Majestic and Merciful

Psalm 113

“It was traditional for the Jewish people to sing 113–114 before they ate their Passover meal, and they closed the meal by singing 115–118 (Matt. 26:30; Mark 14:26). These psalms were also sung in celebration of Pentecost, Tabernacles, the new moon festivals, and the Feast of Dedication. Because of the emphasis in 114, this small collection of psalms was called the “Egyptian Hallel.”” Wiersbe

An expansion of last topic in men’s meeting: God is Omnipresent. Also connections with prayer meeting study, character of God to whom we pray, with whom we converse.

Jeremiah 23:23-24“Am I a God near at hand,” says the LORD, “And not a God afar off?Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD.

How should we as God’s children respond when we encounter truth about God, or encounter God-at-work? When we are reminded who he is, what he does?

A. call to worship v.1-3

5x – YHWH the object of praise – the One who just is

if faith is to have any value, must have worthy object; saving faith has significance and worth in direct proportion to nature of the savior – e.g. dead idol, neither interest nor ability; self, definite interest but no ability; true God, both interest and ability

same is true for other religious activities – prayer, only effective if right one is addressed; also praise and worship

on the negative side: any of these having wrong object are at best worthless, at worst fatal now and in next life

for no other reason than YHWH commands it, he must be first and only and receive our praise and worship – remember how Ten Commandments begin:

Ex. 20:2“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” then comes the first commandEx. 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

that God, exclusively, is the one who must be object of our worship, the one to whom we direct our praise and adoration and devotion

too easy in our multi-cultural pluralistic society to fall in trap of praying to / talking about “God”, you fill in your own choice of more precise name; don’t be shy, use explicit descriptive names for YHWH in thought and speech

4x – halal – imperative summons to praise 3x; plural, praise is congregational

should be ready at all times to praise the Lord regardless if alone or in company of others; but…great peril in neglecting corporate/congregational praise

“it is imperative that God in his deity be recognized and that the fullness thereof be affirmed and stated. This is to be offered in an attitude of delight and rejoicing. Belief and joy are inextricably intertwined.” TWOT

if we are to praise well when together for worship as body of believers, must be prepared – requires thought and planning

OT model of corporate worship more complicated – to bring sacrifice involved many steps whether bring animal, grain

Heb. 13:15Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

3x – name – an abridged expression for God’s whole character

Moses’ experience, Ex. 33:18-19And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

to praise / bless his name: to the extent of our understanding, acknowledge God’s character, attributes, actions

call is never-ending – now and forever

since God is eternal and immutable – never-ending and unchanging – his praise should be the same

our ability to praise God will be greatly enhanced in next life – no more sin to cloud our understanding and perceptions, to infect our desire to praise, to distort our expressions of praise

God will eternally exceed our ability to give him too much praise and adoration; even when we can praise perfectly, will still be finite

call is universal – east to west

if referring to time, would be “from morning until evening”; is focused on place – from where the sun rises…

coupled with previous verse: all of time and all of space should be filled with praise of YHWH

no one, regardless of place or parentage or position, is relieved of duty to praise God; here’s even bigger concept: no one, regardless of….is excluded from praising God

Col. 3:11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

B. God’s transcendent majesty v.4-6 (who he is – awe)

exalted – over all the nations

matters not how you choose to measure or assess: God is above all – in glory (sum total of all his attributes, manifestation or expression of his excellence), power, authority, majesty, wisdom

not talking in terms of good / better / best where God is “more best” next step up from all the rest – he is incomparable

even most magnificent display of royal pomp and circumstance limited in its scope; most jaw-dropping display of man-made power or wisdom pales in comparison to other things we can observe – God’s splendor is infinite, beyond / above all his creation

unique – who is like

question asked expects particular answer – “no one”; no one can compare, at least seriously, to YHWH our Elohim (the one who is, who created all things out of nothing)

are qualities mankind in general, individuals in particular, share with God, but in this sense: we reflect God’s character, we are to imitate him (Eph. 5:1), always a finite (and right now, flawed) copy of an infinite, perfect original

not simply that God has the authority and majesty and glory – he uses it and reveals it to the understanding of his creation

God is infinitely superior in every respect to all of his creation individually and comprehensively

sovereign – dwells on high

dwells on high = seated on high [a high throne] – displays his glory and majesty in the exercise of his sovereign rule over all things

last stanza “Be Thou My Vision” – begins “High King of heaven”, ends “O Ruler of all” – God is king of heaven and earth, i.e., all creation, the universe

is omnipotent – doesn’t just have all the power necessary to do his will, he uses it for precisely that purpose as he governs all things

immense (and transcendent) – looks down on the heavens!!

Solomon knew his temple couldn’t contain God; even universe cannot establish boundaries or size limitations on God

God not only fills all the universe, present in his fullness in every part, he is distinct from it – looks down on it

again, just like with attributes, God not only can look far down on heavens and earth, he does just that

bridge – and in the earth – has both interest in his creation, is committed to its providential care; God not only infinite and transcendent, is at the same time near and relational

C. God’s immanent mercy v.7-9 (what he does – adoration)

Luke’s Gospel a running commentary on the God-Man putting hands and feet to concepts expressed here; truth is, don’t need to get to his life to see that – check out his genealogy: “there are a lot of really messed up people in the Bible!”

God in his immanence is counter-cultural: he does not act the way other lesser sovereign rulers do – what kind of people in the inner circle, on the guest list…not poor and needy

no matter who it is, God shows mercy in his benevolence – all are undeserving of his goodness

raises the poor

shows the greatness of his majesty by how far he stoops – not just to look down on heaven and earth but to reach down to the dust

acts personally in the lives of the helpless – not a case of “rising tide lifts all boats”, God discriminates, acts particularly with respect to individuals

also not a case of “God helps those who helps themselves” – doesn’t simply supply resources, God does the work

lifts the needy

Job could certainly relate….at the end of the story; was certainly needy, without any way whatever to help himself, needed outside help for any positive change

gives to the barren

human agents can do the previous; they cannot give life, only God can do that; in his stooping, God does far more than little stuff – he does the impossible, showing his majesty in his mercy

not just that God does that inspires our adoration; we don’t love him for what he does – we love him because what he does demonstrates His love for us, his lovingkindness to us

God does wondrous things for poor/needy/barren in temporal ways – making slaves a nation, gifts of Isaac/Samuel/John

greatest demonstration at the Cross – went further than dust/ash heap to raise condemned sinners to life

Don’t ever lose the wonder – LifeSavers commercial. Not to be taken for granted, not getting complacent, seeing it as routine or mundane. Not in this life….or the next.

This verse proceeds on the supposition that our God will forever continue to develop and unfold his glorious nature, so that there will be always some new occasion to adore Him.” F B Meyer


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