“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.
“Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.” Psalm 66:1-3 (ESV)
Psalm 66 in its entirety is the story God’s dealings with His people, especially how He dealt with Israel in helping them escape slavery in Egypt and find how God wanted them to worship Him. We can know how great God’s power is from this passage. So great that His enemies cringe before Him. What He does is awesome and God is deserving of our praise, worship and to receive glory through what He does. In this Psalm, there is also a warning given as a promise of what God will NOT do if we cling to our sinful ways. “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear;” Psalm 66:18 (NASB) We cannot pray through a screen of wicked behavior and habitual sin. SOMETIMES people quote promises, and say that God is bound to fulfill those promises to them, when all the time there is some sin in their lives they are not willing to give up. It is well for us to search our hearts, and find out why it is that our prayers are not answered. Psalm, 19-20, confirms that if we are confessing our sin, God hears and will not turn away from our prayers.
“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.” Hebrews 13:15 (NASB)
Each one of us who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior have a sacrifice we can offer up to God. During the days before Christmas we hear about the angels who sang praises to God when Jesus was born. 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 careful during these days of activity before Christmas that we do not let the lights and the beauty of decorations distract us and cause us to forget God’s greatness and His love for us. As we sing carols of praise and thanksgiving, let’s be sure to remember to really praise our God with all our hearts. It is a wonderful time of the years to continually offer our sacrifices. Let’s make our time of truly praising and thanking God for His wonderful gift of Jesus and eternal life.
“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”” Psalm 40:16 (ESV)
The psalmist in this verse was expressing his wish for all of us but what he said was in line with God’s plan for us and His will. Yes, God wants all of us who follow Him to find real joy in doing so and real joy in living for Him. He wants the Christian life to be a life of true joy. He wants us to be satisfied in Him so much that we are also satisfied in our life. This is difficult to maintain because we fight against and enemy who wishes us to be depressed and sad. God is more powerful and a higher authority. He is on our side. Our verse also reminds us what happens when we are happy in living for the Lord. It results in much praise to God. When we enjoy the Christian live we will want to exalt the Lord. We will want that His name receives much glory and praise. And, that too is pleasing to the Lord who is truly worthy of your praise. Today, let’s seek Him and rejoice and be glad in Him. Let’s also say with the Psalmist, “GREAT IS THE LORD!”
“I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30 (ESV)
If looking to magnify something, how do we go about doing it? We have two options. Use a telescope which brings a really big things visually closer so we can see more detail clearly. The fuzzy dot in the sky called Saturn can be seen with its distinct rings. The other option is using a microscope which makes very small things⸺even those that cannot be seen with our eye, appear much larger than they are. A minute particle is made large enough for us to see detail clearly. In our verse today, David declares that he will “magnify God” with his thanksgiving. He does not mean that he will make a small God look bigger than he is. He does mean that he will make a big God begin to look as big as he really is. So, perhaps we are called not to be microscopes but to be telescopes. We magnify God and in doing that we bring him closer and more visible. John Piper says this; “The whole duty of the Christian can be summed up in this: feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look as great as he really is.”
Thanks to DesiringGod by John Piper https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-to-magnify-god