Psalm 135 – “Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord! . . . Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; celebrate his lovely name with music” (135:1-3).
He is kind and greater than all the gods. “He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses” (135:7).
In Egypt, God “performed miracles and wonders” (135:9). It is God who brings down nations and opens space for His people.
The God of the Jews, creator of nature and power behind history is not like the “gods of the nations,” gods made of silver or gold. Those who worship such gods – may they all become like these gods. Praise the Lord.
Psalm 136 – “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever” (136:1). This refrain follows every verse. God’s glories are repeated – the earth, the sun and moon, his work in the history of his people, his conquest of the kings defeated by the Jews. And even when the Jews were defeated, He did not forget them. His love is eternal. He freed them from their enemies.
Psalm 137 – “By the rivers of Babylon we sat down; there we wept when we remembered Zion” (137:1). How many times have I sung these words?
In Zion, the Babylonians forced the Jews to sing, to entertain them. And then the psalm ends with a horrendous plea for vengeance – “Happy are those who pay you [Babylon] back for what you have done to us – who take your babies and smash them against a rock” (137:8-9). It is very hard to read these words and know how truly they reflect a very common human response to brutality and defeat.