Psalms Chapter 135:1-21 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
Psa 135:1
1.Praise ye the name of Jehovah Though this Psalm begins almost in the same manner with the preceding, the Psalmist would not appear to be addressing the Levites exclusively, but the people generally, since the reasons given for praising God are equally applicable to all God’s children. No mention is made of night watching, or of their standing constantly in the Temple. But indeed, as it was the special duty of the priests to take the lead in this devotional exercise, to give out, if we might use such an expression, and sing the praises of God before the people, there is no reason why we should not suppose that they are primarily addressed, and stirred up to their duty. We need only to examine the words more closely in order to be convinced that the people are included as next in order to the priests. For the Psalmist addresses the servants of God who stand in the temple, then those who are in the courts, whereas no notice was taken of the courts in the former Psalm. Mention seems to be made of courts in the plural number, because the priests had their court; and then there was another common to all the people, for by the law spoken of, (Lev_16:17,) they were prohibited from entering the sanctuary. To prevent any feeling of disgust which might arise from the very frequent repetition of this exhortation to the praises of God, it is only necessary to remember, as was already observed, that there is no sacrifice in which he takes greater delight than the expression of our gratitude. Thus, (Psa_50:14,) “Sacrifice unto the Lord thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High;” and, (Psa_116:12,) “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.”

Particular attention is to be paid to those passages of Scripture which speak in such high terms of that worship of God which is spiritual; otherwise we may be led, in the exercise of a misguided zeal, to spend our labor upon trifles, and in this respect imitate the example of too many who have wearied themselves with ridiculous attempts to invent additions to the service of God, while they have neglected what is of all other things most important. This is the reason why the Holy Spirit so repeatedly inculcates the duty of praise. It is that we may not undervalue, or grow careless in this devotional exercise. It implies, too, an indirect censure of our tardiness in proceeding to the duty, for he would not reiterate the admonition were we ready and active in the discharge of it. The expression in the end of the verse — because it is sweet, admits of two meanings — that the name of God is sweet, as in the previous clause it was said that God is good — or, that it is a sweet and pleasant thing to sing God’s praises. The Hebrew word נעים naim, properly signifies beautiful or comely, and this general signification answers best.

George Haydock
Psalm 135
Origen thinks that the captives sung this psalm at their return, as it greatly resembles the 106th, 134th, &c. (Calmet)

Adam Clarke
Psa 135:1
Praise ye the Lord – This may be considered as the title, for it has none other.

Praise ye the name of the Lord – Perhaps the original הללו את שם יהוה haleu eth shem Yehovah, should be translated, Praise ye the name Jehovah; that is, Praise God in his infinite essence of being, holiness, goodness, and truth.

Albert Barnes
Psa 135:2
Ye that stand in the house of the Lord – See the notes at Psa_134:1. That is, those who were appointed to conduct the services of religion, the priests and Levites.

In the courts of the house of our God – The areas, or parts assigned for different classes of worshippers around the tabernacle and the temple. See the notes at Mat_21:12; notes at Psa_92:13.

John Gill
Psa 135:3 Praise ye the Lord, for the Lord is good,…. Essentially and communicatively; he is good, and he does good, in a providential way, to all men; and in a way of special grace to his own people; for whom he has laid up and to whom he has promised good things, and on whom he bestows them; as pardon, righteousness, and eternal life; both grace and glory; and therefore they should praise him;

sing praises unto his name, for it is pleasant; either the work of singing praise is pleasant, being the employment of angels and glorified saints; the subject matter of it delightful, the blessings of grace flowing from the everlasting love of God it leads unto, which is excellent and better than life; and it must be pleasant work to a saint, because it is pleasing to God; and especially when the presence of God is enjoyed in it, and melody is made in the heart as well as with the mouth. Or the sense is, “his name is pleasant”; so Aben Ezra and Kimchi interpret it: for though it is holy and reverend in itself, and fearful and terrible to sinners; yet as it is proclaimed in Christ, it is exceeding delightful, and in whom all the perfections of God are glorified; particularly the name of God, as a covenant God and Father in Christ, blessing, with all spiritual blessings in him, is exceeding pleasant; as are all the names of Christ, and therefore to be praised.

