He sent signs and wonders into your midst…
He struck many nations…
God Will Strike the Nations as a Warning – Psalm 135:8-12
He struck the firstborn of Egypt,
both human firstborn and animal.
He sent signs and wonders into your midst, Egypt,
upon Pharaoh and all His servants.
He struck many nations
and brought death to mighty kings,
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
Og, king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan;
and He gave their land as an inheritance,
an inheritance to His people Israel.
Understanding Psalm 135
Psalm 135 is a psalm of praise. King David praised God for defeating the enemies of Israel and bringing victory to their land. In the opening verses of this Psalm the psalmist not only praises God, he encourages others to do the same because the Lord “is good.”
Any talk of conquest and victory over others in Scripture (the defeating of other peoples) however, can often lead one to begin asking the tougher questions. How, for example, can Holy Scripture claim an all-loving God if at the same time this God is capable of wiping out whole groups of people? A fair question, but one that often begins from a lack of the “fullness of Truth.”
While tougher biblical questions are oftentimes understandable, it is important to first ask oneself if one really knows Holy Scripture. Have we read the entire Holy Bible for example, all 73 Books, in its entirety cover to cover? Doing so promises to give us a much better understanding and well-rounded view of Who God is, how He operates, and why He does what He does.
Think of it this way: If we had only seen a couple small parts of a movie but someone asked us to describe it in great detail, we would be ill-equipped to do so. The same can be said about the most complex and important “Book” in all of existence – one with eternal consequences attached to it. If we have not read (and studied!) it in its entirety, we could not possibly understand it … let alone understand the intricate workings of Almighty God.
In addition, Scripture tells us that God’s ways are not our ways – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Is 55:8-9). God is the Creator of all things. Humans are His mere creation; infinitely weaker than Him in all aspects. To this end, God’s love is infinitely greater than what man is able to comprehend as well. But while God is an all-loving God, He is also an all-just God. This is because He is indeed perfect.
While grappling with certain Scripture passages, especially those which are challenging to the ways of the world, we must keep in mind that Scripture is divinely inspired. This means that every Word of Scripture is not only correct, it is safeguarded from above. It is the very living, breathing Word of God – the eternal roadmap to Heaven. Every Word in Holy Scripture as well as every Word preserved and handed down from the Apostles through Holy Tradition, has been safeguarded for our benefit. Why? Because of God’s great love for us. Did you catch that? Every Word from God, whether in Scripture or handed down throughout Tradition is for our benefit. O what love!
One of the best ways to reconcile what may seem harsh to our senses or way of life is to recognize that God shows His love equally for all people by giving them equal opportunity to come to Him, to know Him, and the free-will to do as such. But if that love and guidance from above is rejected, then out of divine justice there will be consequences. Working contrary to the Word of God always leads to sin, and sin always leads to death (see Js 1:15). If sin leads to death, then God’s chastisements (punishments) should be viewed more as a loving “warning” to amend one’s ways; to turn back from sin and get back to safety by returning to the path of righteousness … the only path that leads to blessing and bliss.
King David points out in Psalm 135 that the Egyptians made a grave choice when they decided to reject God and oppose His children. These choices, which were contrary to the will of God, left them in the end with a devastating outcome. This history serves as a reminder for mankind that if we wish to be blessed (and not chastised), we must honor God and His Word. Living according to His holy Will will always lead us to the sweetest of consolations … the heavenly life both here on earth and in the one to come.
Prayer for Meditation
Almighty, true and incomparable God,
You are present in all things,
yet in no way limited by them.
You remain unaffected by place,
untouched by time,
unperturbed by years,
and undeceived by words.
You are not subject to birth
and in no need of protection.
You are beyond all corruption,
above all change,
immutable by nature.
You live in unapproachable light
and are invisible,
yet You are known to all those
who seek You with hope and love.
You are the God of Israel,
and of all who hope in Christ.
You are holy, Lord, the only God,
and Your deeds are wonderful.
You are strong.
You are great.
You are the Most High.
You are Almighty.
You, Holy Father are King of Heaven and earth.
You are Three and One, Lord God, all Good.
You are Good, all Good, supreme Good, Lord God, living and true.
You are love. You are wisdom.
You are humility. You are endurance.
You are rest. You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
You are all our riches, and You suffice for us.
You are beauty.
You are gentleness.
You are our protector.
You are our guardian and defender.
You are our courage. You are our haven and our hope.
You are our faith, our great consolation.
You are our eternal life, Great and Wonderful Lord,
God Almighty, Merciful Savior.