This is such a little psalm, in fact it may be the shortest one, but it is packed with meaning, truth, and prophecy. To begin with it is a call to praise the Lord. This is an occupation most of us neglect far too much in our lives, to our detriment, and to the dishonor of the Lord who is not only worthy of our praises, but due them.
It is to our detriment because praise is a major part of our purpose as the creatures of God—most especially those of us who have been redeemed and brought near to Him. Of all of His creation, it is we who are the best fitted to praise Him, and we are the most satisfied with Him and with life when we make it our occupation to live out our purpose.
It is also to our detriment when we neglect praise, because scripture shows us that there is much power in praising the Lord. Armies have been defeated, earthquakes have happened, chains have fallen off through the praising of the Lord. How much of the power of God to overcome have we lost because we have neglected praise?
And the Lord is present with those who praise Him. Praises are a sweet sound in His ear, and He draws near to hear them and look upon the heart of the one offering the sincere expression of a worshipping heart. How much of His presence has been lost to us because we have not set our hearts, minds and lips on the glories of who He is?
Praise benefits us, too, because it changes our perspective, reminding us who our God is. Praising His love and goodness gives us comfort, encouragement, and solace in our struggles. Praising His power and wisdom reminds us that not only does He know what He’s doing, but has the might to defeat any enemy that comes against us, and/or see us through those valleys of the shadows of death we must walk through.
So important is this first simple opening to this psalm that it is also its conclusion. For whether coming and going, beginning and ending, we are called upon to praise the Lord. Praise needs to not only book-end our days, but fill each leaf of the book throughout our days. The sign of the depth of our knowledge of God is the amount of praise for Him in our lives. On that scale, how well do you know Him?
How many reasons do you have to praise Him? If your list isn’t long, its time to reexamine your heart and search not only your life for reasons, but the scriptures. For what reasons was He praised in the Bible? You need look no farther than the book of Psalms for many causes to give Him praise. Use these examples to broaden your lexicon of praise. While praise will certainly flow naturally from the hearts of those who know Him best, whatever have we become good at if at first we did not go through the labor of practice, of building skill upon skill? There is no more worthy thing to practice and become well-versed in than that of praising the Lord. It will soon become a labor of love.
All that from the first (and last) phrase, but there is so much more in this little psalm: it prophetically calls on the nations to praise the Lord. It sometimes feels strange to see this emphasis in the Old Testament, but if we read this part of the Bible with the mindset that God always intended to bring the nations to Himself, we will find all sorts of references to it. From Genesis, where God promised to bless the nations through Abraham’s offspring, to Moses’ calling all nations to rejoice, to the many references to the nations praising the Lord in the Psalms, to what the prophets say about the nations (there’s so much more than the harsh judgments), God was clear that He had plans that went beyond His beloved Israel.
For those of us who have been called from among the nations, this is even more reason to praise the Lord! We who were not His people have become His people. We who were far have been brought near! Indeed, His merciful kindness has been great toward us. We could revel in that truth alone for a very long time of praise, as we list the many evidences of this merciful kindness over our lifetimes.
We were, truly, made to praise the Lord, so let us do so from overflowing hearts and lips!
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries