English Basic Explanation - Chapter 113
Psalm 113 begins the section of Tehillim that comprises the Hallel service which we add to our prayers on holidays. This chapter in particular accurately reflects the theme of Hallel – which means "praise" – as in the first verse alone the reader is exhorted no fewer than three times to praise God. The basic message of this chapter – and, indeed, of all the chapters that comprise the Hallel service – is that we, as God's subjects and the beneficiaries of His unlimited goodness – are obliged to joyfully sing His praises and express sincere feelings of gratitude.
Verses 2-3 emphasize that the praise of God is not limited to any particular time or place. At all times and in all locations, we must sing His praises. Human beings are characterized by inconsistency; we at times achieve greatness, and on other occasions fail. A person sometimes deserves praise and admiration, but in some instances he must be criticized or reprimanded. Furthermore, while in some settings he exhibits great skill and acumen, in other contexts he is unqualified and untrained. Only God deserves respect and praise under all circumstances, in all contexts, and at all times.
The second half of this chapter addresses one particular characteristic of God, namely, His ability to bring about sudden and drastic changes of fortune. He lifts the poor from the trash-bins to aristocratic stature, and fills the home of the barren woman with healthy, happy children. Thus, even when one experiences difficulty and hardship, he is still enjoined to sing God's praises. For even if he cannot easily sense God's benevolence at the present moment, he can rest assured that God can, in but an instant, reverse his fortune and lift him from despondency to joy.