Summary: A summons to praise our God, with reasons attached.
LOOK UP AND PRAISE THE LORD.
Why “Praise the LORD” (Psalm 147:1)? There are two possible readings of the answer: “For it is good/ pleasant/ delightful to sing praises to our God” (cf. Psalm 92:1); or “For He is good/ gracious/ beautiful” (cf. Psalm 27:4). It could be both (cf. Psalm 135:3). Whichever way, a song of praise to the LORD is a fitting/ comely/ beautiful response to who He is, and who He is to us.
Yet who is this God? Well, look up! It is He who counts the number of the stars, calling them by name (Psalm 147:4; cf. Isaiah 40:26). We are reminded of the LORD God’s covenant encounter with Abraham: ‘so shall thy seed be’ (Genesis 15:5)!
There is hope, too, when we stand in awe before this mighty God. The Cross has taught us that the God who is ‘high and lifted up’ (Isaiah 6:1), is the same God who condescends to be ‘God with us/with us the God’ (Matthew 1:23). “He lifts up the humble, and casts the wicked to the ground” (Psalm 147:6).
Now we are looking up again: not now to the stars, but to the clouds. And from them to the rain, and from the rain to the growing grass (Psalm 147:8). The stars spoke of the on-going work of Creation, whereas the cycle of nature speaks of God’s unerring Providence over all things.
His care knows no bounds. He gives food to the beast (Psalm 147:9; cf. Psalm 145:15). He hears the cry of the raven’s young (cf. Job 38:41) - how much more will He hear the cry of His own (cf. Exodus 3:7). ‘Consider the ravens,’ says Jesus, ‘…how much better are you than the fowls?’ (Luke 12:24).
The LORD does not delight in the strength of the horse: He takes no pleasure in the legs of man (Psalm 147:10). Both of which He made: but the warning here seems to be not to trust in horses for might (Psalm 20:7-8), nor in our own supposed prowess (2 Corinthians 1:9). Without Him we are nothing.
He wants us to ‘be strong in the Lord, in the power of His might’ (Ephesians 6:10). ‘His strength is made perfect in our weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). And even that strength is not an end in itself, to serve our own petty purposes: but is renewed for His service as we wait on the LORD. Then we shall run, and not grow weary: then we shall walk and not faint (cf. Isaiah 40:31).