1 Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
2 sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
4 All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.”
5 Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
7 who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves.
8 Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12 you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
14 that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17 I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!
I was reading my Bible the other day, more like two weeks ago I guess, and I came across this Psalm. And as I read it I was struck by how simple this prayer is.
The writer starts by reflecting on how mind-blowingly great and mighty God is, and progresses to a call for all the world to come see the works that God has done for him/the people of Israel. What really hit me here in verse 5 is the eagerness and the willingness to share the mighty works that God has done in the history of the nation of Israel. He cannot contain the excitement and awe of what God has been doing.
He goes on to point out several major highlights of their history; the crossing of the Red Sea when they were leaving Egypt, and the crossing of the Jordan River when they entered the Promised Land. Two huge, miraculous works that were done for their behalf and that were most likely already known in all of the ancient world, but nonetheless this writer tells his readers/listeners to go back and think about them, and more specifically to think about the God who did those things. How great and mighty God is who did those miracles for them.
Verse 10 we see how God is testing us, not in a pass-fail sort of way, but test and retest and retest, getting finer and more precise with each pass. The same as silver is refined, by heating and cooling and heating and cooling, over and over, each time burning a little more of the impurities off of the top of the silver, ending up in the end as a smooth shining bar of precious metal, worth many times more then what it went in as. God is doing the same thing with us, His people. Over and over, perhaps each time a different trial, or a different area of sin being addressed, but each time coming out the other side of that testing a little more pure, a little more Christlike. And like the end of verse 12, bringing us through to a place of great abundance. I don’t expect that place to be truly attainable until Heaven, but I have begun to see in my life how the things that were problems or that caused issues or in any case were less then pure, have already to be turned into places of abundance. And it is a great thing to realize that even though I feel like I have been failing all these tests, that God is still working and will NOT let up until I reach perfection, however unattainable I feel that is.
Verses 13-15 we see how as the writer reflects on what God has done and is doing, he turns to worship. I fail at this quite often, preferring instead to moan and groan about how hard things currently are. But that attitude is one that we see here to be absolutely backwards! God IS working, and He HAS BEEN working, and He WILL keep working. Everything that I see in front of me is overwhelming, and I tend to want to clam up and pretend that it will go away if I ignore it. BUT what I learned here is that I need to be looking back at the many many things that God has already done, and the many things that He has already brought me through, and turn back around and worship Him for those and for His promises to always keep MY best interest at heart, no matter how I feel about it at the moment.
God is faithful and just, and does not forget His promises to His people.
Our Psalmist does something very cool here in verse 16, he turns and not only remembers those things that God has done, but he goes about telling OTHERS about those things. How great is it to go about boasting in the works of God? Not that the writer is going about in a prideful way, I think he explains it very well in verses 17-19 as being just the simple truth that God answers prayer. How often do we forget that? How many times do we turn to God in prayer as a last resort? Do you think we would do that if we were to remind each other of the many times that God HAS answered prayer?
I went to bed that night thinking a little about these things, but over time I’ve come back to this chapter several times, thinking about it, praying about it, trying to learn from it.
The main things I left this Psalm with at the end of the day are these:
God works mighty things in my life that I forget about all to often.
God is right there beside me in the midst of trials, turning me into a more pure reflection of Himself.
God answers prayer in many ways and I should be encouraging others by sharing those answers when the opportunity rises.