Theme: Three Important Statements
In this week’s lessons, we see that God’s goodness is shown by his works, and that true wisdom comes from knowing and fearing him.
Scripture: Psalm 111:1-10
Today we look at three important things about this introduction. First, the psalmist says that he is going to praise God himself. He wants other people to do this too, and the bulk of the psalm will give them some good reasons for extolling God and tell them how. But he is not asking others to do something he himself is not doing. If we want other people to praise God, we must praise him first. If we want them to love God, we must love him too. If we want others to serve God, we must serve him. We must set an example.
Second, the writer declares that he is going to praise God “with all my heart.” Some people do not praise God at all, of course. They do not know him at all, and so they cannot praise him. But what is truly surprising is that among those who do know God, who have been introduced to him through Jesus Christ, there is so much half-hearted praise and casual devotion. It is surprising because if God is known at all, he must be known as One who is utterly worthy of our very highest praise. Let’s do away with half-hearted worship, praise and devotion. Instead, let’s determine to praise God with all our heart, as the psalmist does.
Third, he promises to praise God “in the council of the upright and in the assembly.” “Council” probably refers to a small group of the genuinely upright. The assembly is the larger congregation. But in either case the praise involved is public. That is, it is not merely the praise of private devotion but of open public testimony. In his praise of God, the writer of the psalm wants to identify openly with the visible church, the assembly of believers.
All this has important bearing on how we worship God. It tells us that we should set an example by doing it, that we should worship intensely and with our whole heart, and that we should do it publicly and identify publicly with the Christian assembly.
Do you do that? You do the latter if you gather with the people of God to worship on the Lord’s Day. But do you set an example at other times too? And do you worship wholeheartedly? The best way to do it is to prepare for worship, starting on Saturday night. You should think about Sunday and the worship that is coming. You should begin by getting in a worshipful frame of mind. And you should get enough rest. You would if you had an important business presentation the next morning or if you were going to compete in some important athletic contest. Should you do less for God? Is he less important than your business?
There is a well-known science laboratory in Cambridge, England, called the Cavendish Laboratory, named after the eighteenth-century English chemist and physicist Sir Henry Cavendish (1731-1810). It is distinguished by having the words of Psalm 111:2 inscribed over the entrance to its building as a charter for every believing scientist: “Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.”
Sometimes Bible verses are taken out of context for such inscriptions, but here the choice is accurate since the psalmist really is thinking about the works of God in the broadest way, beginning with creation.
Later, the psalmist is going to focus on the specific history of Israel (vv. 5-9), just as we rightly focus on God’s specific works in our own lives. After that, he is going to write about God’s even more specific acts of redemption (v. 9). Verses 1-3 are speaking about God’s deeds generally: the greatness of his “works,” the glory and majesty of his “deeds,” and the unforgettable nature of his “wonders.” It is a way of saying that wherever a person looks, if the person knows God and has eyes to see him, the wonders of God are brilliantly displayed and are a delight to those who know that God is the author of them.
What three important things can be said about praise in this psalm’s introduction?
Review what was said about the Cavendish Laboratory. How does that compare with how scientists tend to view the Bible today?
Reflection: Examine your praise of God. Is it done half-heartedly or with all your heart?
Set an example for others by praising God, loving God, and serving him.
How do you prepare for worship? Change your Saturday evening routine to prepare for church.
Prayer: Ask God to enable you to see creation through his eyes, to enable you to understand his power and majesty.