July 22, 2018
READ: Psalm 111
PRAY: That God may open his Word to us by the power of His Spirit. That we may grow in our knowledge and love of Jesus. That we may share this joy in all our lives and to those around us.
We all like to be praised, to be told, “well done”, or just “I love you”. Praise done rightly, is a declaration of something true and beautiful. Psalm 111 is a classic song of praise to God’s eternal, immutable, loving and true attributes. Sometimes, such songs of praise seem repetitive, perhaps even unnecessary. After all, does God really “need” us to tell him about who He is? Of course, He is everlasting, He’s God. However, praise is something that affects both the giver and the recipient of that praise. Psalm 111 has much to teach us on this question, and challenges us to apply our praise in several specific ways.
First, the truth about the Living God is not something we are to simply hide away in private. The thanks the psalmist gives is one given “in the company of the upright, in the congregation” (v.1). So often we keep these truths inside, timid to share, shout, or sing them publicly.
Secondly, in our culture, often if a church repeats the same songs, or prayers, or words in general we are told, well that’s just ritual, mindless and pointless. Of course, if it is truly is mindless, then I suppose it could be pointless, but the reason for declaring God’s praise again and again is a simple one, we are a forgetful people. Time and time again the Bible tells stories of God’s people forgetting who God is and “doing what was righteous in their own eyes.” To understand the purpose of this rhythm of praise, just see how many times in the Bible we are told to “remember”, in word and in action. Psalm 111 emphasizes the importance of remembering (v. 2, 4, 5, 8). It is also the very basis of the Lord’s Supper that we do it in “remembrance”. Why, because if don’t, we will forget.
Lastly, our happiness, our joy in life, all wisdom and understanding, begin with a thankful heart full of praise to God. “His praise endures forever” is because who God is cannot be hidden. In so many ways it is God’s endurance, the eternal nature of His works (v2), His righteousness (v3), His mercy and grace (v4), His promises (v5), and the redemption of his people (v9), that is so incredible and awesome to consider. When we do fall into a state of forgetfulness, God’s promises remain. Whenever we forsake His people, God’s people remain.
Yet, to really see the incredible uniqueness of God’s love that “endures forever” we have no further than to compare it to the frailty of our own. There is a lot a talk in our culture about the bountiful potential of a positive, self-fulfilling human nature. But it doesn’t take long when looking around to see how many times this journey ends in tragedy. For me, the words from a song I wrote my daughter when she was born, sums up the thought for me.
They’ll say, finding yourself, being true to yourself,
Loving yourself, for how special you are
Will make you happy ever after, will make you beautiful
But I must confess, it’s just not true, it’s not hope to find you’re you.
But it’s hope to find you’re His, the one who was cut, but now still lives
With roots so deep creation sprung, right from His mouth, right from His tongue.
And grafted in, we can be our roots placed deep, within his tree.
Now hope is no more a fleeting thing, like when all I had was myself to please.
- Michael Strickland
I will praise the Lord with all my heart
in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.
2 The Lord’s works are great, studied by all who delight in them.
3 All that he does is splendid and majestic; his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered. The Lord is gracious and compassionate.
5 He has provided food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works by giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are truth and justice; all his instructions are trustworthy.
8 They are established forever and ever, enacted in truth and in uprightness.
9 He has sent redemption to his people. He has ordained his covenant forever.
His name is holy and awe-inspiring.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructions have good insight.
His praise endures forever.