“Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come.” Psalm 65:1-2 (ESV)
These verses remind us of several reasons why God’s people come to Him. Just as His people were used to going to Jerusalem to praise God so we have the same desire and opportunity wherever we are. We can praise Him any time, any place, in our hearts. It does not matter where we are and we don’t have to be at any special place or take any specific posture. There are no required or set words that must be repeated but the words of our prayers should include words of Praise to our God. As we turn to the Lord we remember the promises we have made to Him. We don’t need to go to the temple or to a church building to fulfill our vows for we can renew our promises as we draw near to Him anyplace, with our supplications and thanksgiving. And, of course we know that we can approach God in prayer because He does hear our prayer. What a joy it is to remember just as David did in our verse today that our praise is due to God who promises to hear our prayers of praise.
“The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise.” Isaiah 43:21 (NASB)
In the writings of the prophet Isaiah in our Bible, he delivered messages God gave to the people of Israel. Today we read where God Isaiah why He had chosen the people of Israel. During Old Testament time God would made His plan known through the prophets who were decedents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were the people God appointed and called especially to carry the Words of God to His people. After Jesus died on the cross, He rose from the dead with a new life. He expanded His offer to the whole world and God is now working with all who accept Jesus as Savior. God’s message is expressed in our verse and applies to all who by faith believe in Jesus. Yes God is forming a people for Himself throughout the world today. His purpose remains the same we find in our verse, “that we might proclaim His praise.” Let’s not forget that’s what God wants from us today – our praise. Let’s be sure today that we are sincerely praising God, not only with our words but with our whole heart. He has promised to take care of us because, we belong to Him.
“The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and each is tested by the praise accorded him.” – Proverbs 27:21 (NASB)
Praise is enjoyable often sought after as a means to shape bolster our self-image and confirm that we have what we desire from others. It is a part of our natural man to desire acclimation and approval from others. Some seek it diligently and strategically and others take it as it comes and do not live for it. No matter, we each find it very difficult to perform before others without doing the self-evaluation on “how we did.” We want to be found worthwhile, capable and proficient to do our assigned tasks. We do not attain excellence every time and sometimes we flop miserably. With our proverb today is another with a similar lesson. Proverbs 27:19; “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man.” Not only do we seek affirmation from our peers and the congregations but we seek it from ourselves. Our hearts reflect what we are. Looking for acceptance and even celebrity status is like spending too much time in front of a mirror fretting over our appearance. The looking glass will only return what we really are just as our heart reveal our true motivations.
“Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” – Nehemiah 9:5 (ESV)
This verse from the book of Nehemiah is a demonstration of proper worship of God. This chapter is an account of the people’s reaction after hearing the Law of Moses read. They likstened for 3 hours about the sins of their fathers and for 3 more hours confessed that they had been partakers of similar evil deeds. In response to all of this, they worshiped. Some were a surviving remnant of Israel that was left and not carried away to Babylon; some also those who had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon after 70 years of forced exile. Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and took nearly all of the excellent, educated and young to live in Babylon during the three mass exiles. While this is a long confession of sin, it is within the recitation of God’s mighty redemptive acts on Israel’s behalf. Indeed, an expression of worship. We might something about true worship from these words. It begins with acknowledgement of the greatness of God’s name and learn that God’s name is glorious and deserves to be spoken with the greatest of awe and recognition that no other name is greater or higher in all creation.
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” Psalm 115:1 (ESV)
We would be right to understand that nothing we can do that is greater than giving God the Glory He deserve*. Many of the songs in the Psalms remind us of the reasons we have for thanking and for praising our Lord. We notice that the very act of giving praise to God is the way we are to give Him glory. We do not worship God in order to generate good feelings within ourselves – although sincere praise does bring satisfaction and joy to us. Our verse teaches us that the reason we have any reason for thankfulness and praise is because of God’s love and because of His faithfulness. It is true, isn’t it? The reason God helps us and does so much for his children is His love for us. His love is steadfast, it is the lovingkindness that he has for us. When God does something for us, if He answers our prayers and meets our needs because of His love, not our merit. God also helps us because He is faithful to His promises and to His character also. He can be depended on, what He says, He will do.
What is Glory of God?
