How do you want to be remembered? If you had to pick one character quality, which would you want to pass down to your own children (if you have them) or to those whom you disciple?
We, of course, would not want to have to pick only one. We would like to be all of these things, and we should aspire to them and work hard to become them.
This morning, however, we are going to focus on something not in this list. It touches many of them, but no one of them quite captures it.
What do you think when I mention the name “King David” to you?
This morning, we are looking at the last Psalm which is ascribed to his authorship. The final five Psalms after this one have no specific titles, but all begin and end with “Hallelujah” or “Praise the Lord!”
The title of this Psalm is “David’s Praise” or “David’s Song of Praise.” It is the only Psalm with this title, and seems a fitting conclusion to David’s contributions to the Psalter.
This is one of eight Psalms that is an acrostic poem. Each verse begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This means that a lot of thought went into the writing of the Psalm. We are essentially studying “Praise from A to Z” under the tutelage of one of the greatest worshipers in all of scripture. We know a lot about David’s life—about his life as a shepherd, about his kingship, about his marriages, about his parenting, about his strengths, and about his weaknesses. But, I hope that David’s life as a worshiper of God rises to the top of the list for you.
What we will observe this morning, and hopefully catch a vision for ourselves, is David’s deep life of praise—a life of seeing God’s greatness, and of declaring God’s greatness to others.
We may at certain points this morning apply the sermon specifically to fathers for Father’s Day, but the application of this Psalm belongs to all of us here today.
Let us learn today how one generation commends God’s works to another. We’ll study the Psalm under two basic points:
Our Father in Heaven, you are holy and worthy of our praise. You are above all in greatness and over all that you have made. We are only able to address you as Father because of your great love for us in sending your own Son to redeem us from our sins, that we might be adopted into your family.
As your children, we do ask that you would help us to grow in your likeness.
I pray especially this morning for the fathers in this room, that we would imitate you as we care for our own children. Help us to grow in love and mercy, wisdom and patience, sacrifice and joy, as we lead our families to worship you, the only true God.
We fall so far short, as did our own fathers, in obeying your commands completely and loving you with all our heart. Grant us new mercies today and in the coming years that we may be changed into your image for your own glory.
First, let’s see some specific aspects of “how” we should worship the LORD based on this Psalm.
Or in verse 7…
“Pour forth” is the idea that the praise overflows out of the hear.
And finally in vs. 21…
Not only is David overflowing with praise, he wants everyone to join him in the endeavor.
The last image that would come to our minds after reading this Psalm is David, bored, but committed to a religious duty to go to the tabernacle to worship. I don’t get the sense that his father, Jesse, was having to drag him out of bed on the Sabbath to worship God together. I don’t mean to imply that David was always a worshiper and that he didn’t have to grow into the man he became; I’m just suggesting that for much of his life, and certainly by the time in his life when he is writing these words, he does not see Praise as merely a duty or religious drudgery.
The language in verse 1 is personal and eager.
We see this exemplified in David’s life on many occasions, one of which was when David brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6.
2 Samuel 6:5 (ESV) — And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.
2 Samuel 6:14–15 (ESV) — And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn.
Whatever we might say about David’s praise, it would not be that he was half-hearted or double-minded. No, he was enthusiastic and “all in.”
Several of David’s psalms begin like Psalm 9.
Psalm 9:1 (ESV) — I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
David was enthusiastic in his praise.
He does not begin by saying “Every Sabbath I will bless you.”
There are a couple of ways that we need to praise every day.
First, we need to praise God regularly. This should be a high priority for us, and part of our normal spiritual routines, not just on special occasions.
Especially notice that “every day” is not merely every Sabbath or every Lord’s Day. It certainly isn’t merely every religious holiday.
Our faith and relationship to God should spur us on to regular, daily expressions of praise.
Second, we need to praise God even in our different seasons. Are you experiencing God’s goodness? Praise! Are you experiencing God’s hand of discipline? Praise! In the midst of our good days as well as our difficult ones, praise is appropriate.
There will certainly be seasons when praise is easy and feel natural. But our experience tells us that there will also be times of significant difficulty when it is very hard to take our eyes off our circumstances and put them on the LORD. It is doubly hard in those times to actually praise God.
David certainly knew this in his own life. So did Job, who famously said:
Job 1:21 (ESV) — “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
The point here is not just to remain steadfast in your trials or to maintain your faith—this goes beyond that to actually verbally giving God praise even in the mist of your suffering.
David also invites us to praise forever in vs. 21.
There is a refrain in these verses—“forever and ever.”
Take a few seconds and consider your top 4-5 activities. What do you really love spending your time doing?