John Calvin
Psa 135:4
4.For God hath chosen Jacob Other reasons are given afterwards why they should praise God, drawn from his government of the world. But as it was only the children of Abraham who were favored with the knowledge of God at that time, and were capable of praising him, the Psalmist directs them to the fact of their having been chosen by God to be his peculiar people, as affording matter for thanksgiving. The mercy was surely one of incomparable value, and which might well stir them up to fervent gratitude and praise, adopted as they were into favor with God, while the whole Gentile world was passed by. The praise of their election is given by the Psalmist to God — a clear proof that they owed the distinction not to any excellency of their own, but to the free mercy of God the Father which had been extended to them. He has laid all without exception under obligation to his service, for “he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.” (Mat_5:45.)

But he bound the posterity of Abraham to him by a closer tie, such as that by which he now adopts men generally into his Church, and unites them with the body of his only-begotten Son.

John Gill
Psa 135:4 For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself,…. To be his own special people, and not another’s; for his own service, and for his glory; and to be an habitation for himself, and to be for ever with him. This is not to be understood personally of Jacob, though a chosen vessel of mercy; nor of his natural posterity as such, though chosen as a nation to outward favours; for not all they, only some of them, were chosen to special grace and glory, a remnant according to the election of grace: but mystical and spiritual Jacob and Israel are meant, even the whole church and people of God, whether Jews or Gentiles; these God has chosen, of his own free grace and good will, to all the blessings of grace and glory, and that from all eternity; which choice will remain firm and immutable, in time and for ever; and therefore is worthy of praise and thanksgiving, now, and to all eternity;

and Israel for his peculiar treasure; by whom they are accounted as such; even as the peculiar treasure of kings, as silver, gold, jewels, and precious stones; as his inheritance, his portion, and peculiar people; see Exo_19:5.

Adam Clarke
Psa 135:4
For the Lord hath chosen Jacob – This is a third reason. He has taken the Israelites for his peculiar people, סגלתו segullatho, his peculiar treasure; and now has brought them home to himself from their captivity and wanderings.

Albert Barnes
Psa 135:4
For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself – The descendants of Jacob. He has selected them from among all the inhabitants of the earth to be his special people.

And Israel for his peculiar treasure – The word here rendered treasure, means that which is acquired; property; wealth. They were what God possessed, owned, or claimed among all the people of the earth as especially his own. He had chosen them; he had redeemed them; he had made them his own, and he regarded them with the interest with which anyone looks on his own property, the fruit of his own toil. See Exo_19:5; Deu_7:6; Deu_32:9; 1Ki_8:53.

John Calvin
Psa 135:5
5.For I know that Jehovah is great We have here a general description of the power of God, to show the Israelites that the God they worshipped was the same who made the world, and rules over all according to his will, neither is there any other besides him. He would not exclude others when he speaks of having known himself the greatness of God, but is rather to be considered as taking occasion from his own experience to stir up men generally to attend to this subject, and awake to the recognition of what lies abundantly open to observation. The immensity of God is what none can comprehend; still his glory, so far as was seen fit, has been sufficiently manifested to leave all the world without excuse for ignorance. How can one who has enjoyed a sight of the heavens and of the earth shut his eyes so as to overlook the Author of them without sin of the deepest dye? It is with the view, then, of stirring us up more effectually, — that the Psalmist makes reference to himself in inviting us to the knowledge of God’s glory; or rather he reprehends our carelessness in not being alive enough to the consideration of it. The second part of the verse makes the truth of the observation which I have already stated still more apparent, — that the Psalmist’s design was to retain the Israelites in the service and fear of the one true God, by a declaration to the effect that the God who covenanted with their Fathers was the same who created heaven and earth, No sooner had he made mention of Jehovah than he adds his being the God of Israel. It follows as a necessary consequence, that all who depart from this God prefer a god who has no claim to the title, and that Jews and Turks, for example, in our own day, are guilty of mere trifling when they pretend to worship God the Creator of the world. Where persons have diverged from the law and from the gospel, any show of piety they may have amounts to a renunciation of the true God. The Psalmist had, therefore, in his eye when he clothed God with a specific title,, to limit the Israelites to that.God who was set forth in the doctrine of the Law. If by אלהים, Elohim, we understand the false gods of the Gentiles — the title is given them only by concession, for it could not be properly assigned to what are mere lying’ vanities; and the meaning is, that God’s greatness altogether eclipses any pretended deity. But the expression would seem to include the angels, as has been already observed, in whom there is some reflection of divinity, as being heavenly principalities and powers, but who are exalted by God, and assigned such a subordinate place as may not interfere with his glory.

