Two young fellas at the next table thought it was odd and quietly made fun of him as he prayed. When the farmer finished his prayer, they chided: “Hey old man, does everybody out on the farm pray over their meals?”
The man thought about it for a moment, smiled back, and replied. “Well, no. The pigs don’t.”
People who realize they’re created in the image of God ought to be thankful and praise Him. Not only for who He is. But for what He’s done for all of us.
Psalm 147 points to the time in Israel’s history when they returned to their homeland following Babylonian captivity. After Nehemiah led the people in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he called them together for dedication and celebration. It’s believed this Psalm was written for that occasion.
As Warren Wiersbe suggests Psalm 147 is naturally divided into three parts.
#1 Praise to the Lord because the people have been restored (vs. 1-6).
While God punished His people for their sins with captivity, He continued to care for them. Now, broken-hearted while estranged from their beloved homeland, they’ve sorrowfully repented as a nation. So, God in His goodness has graciously returned them home.
#2 Singing to the Lord because the land has been refreshed (vs. 7-11).
The exiles left a land that had been plundered and pillaged by the Babylonians. Now, Jehovah revived it with the early and latter rains. Grass was growing. Seed was planted. Food was provided for the animals. And harvest time was coming.
#3 Extolling the Lord because the Word has been revealed (vs. 12-20).
God’s prophetic Word made possible the people’s return. Ezra, the Priest and Scribe, assembled the people and read from the Book of the Law. He explained it. And helped them understand it. To which the people responded with bowed heads, humbled hearts, and lifted hands shouting, “Amen! Amen!” (Neh. 8:1-8)
Reading this Psalm and reflecting on its history reminds us of why we should praise God.
#1 We praise God for His Power.
Consider this incredible affirmation. “He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!” (Psalm 147:5 NLT).
300 years ago astronomers thought there were around 1,000 stars in the universe. Today, it’s believed there are over 100 billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. And a 2016 study estimated that the cosmos contains two trillion galaxies.
So, when you stand outside on a clear night and marvel at the awe-inspiring beauty of a star-lite sky, praise God for his magnificent majesty and awesome power.
#2 We praise God for His Provisions.
In an old Dennis the Menace comic strip, Dennis and his friend Joey are leaving Mrs. Wilson’s house with their hands full of cookies.
“I wonder what we did to deserve this?” wondered Joey.
“Look, Joey,” replied Dennis who wasn’t always very nice to the Wilsons, “Mrs. Wilson gives us cookies not because we’re nice, but because she’s nice.”
Well, we’re not always good. But God is good. All the time.
The hymn “Count Your Many Blessings,” reminds us that we’ve been given so much materially, physically and spiritually that we don’t deserve.
As I look out the window, the sun is beginning to rise over the mountains. I see God’s gorgeous handiwork, while I write in front of the warmth of the fireplace. There’s food in the cabinets. Clothes in the closets. Money deposited today in my bank account by SSA to buy what I need. Gas in a vehicle to take me wherever I want to go. So many bountiful blessings! More than I can count. Praise God!
#3 We praise God for His providence.
Like Israel, even when our circumstances seem less than ideal, God is there. Seeing. Hearing. Caring. Providing. Accomplishing His purpose. And working His will.
I may not see or understand it right now. But I believe it’s so. This unseen quality calls for belief in His promises. Trust in Him. And my commitment to His eternal plan in Christ Jesus.
If this wasn’t enough, I’m humbled beyond belief to realize God’s greatest pleasure is in me. And you.
“You were planned for God’s pleasure,” writes Rick Warren. That seems impossible. Inconceivable. Incredible.
Yet, the Psalmist affirms it’s so.
“His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
That the Almighty God who created this amazing cosmos, yet desires a relationship with you and I and takes pleasure in us is humbling beyond human comprehension.
This reminds us how great God is. Why we worship Him. Serve Him. And love Him.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman