WHY PRAISE GOD?
Mighty and strong Lord, lead me to your strength that never fails, and your Word that ever speaks.
Read PSALM 147
1 Praise the Lord.[a]
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
6 The Lord sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
8 He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.
10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
12 Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;
praise your God, Zion.
13 He strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders
and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
15 He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
19 He has revealed his word to Jacob,
his laws and decrees to Israel.
20 He has done this for no other nation;
they do not know his laws.[b]
Praise the Lord.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘… the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love’ (v 11). What has been the greatest source of hope in your life?
This psalm answers a question that’s easy to overlook, especially for committed Bible readers: why praise God? We know the right theological answer: because he’s the Creator of heaven and earth, he’s holy, he’s righteous and he’s loving. All true – but the nuance the psalmist seems to have in mind is this: why… do I… praise God? That’s a different question.
He starts with the joy of praise itself, describing it as ‘pleasant and fitting’ (v 1). Is that how you describe your praise? We must always keep the focus on the Lord, but praising God with appropriate abandon can lift us out of our circumstances. As Nehemiah said, ‘the joy of the Lord is your strength’.1 The psalmist proceeds to list some of the things that motivate his praise. The first is tough experiences. Given Israel’s history of disaster and exile, seeing Jerusalem was a source of thanksgiving and praise (vs 2–6,12–14). What tough experiences from your past might cause you to praise God today? The second motivation to praise is God’s creation (vs 7–11). The psalmist marvels at how God provides for all he has made. I once stood beside a beautiful meadow and meditated on the silent, unstoppable power of God as seen in something as common as grass.
The final item on the psalmist’s praise list is God’s Word, which is powerful (vs 15–18) and personal (vs 19,20). At that time, God’s Word was primarily revealed to Israel but eventually it would be made known to Jew and Gentile alike.2 Today, because of the internet, it is available to virtually every person on the planet. God’s purpose for giving us his Word is so we may know who he is. That’s what inspires the psalmist here.
Jot down the things for which you personally praise God; make them the focus of your prayer. If you have time, write your own psalm of praise.
Almighty God, I want to bring you delight, in my worship and obedience to you. Bless the Lord O my soul!
1 Neh 8:10 2 Acts 10:34–43