Psalm 145:5–Pondering “Praise God”

I’ve been studying Psalm 145 for about a month now.  On the surface, there is nothing particularly compelling about it, but every time I wake and consider it, it opens up more for me again.  It’s like a pop-up book with many layers and flaps.  Here is yet another “flap” I’m considering this morning:

I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.  -Psalm 145:5

Several commentators, including the one I’ve reference below, point out that the intent of  David’s word for  “speaking”  here indicates not a passing mention, but an  elaborate detailing, an elucidation, to consider at length:

“I will muse” is better than “speak,” as being the primary and more usual sense of the Hebrew word. It suggests that these glorious qualities of God’s character and deeds should be not merely talked about and extolled in song, but be deeply pondered, laid close upon our very heart, so that the legitimate impression may be wrought into our very soul, and may mould our whole spirit and character into God’s own moral image. – Henry Cowles

This makes sense–we are to meditate, to ponder, to think at length upon His majesty and wondrous works. We are to do this in such a through fashion that they shape and impress themselves upon our very spirit.

I think back to my often spartan “praise God” comments slipped in among the seemingly more important details of this or that which God has had His hand in.   Certainly He deserves more, so why does my flesh firmly resist more extensive elaboration and praise?  “Praise God” seems like the most rudimentary acknowledgment.  The Lord of All deigns to work among the commonplace details of our lives, He bothers to fashion them into His image–surely we should have much to say about that!  We are like a child who tears through a present, throws a perfunctory “thank you” out to no one in particular, while reaching for the next one….

Lord help us–help me–from treating You cavalierly.   Grant us an awareness of Your gifts all around us.  May we not tear through them, but marvel at length, looking carefully and thoughtfully as we uncover each one.  May we see Your intricate hand at work and marvel at length upon Your majesty.


Psalm 145:1 Watching, Waiting, Warring…for now Praise…for ever.

Lovely little passage here where William Pushon elaborates on Psalm 145:1 and the eternal nature of praise:

I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.  -Psalm 145:1

“Praise is the only part of duty in which we at present engage, which is lasting. We pray, but there shall be a time when prayer shall offer its last litany; we believe, but there shall be a time when faith shall be lost in sight; we hope, and hope maketh not ashamed, but there shall be a time when hope lies down and dies, lost in the splendour of the fruition that God shall reveal. But praise goes singing into heaven, and is ready without a teacher to strike the harp that is waiting for it, to transmit along the echoes of eternity the song of the Lamb.

In the party-coloured world in which we live, there are days of various sorts and experiences, making up the aggregate of the Christian’s life. There are waiting days, in which, because Providence fences us round, and it seems as if we cannot march, we cannot move, as though we must just wait to see what the Lord is about to do in us and for us; and there are watching days, when it behoves us never to slumber, but to be always ready for the attacks of our spiritual enemy; and there are warring days, when with nodding plume, and with ample armour, we must go forth to do battle for the truth; and there are weeping days, when it seems as if the fountains of the great deep within us were broken up; and as though, through much tribulation, we had to pass to heaven in tears. But these days shall all pass away by-and-by – waiting days all be passed, warring days all be passed, watching days all be passed; but

`Our days of praise shall ne’er be past
While life, and thought, and being last,
And immortality endures.'”
-William Morley Punshon, 1824-1881

Psalm 145–Generational Praise

“One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. ”   Psalm 145: 4

What a beautiful image this creates for me–to think of our interconnectedness through time as one generation passing their love for the Lord down to the next.  Not just the older generation passing down words of God’s goodness to them, but to think of each generation as sharing God’s praise with the other.   A mother telling her children how God has proved Himself mighty in an act, but also the younger blessing the older by sharing an instance of His works.   Grandparents sharing with both their children and their children’s children.  Generations do not always have much in common, as the interests and thoughts of people change as they age, but we can all connect in our love for the Lord, in noticing His works and declaring them–announcing, professing, expounding, certifying, uttering, showing forth of God’s goodness.

Last night at the prayer group at our church, I got a small glimpse of this–listening to one generation and then another share God’s goodness with the group.

Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.  -Psalm 145:13

“The thrones of earthly princes totter, and the flowers of their crowns wither, monarchs come to an end; but, Lord, “thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.- Matthew Henry.

Psalm 145–Constancy and the Unsearchable God

Psa 145:2  Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.

