November 22, 2020
Kids – if you had to guess, what do you think a baby’s first word might be? Of course, it’s rarely the same for every kid, and each kid is a little different. But nevertheless, kids take a minute, and try and think of a simple word that might be a baby’s first word. Or if you’re sitting next to your mom or dad, ask them to share with you what your first word was. Or parents, to all you parents and grandparents out there, both here in the sanctuary or at home, think back to your son or daughter’s first word – what was it? Was it mama, dada? Was it hippopotamus? What was it?
As you might imagine, Noah’s at that stage where he’s starting to talk more and more, though truth is he’s a little behind where most kids are at at his age, where as he turns 2 he’s only got a half dozen or so words in his vocabulary. And though he may be short on words relative to his age, he’s got one word down pat, and it’s a very simple and powerful word, and no sadly, I’m not talking about the word dada, no, I’m talking about the word “wow.” Wow. Or as Noah, says it, with his eyes wide open and the word drawn out, “Wow.”
To me, the fact that it’s one of my kid’s and possibly your kid’s very first words is a sign and reminder that you and I are made and wired for praise. We are made for awe, made for wonder, made for adoration. Now, could it be that I’m making more out of this than I need to? Sure. After all, it’s a simple one syllable word without a hard consonant.
Nevertheless, you and I are people who are made to worship, we are designed and wired to praise someone or something, in fact, in many ways we can’t help it. From the cradle to the grave, whether it’s a sunset, a song, a movie or a meal, we almost instinctively praise what we love or enjoy. Or as a little kid might put it, we are made to say “wow.”
And that is in many ways what our Psalm today is all about. Technically, it’s known as a Psalm of Praise, or in other words, a Psalm of “Wow.”
This morning, we’re in between sermon series, having last week wrapped up our series on the Old Testament book of Daniel and with next week being the beginning of Advent, and so sandwiched in between here, in light of Thanksgiving later this week, I thought it might be appropriate to reflect on something along those lines, by looking at this Psalm of Praise together, as we reflect and celebrate God, in both his character as well as in his gracious provision. And even more, my thinking here is this is a psalm and message we need all the more this year, in what has been a challenging and trying year. For it’s in times like these that we need these reminders and need to cultivate these practices all the more – since these very practices of praise and thanksgiving have a way of fixing our eyes on the right things, on praiseworthy things, and lifting our spirits in a way that counteracts the feelings of sadness and despair.
And so here’s where we’re going this morning – as we look at Psalm 145 this morning, we’re going to study the ABC’s of praise or in other words, the who, what, how and finally the why of praise.
First, let’s address the ‘who’ of our praise, the object of our praise. After all, who or what it is that we’re praising in the first place is always what’s most important. And as you might imagine, the object of our praise is God himself, this is a Psalm after all.
In fact, that’s how the Psalm starts – I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
And even more, that’s how the Psalm ends, 21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord
No surprise here. The Psalm is about praising, well, God.
So, consider for a moment and then consider the fact that you and I naturally praise whatever it is that we know and enjoy and experience. Think about what that means in light of what David is saying … you know, I confess I read David’s words here and kind of scratch my head and think, gosh, I feel like he talks about God differently than I do. Like he praises him on a level that I feel like I rarely do.
Even more, David even says that God’sgreatness is unsearchable.That there simply isn’t enough time nor are there enough words in his vocabulary to adequately praise God.
And when I look at David’s words of praise and who it is that he is praising and to what extent he is doing so I look at his words and say, “Oh my gosh.” I don’t know if I praise God on the same level, but yet I praise other things that I know and enjoy and experience.
After all, think about when you go to a movie or a restaurant … sorry I read that wrong … think about when we used to go to a movie or a restaurant – when experience something that we love or enjoy our natural inclination is to praise it – to tell others about it. “Wow, I saw the best movie, you should see it too … I had the best meal there – you should eat there too … Did you catch the Seahawks game … Russell Wilson is amazing!”
And as I read David’s words, it makes me wonder do I know and enjoy and experience God as I should. And how we can do that we’ll talk about that more in a minute.
The “who” of our praise is meant to be God himself. The one that we know and enjoy and experience.
But yet, what is it that we are praising God for? What is about God that we can or should find praiseworthy?
And here in this Psalm we kind of get two categories for praise, for the way in which David, the author of this Psalm praises God.
Where one hand we have adoration, that is things that we praise God about who God is, things that are a part of his character.
