Psalm 147 ERV
“Praise the Lord because he is good.
Sing praises to our God.
It is good and pleasant to praise him.
2 The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem.
He brings back the Israelites who were taken as prisoners.
3 He heals their broken hearts
and bandages their wounds.
4 He counts the stars
and knows each of them by name.
5 Our Lord is great and powerful.
There is no limit to what he knows.
6 The Lord supports the humble,
but he shames the wicked.
7 Give thanks to the Lord.
Praise our God with harps.
8 He fills the sky with clouds.
He sends rain to the earth.
He makes the grass grow on the mountains.
9 He gives food to the animals.
He feeds the young birds that cry out.
10 War horses and powerful soldiers
are not what he cares about.
11 The Lord enjoys people who worship him
and trust in his faithful love.
12 Jerusalem, praise the Lord!
Zion, praise your God!
13 He makes your gates strong,
and he blesses the people in your city.
14 He brought peace to your country,
so you have plenty of grain for food.
15 He gives a command to the earth,
and it quickly obeys.
16 He makes the snow fall until the ground is as white as wool.
He makes sleet blow through the air like dust.
17 He makes hail fall like rocks from the sky.
No one can stand the cold he sends.
18 Then he gives another command, and warm air begins to blow.
The ice melts, and water begins to flow.
19 He gave his commands to Jacob.
He gave his laws and rules to Israel.
20 He did not do this for any other nation.
He did not teach his laws to other people.
Praise the Lord!”
Psalm 147 begins and ends with the same three words. Praise the Lord. What happened in your life this week that caused you to praise the Lord? Or should I say what happened in your life this week that should have caused you to praise the Lord?
We praise the Lord when something good happens. We praise the Lord when we avoid tragedy or misfortune. We praise the Lord when we experience His intervention. We praise the Lord in all sorts of circumstances, but mostly when there is a relief. We praise the Lord for many reasons, but verse 1 of Psalm 147 sums it up: We praise the Lord because He is good.
In fact, we praise God not only when He is good to us but also when He is good to others. We love to hear stories of God being good, of God turning tragedies into blessings, of God showing up and showing out. Hearing real-life experiences of His goodness reinforces what we know and believe of Him and, as a result, increases our faith in Him.
Before I make a purchase of most anything, I will go online and read the reviews and ratings that others have posted. I tend to follow through with a purchase if the reviews are plentiful and the ratings are high. I made the mistake years ago of buying a can opener on Amazon without doing adequate research. It was a good price and had 5 stars for its rating. What could go wrong? After trying multiple times to get the can opener to actually open a can, I decided to return it. Thinking I had perhaps gotten a faulty one, I went back to see if any of the other reviewers had experienced a similar problem. That’s when I noticed the 5-star rating. It turned out that the 5-star rating was by one person. There were no other reviews, no other ratings. Just one single person out of the millions of people who shop Amazon.
I don’t know how many people had bought that can opener before me. Those statistics aren’t given. I have to rely on people that have bought the product to rate it or review it to let me know how “good” or “bad” the product is. This past week I had to buy a garden hose. I found one that had four and a half stars and over 42,000 reviews. I figured my chances of getting a good garden hose were pretty good based on that. My husband saw it the day it was delivered and turned his nose up at it. He said he didn’t think it was a good hose, but he went ahead, hooked it up, and used it. Later that day, he said he was really impressed with it. See? 42,000 people can’t be all wrong. And yes, I added my own rating and review to help other future buyers. Because that’s what we do, right? We share our experiences of restaurants, movies, TV shows, grocery stores, cellphone companies, etc. in order to warn people or to brag on how good something is.
We should be just as vocal, in fact, more vocal, when it comes to praising the Lord. In fact, more than 250 times in the Bible we are commanded to praise the Lord. Psalm 147:1 tells us it is “good and pleasant to praise Him”. How often do we use the phrase “Praise the Lord”? I’d venture to guess that we use it as often as us Southerners use the phrase “Bless their heart”. Both of these phrases are casual responses to circumstances or events that we hear about. We utter the words “Praise the Lord” but do we, in fact, praise Him? Is saying the words “Praise the Lord” sufficient praise?
