Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.
Consider the glory and the use of the Book of Psalms.
I. Think, first, of the rareness and preciousness of that unique gift to the Church. The Hebrew's characteristic was his religion, and not his literature. The Hebrew race left behind it a trophy corresponding to this characteristic. It was not a code of laws, embodying the great issues of justice, though Moses was of the seed of Abraham. It was not a volume of poetry, to whose immortal pages the centuries add imperishable beauty; at least, it was not a volume of poetry as such. It was something more unusual. If we measure the preciousness of products by their reality, then prayers are the most precious of all products. So rare and unique is the Book of Psalms.
II. Note some of the general uses of the Psalter. (1) The Psalms bring out with unapproachable practical influence the idea of a living, personal God, the Creator, and Judge, and Friend of men; His moral character; the whole body of truths rightly or wrongly termed natural religion. (2) The Psalms bring out as nothing else can the ideal of spiritual religion. (a) They show us that religion's exceeding great reward is in itself. (6) They tell us that man's spiritual ideal is not in its essence formal or ceremonial. (c) They show, as a feature of the spiritual character unknown to all other religions, a deep, abiding sense of sinfulness; a holiness arising not from effort, but from conscience feeling a burden and faith laying it upon a Saviour.
III. The Psalms are a proof of the existence of the Divine world, just as music is the proof of the existence of a world of harmony. We possess aspirations beyond our present needs. They will never read man truly who forget that he bears within a spiritual prophecy, as truly as he bears without a natural history. Of this prophecy the Psalms are the accumulated utterances. They tell us that even if the tree of humanity, embedded in the soil of myriad ages, has roots that go down lower than the "cabin of the savage," to "the lair of the brute," yet aloft it has tendrils that stretch themselves upwards towards the light of immortality. "I am continually with Thee; Thou hast holden me by Thy right hand." "This God is our God for ever and ever; He shall be our Guide unto death."
Bishop Alexander, The Great Question, p. 238.
References: Psalm 147:1.—A. Blomfield, Sermons in Town and Country, p. 335. Psalm 147:2.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii., No. 1302.
Psalm 147:2-5The text reveals the constructive side of Divine government:—
I. As shown in the building up of the Church. That He should do so shows: (1) that the Church is self-demolished; (2) that it is self-helpless; (3) that God is the Gatherer, the Redeemer, and the Builder of the Church.
II. As seen in the gentle care of human hearts. Learn from this: (1) the personality of God's knowledge; (2) the infinite adaptations of Divine grace; (3) the perfectness of Divine healing.
III. As seen in the order, the regularity, and the stability of creation. (1) God takes care of the great universe; may I not trust Him with my life? (2) Where God's will is unquestioned, the result is light, beauty, music; why should I oppose myself to its gracious dominion?
Parker, City Temple, vol. i., p. 217 (see also Pulpit Notes, p. 197).
Reference: Psalm 147:3.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i., No. 53.
Psalm 147:7-8We might almost assert that this Psalm was composed in spring. Spring, as Eastern travellers tell us, comes with a suddenness and beauty in that bare land of Palestine that we can hardly conceive of. All at once the dry, stony hills are clad with the tenderest green, the flowers fill the fields, and the heavens drop down dew.
I. But whether composed in spring or not, the hundred and forty-seventh Psalm may teach us a great lesson: a lesson of thankfulness; a lesson of acknowledgment to God for His care—for His care of all His creatures, cattle and birds as well as man. The gratitude that is acceptable to God is the offering of a just, and merciful, and humble life—an offering that God loves better than any other service, which in His sight is more than whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.
II. Let us learn from this season to have trust and confidence in God. Let us love to mark in what we see now the care of God for all His creatures. Not all the cunning of man could make a single blade of grass, or cause one leaf to come out of its sheath, or one flower to bud and bloom. Think of the witness which spring bears to the providence and love of God.
III. Let us learn from the present season at least a hint about our immortal destiny. A few weeks ago, and all nature seemed dead. The trees were leafless; the ground was bare; there was no song of birds in the air. But now there is life, visible and joyous life, all around us. The earth has had her Easter, and is risen. And shall not we see in this a type and parable of our own resurrection? Shall it not help in its degree to confirm the blessed hope that we shall live though we die; that death is not the end of our being?
R. D. B. Rawnsley, Sermons in Country Churches, 2nd series, p. 41.
References: Psalm 147:7-9.—C. Kingsley, The Water of Life, p. 317. Psalm 147:9.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii., No. 672. Psalm 147:12.—J. A. Sellar, Church Doctrine and Practice, p. 188. Psalm 147:14, Psalm 147:15.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi., No. 314. Psalm 147:15.—Ibid., vol. xxvii., No. 1607.
