“No one can be compared to God, enthroned on high!
He stoops down to look upon the sky and the earth.
He promotes the poor, picking them up from the dirt,
and rescues the needy from the garbage dump.
He turns paupers into princes and seats them
on their royal thrones of honour.
God’s grace provides for the barren ones a joyful home with children
so that even childless couples find a family.
He makes them happy parents surrounded by their pride and joy.
That’s the God we praise, so give it all to him!”
Psalms 113:5-9 TPT
I’ve opened up Psalm 113 this morning, using the Passion Translation. It’s a Psalm that starts with the praise of God, “from sunrise-brilliance to sunset-beauty”. And it continues with how God “stoops down to look upon the sky and the earth”. The Psalmist highlights the poor, the needy and childless parents, the least favoured in the society of his day because he knows God has compassion for them. In fact, the Psalmist says that God “promotes”, “rescues”, “turns” and “makes”, all action words describing what God does for them. So we have read this Psalm and are about to leave it, feeling a warm glow of gratitude for our wonderful God, when this problematic thought lands – how many times had the Psalmist seen a poor person, one who was dirt-poor, hanging desperately onto life by rummaging in a garbage dump, and all of a sudden finding themselves “sitting on a royal throne of honour”? How many times had the Psalmist seen a childless woman have children? But on top of all that, when have we, in the 21st Century, many years after this Psalm was written, seen paupers becoming princes, or the childless having a family? Because even today, with all our societal and medical prowess, we find that there are still poor people rummaging in garbage dumps and there are still childless couples, in spite of amazing medical advances with IVF. At this point, we might walk away perplexed by a situation that seems to be elevating God to a place where He is praised for things He hasn’t done.
And then we realise – there are two kingdoms – the earthly kingdom and the Kingdom of God. And from the latter, God looks into our world, with compassion and love, His heart breaking when He sees the life-challenges and agony that some people are enduring. Of course He is able to perform miracles because he is all-powerful, but in our Godless world, riven with a lack of faith, where He is rejected by those who deny that He even exists, in a world blighted by sin, His opportunities are limited by our choices. Even Jesus was constrained on one occasion from doing many miracles by the people’s lack of faith (as we read in Matthew 13:58). But nevertheless, God’s love for mankind knows no bounds and so He offers the opportunity for us all to translate from being a pauper in the world’s kingdom to being a prince in His Kingdom.
We all have this invitation. We all have this opportunity. By repenting of our sins, looking in faith at Jesus, God’s Son, acknowledging who He is and what He has done for us, we can become citizens of the Kingdom of God. We can become princes, royal sons and daughters of the Creator of the Universe. And we can bank our heritage, waiting for the day when we are welcomed into Heaven and shown the “royal throne of honour”.
But what about today? How does this impact the pilgrims like us, trudging through the mud of this world, perhaps wishing that we had some of our eternal benefits in this life now? Well, we do. We may be poor in worldly terms but we are rich in God’s kingdom. We may be paupers in the world’s eyes, but in God’s eyes we are princes. And we have the wonderful presence of God’s Spirit with us regardless of our worldly status. Wherever we are. Wherever we go. But more than that, somehow God’s provision in this life is always available in answer to our faith-filled prayers. We only have to ask. “That’s the God we praise, so give it all to him!”