by Rev. Chuck Muether
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:3-5).
Nothing is more comforting in all of life than knowing that the One who creates all things and controls all things is the One who provides for all things.
Oh how we live in a day of confusion and sometimes utter chaos, in times of sadness and hurt. No matter how comfortable we try to makes ourselves, no matter how careful we try to be, no matter how meticulous we try to arrange our lives, no matter how cautious we are in our daily approach, we know from Scripture that wherever sin is crouching at the door – and sin and misery is all around us – we will succumb to it if we do not rule over it by the strength of our Lord and Savior.
When this sinful life seems so uncertain, confusing, and erratic, we have something that is so definite and clear. We have a heavenly Father, who heals the brokenhearted and binds up our wounds, a Father who is also God.
And this is no ordinary God, for He was not fastened from metal nor carved from wood. No, this God determines the number of the stars, and gives them their names. He is the Creator, and while we the faithful church will gladly believe that, we struggle in knowing Him as the Sustainer.
But here the psalmist does something wonderful; he establishes the abundant power of God for our praise and confidence and then He speaks of God’s understanding. “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.”
John Calvin offers us this gem from his Commentary on the Harmony of the Evangelists:
We ought to contemplate providence not as curious and fickle persons are wont to do but as a ground of confidence and excitement to prayer. When he informs us that the hairs of our head are all numbered it is not to encourage trivial speculations but to instruct us to depend on the fatherly care of God which is exercised over these frail bodies (vol. 1, p. 465).
We are also reminded by the answer to this question of Heidelberg Catechism #27: What do you understand by the providence of God?
The almighty, everywhere-present power of God, whereby, as it were by His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth with all creatures, and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things come not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.
Psalm 147 shows us that the one, only true and living God can do all things, including lifting up the humble.
Why then is it challenging for the Christian to believe that God can lift him up from his misery? This is so because the believer too easily reduces the power of God through his finite mind. And here Psalm 147 contrasts the infinite God against the creation: “His understanding is beyond measure.”
Do not think that the Almighty is unable to help you because you are some special hard case and beyond all help. Do not think just because God does not answer your prayer immediately or does not respond the way you would prefer that He is weak or incapable.
Instead, take further comfort from Heidelberg Catechism #28: What does it profit us to know that God created, and by His providence upholds, all things?
That we may be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and for what is future have good confidence in our faithful God and Father, that no creature shall separate us from His love, since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.
The comfort of this confession rests on the authoritative Word of God, and we can find from that very Word the apostle Paul penning to the Church at Rome: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When you, dear saint, are broken, when you find yourself on your knees, and misery so surrounds that you are struggling even what to say to the Father, speak to the Provider as David spoke,
“Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek” (Psalm 27:7, 8).