For example, verse 7 -
7 They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness, and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
David talks about the things he adores about God the Glorious splendor of your majesty, his faithfulness, gracious, just, kind.
That’s in one sense how we praise God. We adore him because of who he is.
But yet we praise God through our Thanksgiving, through what he has done for us, how he has provided for us.
16 You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.
And so we not only praise God for who he is but also for what he’s done. So what are you praising God for this year in terms of what He has done for you?
Maybe it’s the extra family time you’ve had this year, maybe it’s simple provisions of a roof over your head or a home to enjoy. Maybe it’s seeing our church family rally around one another. Or maybe you’ve been provided for financially in a season filled with uncertainty.
Now friends, I don’t know about you, but I think most of us have a tendency to praise God more on the side of Thanksgiving. But yet, here’s what I’ve found – is that if I’m only praising God in terms of Thanksgiving kind of sense then it can sometimes have a self centered bend to – as if we’re saying, ‘I love you for what you do for me or give to me’ or ‘l love you because of how much you love me.’ And if that’s the only way in which we’re praising God, or love God for that matter, then we’re in some way neglecting to give God the full range of praise he is worthy of.
The idea here is that we would see God as beautiful, not simply useful. That we would see God as lovely, not simply loving.
And I can tell you all this because I speak from experience having done this to Callie a few times, this idea of ‘I love you for how much you love me.’ Husbands, have you ever done this before? Maybe? No? Just me I guess then …
Praise. Adoration. Thanksgiving. That’s how we praise God.
Now, how about ‘How.’
You know, I think my opening illustration about Noah’s first word being ‘wow’ might be somewhat misleading because how we praise God it’s not something totally instinctive, but it’s actually something that we have to practice, it’s a discipline.
David, the author doesn’t say, ‘I want to or I should or I ought to.’ Instead, he says, ‘I will.’ And that praise as something practiced and intentional.
And in addition, he uses a ton of active verbs to describe his praise – he’s going to extol, bless, laud, praise, meditate, declare, proclaim, celebrate, sing. Praise has an active, intentional aspect to it.
One of the words that really stands out to me in this Psalm is ‘meditate.’ And to mediate is when we prayerfully ruminate on God’s Word. Where we are so saturating ourselves in scripture to the point where God’s words become our words and God’s thoughts become our thoughts.
And that’s one of the ways in which we cultivate a praiseful heart is through meditating on God’s Word. So friends, if you’re trying to figure out how to praise God, maybe take this psalm in slow motion, verse by verse, line by line, and then reflect on how you can praise God through your own experience of that verse.
So when you read that God is Near to all who call on him, maybe you get to praise God because you are reminded that God’s presence was near as you went in for surgery. Or when you took that test. His presence gave me a peace that surpasses understanding.
Upholds all who are falling – Maybe you work in medicine or education, and your working more hours or under more stress than before and yet you’ve experienced God’s strength was present in your weakness. And even when you felt like you had nothing else to give, you found that bringing your best, and while it doesn’t feel like your best, was more than enough as God multiplied your efforts.
Gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love – previous and current quarantines have made for closer quarters within your family, where you’re closer to your family than ever before and maybe that’s been difficult and tensions. But yet, you’ve experienced the gracious and patient love from your loved ones and more importantly from God himself as he gently nudges you towards repentance and seeking forgiveness.
Those are some of the ways in which we can meditate upon God’s Word and praise Him all the more.
Friends, I’ll finish with this. And that is, the ‘why’ behind our praise.
You’ll notice that David makes a few remarks on why we ought to praise God -
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power, 12 to make known to all people yourmighty deeds,
4 One generation shall laud your works to another,
The idea here is that as we praise God, make God known we are sharing who He is and what he has done so that others may know Him as well.
You know, just as it is in raising a kid or for me in raising my son, language is contagious. The more we talk the more he talks. The same is true with praise. Praise is contagious. The more we praise the more others will praise with us.
You all, does the outside world see us celebrating, do they see us declaring, do they see us praising God?
And think about a wonderful perspective that is in terms of our evangelism. You know often we think about evangelism as convincing and persuading and trying to “win” people over, and that’s part of it. But what if evangelism was also the overflow of our praise, the outpouring of our praise, us celebrating and declaring and proclaiming to those around us who God is and what he has done?
Friends, what will you share around the Thanksgiving table this Thursday night?
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.