Who are we?

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.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Psalm 147:12-20 – Why should we praise God? Because he is with us

In providing a list in the third section of his psalm, the unknown composer notes what the Lord was doing for his people recently returned from the exile. As they would sing the list, they would realise that although things seemed not as good as what previous generations had known, nevertheless he was doing a great deal for them. His practice is one that we can imitate. What does the psalmist include in his list?

First, the Lord would keep the enemies out. I think that is the point of saying that he strengthens the bars of their gates (v. 13). Of course, they had to make the gates and put the bars in place. This is a reminder that we have to take all the appropriate means that God requires in order to keep out our spiritual enemies, and when we have done so, we can look to him to strengthen our fortifications.

Second, the Lord was giving them living signs that they had a future. This is the significance of saying that the Lord is blessing their children (v. 13). In a physical sense, if there are no children, then there is no future. Although the present may not have been bright, there were signs of a bright future. And we can say that spiritual children (converts) are always pointers to a great future for the kingdom, small samples of what can happen on a large scale.

Third, the Lord who was with them was giving them peace, even although they were surrounded by strong opponents (v. 14). We can read about some of those opponents in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. And what they experienced in a national way we can experience in a spiritual way. We can have the peace of God even when our spiritual enemies – the world, the flesh and the devil – are active. The world cannot take away our peace because Jesus has overcome it; the flesh, although it wars against the spirit, cannot prevent the fruit of the Spirit developing, and one aspect of the fruit is peace; and the devil cannot defeat us as long as we have on the shoes of peace as part of our spiritual armour.

Fourth, in his providence the Lord ensured that they had the best of food to eat (v. 14). They may have worried about their harvests as they tried to recover the city of Jerusalem that had been so humbled for its sins. Yet they had the same degree of goodness in what they ate as their forefathers had in their best days. What was true of them physically can also be true of us spiritually. God is capable and willing to give us as much of Jesus to satisfy our souls as he gave to those who lived for him in better days.

Fifth, they had to remember that God sent everything they experienced in the natural world, whether in winter or in spring. There was a strong lesson for them in this realization. He had sent the winter of Babylon and now he had sent the spring of restoration (vv. 15-18). Ahead of them was the summer when it would come.

Sixth, they were still a privileged people; in fact, they were the only privileged people (vv. 19-20). They had been given his Word and he had not given it to any other nation as a whole. His Word told them how to worship him, how to live for him, and what to expect from him. Yet all they had was parts of the Old Testament – we don’t know when it was all completed and available for them to read in its entirety. We have the entire Bible, and that is a great privilege.

So these are some reasons that tell us why praise of our God is good, pleasant and fitting.

No comments:

Post a Comment