Today, Sunday July 23
“Who Is So Great a God as Our God”
“Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples.
You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
The waters saw You, O God; The waters saw You, they were afraid; The depths also trembled. The clouds poured out water; The skies sent out a sound; Your arrows also flashed about. The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; The lightnings lit up the world; The earth trembled and shook. Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, And Your footsteps were not known.
You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
The Babylonians, with their mighty army are on their way to destroy Israel and city of Jerusalem. Jeremiah was prophesying and telling the people to surrender, or they would all die. It is during this time that Asaph, the worship leader, is writing this Psalm. Asaph begins this Psalm in the despair of darkness and is praying (vv. 1-2) and is sharing how he feels. You get a real sense of his mood when you read the first nine verses of this Psalm.
Asaph is tossing and turning all night long in his bed and can’t sleep thinking about his circumstances, but finally, by an act of will, he decides to abandon his stinking thinking and begins to meditate on God and His greatness. You can’t help but notice the pronouns suddenly change from "I" and "my" to "You" and "Your," referring to the Lord. When we look at our circumstances, we focus on ourselves and see no hope, but when we look by faith to the Lord, our circumstances may not change but we do. Asaph didn't completely solve his problems, but he did move out of the shadows of doubt into the sunshine of communion with the Lord and confidence in Him.
I can’t remember where I read it, but I’ll never forget this quote: “It is not so much that prayer changes things, but that prayer changes me, and I change things.” And prayer and communion with God can especially change the way I am thinking about the circumstances surrounding me.
“Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples.” First, Asaph looked up by faith and rejoiced in the greatness of God (vv. 13-15). He realized that God's ways are always holy, that He is a great God, and that His purposes are always right. See Exodus 15:11, 13, 14, and 16.
Then Asaph looked back to Israel's exodus from Egypt and the Red Sea crossing (Ex. 12-15) for proof of the grace and power of the Lord. Would God have bared His mighty arm to redeem Israel only for their destruction? No! These are the descendants of Jacob whose twelve sons founded the twelve tribes of Israel. These are the brethren of Joseph, whom God sent to Egypt to preserve the nation. Why preserve them if He planned to destroy them?
The Exodus account says nothing about a storm, although it does mention a strong wind (Ex. 14:21). Some think that verses 17-18 possibly refer to creation rather than to the Exodus, and creation does magnify God's power and glory. Or Asaph could be remembering after Israel left the Red Sea they went to Mt. Sinai where there was thundering and lightning and the earth trembling when God gave the law to Moses.
Asaph looked back, and as believers, we look back to Calvary, where the Lamb of God gave His life for us. If God the Father did not spare His own Son for us, will He not give us everything else that we need (Rom. 8:32)? There is a wonderful future for the people of God!
Finally, Asaph realized afresh that the Lord was the Shepherd of Israel (v. 20; see Psalm 74:1; 78:52, 70-72; 79:13; 80:1). Just as He called Moses and Aaron (Num. 33:1) and David (Psalm 78:70-72) to lead His flock, so He would appoint other shepherds in the years to come. One day, the Good Shepherd would come and give His life for the sheep (John 10).
Asaph had some struggles during this difficult period in his life, but in the end, he knew he could trust the Lord to work out everything for good, and like an obedient sheep, he submitted to the Shepherd. That is what we must do.