147:1 Praise the LORD,
for it is good to sing praises to our God!
Yes, praise is pleasant and appropriate!
147:2 The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem,
and gathers the exiles of Israel.
147:3 He heals the brokenhearted,
and bandages their wounds.
147:4 He counts the number of the stars;
he names all of them.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem – ‘All people are under God’s care; but he has a particular regard to his church. This is the signet on his hand, as a bracelet on his arm; this is his garden which he delights to dress; if he prunes it, it is to purge it; if he digs about his vine, and wounds the branches, it is to make it beautiful with new clusters, and restore it to a fruitful vigour.’ (Charnock, Existence and Attributes of God, I, 406f)
He gathers the exiles of Israel – Charnock points out that all great deliverances are to be ascribed to God, whatever the human instrumentality might be. The great deliverance from Babylon is not to be ascribed to Cyrus, or Darius, but to the Lord. It is he who promised it; it is he who performs it. Not by human might or power, but by God’s Spirit.
‘How those returned exiles must have rejoiced as they witnessed the upraising of their dearly-loved capital from its ruins!’ (Lockyer) Likewise, God gathers his elect from the four corners of the world to build a Jerusalem that none can destroy, Mt 24:31; Jn 11:52.
He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds – he has done the work of a skilful surgeon. ‘Man’s misery is the fittest opportunity for God to make his mercy illustrious in itself, and most welcome to the patient.’ (Charnock)
He determines the number of the stars – It is no wonder that God calls together the exiles, and gathers them from all corners, since he counts the stars and calls them each by name (i.e. he knows their individual characteristics). How far beyond our knowledge is God’s! Gen 15:5; Jer 33:22. God’s people be may be numerous as the stars; they may shine brightly in this world, or be hid by impenetrable clouds, but God knows them all. ‘As he can do what is above the power of man to perform, so he understands what is above the skill of man to discover.’ (Charnock)
147:5 Our Lord is great and has awesome power;
there is no limit to his wisdom.
147:6 The LORD lifts up the oppressed,
but knocks the wicked to the ground.
147:7 Offer to the LORD a song of thanks!
Sing praises to our God to the accompaniment of a harp!
147:8 He covers the sky with clouds,
provides the earth with rain,
and causes grass to grow on the hillsides.
147:9 He gives food to the animals,
and to the young ravens when they chirp.
147:10 He is not enamored with the strength of a horse,
nor is he impressed by the warrior’s strong legs.
147:11 The LORD takes delight in his faithful followers,
and in those who wait for his loyal love.
147:12 Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
147:13 For he makes the bars of your gates strong.
He blesses your children within you.
147:14 He brings peace to your territory.
He abundantly provides for you the best grain.
147:15 He sends his command through the earth;
swiftly his order reaches its destination.
147:16 He sends the snow that is white like wool;
he spreads the frost that is white like ashes.
147:17 He throws his hailstones like crumbs.
Who can withstand the cold wind he sends?
147:18 He then orders it all to melt;
he breathes on it, and the water flows.
147:19 He proclaims his word to Jacob,
his statutes and regulations to Israel.
147:20 He has not done so with any other nation;
they are not aware of his regulations.
Praise the LORD!