Summary: God is personally involved in every detail of your life.
The Providential Care of the LORD: An Exposition of Psalm 147
The 147th Psalm is one of collection of five psalms which end the psalter. Each of them begin and end with “Praise Ye the LORD” (Hallelujah). Each of them gives reasons why the LORD should be praised. These reasons together compose a portrait of how God cares for His people in all of life’s journey. The 150th Psalm ends the psalter with the call to praise Yahweh just for who He is. The others call us to praise for the great things He has done for us. This morning, we will take a look at the 147th Psalm.
The statement that stand out is in verse 5 which states: “Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite. Whereas other psalms in this group mention God as Creator, the psalm zeroes in on Yahweh as the great provider. When we think of earthly sovereigns, we think of one who delegates power. He cannot possibly be involved in the minute details of the lives of his many subjects. This is because men are finite. Once in a while, a leader involves himself/herself in the lives of a common person. The story is told of President Reagan had received a letter from a poor woman in Chicago who was unable to pay her electric bill. President Reagan did not call some government agency to tell them to help this lady. The Federal Government did not send a check. President Reagan wrote a personal check with a letter to her. The woman was so dumbstruck that instead of cashing it to pay her bill, she framed the check and put it on the wall. The President, when he balanced the checkbook, noticed that the check was not cashed. So he took the trouble to find the woman’s number and called her personally. “Did you get the check?” She answered that she framed it. So he told her that he was sending her another check to replace the one she framed. When I heard this on American Experience and their series on the Presidents, I was amazed and teary-eyed. As kind as that gesture was, there were a lot of people in America that very month who could not pay their electric bill. The President, being a man, was unable to personally deal with everyone. He had to limit his mercy to a single person.
So even human leaders with the best of intentions get overwhelmed with details. And when we realize that a lot of leaders do not care for the lives of those they rule over at all, the poor are left destitute. The strength of horses and the legs of men are unequal to the task. But what is impossible with men is possible with God. The LORD is infinite in power and knowledge. He is aware of every detail and personally provides for them. In the context of this Psalm, His eye is upon His people. He builds up Jerusalem. To the world of the psalmist’s day, Jerusalem was fairly insignificant in relation to large cities like Memphis in Egypt or Babylon in Mesopotamia. Jerusalem was not on a major trade route. But it is significant in the eyes of Yahweh. Here he says that Yahweh builds up Jerusalem and gathers the outcasts of Israel. An outcast from a minor city would have been quite insignificant to the world – but not to God. But Israel is the apple of his eye. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
The LORD’s great attention to detail is demonstrated in the fact that He can number the stars. Humans can only estimate the number. They have named a lot of them, but the job of naming all the stars would be impossible for an army of astronomers. If the LORD is up to this task, then it is no small wonder that God is able to give individual attention to His people. He is able to lift up the meek as well as to cast down the oppressors.
Another detail the LORD takes care of is to provide the life-giving water. Jerusalem is arid. It only rains a couple of months out of the year, which is insufficient. Yet He sends to snow to the mountains like Hermon with its frosts and dews. Then He is able to melt the water which flows down through the Jordan River as well as through underground channels. This is but one example the Psalmist uses to describe God’s providential care. He causes the grass the beasts eat to grow. In this way, Israel is also provided food. And not just any food, but the finest wheat. He, not the armies of men, bar the gates to Jerusalem. In other words, it is the LORD who takes care of all of Israel’s needs.