The nature and character of God is of course worthy of all praise and adoration. But we are finite, and sinful on top of that, and so we cannot even begin to praise Him as He deserves to be praised. Nevertheless, the effort must be made. As forgiven sinners, how on earth are we going to declare His worth? What are we going to do? Shout? Stand on a chair?
One of the ways that Scripture assigns to us is the method of declaring His works—the mighty works that He accomplished down here where we live. This is something we can do, and David shows us the way.
“I will extol thee, my God, O king; And I will bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless thee; And I will praise thy name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; And his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: And I will declare thy greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness . . . And let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever” (Psalm 145:1–21).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT
As we begin to work our way through this psalm, take note of all the verbs that the psalmist promises. Over and over, up through the seventh verse, this is what the psalmist does. He extols God, and blesses His name (v. 1). He blesses His name every day, and is going to praise Him forever (v. 2). The magnitude of the task is recognized—God is greatly to be praised because His greatness is unfathomable. Following David’s example, one generation will praise God to the next, declaring His mighty acts (v. 4). David returns to the task, speaking of the glorious honor of His majesty . . . and His works (v. 5). Others will speak of the might of His terrible acts, and David will declare His greatness (v. 6). Men will recount their memories of God’s great goodness, and will sing about His righteousness (v. 7).
What is this God like? Gracious, full of compassion, slow to anger, and He has great mercy (v. 8). God is good to all, and His tender mercies are the arch over our lives (v. 9). His works turn around and praise Him, and His saints echo that praise (v. 10). They, as David did earlier, will speak of God’s glory, and talk about His power (v. 11). This is instructive; men learn about His mighty acts and His glorious majesty (v. 12). His kingdom is forever; His dominion is forever (v. 13).
But He does more than throw galaxies around, and make volcanos blow up. He operates at our nano-level as well. He upholds those who fall, and raises up those who are stooped over (v. 14). This is why we little ones look to Him, like baby birds in a nest (v. 15). We all had breakfast this morning because God opened His hand (v. 16). Same thing with real baby birds (v. 16). Always remember that God is good, all the time (v. 17). If someone calls out to Him in truth, they can be assured that God is right there (v. 18). Do you fear Him? He will fulfill your desire, hear your cry, and save you (v. 19). God preserves those who love Him and destroys the wicked (v. 20). So don’t be wicked. All of this caused David to speak God’s praises (v. 21), and he issues the invitation to all flesh to bless His name forever and ever (v. 21).
THE NATURAL DUTY OF PRAISE
It is a commonplace that our mouths are filled with the same thing that fills our hearts. The voice is the overflow valve for the heart. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt. 12:34). This is speaking of the ungodly, but the principles works in both directions. The godly speak about what they love too. “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: And the Lord hearkened, and heard it, And a book of remembrance was written before him For them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name” (Malachi 3:16).
THE GENEROSITY OF GOD
God is a generous God. The picture of God opening His hand conjures up the image of someone going out to feed the chickens, spreading the feed by the handful. He is not stingy. He gives with an open hand. God is good to all (v. 9). If you are struggling, if you are beaten down, if you have been worked over . . . God sees you and stoops to lift you up (v. 14). He knows your desires, top to bottom, front to back, side to side, and He is the God who will both sanctify and fulfill those desires.
THE GOD WHO IS NIGH
And this brings us to the realization that God is good—all the time God is good. But it is equally true that sin is bad—all the time sin is bad. And because we live in a fallen world, we have to deal with the impact of sin, our own and that of others. We have to deal with stupidity, our own and that of others. We have to deal with wickedness. And remember that God preserves those who love Him, and He destroys the wicked (v. 20). And this hard sentiment is expressed in a psalm of praise. Remember that the only passage where alleluia occurs in the New Testament is when the saints of God are observing the smoke of Babylon the great going up forever and ever (Rev. 19:3).
So God is good all the time, and sin is bad all the time. But the goodness of God overarches and outranks everything else, including the wickedness that He is engaged in destroying. So when you are in trouble, and you are crying out to Him, remember the promise of the psalm. God is nigh. This is not the same as to say that it has to feel like He is nigh, but our task is to walk in the truth of His Word. And so don’t doubt in the dark what you knew in the light.