Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 113

This psalm is the first of the Hallel, or Praise Psalms, embracing Psalms 113-118, and selected to be sung at the three great festivals of the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. The word means praise, and, excepting Psalms 115, 118, the hallel psalms begin or end with hallelujah! for which Psalms 118:0 substitutes yahdah, or the thanksgiving form, Psalms 118:1; Psalms 118:29. In distinction from the hallel, “ Psalms 136:0, with its ‘For his mercy endureth for ever,’ repeated twenty-six times, bears the name of the Great Hallel.” Delitzsch.

The divisions of the psalm before us are simple. The psalm is an invitation to praise Jehovah: first, for his glory and majesty, (Psalms 113:4-5;) secondly, for his condescending goodness, which delights in raising the lowly to honour and happiness, (Psalms 113:6-9.) For the probable occasion see the notes.

Verse 1

1. Servants of the Lord The call is upon Israel, the professed servants of Jehovah, wherever residing. Those only who know God are prepared for this act of praise, and the whole psalm indicates that the most marked condescension of Jehovah toward his people, even the poorest and vilest, had been recently and freshly experienced. The verse is similar to Psalms 135:1, except a slight transposition of words, and is more emphatic.

Verse 2

2. From this time forth From now unto eternity. The from now supposes an urgent cause for a new form and measure of praise, as if it should mark a new date of national piety and experience, and well accords with the state of the newly returned exiles. See Psalms 115:18; Psalms 121:8; Psalms 131:3

Verse 3

3. From the rising of the sun The rising and going down of the sun are not here simple notations of time, as if he would say, All the day long, but are to be taken geographically for extreme east and west, or the world over. See Psalms 103:12; Malachi 1:11.

The Lord’s name is to be praised Or, Let the name of Jehovah be praised.

Verse 4

4. The Lord is high God is not only above the nations, but above the heavens; that is, above every thing that exists. This statement stands alike against polytheism and pantheism. He is a personal God over all, and ruling all.

Verse 5

5. Who dwelleth on high Literally, who maketh high to sit; that is, who exalteth his throne, for the sitting is that of a king for judgment.

Verse 6

6. Who humbleth himself to behold Better, who maketh low to see. He maketh himself low (condescends) to see the things which are in heaven and earth. Here is the distinguishing glory of God. He that is above all creatures, all finite existence, takes personal notice of all things, however minute, in heaven and earth. This is the central thought of the psalm.

Verse 7

7. He raiseth up the poor In Psalms 113:6 God’s universal notice of all things in heaven and earth is extolled; here the moral and beneficent character of this omniscient scanning of the universe is brought out. His eye is upon the poor, but it is the humble poor that is specially denoted here. See Psalms 138:6; Isaiah 57:15. Psalms 113:7-8; Psalms 113:7-8 are quoted from the words of Hannah, (1 Samuel 2:8,) and employed by Mary in her Magnificat, (Luke 1:52,) and imply not only that Jehovah is a God of condescending pity and love, but of judgment also. He putteth down as well as lifteth up.

Dunghill The word denotes a receptacle for all sorts of dirt, offal, and rubbish. It is here figuratively used for a state of abject humiliation. “In Syria and Palestine the man who is shut out from society lies upon the dunghill, or heap of ashes, by day, calling upon the passers by for alms; and by night hides himself in the ashes that have been warmed by the sun.” Delitzsch.

Verse 9

9. Barren woman to keep house Properly, to dwell, or abide, in the house. The allusion is to the uncertain continuance of the barren wife in the family, owing to the capricious tyranny of the husband, under the wretched system of domestic life in Asia. Children are a natural bond of sympathy between husband and wife, and the language is expressive of a happy and prosperous condition of domestic and social life. The same figure occurs Psalms 68:6. The text is to be taken figuratively to signify, that as the barren wife is restored to favour, and the family life made happy, when the reproach of barrenness is removed, so God had now restored and established his people in joy and prosperity. See the figure applied to the Church, Isaiah 54:1. Psalms 113:7-9; Psalms 113:7-9 seem to have a historic pointing. Had not God recently raised Israel from the “dunghill” to honour? Had not the families and family life of the nation been recently restored? The infinite condescension of God in thus remembering their low estate is the theme of the psalm. It is a companion piece to Psalms 114:0, and savors of the fresh joy of the returned exiles from Babylon.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 113". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.