Glory to God
As I look out of my window it’s a beautiful sunny day in Simi Valley. And today is a day to glorify God, which ties in with our reading today in Psalm 145. It’s hard to take a break from Luke, especially since chapter 12 has sections on anxiety and being ready for our Lord’s return. I am sure right now we have a heightened sense of awareness of the closeness of Christ’s return but when present circumstances are over and if he hasn’t returned by that time, let’s take the spirit of Psalm 145 into our hearts not just now but when things get better in however many weeks or months it takes and we can breathe a sigh of relief.
Psalm 145 is majestic. In verse 1 we are called upon to extol our God and king. God is in control, he rules over all – he has it all figured out for us and we don’t have to worry about the things the world is anxious about right now. All we are called on to do is to seek first his kingdom and righteousness. The Psalm brings out ways we can do that. The second half of verse 1 tells us to bless God’s name forever and ever. You will notice as we go through the Psalm the all-encompassing time element of what the Psalmist says. Verse 2 echoes verse 1 again by saying “forever and ever”. That’s always. All the time. Every single day for the rest of our lives into eternity. God’s name – “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” – is who God is. How he acts. How he deals with us his children. We should be thinking about, and extolling, those virtues every single day. This should be the spirit behind everything we think, say and do.
Verse 3 extols God’s greatness and that this greatness is “unsearchable”. I am reminded here of two studies I have done. One is on Malachi which I am currently teaching Wednesday nights for Reseda (via zoom!). Chapter 1 of Malachi talks about God’s greatness but with a twist. Four times in that chapter, in which God expresses his love for his people Israel (Mal. 1:2), we are reminded of the greatness of God. But each time, as if to prompt the Israelites into action, the prophet says that greatness will be seen “beyond the borders of Israel” (v.4) among the nations. It’s as if God is saying, “If you can’t appreciate my greatness then I will find people who do appreciate it.”. Which is exactly what happened when the gospel went out to the Gentiles. For us the lesson is the same. Do we recognize how great God is? God is perfectly capable of finding people outside Christadelphia if we’re half-hearted in our worship (which was the problem in Malachi’s day). God’s greatness, this verse in Psalm 145 says, is “unsearchable”. That’s one of the themes of Ephesians. Paul talks there about the “unsearchable riches of Christ”, “the manifold wisdom of God”, “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe”. Paul uses big words to describes the greatness of God. Notice those words – his power toward us. That power and greatness is on our side. It’s a greatness which is unsearchable. He created the universe. The universe. If you know anything about the size of the universe you will know it’s basically unsearchable. And God created it – he is bigger than the universe! That’s the power on our side.
Verse 4 of our Psalm then exhorts us to tell others about God’s works and mighty acts. Are we telling the next generation about how great and awesome God is? How he created the universe, worked throughout history and has worked in our own lives? About how we find ourselves in the pits of life and God reaches down, scoops us up, and puts us back on level ground? Because of his name – his mercy, grace and patience with us. Are we telling our kids this with the zeal and emotion that they can detect in our voices as we describe God to them?
Verse 5 then tells us to “meditate” on these things. I was thinking the other day about writing up an article or doing an exhortation on biblical meditation because I am not sure we talk about it much and its extreme value. The basic idea of the Hebrew word is to “go over a matter in one’s mind”, so meditation is not about sitting cross-legged and humming. Here’s how to do it: it’s the simplest thing in the world. Read a portion of Scripture and then go somewhere quiet and think about it. Take a walk around the block, go on a hike and just think about it. You can do it in pairs too, with your spouse or friend or family member. I used to do it with a friend of mind who lodged with us for a year back when I was growing up in Wales. We would walk around the lake near our house and just talk about one of the readings or a parable one of us was thinking about or whatever. You don’t have your Bible or concordance or commentary with you when you do this. You just walk and think and talk if you’re with someone else. What we are trying to do is get to the point where Proverbs 6:22 where the wise man talks about godly principles and says “when you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you”. You can’t do that if you’re thinking about the sports game you just watched, or the TV show, or latest gossip on Facebook. You can only do it if you’re feeding yourself with the word of God and then think about it. Mull it over. It’s one of the best ways to help the principles of God’s word stick in your mind. Believe me, it works.
The rest of the Psalm continues in the same vein. I won’t go through every verse since these are meant to be short and snappy thoughts for the day. But every verse in the Psalm has something to meditate on. Are we doing what the Psalm tells us to do? Are we “speak[ing] of the glory of your kingdom” (v.11) and doing that every day (v.2)? In times of anxiety and uncertainly this is our medicine. The more you think about God and his ways and his character and his greatness, the more you talk about these things to others, the more you focus your mind on your Creator, the more you will be able to filter out those negative thoughts and behaviors which can get to us when we are meditating on the latest corona virus news instead of putting God at the forefront of our minds.