A psalm of David, praise comes easy to David; it seems effortless.  I like the regularity of this call to action–EVERY day I will bless you and praise your name.  How do we praise the Lord daily?  By giving Him free reign of our mouth, to make a point of articulating His greatness, to be quick to praise and connect things back to Him.  Our universe is without luck, the benefits that we are loaded down with all go back to Him and He deserves our praise.

Psa 145:3  Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

Unsearchable–without enumeration, numbering or finding out.  I wonder if we are too quick to wish to come to the bottom of God.   He is by definition here unsearchable.   He has chosen to reveal facets of His character through the humanity of His Son, yet He chooses not to reveal all of Himself to anyone.  Science by definition searches and strives to uncover the principles by which things work, but we cannot come to the bottom of God, He cannot be fathomed.  Frustrating at times, yes–as humans we prefer to direct and order everything, to understand and control the little corner of our lives.  But we are called to praise an unsearchable God, a God we cannot fully comprehend or know.

I like Matthew Henry’s imagery here and his apt reference to Romans:

“When we cannot, by searching, find the bottom, we must sit down at the brink, and adore the depth.”

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”  Romans 11:33

And I never thought about it quite this way, but it’s true:

“God had searched David through and through (Psa_139:1), but David proved he could not search God’s greatness.” – Martin Geier.

We serve (or chose not to serve) a God who knit us together and knows our every waking and moment of sleep-the most secretive fears and tunnels of our minds and hearts–to a depth that we ourselves cannot fully understand ourselves.

In contrast, we know but the edges of His ways, as Amy Carmichael puts it.

Structure of the Psalms

The structure of the end of the book of psalms:

Psalms 145 through 150   Praise Psalms

Psalm 140–144  Petition Psalms
“And it is observable,  1. That after five psalms of prayer follow six psalms of praise; for those that are much in prayer shall not want matter for praise, and those that have sped in prayer must abound in praise. Our thanksgivings for mercy, when we have received it, should even exceed our supplications for it when we were in pursuit of it. ”   -Matthew Henry

Selfishness makes long prayers, but love makes short prayers, that it may continue longer in praise. – John Pulsford, 1857.

“Praise.” There is one other thing which is a serious embarrassment to praising through the song-service of the Church, and that is, that we have so few hymns of praise. You will be surprised to hear me say so; but you will be more surprised if you take a real specimen of praising and search for hymns of praise. You shall find any number of hymns that talk about praise, and exhort you to praise. There is no lack of hymns that say that God ought to be praised. But of hymns that praise, and say nothing about it, there are very few indeed. And for what there are we are almost wholly indebted to the old churches. Most of them came down to us from the Latin and Greek Churches There is no place in human literature where you can find such praise as there is in the Psalms of David. – Henry Ward Beecher.

I wonder if I agree with Henry Ward Beecher—I think I do.   Why is it that just praising without talking about praising is such an obstacle.  It’s a form of procrastination to go on and on about praise without just getting into the thick of it.   It is easier and requires less commitment  to think about doing something than to go ahead and do it.



Psalm 149 Creation Praising Their Creator

I like the way this psalm hems everything in with praise to Him.  From Adam and Eve to the end of the world, the right state of all human and natural things is to proclaim the glory of their Lord.  On the past:

“Milton, in his Paradise Lost (Book V., line 153, etc.), has elegantly imitated this Psalm, and put it into the mouth of Adam and Eve as their morning hymn in a state of innocency.”

– James Anderson.

Note to self:  I need to read Paradise Lost again some day–slowly.  And on the future:

This Psalm is neither more nor less than a glorious prophecy of that coming day, when not only shall the knowledge of the Lord be spread over the whole earth, as the waters cover the sea, but from every created object in heaven and in earth, animate and inanimate, from the highest archangel through every grade and phase of being, down to the tiniest atom – young men and maidens, old men and children, and all kings and princes, and judges of the earth, shall unite in this millennial anthem to the Redeemer’s praise.

– Barton Bouchier

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Psa 148:1  Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens! Praise Him from the skies!
Psa 148:2  Praise Him, all His angels! Praise Him, all the armies of heaven!
Psa 148:3  Praise Him, sun and moon! Praise Him, all you twinkling stars!
Psa 148:4  Praise Him, skies above! Praise Him, vapors high above the clouds!
Psa 148:5  Let every created thing give praise to the LORD, for He issued His command, and they came into being.

Just occurred to me in passing that the new agers have it all backward—it should be the creation praising the Creator, not the creation praising the creation.  We should not praise the stars, sun and moon, nor look at them for divination.  Someday those very stars will also bow and praise Him–as it should be.

and….

