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Psalm 135:1-135:21
Key Verse: 135:1

Psalm 135 starts with ‘praise the LORD’, in other words “Halleluiah”. The author is unknown and assumed one of the post-Exilic. The Bible study questions are “What should the servants of the LORD do diligently in the house of the Lord(1-3)? What are the causes that we should praise God? The content of the passage is consisted of three parts. We enjoy our praise and worship team in our worship service. And the passage shows what is the background of our praise and worship.

I. Call to praise(1-2)

Look at Verses 1-3. “Praise the LORD. Praise the name of the LORD; praise him, you servants of the LORD, you who minister in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God. Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.” Those verses command the servants of the LORD who are in the house of the Lord to praise the LORD. They were the people who prepared for the sacrifices to God at the temple. They were the worshipers in the house of God. Today they are the ones who are called and saved in the name of Jesus. The most important thing the believers should do is ‘praising God’, “Halleluiah”. Praising is more important than any works for God. Isaiah 43:21 says “The people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” Praising God is the proof that we received God’s grace. Praising God proves that our relationship with God is restored. Praising God is proclaiming who God is. Therefore when we praise God, the enemy Satan trembles. The fear and restlessness heart is restored and our heart is filled with the sense of victory of Jesus Christ.

When Paul and Silas were put in prison, they praised God and the prison door was opened broken down and the jailor repented and accepted Christ. That was the power of praise. We have precious new Bible students. Some people experience new power after Bible studies. "Why am I so energetic?" That is from the power of the Holy Spirit. Praising the Lord leads us to maintain such spiritual power. When I was a student we experienced similar things. There was a ping pong table in our center. After worship service, everybody was filled with the Holy Spirit and gathered around Ping-Pong table. When we had good worship service the game was different. Players played running around like flying. The Ping-Pong ball was almost invisible. A good praise and worship service restored us fully in Christ and filled us with the Holy Spirit. Now our Toronto UBF has an excellent worship environment. And we experience the strong presence of Jesus through our worship service. When we keep entering into God’s presence like this, surely the fruits of the Holy Spirit will appear in and through us. Also we will be the spiritual influence to the world.

II. Causes of praise(3-18)

1. We praise God because the Lord is good. (3)

Verse 3a Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.

The psalmist calls to praise the Lord for the Lord is good. Here the LORD is Yahweh, God of love and salvation. The psalmist is inspired and asks for praising God for his goodness. God is good and we praise our God. God has no defect and nothing to be added to his Nature to be better. God does good things and HE extends his goodness to his people. When Moses stood on the top of Mt. Sinai in Exodus, there was a proclamation “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…” When God’s goodness is given unconditionally and sacrificially, it is love. When it is shown favor to the guilty, it is grace. When it is reached out to the miserable, it is mercy. When it shows patience toward those who deserve punishment, it is long-suffering. When it reveals to us the way things are, it is truth. When it bears the offense of our sin, it is forgiveness. God is perfect in all those characteristics. God is good. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah!

A little boy was praying at bedtime. He said, “Please help me to be a good boy. Also you should be a good God.” But in fact even though we need to grow every day, God is perfectly good already.

God is good to me. And that is the basic cause of my praise. I am not good. But God is good. Even though people are not good sometimes, God is good. God is good like our parents. Our parents are good to us and have best wishes to us all the time. God is our Heavenly Father. His desire for us is good to us. (Let’s say “God is good to me. Hallelujah!”

Isaiah 55:8-9 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” … “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Sometimes we are in trouble and difficulty. But we have to know that that is a chance to experience God’s goodness. Romans 8: 28 says “… we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him …”

Let’s praise our LORD for HE is good. God has more goodness in his store room to release into our life. He is worthy of our praise.

2. We praise God because God chose us(4)

For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession.

God chose Jacob and became the God of Jacob. That was God’s choosing grace. Jacob was a deceiver. He could not get along with his brother and had to leave his family in his young age. He tricked his brother to get the birth right and he tricked his uncle to get wealth. He was strong minded, which gave trouble to other people. God knew everything about him. In Isaiah 41:14 God said, "O worm Jacob"(Do you know what is a worm?) But God never gave him up. God appeared to him at every important moment in his life and gave him spiritual direction. God blessed him to be the father of Israel’s twelve tribes. The world chooses a man by certain standards. But God’s choice is based on his grace. God chose a country girl Mary to be the mother of Jesus. Jesus chose his twelve disciples from the ordinary people. God chose us based on his mercy and grace.

1 Co 1:27 says “ … God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” Mensa is an organization whose members have an IQ of 140 or higher. A few years ago, there was a Mensa convention in San Francisco, and several members lunched at a local cafeteria. While dining, they discovered that their saltshaker contained pepper and their peppershaker was full of salt. How could they swap the contents of the bottles without spilling, and using only the implements at hand? Clearly this was a job for Mensa! The group debated and presented ideas, and finally came up with a brilliant solution involving a napkin, a straw, and an empty plate. They called the waitress over to dazzle her with their solution. “Ma’am,” they said, “we couldn’t help but notice that the peppershaker contains salt and the saltshaker pepper.” “Oh,” the waitress interrupted. “Sorry about that.” She unscrewed the caps of both bottles and switched them.

This is how God works! He likes to shame those who are wise and strong. God used trumpets to bring down the walls of Jericho. He reduced Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 300 to rout the armies of Midian (Judges 7:1-25). He used an ox stick in the hand of Shamgar to defeat the Philistines. With the jawbone of a donkey He enabled Samson to defeat a whole army. And Jesus fed over 5,000 with five loaves and two fish.

We were not qualified to be chosen by God yet God chose us by HIS grace and we praise God. If the Prime Minister Steven Harper comes to UTS and speaks to the people saying "Abraham Lee is my good friend." How would he feel? The prime minister of Canada is nothing but a mere man comparing to God. But God chose Abraham to be his own and God is the God of Abraham Lee. God chose Tina and God is God of Tina. God is God of Allen. God is God of Christopher. Each of us has been chosen by God in the name of Jesus and became his people. 1 Peter 2:9 says, ".. you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. " We praise God for choosing us to be His own.

3. We praise God because God delivered us from the slavery of sin (8,9)

“He struck down the firstborn of Egypt, the firstborn of men and animals. He sent his signs and wonders into your midst, O Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants.”

The background of the passage is Exodus. At that time Pharaoh of Egypt was holding Israel in slavery. They forced hard labor upon the people of Israel. God’s people cried out to God in groaning and God sent Moses to lead his people out of slavery. But Pharaoh did not listen to God’s word. So God had to send plagues one after another. Pharaoh hardened his heart and did not listen again and again. The tenth and last plague was the plague on the first born, which is written here. He struck down the firstborn of Egypt, the firstborn of men and animals. Pharaoh’s human power was helpless before the power of God. The Lord delivered his people with his mighty hand and led them to the promised-land. God saved his people from the bondage of slavery and gave them a new nation. Freedom is an essential quality to all the creatures.

One of the most famous chimpanzees of all time is one by the name of Washoe. In 1966 she was adopted by two doctors who raised her almost like a child and she learned 140 sign languages. After several years the staff decided that she was able to conceptualize. “She is going to say what is on her heart!” the staff declared. In her safe and secure cage, well taken care of, Washoe said the first three words from her own initiative: “LET ME OUT!!!”. Even in animals, there is a desire for freedom. Human being has longing for freedom. We yearn to enjoy life, free from guilt and despair. God has created us as free being. But the sad truth is that the natural men are not free. Romans 6:16 says “… you are slaves to the one whom you obey —whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness” All sinners are slaves of sin. But praise God for giving us the freedom from sin through our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus paid himself on the cross for our freedom. Romans 6:17,18 says “…thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, … You have been set free from sin …”

Why do we go to the campus and share the gospel of Christ? It is because a lot of people at the campus are in slavery of sin and death. They are miserable being tormented by the power of sin and evil spirit. Somebody should go and let them know that there is a way of freedom. Somebody should share the good news of new life of freedom and truth. May God help us to be used as his instrument to spread this gospel of freedom. May God deliver U of T students from the bondage of slavery through our preaching and teaching this fall. Praise God for delivering us from our sins and giving us a new life of freedom in him.

4. We praise God because God is the only true God(13-21).

“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths.” There have been all kinds of gods on earth throughout the history. But the other gods are all false. God is the only true God. The idols are made of silver and gold. It has shape but cannot speak, listen, or hear. The idol is an imaginary product of human being. How absurd to imagine that something we can make could solve our problems! Those verses show us the folly of idolatry and affirm us that the LORD is the only true God.

What is spiritual idol in modern days? It is something other than God that rules on the throne of our heart. That could be a hidden sin, a bad habit, or something we like more than God. Bible emphasizes repeatedly that God detests idolatry. Only God is worthy of our worship and praise. May God help us to remove idols from our heart so that we may be the true worshippers.

In conclusion, we learned that God is worthy of our praise. Hallelujah, praise the Lord. Let’s fill our heart with the thoughts of God that we may worship Him in praise and worship. Let’s claim God’s abundant goodness in our life through our praise life.

By Peter Moon

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