CHRISTMAS PRAYER: December 30 by Martin Shannon

Praying With the Psalms Through Advent, Christmas, & Epiphany

December 30 by Martin Shannon

From My Soul Waits

Psalm 113

He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap. (v. 7)

Psalm 113 presents us with the juxtaposition of two seemingly contrasting wonders about the nature of God – his incomparable majesty and his tender mercy.  To describe them, the psalmist draws upon a very familiar social concept: status.  The Lord rules in glory from on high, yet lives among the poorest of the poor.

The psalm opens with a call to praise the Lord, perhaps directed by one of the temple priests to the choir of cantors, (v. 1).  Their response builds rapidly into a crescendo of sound, glorifying God for his rule over all time and space, (vv. 2-4).  Their repeated use of “the name of the Lord” shows the profound deference they are paying to the One who is so inconceivably superior to them that they dare not even pronounce his name.  But, the majesty of the Almighty is not the only, or perhaps even the chief, reason for praising him.

Verse 5 introduces the second half of the psalm with a rhetorical question: Yes, God sits above even the heavens, making him unique in all the universe and beyond.  But even more impressive, who else can sit so very high in glory and then stoop so very low in humility?  We praise the God who is beyond all time and space, but nevertheless makes his home in the lowest places of the Earth – the hearts of the simple, the poor, the lost, the forsaken.  God delivers his mercy eye-to-eye with the lowly and, once at the subordinate level, he turns the world upside down.  The simple are made to be princes, the poor are seated with royalty, the barren become fruitful, and children lead the way into Heaven.  No wonder Mary sang, in anticipation of the incarnate Son of God, “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree,” (Luke 1:52).

From The Fathers

To the wise person, God who knows the time of the harvest, is always good.  Therefore, like a good farmer, he plows his fields by his abstinence; he clears his land by cutting off all vices; and he manures the field by humbling himself to the Earth, for he knows that “God raises the needy from the Earth and lifts up the poor out of the dunghill.”  And so, to him, God is always good because he always hopes for good things from God. (Ambrose)

You know that I sometimes lose sight of your goodness, Lord.
Nothing has changed about you, of course.
But my eyes get clouded by my weeping,
And my mind gets darkened by my thinking.
From morning to evening, though, you are the same.
The same in love, in mercy, in power, in goodness.
So I bless your name, Lord,
From this time to the next,
And every time after that.

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