Psalm 113 emphatically challenges people to praise the Lord by commanding them four times to do so (113:1 [3x]; 9). The remainder of the psalm fills out our understanding of this command in instructive ways.
The psalmist begins with three successive plural imperatives:
“Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD” (113:1).
These imperatives indicate that he is forcefully calling upon God’s servants to praise Him. All of us who are His servants should learn from this teaching that we have a special obligation and privilege to praise God.
The next two verses amplify the teaching of verse one:
“Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised” (113:2-3).
The psalmist expresses his desire that the name of the Lord would be forever blessed and then declares that His name is to be praised all the day long. Because God’s name is always worthy of praise, we learn that we should diligently praise Him throughout the day on every day.
The final six verses highlight certain aspects of the praiseworthiness of the Lord. First, we learn of His unmatched transcendence:
“The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens” (113:4).
Because our God is gloriously exalted over all His creation, we should praise Him.
Second, through a rhetorical question that answers itself, we learn of His uniqueness:
“Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!” (113:5-6).
Unlike any other exalted beings, whether heavenly or earthly, the Most High God is humble and displays His humility by His attention to the things in the heaven and the earth. Because of His unique person and character, we should praise Him.
Third, the psalmist highlights the praiseworthiness of the Lord by specifying His gracious care for two types of people: (1) the poor and the needy; (2) the barren woman. The Lord exalts the poor and needy in an extraordinary way:
“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people” (113:7-8).
Because our uniquely transcendent God humbles Himself to care for such abject people who have no hope aside from Him, we should praise Him.
In addition to His glorious exaltation of the poor and needy, our praiseworthy Lord satisfies the intense longing of another group of people who also have no hope aside from Him:
“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children” (113:9a).
His gracious fulfilling of their yearnings should lead us to praise Him.
In view of all that he has set forth in the psalm, the psalmist then concludes the same way that he began:
“Praise the Lord!” (113:9b).
Blessed be His name!
Psalm 113 charges God’s servants to praise Him because He is the uniquely transcendent and humble God who graciously cares for people who have no hope but Him! In view of its teaching, all people should respond by doing three things.
First, those who are not God’s servants should become His servants. No matter how poor and needy you may be, by faith you should come to the One who rewards all those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). Whatever your life’s condition may be, He is the only One who will truly satisfy your heart’s deepest longings.
Second, all those who are His servants should diligently praise Him throughout the day on every day. They should praise Him because He is exalted above all, He humbles Himself to attend to His creation, and He graciously exalts the destitute and satisfies those who are longing for blessings that only He can provide.
Third, as the psalmist does in Psalm 113, we should exhort others to praise His name and instruct them to do so by setting before them the Lord’s unique transcendence, humility, and graciousness.
Let us all praise our uniquely transcendent, humble, and gracious Lord! May His name be blessed forevermore.