Devotional Thoughts on Psalm 113:1-9
June 1 – June 7, 2015
Monday, June 1, 2015
“Praise the Lord” (Psalm 113:1a)!
Some people believe that it is their mission in life to complain. They complain when it is cloudy and rainy, and are then upset when the sun comes out because it is too bright. While grabbing items off the store shelves during a sale, they complain of the high prices. Their food is never good enough, the music is never to their liking and sermons are always too long and boring. The sad fact is that we often join them in their complaining.
The Psalmist invites his people to look at the world from a different perspective. He agrees that it isn’t a perfect world. There are still the poor and needy. Instead of focusing on all that is wrong and complaining about it, however, the Psalmist commands the people to look beyond the problems and observe what the Lord is doing. When we focus on God’s actions it is easy to follow the Psalmist’s directions. Our natural response is to praise the Lord.
Wonderful Lord, forgive us when we utter more complaints than sing songs of joy. You have blessed us abundantly and we give you thanks and praise. Amen.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
“Praise, O Servants of the Lord” (Psalm 113:1b).
To help us praise the Lord, the Psalmist reminds us who we are. We are not just presidents and CEO’s, farmers or merchants, housewives or mothers. We are servants of the Lord.
Carlita had a good job as a housekeeper for a wealthy family. She didn’t really appreciate her job, though. She worked hard and was proud of the work she did, but Carlita received scant praise from her employers. The two children were rambunctious, disorderly and spoiled. Carlita worked long hours and there was a lot of work to do.
Carlita’s attitude toward her work changed on Sunday because of the words of a sermon. The pastor stressed the idea that the members of her congregation were God’s people wherever they were and whatever they were doing. They were messengers of God’s love and grace. From that day Carlita saw herself from a different perspective. Her work was a way that she served God. Her words and actions were channels of God’s love and a witness to God’s presence. Before this when Carlita traveled to work she often did so with a heavy heart. Now she was able to praise the Lord in the bus, as she walked, while she cooked and when she cleaned.
Lord and Master, we so often forget that we are your people who have been called to do your will. Enable us to remember that we live to serve you. May your praise be constantly on our lips. Amen.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
“Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Psalm 113:2).
This is an uncommon way to use the word “blessed.” In the beatitudes, which are found in the gospel of Matthew, the word “blessed” can be translated “happy.” Jesus appears to have used the word, in part, for its shock value. The idea of “happy” as a part of grief and persecution has caused countless discussions.
Another way to use the word “bless” is to talk about God’s loving and gracious blessings in our lives. We are blessed with God’s provisions forf our daily bread. God blesses us with faith and hope in our times of need. Usually the term “blessing” refers to those gifts that provide for the fullness or abundance of our lives.
Can we bless God and add to God’s happiness? Perhaps we can. Praise usually focuses on our words, whether spoken or sung. The term blessing may fit better with our actions. We act in a way that is pleasing to the Lord; that blesses God. We could also say that we live our lives as expressions of our love for God and in that way bless God.
So, the Psalmist is calling God’s people to worship the Lord with their words and their deeds. Today we are able to worship the Lord. Our worship is not dependent on our location or situation. At all times we can bless the Lord.
Holy Lord, you are worthy of our worship and praise. Receive our shouts and songs of praise and may they be reenforced by our lives that we pray will be a blessing to you. Amen.
Thursday, June 4, 2015
“From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).
At a weekend retreat centering on prayer, the speaker invited his teenage audience to get out of their comfort zone and pray in different ways. The speaker, at the end of his talk, asked that the group spend some time in prayer. Instead of praying silently, though, the speaker instructed the teens to pray out loud at the same time. He offered a brief countdown–three … two … one. The teens began to pray together and there arose a holy cacophony of words.
The sun shines constantly and its light illuminates every inch of the earth. The Psalmist is calling for God’s name to be praised everywhere all the time. Imagine the sound such praise would make. Of course the animals, trees, mountains and seas would join in the praise. The picture is an image of heaven on earth.
Praise to God is being expressed everywhere all the time. The Psalmist graciously invites us to join in the praise.
