What does it mean to praise God?
Singing? Lifting our hands? Dancing? Playing an instrument?
David says in Psalm 103,
“ Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.”
Here he is praising God with his inmost being; with his soul.
Praise starts with the soul. It’s a gratefulness that moves from the inside out. Praising can be singing and dancing, but those are outward expressions of an inward disposition. Praise can also be working, writing, walking, and talking because we can life a life of praise within us as we do everything unto the glory of God. Praise is a way of life!
Why do we praise God? I know this is loaded question. There are endless reasons why we praise God: because he’s God, for his grace, because he loves us, …and I can go on. But I’d like to focus on Psalm 103 and King David’s reasons for worshiping the Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Here is praising God for personal reasons. It sounds like he is speaking from experience. He knows the pit of sin God rescued him from and how God redeemed him and blessed him. He was met with God’s relentless forgiveness and is now experiencing the benefits of repentance and forgiveness. Moving through the Psalm, next David continues,
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
Here David goes beyond himself and praises God for the way he treat all of his people. He has compassion and patience with all of us. Yes he does accuse us when we fall away or sin against him, but he won’t always accuse us because he calls us to him so we can be forgiven.
We are sinners and should fear God! In our pit of sin we should fear God because he is powerful. We should be afraid of what it means to be outside of God’s forgiveness. It’s a dark, lonely and painful place opposed to those who obey him. When we obey God, we will be blessed, God’s love is poured out on us when our fear of him moves us into surrender. God wants what is best for us, and this is a reason to praise him!
Our God also knows us. He made us from the dust and knows our lives are short. He wants us to flourish like flowers while we are here. Let’s praise our God who made us, knows us and understands us better than anyone could.
Continuing through David’s song of praise he says,
The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
David ends his song by pointing out that God’s blessings come from the heavenly realms and go beyond our short lives. God created this world, but he also created his angels, and all the heavenly hosts, who praise him along with us!
King David praises God because his forgiveness is personal to him, his forgiveness is universal to all the those who call on him, and his forgiveness leads us down a life-giving path, which goes beyond our short life on earth.
God’s forgiveness takes us on a journey from the pit of sin to a life of praise.
God forgives us so we can be transformed from broken to healed. One time I had a tooth ache that caused the whole side of my face to swell up. It hurt so bad I couldn’t sleep or even function very well during the day. I hate the dentist but I finally went and I needed surgery. It was very uncomfortable and after the surgery I didn’t have pain killer right away. After the surgery I sat on my couch crying loudly like a baby until someone picked up my prescription for me. It was horrible. But now my tooth is healed. I can eat without pain and sleep at night. Allowing ourselves to go through the pain of healing is worth it in the end.
Sometimes we say, “Oh I’ll wait till I get it together before I come to God” that would be like me saying, “Oh let me wait till my tooth is fixed before I go to the doctor.” God meets us and forgives us right where we are, so we can move towards healing. It mighthurt and be uncomfortable, but trust God in the healing process. God wants you healed!
We are all sinners in need a of a savior. From the most righteous to the murderer, we are all sinners who need healing. He wants to meet you right in the pit of sin, or right where you are and let you know he forgives you and wants to take you from broken to healed. And when he heals us we cannot help but praise him.
God forgives us so we can move from longing to satisfied. We all have this place in our hearts which seems to always feel empty. Something is missing. We long for something, anything to quiet the need for love. The need to be noticed. The need to have a purpose. We long to feel significant and we tend to follow our longings right off a cliff and into sin. The world offers temporary fixes which leave us more empty than before.
Our souls need open heart surgery and this world offers bandaids. – drinking, drugs, sex, food, and they make us feel better for the moment, but the deeper problem is still there.
If we tried to survive off of soda or coffee instead of water, we wouldn’t function correctly and we could possibly die. We need water to sustain us. Water doesn’t always taste as good as coffee, but in the end it keeps us alive. In the same way we need to come to God because he is satisfying and sustaining, like water for our soul.
God gives us a lasting healthy satisfaction which brings wholeness to our lives. Yes, It takes hard work, patience, and discipline but it’s worth it. When we allow our selves to be forgiven and healed, God will fulfill our longing and satisfy us. We will want to praise God because he is all we need. God wants you to find meaning, and joy! He wants you to feel loved!
God forgives us so we can move from ashamed to loved.
Romans 8 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Maybe you are a believer in Jesus. You believe that God came down to be like us so he can relate with his creation. He came and died to take our punishment for our sins, to be raised to life three days later, so we could be saved from the punishment we deserved. This is the ultimate kind of love.Through the relentless love of Christ we are not condemned even though we deserve it.
Maybe you have never given your life to Christ ? It says in 1 Timothy 2:4, that, “God our Savior… wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” He loves you and wants you to know when you come to him you have no reason to be ashamed because he wants to forgive you, heal you, satisfy you, and love you!
Lastly God forgives us in order to transform us from despair to praise.
Haratio Spafford was a successful lawyer who had invested a lot of money in property in the area of Chicago. He was married and had four girls. In 1871 Great Chicago Fire ruined him financially by burning down the properties. His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873 at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on a ship. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed with business matters.While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank after a collision with another ship, and although his wife survived, his four young daughters died. As he traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
Our lives are hard sometimes. We have to deal with tragedy and death, temptation and emotions, relationships and jobs. Our circumstances can easily lead us to worry and despair. But God wants us to remember he meets us in our circumstances and moves us to a place of praise, no matter what is going on around us. God is our peace, refuge and strength. When we see how God meets us in our sin and leads us to healing, satisfaction, and love, we can’t help but praise him with our inmost being.
God wants all of his creation to praise him and give him glory !
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelations 4:11