John Gill
Psa 135:5 For I know that the Lord is great,…. Jehovah the Father is great in his perfections; in his power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, and goodness; and in his works of creation, providence, and grace: and so is Jehovah the Son, who seems chiefly designed, who is called “our Lord” or “Adon” in the next clause; he is great, having the same perfections his Father has; and doing the same works, besides the miracles he wrought here on earth, and the great work of our redemption: he is the great God and our Saviour, and a great Saviour he is; and indeed he is great in all his offices of Prophet, Priest, and King: and so is the blessed Spirit, who is equal to the Father and Son, and greater than he that is in the world. Now all this the psalmist could say from his own knowledge; he knew the Lord was great, from the consideration and meditation of his wondrous works; he knew the greatness of Christ, from the revelation made to him of his person, offices, and grace; he knew the greatness of the divine Spirit, from the inward experience of his upon his heart, as well as from his being divinely inspired by him; and because of this greatness of the Lord, as well as his goodness, he is to be praised; it is mentioned as a reason of it;

and that our Lord is above all gods; the Lord our righteousness; Immanuel, God with us: our Lord, not only by right of creation, but of redemption; he is above all that the Heathens called gods, even the greatest of them; not the idols their hands made only, but the heavens and all the host of them, the sun, moon, and stars; his glory is above them, being the Maker of them, as God; and he is made higher than they, as man and Mediator: he is above civil magistrates, princes, and kings of the earth, called gods, Psa_82:5; he is King of kings, and Lord of lords, he is higher than they; by him they reign, and to him they are accountable; and he is above the angels, sometimes called “Elohim”, or gods, Psa_8:5; he has a more excellent name and nature than they; he is the Creator of them, the object of their worship, to whom they minister, whose servants they are; and he is now exalted above them in the human nature, at the right hand of God; see Heb_1:4.

John Calvin
Psa 135:6
6.Whatsoever doth please him, etc. This is that immeasurable greatness of the divine being, of which he had just spoken. He not only founded heaven and earth at first, but governs all things according to his power. To own that God made the world, but maintain that he sits idle in heaven, and takes no concern in the management of it, is to cast an impious aspersion upon his power; and yet the idea, absurd as it is, obtains wide currency amongst men. They would not say, perhaps, in so many words, that they believed that God slept in heaven, but in imagining, as they do, that he resigns the reins to chance or fortune, they leave him the mere shadow of a power, such as is not manifested in effects; whereas Scripture teaches us that it is a real practical power, by which he governs the whole world as he does according to his will. The Psalmist expressly asserts every part of the world to be under the divine care, and that nothing takes place by Chance, or without determination. According to a very common opinion, all the power necessary to be assigned to God in the matter, is that of a universal providence, which I do not profess to understand. The distinction here made between the heavens, earth, and waters, denotes a particular governments. The term חפר, chaphets, is emphatical. The Holy Spirit declares that he does whatsoever pleases him. That confused sort of divine government which many talk of, amounts to no more than a certain maintenance of order in the world, without due counsel. No account whatever is made of his will in this way, for will implies counsel and method. Consequently there is a special providence exerted in the government of the various parts of the world, there is no such thing as chance, and what appears most fortuitous, is in reality ordered by his secret wisdom. We are not called to inquire why he wills events which contradict our sense of what his administration should be, but if we would not unsettle the very foundations of religion, we must hold by this as a firm principle, that nothing happens without, the divine will and decree. His will may be mysterious, but it is to be regarded with reverence, as the fountain of all justice and rectitude, unquestionably entitled as it is to our supreme consideration. For farther information upon this subject the reader may consult Psa_115:0.

