December 29, 2021
Psalm 147: 12-20
12 Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;
PRAISE THE LORD!
praise your God, Zion.
13 He strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders
and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
15 He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
19 He has revealed his word to Jacob,
his laws and decrees to Israel.
20 He has done this for no other nation;
they do not know his laws.[a]
DEVOTIONAL:What are the first words of Psalm 147? In Hebrew they are Hallelu Yah, translated as Praise the Lord. The Babylonian captivity has ended and the Jews have returned to the Promised Land. They are filled with joy. They know what God has done for them. Their God is like no other god. He commands the heavens and the earth. He makes the wheat grow and snow fall. He took care of His people in captivity, renewing their strength and faith.
There are many kinds of captivity from a bad marriage to drug addiction, but the Lord knows them all and has the ability to give hope to the hopeless.
I know about pain, both physical and mental, and fear. In combat, bullets and rockets don’t care who you are. You can call it luck to survive, but I believe it is all in God’s plan. I saw my tankmate hit in the neck and roll off the tank, dead in an instant. It was only then that this nineteen-year-old realized bullets could kill. I knew it intellectually, but in that moment it became only too real. I survived that firefight but spent the next year learning to walk again. I prayed a lot that day, and in the days to come.
Why did God save me? Of what use am I in God’s plan? I have no idea, but I praise God for life.
My first wife had a truly great singing voice and sang in the church choir. And even though she was stricken with breast cancer and eventually told they could do no more for her, she still sang a solo at the Christmas Cantata, though her voice was very weak.
My son’s sister-in-law has spina bifida. She has been in a wheelchair for over thirty years and is constantly in the hospital for one thing, then another. But through all her pain and suffering, she will tell you how good God is to her.
The Jews returned to Israel praising God after the Babylonian captivity, and I’m sure they praised God when they returned in 1948 as well. Praising God is an acknowledgment of His care for them, then and now.
My first wife and my son’s sister-in-law have been seen by others praising God while in pain and when suffering the physical torments of life. Maybe this is the purpose of the life of the wounded—for we all have our wounds—to let others see God in us, regardless of our circumstances. Praise the Lord, O my soul! Let us all praise God, for He continues to do great things for us.