I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the LORD,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who practice it have a good understanding,
his praise endures forever!
Another Psalm with amazing, hidden surprises and familiar verses! But the verses become even more rich when seen in context.
This morning, my mind focused on two phrases: “the LORD is gracious and merciful” and “the works of his hands are faithful and just.”
What does it mean for God to be gracious and merciful?
How are his hands faithful and just?
As this Psalm says, he is gracious and merciful by:
- Providing food — as Christians, we used to have the habit of praying before meals, thanking God for our food. Just like Israelites, we have become more self-sufficient, removed from our food source, feeling like we earned the money and bought food ourselves. We’ve lost the fear of being plagued by famine or blessing of rains. God graciously and mercifully has placed us individually in a location of plenty.
- Remembering his covenant forever — He never forgets his covenant of eternal salvation, his promise of endless days for us in his presence. We may wander here on earth because of sin, but if we accept his salvation, we will know his presence forever; not because we have earned it, but because of his grace and mercy.
- Showing the power of his works — Not only do we have eternal salvation after death, we also have salvation in the midst of life on earth. We have the ability to call on his name and see his power. Nations rise and fall. We personally experience healings, emotionally and physically. We have his presence in our lives, a miracle in itself. Most of all, we have God working within us, changing us from the inside out, causing new desires that amaze us and others.
- Giving the inheritance of the nations — In speaking to Israel, God gave them international power. The US has been similarly blessed. Although we don’t capture land, we have influence we use to help nations be independent. We enjoy respect around the world. Democracy is sought after by almost all people. Economies rise and fall with Wall Street. It’s a great blessing, as well as responsibility. Because of sin in our nation, it’s only because of his grace and mercy we sit in such high standing.
So what are the works of his hands? How is he faithful and just?
- First, we can take him at his word. He means what he says. His words are not to be taken lightly. We have the tendency to focus on the negative because of fear, the things I would be judged on because he is just. But he is also faithful in his love and mercy. The key is finding the balance.
- His word is “established forever” — it doesn’t change with the times. I hear of so many kids who want to throw over the faith of their parents because of all the new things they are learning about life, independence, and the power they feel with self-determination. But you know what? Many come back to their faith. They realize with maturity and wisdom that the principles remain true and the power to live the principles are in one place — the triune God. Nations will rise and fall, cultures will change, but God’s word, and the truths that are in it, will remain for eternity. Years ago someone told me only 3 things are eternal: God, His Word, and the souls of men.
- Performed with faithfulness and uprightness — God’s word is not just to be heard, but performed. That’s us folks! God’s word is faithful and just, but it is just words without being lived out in flesh. We are called to be faithful and just as we use God’s word in our own lives, modeling what that looks like to others.
The Psalm ends with , “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who practice it have a good understanding, his praise endures forever!”
How do we gain wisdom and understanding? It’s by reflecting, although sometimes dimly, the image of God.
We know God is gracious and merciful. How am I gracious and merciful?
We know his hands are faithful and just. How do I balance faithfulness and justice in my life?