>Reformed Christians are fond of talking about “already” and the “not yet.”
By this they mean that we already enjoy the blessings of the Christian life, but that we have not yet experienced its fullness. When we die, we leave the ravages of physical life and enter into fellowship with Christ in heaven, but we will not experience the fullness of Christ’s kingdom until his return. Then the first heaven and earth will pass away and the sea will be no more; there will be a new heaven and earth and God will dwell directly with us; He will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain; for the former things will pass away and he will make all things new (Revelation 21:1-5, ESV).
Many events in this world and struggles in our lives make us long for that day. Much of scripture, including many of the psalms we’ve looked at on this blog, point us toward that great day. But the thing that strikes me about Psalm 113 is that it isn’t simply pointing to the “not yet” of future glory; it’s talking about the “already” of our lives now.
Psalm 113 is a simple psalm bracketed with exclamatory praise. Its opening verses pulse with joyous praise:
Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD!
Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the LORD is to be praised! (1-3, ESV).
Certainly these verses convey the everlasting nature of God and his praise; his name is to blessed “from this time forth and forevermore” (the “already” and the “not yet”). But this opening reinforces the “already” aspect by mentioning the rising and setting of the sun.
In addition to the beautiful promises reflected in the second paragraph above, the penultimate chapter of the Bible tells us that the New Jerusalem “has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23, ESV).
If there will be no sun or moon in the new creation, then Psalm 113:3’s reference to the rising and setting of the sun clearly conveys the concept of praising God’s name in the here and now.
After this jubilant opening, Psalm 113 turns our gaze upward to focus on our exalted and sovereign God.
The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory 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? (4-6, ESV).
From the highest heaven, our glorious God reigns over all the nations. He does not ignore current events; he “looks far down” on the obedient hosts of angels in heaven as well as the rebellious nations of people on earth. This means God is firmly in control, even over all the countries being torn apart by internal conflict.
God sees the suffering of his people, many of whom need not wait until their translation to glory for relief and blessing.
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD! (7-9, ESV).
In his great mercy, God raises the poor from the dust of poverty and lifts the needy from the ash heap of mourning. He seats them with the princes of his people! In his marvelous compassion, God grants the barren woman a joyful home filled with the sweet sounds of children.
These are not “pie in the sky, wait until you die” promises. These are blessings that God gives to believers here and now in the “already” of his kingdom.
No wonder the psalmist concludes as he began: “Praise the LORD!”