Psa 135.1-21 is a psalm of praise, beginning and ending with “Hallelu Yah.” It begins with a call for the priests, Levites and the people to praise Yehovah, and then reasons for it are brought out. Then it shows us that he is the only God that desires the praises of the people. There is no title or author named, nor a time that it was written. This psalm is read on Rosh Ha Shanah and Yom Kippur and there are elements of this psalm that look forward to the Messianic Kingdom (Atid Lavo; Lord’s Day; Day of the Lord; Sabbath of God, etc) and it singles out certain events in history that showed that God directed these events for good.
Psa 135.1-4 begins with “Hallelu Yah” and exhorts the priests, Levites and the people to praise him. It begins, ” Praise the Lord, praise the name of Yehovah; praise his servants of Yehovah (v 1), who stand in the house of Yehovah (priests, Levites and the people), in the courts of the house of our God (v 2). Praise the Lord, for Yehovah is good; sing praises to his name, for it is lovely (pleasant-v 3). For Yah (short for Yehovah) has chosen (selected) Jacob (Israel) for himself, Israel for his own possession (Exo 19.5; 1 Pet 2.9-10-v 4).”
Psa 135.5-7 shows us that God controls all of nature. It says, “For I know that Yehovah is great (Israel has an obligation to praise Yehovah because no nation has a history like it), and that our Lord (adonai) is above all gods (celestial or earthly powers-v 5). Whatever Yehovah pleases (to do), he does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all depths (the tides, the flow of all the bodies of water, he protects sea levels, keeps the abyss from erupting, etc-v 6). He causes the vapors (clouds) to ascend (the water cycle) from the ends of the earth; who makes lightnings for the rain (water extinguishes fire, yet Yehovah has power over that); who brings forth the wind from his treasuries (it seems to come from a hidden, invisible place-v 7).”
Psa 135.8-18 tells us about the redemption of his people, his fame and the vanity of idols. It says, “He smote the first-born in Egypt (because Egypt smote God’s first-born. It was the last thing carried out and but the first thing predicted in Exo 4.22-23-v 8). He sent signs and wonders into your midst (“the proper word for ‘in your midst’ should have been ‘betawkek’ but the final ‘yod’ is appended ‘betawkeki’ for additional emphasis”-“Tehillim” by Mesorah Publications, p.1602. Royalty was not spared-v 9). He smote many nations and slew many kings (v 10). Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan (thirty-one in all-Josh 12.9-24-v 11). He gave their land as a heritage, a heritage to Israel his people (Canaan was their heritage because it had been given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in a promise. The same still holds true today-v 12). Thy name, Yehovah, is everlasting (“l’olam”-in Exo 3.15 it tells us that the name of should be pronounced. The vowels in the word “forever” (olam) is sheva, cholam and kamatz. These are the same vowels that make up the name Yehovah (YHVH). He said this was his “memorial-name” on how it was to be spoken, and he gave us a way to remember it in the word “forever” (olam-v 13). For Yehovah will judge his people (obtaining justice) and will have compassion on his servants (he is not against them-v 14). The idols of the nations are silver and gold (the word for “idol” in Hebrew here is related to the word for “sadness” because these idols cannot be compared to Yehovah), the work of man’s hands (because these idols can’t create anything-v 15). They have mouths, but they do not speak? They have ears, but they do not see (if they are superior, why can’t they-v 16); They have ears, but they do not hear; nor is there any breath at all in their mouths (no life-v 17). Those who make them will be like them (no life), everyone who trusts in them (v 18).”
Psa 135.19-21 tells us that God’s people are destined for life and peace so bless Yehovah, “O house of Israel (the Kahal or congregation), bless yehovah. O house of Aaron (the kohanim or priests), bless Yehovah (v 19); O house of Levi (the Levites, singers, musicians, etc), bless Yehovah; you who fear Yehovah (Jews and non-Jews), bless Yehovah (v 20). Blessed be Yehovah from Zion, who dwells in Jerusalem, Hallelu Yah (these are the centers of true worship and Torah, but he is not a “local deity” and his power covers the earth-v 21).”
Psa 136.1-26 is called the “Great Hallel” and is recited on the Sabbath which recalls the seven days of creation. It is also recited on Passover because it refers to many of the miracles of the First (Egyptian) Redemption out of Egypt. It has 26 verses and this corresponds to the numerical value of God’s name (YHVH or Yehovah). This psalm talks about God’s kindness that is undeserved. There were twenty-six generations from creation to Sinai. The world existed by his kindness till then-Acts 14.16-17, 17.30. This psalm was to be sung by the Levitical choir, with the people responding back with, “For his mercy endures forever.” This phrase means his mercy is for our sake, not his. He desires to work mercy for his creation forever. There is no author named, time it was written or title for this psalm. This psalm does promote Yehovah as the primary caregiver of all his creation and life, and the one who sustains it all.
Psa 136.1-8 shows us that he is good and it is the basis for what he does, “Give thanks to Yehovah, for he is good; for his mercy endures forever (l’olam-v 1). Give thanks to the God of gods (“elohim” or angels, judges, controllers of government, powers), for his mercy endures forever (v 2). Give thanks to the Lord (“adonai”) of lords (“adonim” meaning kings, emperors, Caesars, presidents, Czars, etc), for his mercy endures forever (v 3). To him who alone works great wonders (sometimes he works in secret and we never know, but sometimes very openly), for his mercy endures forever (v 4). To him who made the heavens with skill (exceptional understanding and wisdom). for his mercy endures forever (v 5). To him who spread out the earth besides the waters (so that the water would not cover the earth), for his mercy endures forever (v 6). To him who made the great lights (sun and moon-Gen 1.14), for his mercy endures forever (v 7). The sun to rule the day (for the division of time), for his mercy endures forever (v 8). The moon and the star to rule by night (to serve as a guide to travelers and seamen), for his mercy endures forever (v 9).”
