A note to readers: Today’s post is part of a Sunday Voice Series by Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, a close friend, mentor and colleague of mine. He serves as the President of Asbury Theological Seminary among other posts he holds across the global church. This Sunday Voice Series will cover the Psalms, beginning to end, by focusing on a Psalm each Sunday. I can’t tell you how excited I am for his interest in contributing here. This will be a huge blessing to us all.
Psalm 113 (NIV)
1 Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, you his servants;
praise the name of the Lord.
2 Let the name of the Lord be praised,
both now and forevermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
4 The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens.
5 Who is like the Lord our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high,
6 who stoops down to look
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
8 he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord.
Psalm 113 is the beginning of a special collection of six psalms (113-118) known collectively as the Egyptian Hallel psalms. The word Hallel means praise and it is where we get the word “Hallelujah,” which means, “Praise the Lord.”
I have chosen Psalm 113 for this second week in Advent because this psalm reminds us anew of the great gulf between God and ourselves. “The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory is above the heavens!” (vs. 4). Yet, despite his glory and majesty, he “stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth . . . he raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (vs. 6, 7). This is the great theme of Christmas! God coming down to rescue us and to save us!
In the gospel, the great and glorious God of the highest heavens looks down upon us and comes to dwell in our midst to rescue us and to redeem us. In fact, in the coming of Christ, he did far more than the psalmist could ever have imagined. The psalmist declares that “He gives the barren woman a home and makes her the joyous mother of children” (vs. 9). In the incarnation, God doesn’t simply give a woman a home; he actually makes a woman his home, dwelling inside the very womb of Mary. This is the great mystery of the incarnation. Indeed, through the other events of redemption, Jesus Christ adopts countless new children into the family of God. What the prophets and psalmists could only hint at, we have now beheld in the glory of the One who stepped into human history and took on our flesh and shed his blood for the redemption of the world. Praise the Lord!