Psalm 111. 2-5
Great are Your works;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are Your deeds,
and Your righteousness endures forever.
You have caused wonders to be remembered;
God is gracious and compassionate.
You provide food and remember Your covenant forever.
A Word of Hope
The Book of Psalms in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is organized into 5 books or sections.
According to scholars the first 41 chapters make up the first book and emphasize how God is beside us. The second takes us through chapter 72 and here the writer’s attention goes to a God who is before us. Book three runs through chapter 89 and addresses the God who is all around us and book four takes us to chapter 106, focusing on the God who is above us. Finally, the fifth book takes us to the end of the Psalms, chapter 150 and spotlight a God who is among us.
Our reading today, from chapter 111 falls into the fifth book or section of the entire Book of Psalms and therefore continues the writer’s emphasis on the God who is among us.
Just a brief reading of this Psalm gives us an overview of the kind of God that David, the assumed writer had relationship with – the same God that we are invited into relationship with today. David gives glory and honor to God, recognizing the God who has been with him from the beginning of time. He speaks to God’s compassion and provision for God’s people and the covenant that was established between God and God’s people that has produced faithfulness and everlasting praise.
This covenant is a theme of Jesus’ ministry as well. The covenant established with the Hebrew peoples, however, is extended to Gentiles (non-Jews) and, through Jesus’s life moves from covenant by law to covenant through grace or love.
This grace is not earned or secured through affiliation to a particular group or ancestry. It is not bought or sold to the highest bidder. This grace is a free gift that we either accept, or not. And, even if it not accepted at first, is not a “once in a lifetime opportunity” but is available to us whenever we choose to accept it. It is unconditional.
This is the kind of God that David knew as he wrote down his experience of God through the Psalms. The God beside us. God going before us. God around us. God above us. God among us.
This is the God who welcome us in – today – and establishes holy covenant, holy relationship with us with all of our doubts, fears, gifts and freethinking. A God who has our back and relates to us as divinely loved children of God.
This is the God I can believe in and the God that has been the focus of our new year sermon series here at Cathedral of Hope.
I hope you can believe in that God, too.
God of the generations before us and the generations to come. God who is beside us, going before us, around us, above us, and among us, help us this day to sense Your presence as we say YES to this gift of grace and love that you so freely offer. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Neil G. Thomas
Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