Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;
praise your God, Zion.
He strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your people within you.
He grants peace to your borders
and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
He has revealed his word to Jacob,
his laws and decrees to Israel.
He has done this for no other nation;
they do not know his laws.
Praise the Lord. (NIV)
How has God become known to you?
The psalmist is aware and celebrates that God’s goodness has become known to him through nature and direct revelation (via the patriarchs and the prophets). This psalm is presumed to be written by David when he was king. He knows that he is part of a long line of leaders whom God has chosen, watched over, given guidance and protection. He is also aware that any safety from attack (ie the bars on the gates) is really from God and not from the actual gates, bars, or city walls. If God wasn’t protecting his kingdom, no amount of security measures would be enough.
God doesn’t just provide for and protect them. God provides the best possible life for them. The psalmist doesn’t say it directly, but between the lines, I get the idea that the best way for the city, Jerusalem (or any city for that matter) to give God praises is to be a city that does its part to be a place for its residents to thrive. It is to protect and feed them in exchange for their living in harmony with all. This is what God is looking for in a people, to live justly and in peace with all people.
God’s great power, so beyond anything we can accomplish, is shown through the power of nature. The snows of winter are an element we have to adapt to, not anything we can control. Living in Southern California, we (as a whole) tend to forget that in ways other parts of the country get reminded on a fairly regular basis. We don’t ever have to cancel everything for a snow day. We’d be better off if we did. We would know that our plans are not the thing that keep the universe on course! We don’t ever have to board up our houses and leave town for a hurricane. We don’t have a worry about tornadoes or lightning. (So far, at least) we haven’t had any devastating earthquakes. Wildfire is the closest we have come but for most of us, even though they haven’t been that far away, they are something that happens somewhere else…not on my block…and is usually sourced in human carelessness rather than God’s design.
So it is still true for us today. God is our protector and the source of all that is good in our lives. God’s power is sufficiently powerful that we can only stand back and trust when we get right down to it. It does us no good to try to do God’s part. Playing God gets us nowhere but in trouble. So sit back and rest my friends. Praise God and give God the glory. Do spend some time pondering where you see God in your corner of the world and vow to spend more mental attention acknowledging that God is with you, more time looking for evidence of God’s presence and giving thanks for all of it.
Blessings to you,
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.