Think of this way. If you went to a dance recital or a soccer game to watch a grandchild or a niece or nephew or someone you knew and you wanted to make a comment on their performance, would you go up to them and say, “Praise you”? No, of course not! You would say things like, “I was blown away by your dance moves. That was incredible!” or “You amazed me at how you got the ball past the goalie like you did. I knew you were good, but I had no idea you were that good!” When we praise others and really mean it, we are specific. We gush over them with enthusiasm and admiration. But when it comes to praising the Lord, we don’t always respond to His goodness, His mercy, His miraculous and unexplainable actions appropriately. We offer up a quick, shallow “Praise the Lord” and consider Him acknowledged.
Isaiah 29:13 NIV “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
Feeling guilty? Yeah. Me too. In fact, as I dissect the phrase “Praise the Lord”, I realize there’s nothing possessive about that phrase. There’s no ownership. If I say the words, “shut the door” or “pass the salt” or start the car”, I’m actually asking someone else to do something. I’m not declaring that I am shutting the door, passing the salt, or starting the car. I’m not taking ownership of the action. Could the same not be said when we use the phrase “praise the Lord”?
Psalm 147 is so rich in reasons to praise the Lord. He is good. He rebuilds. He brings back the outcasted. He heals. He is great and powerful. He is all-knowing. He supports. Specifically, He fills the sky with clouds, sends rain to the earth, makes the grass grow. He gives food to the animals. He blesses. He brings peace. He commands the earth and causes snow to fall, sleet to blow, hail to come down. He orchestrates the cold and the warm air. Verse 10 tells us what causes Him delight.
Do you consider yourself to be someone who worships Him and trusts in His faithful love? More than likely, your answer will be “yes”. But let’s dig a bit deeper. Do you allow God to use you and your life circumstances as His instruments for the benefit of others? Let me rephrase that a bit. Are other people worshipping God and trusting in God because of YOUR life, YOUR circumstances, YOUR experience with Him and YOUR response? Is your praise of God contagious?
God is to be praised and will be praised. Luke 19:37 ICB “Jesus was coming close to Jerusalem. He was already near the bottom of the Mount of Olives. The whole crowd of followers was very happy. They began shouting praise to God for all the powerful works they had seen. They said, 38 “God bless the king who comes in the name of the Lord! There is peace in heaven and glory to God!” 39 Some of the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell your followers not to say these things!” 40 But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if my followers don’t say these things, then the stones will cry out.” The Lord is so worthy to be praised that if we don’t do it, the rocks around us will!
We not only need to praise the Lord genuinely and sincerely, but we need to be causing others to do the same. We do this by sharing what God is doing in our lives, how He blesses us, directs us, protects us, provides for us. But we also do this by being His arms, His feet, His eyes, His ears and paying forward the blessings that He is merciful enough to give to us.
There’s a disturbing but fascinating story in 2 Kings 6 & 7. There was a tremendous famine in Samaria. People were starving. Prices for any type of food was ridiculously expensive so much so that some resorted to cannibalism. The Syrian army went in and invaded Samaria causing even more distress. It so happened that there were four lepers who lived outside the city gates of Samaria. In talking amongst themselves, they weighed the option of either dying of starvation at the gates or taking a chance of living by surrendering themselves to the Syrian army. They decided to take the chance so when twilight came, they approached the Syrian camp. But to their surprise, the camp was empty of people. What those four lepers didn’t know was that God had caused the army of the Syrians to hear loud noises of chariots and horses, indicating that an army of enemies was fast approaching. The Syrians responded by fleeing the camp and leaving behind all of their possessions. The four lepers had hit pay dirt! They ate, they drank. They gathered clothing, gold and silver. They had the whole camp and all of its treasures to themselves. And then it occurred to them. These four lepers who had been outcasted, shunned, mistreated and ignored. 2 Kings 7:9 NKJV “Then they said to one another, ‘We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent.’” They then left and went to the gatekeepers of the city, the city that didn’t welcome them. They told the gatekeepers of the bounty they had found and the gatekeepers got the word to the king. Because the four lepers shared their blessing, the people of Samaria had cause to praise the Lord. God blessed the residents of Samaria and He did it using four lepers.
