In this article, we hope to help you see the wonderful character of the God of the Bible, through some of our reflections on Psalm 113. We hope that as we walk through the Psalm, you will learn what it means to meditate (or carefully think over) God’s Word. We also hope you discover that God is worthy of your trust—there is no one like him.
Who Is Like Our God?
In Psalm 113:5-6, the psalmist asks, “Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?” We might read these verses and think God is very distant. And, in a way, he is. He is able to look down both on the heavens and the earth.
The question this Psalm asks is, “Who is like the Lord?” Is there anyone who can look down on heaven and earth, much less “far down”? Not one I can think of! No one else holds a position higher than the one “seated on high.” Saying God is “seated” indicates his Kingship over the whole world.
But after reading these verses, we wonder: As the Lord, the King, looks down on earth, what does he see? What catches his attention? What does he care about?
What (or Who) Catches God’s Eye?
1. He notices the poor and needy.
Psalm 113:7-8 says, “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people” (ESV).
The first thing to catch the Lord’s eye is not what we might expect. He doesn’t first see good people he wants to bless or scoundrels he wants to judge. He sees the poor and the needy.
God tells us in the book of Isaiah, “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15 ESV). God doesn’t just notice the poor and needy—he deigns to dwell with them.
The LORD does not merely notice the poor. This Psalm describes the one seated on high looking far down on the heavens and earth below, in the very next moment “raising the poor” from the dust.
He not only notices the poor, but his heart goes out to them in compassion and he acts upon his feelings. He takes them by their dirty hands and raises them up. God does for needy poor hearts what they cannot do for themselves—he lifts them out of the ashes and draws them away from the heap altogether.
Ash and dust do not revolt this King—neither do those who sit in it. Their state makes him seek them out. It inspires his affections. He does not merely give the poor his hand, he then leads them to sit with princes (Psalm 113:8).
So the King gets to decide who belongs to his kingdom and what status they have. He doesn’t just see the poor, pursue the poor, touch the poor, he also takes them by the hand and treats them like they’re not poor. He not only rescues them from their poverty but also showers on them the riches of his own house.
The poor did nothing for him. Their only qualification to receive his care was being truly, honestly poor. So he showered his love upon them. That’s our God. That’s our King.
2. He notices the barren woman.
The Lord turns his gaze from the poor in Psalm 113 to another person—the barren woman. “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 113:9 ESV). The Lord turns to someone who is poor in heart, hurting where few people may understand or even see.
Barrenness is often accompanied by deep sorrow. It’s the grief of lost dreams, wading through unfulfilled longing, full of hidden shame, the strain of always holding out hope, feeling like you’re not enough. It’s a place of deep emotional turmoil that might be masked to onlookers by many other blessings (1 Samuel 1:8).
This sort of pain is often hidden in the hearts of women—and their husbands. Though many may know their circumstance, none know the depths of their pain (Proverbs 14:10). But God, who sees the heavens and the earth from on high, sees straight into such hearts.
It’s this woman that he takes a special interest in. He knows her heart; it is bare before him. He sees; he understands. And our King responds. And…
God gives! The King gives her a home and makes her a mother. He who is rich beyond all measure does not withhold from the hurting heart that for which it longs. God is generous and kind, and yet, unlike the poor for whom he did a service, for this poor woman he does a miracle.
God describes himself to us as a person of this kind of tender love, mercy, and grace.
The Poor in Spirit Have God’s Eye
The poor in spirit have the eye of the King. They have his attention. And if they have his attention, they will soon have his intervention. Our King does not fear dust, nor ash, nor barrenness, nor blood. He is drawn to our pain and grief so that he might redeem it.
Philippians 2 says of Jesus that he “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” He came to us; he became like us, “and being found in human form he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Psalm 113:6-8). It’s because of this loving act that God has given Jesus the highest name and the highest throne (Philippians 2:9).
Friend, do you want to experience God near to you and not far away? It’s not our dirt and weakness and spiritual bankruptcy that turn him away; it is our self-sufficiency. Only acknowledge how poor you are and he will come running. Or look inside the frame of Scripture and see there drawn in blood the picture of your King on the cross, who was lifted up, so he might lift you out of your dust.
“Who is like the Lord our God?” Nobody. Run to him today in faith (Luke 15).