For the Love of God, Volume 1/July 10
From Gospel Translations
Joshua 12—13; Psalm 145; Jeremiah 6; Matthew 20
WHEN WE REFLECTED ON PARTS of Psalm 119 (see the meditations for June 22, 25, and 27), we noted that the psalm is an acrostic poem. In the first section, all the verses begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet; in the second section, all the verses begin with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet; and so on for twenty-two sections, corresponding to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. But there are seven other acrostic psalms in the Psalter. In these, however, just one verse is devoted to each letter (Pss. 9-10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 145). Five of the eight, including this last one (Ps. 145), are ascribed to David.
In most Hebrew manuscripts of this psalm, there is no verse for the Hebrew letter corresponding to our N. But most of the ancient translations supply the missing verse, and now one Hebrew manuscript with an N-verse has shown up as well, so most modern versions squeeze in the extra lines (verse 13b in the NIV). So what we have in this psalm is the last of David’s compositions preserved in the book of Psalms, a veritable alphabet of praise.
There are certain themes that receive special emphasis in this psalm. (1) Although many of David’s psalms focus on his own experiences, or sometimes on the joys and sorrows of the Israelite nation, here the horizon expands to take in God’s universal kingdom (145:13a), his universal care for all living creatures in his universe—not least providing them with the food they need (145:15- 16). None of this denies that this is still a fallen world, of course. Creatures sometimes starve; they grow old and die. Yet we see teeming life, and this life survives and thrives by God’s gracious provision.
(2) There is a wonderful mingling of God’s glory with God’s compassion. “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (145:8-9). That is why the entire created order praises him (145:10). At the same time, God’s people are the first to talk about his “mighty acts and the glorious splendor” of his kingdom, the sheer glory of his kingdom (145:11-12).
(3) Not only is God’s greatness beyond human fathoming (145:3), the account of God’s greatness and goodness is passed on from one generation to another (145:4), as others celebrate God’s “abundant goodness” and joyfully sing of his righteousness (145:7). Indeed, as we read his words and utter our own “Amen!” our generation receives this glorious communication from three thousand years ago, jointly committed to speaking of God’s mighty acts and to meditating on his wonderful works (145:4-5).