The last five psalms (146–150) are imaginative hymns of praise to God, movements in a symphony of worship. They exalt the Creator who sustains heaven and earth, whose power is greater than the surging sea, who sets slaves free from bondage and brings exiles home from strange lands. Each hymn begins, ends, and is punctuated with bursts of “Hallelujah!” (Hebrew for “Praise the Lord.”)
The psalmist also sings of something that at first seems surprising: [God] sends out his word . . . God declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his ordinances. Praise the LORD! (vv. 18-20). God’s word—God’s teachings and instructions—draws the psalmist’s praise. These gifts have not been given to anyone else, only to God’s people.
Not so long ago, I was feeling disheartened and puzzled about the right thing to do in a hard situation. I thought about my grandfather and the long rides we’d take in his pickup truck through the hills and “hollers” of West Virginia. There were long stretches of comfortable silence. When we could tune into a station, we listened to music on the radio. Eventually, we’d fall into conversation about whatever adolescent angst I was experiencing. He listened and offered gentle guidance. In my mid-60s, I was missing his beat-up yellow truck and his hard-won wisdom.
I’m learning to listen to and receive what God says through Scripture and Spirit like it’s a gift from a grandparent, the wisdom of one who listens and guides with love. God’s voice, full of care and counsel, is a reason for praise.
How can pondering Scripture become a gift I receive rather than a duty to be done? How can I hear God’s living voice of love to me through the text?
God, speak to me through your scriptures, your Spirit, and my experience so that I may know you more fully and live for you more wisely. Amen.