To the choirmaster. A Song. A Psalm.
1 Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
2 sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
4 All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.” Selah
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5 Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
7 who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
8 Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12 you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
14 that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17 I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!
Shout for Joy
The very first sentence of this Psalm indicates the author’s purpose: he wants all the earth to shout for joy to God, and praise him because of the glory of his name and his awesome deeds. The psalmist goes on to show us what God hasl done:
-He turned the sea into dry land, allowing the Israelites to pass through the river on foot (v. 9);
-He has kept their souls among the living (v. 9);
-And he has tried his people “as silver is tried.” (vv. 10-12)
The psalmist goes on to recount the grace that was given to the people of Israel. He remembers how God, with a mighty hand, delivered his people from the strong hand of the Egyptian Pharaoh. God parted the Red Sea and made his people pass through on dry land, then closed the water and drowned the pursuing Egyptian soldiers. Toward his own people, his power is the greatest blessing; toward his enemies, it is the greatest curse. As the Israelites continued toward the Promised Land, God supplied for their needs, protected them, gave them living water in the midst of the desert, sent manna (the like of which the world had never seen), and guided them with pillars of cloud and of fire.
Blessings Also Include Discipline
However, the blessings that the Lord has prepared for his children are not always those which we can see with our eyes: his blessings also include blessings of trial and of discipline. To the momentary dismay of his people, God also prepares for them snares, burdens, and fire. Only when his children experience these trials with a heart of obedience are they able to understand that God’s good intention is to lead them to the land of plenty.
Brothers and sisters, from where do your hope and joy come? Does your hope spring from the good things you can see? Of course the answer is yes—but this is not all. Is it not amazing grace to consider how God’s power has softened our stony hearts, and how he has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and the dominion of Satan to the Promised Land? Is it not a great comfort to know that, in the midst of our weakness and want, we have received his provision, mercy, and support? God’s salvation and provision can be easily seen with our eyes, but right now, many brothers, sisters, and churches are experiencing snares and fire. It seems the enemy is trampling on our vineyard, and our burden is so heavy that we are unable to carry it. Where is the hope of our salvation? Brothers and sisters, and hope and comfort lie in the fact that God, our Father, is Lord of the whole earth. He rules all nations with power, all these things are in his hands, and disobedient people will be judged by him (v. 7).
See What God Has Done
Next, the psalmist expresses his gratitude to God by offering sacrifices (vv. 13-15). He invites the people to follow his example by turning to God in prayer in times of trouble. God will not reject the prayers of his people, nor remove his steadfast love from them (vv. 16-20).
We must answer an important question: did the people of Israel receive these blessings because they deserved them? Why did God choose to treat them so graciously? The sacrifices mentioned here remind us that God forgave and was pleased with his people because of the sacrifices that were offered in their place. Each of those sacrifices pointed to the final sacrifice of Jesus, God’s own Son, whom God himself sent to us. God prepared Christ’s body so that he might do God’s will and give himself as a ransom for many. How can we not rejoice, when we have such a friend, one who is willing to lay down his life for us with such supreme love?
Again and again, the psalmist invites the people to rejoice in the attributes and work of God. He calls the whole earth to rejoice in God (v. 1); he invites them to see “what God has done” (v. 5); he asks them to bless the Lord (v. 8); to “come and hear, all you who fear God.” (v. 16) If we truly have a joyful heart, it will be manifested in our expressions, in our lives, and in our relationships with our families, friends, and neighbors. All this is so that the glory of our God may be praised.
Nicolaus is a pseudonym for a pastor in northeastern China.
O Heavenly Father,
We praise you for your creation and dominion over all things, and for all the goodness of the world you have gifted us. We thank you for your salvation, preservation, provision, and guidance. I do not know how wretched and fallen I would be if you had not come to find me; I might have strayed from the truth long ago if you had not guided me. We see, O heavenly Father, that you are trying your children in China like silver. We ask that, after you bring us through these snares and fire and water, you will allow us to enter your place of abundance. Give us hearts that pursue holiness and not to focus on the sin within. Then we may testify to all nations of your power, faithfulness, and love, and draw all nations to join your army of praise.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.