Commands Sent Forth
(12) Extol Yahweh, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion, (13) for he strengthens the bars of your gates. He blesses your children among you. (14) He grants peace to your boundaries. He satisfies you with the finest of the wheat. (15) He sends out his command to the earth. His word runs very swiftly. (16) He gives snow like wool. He scatters the frost like ashes. (17) He hurls down ice crystals like pieces of bread. In the face of his icy blast who can stand? (18) He sends out his word and melts them. He makes his wind blow and the waters to flow. (19) He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgments to Israel. (20) He has not done this for any other nation. They do not know his judgments. Hallelujah!
Three repetitions are significant in helping us grasp the message of this segment. First, the psalmist uses “he sends out” twice (vss. 15 & 18). Then “his word” occurs three times in quick succession (vss. 15, 18, & 19). Finally, “judgments” is found twice (vss. 19 & 20). Structurally, there is more than one way we could outline this segment. Here are a couple:
According to the verbs that are used
- commands to Israel to praise Yahweh (imperatives) (12)
- reasons for Israel to praise Yahweh (indicatives) (13-20)
According to God’s blessing both Israel and the world
- praise to Yahweh for specifically blessing Israel (12-14)
- praise to Yahweh for blessing the whole earth (15-18)
- praise to Yahweh for uniquely blessing Israel with his Word (19 & 20)
OUTLINE (yet a third way to structure these verses)
I. Praise to Yahweh for strengthening, blessing, and satisfying Zion (12-14)
II. Praise to Yahweh for “sending out” his word into the world (15-20)
Because of his general care for all creation and especially for giving his special revelation to his covenant people, Yahweh should be praised.
Isaiah is another Old Testament author who compares God’s revealed truth to precipitation: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Is. 55:10,11).
A contemporary worship song contains these lovely lyrics: “Receive in your hearts that which can save you, / cleanse you and change you, set your lives free. / Let it take root there, growing unhindered, / filling your hearts with truth about me. / My word will never return to me empty. / By it I’ll feed you; by it you’ll see / my word alone can meet your hearts’ yearnings, / filling your lives with truth that sets free, / filling your hearts with truth about me.”