John Gill
Psa 135:6 Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he,…. In creation, producing into being what creatures he thought fit; in providence, doing according to his will in heaven and in earth; in grace, predestinating men to grace and glory, according to the good pleasure of his will, and calling by his grace whom he pleased: so Christ quickens whom he will; and the Spirit dispenses his gifts and grace severally to men as he pleases. Sovereignty, or acting according to will and pleasure, is peculiar to the Lord; the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars, are at his direction, and act by the laws of creation, which are at his control; angels do his will, and not their own: the most arbitrary and despotic princes cannot do everything they please; but the Lord can and does, even everything;

in heaven and in earth, in the seas and all deep places; in the formation of them, and filling them with inhabitants, and fitting them to perform the several ends and uses for which they were designed; as well as performing many wonderful things in them out of the ordinary course of nature, as did our Lord, or as were done when he was here on earth: a wonderful star appeared in the heavens, which guided the wise men to the place of his birth; unusual voices were heard from heaven at his baptism, transfiguration, and other times; the Spirit, with his extraordinary gifts, descended from hence after his ascension thither: surprising miracles were done by him on earth; the great work of redemption was finished here, where he glorified his divine Father; and throughout it he sent his apostles to publish his everlasting Gospel. He did wonders in the mighty waters; more than once he made the boisterous sea a calm, and walked upon the surface of it: and as of old he broke up the fountains of the great deep, and drowned the world; and at another time dried up the sea, and led his people through the depths, as through a wilderness; so he will hereafter bind the old serpent the devil, and cast him into the abyss, into the great deep, into the bottomless pit; where he will continue during the thousand years’ reign of Christ with his saints.

Adam Clarke
Psa 135:6
Whatsoever the Lord pleased – All that he has done is right, and therefore it is pleasing in his sight. He is the author of all existence. Angels, men, spirits, the heavens, the earth, and all their contents, were made by him, and are under his control.

John Calvin
Psa 135:7
7.Causing the clouds to ascend The Psalmist touches upon one or two particulars, in illustration of the point that nothing takes place of itself, but by the hand and counsel of God. Our understandings cannot comprehend a thousandth part of God’s works, and it is only a few examples which he brings forward to be considered in proof of the doctrine of a divine providence which he had just announced. He speaks of the clouds ascending from the ends of the earth; for the vapours which rise out of the earth form clouds, when they accumulate more densely together. Now who would think that the vapours which we see ascending upwards would shortly darken the sky, and impend above our heads? It strikingly proves the power of God, that these thin vapours, which steam up from the ground:, should form a body over-spreading the whole atmosphere. The Psalmist mentions it as another circumstance calling for our wonder, that lightnings are mixed with rain,things quite opposite in their nature one from another. Did not custom make us familiar with the spectacle, we would pronounce this mixture, of fire and water to be a phenomenon altogether incredible. The same may be said of the phenomena of the winds. Natural causes can be assigned for them, and philosophers have pointed them out; but the winds, with their various currents, are a wonderful work of God. He does not merely assert the power of God, be it observed, in the sense in which philosophers themselves grant it, but he maintains that not a drop of rain falls from heaven without a divine commission or dispensation to that effect. All readily allow that God is the author of rain, thunder, and wind, in so far as he originally established this order of things in nature; but the Psalmist goes farther than this, holding that when it rains, this is not effected by a blind instinct of nature, but is the consequence of the decree of God, who is pleased at one time to darken the sky with clouds, and at another to brighten it again with sunshine.

John Gill
Psa 135:7 He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth,…. Up to the heavens. Aben Ezra interprets this of the mist which went up out of the earth, and watered it, Gen_2:6; and still vapours are exhaled out of the earth by the force of the sun, and carried up into the air, and form various things, as wind, rain, &c. The Targum, Kimchi, and others, explain it of the “clouds”, so called from their elevation on high: these rise up out of the sea, the borders, and boundaries, and uttermost parts of the earth; see 1Ki_18:44. Jerom interprets these clouds, spiritually and mystically, of the apostles and prophets, raised from a low and mean estate; and so may be applied to the ministers of the word, who are clouds full of water; of good doctrine, which they are sent to carry about the world, and publish in it; see Isa_5:6;

he maketh lightnings for the rain: for the descent of the rain, as the Targum; by lightning oftentimes the clouds are broke, and so pour down rain; see Job_28:26; or, “lightnings with the rain” (g); as Kimchi: these frequently come together, which is very surprising, that two such different elements should meet together as fire and water; and yet the fire not quenched by the water, nor the water heated by the fire: these the above ancient Christian writer interprets of the light of knowledge, and the rain of doctrine; see Zec_9:14;

