The Wonder of Forgiveness
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
slow to anger and of great kindness. Psalm 145:8
Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Putin the Great. Charlemagne. Otto the Great, Frederick the Great. Alfred the Great. Michael or LeBron, Brady or Rodgers: the greatest(s) of all time. People are saying this is the greatest list you have ever seen in your life. Bigly.
I am wary of “greatness” these sick and warring days. I would rather exalt grit, patience, humility.
So on first read, the opening of Psalm 145 seems more “Hallelujah Chorus” than I’m ready for: “I will exalt you, O God my king, and bless your name….” For how long? “Forever and ever.” For how many verses? At least seven. It seems the psalmist has found the dial that goes all the way to eleven. I want to know why.
And there it is, in verses 8 and 9. Looks like somewhere the psalmist’s people did something like … fudge a number, spread a rumor, abide injustice, poison a creek, ignore a stranger, not think it through, unleash a war. Full stop. All have sinned and have fallen short of the full greatness and glory of God. Even the “great” and especially me. But God is surpassingly rich in love.
The love is freely given “to all who call upon him faithfully.” The praise sandwich — two thick slices of exaltation surrounding a compassionate core — starts to taste pretty good. Why wouldn’t I lift my voice and sing? “My mouth” is joined with “all.”
The greatness of the Lord — the grandeur of the psalm — is brought to earth. We exalt not only the greatness of creation but the wonder of forgiveness. The songs that are lifted to “let all the world in every corner sing” start with “this little Babe.”
Gracious God, lift up those who are bowed down, give them their food in due season, and let them sing your praises. Amen.