Psalm 105 – Starved for Glory

Psalm 105 Bible With Lily's Original Dark Chocolate

Today’s ChocolateLily’s Original Dark Chocolate

Today’s PassagePsalm 105

I’ve noticed that when a psalm enjoins its hearers to worship, it generally gives a reason why. As anyone with a two-year-old can attest, it’s human nature to ask “Why?” and the psalmists know their audience. After all, the psalmists are human beings, too. They’ve asked why God is worth worshipping, and they’ve not only found reasons, but they’ve also found that God doesn’t want people to worship him for no reason. In Psalm 105, the reason of the day is God’s great deeds, as the psalmist states: “Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth” (105:5). Specifically, it’s God’s work in Israel’s history: his covenant with Abraham to give his people the land of Canaan, how he protected them from pagan nations, and how Joseph and Moses were instrumental in God’s fulfillment of his promise.

The intro to the section on Joseph caught my attention. The psalmist recounts: “And [God] called for a famine upon the land; He broke the whole staff of bread. He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave” (105:16-17). And as I read these verses, it hit me: God engineered a famine to provide for Joseph’s meteoric rise to power from prison to Pharaoh’s court. The author of the psalm doesn’t shy away from introducing problems for theodicy. Granted, Egypt was able to weather the famine with reserves from their storehouses. But other nations suffered under the widespread famine (Genesis 41:56-57), including Jacob’s family back in Canaan. Did people starve? It’s reasonable to expect that people starved.

We balk at the slightest sign of suffering, take God to task for allowing the most miniscule discomfort to exist anywhere in time and space; we declare that an all-powerful and all-good God would not permit pain at all. Yet the author of Psalm 105 has no trouble declaring the goodness of a God who provided wealth and prosperity to his chosen people by afflicting entire nations with food shortages. I’m not sure what to make of that, but I note it here to mull over.

Perhaps in time I’ll figure out what it is about God and the world that prompts the psalmist to take this perspective. Until then, I contemplate.

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