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PSALM 147:1-20

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
June 11, 2017

Isn’t it really good to be in a place where - at least for a short time - we can disconnect with what’s about a mile or so in that direction.  Yes?  Not that all that is horrible stuff.  Some of it is really good stuff.  But there are times when we need to disconnect for all that.


Last Sunday we talked about the priority of being alone with God.  Setting apart time with God that actually centers on God.  One huge reason is that when our lives our centered on God everything else in our life clicks into place.


Hopefully your phone is off or muted or in some kind of non-distraction mode that’s not going to invite all of what’s over there over here.


Being here this morning is huge.  Away time to press in to God and to what God may desire to speak to us - to you - this morning.


Inside your bulletin - right next to the Message Notes - you’ll find Psalm 147 which we are going to look at together.  Psalm 147 is focused on God and God and us.  Would you read Psalm 147 out loud with me?


1   Praise the Lord,
     for it is good to sing praises to our God!
     Yes, praise is pleasant and appropriate!
2   The
Lord rebuilds Jerusalem,
     and gathers the exiles of Israel.
3   He heals the brokenhearted,
     and bandages their wounds.
4   He counts the number of the stars;
     he names all of them.
5   Our Lord is great and has awesome power;
     there is no limit to his wisdom.

6   The Lord lifts up the oppressed,
     but knocks the wicked to the ground.
7   Offer to the
Lord a song of thanks!
     Sing praises to our God to the accompaniment of a harp!
8   He covers the sky with clouds,
     provides the earth with rain,
     and causes grass to grow on the hillsides.
9   He gives food to the animals,
     and to the young ravens when they chirp.
10 He is not enamored with the strength of a horse,
     nor is he impressed by the warrior’s strong legs.
11 The
Lord takes delight in his faithful followers,
     and in those who wait for his loyal love.
12 Extol the
Lord, O Jerusalem!
     Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he makes the bars of your gates strong.
     He blesses your children within you.

14 He brings peace to your territory.
     He abundantly provides for you the best grain.
15 He sends his command through the earth;
     swiftly his order reaches its destination.

16 He sends the snow that is white like wool;
     he spreads the frost that is white like ashes.
17 He throws his hailstones like crumbs.
     Who can withstand the cold wind he sends?
18 He then orders it all to melt;
     he breathes on it, and the water flows.
19 He proclaims his word to Jacob,
     his statutes and regulations to Israel.
20 He has not done so with any other nation;
     they are not aware of his regulations.
     Praise the


Psalm 147 begins with “Praise the Lord!”  3 times in verse one the word “praise” is used.  In the original Hebrew those are actually three different words for praise.  Each word has a different shade of meaning for “praise.”


The idea is kinda like a football game with a crowd, a band, and cheerleaders.  The band is doing the band thing.  The cheerleaders are doing the cheerleader thing.  The crowd is doing the crowd thing.  It’s loud.  It’s focused on their team that’s dominating on the field.


Verse 1 is praise that’s intense.  That’s intentional.  Praise that comes out of taking time to think through in depth what we would praise God for.  Why such over-the-top praise of God?


Why?  Verse 1 - because it’s good to sing praises to our God!


Why?  Because praise is pleasant and appropriate.  Meaning God alone is worthy of our praise.  Praising God is the right thing to do.


Why?  Psalm 147 gives us two reason.  Why praising God is the right thing to do.


First:  Because of Who God is.  Let’s say that together:  “Who God is.”


Woven throughout this entire Psalm is a description of Who God is.


Verse 4:  He [God] counts the number of the stars; He names all of them.


Our trying to the count the stars only proves that there are more stars than we can count.  Knowing the exact number of stars is a God thing.  He knows how many stars there are because He created each one of them.


Giving them all names is over the top.  In Hebrew thought, to give a name to something means you’ve taken the time to understand what that thing is - to know what makes it unique - different than all the other stars.


God’s intimate knowledge of His creation - of the overwhelming vastness of all of what’s out there - that’s beyond our ability to process.  But that’s Who God is.

Verse 5: 
Our Lord is great and has awesome power. 


God is all powerful.  Meaning that whatever God wills to do God is able to do.  There is no greater power than God.


And there’s no limit to His wisdom.   Meaning that - not only does God know everything - but also God - without ever making a mistake - God applies His limitless knowledge to accomplishing completely and perfectly what it is that God wills to do.  Which He’s able to accomplish  because He’s all powerful.


Verse 8 talks about weather.  God gathers clouds over the ocean - sends them inland - dumps rain on us… or not.  God uses that water to grow grass on the hillsides. 


Verse 9 - The grass that God causes to grow feeds cows and sheep and goats and rabbits and whatever else is out there eating God’s grass.  God feeds the young ravens when they chirp.  Meaning God meets the needs of even a small bird.