he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries; as he has his treasuries for the snow and hail, Job_38:22; so for the winds: not the caverns of the earth, thought to be the repositories of the wind (h); nor are there proper repositories of it: but the air, as Suidas (i); which, when without wind, is easily moved by the wise hand of God; so Theodoret, from whom he seems to have taken this hint. In Scripture only mention is made of four winds, Eze_37:9; and so the ancient Greeks only reckoned four cardinal winds, but at length they added four more; and at Athens was a marble temple, built by Andronicus Cyrrhestes, called “the temple of the eight winds”: this was an octagon, and on each side were engraven the images of every wind; and on the top of it was a Triton of brass, with a rod in his right hand, which being moved about by the wind, pointed to that which then blew (k): but now, through the great improvement of navigation, the winds are divided and subdivided in the points of the compass; and, besides the four cardinal ones, there are twenty eight collateral ones, in all thirty two; but be they reckoned as many as they may, they are all in the hands of God, and disposed of at his pleasure. Jerom here interprets them of the angels; perhaps it might be better to apply them to the gifts and graces of the Spirit, sometimes compared to wind, which are treasured up in Christ; see Joh_3:8.

(g) ברקים למטר “fulgura cum pluvia”, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus; so Ainsworth. (h) “Vasto rex Aeolus antro—-luctanteis ventos fraenat.” Virgil. Aeneid. l. 1. (i) In voce θησαυροι. (k) Vid. Vitruvium de Architect. l. 1. c. 6.

John Calvin
Psa 135:8
8.He smote the first-born of Egypt He now reverts to those more special benefits, by which God had laid his Church and chosen people under obligation to his service. As it was the Lord’s believing people only whom he addressed, the chief point singled out as the subject of praise is God’s having adopted them, small as they were in numbers, from the mass of the human family. Again, there was the fact of his having set himself in opposition, for their sakes, to great kingdoms and mighty nations. The wonderful works done by God in Egypt and in Canaan were all just so many proofs of that fatherly love which he entertained for them as his chosen people. It is not strictly according to historic order to begin with mentioning the destruction of the first-born of Egypt; but this is instanced as a memorable illustration of the great regard God had for the safety of his people, which was such that he would not spare even so mighty and wealthy a nation. The scope of the passage is to show that God, in delivering his people, had abundantly testified his power and his mercy.

Albert Barnes
Psa 135:8
Who smote the firstborn of Egypt – As the last and the greatest of the plagues brought upon the Egyptians; the chief and crowning judgment under which they were made willing that the children of Israel should go, and which was in fact the judgment which secured their freedom. This is selected here evidently for this reason, instead of recounting all the plagues which were brought upon the Egyptians.

Both of man and beast – Exo_11:5. Margin, as in Hebrew, From man unto beast. That is, including both; smiting both.

John Gill
Psa 135:9 Who sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O Egypt,…. Or, “signs and wonders”. Meaning the other extraordinary plagues sent among the Egyptians, before that of slaying their firstborn; and which have some likeness to the vials of God’s wrath, which will be poured out on the city called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, Rev_11:8;

upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants: his courtiers: some of them are particularly observed to affect him and his court; as the plagues of the frogs, and slaying the firstborn: and he and his princes must be more or less affected with them all, as well as the common people; who were an emblem either of Satan and his principalities, as Jerom interprets it; or rather of antichrist and his followers; to whom the tokens of God’s wrath and displeasure will be sent in a wonderful way and manner.

John Calvin
Psa 135:10
10.He smote great nations He comes now to speak of the end for which God delivered them from their bondage. He did not lead his people out of Egypt, and then leave them to wander as they might, but brought them forth that he might settle them in the promised inheritance. This the Psalmist mentions as another signal proof of the favor of God, and his unwearied kindness to them; for having once taken the children of Abraham by the hand, he led them on, in the continued exercise of his power, till he put them in possession of the promised land. He takes occasion to extol God’s power, from the circumstance that it was only after the slaughter of many enemies that they came to the peaceable possession of the country. And it was a striking illustration of the divine goodness to manifest this preference for the Israelites, who were but a multitude of inconsiderable persons, while those opposed to them were mighty kings and powerful nations. Notice is taken of two kings, Sihon and Og, not as being more powerful than the rest, but because shutting up the entrance to the land in front they were the first formidable enemies met with and the people, besides, were not as yet habituated to war. As the crowning act of the Lord’s goodness, the Psalmist adds, that the Israelites obtained firm possession of the land. One has said — “Non minor est virtus quam quaerere, parta tueri,” “It is no less an achievement to keep possession than to acquire it;” and as the Israelites were surrounded with deadly enemies, the power of God was very eminently displayed in preserving them from being rooted out and expelled again, an event which must have repeatedly taken place, had they not been firmly settled in the inheritance.

