John D. Barry
Psalm 148 is cosmic in scope and comforting in message. It’s a depiction of how Yahweh brought order to chaos in the very beginning. Yahweh put the heavens, heights, angels, hosts (His armies), sun, moon, stars, and waters in their place—each a sign of His rule over the universe (Psa 148:1–5). Yahweh rules over the elements commonly depicted as gods in the ancient Near East; He rules over the symbols of chaos. And this cosmic depiction is comforting.
The version of the creation story we typically hear tells how things came to be, which is good. But when the story is cast like it is in Psa 148—where we see God as ruler and Lord over chaos—the message moves beyond an intellectual knowledge. If God rules over chaos, and has since the beginning, He can bring order to the chaos in our own lives. For this reason, the psalmist praises Yahweh both for His creation and for His work in his own life.
The end of Psa 148 further reveals Yahweh’s intimate work with the worshiper: The psalmist declares Yahweh praiseworthy because “he has raised high a horn [the symbol of strength] for his people … for the children of Israel, a people close to him” (Psa 148:14). Yahweh’s work in creation proves that He is the most worthy partner in adverse situations. When things get tough, Yahweh will come through.
Sadly, the message of God’s provision for us has become so cliché that it’s easy for us to take for granted. Perhaps that’s why it’s the central message of so many biblical books. For example, when Jude prays for protection for believers, he calls out to Jesus—dedicating his message to Him and His work (Jude 17–25). In doing so, Jude uses the words that would have traditionally conjured up images of God’s work in either creation or war—both of which parallel psalms like Psa 148. Jude declares that Jesus deserves “glory, power, and authority” (Jude 25) because He is the “savior” of people and the universe, both of which Yahweh created (Jude 24). Jesus is the one who came to earth to win the battle against chaos.
Next time things seem to get rough, try replacing the cliché of “God is in control” with “God is Lord over chaos.” The tense here is important. God isn’t trying to be Lord—He is Lord. When God spoke, the chaos was subdued. Likewise, when God speaks truth into our lives, the chaos in our lives is subdued. Through Christ’s work, we have the opportunity for this intimate relationship with God. Through Christ’s efforts in us, we can become people who act with Him to subdue chaos.
What chaos do you need God to subdue today?
This article was originally published in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.