Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2 Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8 they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!
My mother grew up in rural Iowa, on a farm. Born in the height of the Great Depression, often her family was on the edge of solvency. One summer, she remembers, her mother had one dollar of disposable income. My mother knew this because she got sick that summer, and her mother used that dollar to buy a thermometer to see if she needed to go to the doctor or not. But every day they went out to the garden or to the “cave” where they stored their produce, and they gathered something to eat. Their cows produced milk. Their chickens gave them eggs. They survived those difficult days well, better than many in fact. They never went hungry; they were on a farm.
Do you see that little line in the middle of this psalm? It seems so out of place. The whole psalm speaks of the mighty works of God, studied by all, full of splendor and majesty. He shows his people his power. But right there, in verse 5, is that little line, God provides food for those who fear him. In the middle of all these high and noble words, the psalmist injects just a little bit of simple and important reality. God feeds people.
Jesus has been born. We can surround that event with much erudition and poetry. We can sing of its cosmic significance. But today we do well to remember that Jesus became a real little boy. He got hungry and he grew. We know from the Gospels that he wept, he grew weary, and he thirsted. He did not take up the concept of humanity, he took up humanity, the whole of it. For God sent redemption to his people (vs. 9). He did not talk about it, but he did it. He became one of us, running the human race to its bitter end in death and a grave. He did not shrink from any of it. Christmas means that God knows your hunger in whatever form it takes. He sent Jesus.