January 14, 2020
Psalm 89:5-18 (NRSV)
by Jennifer Spieth
Licensed Local Pastor / attending Asbury Theological Seminary
Sunbright / Oakdale UMC
Tennessee Valley District
5 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones.
6 For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,
7 a God feared in the council of the holy ones,
great and awesome above all that are around him?
8 O Lord God of hosts,
who is as mighty as you, O Lord?
Your faithfulness surrounds you.
9 You rule the raging of the sea;
when its waves rise, you still them.
10 You crushed Rahab like a carcass;
you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
11 The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours;
the world and all that is in it—you have founded them.
12 The north and the south—you created them;
Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
13 You have a mighty arm;
strong is your hand, high your right hand.
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
15 Happy are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;
16 they exult in your name all day long,
and extol your righteousness.
17 For you are the glory of their strength;
by your favor our horn is exalted.
18 For our shield belongs to the Lord,
our king to the Holy One of Israel. Psalm 89:5-18 (NIV)
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I don’t know about you, but sometimes (okay, maybe more than sometimes), I get overwhelmed with my problems, and I forget to praise the LORD. I focus more on what is going on in the world—the stress that comes at me, the pressure to be perfect, my endless to-do list, the state of our fallen world—and my countenance falls. My hope flees. When I focus only on myself and my problems, I forget that the LORD is God.
The people of Israel had their problems as well, but the psalmists confronted their problems in a different way than I tend to do, and the very heart of the psalms reflect that. Even in the midst of their problems, the Israelites remembered who the LORD was and what He had done for them.
In Psalm 89:1–4, the Israelites find themselves in exile, and the psalmist invites them to recall who God is while they are still in exile—in the midst of their problems. He reminds them that God is loving and faithful and not only should all of Israel recall that fact, but creation should—and does—as well. The psalmist also reminds the Israelites and us that God is faithful and His powerful arm works salvation for us, even when we are not able to see Him in the middle of our difficulties.
If we continue in this psalm, however, we will see an unexpected side effect that remembering who the LORD is has on the psalmist and on the people of Israel. Those who have learned to praise the LORD are blessed and they walk in the light of God’s presence (Psalm 89:15).
God blesses us when we praise Him even when we have difficulties. Why? Perhaps because the remembrance of God’s character is itself a blessing. But perhaps, it is more because God calls us to be a blessing to others (Genesis 12:2–3). God blesses us so that we can, in turn, be a blessing to those around us. If we are always looking at our own problems and not focusing on the God who can solve those problems, then we just might miss the blessing that God wants to give to us and to others. Furthermore, Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). When we remember who God is and focus on Him instead of our troubles, then God’s light shines all the more brightly through us. It’s not that we ignore our problems, but that we see our problems through the lens of who God is, and that puts everything into its right perspective.
Prayer: Father, we all face trials and problems of many kinds. Help us to remember who You are even in the midst of our heartache and pain. Help us to see our problems through Your power and through who You are. What is impossible for us is always possible with God. In Jesus’ most holy and precious name we pray through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.