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"He Has Sent Redemption to His People" January 11-12

As earlier noted, Psalm 113 is the first in a collection of six psalms (113-118) called the "Egyptian Hallel." These hallel, or "praise," psalms "came to be used in the Jewish liturgy at the great religious festivals (Passover, Weeks, Tabernacles, Dedication, New Moon; see Lev 23; Nu 10:10; Jn 10:22...)" (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on Psalms 113-118). The moniker "Egyptian" is derived from their special use in the celebration of Passover, commemorating the Israelites' deliverance in Egypt. The Expositor's Bible Commentary states, "The Egyptian Hallel psalms received a special place in the Passover liturgy, as 113-114 were recited or sung before and 115-118 after the festive meal (cf. Matt 26:30; Mark 14:26)" (Expositor's Bible Commentary, introductory note on Psalm 113).

Regarding the customary singing of Psalms 113-114 prior to the traditional Passover meal of Jewish people today, The Nelson Study Bible states: "Both psalms remarkably capture in poetry and song the major ideas of the prose liturgy that is also recited before the Passover meal. That is, they speak of God's saving works at the time of the Exodus. The first psalm [113] focuses the worshipers on the condescending grace of God. He is the merciful Redeemer who bends from heaven to meet the needs of His people. Then with the singing of Ps. 114, the Jews recall Israel's deliverance from Egypt-the reason for the Passover celebration and the central act of God's saving grace" ("INDepth: The Psalms of the Passover," sidebar on Psalms 113-118).

Psalm 113 opens and closes with Hallelujah-"Praise the LORD." Indeed, in the opening three verses the psalmist five times calls for the servants of the Lord to praise His name. "In biblical thought a name is not a mere label of identification; it is an expression of the essential nature of its bearer. A man's name reveals his character.... This was a concept shared by the peoples of the ancient world. Hence to know that name of God is to know God as he has revealed himself (Ps. 9:10)" ("Name," The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible). So God's name includes who He is, all He has done and everything He instructs and stands for.

In verse 3, the phrase "from the rising of the sun to its going down" designates not daytime, from dawn to dusk, but rather means from the distant east to the distant west-i.e., in all places God's name is to be praised.

Though God dwells in unimaginable glory and splendor beyond the creation, He nonetheless humbles Himself to be mindful of it (verses 4-6; compare 8:4). The Mighty God has compassion on His people. He lifts the poor and needy out of dust and ashes-referring to both the physically impoverished and spiritually humble and repentant-to seat them with princes (verses 7-8). He relieves the stigma and desperation of a barren woman by giving her a happy home (verse 9). In these verses we have a picture of God's salvation and reward of His humble people-raising them in stature to rulers and giving them joy in His family forever.

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