TODAY’S READING: Psalm 134, 146–150
Picture a classroom of sixth graders. The class teacher is benevolent but in charge, loved and revered by all the students. Some students are popular and some not, some are smart and others struggle, some are jocks, some are nerds, some are outgoing and others shy. In this class sits one girl who doesn’t fit in with her classmates. She sits in the back row. She isn’t very smart. She is poor; her clothes and shoes are worn-out hand-me-downs. She is socially awkward and has no friends. She gets picked on at recess and ignored at lunch. She keeps her head down and slips in and out of school. She is tiny for her age, a misfit with no charisma or talent to ever distinguish her from her peers. She is forsaken, weak, and despised.
At the end of every year this widely loved and feared teacher gives each student a lollipop. The students anticipate the last day of school because that is when the sweet is given and all students receive one. This is more than just a lollipop; it’s a physical token of the teacher’s favor and approval. The mystery is who will hand out the lollipops, for the teacher honors just one in the class by asking them to come forward to receive the large jar stuffed with “lollies” and entrusting that favored, specially chosen student to make sure each classmate received a reward. The chosen student always feels honored, lifted up above their peers for the responsibility and honor of being the distributor of blessing. The lollipops are for all, but the good teacher only selects one student to hand them out.
And thus, God chose Israel. Israel was not chosen because she was strong, wise, big, good, or popular. Israel was the little unpopular girl at the back of history’s classroom, the one God chose as His agent to all peoples of the world. God chose Israel to be His special light to all nations. Imagine what that little girl felt when honored by the teacher and called to the front of the class, entrusted with dispensing the teacher’s reward. Certainly, there was the joy of “I was chosen! I was chosen! I was chosen above all the others!” Certainly, there was the joy of the teacher’s smile, hug, and perhaps a wink. But that little girl could not, dare not, just stand at the front of the class clutching the lollipops to herself, reveling in being chosen. She must turn with a smile toward her peers who only frowned and in the joy and confidence of being chosen walk the aisles to hand out lollipops, saying silently with each look to each classmate who received from her hand: “Let us rejoice together for our teacher is good and mercy endures.”
This is exactly what happens in Psalms 134 and 146 to 150. Little chosen Israel lifts up her voice and says: Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord (134:1); I will sing praise…while I have my being (146:2); the Lord shall reign forever (v. 10); He sends out His command to the earth (147:15); He declares His word to Jacob…He has not dealt thus with any nation (vv. 19–20); praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts (148:2); Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and judges of the earth (v. 11); sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints (149:1); and let everything that has breath praise the Lord (150:6).
Everything that has breath includes all peoples—all peoples will praise Jehovah, the God of Israel. This is the story of the Bible. This is the plan of God. And the wonder for Israel is that weak and small, rejected and poor, ignored and foolish as she was, the great God of heaven smiled down on her, called her to the front of the class, and asked her to hand out His salvation blessings. The Psalms record both joys—the joy of being chosen and the joy of brokering God’s blessings to the uttermost parts of the world.
How foolish it would be for that little sixth grade girl to receive the honor of being chosen, but not act on what she was honored to do. If she would linger at the front of the class clutching all the lollipops to herself, the beneficence of the good teacher would soon turn to rebuke. We, the Israel of God, have been chosen. What delight and wonder! But if we don’t go quickly to Somalia to hand out God’s gospel to the 2.6 million Rahanweyn, we, too, will be rebuked. Let us rather, with all the creation, praise God for being saved and just as joyfully praise Him that He chose us to be missionaries, disbursing His gospel to the unreached peoples of the world.