(1) Hallelujah! (Praise Yahweh!) Praise the name of Yahweh! Praise (him), servants of Yahweh, (2) who stand in the house of Yahweh, in the courts of the house of our God! (3) Hallelujah! (Praise Yahweh!), for Yahweh (is) good. Sing praises to his name, for it (is) lovely, (4) for Yahweh chose Jacob for himself, Israel as his own possession! (5) For I know that Yahweh is great, that our Lord (is) greater than all other gods. (6) All that pleases (him) Yahweh does in heaven and on earth, in the seas and in all deep places. (7) He makes the clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning flashes when it rains and brings out wind from his storehouses.
One thing to note in this opening segment of Psalm 135 is the repeated use of God’s name. “Yahweh”, “Elohim”, and “Adonai” are found eleven times in seven verses. The imperative verb, “praise,” occurs four times in the first three verses. The final use of “praise” is linked to the command, “sing” (vs. 3). The next two verses both begin with the connective “for,” indicating that the second part of this segment explains why we should offer Yahweh our praise (vss. 4 & 5). Other repetitions include “great/greater” describing Yahweh (vs. 5) and two occurrences of “earth” (vss. 6 & 7).
I. Calls for praise to Yahweh (1-3)
II. Causes for praise to Yahweh (4-7)
- his choice of Israel as his own possession (4)
- his greatness in comparison to all other gods (5)
- his sovereign power to do whatever he pleases (6 & 7)
Everything about Yahweh, all that he is and all that he does, should motivate us to offer him our joyful praise.
One criticism often leveled against contemporary Christian music is that it is too repetitive. One of the leaders in the church I pastored years ago in the USA voiced this very criticism one evening in a worship service which I was leading after we had sung a simple worship chorus which repeated the word, “Hallelujah,” several times. I responded to his objection with a question: “Do you think there might be a purpose for such repetitions?” He thoughtlessly shot back, “Because people are too dumb to learn new words.” After recovering from the momentary shock of his insensitive response, I asked him, “What is your opinion of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Handel’s great oratorio, The Messiah?” He responded, “I suppose it is one of the greatest pieces of music ever composed.” I then asked, “Do you know how many times the word ‘Hallelujah’ is repeated in the ‘Hallelujah Chorus?’” (The answer is in the range of 30-40 times depending on how you count). He paused for a moment and then said sheepishly, “I didn’t think of it that way. Maybe I shouldn’t have made that comment.”
When my wife and I became engaged, we repeated the words, “I love you,” to each other many times. On our wedding day, we voiced those words again and again. In the forty plus years since, a day has not gone by when we have not repeated those words to each other. We never tire of saying, “I love you,” nor do we ever tire of hearing it from one another. In like manner, “Hallelujah” is one word we should use repeatedly in our worship. The psalms, and especially passages like Psalm 135, are marked by frequent repetitions of “Hallelujah.” We don’t need to fear or become critical of repetitions when they are appropriate for the worship we are bringing to the one who is certainly worthy of every expression of praise we can offer him again and again and again!