Great Praise for a Great God
All of us have stories of the way our children learned to pray. My daughters struggled to pray for everything at once, so at dinner they would slowly identify each piece of silverware and each item of food, pausing along the way to express their gratitude for them one by one! Continue reading . . .
All of us have stories of the way our children learned to pray. My daughters struggled to pray for everything at once, so at dinner they would slowly identify each piece of silverware and each item of food, pausing along the way to express their gratitude for them one by one! In the ancient world of Israel, it was customary to pray Psalm 145 before a communal meal. But this psalm is not so much about the food God provides as it is about the God who makes provision in all things.
We live in a world that has trivialized God, having reduced him to human proportions. God is now little more than an exalted man, a super-hero at best, but not the all-powerful, majestic, sovereign King over all kings that we read about in Scripture. Here in Psalm 145 we see God for who he is and we are given a model for how we ought to respond.
David’s focus is clearly on the unrivaled glory, holiness, and altogether otherness of God. God alone is “great” (vv. 3, 6b), in ways that can never be said of anything in creation. We can know him truly, but never exhaustively. His greatness transcends the greatest and most celebrated geniuses on earth.
The psalmist also directs our thoughts to God’s majesty and his “glorious splendor” (v. 5). The radiant beauty of God’s person and power outshine everything and everyone else combined.
But this “great” and “majestic” God is also “good” (vv. 7a, 9a) and “gracious and merciful” (v. 8) and “abounding in steadfast love” (v. 8). It would be horrifying if God’s power and majesty were used in the cause of evil and destruction. We rejoice in God because he turns his power and “righteousness” (v. 7b) to bless and prosper his people.
It is because of who God “is” that what he “does” is marvelous and awe-inspiring. His “works” (vv. 4, 5b, 6a, 9, 12a) are “mighty” (v. 4b) and “wondrous” (v. 5b) and “awesome” (v. 6a). He exercises providential oversight of all his creation in such a way that his people “give thanks” and “bless” his name and “speak” of his glory and “tell” of his power (vv. 10-13).
He “upholds” (v. 14) what he has made and abundantly supplies (v. 15) whatever is needed. The Lord is not only “righteous” in all his ways but he is also “kind” in all his works (v. 17b). There is a tenderness in his power, a compassion in his sovereignty.
He is a God who answers prayer (vv. 18-19) and “preserves” his people (v. 20a) yet destroys the wicked (v. 20b).
How else could we respond than to “extol” him (v. 1), “bless” him (vv. 1b, 2a, 10b), “praise” him (v. 2b), “commend” his works (v. 4, 6b), “declare” (v. 4), “meditate” upon his works (v. 5), “speak” (v. 6a) and “pour forth” (v. 7a) praise? Let us “sing aloud” (v. 7b) and “give thanks” (v. 10a) and “make known” (v. 12) all that he has done, and let it be “forever and ever” (vv. 1b, 2b, 21b). Let there be great praise for a great God!
[This article was first published in the ESV Women’s Devotional Bible, available from Crossway Publishers, 2014.]