Observe This short Psalm is full of praise for God and His care for those with few advantages in this world. The third consecutive Psalm beginning “Hallelujah!”, the first verse encourages praise by His servants forevermore (2). Here, from the rising of the sun to the setting emphasizes God is so worthy, splendid, powerful, that we never stop our praise.
Verses 4-6 give reasons for continual praise of our incomparable God, far above anything on earth or above. His interest and care for creation (especially humans) is remarkable. Recall Psalm 8: What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?(4); Psalm 144:3 carries a similar amazement that our majestic Lord so cares for His frail creatures.
Verse 5 asks Who is like the Lord our God? -- pivoting in this two-part song to God’s rescue of the poor.
He stoops and raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap (7), but doesn’t just set them down in a convenient place. He raises them to be with princes. God honours the barren woman, a nonentity in that culture, with motherhood (recall Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:8, and God’s kindness to other “barren” women in the Hebrew Bible).
As this Psalm begins, so it ends: Praise the Lord!
Interpret Book 5 of Psalms contains six praise songs called Hallel: Psalms 113-118, subtitled the ‘Egyptian Hallel’, connect with Israel’s deliverance from Egypt at Passover. They are sung at Passover, Psalms 113-114 before the meal and Psalms 115-118 after. It’s likely Jesus and His disciples sang them at the Last Supper, (after they had sung a hymn… (Mark 14:26)), before that walk to Gethsemane.
The Psalm connects with the new covenant, God’s work in believers: ‘ …even when we were dead in trespasses, [He] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Eph. 2:5,6). Our praise continues as He draws our hearts and lives to Him.
Apply This hymn calls all believers to praise our transcendent God who so loves humankind that He bends down to raise the poor and needy (that’s us!). The answer to the question, “Who is like the Lord our God?” can only be, “No one.” And we must take this at face value because our most earnest attempts to change ourselves just don’t work. As God has raised us truly unworthy recipients of His grace and salvation, so we raise our praises to Him, often and always. As we learn to let go of our poor dusty selves, our collective praises honour and glorify Him and we grow together as His Body, in Him.
Ask Who is like the Lord our God?
Pray Lord God, mighty God, truly there is no one like You. Thank You that you raised me from the dust of death to give me Your life, in Your Body, You before all else. Knowing this, I can only give you my heart, full of praise. Hallelujah!
Sing Ps 113 Royalty - Mike Janzen
From the Rising of the Sun - Sandra McCracken
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.