Psalm 135
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

This psalm is a mosaic from older writings, and was plainly put together for liturgic use. It pretends to no originality, and shows very little art or care in the composition. The date must be very late.

Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, O ye servants of the LORD.
(1) The psalm opens with an adaptation and expansion (comp. Psalm 116:19) of Psalm 134:1. As there, the priestly class is addressed. Some, however, think that the addition, “courts of the house of our God,” as well as Psalm 135:19, make the application to all these standing in covenant relation to Jehovah. This is possible, but not proved by the evidence adduced.

Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant.
(3) Sing praises.—Rather, play.

For it is pleasant—i.e., thus to sing hallelujah. (See Psalm 147:1; Proverbs 22:18. Others take name as the subject, and the Prayer-Book version suggested to Crashaw the beautiful hymn beginning “Come lovely name,” &c.

For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.
(4) Peculiar treasure.—A special covenant-name for Israel (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6, &c.), and of private property (1Chronicles 29:3; Ecclesiastes 2:8).

For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
(5, 6) Adapted from Psalm 115:3.

He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.
(7) Adapted from Jeremiah 10:13; Jeremiah 51:16.

Causeth the vapours to ascend.—Mr. Burgess is undoubtedly right in referring this to the mist which went up from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground “before the useful trouble of the rain” (Genesis 2:6), since the original passage in Genesis has a plain reference to the story of the Creation, and the rain is immediately mentioned as coming into existence after the vapours. That a different term is used in Genesis does not make against this since the Hebrew term here is a general one derived from the verb “to ascend.”

Lightnings for the rain—i.e., “to bring rain.” Such was the Oriental notion, see Zechariah 10:1 and compare 1Samuel 12:17. Both of these places refer to showers out of the ordinary rainy season, such as thunder-storms in the harvest season. The sudden downfall of sheets of rain after a flash and peal is even in this climate sufficiently striking to make such a notion as the dependence of rain on lightning quite conceivable, how much more in tropical countries, and where, except in the due rainy season, it would never probably fall without thunder and lightning.

Wind out of his treasuries.—Comp. the Greek and Latin ideas of the “caves” of the winds.

Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast.
(8) Egypt.—This abrupt change from the miracles of nature to the marvels of history is apparently copied from the next psalm, where see Note, Psalm 135:10.

And gave their land for an heritage, an heritage unto Israel his people.
-12Psalm 105:44; Psalm 111:6.

Thy name, O LORD, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations.
(13) This verse is from Exodus 3:15.

For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants.
(14) From Deuteronomy 32:36.

Judgei.e., see them righted.

The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
(15, 16) With slight variations from Psalm 115:4-8.

Bless the LORD, O house of Israel: bless the LORD, O house of Aaron:
(19, 21) From Psalm 115:9-11, with the addition, “O house of Levi.”

Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.
(21) Out of Zion.—As in Psalm 128:5, Jehovah blesses the covenant people out of Zion, so here they bless him out of Zion—that is the place where the reciprocal relation is best and chiefly realised. This localisation is made more emphatic by the addition of the name Jerusalem to Zion. (Comp. Psalm 76:2; Psalm 125:1-2.)

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

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