Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 113

Who is like unto the LORD our God?

This psalm divides neatly into two sections: the glory of the LORD (v1-5) and the grace of the LORD (v6-9). The two key words found in verses 5 and 6 respectively identify the theme of each half of the psalm: ‘high’ and ‘humble’.

High

The first thing that stands out is the LORD’s name, being found in each of the seven phrases of this first section. With seven being the number of completeness, this is fulsome praise to the covenant keeper of Israel, Jehovah.

I wrote yesterday about the faithfulness of the LORD, and the psalmist here indicates that one reason for the LORD’s faithfulness is that He ‘dwelleth on high (v5). In other words, He is not touched by the fickleness, variability or temporality of either the earth, or the heavens. ‘He is high above all nations’, and His glory above the heavens’ (v4).

Like a fish in water that has no comprehension of what it is to sunbathe on the beach, so we, within this passing world of change, could have no comprehension of the LORD in His glory, were it not directly revealed.

We only have to look at the religions of this world to prove this. Whether ancient or modern, they all have one thing in common: they create their gods in their own image. Zeus or Allah, Brahma or Thor, it matters not. They are all fickle, with changeable temperaments – just like us.

How different the LORD of glory? He says: ‘I am the LORD, I change not’ (Mal 3:6).

How thankful we are for the LORD’s direct revelation of Himself to us? Consider Isaiah’s vision of the One who is ‘high and lifted up’;

‘I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.’ ( Isa 6:1-3)

Truly the LORD is worthy of our praise … all day … every day!

‘Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised.’ (Psa 113:2-3)

Humble

In verse 6, the psalmist pivots into something unexpected, especially for One so ‘high’. He now speaks about the LORD’s humility.

‘Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.’ (Psa 113:6-9)

We can rejoice with the psalmist that our God is not so high, that He doesn’t think or care for His creature. He ‘beholds’, not with a proud disinterest, but in humility, with a heart of compassion to help the poor and needy. In grace, He would lift them up, set them on high, and make them fruitful. 

The psalmist’s praise of His LORD is because He ‘humbleth Himself to behold’. How much greater should our praise be in light of the incarnation and crucifixion?

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbledhimself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’ (Phil 2:8)

Why?

The Lord Jesus Himself would explain, using the language of Isaiah, ‘lifted up’, and uniting in this phrase both the highness and the humility of the LORD: ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me’ (John 12:32)

It was the LORD’s desire not just to bless the poor and needy with physical blessing, but with spiritual blessings, and for that Christ must come and die and rise again.

Now we, who in our sins were in ‘the dust’ and ‘the dunghill’, are lifted ‘out of’ both, and our feet set ‘upon the rock’ (Psa 40:2).

Now we are numbered ‘with princes’, for we ‘are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that (we) should shew forth the praises of him who hath called (us) out of darkness into his marvellous light’ (1 Pet 2:9)

And so the psalm ends where it begins: ‘Praise ye the LORD’.

We began with the question: ‘who is like unto the LORD our God?’ The answer is emphatic: ‘No-one!’

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