Verse 15 goes on with God’s authority extending over the whole planet.


Snow and frost that leads to hailstones and cold weather that bites.  Images of fall and winter.  Then, when God orders it to happen, warm breezes.  Spring.  It all melts and water flows.  Life happens again.  Summer.


The weather people are trying to describe what’s happening - to give us an idea of what may happen.  But they’re just trying to keep up with God.  Weather happens at God’s command. 


Meaning that the seasons that are essential for life on earth - those seasons happen because God intentionally commands them to happen.


Point being - the whole ecosystem of the earth is designed and executed and enabled and sustained by God Who is sovereign and in ultimate purposeful control of everything.  God using the ecosystem He’s created to sustain the life that He’s created.


Have you ever done the bubble wrap thing?  Popping bubble wrap?  POP - POP - POP.  Trying to process God on a level like what’s being described here our minds can do the bubble wrap thing.  POP - POP - POP.  Been there? 


Who God is - is beyond our ability to comprehend.  But, important for us to know.  Who He is.  So that we can understand that what we see around is intentional.  God has created and sustains all of this with purpose.


Which is the second reason Psalm 147 gives us to praise God.  Interwoven in the description of Who God is, is What God does.  Let’s say that together:  “What God does.”


God - in all of His unimaginable all powerful - all knowing - all wise - sovereign control over His creation - God chooses to intentionally create and sustain life here on earth - even down to the smallest detail - even us.


Each of us that’s here and alive - and most of us are mostly here and mostly alive - we all experience the reality of God’s sustaining of life on this planet.


Take a breath and praise God there’s oxygen and He’s created you with the ability to breath it.  Drink water and praise God that there’s water and He’s created you with the ability to process it.  Eat a hamburger and thank God for the a planet that produces food that He’s created you with the ability to use the nourishment from it.


That is a huge and significant truth for us to grab on to for ourselves.  God - the God - intentionally concerns Himself with us - with you.


Verse 2:  The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem, and gathers the exiles of Israel.


There are references throughout Psalm 147 to Israel and its history - to the city of Jerusalem and Zion - to the territory - the land - where God’s people dwell with God in peace - where God provides the best grain for His people.  References which are all about God’s covenant relationship with His people.  God fulfilling His promises to His people. 


God’s people - because of their sin - God had allowed them to be taken defeated - decimated - carried off into captivity.  Exiled from their land.  At the end of 70 years - exactly when God said He would bring them back - verse 2 - God gathered His exiled people back to their land.  Jerusalem was rebuilt.


Which is what this verse is pointing us to.


God caring for His people - loving on them even when they’re unlovable.  God’s faithfulness to His people - fulfilling His promises to His people even when they’re breaking their promises to Him.  God gathering them to Himself - not because they deserve gathering - but solely because God chooses to do so.  Which is how God reaches out to us.


To be an exile means to be violently dragged against our will to a place we do not want to go.  It means being poor and despised.  Separation and suffering.


Sometimes we can drift away from God - or turn away from God - and God gives us up to all that.  To experience separation from Him.  Exile that reminds us of our need for Him.  Reminds us that God desires to gather us to Himself - to relationship with Him.


Verse 3 tells us that God heals the brokenhearted, and bandages their wounds.


A broken heart is heart that’s been crushed - shattered.  It’s in pieces.  Torn apart.  Fragmented.  A broken heart no long functions with fulness of life.  Been there?  Maybe you are there.


To heal a broken heart means to repair it and renew it - restoring it to what it was created to do.  Not just stopping the bleeding - sewing it back together.  But bringing complete restoration of its function.


Sometimes we can stop the bleeding.  But healing at the heart level - that complete restoration -  is something only God can do. 


Wounds are the bruises - the deep cuts - the deformities - what comes from the ugliness of our past and the struggles in our present.  Injuries and sorrows and hurts and troubles.


To bandage means to protect and bring together what’s been ripped apart.  God pulling us together when we’re coming apart a the seams - leading us to wholeness.


Are we together?


To be an exile is to be in a place of worry and anxiety and fear and depression - and perhaps anger.  To feel separated - alone - without people around us who understand us and without hope.  To be broken - at the heart level - is ongoing misery at the deepest level of life - what can be a gaping open wound that will not heal.


But God gathers the exiles.  God heals the brokenhearted.  God bandages our wounds. 


God Who restored His people - brought them back from exile in Babylon - restored Jerusalem and the Temple - just as He said He would.  The sovereign God Who has proven over and over again to His people that He is the gracious and merciful and loving God Who keeps His promises. 


We may feel lonely.  But, we are never alone.  We may feel hopeless.  But, we are never without hope.