Psa 136.1-22 speaks of God as the deliverer, “To him who smote the Egyptians in their first-born (because Egypt oppressed God’s first-born), for his mercy endures forever (v 10). And brought Israel out from their midst (no Israelites were left behind because of sickness-Psa 105.37), for his mercy endures forever (v 11). With a strong wind and an outstretched arm (manifesting his power), for his mercy endures forever (v 12). To him who divided the Re3d Sea asunder (“into parts” and it is plural here. The rabbis say that the sea was divided into twelve parts so each tribe had their own path-Psa 18.15, 77.19; 2 Sam 22.16), for his mercy endures forever (v 13). And made Israel pass through in the midst of it (on a dry sea bed), for his mercy endures forever (v 14). But he overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea (Pharaoh died-Psa 74.13-14, 106.6-11. Pharaoh is seen as Leviathan and a picture of the False Messiah who is openly defeated), for his mercy endures forever (v 15). To him who led his people through the wilderness (he supplied food, water and protection and that care represented his kindness), for his mercy endures forever (v 16). To him who smote great kings (thirty-one kings in Canaan), for his mercy endures forever (v 17), and slew mighty kings (like Pharaoh and his princes), for his mercy endures forever (v 18). Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his mercy endures forever (v 19), and Og, king of Bashan, for his mercy endures forever (v 20), and gave their land as a heritage, for his mercy endures forever (v 21), even a heritage to Israel his servant (God promised certain territories to Abraham, but the lands of Sihon and Og were not a part of that, so this “addition” demonstrated God’s kindness to Israel), for his mercy endures forever (v 22).”
Psa 136.23-26 shows God’s constant care and help, “Who remembered us in our low estate (in Egypt, in exile-Lev 26.14-46), for his mercy endures forever (v 23), and has rescued us from our adversaries (earthly enemies, tyrants and oppressors), for his mercy endures forever (v 24); who gives food to all flesh (all creatures), for his mercy endures forever (v 25). Give thanks to the God (elohim) of heaven (where the rain comes from so that crops and all creatures can live-Deut 28.12), for his mercy endures forever (v 26).”
Psa 137.1-9 is a psalm of grief and it was probably written by someone in the Babylonian Captivity. There is no author or title given. This psalm is recited before grace after meals (Deut 8.10) on weekdays, and Psa 126 is recited on the Sabbath before grace after meals. Eschatologically we are “in Babylon” during the Olam Ha Zeh (this present world), but on the Sabbath we will return to the land and the Messianic Kingdom, as seen in Psa 126. It begins, “By the rivers of Babylon (especially the Euphrates) there we sat down and wept (they imitated the flowing rivers with their tears), when we remembered Zion (the Temple, the services, the people, the festivals, the greatness of God and his power, etc. Now it was all gone, and the city and Temple was in ruins because of their sin-v 1). Upon the willows in the midst of it we hung their our harps (the harp is a picture for the heart because there are no songs to sing in exile, they hung their harps in the willows. The harp is the only known instrument whose strings can be strummed by the wind, and the Ruach Ha Kodesh is like the wind. The word “kinor” is “harp” and the first two letters are Kaf and Vav, which equals 26. That is the numerical value of the letters for Yehovah. The final two letters of kinor are Nun and Resh, meaning “flame.” Prov 20.27 says, “the spirit of man is the lamp of Yehovah.” Psa 33.2 talks about praising God on a harp of 10 strings, called a “Nevel” and a “lyre” or kinor. The Nevel alludes to the Ten Commandments that should “play” on our hearts by the Ruach or “wind” of the Spirit. Psa 49.4 says “I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will express (solve) my riddle (dark saying) on the harp (kinor alludes to the heart).” The more God “plucked” the writer’s heart with affliction the more beautiful the songs were. The heart is stimulated and aroused in the same way as a harp. The Sea of Galilee was called Genesseret or Kinneret, which is from the word “kinor” in Hebrew meaning harp. The Sea of Galilee was shaped like a harp and that is why he did so much teaching there. He was plucking their heart strings. Rev 14.2-3 says that there was a voice that was heard and it was like the sound of harpist playing their harps. And they (the 144,000) sang a new (restored, renewed) song before the throne, meaning Messiah has come. Their hearts were heavy with grief and they could not play their harps-v 2). For there our captors demanded of us songs (words of a song), and our tormentors requested mirth, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion (the ones who plundered the Jewish people now want them to entertain them-v 3). How can we sing Yehovah’s song in a foreign land (they failed to sing the praises of God while at home, so how can they sing in a land of idols and false gods-v 4)? If I forget you, O Jerusalem (the temple and true worship-John 4.22), may my right hand forget her skill (to play the harp-v 5). May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth (stilled by agony and suffering). if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above (literally “upon the head” my chief joy ( the custom of a Jewish bridegroom putting ashes on his forehead before he gets married and breaking a glass after the wedding comes from this verse to show he does not forget v 6). Remember, Yehovah, against the sons of Edom (later a term for Rome) the day of Jerusalem (its destruction), who said, “Raze it, raze it (Rome was seen as ‘Edom” and “Esau” in rabbinic commentaries and it will eventually be seen as Christianity because it came out of Rome. Raze it is said twice because it is alluding to the Second Temple being razed or destroyed to its foundation by Rome-v 7). O daughter of Babylon who is to be destroyed, how blessed will be the one who repays you (Rev 18.6; Isa 14.22-23, 47.6) with the recompense which you have repaid us (v 8). How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against a rock (meaning Babylon will suffer in the same measure that she caused Israel to suffer, and that no new generation would rise up again to be a world power-v 9).”