Yesterday we read a psalm of Lament, today we read a psalm of praise. Try reading this psalm out loud as a prayer to God. Try feeling the words of this psalm from your inmost being.
This powerful poetry reminds us of the mighty works of God. It is God who forgives our sin, it is God who heals all our diseases and it is God who ultimately delivers us and redeems us from the pit. (See the beginning of Psalm 40.) What pit have you been in that seemed impossible to get out of? Are you still in that pit? How have you felt the presence of God, even while going through those hard times?
Verse four might remind us of a race or a marathon. God crowns us, however, not with gold medals, but with love and compassion. It feels good to be bathed in love and compassion. Those are two adjectives we long for from our fellow humans, yet we hear that these are attributes that God our Creator has for each of us. When have you felt God’s love and compassion in your life?
We are reminded that Moses and the Israelite people knew the ways of God, and those ways have been repeatedly described in what are known as the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.” Note when the word LORD is in all caps this refers to God’s proper name, the name which is too holy for the Hebrew people to say, the name of Yahweh. (We, too, need to treat God’s holy name with respect and honor.)
How high are the heavens? How far is the east from the west? Can we ever describe the depth of love God has for God’s people? This theme of the depth of God’s love for God’s people is repeated throughout the Bible, with the ultimate fulfillment in the New Testament in the person of Jesus Christ. (We may be reminded of Ephesians 3:18, “May you grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”)
The palmist reminds us that God knows how we were formed, because it was God who formed us from the dust of the earth. Remember the passage from Genesis 2:7 when God formed the Adam (the first human) out of the Adamah (the dust of the earth)? This beautiful poetry comes back in this psalm of praise.
And so we praise the Lord. It is not only we humans who praise God, but all the heavenly beings. All of the angels and the heavenly hosts. How honored and blessed we are to be part of those in the universe, in all of God’s dominion, who can praise the LORD!