By the Company We Keep (Psalm 103:20-22)
Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 22 Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul! —Psalm 103:20-22
George Washington said, “It is better to be alone than in bad company.” He got that from Solomon, who said it first. Proverbs 13:20 instructs us, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” The same idea has been expressed in many ways over time: “A man is measured by the company he keeps,” “You can judge a man’s character by the friends he chooses,” etc.
As David brings this hymn of praise to a close, he turns our attention to the company with which he worships. First, there are angels, the ministering servants of God Most High who, having might and power, use their strength to do God’s word, obeying all God commands. Their efforts are devoted to obedience, and thus they bless the Lord with their lives.
Then, there are the hosts, the ministers, the vast array of heavenly beings whose delight is to manifest the glory of God by acting upon God’s intent, fulfilling His purposes accomplishing in their sphere of influence the nuances of God’s will.
To these are added, noticeably, all the works of God’s hands, in all the places over which He rules. Remember the story of Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6? The time came for the ark of the covenant to be moved from the house of Abinadab to Jerusalem. The people put the ark on a new cart pulled by oxen (instead of carrying it by hand as had been prescribed) and the oxen stumbled along the road. Uzzah, walking beside the cart put out his hand to steady the ark and keep it from tipping over or falling to the ground.
Now God had already made it clear no one was to touch the ark. Ever. For any reason. Uzzah touched the ark. Uzzah probably thought he was being helpful, but the biblical record reveals “the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died beside the ark of God” (2 Samuel 6:7).
There are many insights and applications to be derived form Uzzah’s story, but here is one I often consider. Who was being faithful to God’s creation purpose in the story: Uzzah or the ground upon which the ark might have fallen? Uzzah was acting in disobedience. The ground, however, was doing exactly what God created it to do and be. God created Uzzah for obedience and he was disobedient. God created the ground to be the ground and the ground was obedient to its created purpose. Which blessed the Lord by submitting to God’s dominion, being and doing what it was created to be and do?
So, David writes, “Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion,” and I think of all the created order where God’s purpose is fulfilled by the very existence of what He created, birds being birds, flowers being flowers, dirt being dirt, and I learn something. I learn that God’s glory is manifest and magnified when I am as I was created to be, faithful, obedient, and satisfied with God’s will.
The question then arises, with whom do I keep company? Do I, with the company of angels, use my might to do his word, and thus bless the Lord? Do I, with the company of the hosts and ministers of God delight not merely to know God’s will but to do it? Do I, with the company of creation, manifest the wisdom and sovereignty of His dominion by submission to the purpose and intent for which he created me, which Paul describes to the Ephesian Christians as being “to the praise of His glory,” and which David expresses as “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name?”
What company do you keep in this matter of blessing the LORD?