Theme: The Goodness of Praise
From this week’s lessons, we see the need for the righteous to praise God continually.
Scripture: Psalm 92:1-15
It is not easy to outline Psalm 92. Some see it as following a chiastic pattern,1 keying on verse 8, which stands alone in the middle of the poem. The pattern would be A, B, C, D, C, B, A, in which the first and seventh stanzas have to do with praising God, the second and sixth with the works of God for which he is to be praised, and the third and fifth with the failure of “senseless” men to praise him. The New International Version has four stanzas, with verse 9 treated as an additional one-line center stanza. However, to judge by the subject matter, the three-part outline Kidner proposes is probably better: 1) Tireless Praise (vv. 1-4); 2) Heedless Arrogance (vv. 5-9); and 3) Endless Vitality (vv. 10-15). I am following that division, but am phrasing the divisions a little differently.
The first verse establishes the theme for the entire psalm, and it is that it is good to praise God. It is elaborated in verses 1-4, which begins: “It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High…”
Why is it good to praise God? There are various ways of answering this question. We might reply that it is good because God declares worship to be good, as he does in this very psalm. The words “it is good” remind us of God’s verdict on his creation found in the first chapter of Genesis (seven times in verses 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). Indeed, the psalm speaks of the created works of God (vv. 5, 6) and may even be reflecting on this first chapter of the Bible. Again, praising God is good because it is good for us. It “makes me [us] glad” (v. 4).
Spurgeon had an interesting way of putting this. He said that praise of God is good “ethically, for it is the Lord’s right,” “emotionally, for it is pleasant to the heart” and “practically, for it leads others to render the same homage.”2
Yet “good” is too weak in this context, for worshiping God is more beneficial than what we usually imply when we use the word “good.” Some writers call the praise of God “salutary” or “delightful.” Luther called it “precious.” He said, probably on more than one occasion, “Come, let us sing a psalm and drive away the devil.” Worshiping God is a glorious, splendid, delightful and most reasonable thing to do.
So let me ask, does the thought of praising God seem boring to you? At least if you are asked to do it more than a brief sixty minutes on Sunday morning? If it does, you should recall that it is for this we were created. The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” It answers: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”
And the enjoyment of God is important also, for the two go together. In fact, our enjoyment of God is expressed in our praise of God, and when we praise God we do indeed enjoy him. If you do not find the worship of God on Sunday (or at any other time) to be enjoyable, it is not because you have come to know God and have found that he is boring. It is because you do not know him much at all. For the more you know him, the more enjoyable the praise of God will be.
1A chiasmus is a rhetorical device, characterized by a reversal in the order of words in two otherwise parallel phrases.
2Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 2b, Psalms 88-110 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1966), p. 116.
How do you outline Psalm 92?
What is praise? Why is it good to praise God? Explain Spurgeon’s definition of praise as ethical, emotional, and practical.
Why do some not find the praise of God enjoyable?
Reflection: Review the answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. How do you glorify and enjoy God in the various aspects of your life, such as in your worship, your relationships, your work, and in your recreation?
Key Point: The more you know him, the more enjoyable the praise of God will be.