A Meditation on Psalm 147: 8-11

Kevin J Youngblood
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
8 He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
(Psalm 147:7-11)

YHWH’s activities in Psalm 147:8-11 are so mundane, so ordinary, one wonders why they are even mentioned much less so raucously celebrated by the psalmist. YHWH is described as a groundskeeper who waters the grass and the flowers so they grow. When is the last time I even noticed, much less praised a groundskeeper? YHWH is the caretaker at the zoo who makes his rounds at the crack of dawn ensuring that all of the animals are fed. When is the last time I ever even gave a thought to the person who rises early to care for the animals at my local zoo?

Yet, the psalmist reminds us, YHWH’s delight is not in what his creatures can do for him. He needs no cavalry (strength of the horse) or infantry (legs of a man) to advance his cause. What does bring YHWH pleasure is the pleasure we experience when we suddenly wake up to his presence in the monotony of living. That is to say that YHWH takes pleasure in those who fear him. Once again, this expression is so easy to misunderstand. The psalmist is NOT saying that YHWH delights in his ability to make his frail human creatures cower before him. Rather, the psalmist is saying that YHWH is delighted by those who are in awe of YHWH’s attention to detail, those who recognize his presence and activity in the ordinary, mundane, day to day blessings we tend to take for granted.

First of all, when we slow down long enough to recognize that YHWH is somehow discernible in the growing grass and the care of creatures, we are reminded that no task is beneath YHWH. He models divine humility in his willingness to water lawns, take out the trash, and feed the animals. YHWH did not create Adam to do these tasks FOR him, YHWH created Adam to do these tasks WITH him. If no task is beneath YHWH then of course no task is beneath me. YHWH invites me to join him in the lowliness of service to plants and animals, widows and orphans, paupers and prisoners.

Second of all, I am convicted that I spend entirely too much time waiting for some earthshattering spiritual experience, some ecstatic vision, to be taken up to the third heaven where I can hear things that are unrepeatable on earth. While waiting for these things I miss all of the micro-theophanies exploding all around me just waiting for acknowledgement, just waiting to bless me with a renewed sense of God’s presence and love. Reading this psalm reminds me of Brother Lawrence who called himself the “lord of all pots and pans.” This amazing mystic spent his entire life in the completion and repetition of the most mundane tasks imaginable – repairing monks’ sandals and washing dishes. Yet, in these potentially mind-numbing tasks, Brother Lawrence sensed God’s presence and pleasure. Brother Lawrence had joined YHWH in YHWH’s daily grind, in the midst of redundancy and routine and he found in these task constant spiritual renewal. This is a discipline a desperately need to learn!


Give me eyes to see you in the growing grass and the well-fed creatures all around me. Thank you that no task is beneath you. Grant that I can participate in your humility so that no task will be beneath me either. Lord Jesus, thank you for embodying this divine humility in your willingness to wash feet, subject yourself to a corrupt human court, and bear its misplaced penalty all so that we could know that you are with us in simplicity, monotony, and even in gross miscarriages of justice for the sake of gradually and gently righting all wrongs while losing as few of us as possible in the process. Holy Spirit, cultivate in me the fear of YHWH that senses the divine presence in the most ordinary, mundane things so that all of life can be extraordinary. So that the mere act of breathing, living, and participating in existence is itself spiritual ecstasy.