Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 113 is the first in a sequence of six psalms of praise. At the end of the book of Psalms,.we will encounter another sequence of six. If you have felt, as I have, that the book of psalms has tilted too much toward grief and laments and enemies and trouble, then fasten your seatbelts. From here on the psalms will fly through the skies singing God’s praise instead of moping in the pit of despair.
I’m not sure I’m ready for this. I have grown accustomed to the dark, to praying from deep in the mud rather than flying on wings of praise. The psalms have been a welcome companion in my darkness, but the poet doesn’t build his home there. He doesn’t give the last word to despair, but praise. God’s faithfulness is a lamp, his loving kindness a light. Let’s go to that place with the poet.
The first three verses of Psalm 113 are overloaded with calls to praise. Repeating his favorite word five times, the poet urges us to: praise, praise, praise, bless, and praise the Lord. Do you catch the hint? The poet praises God in time, both now and forevermore (v. 2b) and he praises God in space, from the rising of the sun to its setting (v. 3). Everywhere, every time, is a time for praise. No exceptions.
The remaining six verses of Psalm 113 explain what God does that deserves our praise.
Who is like our God, the poet asks, seated high above the heavens, looking a long way down to heaven and earth? God sees the poor in the dust and he lifts them up, he sees the needy on the dunghill and he makes them sit with princes. He sees the barren woman and he makes her a mother of children.
Praise the Lord.
Our father, we welcome this day to look away from our pandemic ridden world, away from our menial employments, away from our cares for self and family. In the routine of life, we have become drudges, stuck in darkness, focusing on what is wrong, weary of pressing on. With the poet, we lift our eyes to you, rejoicing in what is right.
You, our God, are still above the heavens, above the dictators and presidents of the world. You watch this play we stage on earth, the politics we invent, the drama we generate. You see our exits and entrances. We praise you that you write the script and direct the play we stage.
We praise you for what you do. You see the needy and provide a food bank, the homeless and you create a home. You see the jobless and give them a vocation with princes. The childless woman you make a mother. To struggling church members, you give grace. To the mentally ill a new life. To the war-torn countries you bring peace.
Lord, if we look with cynical eyes, we see endless poverty and injustice. But in our moments of faith, we see Christ’s work of compassion and healing, delivered in medical missions and social programs and church potlucks and neighbourhood parties. With the poet, we praise you for every person who has a place to call home, has enough to eat, and a job and a family. Look upon those still in the dust and dung heaps of the world, and lift them also to a new life.
With the poet, we praise you as the God of nations and the God of individuals, the God who sustains the life of the world, who intervenes in the muddled mess, who creates joy and beauty.
Who is like you, O God? We praise your holy name.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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