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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 147:12–20           

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 grants peace within your borders;
   he fills you with the finest of wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth;
   his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
   he scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down hail 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.
He declares his word to Jacob,
   his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
   they do not know his ordinances. Praise the Lord! (NRSV)

Making a list of all the verbs in these verses results in a substantial column of vivid and dynamic words. God strengthens, blesses, grants, fills, scatters, sends, spreads, strews, and melts, among other things. We’re presented with a God who is actively engaged in every aspect of the lives of his chosen ones, from the sublime to the nitty gritty.

Before getting lost in postcard poetry, though, it’s worth noting that not all these activities are positive. Today we might worry about what hail will do to our cars, or the waters running right into our basements. Imagine how much more those occurrences would affect us if we were people living very close to the land, without municipal services or insurance. Despite all the good mentioned in these verses of Psalm 147, some of God’s handwork can be destructive and deadly.

Yet the instinct here is to praise. Indeed these are all “acts of God.” God is mighty and powerful and the source of all blessing. After the long catalogue of God’s activities, take a look back at the final one that the psalmist notes. “He has proclaimed his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel.” That word, those statutes and ordinances, are divine, revelatory, and efficacious. God is in relationship with his chosen—including us—not just doing a bunch of stuff to us but intimately involved with us.

Amazing. Alleluia.

Te Deum laudámus: te Dominum confitémur.
Te ætérnum Patrem omnis terra venerátur.

We praise thee, O God: we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.

(The prayer is from the Te Deum, an ancient hymn of praise.)

Reflection written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator,
Center for Life and Learning

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