1 Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed.
2 O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
3 When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!
5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas;
6 the one who by his strength established the mountains,
being girded with might;
7 who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples,
8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
9 You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.
My good friend contracted German measles toward the end of the spring semester and was unable to sit for the final exams. He failed the semester and thought his dream of becoming a pastor had been dashed. He joined the U. S. Army. This was the 1950’s, the height of the Cold War, and he was assigned to an intelligence unit, posted to Ethiopia in eastern Africa. He ran into some Scandinavian missionaries while he was there who were serving a small Lutheran mission. Having the substantial resources of the U. S. Army at his disposal, he secured a copy of a new Jesus film which had recently been produced, got his hands on a generator and a projector, and equipped the missionaries to travel to various villages to show the film. It was the first moving pictures many of these people had ever seen. It had a great impact on many people.
When my friend was there, the Lutheran community in Ethiopia was less than 10,000 people. Today there are more Lutherans in Ethiopia than there are in North America, close to ten million! Read this psalm again. Notice all the spots where it talks about God calling people to himself from the ends of the earth. The psalmist is concerned for the whole of humanity.
My friend got out of the army and used his G. I. Bill to go to the seminary and realize his calling. He once showed me this little truth. If you have a globe at home you can try this, or you can just imagine it. Put a thumbtack in the middle of a piece of string long enough to circle the globe. Put that thumbtack into Jerusalem and, with both hands, evenly pull that string around the globe. Your two hands will meet just off the Pacific coast of the Americas. Move it a little to the north and you will be not far from Portland, Oregon, where I live. From the perspective of the Psalmist, I live about as close to the end of the earth as one can possibly be. Verse 5 says that God answers us with awesome deeds of righteousness. He is the God of our Salvation, the hope of the ends of the earth and the farthest seas. Today it is good to know that even this benighted corner of God’s world has hope in Him.