Tom Lowe


Psalm 113: Hallelujah!

Scripture: (Psalm 113, KJV)


1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.

2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name is to be praised.

4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.

5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high,

6 Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!

7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;

8 That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.

9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.



Psalm 113-118 are known as The Great Hallel or The Egyptian Hallel from a reference to the Exodus in 114:1. Together they make up Israel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” so to speak. They were sung repeatedly throughout the year and in their entirety at the annual feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, as well as Hanukkah, the later Feast of Dedication. They were sung at the time of the new moon, except when the moon heralded a new year. Evidently, they were composed about the same time, perhaps by the same author, and belong obviously to the same era of the return from captivity. Like the preceding psalm, this is also an alphabetical acrostic.

The ancient way of reciting this [the hallel] was for the leader, to begin with, “Hallelujah,” which was repeated by the congregation; then after each half-verse, the congregation fell in with “Hallelujah,” which was thus said 123 times.

They teach us that God would have His people be preeminently a praising people. So, no matter how sad and sorrowful some of our life situations along the way, we should learn to praise the Lord.

It is impossible to read these psalms (113-118) or meditate on them without thinking of the Lord Jesus there in the upper room. The shadow of Calvary lay across His path. Gethsemane, Gabbatha, and Golgotha were only hours away.

So let’s take a look at this psalm. On the Passover night, it was sung before the meal began. We could think of it as a kind of table grace, sung to dispel the shadows of evening and to give thanks and praise to God for His love and care. As we study it, let us remember that when shadows lengthen, when circumstances frown for us, that never were shadows so dark or so long as those that wrapped around that upper room. Nor were shadows so gloriously dispelled.


Scripture: Psalms 113:1-9 (KJV)

1 (a) Praise ye the LORD. (b) Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, (c) praise the name of the LORD.


The phrase “Praise ye the LORD” is simply the Hebrew word “Hallelujah.” Note that it is the Lord’s servants who are called on to praise Him. We serve a good Master. There is none like Him on the earth below or in the heavens above. He deserves our best, even when the tasks assigned are hard, seemingly unrewarding, sometimes tedious, often bitterly opposed by wicked men, and sometimes misunderstood and misinterpreted by other brethren. Our Lord deserves smiling service, not surly service.


“O ye servants of the LORD” is referring to the Levites, who are peculiarly devoted to this solemn work, who sometimes are called God’s servants in a special sense, and all you faithful souls.


We are privileged to be called into His service; what we do to serve Him is less important. Our calling may be to preach to millions or to pass on a word of testimony in a concentration camp. An angel on commission from the King of Glory would be just as happy sweeping a chimney as ruling an empire. “Yet serve the Lord Christ” was Paul’s way of phrasing it for the Colossian Christians.


So then, we have the Lord’s rightful claim to be served. Since we are His servants, honored to be called to wait on Him and do His will, to be part of what He is accomplishing in the world, He has every right to expect we will do it with praise


1c-2 (1c) O ye servants of the LORD. (2) Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.


Three times in three verses mention is made of the name of the Lord. Throughout the entire Old Testament age, God revealed Himself through His names: Elohim, Adonai, Jehovah Shalom, Jehovah Shammah, Jehovah Tsidkenu, Jehovah Nissi, El Elyon, El Shaddai. Name after name, revelation after revelation, until, at last, we cross the great divide from the Old Testament to the New and learn the name “Our Father.”


So, when the psalmist tells us to praise the name of the Lord from this time forth, and forevermore, it is because His name is the manifold expression of whom He is. We can understand that because in a lesser sense the same is true of us. Few things are more precious in life than a good name, one we can carry with dignity and respect.


God revealed His name to Israel (Ex. 3:13-14; 6:2-3) in order that it might be made known to the nations. Low moral conduct had the effect of profaning His name. If His character and demands were rightly represented, the result was to hallow that name. Therefore praising the name of the Lord (1-2) “from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same” (3) meant praising God himself wherever the sun should shine, and all day long.


Our Master has bought us with a price that only he could pay. He has bought us to set us free. He has given us the honor of bearing His name. He would keep the dignity of that royal name always before us. We serve Him, not with a rebellious spirit, because He has degraded us, dehumanized us, dishonored us. We serve Him, because He has given us back our lost dignity and has given us a high calling in Christ. He wants us to keep His name {2] before us. Then we will properly praise Him and spread the honor of His name.


The psalmist likewise keeps before us the appropriateness of praising the Lord. Nor is that all He emphasizes:



3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name is to be praised.


“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same” means from one end of the world to the other; from east to west, which he mentions instead of north to south because those parts of the world were at this time only sparsely inhabited and unknown.

His praises encircle the wide belt of the earth. From the distant east, around the circumference of the globe to the furthest west, the psalmist wanted the Lord’s praise to be sung. And so it is.


“The LORD'S name is to be praised,” for His glorious works of creation and providence, the benefit of which all nations enjoy; and for His gracious purpose and promise of bringing in all nations to the knowledge of His truth by the Messiah.


4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.


“The LORD is high above all nations,” superior to all princes and bodies of people in the world. The reason for praise is the exaltation, glory, and greatness of our God. “The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.” There are none like the Lord, dwelling on high (5), and condescending to take notice of things in heaven and in the earth! The point is, God does concern Himself with the affairs of men.