Now, which of those will you be doing for all of eternity? The chances are that many of the things you thought of will not retain significance in heaven. Even many of the spiritual activities we take part in now will not last into eternity.
1 Corinthians 13:8–10 (ESV) — Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
1 Corinthians is emphasizing that Love will never end. But David is emphasizing in Psalm 145 that Praise will never end. Worshipers will not stop worship God in heaven. For all eternity, here “forever and ever”, we will be extolling God’s virtues, deeds, and greatness.
When I was in college, I love playing lots of instruments. But there came a time at which I decided I should focus on the instrument that I would continue playing the most in my adulthood and career. It was time to drop the bassoon and trombone and focus on piano, because I wanted to practice the instrument that would be with me for the rest of my life.
This is even more significant. This aspect of the Christian life will go on forever and ever. We should practice it now.
In Spurgeon’s Treasury of David, he writes extensive comments on all of the Psalms. He also quotes from other writers as well. Here is a lovely quote that he gives from William Punchon.
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.
- C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, 384. (Quoting William Morley Punshon, 1824–1881)
Let’s work together to practice the thing that we’ll be doing into all of eternity.
So many of the verbs in the Psalm involve the mouth, which is the next point, but first we must not miss the role of the mind. I considered making the distinction “personal vs. public” praise, but even our “personal” praise may need to be verbalized. But there is a place for reflection and thought before the mouth speaks.
In verse 3, David points out that the LORD’s greatness is unsearchable. What does he mean by this? Does David mean that God is like a part of the ocean that is so deep we can’t send any kind of exploratory team or equipment? It’s no use. It’s unsearchable.
I don’t think that’s what he means. Instead, this is an invitation to join in the search. There is more left to discover of God’s greatness than we could ever do ourselves or even quantify. So, let’s get started; there’s no time to lose. We need more explorers and more focus on knowing the depth and breadth of God’s greatness.
David tells us that God’s greatness is unsearchable, but then he goes on toe mention quite a few ways that God is great and worthy of praise. In verse 5, David also says that these are the things on which he meditates.
The modern notion of meditation will not help us here. Often when we hear the term meditation, someone means trying to empty your mind completely in some Eastern Religious way. This is not what David means. David is filling his mind with something.
We also know how to fill our mind with something, but we don’t like to call it meditation. We fill our minds with anxiety, or we think over a relational conflict with our spouse over and over and over again. Or, we think about what others must think of us from every conceivable angle. We know how to fix our mind on something—especially if that something has to do directly with ourselves or our circumstances.
But David knew better. He had plenty of really challenging circumstances that would get the best of us. But, he knew that his mind needed to be focused on the greatness of God—on his character and his mighty works—on his promises and his saving mercy.
One of the reasons we don’t praise the Lord more is because we use up most of our meditation muscles thinking about ourselves and our problems or our dreams.
Let’s lift our eyes, friends, and consider the greatness and works of God.
We covered the less obvious—using our mind and thought to praise God. Now let’s look at all these verbs which David lays out.
David is piling on the speech verbs throughout the whole Psalm. I count at least twelve: Extol, bless, praise, commend, declare, speak, pour forth, sing, give thanks, tell, make known.
When we speak of the broader category of worship, we mean much more than just speech. Worship includes actions of the body like dancing, bowing down, kneeling, clapping, and raising hands. Worship can also include praying, singing, silence. It points to a broader life of devotion and obedience.
But praise is more direct and specific. Praise is not praise if it is not expressed. Praise is not a feeling or state of mind; it is an action—and most likely an action which is expressed verbally. It may be that God is the only one to hear the praise, but it is often expressed in the presence of others.
Verse 21 is as explicit an example as we could ask for.
I was struck this week as I was considering this Psalm how much of our Christian devotional and church life that we can live without really embracing praise. Of course, many of these activities should lead to praise, but often they don’t. I think we may assume we’ve praised God merely because we have had a quiet time or devotional. This could involve praise. But, it’s possible to read your bible every day or pray at every meal and yet not get around to actually praising God.
The same could be true of preaching and teaching. It’s possible to preach or instruct others or to sit under preaching or teaching in such a way that we never or rarely arrive at doxology and praise. This is unhealthy, and will eventually lead to the deadening of the heart and mind toward God. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Paul is a good example of how our love for truth ought to culminate in doxology at the end of Romans 11.
Romans 11:33–36 (ESV) — Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
How often does this happen in your life? How often do you break out in praise and doxology in wonder at the greatness of God? Does it happen in your devotion, or your meal times? Do you speak out at home group or at lunch with a friend?
I don’t mean just talking about the things of God and the Christian life—I mean speaking forth praise to God in the presence of others.
