4Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
7 When you, God, went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
8 the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
9 You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
10 Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.
The context of this psalm most commentators agree is the procession of the ark of the covenant to the temple in Jerusalem. The ark represented God’s image and invisible presence. He also celebrates the victories God gave to Israel as it escaped slavery in Egypt. David lifts up the transcendence of God who rides on the clouds, shakes the earth, and pours down rain from heaven.
But I think the most poignant aspect of this psalm is even in His greatness God cares for the poor, the widows, and orphans. He is the ultimate combination of strength and compassion. God brought down the high and mighty and gave grace to the humble. God often used the weak to bring down the strong. In providing for all the people, God provided for the poor.
Jesus and the incarnation of God, was also a model of strength and tenderness. He was the powerful “Lion of Judah” and the innocent “Lamb of God”. Ultimately Jesus showed his strength by willingly laying down his life for the all of us who were impoverished in spirit. Paul picked up on this in Corinthians when he says, “I will boast in my weakness, because in my weakness God is shown to be strong.”
So, what does this mean for us? As Christ followers, Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow Him daily. To take up our cross means to die to pride and selfishness and serve the least and the lost. Of all people, Christians should be most concerned about the downtrodden and those who have no rights. The unborn, children and women in slavery, and elders who are being abused.