by Pastor David Groendyk
Psalms 113–118 have been called the “Egyptian Hallel” which means they were praise psalms that were sung during the celebration of the Passover. Given the content of Psalm 113, it wouldn’t be hard to see why this would be an appropriate song for Israel to sing when reflecting on the exodus out of Egypt. This very simple psalm gives us the ‘who’, ‘when’, and ‘why’ of praising the Lord our God.
Verses 1–3 tell us the ‘who’ and ‘when’. Every single one of God’s servants ought to praise him all the day long for all of eternity. The Lord deserves unending praise from all of his people at all times. Think of all the times throughout the day when you are not praising God. Think of all the times throughout the day when God doesn’t even cross your mind. If we filled every single one of those minutes with singing and prayer, it still wouldn’t be enough to showcase adequately the glory of God. As the hymn Amazing Grace goes: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun // we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun.” These verses 1–3 will not truly be fulfilled until one day all of God’s servants can praise him perfectly in heaven for eternity. But until then, let’s strive to be more mindful of God and the praise he deserves throughout our everyday lives.
Verses 4–9 tell us the ‘why’. Although the Lord our God is seated high above all things, he looks down low to pull people up out of their misery into a place of joy and privilege. This is something that is consistently highlighted through history as being one of the greatest things about God. He is awesome and glorious, but he lowers himself and is accessible to us (see Deut. 4:7 or Psa. 34:18). He is not aloof and far off when we need him. He pays very careful attention to every one of his creatures, and he loves to rescue them when they call. Verses 7–8 from this psalm are taken from Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:8. Including Hannah, think of all the other barren women in Scripture that the Lord miraculously gave children to: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, the Shunammite woman, Elizabeth, and others. What a very personal and tender God we have who heard the cries of those women! Perhaps those very personal trials and answered prayers help us to understand why this song was sung at the Passover as well as the attitude we ought to have regarding our own deliverance from sin and bondage. God notices when we are afflicted, and graciously lowers himself to come rescue us.
Nowhere is this more clear than in the coming of Jesus Christ. The incarnation is the perfect example of God looking low and humbling himself in order to lift us up out of the ash heap of misery and death to be given a new home, a new joy, and to sit on thrones in a palace. But what this psalm teaches us is that God becoming human was not an aberration! Looking low and entering into our misery was not a one-off event for the Lord. It is his very character to do that for humble, repentant sinners. This is always how he deals with his children, tenderly and compassionately. Go to him in prayer today with a renewed sense of the great lengths God goes to for his children, and the watchful care that he provides all the time.