This is the climax of the semester where the work load reaches a feverish crescendo for both students and faculty, so I post the conclusion to my lecture on Psalm 113. I outlined the psalm thusly: v.1-3 Praise Yahweh: v.4-6 High Above, v.7-9 Far Below. The second stanza is common in our worship but we often have difficulty with praising God for becoming small and insignficant [we are such practical docetists!], yet that is the message of the incarnation which we celebrate at this time of year.
The climax of the psalm comes with the specific history recalled by v.7-9. This is where the high God meets with the poor man who cannot provide for his family and the barren woman who cannot have a family. What is impossible by social custom or human effort is made possible by God. This is the story of Israel and the story of the Bible!
These verses anticipate the “great downward and upward sweep of the Gospel, which was to go even deeper and higher than the dust and the throne of princes – from the grave to the throne of God!” [Derek Kidner] It again illustrates the upside-down nature of God’s ways and God’s power.
God’s glory is not like human glory. “The one who sits enthroned in splendor is known to be peculiarly allied with the broken-hearted, who cannot help themselves” [Isa. 57:15]. [Walter Brueggemann] “God’s glory is equally at home high above the heavens and at the side of one forlorn person.” [Kidner] God’s greatness and majesty is most accurately revealed in his incarnation and death on the cross [Phil.2:6-11]. This is the essence of the Gospel.
I could go on about the implications but I’ll leave that for you to ponder as I did for students.