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship.  Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known.  They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.  Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. ”

-Psalm 19:1-4

The Character of God is Revealed by His Creation

Evolution may be atheistic; but the doctrine of creation logically demands worship; and hence, as the tree is known by its fruit, it proves itself to be true. Those who were created by command are under command to adore their Creator. The voice which said “Let them be,” now saith “Let them praise.”   -Spurgeon

Once there is a Creator, an original “mover” or whatever you wish to call God, then His work demands a response.  How can we look at the majesty of His creation and not lift our eyes to worship Him?  I like his comment here too:

“The highest praise of God is to declare what he is. We can invent nothing which would magnify the Lord: we can never extol him better than by repeating his name, or describing his character. The Lord is to be extolled as creating all things that exist, and as doing so by the simple agency of his word. He created by a command; what a power is this!”  -Spurgeon

The order of creation, the way that time and the universe orderly continue to work out His plans, testify to His attributes and praise.  Thus, it makes sense to me when I read yesterday that our yes should be yes and our no, no; we should keep our promises humble because we have so very little under our own control.   We do not have the power to change the color of even one of our hairs, to add one day to the scope of our earthy lives or an inch to our stature while here.   We are fragile needy people who should not make promises that we cannot keep or guarantee:

“But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” -Matthew 5:34-36

I think Christ and the Psalmist’s point in both cases is to allow the glory of His creation and what He can do dominate the landscape of our minds.   As we acknowledge and witness His greatness, we are able to see our own position with right eyes and a right heart.

“His almighty power upholds all things in their spheres, securing the march of stars and the flight of seraphs; and thus the music of the upper regions is never marred by discord, nor interrupted by destruction. The eternal hymn is for ever chanted; even the solemn silence of the spheres is a perpetual psalm.” -Spurgeon

When we look up at the stars and feel very small, we can feel lost, even insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe.  We should look up with eyes that appreciate Him and glory in the thought that He created us with some resemblance to Him at all.  We hold a privileged place in His creation.   We are granted the ability to be self aware and other-aware.  Let us not waste the gifts we have been given or make so much of ourselves that we can’t see Him for who He is.

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Another thought on this creationist/evolutionist perspective–this time from Psalm 147:

“And the wonder of the peculiarity is enhanced by thoughts borrowed from the wonders of nature. We know a thousand times more of the nature, formation, and purpose of the snow than the Psalmist did. But that knowledge is dearly earned if our science destroys our faith. What amount or precision of scientific knowledge can compensate us for the loss of the spiritual sensibility, Which in all the wonders and beauties of the Creation brings us into personal contact with an infinitely wise mind and an infinitely loving heart?” – Hugh Macmillan, in “Two Worlds are Ours,” 1880.

Sing a new song…

“Sing unto the LORD a new song”   -Psalm 149:1

Sing a hymn newly composed, for you have now a new knowledge of God. He is ever new in his manifestations; his mercies are new every morning; his deliverances are new in every night of sorrow; let your gratitude and thanksgivings be new also. -Spurgeon

More Matthew Henry on Psalm 150

More from Matthew Henry….

“Be not afraid of saying too much in the praises of God, as we often do in praising even great and good men.”  -M Henry on Psalm 150

“That, various instruments being used in praising God, it should yet be done with an exact and perfect harmony; they must not hinder, but help one another. The New Testament concert, instead of this, is with one mind and one mouth to glorify God. Rom_15:6.” MH

Romans 15:6  ” That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Harmony among members of the Body—lifting up, helping….what a concept.  Why is it so difficult to achieve a deep and authentic harmony among believers–within churches, between denominations??

on praise in Heaven:

“…and there he is praised continually, in a far better manner than we can praise him. And it is a comfort to us, when we find we do it so poorly, that it is so well done there.” MH

“Some think that in every thing that has breath here we must include the inferior creatures…all in whose nostrils was the breath of life. They praise God according to their capacity. The singing of birds is a sort of praising God. The brutes do in effect say to man, “We would praise God if we could; do you do it for us.” John in vision heard a song of praise from every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, Rev_5:13.” MH

Rev 5:13  “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

and more about heaven….surely I don’t think enough about what is going on in heaven.

“Let us often take a pleasure in thinking what glorified saints are doing in heaven, what those are doing whom we have been acquainted with on earth, but who have gone before us thither; and let it not only make us long to be among them, but quicken us to do this part of the will of God on earth as those do it that are in heaven.”