John Gill
Psa 135:10 Who smote great nations, and slew mighty kings. Or “many nations” (l). The seven nations of the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites; the kings of which were mighty and many, even thirty one in number, Jos_12:1. This the Lord did by Joshua, a type of Christ; who has overcome the world by his sufferings and death, and delivered his people from it; who went forth conquering and to conquer, into the Roman Pagan empire, called the whole world, and subdued it by his Spirit and word; and will show his power in all the kingdoms of this world, either by converting or destroying them; and at last will judge all the nations and kings of the earth. Aben Ezra interprets this of the kings of Midian, or of those next mentioned, which is best.

(l) גויים רבים “gentes multas”, V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus; “plurimas gentes”, Tigurine version; so Ainsworth.

John Gill
Psa 135:12 And gave their land for an heritage,…. The land of the two kings before mentioned, which was given to the Reubenites, and Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh, Deu_3:12; and the lands belonging to the several kingdoms of Canaan were given to the rest of the tribes;

an heritage unto Israel his people; a type of the heavenly Canaan, the glorious, incorruptible, undefiled, and eternal inheritance; which is of God’s free grace, chosen, prepared, and given; even a right unto it, and meetness for it, to the true and spiritual Israel of God, to his special people, his chosen, redeemed, and called ones.

John Calvin
Psa 135:13
13.O Jehovah! thy name is for ever There are many reasons why the name of God ought always to be kept up in the world, but here the Psalmist speaks more especially of that everlasting praise which is due to him for preserving his Church and people, the cause being immediately added — that God will judge his people The whole world is a theater for the display of the divine goodness, wisdom, justice, and power, but the Church is the orchestra, as it were — the most conspicuous part of it; and the nearer the approaches are that God makes to us the more intimate and condescending the communication of his benefits, the more attentively are we called to consider them. The term judging in the Hebrew expresses whatever belongs to just and legitimate government, the future tense denoting continued action apparently, as it often does, so that what the Psalmist says is tantamount to this — that God would always watch over and preserve his people, and that being thus under God’s guardian care, they would be placed in safety. Or we may suppose that the Psalmist employs the future tense to teach us that, under affliction, we must have a sustained hope, not giving way to despondency, though God may seem to have overlooked and deserted us, since whatever temporary delays there may be of his help, he will appear as our judge and defender at the proper season, and when he sees that we have been sufficiently humbled. This may recommend itself the more to be the true meaning, because the Psalmist seems to allude to the expression of Moses, (Deu_32:36,) whose very words indeed, he quotes. As some alleviation under the divine chastisements which the people would suffer, Moses foretold that God would come forth as their judge, to help and deliver them when in extremity. And this the writer of the present Psalm, whoever he may have been, makes use of with a general application to the Church, declaring that God would never allow it to be altogether destroyed, since upon the event of its destruction he would cease to be a King. To propose changing the tense of the verb into the past, and understand it of God having shown himself to be the judge of his people against the Egyptians, puts a feeble sense upon the passage, and one which does not suit with the context, either of this Psalm or of the address of Moses. The Hebrew verb נחם, nacham, means either to repent, or to receive comfort, and both meanings answer sufficiently well. On the,one hand, when God returns in mercy to his people, though this implies no change in him, yet there is a change apparent in the event itself. Thus he is said to repent when he begins to show mercy to his people, instead of manifesting his displeasure in just judgments against them. Again, he is said to receive consolation, or to be appeased and reconciled towards his people, when in remembrance of his covenant, which endures for ever, he visits them with everlasting mercies, though he had corrected them for a moment. (Isa_54:8.) The meaning, in short, is, that the displeasure of God towards his people is but temporary, and that, in taking vengeance upon their sins, he remembers mercy in the midst of wrath, as Habakkuk says. (Hab_3:2.) Thus God is spoken of as man, manifesting a father’s affection, and restoring his children, who deserved to have been cast off, because he cannot bear’ that the fruit of his own body should be torn from him. Such is the sense of the passage — that God has a compassion for his people because they are his children, that he would not willingly be bereaved of them and left childless, that he is placable towards them, as being dear to him, and that having recognized them as his offspring, he cherishes them with a tender love.