Verse 6:  God lifts up the oppressed and knocks the wicked to the ground.


Meaning God sees what’s going on in our lives.  He gets what’s happening to us - what we’re up against - what we’re getting knocked down by.  And He will deal with it.  Already is.


Verse 10:  God is not impressed with the strength of a horse.  He’s not impressed with how strong a warrior is or the military might of the greatest nations on earth.  God is almighty.  So far above all that.


Verse 11:  What impresses God - what God delights in– what meets with His approval - is not how strong we are or how competent we are - or our ability to keep it all together.  What God chooses to respond to is our brokenness and openness to Him.


Verse 11 tells us that  God delights in those who seek to faithfully follow Him - who are trusting Him - those who are waiting for His what?  His loyal love.


“Loyal love” translates the Hebrew word “chesed” - which is a really hard word to translate because it has such deep meaning for God’s people.


All rolled into one - “chesed” has the ideas of kindness - goodness - mercy - deeply felt unchanging committed love.  Specifically it describes the unalterable love that God has for each one of us.


“Loyal love” describes the attribute of God - Who God is - that moves God to commit Himself to His people.  Rather than God justifiably sending people into forever exile from Him because of their sin - God reaches out in love and grace - promising to free us from the ravages of sin - to gather and heal and bind us.

God delights in doing that for those who will trust Him to do it.


God’s “Loyal love” is what sends Jesus into humanity and to the cross.


Jesus was in the town of Nazareth.  As He normally did on the Sabbath day Jesus went to the local synagogue and stood up to read.  They handed Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  Jesus unrolled it to the section that was the reading for the day.


And Jesus read:  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 


Jesus handed the scroll back to the attendant and sat down.  Which is what people did when they we’re going to teach.  They sat down.  So now everyone is watching Jesus - waiting to hear His teaching.


And Jesus said to them:  “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  (Luke 4:16-22  ESV)


Imagine those listening to Jesus - there in that synagogue - 700 years after Isaiah - again in a conquered nation - now under the yoke of the Roman Empire.  How powerful would those words be?


Jesus said:  “Today is the day.  I am the fulfillment.”

Washington is political chaos… and even more so these days.  Our country is divided.  Our society is slowing unraveling.  Our enemies grow stronger.  Life is more dangerous.  Perhaps more uncertain. 


All of which is important.  But it isn’t the core issue that Jesus says He’s come to deal with.


God cares about the physical needs that we have.  But, more important - God deals with the what breaks our hearts - what rips us apart - what separates us from Him.


The poor - are those who are spiritually impoverished.  The captives are those bound by sin - waiting eternal judgment.  The blind live in the darkness of this world - the philosophies and religions and empty reasonings of man.  The oppressed - groan in endless slavery to impurity - to immorality - to addictions and patterns of life that weary us - defeat us.


Jesus proclaims good news:  liberty - recovery - freedom - the arrival of the time when God is putting all things right. 


In the midst of what this world tries to abuse us with - conform us to - beat us down with - in the midst of the self-focused survival mentality of this world - God offers each of us something tremendously different.  His approval - His provision for our lives - His healing - relationship with Him today and forever.


Jesus is the sovereign - all knowing - all wise - all powerful - Creator God choosing to take on the reality of what it means to be human - to enter into life with us - to take on all of what wounds us and breaks us and separates us from Him - our sin - and to gather - heal - and restore us at the deepest level - even what is broken in our relationship with Him.


Are we together?  Woven into Who God is, is what God does.  God - the creator of all of it - who desires to gather us to Himself - to heal us - to bandage us - even to save us - not because we deserve it - but because He has chosen to lovingly commit Himself to do so.  And because of Who He is we can trust Him that He is able to do what He says He will do.


Processing all that...  I’d like to invite Rita to come up.  A few nights ago Karen and I had the privilege of listening to some of how God has been working in Rita’s life.  What is the real time reality of what Psalm 147 is pointing us to and what is helpful for all of us to hear.


We’re going to try to share in a few minutes what was an hours long conversation that could have been even longer.


- Rita's Testimony


This morning you and God know where you’re at.

You may have your game face on.  But inside there’s a place where your heart is broken.  Maybe you’re carrying around wounds that are hard to come back from.  Or you’re struggling to trust that God really is there.  Or, maybe you’ve got the “God is there part” but the trusting Him part is really hard.  Maybe your aloneness is because you’ve not yet accepted what God has done for you on the cross.  Your still separated from all He desires to pour into your life.


Everyone of us has got something. 


Know that the God Who created you deeply loves you.  It is Who He is and what He does.  You are not alone and you are not without hope.




Scripture quoted by permission.  All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C.  All rights reserved.