Almighty God, accept our praise as we join with our brothers and sisters around the world and all creation in praising your name. Amen.
Friday, June 5, 2015
“The Lord is high above the nations” (Psalm 113:4).
Height matters. The story is told that President Johnson (LBJ) had a special chair made for him, which he used in Air Force One. The chair was hydraulic and the seat was able to be raised or lowered. President Johnson wanted to make sure that no one sat above him in the meetings that were conducted during a flight. If you were to go into a courtroom you would notice that the judge sits on a raise platform. No one needs to be told who is in authority in a court of law. Even our church buildings work with height. The altar area is usually raised above the parishioners. This certainly helps the congregation to see what is going on at the altar. It also silently proclaims the holiness of the altar area.
Our Lord sits high above the nations. The Psalmist is emphasizing God’s authority and power. The nations don’t even come close–not the Assyrians not the Babylonians; the super powers at that point in history. Neither does ISIS, multinational companies nor even the United States. From his lofty perch of authority, the Lord looks down upon God’s creation and sees all.
We may not face national powers today, but we will face powerful forces and daunting circumstances. Some will cause us concern while others provoke a fear bordering on panic. When we face these challenges of life it is assuring to know that we do not face them alone. We are also blessed with courage when we remind ourselves that God has the power and nothing in all of creation comes close to matching God’s power.
O Lord who is high about the heavens, do not let us forget your power nor lose the courage that such power inspires within us. Amen.
Saturday, June 6, 2015
“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts up the needy ones from the ash heap” (Psalm 113:7).
One of the pernicious fallacies that pervades our thoughts is that God is closer to the rich and powerful than God is to the poor and needy. Such thoughts can easily be found in the Old Testament. Jesus rebelled against such thoughts throughout his ministry. The Apostle Paul fought against the privileged status accorded the rich (or appropriated by the rich) in his letters to the Corinthians. Yet we talk about how God has blessed us with wealth and many of the luxuries that make life comfortable. We look at the poor and needy and can’t imagine how the Lord has blessed them.
The Psalmist rallies against the idea that the rich have any advantage in God’s eyes. This is not a psalm that celebrates God’s lifting up of the rich. It is rather a psalm that God knows the plight of the poor and needy and that God has the power to lift them up out of the dust.
God’s power, though, is usually not demonstrated through supernatural means. No indeed! God’s power is exercised through God’s people. We are God’s hands and feet. We are the ones who reach out and grasp the hands of the needy and lift up the needy. Sometimes those who are poor and needy believe the pernicious fallacy, too. We are the ones who tell them of God’s love and grace and remind them that God has not forgotten them.
Loving Lord, use our mouths, hands and feet to share the good news of your love and grace with those who need to be reminded of this great truth. Amen.
Sunday, June 7, 2015
“He gives the barren woman a home making her the joyous mother of children” (Psalm 113:9).
In Old Testament times being childless was a social disgrace. Childlessness was even more than that. It was a question of survival. In the agrarian society the children helped in the fields and enabled the family to eek out a meager existence. Children assured that the parents would be cared for in their old age. Land was passed down to children and children carried on the lineage. Children were valuable. The disgrace and fear that childlessness brought with it was overwhelming for the women. It also brought with it a sense if hopelessness.
Medical science has made great strides in enabling couples to have children when previously the would have been unable to conceive. These various medical procedures have brought a sense of hope to the situation. No such hope, though, was available to the childless couples centuries before the birth of Christ. Their only hope was in God.
The Psalmist envisions something different for those who were childless. He saw the Lord intervening, allowing the barren to conceive, blessing the couple with children and replacing their hopelessness with joy. Sure, we realize that Israel did not suddenly experience a population explosion. That does not take away the truth that God does move in our lives and in our world. God also has the ability to change our hopelessness into joy.
We will be faced with overwhelming situations. Life is full of them. They do not need to be hopeless situations for us, however. God is present and where God is there is hope.
Eternal Father strong to save, be our rock when the riptides of life threaten to destroy us and we are tempted to lose hope. Amen.