God Alone Does Marvelous Deeds (part 1)
Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds – Psalm 72:18
Psalm 72 is a psalm that builds walls to keep me out when I read it. I feel immediately disconnected from what it is saying. The words are all about the king: praising him and praying for him. When I read these words, I am unsure of what to do with them. How does this connect with my real life today?
The psalmist sings to God grand blessings over the leader of the nation: may he be just and righteous, may he bring prosperity, may he rescue the poor and defenseless, may he bring peace, may his foes bow before him, and so on. I suppose we could transpose these blessings onto our national or state leaders, but it feels like doing so is a stretch.
But as the distance between us and this psalm appears to increase, a marvelous statement appears. The psalmist comes to grip with a striking truth. All of his prayers for and praise of the king remind him of something else. No king can do all of these things. Even a good king will struggle with doing them. We need only look at the life of David. Being ‘just and righteous’ seems a far cry from adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. The history of the kings of Judah and Israel chronicles mild human successes and massive human failures. All the wonderful things that a leader can offer are not always so easily realized. Leaders fail. And a leader’s successes oftentimes seem few and far between.
And so, the psalmist switches focus from the human king to the King of kings. He stops praising a man and starts praising God. “Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds” (vs. 18). God alone does marvelous deeds. When good things happen, the psalmist writes, we can trace them back not to a human leader but ultimately to God. The Apostle James restates this when he writes: “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). God is the source of all good that we know. God is unchanging. Are we looking for a human leader to provide all that we need? Don’t hold your breath. When our leaders’ success comes, we do well to trace the goodness back to its original source in God.
I am a husband to Kelly, father of three boys, a pastor, musician, avid hiker, disciple of Christ. Currently, I am employed as the Senior Pastor at Eastbrook Church in Milwaukee, WI. Before that I was the Associate Pastor at Brooklife Church in Mukwonago, WI, which I helped to plant a few years ago after serving for five years as the Collegiate Ministries Pastor at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, WI. I graduated with a Masters in Divinity from Northern Theological Seminary and a Bachelors in English and Christian Education from Wheaton College (IL).