Psalm 135: Praise the Lord!
July 10, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
One of the questions that is frequently asked of Christians – and which Christians themselves at least sometimes also ask – is why is it that we should “praise the Lord.” Is God insecure that we need to keep telling him how great he is? And what is it about God that is so great that he should be praised anyway?
One of the best answers to this was given by C.S. Lewis: that praise is what you do when you enjoy something; praise not only affirms the enjoyment, it actually completes the joy. But still, what is it about God that is so joyful and therefore so worthy of praise? This psalm connects some of these dots for us and helps us understand why to “praise the Lord.”
First, we are to praise God for he is good, verse 3. Let not that simple statement appear simplistic to you. The goodness of God, his sheer unadulterated pure goodness, is something that reverberates with hope and meaning and near tangible beauty. He is good; how we long for that in a world that is full of “un-good” and, indeed, real evil.
But then, second, not only do we praise God because he is good, we also praise God for “that is pleasant,” verse 3. This is C.S. Lewis’ point: to praise God actually gives us pleasure. In the same way that you see a painting, go to a movie, or listen to a piece of music that you really enjoy, you find that it is pleasurable to sing the praises of that movie or painting or piece of music.
Third, we praise God because he is great, verse 5. That is not quite the same as saying that he is good – though true greatness includes goodness. But this greatness is focusing on the omnipotent power of God: “he does whatever pleases him,” verse 6. It is difficult, if not plain impossible, to get our minds around the sheer enormity of the infinite power of God who does whatever he pleases in land and sea and sky, to all the ends of the universe included.
Fourth, we praise God because he is a rescuer, verses 8-12. He rescued God’s people from Egypt and then gave them the land of Israel as their inheritance. From a New Testament perspective, this rescue of God is fulfilled in the rescue of God’s people at the cross. So we praise God not only because he is good, not only because to praise God is pleasant, not only because he is great and powerful, but we also praise God because he rescues us. Most of all and peremptorily, a rescuer, a savior, The Savior.
Fifth, we praise God because he is real, not an idol, verses 13-18. There are many other religions and so-called deities in the world. “They have ears but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths.” But God’s name “endures forever.” He is no mere passing fad of fascination of a tribal deity of some temporary culture. The Lord’s name is eternal and will never fail.
For these reasons then, praise God! A good habit in Bible reading is, whenever possible, to actually spend time uttering praise to God for his goodness, his greatness, his rescue, that he is not an idol, but his name endures forever. Sing to God. Say aloud how great he is. Say it in the quiet and still of your mind and heart. Praise the Lord!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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