Summary: God alone is great and worthy of our praise.
The human heart is an amazing creation of God. Let’s see how much you know about this miracle of creation. What’s the average heartbeat for an adult?
(The average heartbeat is 72 times per minute. In the course of one day it beats over 100,000 times. In one year the heart beats almost 38 million times, and by the time you are 70 years old, on average, it's made it to 2.5 billion beats. (howstuffworks.com)
Can you describe how the heart works to provide the body with oxygen rich blood?
(Draw this on the board using a traditional picture of a heart. The right and left sides of the heart have separate functions. The right side of the heart collects oxygen-poor blood from the body and pumps it to the lungs where it picks up oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. The left side of the heart then collects oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it to the body so that the cells throughout your body receive the oxygen they need to function properly.)
An average heart pumps 2.4 ounces per heartbeat. And, as we already mentioned, an average heartbeat is 72 beats per minute. Therefore an average heart pumps 1.3 gallons (5 Liters) per minute. In other words it pumps 1,900 gallons per day, almost 700,000 gallons (2,628,000 Liters) per year, or 48 million gallons by the time someone is 70 years old. That's not bad for a 10-ounce pump.
Though we don’t fully understand the working of our own heart, we benefit from its amazing work. The heart is one of God’s great works of creation. The heart is also a powerful witness to the greatness of its Creator.
Psalm 135 is a witness to the greatness of God. The psalmist contrasts lifeless human-constructed idols with the reality of the living God. The result is twofold: the psalm magnifies the greatness of the true God and it points out the embarrassing inadequacy of all gods that people construct. In the end one thing is clear: only God is great. Though there is much we don’t understand about God, what we do know leaves us in awe of His greatness. God alone is great and worthy of our praise. The psalmist is in awe before God.
This is our last lesson from Psalms on the nature of God. We’ve learned that God reveals Himself (Ps. 19). He wants to be known by us. God is Just (Ps. 9). He will one day make all things right. This will happen and that’s a reason we can give Him thanks. God is Faithful (Ps. 105, 106). We have numerous examples of God’s faithfulness to us despite our many acts of unfaithfulness. Lastly, God is Great (Ps. 135). God alone is great and worthy of our praise. He inspires awe in worshipers.
Praise is the main theme of the final section of Psalms: Psalm 135-150. It’s fitting that the Psalms end with songs of praise to God. The psalmist has dealt with the range of life’s issues: sorrow and persecution, confusion and wise choices, sin and forgiveness, and much more. At the end of all life’s experiences he comes to know that God is worthy of our praise. In other words, as you move toward the end of Psalms there are fewer psalms on troubles and more on praise. The first of these praise hymns, Psalm 135, asserts God alone is to be praised because God is great.
There is another general matter of information about Psalm 135. Every verse in Psalm 135 quotes or alludes to some other part of Scripture. Maybe his mind is so full of scriptural history and texts that consciously or unconsciously he interweaves phrase after phrase into a composition of praise. This used to be the case of Christians when they prayed. They had such a thorough knowledge of the Bible that it was a natural part of the way they expressed their prayer. Not so today. Our lack of Bible knowledge has led to more “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayers in comparison. Because the psalmist’s mind is full of Scripture he praises God for His greatness.
The reason God alone is worthy to be praised is because God is good.
I. GOD IS GOOD (PS. 135:1-4)
Notice the requirement to praise God (vs. 1-2) and the reason for praising God (vs. 3-4).
A. Requirement (vs. 1-2)
Three times in v. 1 we are commanded to praise God. The command to praise God highlights the psalmist’s enthusiasm over the goodness of God. It also stresses the rightness to praise such a good and great God. C.S. Lewis in Reflections on Psalms said this about the reasonableness of praise:
"We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness; we despise still more the crowd of people round every dictator, every millionaire, every celebrity, who gratify that demand. Thus a picture, at once ludicrous and horrible, both of God and His worshippers, threatened to appear in my mind. The Psalms were especially troublesome in this way – ‘Praise the Lord,' 'O praise the Lord with me,' 'Praise Him.' . . . Worse still was the statement put into God's own mouth, 'whoso offereth me thanks and praise, he honoureth me' (50:23). It was hideously like saying, 'What I most want is to be told that I am good and great.' . . . It was extremely distressing. It made one think what one least wanted to think. Gratitude to God, reverence to Him, obedience to Him, I thought I could understand; not this perpetual eulogy. . . .