Week of September 19

Are You Praise Fit?

Read: Ezekiel 38-39; Psalm 145; Revelation 20
“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.”
Psalm 145:3, ESV


“Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below” is the opening line to the Doxology. The church of my childhood had a wonderful pipe organ the sound of which filled the sanctuary. The congregation sang the words to this liturgical expression of praise, and I recall the glorious harmony I heard from those worshipers. However, I do not recall—I very likely was not paying attention— being taught specifically how to praise the Lord each moment of every day. The theme of Psalm 145 is praise for the “Great King,” and the psalmist teaches us today how to offer our praise to God throughout our daily lives.

Let's See What the Bible Says

The Psalm’s Beautiful Structure
Psalm 145 is a hymn of praise to God. It is written as an acrostic with each line of the hymn beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet (EBC; NAC). This style of writing could well have been used to aid with memorization, but it is likely demonstrating a totality of praise to the Lord (NAC). We will notice quickly that the psalmist alternates between “exclamation” of praise (vv. 1-2, 4-7, 10-12, 21) and description of God’s goodness (3, 8-9, 13-20; Handbook).

Structurally, the psalm offers us a way to give God our praise. The poets among us will be interested to know that the psalmist uses an A-B-A-B rhythmic structure. All this careful effort indicates the writer’s determined purpose to express his sincere devotion to the Lord. On the one hand, we may praise Him for His Kingship (vv. 1-3 and vv. 10-13a). On the other hand, we may praise Him for His faithfulness (vv. 4-9 and vv. 13b-21). Either way, we should praise Him with full hearts! Here is how to offer God our consistent praise.
Use the Psalm to Build a Life of Praise
Start your day by praising God for His “covenant loyalty.” If we aim to offer proper worship, then we dare not miss the object of our worship—God, our King (v. 1). The psalmist uses several synonyms for his tribute: “exalt,” “praise,” and “extol” (vv. 1-2). Time and time again God showed that He was faithful even when Israel was rebellious, and He does the same with us. We must make the connection between the God who is perpetually faithful and the call for His people to praise Him in a similar manner, or our praise will be too thin (vv. 1-2; “forever and ever”; EBC). Here is a clue to sustaining thick (meaningful) praise. The “name” of God serves to remind us of His faithfulness to the covenant that He has with us (v. 2). This type of praise is called for because this personal God’s greatness is always apparent (v 3).

Look for signs of God’s greatness throughout your day (vv. 3-20). The older generation bears the responsibility to teach each new generation how to praise God unceasingly. Our often-paltry vocabulary of praise may be strengthened by attaching the words the psalmist uses to describe the Lord: “mighty acts” of deliverance (v. 4, 12; 106:2), “glorious splendor” (v. 5, 12), “wondrous works” (v. 5), “awesome deeds” (v. 6, 12), “greatness” (v. 6), “abundant goodness” (v. 7), “righteousness” (v. 7, 17), “gracious and merciful,” “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" (v. 8), and “good to all” (v. 9). Then, we may take each of these characteristics and link them daily to the ways that God shows us His faithfulness.

Offer Him thankful praise for His acts of goodness (vv. 7-9). Each generation expresses the goodness of God and the praise “bubbles up like a fountain” (lit. “testimony”). God does something extraordinary. His mercy causes the worshipers to respond to Him (vv. 8). His greatness is evident in the compassion that He offers to all. God so loved the world that He gave (v. 9)!

Let's Deepen Our Walk

One of my great regrets in life that has followed me throughout my lifetime is my decision to stop taking piano lessons. I sing heart songs to the Lord throughout the day, but I wish more than anything that I were able to play what I hold in my inner being. I had a wonderful piano teacher who consistently encouraged me to practice because I would benefit from that leaned skill throughout my life. I truly believe that many of you wish to give voice to your own heart songs of praise, but you have never been taught how to do so.

Here are some thoughts for our spiritual growth in praise! First, God is a saving God, so use the words of this psalm to verbalize your praise for His saving work in your life (cf. v. 4, “mighty acts”). Ponder this statement: God stooped down and entered His world not only in all that we see around us but in the redemption that has taken place within us! Secondly, God is a creating God, so be intentional with your praise whenever you see God’s power in a beautiful sunrise or sunset and a mountain scene or ocean waves (v. 5, “wondrous works”). God’s wondrous acts reveal “his perfections”: fidelity (Psalm 89:5), love (Psalm 107:8), and grace and compassion (111:4-5; EBC). God is a world-changing God (v. 7). Our world cries out for justice, so point to the just God who governs our world in righteousness. Plutarch once said, “poetry is painting that speaks.” The writer of our psalm paints a poetic picture of God that moves beyond the words themselves to touch our souls, so praise Him!

Let's Think and Discuss

1. Fitness training has become a national obsession. We are bombarded with media messages to get in shape and to stay that way! Great energy and expense is given to maintaining a healthy body. The psalmist calls us to offer our praise with equal fervor. Are you “praise fit”? If not, then begin today in the ways outlined above to offer your praise to God.

2. For Families: Begin a conversation at supper this week by asking the family what beautiful thing they saw that God made new. A new sunrise or sunset? A new flower where there was none before? A new calf in the pasture born this week? A magnificent display of colors in the rain-clouds? As you bow your heads, compliment God on His artistry and praise Him for this love gift to our hearts! We could live in a black and white world, but instead, the God of the Universe displays His love to us in living colors and delights our souls with beauty.

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock