“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;
he casts the wicked to the ground.”
~Psalm 147:5-6 (NRSV).
Great is the Lord God Almighty—we all know it—well, in truth, many do. But, we often don’t come to appreciate how partial he is to right deeds designed from faith.
And faith can’t possibly be lived anywhere near enough other than via the concept of the fear of the Lord:
“His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the speed of the runner;
But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
~Psalm 147:10-11 (NRSV).
The Psalm’s Structure
The structure of this exilic / post-exilic psalm is set in praise through flagship verses 1, 7 and 12. Each of these capital verses leads the succeeding verses, all of which are descriptive of God’s character, nature and creative works. This psalm is particularly reminiscent of Isaiah’s book of comfort (chapters 40-66).
The threefold structure is further enhanced by broad themes of praise, thanksgiving and exaltation as the psalm holds its own in amongst the crescendo to the Psalter.
The thought that ‘all is in God and God is in all’ is pasted all over this psalm, heralding the course of nature to an excess of 100 million stars—all of which are named one-by-one (verse 4) by the Lord, Yahweh. And again, the psalm catapults God as the Lord of the Israelites—One who faithfully returned the remnant to their homeland, nourished them, blessed their children and healed their borders (verses 13-14). His greatness and his goodness are hence lauded in this hymn.
The Lord’s Pleasure
But the headline story is where God’s favour is at. It’s clear from those who’ve had the slightest crack at this faith caper that the fear of the Lord is where faith—and God’s impartial favour—is centrally at.
The cataclysmic homing irony of God is this: “He who knows each separate star will not lose sight of one single Israelite.” And this extends to each living believer today!
And God loves nothing more than the faith-filled response of those who call him their God. His Word runs swiftly for these (verse 15), losing no opportunity to back his faithful; his Word overcomes the wicked (verse 18) who’d come against the “spiritual” us—the world, the devil, the flesh.
We have no other fear, those of us who believe to the uttermost reaches of our beings that God is faithful—and we praise him eternally for his goodness to us and his greatness in creation.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
Craig C. Broyles, Psalms – New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody, Massachusetts, 1999), p. 512-14.
James L. Mays, Psalms – Interpretation (Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press, 1994), p. 441-43.
W. Graham Scroggie, A Guide to the Psalms – A Comprehensive Analysis of the Psalms (Vol. 4) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1995), p. 127-37.
 W. Graham Scroggie, A Guide to the Psalms – A Comprehensive Analysis of the Psalms (Vol. 4) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1995), p. 135.