Do me a favor and please read Psalm 113.
This psalm doesn’t have much back story to it but it does kick off the set of psalms (113-118) that are considered the Hallel psalms (a collection of psalms that were sung during Israel festivals) with this one (and Psalm 114) specifically being sung before the celebration meal (other ones were sung between drinks and after meals, and then in between). And as we can see from the first word (and all 6 times we see it in this text) this song encourages the people to “praise the Lord.” From morning till night and there all other places of life…praise the Lord.
What strikes me about this psalm is this “high” and “low” imagery we see throughout these short 9 verses.
- Vs 1: Lord and Servants (high to low)
- Vs 3: Rising sun to wherever it sets (low to high and back to low)
- Vs 4: The Lord is exalted over the nations AND his glory is above the heavens (high to HIGHER)
- Vs 5-6: God is enthroned on high and stoops down to look upon earth below (high to low)
- Vs 7: Poor and needy are raised (low to high)
- Vs 8: Poor set to the height of princes (low to high)
- Vs 9: Childless woman are made happy (FEELINGS are brought from low to high)
It’s no wonder that Psalm 113 is used in conjunction with The Magnificat of Mary (Luke 1:46-55) and thus tethered to Jesus Christ. It’s no wonder that we see and feel these images of high brought low and low brought high and think of Jesus and how he left his throne on high to come to earth below. How he humbled himself by taking on human form and enduring our pain and torment so that we, who are low, can be brought to him on high (it’s literally in his name: Immanuel).
So praise God? I think I shall.
But there is also something else here that strikes a chord with me. While there is a feeling and encouragement to praise God all day and every day…there is an encouragement to do so beyond what is known by the psalmist. In verse 3 there is an encouragement to praise God from the “rising of the sun to the place WHERE IT SETS…” Where it sets? Do they not know what the sun does and where it goes/sets each evening? That really struck me as I read this psalm. There was so much that wasn’t known by people back then and yet all that they saw, and didn’t know, still brought them to praise God and give thanks for who he is and what he has done.
So what about me? With all that I know, with all that I have access to to find OUT new things…am I still praising God for it? Do YOU seek answers that are outside of God or do you still see God even in those things that can be explained? Are there things in this world that CANNOT be explained and understood and do THOSE THINGS bring us/you to praise God?
How much of what we don’t know and don’t see is God working and deserving of praise? ALL OF IT.
As children who declare that every square inch of this world is God’s we need to also remember that that includes all things that are seen and unseen. In today’s world with technology and science we like to think that we can explain away all things and find answers to all questions – which is fine by me. I have no problem with faith and science. I do not have an issue with science telling me how the world was created. I’m ok with explosions and movements of solar systems that are expanding and all other things that I do not fully grasp. And I fully adhere to God and science playing nice together because for me everything comes back to God. Everything comes back to his touch, his voice, his work, his world. We can explain things and explain it even more. We can go deeper and deeper into what causes this for this and state that this came from ______ event but there is still always going to be 1 more step, one more place, one more explanation for said event/result/action/thing. And for me…there will always be one more beyond that UNTIL we hit smack-dab into God. The Creator and Sustainer.
So what does all this have to do with Psalm 113? Because just as the psalmist didn’t know exactly the workings of the sun and what it all does (because of their limited technology) we too do not know the extent of all things in this life and yet for both of us we know God does – because it all comes back to him. And so we praise him. We praise him for what is known and unknown. We praise him for he is above all and in all. From his place on HIGH to our place below…we praise him.
And I’m OK with that. Scratch that – I’m over joyed with that.