You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.
We give thanks to God for his actions, but our praise exalts his character. Embedded in this week’s reading are many psalms of praise including the Hallel psalms, numbers 113-118. The Hallel (meaning praise) was recited by Jews celebrating the great feast days in Biblical times and through the ages since then. The Hallel was probably the song Jesus and the disciples sang at the Last Supper. Andrew Bonar wrote that these psalms “all sing of God the redeemer, in some aspect of his redeeming character.”
Psalm 113. God is celebrated for his transcendence (“his glory above the heavens”) and for his eminence (“who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth”). Most of all, he is exalted for his grace, lifting the poor and needy and making the childless woman a mother.
Psalm 114. God’s creative power is so glorious that the earth trembles at his presence as he turns rock into water and creates a sanctuary for the Israelites out of the land of Canaan.
Psalm 115. God, who does whatever he pleases, is contrasted with the blind, deaf, and dumb idols of the world. God is powerful, and so able to help us, but he is also loving, and therefore willing to help us. Let us then trust him, for he blesses those who fear him.
Psalm 116. God is gracious and compassionate, rescuing those who face a variety of dangers. Death, trouble, sorrow, helplessness, and stumbling are specific threats from which the psalmist has been redeemed. Because God’s actions are so prominent and memorable, the psalm moves from praise and pleading (“Yahweh, save me!”) to thanksgiving and back to praise.
Psalm 117. The shortest psalm focuses with precision on two of God’s greatest attributes: his love for us and his eternal faithfulness.
Psalm 118. The final Hallel psalm was, according to Ryland, “partially used at the time when Messiah…was received with triumph and acclamation into Jerusalem” (verse 28), and will be fully proclaimed when he returns in glory. Jesus applied to himself the prophecy that the rejected stone would become the cornerstone (Matthew 21:42). The psalm as a whole is an order of worship and a dramatic reading. The congregation listens as a conquering hero, like David and fulfilled in Jesus, tells how he overcame adversity in the name of the Lord.
I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me…
I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. Psalm 118:13, 17
The congregation then follows the conquering hero as the gates of the temple, gates of righteousness, are opened for him. Together they proceed to the altar, praising God for his goodness and love. And so our redeemer opens heaven for us through his righteousness that becomes ours when we follow him. Praise him! Hallelujah!
About this blog
During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered Psalm 96 – Psalm 119. Next week I will write about Psalm 120 – Proverbs 9. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering Psalm 96 – Psalm 119.
The OT God is a God of love: Psalm 103
Genesis to Revelation in one chapter: Psalm 110
God does what he pleases: Psalm 115
The power of God’s word: Psalm 119, Part 1