El Shaddai

Praise Ye the Lord. —Psalm 135 

With the pilgrims now safely in Jerusalem, this closing psalm of ascent would be on their lips, and their hearts and minds would be focused on the purpose of their journey to the one city that rightfully claims a divine association. The pilgrimage wasn’t merely an opportunity to visit the sacred city as a tourist, but the people came in obedience to the commandment (Law) that they were to celebrate and commemorate the faithfulness of God to His chosen people and to bless His name! 

The Law stated that every year all able-bodied males were required to attend three of the seven feast days: Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles, which were all held in the holy city of Jerusalem. As the pilgrims traveled along the way, these psalms of ascent were recited or sung, and concluded with Psalm 134: “Behold, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who by night stand in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord. The Lord who made heaven and earth bless you from Zion!

Our psalm today opens with the closing words of the Psalms of Ascent. The date of authorship is irrelevant to the context. We know that whoever compiled the quotes of the various psalms in our text did so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for a specific purpose, and that purpose will guide our approach to this psalm. 

Let’s take a side trip for a moment to the story of Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel. The King had been warned that his pride would be his downfall, and he was continually reminded that God was the one who had given him such a great kingdom. One day, the king was walking about the royal palace and said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” Daniel tells us that while the words were “still in his mouth,” a voice from heaven came down and said, “The kingdom has departed from you.” Nebuchadnezzar became a madman, driven from men, eating grass like oxen. He was wet with the dew until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. After seven years the Lord restored his mind and kingdom. 

Listen to what he said, “At the end of the time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’ At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Daniel 4:34-37).

The purpose of Psalm 135 is to extol and honor the King of Heaven. Our world has gone mad. Pride has reached a level in the hearts of so many and leads them to march in celebration of the greatest evil the world has ever seen: abortion. Yet God is willing to restore the sanity and the sanctity of life. The truth is that America will only become great again when her people come to the place that Nebuchadnezzar did, recognizing God for who He is! Who is He? Our God is El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty!

Excerpt from “Beside Still Waters” now available on Amazon.

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BARRY STAGNER

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