Albert Barnes
Psa 135:14
For the Lord will judge his people – He will interpose in their behalf by his judgments, or by directing the course of events in their favor. This language is copied literally from Deu_32:36 : “For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants.” It is there a part of the song of Moses after the journey through the wilderness, after smiting the kings of the Amorites and of Bashan; and when, delivered from their enemies, the Israelites had come to the borders of the promised land, Deut. 31. The language was, therefore, especially appropriate to the design of this psalm.

And he will repent himself concerning his servants – In behalf of his people. That is, he will do as if he repented, or had changed his mind. He will stay his judgments. He will not suffer his people to be destroyed. He will not permit the judgments which seemed to threaten their entire ruin to be carried out to the full. They shall be arrested midway as if God had then changed his mind. Of course, all this is language accommodated to human weakness, and to the manner of speaking among people.

John Calvin
Psa 135:15
15.The images of the nations, etc. As the whole of this part of the Psalm has been explained elsewhere, it is needless to insist upon it, and repetition might be felt irksome by the reader. I shall only in a few words, therefore, show what is the scope of the Psalmist. In upbraiding the stupidity of the heathen, who thought that they could not have God near them in any other way than by resorting to idol worship, he reminds the Israelites of the signal mercy which they had enjoyed, and would have them abide the more deliberately by the simplicity and purity of God’s worship, and avoid profane superstitions. He declares, that idolaters only draw down heavier judgments upon themselves, the more zealous they are in the service of their idols. And there is no doubt, that, in denouncing the awful judgments which must fall upon the worshippers of false gods, it is his object to deter such as had been brought up under the word of God from following their example. In Psa_115:0 the exhortation given is to trust or hope in the Lord; here, to bless him. The Levites are mentioned in addition to the house of Aaron, there being two orders of priesthood. Every thing else in the two Psalms is the same, except that, in the last verse:, the Psalmist here joins himself, along with the rest of the Lord’s people, in blessing God. He says, out of Zion, for when God promised to hear their prayers from that place, and to communicate from it the rich display of his favor, he thereby gave good ground why they should praise him from it. The reason is stated, that he dwelt in Jerusalem; which is not to be understood in the low and gross sense that he was confined to any such narrow residence; but in the sense, that he was there as to the visible manifestation of his favor, experience showing, that while his majesty is such as to fill heaven and earth, his power and grace were vouchsafed in a particular manner to his own people.

Albert Barnes
Psa 135:15-18
The idols of the heathen are silver and gold … – To show more fully the propriety of praising God, and him alone as God, the psalmist instituted a comparison between him and idols, showing that the gods worshipped by the pagan lacked every ground of claim to divine worship and homage. They were, after all that could be done to fashion, to decorate, and to adorn them, nothing but silver and gold, and could have no better claim to worship than silver and gold as such. They had, indeed, mouths, eyes, ears, but they could neither speak, see, hear, nor breathe. The passage here is substantially the same as in Psa_115:4-8; and the one was evidently copied from the other, though in the latter the description is in some respects amplified; but which was the original it is impossible to determine. See the notes at that passage.

John Gill
Psa 135:18 They that make them are like unto them,…. Are as blind, stupid, and senseless as they; or “let them that make them”, &c. (q); so some versions and interpreters; See Gill on Psa_115:8;

so is everyone that trusteth in them; alike ignorant and sottish: and so are all such that set up idols and lusts in their own hearts, and serve them; or trust to their own righteousness; even all unregenerate and self-righteous persons: they cannot speak a word for God and his grace, for Christ and his righteousness, for the Spirit of God, and his work upon their hearts, of all which they are ignorant; they are blind and have no sight and sense of their sin and misery, and of their need of Christ and his righteousness; they are deaf to his Gospel, and the charming voice of it; they are lifeless and breathless, are dead in trespasses and sins, and have no pantings and desires after spiritual things.

