Praise the Lord!
Everything seems to have changed. Our daily routines. Our patterns and rhythms of life are very different. Certainly our church life has changed. Our comings and goings to Sunday services and midweek meetings has been suspended now for weeks. Is there anything that stands the same? Any constant, continuous uninterrupted reality? Well this Psalm encourages the privilege of perpetual, unending and unceasing praise.
The whole book of Psalms is a praise manual for God’s people. The hymn book of Praise for God’s people. In a wide range of circumstances from cradle to grave with all kinds of situations, personal and national, the psalms encourage a God-centred praise focus in all situations. “Praise is the oil of the engine of life”. 6 times in just 9 verses this psalmist encourages us to praise God. The opening and closing exhortation is Praise. This psalm is known as a Hallel psalm, Hallel as in Hallelujah. From 113-118 you have 6 Hallel psalms sung particularly at the time of Passover. You see it clearly in the next psalm, 114. So the connection of remembering God as the God of redemption in deliverance is the context of these psalms. This means that these psalms would have been the last psalms on the lips of Jesus at his last Passover meal.
So lets ask why Praising God is so vital for us? Especially now in these strange, unusual and abnormal times.
1. Praise gets us out of ourselves and our limited situations.
It’s praise to God. It lifts our gaze to Him. Verses 4 & 5 remind us that God transcends all time and space. He is exalted over all the nations. His glory above the heavens. He is enthroned on high. All these descriptions here give us a high, elevated, grand and magnificent view of God. His enthronement reminds us of power, authority, dignity and splendour. Getting this perspective is vital for us. We need a BIG God. One not limited by time, circumstances and events. This fuels our praise. Verse 1 call us his servants, so what a privilege and responsibility for our service which includes praise! Praise at all times between sunrise and dawn. Praise in all places. In spacious places, in confined places. In places of darkness, in places of light, His praise must be heard. Amongst the nations who have their own gods and idols they cannot compare with our unrivalled Lord and God. He is unique in name, character, purposes and promises. Malachi the prophet expected in his great missionary vision the realisation and fulfilment of this desire.
“My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 1:11)
2. Praise reminds us of God’s mercy and grace.
Look at verses 6-9. The high God of heaven has stooped down to engage with his world. The matchless condescension of God is further fuel for our praise. There are 2 pictures given of God’s condescending grace & mercy.
Verses 7 & 8 see the raising and lifting of those from dust and ash heap to be seated amongst princes. A tale of ‘from rags to riches’. Remember the time these psalms were sung. Passover. So the raising and lifting of Exodus is in view. But there is a greater Exodus. There is downward to upward sweep of the gospel here. From the grave to glory as Ephesians 2 records. From being dead in sin to being raised with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly places. That’s all because of God’s grace, love and mercy. As Ephesians 1 puts it, to the praise of His glory and grace. Reflect for a moment on your journey from dust and ashes to being amongst Christian royal family status. Who like we should sing his praise?
Then the second picture. From barren woman to mother of children. Perhaps a more corporate view. Sarah & Hannah were barren before miraculously bearing children which were involved in the fruitful future purposes of God for Israel and the nations. God’s supernatural intervention into the barrenness of these women showed his energising power in creating life from nothingness. God effectually changes the situation of despair and desolation. Here is a truth for now and always. Our initial spiritual situation is one of barrenness and we slip back as individuals and churches to barrenness and fruitlessness over and over again. We need the merciful, gracious intervening work of God to revive and restore us personally and corporately. We long to be fruitful and effective. When we see God at work bringing to new birth more children for himself this results in greater praise. So the psalm ends on the same note. The never-ending anthem of praise must be sung. We could be tempted in this time to complain, just worry and be anxious. But the Lord encourages us to sound the note of praise.
Go on and have a praise time! Sing and shout your praises.
Meirion Thomas, Malpas Road