Some nations on earth today have dedicated themselves to the spread of atheism. They cannot win. “The Lord is high above all nations.” They are a mere drop in the bucket to Him, and He can upset that bucket anytime He wants.


The psalmist would lift our eyes above those who think in their pride and ignorance that they can overthrow God. He says, “His glory is above the heavens. Look up!” The Glory of the earthly monarchs is confined to this lower world and to small pieces of it. The glory of God does not only fill the earth, but heaven too, where it is celebrated by thousands and myriads of blessed angels. Yes, it is far higher than heaven; since it is infinite and incomprehensible.


5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high,


We parade before us the great ones of the earth. We summon the world’s thinkers―Plato, Aristotle, Archimedes, Solomon, Newton, and Einstein. We summon the world’s religious leaders―Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad. We summon the world’s conquerors―Alexander, Genghis Kahn, Napoleon, Caesar. It is a miserable crowd.


At this point, the psalmist asks a rhetorical question, which does not require an answer; “Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high?” The answer is “Nobody. All the world’s great ones are dwarfed, discomfited, dismayed before Him. Their wisdom is seen to be nothing. They are like men picking up pebbles on the seashore of knowledge and when they have gathered all they can carry, they have gleaned nothing of all that remains to be known. Their religions are seen to be false. Their conquests built them empires of sand blown away by the wind. They shrink away in confusion and shame.



6 Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!


The theme here is the grace of our Lord “who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!” Although He is so high, He is willing to stoop down [figurativly] from the faraway heavens to see how things are here on planet earth. He sits in heaven; He sees on earth. He is so high that it is a wonderful condensation for Him to pay any attention to His holy and heavenly host or to the holy and miserable men upon the earth, which He is more than happy to do.


If we were able to be in that upper room in Jerusalem on the night our Savior was there, we might realize that our Lord clothed Himself in humanity, humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That is the supreme manifestation of His grace. That should stimulate in us a desire to praise Him as we should.


Jesus was certainly humble, but I wonder how humble we should be! While we speak familiarly to God as our Father, we should never forget the immense distance between Him and us. And yet our Lord stooped through this immense distance to become a man! (Phil. 2:6-8)



7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;


“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust” . . . “the needy out of the dunghill”, for they were in a most contemptible and miserable condition. Beggars and mourners used to lie in the dust, or, upon dunghills.


“Out of the dust! . . . out of the dunghill!”  These are almost word for word from the prayer of Hannah (1 Sam. 2:8).


Here we have two Old Testament metaphors for poverty and degradation. The refuse of a middle-eastern town was collected and dumped in a heap outside the walls. Beggars, lepers, those afflicted with loathsome diseases, and other outcasts congregated there at night. They would lie down near the ashes of the refuse fires trying to keep warm. The Lord Jesus sees them from His throne in heaven; He stoops low in order to observe the scene on earth and there He sees the poor and needy that all men, and even their own brethren slight and despise, and He raises them up.


Although the world’s great have little concern for such persons, the Lord does. He looks out over earth’s cities―with their unhealthy slums, the millions of people who make the streets their home, who at best have a flimsy shanty or a spot under a bridge for a home, and who usually go to bed hungry―and He has an offer for them.


He offers them life everlasting―the bread of life. He offers them a place in His kingdom―rank, and royalty in the world to come. He offers to bring them up from the pit, up from the miry clay, up from the dust and the dunghill.



8 That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.


He offers to make them the aristocracy of heaven. So, we have God’s kindness to the downtrodden declared. He commands His servants {1] to “set them with princes,” and show them equal Honor and power, as they did Joseph, David, and others.


“The princes of his people”; which in Gods reckoning and in truth are far more happy and honorable than the princes of heathen and barbarous nations, because their subjects are nobler, and they have God’s special presence and providence among them.


The gospel appeal has always been to the poor. Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Paul said, “Not many mighty, not many noble are called.” He didn’t say “Not any” but “not many.” History has proven him right. The rank and file of the kingdom of God has come from the downtrodden of the earth.


9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and Praise ye the LORD.


“To keep house” means, to dwell in a house or with a family, or among children, and to be a joyful mother of children” refers to children that have come out of her own womb, and is clearly implied by the opposition of this to her barrenness. And the word house is often put for children (Ex. 1:21; Ruth 4:11; Ps. 115:10, 12).


A joyful mother.―The “barren woman” here may perhaps typify the Jewish church in her low estate, or even the gentile church (Isa. 40:13); but when God wills, and in answer to prayer, her children are multiplied.


He ends on the same note with which he began, “Praise ye the Lord.” Surely,

We can sing our own reverent Hallel.





One thing we should learn from this psalm is this: The power, glory, and majesty of God are not reserved for the segment of humanity that considers itself powerful, glorious, and majestic. Just the opposite. Psalm 113 is a reminder of both the greatness of God and His love for those who have nothing to offer Him except their praise. The reason God deserves the praises of humanity is that no one, no thing, no power is greater. And when people begin to comprehend that the great God of the universe has chosen to be actively involved in their lives, they should heed the psalmist’s repeated exhortation to PRAISE THE LORD.




Special notes and Scripture

[1} Servants refers to the redeemed, all of whom should serve God with obedience.

[2} The name of God represents all His attributes.