Psalm 147

Psalm 147

Praise the Lord.

How good it is to sing praises to our God,
    how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the exiles of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.

He determines the number of the stars
    and calls them each by name.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
    his understanding has no limit.

The Lord sustains the humble
    but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
    make music to our God on the harp

He covers the sky with clouds;
    he supplies the earth with rain
    and makes grass grow on the hills.

He provides food for the cattle
    and for the young ravens when they call.

10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;

11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.

12 Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;
    praise your God, Zion.

13 He strengthens the bars of your gates
    and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders
    and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.

15 He sends his command to the earth;
    his word runs swiftly.

16 He spreads the snow like wool
    and scatters the frost like ashes.

17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
    Who can withstand his icy blast?

18 He sends his word and melts them;
    he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

19 He has revealed his word to Jacob,
    his laws and decrees to Israel.

20 He has done this for no other nation;
    they do not know his laws.

Praise the Lord.

This psalm tells us that the LORD builds, gathers, heals, binds, determines, and calls. He is great and mighty without limits. He sustains, covers, supplies, provides, delights, strengthens, blesses, satisfies, sends, stirs, and, to his people alone, he reveals.

This poetry is full of imagery describing who God is. He does not show himself to just anyone — he reveals his Word to his people — his laws, his decrees, his Son — only to the sheep who hear his voice (John 10:27). It is by his Word that he runs creation, and by his Word that he loves his people.

His delight is in us because we fear him, because we put our hope in his unfailing love (v.11).

This psalm tells us that it is good and fitting to praise the LORD because of all the things he has done for us. All of these action verbs represent life and movement of the Holy Spirit in you. Do you recognize the activity of God in your life? In my small group this week, we discussed seeing God’s movement in our lives. It is a muscle that requires repeated use in order to grow.

Take these verbs one by one and list the way the LORD has accomplished this action in you.

What has he built in your life?

How has he gathered you into a church family?

Describe a time he has healed your broken heart or bound up your wounds.

Do you recognize his sovereign Lordship in determining and calling creation?

How has God provided for and delighted you lately? Has he strengthened you for a specific purpose recently? How is he currently revealing himself to you?

A Weaned Child with His Mother

A song of ascents. Of David

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord
    both now and forevermore.

Have you ever heard a newborn baby’s cry for milk? There are not many sounds in the world that are as disconcerting.  It is jarring and is meant to be. The mother can be warming up the milk, or preparing herself to nurse, yet a newborn will continue to scream when he is hungry until he is fed. An infant hasn’t learned to trust that his mother will feed him. He believes he must squirm, fuss, and cry to be fed. He is the picture of agitated, restless anxiety. Do his screams produce the milk? No, he is trying to control something that he absolutely cannot control. A baby is powerless to feed himself. His anxious wailings are an attempt to concern himself with things that are beyond his control, as David points out in this psalm. 

By the time a child is weaned and eating solid food, they have learned to trust their parents to feed them. They smell food cooking and know they will be fed when it is dinner time. The King James Version of Psalm 131 translates the word “calmed” in verse two as “behaved.” This gives us the picture of a child who has learned assurance and self-control; they trust their mother to feed them, and that gives them peace and contentment.[1]

David shows us how to trust in the Lord with a calm and quiet soul.  It requires humility to trust our heavenly Father the way a weaned child trusts his mother.  There cannot be arrogance or superiority when we acknowledge we control nothing and that we are totally unable to provide for ourselves. Humility is accepting our place as a dependent child. God alone can and will provide. Believing that we are solely responsible for producing good in our lives, or in the lives of those we love, breeds anxiety and discontent. 

Another metaphor comparing people with babies was used by the Apostle Paul. He said it is only mature, or spiritual, people who can be fed with solid food, “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready” (1 Cor. 3:1-2).

In the verses immediately prior, Paul explained that spiritually mature people live by the Spirit and have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:6-16). They are able to interpret and discern truth by the Spirit. These are people who know that the things God is planning for them are too wonderful – too great for them to even imagine (Psalm 131: 1b). They are no longer infants because they live dependent on the Spirit and with the mind of Christ. It is the juxtaposition of the Kingdom of God; to think of oneself as independent is to be as an infant, but to know one’s dependence on God is to be mature.  The mature do not try to control things by their own power or interpret things with their fleshly wisdom. They know they must live as weaned children of their Father – without pride, without hubris – knowing they can do all things through Christ and no things without him. 

The spiritual people of Psalm 131 and 1 Corinthians 2-3 are calm and content, completely dependent on God for fleshly provision (food, clothing, shelter) and spiritual provision (discernment, wisdom, power). They do not mistakenly believe that they are producing revelation in their own strength (Eph.1:17). Their lives are spent resting in the satisfaction of dependence on the Spirit of God and hope in him for everything they need. These weaned children have learned that without the mind of Christ, everything in the spirit realm is foolishness to them – salvation, sanctification, discernment, our gifts, the power of God. The natural person (1 Cor. 2:14) cannot accept or understand the things of God. The spiritual person is content, not striving to understand things of God from a natural viewpoint, and not believing that they produce their own spirituality. They trust the Holy Spirit alone to give them understanding of and faith for the “things freely given to us by God” (I Cor. 2:12). 

Peace, contentment, unity, love, and trust are found when our hope is in the LORD. 

[1]God is our Father – Jesus called him Father, even Abba – Daddy. He is the Father with no beginning and no end — eternally generating the Son. Yet, he is not a man. “What is God? God is a Spirit and has not a body like men.” Catechism for Young Children: An Introduction to the Shorter Catechism, Q.9. So, it is always fun to read similes in the Bible where God is compared to a mother as in Psalm 131. In addition to this Psalm there are others who use similes or metaphors of God as a maternal figure, i.e., Deut. 32:18, Isaiah 49:15, Isaiah 66:13, Matt. 23:37.