Like others in the last section of the psalter, Psalm 147 is a praise psalm. While it clearly calls us to a posture of praise, it also names a range of emotions.
Every night, my spouse and I climb into our son’s bed for stories and snuggles. After the stories have ended, we share in a ritual of prayer where each person has the opportunity to recall something from the day that was a high, a low, a grateful, and a beautiful. (We just recently added that last category.)
A ritual like this can be deeply formative, for both children and adults. It is an exercise in memory, remembering moments in our day to help each day have meaning. The ritual also allows us to capture the breadth of emotions that we experience in our day-to-day lives.
The psalmist says that it is a pleasure to sing and make beautiful praise to the Lord. Yet in the next breath, we hear about Israel’s exiles, those who are brokenhearted, wounds that need bandaging, the mystery of God, the poor, and that evil is a reality in the world.
This is what I love about reading the Psalms. If we spend any amount of time with them, the Psalms will reach into our lives and reflect back to us our deepest emotions. They keep life’s realities directly in front of us. They will call us to praise, yes; but they will also call us to deep lament. We will hear about anger, and we will hear about those who call to God from the depths of despair. The Psalms are a gift, especially if we commit to reading all of them.
Read today’s psalm silently, then aloud. Next, write the psalm in a notebook or journal. What words stand out? Pull those words together in a short phrase, and pray them throughout the day.
What is the ultimate source of our strength? All the authors for this week come to the same conclusion: True strength comes from the Lord. Isaiah asks: “Who is like God?” God never grows weary and provides unfailing strength to those who wait for God. The psalmist praises God as the one who lifts up those who are beaten down. It is not those with human strength who are truly mighty but those empowered by God. In First Corinthians, Paul states that he has laid down any form of his own strength so that the gospel may advance. In Mark, Jesus heals many as a demonstration of his power over the physical world. Thus, God’s power is not just a metaphor but a reality.
Read Isaiah 40:21-31. In what ways do you call on God’s unfailing strength? How is that strength sustaining you?
Read Psalm 147:1-11, 20. How do you experience God’s provision in your life? What is your response to God?
Read 1 Corinthians 9:16-23. How are you living out God’s call to you? How has your call evolved over time?
Read Mark 1:29-39. Where is your “deserted place” where you spend time alone with God? What helps you maintain a discipline of spending time alone with God each day?
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