I’m certainly convicted personally as I consider these questions.
There is a particular emphasis in this Psalm toward praising God so that the next generation will hear it.
Let’s consider the significance of this reality.
When I first approached this verse, I had a very specific thing in mind. I thought this was each generation recounting faithfully what God has revealed in his word. We should all faithfully pass down what we’ve been taught—the deposit of good teaching that we’ve received should be passed on to others.
But now I think verse 4 includes more than this. Certainly it would include the things we’ve received. But it also includes what the Lord has done in our lives. In other words, we need to add our chapter to the book of God’s mighty acts.
If you hear “mighty acts” and primarily think of creation or the flood, then you may be missing the beauty of this verse. God’s sovereign Providence over all he has made is worthy of praise, but God does new, personal, saving acts in each generation. His work of saving sinners are some of his greatest works in all of creation and should be commended to the next generation.
Fathers, the next generation needs more from us than just what to believe or how to behave. They need to hear the works of God that have been done in our lives and in our generation. We need to put words to the mighty acts of God that he has done to save sinners.
Let’s hear from Spurgeon again.
It is the occupation of every true believer to rehearse the great doings of his great God. We are not to leave this to the common converse of the crowd, but we are personally to make a declaration of what we have seen and known.
- C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, 377.
For the rest of the Psalm David gives us an example of how to meditate on God’s attributes and activities in a way to bring him praise.
David meditates on God’s wondrous works and comes face to face with God’s greatness.
Philip encouraged us several weeks ago to consider God’s greatness through the book of nature and the book of scripture. Do we look often enough and long enough at what God has created to see the glory of the Creator? In our study of philosophy or logic, biology or physics, do we linger long enough to consider the glory of the God that created it?
Don’t forget the glory of the God as presented in the Bible, both in the presentation of what he’s done, as well as the descriptions of what he is like.
David not only praises the LORD for his greatness, but also for his goodness.
Consider all of the narratives of God’s deliverance in scripture—deliverance from enemies, from failures, from the power of sin, from judgement.
Consider the goodness of the God who works all things in his Providence for the good of those who love him.
Some of this language David uses reminds us of God’s self-revelation to Moses.
Exodus 34:6 (ESV) — The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
As Christians, we spend a lot of time singing about God’s mercy toward sinners.
David goes beyond this. The LORD is good to ALL, and his mercy is over ALL that he has made.
The fact that God does not immediately strike us all dead and send us to hell when we sin is mercy. There is none righteous, no not one. The wages of sin is death.
Yet God does not strike us all dead when we sin. Many experience God’s saving mercy, but God’s mercy is over all that he has made. “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt 5:45).”
Creation and philosophy can point us to a God that is Great, but not to one that is merciful.
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) — The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
We have all experienced the mercy of God, even those who have not bowed the knee to Him. Our God is rich in mercy, Praise Him!
The skeptic. The prodigal. The rebel. The self-righteous. God shows mercy to them all. God is Good to All. Praise Him!
One of the ways the saints give praise to God is to talk about his kingdom. David points out two specific ways that God’s kingdom is worthy of praise.
How much of our history, war, literature, and art are bound up in imagining, wishing for, and fighting for a “glorious kingdom?” But we know from all of human history that the best kingdoms have faltered and been replaced.
We long for the good kingdom that is permanent!
The last section of the Psalm is good news to us all. If we consider the everlasting kingdom we just spoke of, we may begin to wonder what kind of subjects are included in that kingdom.
When we think of a king’s dominion over his kingdom, we typically think of his laws and governing power. But, there is another side of a King’s role. He cares for his subjects and provides for them. This is what we see in these verses.
Be comforted that God doesn’t require you to be “on top of the mountain” to meet you or bless you.
In whatever circumstances you find yourself this morning, hear these promises and put your trust in the one who gave them.
In order to apply the message today, I’d like to assign some homework, preferably written.
Our lack of enthusiastic praise most likely indicates that we do not dwell deeply on the greatness of God.
How do you want to be remembered? What do you want to pass down to those after you?
The knowledge of the LORD is preserved largely through instruction, but the living faith through continued proclamation.
- Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms, 914.
Revelation 5:9–14 (ESV) — And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Let us all pass down our praise of the one true God to the next generation. Let them hear you praise. Let them hear you sing.
O worship the King all glorious above
And gratefully sing His power and His love
Our Shield and Defender the Ancient of Days
Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise
O tell of His might O sing of His grace
Whose robe is the light whose canopy space
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm
O measureless might ineffable love
While angels delight to worship Thee above
Thy mercies how tender how firm to the end
Our Maker Defender Redeemer and Friend
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