1 Praise the LORD!
Praise, O servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD!
2 Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore!
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the LORD is to be praised!
4 The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
5 Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD! (Psalms 113 ESV)
Our God is an awesome God. We know that. We praise and acknowledge the glory and power and might of God in worship — in word, in song, in feeling.
Why? What is the point of God’s power and might? This psalm tells us — God’s power is to raise the poor from the dust, to elevate them from the place where they have been cast off, discarded, put aside. Where they are not important.
These cast off, discarded people have been raised — to a place of honor among those who rule, among the wealthy.
And those who have no family, no children, no safety, no protection, no one to make a home with — God gives them the children who will care for them, protect them, and make them a home.
When we praise God’s mighty saving acts, especially that primordial act of redeeming captive Israel from Egypt and drowning Pharaoh — who dared compare himself with God as one worthy of being served (עבד) and compelling service — we forget this was God’s act on behalf of a powerless, dispossessed people. A people who could not save themselves, weren’t entirely sure they wanted to be saved, and once redeemed, appeared to regret almost every minute of it.
It’s easy for us, as American Christians, to forget this. Or worse, to think we understand it when we we don’t. Because, generally speaking, we are not a powerless, dispossessed people. (Regardless of what our politics or culture tells us.) We may feel powerless, but we aren’t. Not like Israel was in Egypt. God acts not to confirm the order of the world, an order all too often built on someone’s exclusion or subjugation, but to upend that order, to take those we have crushed and cast aside and raise them to a place of glory and honor. To take those lonely and alone, ignored and unwanted and unprotected, and surround them with children, descendants, with those who love and value them.
This, and this alone, is the point and purpose of God’s power. This alone is what Jesus does on the Cross. And in rising from an empty tomb.