|This site awed me--a church that survived the devastating |
2014 fires of North Central Washington. Trees around it were
singed, homes in four city blocks to the left destroyed,
but the church was spared. More than 320 homes burned.
One of the worship choruses sung in my church is about standing in awe of God. In its ancient format—an acrostic built off the Hebrew alphabet—this is the message of Psalm 145. The last psalm attributed to David (who wrote approximately half the psalms), it is almost breathtaking in its breadth of praising God’s many attributes. Verse 5 puts the message in a capsule: “Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.”
For our times, when many have become careless and even flippant about God’s name, this psalm rightly reminds us that His person and His name are intertwined. “I will exalt you, my God, the king,” David begins. “I will praise your name for ever and ever.” This also went beyond “worship day.” David said, “Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever” (v. 2). Then, starting with the Hebrew “aleph” and on to “taw,” he offers a teaching psalm about exalting God for His greatness, graciousness, faithfulness, and righteousness. The word “all” is prominent throughout the psalm, a reminder that worship is not the domain of a select few, but all.
GOD’S GREATNESS (vv. 3-7)As I began underlining and circling words in this section, I realized the statements had a similar grammar form: action verb/direct object. Like a hammer pounding a nail into wood, it gives many ways to exalt God’s greatness:
*Commend/His works to another. This verse specifies: “One generation will command your works to another” (v. 4a)—a reminder that unless we pass on our faith, it’s one generation from extinction. The Enemy is hard at work! Thus we need to:
*Tell/His mighty acts.
*Speak of/the glorious splendor of His majesty.
*Meditate on /God’s wonderful works.
*Proclaim/God’s great deeds.
*Celebrate/God’s abundant goodness.
*Joyfully sing/of God’s righteousness.
GOD’S GRACIOUSNESS (vv. 8-13a)This section begins with an ancient jewel:
The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. (v. 8)
This verse is drawn from God’s revelation of Himself to Moses, told in Exodus 34:6. After getting two tablets with God’s “Ten Commandments” for living, Moses came down to find the Israelites foolishly worshipping a golden calf. In anger, he smashed the two tablets. Before long, Moses went up the mountain again to receive replacement tablets, and this time God described Himself with the words partly quoted in Psalm 145:8. God also described Himself as “forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin,” but not letting the guilty go unpunished (Exodus 34:6). Instead of wiping out the fickle nation, God gave them a second chance—just as He does for us. Like the first section, this one also has action verbs for praising and extolling God. We’re to:
*Tell/the glory of God’s kingdom
*Speak of /His might “so that men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom” (v. 12). In other words, we’re to be about soul business!
|Eastern Washington grain elevators--symbols of God's supply.|
GOD’S FAITHFULNESS (vv. 13b-16)Psalm 145 wouldn’t be a true “alphabetical” or acrostic psalm without a second part to verse 13, which starts with “nun,” the Hebrew letter between mem and samekh:
The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.
That verse isn’t in the 1611 King James version, but subsequent discoveries of more ancient manuscripts with that verse resulted in it being put in newer versions, at least in footnotes. The verse, like the previous section, paraphrases part of God’s revelation about His nature in Exodus 34:6. More important, it fits the theme of this section, which portrays God as taking care of our daily needs. He upholds us or lifts us up when negatives strike us. We can trust Him for our daily needs:
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. (vv. 15-16)
This verse became meaningful to me during lean financial times as a graduate student, when unexpected jobs helped me buy my food. It’s encouragement for those who run “soup kitchens” of food banks for the needy. It’s also about those who have enough to eat and to share. It should prompt us to thank God for those in the food chain, all the way to farmers and ranchers, who depend on God’s gifts of good weather, seed, and soil. They all are part of the hands of God in providing “food at the proper time.” No matter how He orchestrates taking care of our needs, He is faithful. As David prayed while offerings came in to build the temple: “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (1 Chronicles 29:14b).
GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS (vv. 17-20)In another allusion to Exodus 34, Psalm 145 affirms that God’s righteousness means He abhors evil but loves the sinner who comes to Him in repentance. Exodus 34:7 speaks of Him:
Maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.
Then in Psalm 145:20:
The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
Oh, the benefits for those who call on Him “in truth” (in faith):
*He will come near to them (v. 18).
*He will fulfill their desires (v. 19, an echo of Psalm 37:4).
*He will hear their cries and save them (v. 19).
*He will watch over them (v. 20, a frequent benefit named by David, who needed much “watching over”!).
*He will destroy the wicked (v. 20).
The fate of the wicked shadows this psalm about God’s blessing. If God tolerated evil forever, then He wouldn’t be a holy God. He’d be a compromising deity—and what would be the use of that?
CONCLUSION (v. 21)Often at a holiday family dinner we will all sing the “Doxology,” the ancient hymn that begins, “Praise God from whom all blessings come.” Psalm 145 also ends with a doxology as David essentially says, “I’ll praise God, but really all of us, even all creatures, should praise His holy name forever.” And so Psalm 145, which began with praising God’s name, ends with that same theme. This is right, for in praising God’s Name, we praise all that He is—His greatness, graciousness, faithfulness, righteousness, and so much more!
Next: Psalm 150.