Psalms 135

1Praise the Lord!
Praise the name of the Lord!
Offer praise, you servants of the Lord,
2 who serve
Heb “stand.”
in the Lord’s temple,
in the courts of the temple of our God.
3 Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good!
Sing praises to his name, for it is pleasant!
Heb “for [it is] pleasant.” The translation assumes that it is the Lord’s “name” that is pleasant. Another option is to understand the referent of “it” as the act of praising (see Ps 147:1).

4 Indeed,
Or “for.”
the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel to be his special possession.
His special possession. The language echoes Exod 19:5; Deut 7:6; 14:2; 26:18. See also Mal 3:17.

5 Yes,
Or “for.”
I know the Lord is great,
and our Lord is superior to all gods.
6 He does whatever he pleases
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all the ocean depths.
7 He causes the clouds to arise from the end of the earth,
makes lightning bolts accompany the rain,
and brings the wind out of his storehouses.
8 He struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
including both men and animals.
9 He performed awesome deeds
Or “signs” (see Ps 65:8).
and acts of judgment
Or “portents”; “omens” (see Ps 71:7). The Egyptian plagues are alluded to here.

in your midst, O Egypt,
against Pharaoh and all his servants.
10 He defeated many nations,
and killed mighty kings –
11 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
and Og, king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan.
12 He gave their land as an inheritance,
as an inheritance to Israel his people.
13 O Lord, your name endures,
Or “is forever.”

your reputation, O Lord, lasts.
Heb “O Lord, your remembrance [is] for a generation and a generation.” See Ps 102:12.

14 For the Lord vindicates
Heb “judges,” but here the idea is that the Lord “judges on behalf of” his people. The imperfect verbal forms here and in the next line draw attention to the Lord’s characteristic actions.
his people,
and has compassion on his servants.
Verse 14 echoes Deut 32:36, where Moses affirms that God mercifully relents from fully judging his wayward people.

15 The nations’ idols are made of silver and gold,
they are man-made.
Heb “the work of the hands of man.”

16 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see,
17 and ears, but cannot hear.
Indeed, they cannot breathe.
Heb “indeed, there is not breath in their mouth.” For the collocation אַף אֵין (’af en, “indeed, there is not”) see Isa 41:26. Another option is to take אַף as “nose” (see Ps 115:6), in which case one might translate, “a nose, [but] they have no breath in their mouths.”

18 Those who make them will end up
Heb “will be.” Another option is to take the prefixed verbal form as a prayer, “may those who make them end up like them.”
Because the idols are lifeless, they cannot help their worshipers in times of crisis. Consequently the worshipers end up as dead as the gods in which they trust.
like them,
as will everyone who trusts in them.
19 O family
Heb “house” (here and in the next two lines).
of Israel, praise the Lord!
O family of Aaron, praise the Lord!
20 O family of Levi, praise the Lord!
You loyal followers
Heb “fearers.”
of the Lord, praise the Lord!
21 The Lord deserves praise in Zion
Heb “praised be the Lord from Zion.”

he who dwells in Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

Psalm 136

Psalm 136. In this hymn the psalmist affirms that God is praiseworthy because of his enduring loyal love, sovereign authority, and compassion. Each verse of the psalm concludes with the refrain “for his loyal love endures.”
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