In this Psalm, we are reminded of God’s work in creation with the stars and the clouds and the rain and the grass. We are also reminded that God is not simply content to create but to also redeem us creatively. Will we choose to be part of God’s creatively redemptive work in this world?
Scripture: Psalm 147:12-20
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
He grants peace within your borders;
he fills you with the finest of wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
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Additional Background Information
Nikki shares some of her sources for inspiration and study as she develops her video script.
When we read the Psalter, it helps to understand the characteristics that different psalms can have and the purpose they each serve. Psalms can be full of joy and praise. They can be full of pain and lament. Psalms can range in topics from exile to freedom, wilderness to homecoming, creation to destruction, and everything in between. Taking time to pay attention to these details will help us understand the variety of psalms that exist and the specific psalm we are studying.
The text for today is a psalm that is full of praise to God for the way God acts in creation and for they way God brings redemption, healing, and hope to this creation. In verse 12, the Psalmist begins to articulate the specific ways God blesses Jerusalem. Some see this as God blessing Jerusalem exclusively, but we know that in the Hebrew scripture, God blessed the Israelites so they might be a blessing to the world. The Psalter today connects God’s creative work in the world to God’s work with Jerusalem. There is a sense of how God works generally in the world and specifically through Israel.
It makes sense for us to read this passage at Christmas, because just as God has worked specifically through Israel, God also worked specifically through the person of Jesus from the time Jesus’ birth was announced to Mary. In spite of Israel’s history, God brought peace to them, working redemption and creation in their midst. And also, though the life of Jesus ended in tragedy, God worked through that life to bring peace, hope, and salvation to the world. The claim of this psalm is that God has brought peace before; that means God can and will bring it again.
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Nikki’s Video Script
I hope each one of you have had a wonderful beginning to 2016 and that your new year is starting off splendidly. Today, we are going to be in the Psalter looking at Psalm 147:12-20. When we look at a portion of a Psalm as the focal text, it is incredibly important for us to look at it, at least, in the larger context of the whole Psalm and we will be doing that today.
I say “at least” because it can also be helpful to consider the single psalm in the larger context of the whole book. Many scholar’s read the Psalter as a telling of the story of Israel. It tells the story of slavery in Egypt to wandering in the wilderness. It tells the story the united kingdom of Israel under King David to the divided kingdom to exile in Babylon and then the final return to Jerusalem. At the end of the Psalter we find several psalms of praise to God for all that God has done for Israel and all that God has done in this world.
Today’s Psalm falls in this category. Our psalmist is giving praise to God for all of the great works God has done. We are reminded of God’s work in creation with the stars and the clouds and the rain and the grass. We are also reminded that God is not simply content to create but to also redeem us creatively. God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. God gathers those who have been outcasts of Israel. God feeds the animals and God grants peace. All of these things are in the realm of what God does in the world. And it reminds us that God’s redemptive work and God’s creative work in the world are one and the same.
More than anything, I think when I read this psalm I am most reminded that God is not yet done working in this world. God is still about doing creative work and God is still actively redeeming this world and all of creation.
If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to check out the podcasts that go with these sessions, I encourage you to listen to the one for today’s session.
May you have a wonderful beginning to the new year and may you find ways to creatively join God’s work in this world.