A Brief Update
For those of you who are unable to gather corporately with us this Sunday, you are loved and missed! If this is you, we are providing the songs we are singing together this morning and a devotional based on the sermon being preached.
Songs We are Singing Together
Devotional on Psalm 113
When we are in the midst of circumstances that we just can’t seem to make sense of, that we don’t understand, that perplex and confuse us and make us feel like the whole world around us is spiraling out of control, there is one thing we need more than any other, and that one thing is to look to the true and living God and respond by praising him.
Because when I see God for who he is—as the one who stands as the Divine Maker, speaking all things into existence; as the who reigns over all things, exercising his providence over every creature and every action; as the One who is before all things and in whom all things hold together—then my perspective on and response to all that goes on around me is completely different. And it begins and ends exactly where Psalm 113 begins and ends:
Praise the Lord!
[Read Psalm 113:1-3]
Psalm 113 resonates with this one command, one call, one theme; it opens the psalm and closes it – Praise the Lord!
It should be our chief occupation, our primary job, whether we are eating or drinking, playing or working, walking or driving, laughing or crying, our call is to praise the Lord.
There is nothing more worthwhile that we could ever give ourselves to do. It is in living for the glory of God that we discover true freedom and lasting joy. As image bearers of God this is when we are most human—when we praise the Lord.
In verse 1, the psalm calls a specific group of people to this praise: Praise, O servants of the Lord. These servants are God’s covenant people. As those chosen and redeemed by God, we are his servants.
We are not slaves to this world or the devil or our own fleshly desires or sin, but servants of the living God, so we must praise Him!
Then, the psalmist specifically calls these servants to praise the name of the Lord. This “name” represents who God has revealed himself to be. It represents who he is in his entirety and in his glory.
His name is Yahweh, the covenant name of God. It highlights his glory and goodness, his holiness and justice, his wisdom and power, his faithfulness and love. It is his name that provides the basis for our praise.
So great is this name that it should be praised at all times and in all places. From this time forth and forevermore. We are to praise God today, and everyday. Today and forever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised! This phrase is saying “from one end of the earth to the other praise the name of the Lord.”
And this is just what God has been at work doing as he saves a people for his own glory from every tribe and nation, from every people and place. When we praise the name of the Lord we are not worshiping in isolation, but rather join this beautiful and diverse choir that reaches every place and extends across all of time.
But even all of this praise falls infinitely short of the praise fitting our infinite God. So, next, the psalm turns to praising God for his greatness.
[Read Psalm 113:4-6]
The psalmist knows that whatever we currently think about God falls incredibly short of reality, so he describes God in a way that brings us a few steps closer to understanding who he is. As grand as this language is, the psalmist’s words here are understating the reality of who God is.
“All nations” speaks to the power and accomplishments of humanity. All that we as people have ever accomplished; all that we can do; from the great wall of China to walking on the moon; from the rule and reign of the Egyptians and the Romans to the superpowers of the modern world—the LORD is high above all nations. For all of our seeming greatness and ingenuity and accomplishments. The Lord is still high above all nations.
But that’s not all his glory is above the heavens!
The moon is around 240,000 miles from the earth. You would have to go all the way around the earth almost 10x before you’ve traveled the same distance that you would need to go to get to the moon.
But this is nothing compared to how far away the sun is from us. The sun is about 93 million miles away from the earth. This number is so big it doesn’t mean much to us. But to put it into perspective, if the earth were the period at the end of this sentence, then the sun would be the size of a child’s fist about 20 feet away.
But the Lord’s glory is above the heavens. And we haven’t even started talking about stars!
Do you know where the closest star is to us?
25 trillion miles away.
If the earth were that period again, and the sun a child’s fist 20 feet away the nearest star would be in Miami, FL. And this is just the closest one to us. But get this. There are billions of stars, just in our galaxy alone. On top of this there are billions of galaxies! Yet, his glory is above the heavens
Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
No one. No one is like this God. No one can be compared to him or with him for even a moment. God is so great, that his greatness is unsearchable. He is so exalted, so high, that he has to bend down to see the stars; he has to get down low to see what the angels do.
There is no one like our God. So, we must praise him for his greatness. And we must also praise him for his mercy.
[Read Psalm 113:7-9]
This high and holy and infinite and boundless and incomprehensible God, this God is our God. And he doesn’t stay transcendent and out of reach, but he condescends to us.
This ash heap is where we dwell in our sinful humanity. We are those who are lost in darkness, dead in sin, sitting in the dust, despairing on the dunghill. But, God, in his great mercy as the One who is high and lifted up, lifts us up from our sad estate.
God is a God who doesn’t do things partially or halfway. When he lifts the poor, he makes them rich. When he meets the needy, he completely satisfies souls.
Verses 7 and 8 are a quotation of the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2. If you remember, Hannah was barren, unable to have children and she was despairing and discouraged. But the Lord saw fit to give her a son, Samuel, to meet her in her lack and lift her up.
The psalmist writes, He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.
In Hannah’s story and in this psalm, we see that whatever discouragement you face, whatever questions plague you, whatever pain you have, the hope and healing and answers that are found in God will give you joy and life and peace.
You see, the God who is majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, is one who condescends to us, who comes to us and cares for us. More than this, because he is majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, when he comes he has the power to deliver. When he condescends to us he comes to save us.
Is this not what we see in the person and work of Jesus Christ? Who though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing taking the form of a servant, and being found in human likeness humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Charles Spurgeon writes this: “We have a God who is high above all gods, and yet who is our Father, knowing what we have need of before we ask him; our Shepherd, who supplies our needs; our Guardian, who counts the hairs of our heads; our tender and considerate Friend, who sympathizes in all our griefs. Truly the name of our condescending God should be praised wherever it is known.”
As we go into our week, let us go praising the Lord, trusting in his name, looking to his greatness, resting in his mercy. Our God is a God who is merciful and mighty. He is majestic and compassionate. Transcendent and immanent. Holy and wholly worthy of our praise.
Praise the Lord!
A Song of Response
Numbers 6:24-26 – “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make us face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance on you and give you peace.”