Theme: God’s Blessing and Rule
In this week’s lessons, we are shown an abundance of reasons for which to praise the LORD.
Scripture: Psalm 147:1-20
At first glance, verses 10 and 11 seem to be a digression in which the writer reflects on the value of godliness over physical strength. But this is not really a digression at all. He is still thinking about God, and what he is saying about God here is that he is not like most of us who are usually impressed with physical qualities—things we can see—and not with things we cannot see. Rather, “the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (v. 11.). If we really believed that and wanted to please God, we would give more time to spiritual things than to worldly concerns. There is nothing wrong with physical strength or beauty, of course. God made both. But physical things pass away, while the one who does the will of God lasts forever. 
For some writers this is the beginning of a final section of the psalm since it starts with the third of three calls to praise God: “Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion” (v. 12). But verses 12-14 actually stand apart from those that follow since here the psalmist is thinking about Jerusalem again, just as he did at the psalm’s beginning. And after this he is going to write again about God’s care of the whole earth, and about God’s giving his law to Israel. When he writes about Jerusalem he says that God does four important things for the city: 1) he strengthens its gates; 2) he blesses its people; 3) he grants peace to the nation; and 4) he satisfies its residents with good food. Those are great blessings for any people. So if we have enjoyed the same things, as we surely have, we should be praising God for his mercies in this area too. 
We need to remember what a great blessing a nation’s strength and safety are, because we tend to forget it when we have them. War is a terrible thing and a great waste both of lives and money. When a country is secure and at peace, as ours is, then the people who live there prosper and are able to enjoy what we call “the good life.” They enjoy “the finest of wheat” and the finest of many other things too. If God gives peace, let’s be sure to thank him for it. 
Verses 15-18 return to the care of God for nature, in this case to his rule over its weather and the recurring seasons. It is part of a pattern in which the stanzas of the psalm alternate between God’s care of Jerusalem and its people, and his care for the earth and its creatures as a whole. 
Verse 18 became of special interest to the English nation in the late sixteenth century after the defeat of the great Spanish Armada. The Spanish were planning an invasion of England, and the armada was launched in the summer of 1588 to defeat the English navy and then transport the Spanish army to England from the Netherlands. The armada consisted of 130 great ships containing 7,000 sailors and 17,000 soldiers. The English had 90 ships under the command of Francis Drake. The battle was fought for days, the English maintaining their distance and relentlessly bombarding the opposing fleet with alternating broadsides. They fought wisely and well, but the decisive factor in the battle was a strong wind that churned the waters of the English Channel and eventually drove the Spanish galleons up the channel into the North Sea where many were destroyed. Attempting to return south by rounding Scotland and Ireland, even more of these great vessels were sunk, and in the end only half of the armada returned to Spain or Portugal. 
The English victory was complete. The Spanish defeat was total. And the English celebrated their deliverance by striking a new issue of coins that bore the Latin inscription Affavit Deus (“God blew”), taken from Psalm 147:18: “He stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.” In those days there was at least one nation that knew how to praise God for its safety.
Study Questions: 

Why do people too often value the external, earthly things that pass away? 
Identify the four things God does for Jerusalem. Do you praise God for these things? 
What cycle of themes does this psalm contain? Where do vv. 15-18 fall in this cycle? 

Reflection: Do you sometimes have a greater concern for earthly things rather than spiritual things? Pray for the Lord’s help to order properly your priorities.
Prayer: Pray for those who live in areas that do not enjoy peace.

Study Questions
Tagged under
More Resources from James Montgomery Boice

Subscribe to the Think & Act Biblically Devotional

Alliance of Confessional Evangelicals

About the Alliance

The Alliance is a coalition of believers who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today’s Church.

Canadian Donors

Canadian Committee of The Bible Study Hour
PO Box 24087, RPO Josephine
North Bay, ON, P1B 0C7