John Gill
Psa 135:19 Bless the Lord, O house of Israel,…. Who are chosen by the Lord to be a special people to him above all others; redeemed from Egyptian bondage; through a variety of surprising providences brought into and settled in the land of Canaan; distinguished by various blessings, favoured with the word, worship, and ordinances of God, and not left to worship idols of gold and silver, as other nations; and therefore had great reason to bless the Lord: as also the spiritual Israel, or the household of God and of faith, the family of Christ; and that because they are of his family, because of the love of God to them, his choice of them, his covenant with them, their redemption by Christ, their effectual calling; or for being made Israelites indeed, and the provisions made for them in the house of God for their spiritual welfare;

bless the Lord, O house of Aaron: who were separated from their brethren to minister in the priest’s office; to offer gifts and sacrifices for the people, and to bless them, Exo_28:1; which was a very sacred and honourable employment, and they were under obligation to bless the Lord, who had called them to it, and put this honour on them; as are the ministers of the Gospel, who have received gifts from Christ; whom he has counted faithful, and put into the ministry; made stewards of the mysteries of his grace, and ambassadors in his stead; and especially if made useful for edification and conversion: and indeed all the Lord’s people, who are all made priests unto God, and have nearness unto him, liberty and boldness to enter into the holiest of all, as Aaron once a year into the most holy place; and who have better sacrifices to offer than he, the living sacrifices of their own bodies and souls, and not slain beasts; spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise; and, above all, the sweet smelling sacrifice of Christ they bring in the arms of faith, and so enter into the courts of God.

Albert Barnes
Psa 135:19-21
Bless the Lord, O house of Israel … – This passage, also, is evidently an imitation of the passage in Psa_115:9-13. The form in Ps. 115, however, is rather an exhortation to trust in the Lord, and an assurance that God would bless the classes spoken of, than a call on them to bless the Lord. Still the same classes of persons are referred to; the house of Israel; the house of Aaron; and those who feared the Lord. The passage needs no further illustration than what is found in the notes at Psa_115:9-13. It is an earnest call on all classes of the people to bless and praise the Lord. It is language expressive of overflowing joy; the utterance of a heart full of exalted conceptions of the majesty, the glory, and the mercy of God; of a heart which feels to the utmost the fitness of praise, and desires that all classes of people – priests and people – that all created things should unite in the praise of Yahweh. Who, in reading the psalm, can fail to catch the feelings of the psalmist, and to say Amen and amen!

John Gill
Psa 135:20 Bless the Lord, O house of Levi,…. These were of the same tribe with the house of Aaron, but inferior ministers; they ministered to the priests, and had the charge of things in the tabernacle and temple; many of them were porters in the latter, and others were singers, and of these Kimchi interprets the words; whose work it was to give thanks morning and evening, and so are with great propriety called upon to bless the Lord, Num_3:6; and may mystically design inferior officers in the church, who are helps and assistants to ministers in the government and discipline of it, and have the care of its secular affairs; and who, when they behave well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and boldness in the faith; and even doorkeepers in the house of the Lord have reason to bless his name for a place there; and all the saints are the sweet singers of Israel, have the new song of electing, redeeming, and calling grace, put into their mouths, and therefore should bless the Lord;

ye that fear the Lord, bless the Lord; these are distinct from the Israelites, priests, and Levites, and design the proselytes among them of other nations that truly feared God, as Jarchi notes; and all such persons, whoever and wherever they are, have reason to bless the Lord for the fear of him they have, which is not from nature, but from grace; and for the layouts shown them, the blessings bestowed upon them, the good things laid up for them, and the guard that is about them, which the Scriptures abundantly declare, and experience confirms.

John Gill
Psa 135:21 Blessed be the Lord out of Zion,…. This, according to Aben Ezra, was the formula of blessing to be used by the houses of Israel, Aaron, and Levi, and all that feared God; or a direction to them in what manner they should bless him; and may both point out the persons that were to bless, and the place where; those that were inhabitants of Zion, where praise waited for the Lord, and was his due; and the blessings and benefits he was to be praised for, such as came out of Zion, strength from the Lord there, the rod of his strength, the word of the Gospel, and the Saviour himself;

which dwelleth at Jerusalem; in the temple there; and which distinguishes him from the idols of the Heathens before mentioned; and who dwells in the heavenly Jerusalem, in Gospel churches; and will dwell in the New Jerusalem, where his tabernacle will be with men, Rev_21:3;

praise ye the Lord; or “hallelujah”; and so the psalm ends as it begun, being from first to last an exhortation to praise.

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