There’s a familiar verse found in Psalm 147 that we often see on sympathy cards or thinking of you cards. Psalm 147:3 ERV “He heals their broken hearts and bandages their wounds.”
All of us have had our hearts broken in some way or another. Our hearts break because of a loss, disappointment, rejection. There is a medical term for a broken heart. It’s called Takotsubo (tokit-subo) cardiomyopathy or broken heart syndrome. And there are deaths that have occurred that have been attributed to it.
In 2015, former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback Doug Flutie’s parents died within an hour of each other. Richard “Dick” Flutie died of a heart attack while in the hospital. Shortly after, his wife Joan Flutie died, also from a heart attack. The two had been married for 56 years. Flutie took to Facebook to eulogize his parents, saying, “They say you can die of a broken heart and I believe it.”
Lindsay Clift, 29, suffered a fatal heart attack after learning her baby had died in the womb. Her grieving husband, Darren, is convinced she died of a broken heart after learning the fate of their first child.
19-year-old Abigail Bohnert passed away unexpectedly in August 2016. Her heart mysteriously stopped while she was out to dinner and she could not be revived. Just a few days later, her mom, Janine Bohnert died in her sleep in her daughter’s bed. She was 42. Her husband, Chad Bohnert, said, “The stress was unbelievable,” and Janine, who lived to take care of her children, died “of a broken heart.”[i]
Some of you have had your hearts broken to such extent that you weren’t sure that you could go on living. But God healed that broken heart. He gathered up the pieces, and put them back in their place. He knew just where the pieces of that broken heart needed to go because, after all, He created your heart to begin with. He also knew what it would take to repair it and oftentimes He used other people to carry this out. Someone or perhaps several different people who reached out and gave you reasons to praise the Lord once again.
We’ve all been wounded. We all have scars that we can either display or hide. Some are minor and barely visible. Some are massive and evident. But God bandages them so that they can heal. He allows the scars to remain so that we are reminded of the healing that has taken place. And He gives us opportunities to share our scars with others who have been injured and wounded. There’s a Japanese art form called kintsugi. It’s when a broken piece of pottery is pieced back together using lacquer that has been mixed with powered gold or silver. What essentially happens is that the cracks and breaks in a piece of pottery are bandaged or bounded back together using a precious metal. The cracks are plainly seen. The original breaks in the pottery are obvious. But it’s the scars and what is used to heal the scars that makes the pottery more valuable. In fact, not only does the value of the pottery increase, but it’s believed that the pottery is actually more beautiful because of the brokenness. The more broken the pottery, the more gold or silver is needed to do the repairs and the more gold or silver that’s used, the more valuable the piece becomes.
The beautiful and encouraging verse nestled in the 20 verses of this song of praise is that He heals the broken hearted and bandages their wounds. Because the truth of it is that this psalm is representative of our lives and our days. We can start off praising the Lord. We recognize His goodness. And at some points in our life, we experience brokenness and injuries. But God is standing close by, and He heals us and bandages us so that we can, once again, praise Him!
But you know, there are some people who get stuck in that brokenness and injured state. They’ve lost their praise for Him. They’ve wandered away or maybe they’ve never known the presence of God. They’ve forgotten what it was like to experience the joy of God. They’ve become discouraged, hopeless, downtrodden, and scarred. What can we do? What does God want us to do?
Ezekiel 34:16 HCSB “I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak”
Let Psalm 147 be a challenge to us in several different ways.
- Never stop praising Him. Ask God to open your eyes to see the many reasons He gives us to praise Him.
- Share His goodness with others so that they too have a reason to praise Him. Keep bragging on Him. In fact, brag on Him just as much as you brag on your children, grandchildren or pet.
- Seek out those who are broken-hearted and wounded and offer yourself to be an extension of God as He heals them.
“Praising God is work that is its own wages.”[ii]