A devotional of Psalm 147
This song underscores a theme in my mind – Jah is is a God of opposites. His eyes have a micro and a macro lens.
1 Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
When you raise your hands in devotion; when you open your mouth in adoration, when you raise a melody to God oh you look good, Beloved. It fits you like a flattering garment and shows off the best of you. You should wear that more often! We saw in Ps. 133 that not everything that is good is pleasant and not everything that is pleasant is good, but those two attributes came together regarding harmony, and here they come together regarding praising God.
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
The micro lens of God causes him to see the downcast and brokenhearted. The dejected and disconsolate are bent down. They are drawn downward and inward themselves in their misery and pain. They may curl up into the fetal position in self-preservation. Jehovah rapha restores and mends the breaks. He thoroughly makes them whole. He firmly wraps and compresses their injury. He does the same with their sorrows and their hurts. He thus stretches them into shape as one sets a broken bone. His goal is to restore them to a state of praise as in verse one.
The macro lens of God pans out to the mysterious grandeur of our known universe and beyond. There he sees clearly a billion trillion stars and tracks each one. With our most sophisticated scientific instruments, we behold but a bucketful in an ocean of them. To determine – manah – means to weigh out, to allot officially, or to enumerate. He knows intimately the identity and character of each one.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
When my oldest son was a few years old, he learned the first part of this verse. I told him that whenever he was in trouble, he could say those words and God would rescue him by strengthening his soul no matter what happened. I remember well his little hands clasped tightly together, saying, “Great is the Lord and mighty in power.” May he remember and say them to his dying day. Truly God’s understanding – tabun (intelligence, reason, knowledge, insight, skillfulness, and wisdom, all of which constitute the soul/heart/mind of God) is beyond calibrating. Adopt that lovely verse for yourself and may it be your final breath as well.
6 The Lord lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.
Our God of opposites has a plan for the humble as we’ve seen throughout the psalms and he has a sure plan for the wicked.
7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!
8 He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
What tender care he proffers to his creation: clouds for the heavens, rain for the earth, grass for the hills, food for the beasts and the ravens. Yet his humble heart is not easily impressed by what impresses us. The power of a steed or the strength of a man are lost on him while we ooh and aah. But O, he has one the delights and pleases him. It is he who fears him and hopes in his love. Rare is that man or woman or child who trembles at the mention or the thought of Jah. So great and mighty and powerful that we shudder. So majestic and beyond description yet attending to mere man that we marvel at his goodness. “The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; he will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great,” Ps. 115:12, 13.
12 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
Here is a 4 “S” stand of God.
- Security for our dwellings
- Succession by blessing our children
- Succor in our land and homes so we enjoy his gift of peace
- Sustenance in his faithful provision.
15 He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.
What a mysterious verse this is. God unleashes or sows or shoots forth his imrah – speech or utterance. This is his talk, what he says, promises, declares, and determines. This word – or dabar – is synonymous with the aforementioned imrah but adds the concept of an associated errand or action. It is word and action wrapped in one and entails power, promise, provision, and purpose. It is to say a thing or to word a work.
There is a lovely passage that we should all memorize, “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it,” Isaiah 55:10-11.
We just learned that he forms clouds for the heavens, rain for the earth, grass for the hills, food for the beasts and the ravens. That precipitation does not need to return to him. It comes down on an errand of God’s choosing. It comes down on an errand and it accomplishes that mission. It comes down like an arrow shot by a skillful warrior. It is rightly aimed, swift, and always hits its target dead on. It bolsters the soul and all its functions.
His is not just imrah but dabar. The spoken word is the agent. The mission is the radical transformation of the individual soul as well as ministry on earth, meeting the needs of men, women, and children. It shoots straight into the heart of man and transforms it, aligning one’s will (desires, passions), intellect, and emotions with those of God. It provides security, succession, succor, and sustenance for the individual and for those that the speaker declares these things over.
Paul said, “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified…” 2 Thessalonians 3:1a. What exactly is this word? It is the Word, Jesus Christ himself. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made,” John 1:1-3. Verse 14 adds, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Heb 1:3, 4 teaches about Jesus, “who being the brightness of [His] glory and the express image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” Both New Testament passages show that even as Jesus Christ, he was word and action wrapped up in one. It was creation work. It was salvation work. It was exposing the Father to us. In all three areas he accomplished what God pleased and prospered in the thing for which he was sent.
16 He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
This Fall, the Lord has been teaching me about fire since we studied Psalm 104. He immersed me in verse 4 which says, “he makes his angels ministering spirits, his ministers flames of fire.” It is therefore catching to me that he focuses on cold in this section. We studied the function of fire.
What is the function of cold? There are plants that will not grow unless they lie dormant in cold temperatures for extended periods of time. Cold also kills off harmful pests during winter months. The cold season allows the ground to lie fallow and rest before becoming verdant in the Spring. Cold temperatures keep vast waterbodies frozen in ice as reserves for the whole earth. What other benefits of cold can you think of?
19 He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules. Praise the Lord!
God declares – nagad – his word to Jacob and Israel. Nagad means to announce, to inform, to proclaim, to confess, to affront, to predict, to manifest, and to show forth. All this is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. That is why he was the first priest to sit down, his work well accomplished. That is why as he breathed his last, he said, “it is finished,” John 19:30. Only for physical and spiritual Israel has he done those. This choosy God has not dealt thus with any other nation. Bow at the feet of the seated Christ and praise him for his finished work.