Theme: Three Important Statements
In this week’s lessons, from this last psalm of David we see that we are given a guide for how to praise God.
Scripture: Psalm 145:1-21
The nearly parallel lines in verses 1 and 2 make three statements, as we see below.
1. “I will praise” you. Praise is worship; it is acknowledging God to be what he truly is, the sovereign, holy, just, righteous, merciful, awesome and majestic God we discover him to be in Scripture. Worship is not coming to God to get things from him, though we are free to do that too. It is not even confessing our sins or pleading for grace, though these flow from worship naturally. It is acknowledging God to be God. Indeed, it is doing precisely what David does do in the remainder of this composition.
2. I will praise you “every day.” David is not going to praise God merely on the Sabbath, though the seventh day (or for us the first day of the week, Sunday) is explicitly set aside for that purpose. Rather, he is going to praise God “every day,” Monday through Sunday (v. 2).
3. I will praise you “for ever and ever.” Not only is David going to worship God daily, he is going to praise him “for ever and ever,” that is, perpetually. “For ever and ever” means more than merely “to the end of my days, until I die.” It means “forever,” which indicates that David believed he would be worshiping God in heaven even after his worship on earth was ended. Are you aware that you will be worshiping God forever also, along with the other redeemed saints from all other ages of world history? If you are, why don’t you begin to practice worshiping God now?
So let’s practice. What should we praise God for? In this psalm David praises God for: 1) his greatness (vv. 5-7); 2) his grace (vv. 8-13a); 3) his faithfulness (vv. 13b-16); and 4) his righteousness (vv. 17-20). Verse 3 starts by extolling God for being “great”: “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” What is in mind is made clear in the following verses, namely, the greatness of God displayed in his mighty works or acts. We can hardly miss this since the word “works” occurs three times and the synonyms “acts” and “deeds” one additional time each. Verse 3 is the verse with which Saint Augustine began his great spiritual autobiography, The Confessions. He took the first half of Psalm 145:3 (“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise”) and added to it the second half of Psalm 147:5 (“His understanding has no limit”).
What are the works for which we should praise God? When we read of “mighty acts,” “glorious splendor,” “wonderful (or awesome) works” and “great deeds” it is natural to think of God’s works in nature, which is not a bad place to start. If you can look at the surge of the ocean, the glory of the mountains or the splendor of the sky on a cloudless night and not be moved to praise God, you are more to be pitied than a person who has lost his or her physical sight. As an evangelist said to some inmates in a federal prison on one occasion, “If that don’t turn you on, you ain’t got no switches.”
Yet as wonderful as God’s works of creation are, a person who has come to know the greatness of God’s goodness in Jesus Christ can hardly stop there. For the greatest of God’s works are his salvation works. In the case of Israel, this was always understood to involve God’s power in delivering them from slavery in Egypt and bringing them into their own land. For us, above all else it is God’s work of saving us from sin through Christ’s atonement. Since David ends this stanza by writing of “your abundant goodness” and of “your righteousness” it must be these particular, saving works of God that he is thinking about specifically.
As for “goodness” and “righteousness,” we should remember that these were both preserved and displayed in the death of Jesus. In Jesus’ death God showed himself to be both good and righteous in saving sinners. Neither of these two important attributes of God is seen in nature.
There is one other important point in this stanza: David speaks of “one generation commending your works to another” (v.4). This does not mean merely that the stories of God’s past acts will be passed on by the redeemed community, though that is true, but that each generation of believers will add to that old story the account of what God has also been doing with them. God continues to act for us and in us. Our recognition of this truth and our confession of it are part of the praise we offer God.
Explain how three parallel statements bring added meaning to the psalm.
How often does David offer praise? How often do you?
For what four things does David praise God?
Why is it important to look beyond nature in praising God?
Reflection: At what times are you most motivated to praise God? At what other times should you feel that way, but do not always?
Key Point: God continues to act for us and in us. Our recognition of this truth and our confession of it are part of the praise we offer God.
Prayer: Take time today to praise God’s works in creation and for your salvation.