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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Psalm 113 - The Kindness of God

In this psalm, the servants of the Lord are exhorted to praise him (v. 1). The servants may be those on duty in the temple or they could be his people wherever they are. In both cases they are reminded that praise is a primary and an essential activity of God’s people and the psalmist provides several reasons for doing so.

The psalmist begins by specifying that we should praise God’s name, which is a reminder that praise should be intelligent. Divine names reveal truths about God and these truths guide us in what we should say to and about the Lord. In addition to offering intelligent worship, praising God’s name implies that contemplation has occurred beforehand. It is not correct to rush into God’s presence without spiritual preparation and an important part of preparation is thinking about God.

Verses 2 and 3 detail the longing in the heart of each true worshipper of God. Such want him to be praised (1) all the time and (2) everywhere throughout the earth. At present, such a longing is a prayerful aspiration, but it will yet be answered. The psalmist is confident about the future, and so should we even if things at present in our society are spiritually bleak. But the gospel will flourish and bring about worldwide blessing.

The psalmist rejoices in the wonderful fact that the Lord is completely sovereign over the affairs of our world (vv. 4-6). Indeed he is exalted over the whole universe. His sovereignty is never threatened even when he is opposed by powerful nations and empires. Such is his ability he continually knows what is taking place throughout the earth. This means that he is never taken by surprise.

But what does the Lord do with his power? The psalmist gives examples in verses 6-9 and each example reveals God’s gracious dealings with people in need. He cares for those who cannot help themselves. His actions had a literal meaning in ancient Israel when he promoted people from a low background to positions of prominence and also provided a home and family for women. Such dealings in providence were reasons for praising God.

The activities of God can also be interpreted in a wider spiritual sense. God takes spiritual outcasts and trains them for leadership in his church. It is good to realise that future leaders of his people can come from all kinds of unexpected backgrounds. He also can turn places of spiritual barrenness into situations of fruitfulness. God’s abilities provide many reasons for praising him.

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