Psalm 147 (NIV)
1 Praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
6 The Lord sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
8 He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.
10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
12 Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;
praise your God, Zion.
13 He strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders
and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
15 He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
19 He has revealed his word to Jacob,
his laws and decrees to Israel.
20 He has done this for no other nation;
they do not know his laws.
Praise the Lord.
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This psalm celebrates the amazing providence of God in his care for us after a long night of despair. Israel had been judged and scattered into exile. Their temple, the symbolic seat of God’s presence, had been destroyed. Their land, the visual symbol of God’s covenant faithfulness, had been invaded and occupied. Most of their prophets were prophesying false hopes. The true prophets were in captivity with their voices silenced. After a long siege of hopelessness that had gone on for many decades, this psalm opens with an explosion of praise.
Praise is once again on the lips of Israel. They praise God for both his creational and covenantal blessings. The Lord “builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel” (v. 2). He “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (v. 3). The sovereign Lord, who determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name, is now tenderly calling Israel. The long wait is over, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power” (v. 5). This is, in seed form, the great message of the incarnation of Christ. Because of sin, we were all in spiritual exile, far from our spiritual home. All the symbols of God’s presence were vanquished. Now, the greatest symbol of God’s faithfulness has come in Jesus Christ. Through the gospel, he is tenderly calling us each by name. We are the gathered people of God from the ends of the earth.
The church is the great public testimony that even in the midst of a fallen world, God has set up outposts of the New Creation! The church is the visible sign of God’s footprint in Adam’s world. He is reversing our status. He is granting us peace. He is calling us to live out all the realities of the coming age in the present. “The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (v. 11). The time of the world’s redemption has come. Hallelujah!