Grace Leading to Grace
(7) Sing to Yahweh with thanksgiving. Make music to our God with the lyre. (8) He covers the heavens with dark clouds. He prepares rain for the earth. He makes grass grow on the hills. (9) He gives to the beasts their food and to the young ravens when they cry. (10) His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor is he pleased with the legs of men. (11) Yahweh is pleased with those who fear him, with those who hope in his steadfast love.
One important repetition helps us determine the emphasis of these verses. “Is pleased” is found in quick succession (vss. 10 & 11). In the first instance, the psalmist gives us the negative, what is not pleasing to Yahweh namely displays of physical strength (vs. 10). Rather, what delights Yahweh’s heart, the positive, are those who express their fear of him in reverential worship, demonstrating dependent trust by putting their hope in his steadfast love (vs. 11).
I. What we should do: sing and make music in praise to Yahweh. (7)
II. Why we should do it: Yahweh is a gracious God. (8-11)
While God cares for all his creation, he delights especially in those who learn to fear him and trust in his redeeming grace.
As we have already seen in other psalm studies in this blog, theologians speak of two kinds of grace which God has shown to us: “common grace” and “special grace” (Ps. 65:8-13 & Ps. 112). Paul writes of “common grace,” namely, the blessings God pours out on all people everywhere regardless of their relationship to him, in this way: “Yet he has not left himself without testimony. He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17). This is precisely what this segment of Psalm 147 describes, God’s constant provision of rain to grow the plants which feed the beasts and the birds of the earth and ultimately all of us (vss. 8 & 9). However, common grace goes far beyond the provision of rain to feed the world.
Karl W. Gilberson in The Wonder of the Universe: Hints of God in Our Fine-Tuned World gives us the following explanation: “Our universe does not look like a cosmic accident where lots of stuff just happened. It looks like the expression of a grand plan, a cosmic architecture capable of both supporting life such as ours and of inspiring observers like us to seek out the Creator.” When we acknowledge that God cares for the world by means of “common grace,” we are ready to go one step further to understand his “special grace,” and to be led by the Holy Spirit into a personal relationship with the Creator through repenting of our sins and trusting in the Savior. This is what ultimately delights the heart of God, that those who have benefitted from all he has done in creating and sustaining the universe would seek him personally and enter into fellowship with him by means of the Son’s great work of redemption.