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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Psalm 145:1-7 - Praising God

Psalm 145 is the last psalm in the psalter that has a title saying that it was composed by David. Of course, he may have written the remaining four psalms. Yet it is interesting to note the emphasis of his last referenced psalm – it is full of praise to God and of optimism about the future of his kingdom. If this was David’s outlook as he drew near the end of his life, we can see in it a model of how older people should regard their relationship with God and the prospects for his cause.

What is praise? In verses 4-7 David mentions four features of biblical praise. It includes elevating thoughts, high thoughts, about God – this is the meaning of extolling and blessing. It includes eagerness, otherwise how could the psalmist continue doing it day after day. It includes expectation of eternity, because David wanted to participate in such praise for ever and ever. And it includes an awareness of the greatness of God – yet only a partial awareness because all who realise that he is great also confess that his greatness is far more than they can understand. We praise a big God, one who does nothing insignificant.

Imagine trying to estimate about whether or not God makes anything that we can regard as insignificant. I suppose we would say that a diminutive insect is insignificant compared to an angel or a human. Yet in contrast to what we can make, a diminutive insect is significant because it has life whereas we cannot give life to anything. The point I am making is that while there are degrees concerning the great things God does, even the most insignificant reveals his greatness whereas our most important achievements only reveal our limitations.

David is then led to think about the future activities in God’s kingdom. The psalmist had little understanding of the future developments that would occur throughout history. If someone had said to him that Israel in the twenty-first century would have aeroplanes that could fire deadly weapons from thousands of feet in the air he probably would not have understood the concept. The same could be said about all other technological inventions. So there would be many things about the future that David could not grasp. The same goes for ourselves – we have no idea what will be part of normal life a century from now.

Yet there was one certainty he knew would happen, and we also can say it will happen. That certainty is that there will always be people in each generation who will praise God. It almost seems as if the psalmist is imitating what those future believers will do. He says they are going to praise God, therefore I will praise God. Although he can only see them by faith, as it were, still they are an example for him. Their enthusiastic praise that is yet to appear stimulates him to engage in enthusiastic praise even now.

The praise of the future and the praise of the present say the same truths about the God of the ages. It is striking to note the adjectives David uses to describe the activities of God – they are mighty, they reveal the glorious splendour of his majesty, they are wondrous, they are awesome, and they are abundant. It almost seems that David has ransacked a dictionary in order to find suitable words. Because as we all know, words can say a lot or they can say a little. Here they say a great deal. David’s choice of words helps us to worship his God.

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