Psalm 147 (Notes from the Summer Psalms Series at CLBC)
Psalm 146-150 all begin and end with a call to praise the Lord. Psalm 147 calls us to praise the Lord four times in vv1, 7, 12, 20. The Psalm was probably written after the exiles returned to the Promised Land from 70 years in captivity in Babylon. There are three stanzas, beginning with a call to praise and then giving reasons for praise. There are repeated themes that emphasize God’s goodness shown in grace, and God’s greatness shown in creation. Then there is a contrast between those God blesses and those he opposes.
We are to praise the Lord for his grace. Singing praises to God is good. The restoration of Jerusalem was not a quick process. The walls and gates were rebuilt in 52 days but the process of restoring the Jews to the land began in 538 BC under Zerubbabel. The few that returned were unable to complete the rebuilding of the temple until 516 B.C. Then in 458 B.C. Ezra led a second return to the land, followed by Nehemiah in 445. The restoration of the Jews to the land and the completion of the walls and gates took a total of over 90 years from the outset to the conclusion.
The theme of God’s grace is seen in the way the Psalmist describes those God used to rebuild the city- outcasts (v2), brokenhearted (v3), wounded (v3), humble (v6). Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61 in Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed.
God chooses to lavish his grace on the broken, so that we will not glory in ourselves but in Him. Sin brings us to these realities, and grace delivers us from them.
We are to praise the Lord for his greatness. The Psalmist is having the discussion about God healing and restoring and he turns the attention to the greatness of God in his creation. He counts the number of the stars, he gives names to all of them. Great is the Lord, and abundant in strength, and his understanding is infinite.
Isaiah 40:26-29 Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.
The greatness of God is seen in his creation. There is no “Mother Nature” here. God is involved in making the clouds, sending the rain, causing grass to grow, and feeding the animals. Even the birds are objects of his tender care!
The greatness of God is experienced by those who fear him and hope in his love. The strength of the horse and the legs of man refer to an army. A king might boast in his powerful army who is strong and well- trained for battle. But God is not impressed. What are these compared to the greatness of God?
Our God raises the dead, parts the sea, calms the water, heals the sick, gives sight to the blind. But even more than that, He made and sustains all things.
Colossians 1:16-17 – For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
We are to praise the Lord for how he provides for his people. The references to Jerusalem, Zion, and Jacob refer to God’s chosen people, Israel. God was their God because He loved them and chose Zion for his dwelling place. God is exalted here for strengthening Jerusalem’s gates (symbolizing her security from enemies), blessing their children, giving them peace, and giving them the finest. The last two verses provide a contrast between Israel, which had received God’s words, statutes, and ordinances and other nations which did not have them.
Our greatest need is for more of God. Matthew 7:9-11 Which one of you, if his sons asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
We are to make the pursuit of God the primary purpose of our lives. We ask God for many things but what God has given us in Christ is the greatest gift every given.
“I am not asking whether you know things about Him but do you know God, are you enjoying God, is God the centre of your life, the soul of your being, the source of your greatest joy? He is meant to be.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones
“To truly know God we must long for Him without any other motive than reaching God Himself.” A.W. Tozer
Praise the Lord!