Let the People Rejoice!

Psalm 147:1-20

Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely. 
The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.
Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:
Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.
He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.
He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.
The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.
For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee.
He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.
He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly.
He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.
He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?
He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.
He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.
He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.

Rejoicing and Reflection

According to The Pulpit Commentary and F. B. Myer’s Through the Bible Day by Day, this psalm was written in Nehemiah’s day for the dedication of the wall. When I read Psalm 147, I hear rejoicing and reflection as the writer remembers all that God has done and is doing, still.

Those acquainted with the story know the heartaches, delays, and challenges they faced while rebuilding the wall. At one point, they had to work with a sword in their hand!

Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows (Nehemiah 4:13).

BUT GOD…

So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days (Nehemiah 6:15).

Jacob’s children did not allow their circumstances to dictate their lives. They fought and worked until the job was finished. They gave thanks and rejoiced for the great things He had done. So should we!

Giving Thanks

I awoke with praise on my lips and the following chorus playing in my heart. I had to laugh because I’m not a fan of the music. Curiosity sent me to my hymn book for the verses. After reading the song, I searched for a video containing the words to share with you. I hope it puts joy in your heart too!

I love that Crosby took the focus off the singer and placed it on the One worthy of all praise and glory.

To God Be the Glory, Great Things He Hath Done

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, 
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father thro' Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.
Words by Fannie J. Crosby. Music by William H. Doane

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

Without a kinsman redeemer. Lost. Without hope. No way out. Until the cry of a newborn proclaimed Deliverance. Salvation has come! The cries for redemption became shouts of exaltation.

The angels proclaimed the wonderous news. The shepherds came to see. Kings laid gifts at His feet. Simeon gave thanks. And Anna declared Him to all who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. The Consolation of Israel… the world.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel is a prayer for redemption. Yet the chorus is a declaration of God’s faithfulness. He will not leave us in our troubles but in His time, He shall bring us out. Tis the reason to rejoice!

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Galatians 4:4-7

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:14

History:
Translator John Mason Neale (1851)
Tune VENI EMMANUEL (Chant)

Favorite line:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

The Life and Death of Christmas

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:13-19 (KJV)

And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Luke 2:34-35 (KJV)

Life and Death

We are not told if Mary pondered these sayings also. But as a mother, I certainly would have!

Holding a baby in your arms doesn’t bring thoughts of death, but life. However, in reality, we are born to die.

Some may think that to be a grim outlook on Christmas while others may find it liberating.

Think of all the things one might lay aside if one lived as if they were dying. The busyness of our days would definitely slow to a more reasonable pace. Our to-do list would become nonexistent.

And those grudges, misunderstandings, and arguments, well, I’m sure we wouldn’t have the time nor the inclination to “hold” to them any longer.

We would drop the pretense and say what we mean. Hold our loved ones a little tighter. Determine to make a difference in our world. The simple things would become the important things. Yes, life would be different.

In her book, Jesus, Life Coach: Learn From The Best, Laurie Beth Jones tells the story a friend shared with her.

Joe Matthews’ best friend’s wife was diagnosed with cancer and given a short time to live. Joe watched as this couple began living with that knowledge. Near the end, Joe asked the wife how it felt to live each day knowing you were dying. Her answer was, “Joe, what does it feel like to live each day pretending that you are not?”

Celebrate

I love the story of Christmas. It’s the story of life—and death. It’s the reason we celebrate! His life brought hope and His death brought life. I could never repay Him for what He’s done for me. So I will rejoice in His coming and consider His sacrificial love during this season of celebration while wishing everyone I meet a very Merry Christmas!

Blessings