Cruising or Crashing — A Bible Study from Psalm 147

The doomed Air France jetliner we’ve been reading about flew through a storm and apparently lost its electronics.  The pilots had no idea how fast or slow they were going.  Their computerized screens were blank, and they could only guess at their speed.  Some aviation experts believe the pilots increased their speed until they were going so fast the plane broke apart in midair; others believed they decreased their speed until they fell into a death spiral.  We fly though a lot of storms in life.  It’s praise that keeps us going at the right speed, flying at the right altitude, and headed in the right direction.

That’s the message of Psalm 147, which I am preaching about tonight at The Donelson Fellowship.  At first glance, this Psalm seems like planter’s mix of assorted verses.  It’s almost as if someone went through the book of Psalms collecting wonderful verses they just tossed together in Psalm 147, without rhyme or reason.  But the chapter theme is quickly detected by noticing the first and last words of the psalm—Hallelujah, or Praise the Lord.  Looking even closer, we notice there are three separate exhortations to praise God in Psalm 147, in verses 1, 7, & 12.  As it turns out, this is a hymn of three verses.  The Psalmist presents three cycles of praise, three reasons to praise God.

1.  Praise Him for Recovery (vv. 1-6).  Evidently this is a post-exilic Psalm (v. 2), and the writer is praising God for the capacity of national recovery from exile.  The same God who names the stars in their courses (v. 4) is able to heal our broken hearts (v. 3) and sustain us in times of peril (v. 6).   He gives us resilience, recoverability, the capacity of bouncing back, of rebuilding after a loss, disappointment, or disaster.  Are you recovering from something?  Anything?  By grace, God builds into our lives a perpetual potential for rehabbing.   Spiritual recovery, moral recovery, emotional recovery, addictive recovery, economic recovery, marital recovery, national recovery.  We have a God who makes recovery possible.

2.  Praise Him for Resources (vv. 7-11).  As God gives recovery from past problems, He also meets present needs.  He sends clouds into the skies to bring rain to the earth to produce grass for the fields to produce food for the cows to produce milk for you and me.  (Well, the milk isn’t in these verses, but everything else is).  He’s more impressed by our trusting Him for our needs than He is by winning a marathon (v. 10-11).

3.  Praise Him for Revelation (vv. 12-20).  This final stanza is all about praising God for the accessibility of His Word, which gives us peace and bestows blessings within our borders (v. 14).  No one else has the Word of God except the people of God, so no one on earth is as blessed as we are (vv. 19-20).

Conclusion:  Perhaps we even have a hint of the Trinity here.  The first stanza certainly focuses on God the Father, who is mighty in power and who grants recoverability for us.  There’s a hint of God the Son in the second stanza, who, in His unfailing love, offers the provision of Himself to meet our needs.  In the last stanza, the Spirit-inspired Word conveys the blessings of God to our consciousness.  Praise God!  Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!  Hallelujah!

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