He raises the poor out of the dust

He raises the poor out of the dust” Psalm cxiii.7

The most exalted Yahweh is “high above the nations; his glory is higher than the heavens” (v 4). Yet, He is mindful of the most despised and needy among his creatures. “He raises the poor out of the dust and lifts the needy from the garbage pile in order to seat them with nobles – with the nobles of His people.” A reminder of this “divine condescension” is bound to stir up worship especially in all those who profited from His bounty. No wonder the Psalmist invites God’s people to worship this ‘humble’ God who “stoops to look down at heaven and earth!”  (v 6).

Who can be as lowly as the poor among us? Man was created to be co-regents with God on earth, to be stewards of God’s wealth. When he is incapacitated by poverty, he is brought lower than the beasts of the field. To make matters worse, the lofty-minded nobility of this world grind the faces of the poor in the dust.

It is no secret that the God of the Bible – the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – has a special place in His heart for the poor and the needy. The Hebrew Scriptures have numerous examples of God’s concern for the underprivileged and marginalized sections of society. God’s laws given to Israel made it mandatory for His people to liberally share resources with the poor. The New Testament too places a premium on “remembering the poor” (Galatians ii. 10). In fact, one of the litmus tests of genuine Christian spirituality is a pro-active concern for those who cannot escape the clutches of poverty (James i. 27). God’s concern for the poor goes beyond our occasional tossing of a coin to a beggar. Not only will He meet the needs of the poor but He also exalt them from the garbage pile to the rarefied strata of nobility.

Many Christians might delight in the possibility of such divinely mediated social and economic upward mobility. It is interesting to see how the Psalmist includes another kind of “upward mobility” in this psalm alongside the other more popular blessings–“He gives the childless woman a household, making her the joyful mother of children.” Besides offering comfort to those struggling to conceive and bear children, this passage challenges popular misconceptions regarding motherhood.  In an age when many do not consider children a blessing; when women are seldom portrayed as ‘joyful mothers;’ when motherhood is seen as a necessary evil or a burdensome option that ought to be shunned or postponed, we should allow God’s word to recalibrate our value systems.

Hallelujah! The psalm begins and ends with a call to praise the eternal God, Yahweh. Let’s worship the most exalted One who cares about the least among us.