Psalm 147:16I. Look, first, at the beauty of the snow. It makes a spiritual world of this dull, dark earth of ours; and the fields that seemed fit only for the growth of man's food and the tread of weary feet in the common labours of life, covered with its white, immaculate carpet, look like a celestial floor, on which white-winged angels on lofty errands of mercy might alight from the kindred heavens. The snow-crystals are the blossoms of inorganic nature. Their beauty is not a chance endowment. It is God's Hall-mark, attesting that the work is His. Such beauty is a reflection of the Divine image, not something that God does, but something that He is, really and suitably a part of Himself. It awakens that curiosity about God which is an essential element of worship. He who arranged the particles of snow into such exquisite shapes of beauty can bring order out of our confusion, and change our vile bodies and spirits into the likeness of Christ's.
II. Look at the power of the snow. In a few hours God's little army of snowflakes does a work which defies all the resources of man to undo it, and before which he has to pause baffled and defeated.
III. Look, further, at the service of the snow. "He giveth snow like wool," says the psalmist. The comparison expressively indicates one of the most important purposes which the snow serves in the economy of nature. It covers the earth like a blanket during that period of winter sleep which is necessary to recruit its exhausted energies and prepare it for fresh efforts in spring. He who warms the tender latent life of the flowers by the snow, and moulds the quiet beauty of the summer landscape by the desolating glacier, makes the cold of adversity to cherish the life of the soul, and to round into spiritual loveliness the harshness and roughness of a carnal, selfish nature.
IV. Look at the Giver of the snow. The psalmist had not the shadow of a doubt that God formed and sent the annual miracle of snow, as He had formed and sent the daily miracle of manna in the desert. It was a commonplace thing; it was a natural, ordinary occurrence; but it had the Divine sign upon it, and it showed forth the glory and goodness of God as strikingly as the most wonderful supernatural event in his nation's history.
H. Macmillan, Two Worlds are Ours, p. 269.
Four attributes of God find their illustration and plain exhibition in the snow:—
I. His omnipresence. Each one of these drifting flakes is a present from God. "He giveth snow like wool." (1) Sometimes it seems as if we were less observant of Divine handiwork in nature than the early Christians used to be. (2) Sometimes it seems as if we were most absurdly concerned lest the dignity of God should not be preserved in the minute management of things. (3) Sometimes it seems as if we were positively afraid to put God in peril by admitting that He is personally responsible for all His universe. It has invariably happened that the more clear are the expositions of trustworthy science, the safer is the Bible.
II. God's beneficence finds an illustration in the snow. (1) The philosophy of God's benediction in these bewildering flakes carries with it an interesting surprise. We are wont to associate cold only with a winter's depth of snow; but snow keeps the ground from freezing, and so preserves the life of seeds and trees. (2) The argument from this has two branches: it demands implicit confidence in God; it counsels generous remembrance of others around us.
III. The gentleness of God finds an illustration in the falling of the snow. Thus always appears God's gentleness: (1) in nature; (2) in providence; (3) in grace; (4) in retribution. "The feet of the avenging deities are shod with wool," says the classic poet. "He giveth snow like wool," says the text.
IV. The holiness of God finds a fitting illustration in the snow. Snow has been chosen as the symbol: (1) of the Gospel of redemption. "As the snow cometh down from heaven, so shall My word be," etc. (2) Of the standard of complete sanctification. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be "white as snow." (3) Of ultimate attainment in grace. Jesus' robe of righteousness is absolutely white. (4) Of faith's final reward. Three distinct visions of God as He appears in heaven have been vouchsafed on earth to mortal eyes: one to Daniel in Babylon, one to Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration, and one to John on the Isle of Patmos. These men all put on record what in that supreme moment they saw. They differ in some particulars, but the one thing they all noticed was the raiment of glorious apparel which was worn by the exalted Redeemer. The glistering garments, such as no fuller could whiten them, they thought made up the supernatural beauty of heaven itself. "His garment was white as snow."
C. S. Robinson, Sermons on Neglected Texts, p. 49.
References: Psalm 147:16, Psalm 147:17.—W. Simpson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 40; W. G. Horder, Ibid., vol. xix., p. 76. Psalm 147:16-18.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii., No. 670. Psalm 147:17.—H. Macmillan, Bible Teachings in Nature, p. 27.
Psalm 147:18There are two lessons taught in these words:—
I. God works by means. God makes all the means, and then uses them as He sees good. God is not obliged to work by means. Sometimes, as we learn from the Bible, He is pleased to work miracles, just to show us His power and teach us that all things obey His will. But that is very seldom. Most things God does by using the proper means, not because He is obliged, but because it is the best and wisest plan, and He has made all things on purpose.
II. All things do God's will, just as much as if He did everything by miracle—all things. But do all people? Do you?
Can you say that you obey all that God tells you in His word as swiftly and as perfectly as the snow melts before the fire? Alas! no. Nobody can say this, for even when we try our best to please God we find that we fail; and our obedience is imperfect, just as if the snow were only half to melt, and be all mixed up with little bits of warm ice that refused to melt. God wishes you to obey Him not as the snow, and winds, and clouds, and sunshine obey Him—because they cannot help it—but willingly, because you love Him.
E. R. Conder, Drops and Rocks, p. 70.
Reference: Psalm 147— Sermons for Boys and Girls, p. 323.
The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.
Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:
Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.
He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.
He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.
The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.
For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee.
He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.
He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly.
He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.
He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?
He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.
He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.
He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.