It’s been chilly, has it not? Six below zero when I checked the weather app on Tuesday morning! And, though it’s been warmer since, it’s still been pretty frigid for the most part! And it got me thinking of the psalmist’s question, quoted above. Here’s a little more of the context, from Psalm 147:
12Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
16 He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He casts forth His ice as fragments;
Who can stand before His cold?
In short, snow, frost, ice, and cold are listed, here, as reasons to “praise the LORD.” In them we should see cause for magnifying our God, rather than for murmuring in our grumpiness; inducements to song, rather than to sourness! And so praise the LORD for these phenomena of winter! Praise Him, for instance, for what the snow has to teach us about His forgiveness (Isaiah 1:18) and His word (Isaiah 55:10-11). Praise Him for His creativity, seen in the beauty of the frost, and in the glory of a tree branch glazed with ice. And praise Him for the mighty power by which He brings these weather events to pass!
Indeed, I think it’s that mighty power that is in view when the psalmist asks, at the end of verse 17, “who can stand before His cold?” How mighty is our God? Well, one example of His power is that He can so drop the temperature (v.17) that the human body cannot long stand before it without substantial help! Yes, with coats, and gloves, and hats, and thick socks we can stand (for a while) before the coldest days of winter. But not on our own. And not even in our normal attire. And all sorts of bad things can happen to us if we try!
And so “who can stand before His cold?” No one!
And when we realize this fact; when we realize that it’s so cold outside that we cannot long stand before it without significant protection, our response should be to recognize the amazing power of the God who sends the cold … and to praise Him for it (v.12)!
When God hems us in with the cold, He is demonstrating that He is God, and that we are not! And we should be thankful that we have a God like that – a God who is actually God; a God who is powerful enough to hem us in; a God before whose power we actually cannot stand! Because the God whose might is potent enough to produce unbearable cold is the same God who also wields that invincible power to protect, provide for, and redeem His people! And we need a God like that, don’t we? Indeed, we wouldn’t have Him any other way!
So praise the LORD that He is so much mightier than we! And remember (and praise Him for!) that glorious reality the next time you find yourself unable to stand before His cold!