Great Are the Lord’s Works
1Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
3Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!
Today’s Psalm actually begins with the word “Hallelujah.” In the ESV it is translated as “Praise the Lord,” but if we just transliterate the Hebrew, we’d have the word “Hallelujah.”
We might associate the word halleluiah with Easter and the liturgical response, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” (Why we sometimes keep the H and sometimes drop it is a mystery to me.)
However, Hallelujah is a perfect word for the first Sunday after Christmas.
In today’s epistle reading we have reason to say “Hallelujah!” because when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
Psalm 111 is an acrostic Psalm, following the Hebrew alphabet, and with each successive letter of the alphabet the Psalmist gives us another reason to rejoice in the Lord.
Now, growing up as a PK (pastor’s kid) and now a pastor myself, the first Sunday after Christmas can easily become a day on which I say “Hallelujah” because the Christmas rush is done! The lead-up to Christmas can be wearing, with the midweek Advent services, Christmas parties, and Christmas services to prepare for. By the time Christmas comes, sometimes servants of the church can be so worn out that we rejoice more in the fact that the day has finally come and gone and lessen what that day means for us.
But today’s Psalm allows us to pause and reflect on what God has done for us. And by us, I mean all people, but I also and especially mean you and me. The good news of great joy that is for all people, is also for you, my fellow servant of Christ.
In Psalm 11, the psalmist reflects on the reality of God’s previous works (4He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered), the reality that God is a real and present hope (the Lord is gracious and merciful), and the future goodness of the Lord as well (he remembers his covenant forever).
Today we can reflect on the same. We can consider God’s previous work (when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law), the fact that He is a real and present help (take and eat, this is My body given for you), and the reality of the future goodness of the Lord as well (For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord).
So, weary servant of the Lord, rejoice in the God who has done wonders in the past, who is real and present now, and through whom we will receive blessings in the future.
Hallelujah! Christ is born for you!
Hallelujah! Christ still comes to you!
Hallelujah! Christ will come for you again.
Questions for reflection:
What works of God from the past are brought to mind from the Psalm?
How does the psalmist speak of God as a real and present hope?
How does this Psalm anticipate Christmas for those who were born before Christ’s incarnation?
How does this Psalm reflect the Christ who has come for us?
What are some reasons you have to praise God today?