113:0We do not know who wrote Psalm 113. Some Bible students think that it was Moses. Other students think that it was David. But it is a special psalm for the Jews at Passover, and for Christians at Easter. Christians remember the time when Jesus died and became alive again at Easter.
The Jews have a special meal that they call ‘The Passover.’ In it, they remember that God saved them from Egypt many years ago. You can read about it in Exodus 12. The Passover is a meal that Jewish families eat at home. They did it when Moses was alive. They did it when Jesus came to the earth. And they still do it.
Before the meal, they sing Psalms 113 and 114; after it, they sing Psalms 115, 116, 117 and 118.
The Jews called these 6 psalms ‘the Egyptian hallel.’ ‘Hallel’ is a Hebrew word that means ‘praise’ or ‘say something or someone is very great.’ When that someone is the Lord God, then the word becomes ‘hallelujah.’ This means ‘the Lord is very great.’ We translate the Hebrew word ‘Jah’, or ‘Yahweh’ as Lord. It is a special name for God that his servants use. It means that God will love them and send them help. He will do this if they love and obey him. Because God and his servants agree to do this, Lord is the ‘agreeing’ name for God. A better word for ‘agreeing’ is ‘covenant.’ Hebrew is the language that the Jews used for most of their Bible.
Bible students call these 6 psalms ‘the Egyptian hallel’ for three reasons:
– The Jews use them when they remember how God saved them from Egypt;
– Psalm 114:1 says, ‘When Israel came out from Egypt’;
– Each psalm has the Hebrew word ‘hallel’ in it.
The Servants' Song (The First Egyptian Hallel)
113:1The psalm is in three clear parts:
– Verses 1-3: the servants of the Lord must praise and bless him;
– Verses 4-6: they must do this because he is so very great and important;
– Verses 7-9: but he will still give help to the people that need help.
Servants of the Lord, tell him that he is very great!
Sing aloud that the name of the Lord is very great!
113:1In verse 1, the word ‘hallel’ (or halel) comes 3 times. The first time is ‘hallelujah.’ It means that ‘the Lord is very great’, or in other words, ‘praise the Lord.’ Then the psalmist tells the servants of the Lord to praise him. The psalmist is the person that wrote the psalm. When he wrote the psalm, these servants were all Jews. Now they come from any country in the world! The last time we read ‘the name of the Lord.’ The name tells us all about the Lord. Every Hebrew name for God means something different. The names tell us about him! The name Lord tells us that he is the covenant God.
2 Bless the name of the Lord.
Do it now and do it always!
113:2In verse 2, ‘bless’ does not mean the same in Hebrew as ‘praise.’ When God blesses people, he gives them many things. When people bless God, they give him all that they have. This includes praising God. In verse 3, some Bible students translate it, ‘from when the sun rises to when it goes down.’ This means ‘praise God all day!’ Our translation means ‘praise God in every part of the world!’ It is right to do both of these things.
3 Praise the name of the Lord!
Do it from where the sun rises in the east
to where it goes down in the west.
4 The Lord is king over every nation.
He shines brighter than anything in the sky.
113:4A nation, in verse 4, is a country with a government. The Lord is king (or rules) over every nation. Sometimes it does not seem as if he does. But we must believe that it is true! God has something that we call ‘glory.’ It means that he shines more than anything else in the earth or sky. There is nobody as great as he is.
5 There is nobody like the Lord our God.
He sits on a throne that is very high above us.
113:5Somewhere he sits on a throne, (verse 5). A throne is a special seat that a king sits on. This throne is in heaven. But we do not know where heaven is. It is so high above us, that God has to bend down to see us, (verse 6).
6 He bends down to look at the sky and the earth.
They are far below him.
7 He lifts up poor people from the ground.
And he lifts up people that need help from the ashes.
8 He gives them a seat with princes,
with the princes of their country.
9 He makes the wife who cannot give birth
into a happy mother of children. Hallelujah!
113:97-9 tell us some of the things that the Lord God does. Verse 7 is a good example of Hebrew poetry. Here, both parts of the verse mean the same. ‘He lifts up poor people from the ground’ means the same as ‘he raises up people that need help, from the ashes.’ These poor people that need help are people with nothing: no home, no money, no food. It is as if they were part of the ground, or the ashes from a fire. They can hope for nothing. But the Lord can do something for them! And there are many people who will say, ‘He has, he did something for me!’ When we pray, the Lord is the God who likes to say ‘Yes!’ When he answers us, we feel like princes (the sons of kings) or princesses (daughters of kings). There are stories about this in 1 Samuel 1 and Luke 1. Also, many people today can say the same thing. So the psalm ends as it began: Hallelujah! Tell the Lord that he is very, very great!