North Korea made news recently for a reported nuclear bomb test that was picked up on seismic monitors. The country remains isolated by a totalitarian government that all but vanquishes any influence of religion, especially Christianity.
Yet, out of this Gospel-needy nation, it was reported a few years ago that some North Koreans who were refugees got saved and then returned to the persecution of their country so they could be witnesses for Christ.
What would motivate them to go back? They have discovered the praise-worthiness of God.
In Psalm 113, we see two characteristics about God:
1. Nothing is too great for God.
One of the ways we know that God is sovereign over the nations is that He exercises sovereign control over them (v. 4). He birthed the nation of Israel in Egypt, delivered them, and then planted them in Canaan. It wasn’t because of the Israelites’ wit that they were delivered from slavery—it was God’s sovereignty.
God’s glory is so high that even though we strain upward to try to see all of the heavens, God stoops down to see the farthest galaxy (v. 6). God’s transcendent power and His height above the heavens means not that He is merely far away, but that He stands in judgment over both heaven and earth. His power is incomprehensible (Isa. 40:18).
With the mountains of water that are released by any given tsunami, imagine what kind of God it is that created this whole planet. He must be a God who is unspeakably powerful and who is exalted over the heavens. As the one enthroned in heaven, He will judge us according to how we’ve lived our lives. Friend, He knows everything about your life, your thoughts, and your motives. We’re each personally accountable to this God, not only because He created us and, therefore, owns us, but because He created us in His image to display His own likeness to the universe.
When we consider the height and transcendence of God, the questions that present themselves are:
Can we even know this God? Can He desire to know us?
Psalm 8:4 answer this question and that ties into the second characteristic of God.
2. No one is too small for this God.
We see in verses 7-9 that, even though He’s high and exalted, God loves the broken-hearted and afflicted. No one is too small for this God—not even you or me!
The creator of the universe not only looks down, but humbled Himself and took on human flesh and came to earth to reveal Himself (v. 6). God stooped very low and came down to reveal His father and save the poor and needy. All of us, regardless of our external appearance, are poor and needy. And isn’t it interesting and noteworthy that Psalm 113:7 says, “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.”
Friend, identify yourself as one of the poor and needy. God has always acted this way with His people. Joseph is a good example (Gen. 37-50). He was raised up out of jail and seated with princes. God takes the lowly and broken-hearted and raises them up. He’ll do the same for you.
An illustration of God’s compassion for His people is blessing a barren woman with a child. Hannah was blessed with a son and then praised God in I Samuel 2:1-8. We are all like Hannah—desperately needy for God.
You may be struggling today with childlessness, over fear with the children you do have, over your career, or over your singleness. Whatever your struggle is, it’s not so great that God can’t deliver you from it. He will give you more than you’ve even asked for if you trust Him and follow Him in faithfulness.
3. What’s our response to be?
Verse 1 says that we’re to praise the Lord. Because of Christ saving you, you’re now able to live a life marked by praise. Christians are those who’ve been set free from the bondage of the world.
What fuels a life of praise? It’s not our effort, but the greatness of God that is exalted over the heavens, but stoops down to us.
There are three responses appropriate according to Psalm 113:
Total praise – Worship should encompass everything we do, not just a Sunday morning ritual. Living a life of praise doesn’t mean that we’re always happy and living easy lives. Simply see the examples in the Old Testament and Jesus enduring the agony of the cross to that isn’t the case.
True praise – Praise in the name of the Lord. To praise the name of the Lord is to praise Him for who He actually is, not as we’ve fabricated Him to be. We see His divine character supremely revealed in Jesus Christ. Jesus is both infinitely high, yet infinitely humble. He’s both King of kings and Lord of lords and, yet, He condescends to take notice of us. As I am made aware of my lovelessness & self-interest, I praise God for two things: He is not like me & He will one day make me like Him!
Non-Christian, what more could you hope for in a savior? Stop trusting in yourself and start trusting in Him. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Global praise (v. 3) – The name of the Lord is to be praised from the rising of the sun to the place that it sets. To promote global praise, we must take this message to the world, even to those who don’t want to hear it.
Our God reigns supreme. God has the power to overcome the source of your anxiety. Our God is loving and compassionate, especially to the broken-hearted.
And you may think you’ve sinned too much for God to accept you. But our God, who was powerful enough to create the entire universe, has this same power to work on your behalf and to work on your holiness and ultimate happiness in His Gospel.
Nothing is too great for this God, and no one is too small for this God. It was the praise of God that motivated the North Koreans to return to suffering for His sake. You must be motivated by the same thing, as you face trials in the calling God has given you.