Broken hearts and changing seasons, Psalm 147

Praise builds as we near the end of the Psalter, and Psalm 147 overflows with praise. It also begins with a section of great comfort to the brokenhearted then cycles through sections with seasonal imagery. Identical praise phrases bookend the psalm.

Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
   for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting (Psalm 147:1, ESV).

Scroll down and you will see that the conclusion of the psalm echoes the phrase, “Praise the LORD!” It is, indeed, good and pleasant and fitting to sing praises to God. The remainder of this section lists reasons why God is worthy of our praise.

The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
   he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
   and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
   he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure,
The LORD lifts up the humble;
   he casts the wicked to the ground (2-6, ESV).

The Lord builds up his church and brings his chosen into it. We live in a broken world that breaks our hearts. We grieve like a gushing wound bleeds. But God staunches the flow of blood and tenderly wraps our wounds.

This tender Physician is also the almighty Creator. He determined the number of stars, set them in their places, and gave each one its own name. Adam’s first responsibility as the first man was to name the creatures. Naming is a God-ordained calling; we do not fulfill our calling when we fail to name things accurately.

God’s power and wisdom are far beyond our understanding, yet he lifts up the humble and casts down the proud.

The next section of the psalm conveys a sense of summer with images of rain refreshed grass and feeding creatures. The reference to a strong horse and a sturdy man bring to mind an agricultural or warfare image, both most likely to occur in warm weather. 

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
   make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds;
   he prepares rain for the earth;
   he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
   and to the young ravens that cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
   nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
   in those who hope in his steadfast love (7-11, ESV).

We sing to God with thanksgiving when we recognize him as the source of the life-giving rain and plants. He provides for the needs of every creature, even baby ravens. He does not delight in sturdy plowmen or warhorses and infantry, but in people who reverence him and hope in his love. Our trust should not be in our own self-sufficiency or in military might, but only in the Lord. Our hope springs from his undeniable and never ending love.

The next praise verse leads to verses depicting God’s great deeds by pairing national and domestic blessings.

Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
   Praise your God, O Zion!
For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
   he blesses your children within you.
He makes peace in your borders;
   he fills you with the finest of the wheat (12-14, ESV).

God commands the seasonal cycles. His swiftly running word may also represent the spread of the gospel.

He sends out his command to the earth;
   his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
   he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
   who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
   he makes his wind blow and the waters flow (15-18, ESV).

God dealt in a particular way with the nation of Israel in Old Testament times (19-20, ESV):

He declares his word to Jacob,
   his statutes and rules to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
   they do not know his rules.
Praise the LORD!

Although believers are no longer limited to one nation, God still declares his word to his people; he still maintains a special relationship with them.

May you know that special relationship and praise God for it! May you know the blessing of the Lord in your nation and your home!

And as days cool and air freshens, may you feel God mending your broken heart!

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