Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Psalm 117 Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.
There is a mathematical law that states, “The whole cannot be greater than the sum of all the parts.” It is also true that the whole cannot be less than the total of all the parts.
When we consider the greatness of God and His perfection, we understand that each individual characteristic, or “part”, must also be perfect or the total cannot be. We cannot ultimately define God in finite terms like “parts” and “totals” because God is infinite and the parts cannot be separated, but it helps me to understand His greatness in these terms. The perfection of God is consistent with the perfection of each of His characteristics. If He were not perfect in even one of them, then as a whole He would not be perfect.
The reason I present this is because as we seek to more fully understand His greatness, we must look at the greatness of the parts. The Psalmist understood this, and in addition to declaring the greatness of God he also declared the greatness of God’s characteristics. It is both logical and practical to ask for a clarification of greatness by asking for a description of the greatness of the parts. The psalmist does this, and he declares the greatness of God’s love and faithfulness.
God’s steadfast love and His enduring faithfulness are the theme of many Psalms. Here is one of my favorites:
1 My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul.
2 Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.
3 I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
4 For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.
It is because of God’s great love and faithfulness that my heart is steadfast, even in times of impending sorrow and grief. The response of a steadfast heart is praise, and each day as I awake I praise the Lord for His greatness. I am tempted to praise Him for what He does, and the time will come for that – but for now I praise Him for Who He is.
I think we all need to recognize that a steadfast heart comes primarily from a recognition of God’s greatness and secondarily from an understanding of the great things He does. Do not base the stability of your faith on activity but rather ground it firmly in the Person who in His greatness carries out the activity. As you consider His greatness, consider specifically the perfection of His love. It is higher than the heavens, as expressed in this great hymn of praise:
The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled, and pardoned from his sin.
Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above, would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.
My heart is steadfast, O God, because I trust your unquenchable love.