by Rev Hilda Warwick
As we come to chapter 12, you will be glad to know its good news. It’s Israel’s response to the mighty acts of God. It’s an expression of confident hope that in time to come things will be resolved. A hymn of praise that is meant to be voiced aloud in public. Declare means to make known, and make mention means to cause to remember. This is a song that celebrates the end of estrangement, and leads to comfort and quiet trust.
An act of bountiful, determined hope that refuses to give in, to debilitating circumstances. This is an acknowledgement of God’s goodness and generosity. This hymn moves past the place of suffering, in anticipation that God will comfort Israel. Comfort here, refers to the homecoming of the exiles. The God who was angry is now Israel’s great friend, advocate, ally, support and only hope. The second verse contrasts trust and fear. This is unexpected and unmerited goodness.
So what do we see here? God’s final act is not wrath but comfort.
So what is this passage really saying? It’s a statement of faith in God’s power to overcome evil, by sending a royal Saviour to establish a worldwide kingdom of peace and justice. Israel is comforted by visions of hope, where here salvation is the key word. Notice too that salvation is something that comes first and foremost from God. The themes are trust and faith, where salvation here refers to an act of divine intervention on behalf of justice. What can we learn? This is an invitation to be ready to praise. But notice here, that praise begins, before we see the final outcome. Is that not often how God works? He invites us to praise before we find ourselves on the other side of difficulty. But the message is one of hope that things in time will be resolved through God’s goodness and generosity. This is a hymn that causes Israel to remember the wonders and works of God amongst His people. It can be translated, shout aloud in great joy. This is for the people who returned from captivity. The anger of God that led to the dispersal, now turns to grace leading to their re-gathering.
However it’s also a message of hope for us. The God of all comfort meets us, in times of difficulty, inviting us to look past the place of suffering, and remain hopeful that He too will meet us in His faithfulness, with joy on the other side. We also have the hope of salvation that leads us to confident faith and trust in God who has made forgiveness available to all, as we embrace His promises. This stuff is truly life changing.
What better reason to turn to God in praise, a hymn of hope, thanksgiving and celebration.
Heavenly Father, may we be reminded that in the darkest of times, you bring us to the other side. Help us to always be the ones who come back to express our gratitude at your grace and generosity that the world might come to know the One we have come to trust, for every detail of our lives.