven for all His mercies and love.

In his own inimitable way—a usually very helpful way—our old friend from the past speaks again of these last five psalms in gracious and felicitous terms:

“We are now among the Hallelujahs. The rest of our journey lies through the Delectable Mountains. All is praise to the close of the book. The key is high-pitched: the music is upon the high-sounding cymbals. O for a heart full of joyful gratitude, that we may run, and leap, and glorify God, even as these Psalms do.”—C. H. Spurgeon

And I cannot forbear yet another expression from the heart and mind of this ‘Prince of Preachers, as he gives us a picture of London, or the world, in his time, that of the nineteenth century. If these things were applicably spoken in that era, how much more may they be pronounced upon our generation? Hear his sad heart speak:

Praise ye the Lord,” or Hallelujah. It is saddening to remember how this majestic word has been trailed in the mire of late. Its irreverent use is an aggravated instance of taking the name of Jehovah our God in vain. Let us hope that it has been done in ignorance by the ruder sort; but great responsibility lies with leaders who countenance and even copy this blasphemy. With holy awe let us pronounce the word Hallelujah, and by it summon ourselves and all others to adore the God of the whole earth.”

How often do we hear individuals in what has been known for quite some time now as the ‘Bible Belt,’ who give no evidence of knowing the God of all Praise, crying out hallelujahs because their team scored, or their candidate won, with absolutely no thought or consideration toward the glory of God’s Name? Is our old friend not truly correct when he referred to such irreverent use of God’s holy Name as an aggravated instance of taking our God’s Name in vain? It is to be greatly feared and lamented that many such ‘ignorant’ persons—ignorant of the true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ who lived and died in order to magnify the Name of His Father in heaven—are also, if they call themselves Christians, taking the Name of Christ in vain? There are multitudes, perhaps even especially in the ‘Bible Belt’ who are what are to be known as ‘nominal’ (in name only) Christians. May it never be said of us?

It is rather common to see billboards with the scripture (Psalm 33:12) emblazoned upon them, Blessed is the nation whose God is Jehovah. Is this true of this nation? Is Jehovah the God of this people? And why is it that we repeatedly hear the appeal, if you will, from many in the public eye, from Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, from the president down to the local mayor and city commissioner, at the conclusion of some speech or other, ‘God bless our mothers and fathers, God bless our families; God bless our civil servants; and God bless America’? Should we not, in truth, be much more often exhorting the people of this land, ‘America….Bless God’? How about America blessing God? This is what we see David and many of the other psalmists crying into our ears over and again; Praise ye Jehovah, praise ye Jehovah, and David’s memorable song of praise, the 103rd psalm, which begins and concludes with, Bless Jehovah. David has begun with Bless Jehovah, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name, and in conclusion exhorts the angels with all creation to Bless Jehovah, all his angels, and Bless Jehovah, all ye his works. May we be a people that truly bless Jehovah.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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