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” – Hebrews 13:15-16 (NASB)
During the days of observing Christ’s birth which we call Christmas we hear about the angels who sang praises to God when Jesus was born. It was a multitude of angels (we don’t know exactly how many but Revelation 5:11 suggests that the number of the angelic host may be too large for the human mind to fathom.). We know that angels do sing praises to God in heaven and the Bible urges us to sing His praises too. That is the message of our verse today. The reason the angels keep singing praises to God is because they know how great and wonderful He is. The more we know about our Lord, the more we will want to praise Him. Let’s be watchful during these days of activity before Christmas that we do not let the lights and the beauty of decorations and the crush of commercialism distract us and cause us to forget God’s greatness and His love for us. As we sing carols let’s be sure to remember to really pour out praise to our God with all our hearts. Let’s make it a time of truly praising and thanking God.
“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” – Psalm 56:3-4 (NASB)
Fear can paralyze us, freeze our feet to the ground and cause us to lose our balance. The psalmist, David composed this song which is labeled as “A Mikhtam.” We do not positively know what this label means. But we do have clues. For one clue, this is a very important and valuable song. It extolls God’s goodness and faithfulness. It sings of why we can put our trust in God especially when we are afraid. It reaffirms for us that human kind and their devices cannot truly hurt the faith believer in God. David pleads and rejoices in the help and deliverance God gives him. The root of the word means to stamp or grave (as in engrave). It leads us to believe that it labels the song as a composition so precious as to be worthy to be engraved on a durable tablet for preservation. Others might render “a psalm precious as stamped gold,” from the word kethem meaning fine or stamped gold. Perhaps like today’s top-selling songs that are “certified gold” could be considered “michtams” of a sort. We don’t know for sure anything except that God’s Word is all more precious than gold.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning And Your faithfulness by night,” Psalm 92:1-2 (NASB)
The unnamed psalmist who wrote these words had learned that there of the benefit from praising the Lord. It was a good thing to do. God is pleased when we sing praises to the Lord. Some of our songs are about ourselves, what we are doing and how we are feeling. But real praise is about our Lord God. Praising God does not have to wait for any particular time or place. Knowing that it does us good to praise God, we are free to praise the Lord at any time of day or night wherever we are. When we praise God, we are showing our love, adoration, and expressing our thankfulness to Him for His attributes. In our verse the psalmist mentions two times – when we wake up and when we go to bed. In the morning we can start the day by recalling God’s love and we can anticipate that He’ll show his love during the day. Then in the evening as we retire for the day it is a good time to look back and praise Him for the way he has been faithful throughout the day. We can praise and proclaim His love 24/7.
“He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:6 (ESV)
After seventy years as captives, the Children of Israel were allowed to return to their homes in Jerusalem and the country surrounding what was, and is called Mount Zion by many. This psalm is a song of Ascents. It is a song of praise to God by the Hebrew people who had come back from their captivity. We can understand how those who had been away from their homes as exiles were thrilled to be back ascending the mountain to Jerusalem. Their mouths were full of happiness, joy, and praise to God. We may not have been exiled from our earthly homes but we can praise God for the great things he has done for us by bringing us into His family. We were strangers to His family but He has made us His children. Has not He shown us so often how much He loves us and how He will take care of us? We may have been weeping as we tended to the tasks God has given to us. He promises that the result will be wonderful. Like those who sow seed with tears of sorrow, God promises we will return with joy at harvest time.
“Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him; I hid My face and was angry, And he went on turning away, in the way of his heart. “I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners, Creating the praise of the lips.” – Isaiah 57:17-18 (NASB)
Context is important to learn doctrine from the Scripture given to us by God. Today we have a promise of grace from God even when we resist it. Yes, we may well attempt to resist his grace but when God chooses, He can and will overcome our resistance. When we are rebellious, He disciplines us just as in this passage about His people’s iniquity he “strikes them and hides His face:” Their response is not repentance but resistance toward God. Their backsliding ways continued. Their hearts remained turned away from the Lord God. The all-powerful sovereign God promises to heal them. He promises healing according to His will. We are chosen by God yet we wander off the path. He disciplines us to bring us back. We are cared for by God always. Even if we stubbornly resist his chastening, we still receive His grace. Merciful God promises to heal us. Therefore, we never boast that we have returned from backsliding. We fall on our faces before the Lord and with trembling joy thanking him for his irresistible grace that conquered all our resistance. Without that grace we would never know God as Lord and Savior.