Hallelujah to Hallelujah!
Dear God, I am richly blessed. I worship You with thanksgiving in my heart and praise on my lips.
Consider: "The reasons why God is to be praised are found in his works and his nature, his doing and his being" (John R. W. Stott, 1921-2011). Psalm 113 praises the Lord for his majesty and compassion.
"Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever" (Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1646).
If any psalm spells out what the Westminster Shorter Catechism means in the line quoted above, surely this is it. It begins and ends with "Hallelujah," or "Praise the Lord." Within this hallelujah envelope, the psalm spells out what it means to glorify God and to enjoy him. It begins with a summons to praise (1-3) and goes on to develop the substance of praise (4-9).
In the summons there is a focus on the Lord's name. The Lord who transcends time (2) and space (3) makes himself available to us in his name--in a word! The name is Yahweh, God's personal, covenant name (Exod. 3:14-15). What does Yahweh mean? He himself tells us in Exodus 34:5-7: Yahweh is merciful, patient, loving, trustworthy, and just. He summons us to enter his presence by meditating on his Word and listening to what he wants to say to us.
The substance of praise is to glorify God, first, for who he is (4-6). For the psalmist, the Lord is awesome, beyond compare (5). He is "enthroned so high, he needs to stoop to see the sky" (5-6, Jerusalem Bible). But God is not aloof. He makes things happen for us. So the substance of praise also means enjoying God for what he does (7-9). Verses 7-9 can be taken literally and metaphorically. Literally, they are a prayer rejoicing in God's deep love for the poor (7) and for the forlorn (9). When taken as metaphors of God's grace, they are a liturgy of thanksgiving, a liturgy that sees a parable of personal redemption in the dramatic rescue of the person scavenging on the rubbish dump. The rehabilitation of the stigmatized, childless woman kindles the hope that dead churches can become centers of abundant life. No wonder the poet shouts "Hallelujah!" not once but twice.
"Who is like the Lord our God?" (5). Take time to lose yourself in wonder, love, and praise.
Lord, I echo the words of the psalmist, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever" (Psa. 106:1).
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