I will praise Him!
My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, LORD, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
(Psalm 57:7-11, NIV)
I will praise Him!
In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?
I am under vows to you, my God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
(Psalm 56:10-13, NIV)
I will praise Him!
But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good.
(Psalm 52:8-9, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 138
I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart;
before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
and will praise your name
for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,
for you have so exalted your solemn decree
that it surpasses your fame.
When I called, you answered me;
you greatly emboldened me.
May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD,
when they hear what you have decreed.
May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
for the glory of the LORD is great (NIV)
David was wholehearted in all that he did, so it should not surprise us that he begins Psalm 138 with this assertion: I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
David, the shepherd king, wasn’t shy or reticent about offering praise to the LORD. He knew his God and was quick to give Him praise. He would even praise the LORD before foreign gods. Elsewhere in the psalms we see this declaration: For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens (Psalm 96:4-5).
During David’s time each nation had its own national god. These national gods were represented by carved idols of wood, metal or stone. But Israel had no idol. They were strictly forbidden to make any image or likeness of the LORD (Yahweh). See the First Commandment, Exodus 20:3-6. This prohibition set Israel apart. They were the people with no visible god.
But why settle for a visible god, when you can have the invisible God who fills the entire universe? Why settle for a national god, when you can have the LORD who created the heavens and the earth? Inevitably, if we fashion our own god, we will create a god who is far too small. The true God is far bigger, far wiser, and far more just, and compassionate than we can ever imagine. How can we as finite creatures begin to fathom the infinite power and glory of God?
By His great mercy the LORD reveals Himself to us. He does that best through His Son. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15). Jesus helps make the infinite God comprehensible to us, so we can join with David’s anthem of praise. May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD, when they hear what you have decreed. May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great.
Response: LORD God, I praise you for your unfailing love and your faithfulness. Thank you for answering my prayers. You give me courage and greatly emboldened me to carry on. Amen.
Your Turn: How big is your God? Is He bigger than your problems?
Reading: Psalm 135
The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
nor is there breath in their mouths.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.
All you Israelites, praise the LORD;
house of Aaron, praise the LORD;
house of Levi, praise the LORD;
you who fear him, praise the LORD.
Praise be to the LORD from Zion,
to him who dwells in Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD (NIV).
Though it may not be obvious, there is something timeless about the first sentence from today’s reading: The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by human hands.
In today’s world shaping silver or gold into an idol may be unusual, but it still occurs. India and the nations of Southeast Asia have plenty of gold and silver idols. This is not a dying worship form. Many have been cast in recent years.
In the western world we frown on such openly idolatrous displays of wealth and worship. Or do we? Gold and silver represent wealth. In reality, we have simply transformed our worship of wealth from bulky commodities like silver and gold to more transferable assets like securities and paper currency. We are still guilty of bowing before silver and gold, but it comes with a different name. Now we call it the almighty dollar.
The almighty dollar, or more broadly speaking, the market, determines the ebb and flow of commerce, and by extension impacts every aspect of our daily lives. It is not an exaggeration to say we are caught up in financial system that is deeply idolatrous. Our society has taken the worship of wealth (Mammon) to new heights. We elect our political leaders not on the basis of moral character or personal integrity, but rather can they deliver a higher level of GDP—put more money in our pockets.
Into this corrupt world, St. Peter speaks these words to those who have been called to follow Christ: For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Response: Father God, I need the right perspective on wealth and finances. Your precious blood is worth more than all the silver and gold this world has to offer. I bow before you as my Almighty Savior. Amen.
Your Turn: Is Jesus the Lord of your finances? Is your Redeemer more important than wealth?
Reading: Psalm 135
Praise the LORD.
Praise the name of the LORD;
praise him, you servants of the LORD,
you who minister in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God.
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
For the LORD has chosen Jacob to be his own,
Israel to be his treasured possession.
I know that the LORD is great,
that our Lord is greater than all gods.
The LORD does whatever pleases him,
in the heavens and on the earth,
in the seas and all their depths.
He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
he sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from his storehouses (NIV).
Like many of the psalms, Psalm 135 begins by calling us to worship. Specifically, this is a call to praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
So what is the difference between praise and worship? Worship is a broad term that expresses itself in a variety of ways. The Encarta Dictionary defines worship as “the adoration, devotion, and respect given to a deity.”
We can show devotion, adoration and respect for God in wide range of ways. We can use our bodies to express worship by bowing, kneeling, falling prostrate, or lifting our hands and faces heavenward. We read that both David and Miriam danced before the LORD as an act of worship. See 2 Samuel 6:13-15 and Exodus 15:20-21.
Praise and thanksgiving are verbal forms of worship that reflect a heart of adoration. But why do the Psalms call on us to praise God so frequently? Is the LORD a grand, heavenly egomaniac who demands our worship to satisfy His desire for recognition and importance? Hardly.
Actually, just the opposite is true. God does not need our worship. We are the egomaniacs. Praise and worship counteracts the selfishness that is at the root of our sinful nature. We desperately need to get our eyes off ourselves and onto the One who is worthy of all praise. So here is a simple but powerful prescription from your heavenly Father: Praise the LORD.
Response: Father God, I worship you. Thank you for sending Jesus to be my Savior. Holy Spirit, infuse my praise and worship with joy. You are so very good—so very kind to me. Amen.
Your Turn: What forms or expressions of worship are most meaningful to you?