Sunday, October 20, 2019 Brad Barrett
David’s Psalms: Mirror of the Soul
Week 1: Praise Him!
Last Sunday I wasn’t here. I visited another church out of town. The service was more than twice as long as Stonebrook’s. Three-and-a-half hours! Three and a half! It was a church much, much larger than ours. 75,000 people. No joke.
The church was in Kansas City. It’s a worship center….a PAGAN worship center….called Arrowhead Stadium. The home of the NFL team, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Several months ago for Father’s Day and my birthday, my family bought tickets for a Chiefs game. Some of my family lives there, so we went to a game. I hadn’t been to an NFL game since I was a teenager. We had a lot of fun, even though the Chiefs lost.
But sporting events are fascinating. If you have ever wondered what “WORSHIP” is, just go to a popular sporting event.
NFL. An Iowa State game. Sports fans know how to praise. We don’t have to be taught how to praise our team. We just know. We dress with team gear. We read about the team. We attend the game. We cheer, yell, jump up, clap. We boo the referees who, of course, who bring great injustices against our team. And when we score a touchdown, we even high-five strangers in the row behind us. How weird is that?
We praise all sorts of things. A good meal like at Thanksgiving. And the cook. A good book. A great movie.
We experience them, and we want to tell someone. “You HAVE to read this. You MUST see this.” We know naturally and reflexively how to praise.
Our theme this morning is PRAISE. Certainly not praising a sports team. We are to praise God. To celebrate. To cheer. To be in amazement. To be in awe. To speak. To sing.
And… we are to do this with others. Not only by ourselves, but together. It is one of the reasons we, the people of God, are to gather together. We are commanded to gather.
We are going to learn about praising God this morning from one of the greatest men of God in history. David, king of Israel. Described by God himself as “a man after God’s own heart.” David knew God. He was intimate with God. And he wrote out his prayers. And God left them for us to learn from. To speak and sing and shout about.
Psalm 145:1 ESV I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
Today I hope to plant a seed in our hearts, and to water it if it’s already blooming. The seed is the knowledge and experience of God. To know God and to walk with him in all of his majesty and power and tenderness and mercy.
And as we know him, we will praise him. We will. And when we praise him, our souls will be satisfied deep within.
Review of David and Psalms
Before we dig into our topic, let’s review. We just finished a series on Samuel. About 2/3 of those that book focuses on one man of God, David. He had quite a life filled with adventures, trials, and sin.
David was a unique man, being both a Warrior and a Poet. He wrote and played music. God has inspired and preserved 75 of those songs and poems in the book of Psalms.
2 Samuel 23:1 calls him, “The sweet psalmist of Israel.”
David wrote psalms while running for his life against King Saul who hated him. He wrote psalms when he was delivered from his enemies. He wrote psalms after committing adultery and murder, hiding it for nearly a year. He wrote psalms to express his praise and awe and wonder of Almighty God.
Psalms (in general) help us to express the deep needs and emotions in our souls.
Seek an intimacy with God.
Psalm 63:1 ESV “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
Cast our burdens on him. David wrote Psalm 55 while seeking deliverance from a close friend who betrayed him.
Psalm 55:22 ESV “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
And other expressions of our souls, such as:
- Take our complaints and confusion to God.
- Confess our sins to God and finding forgiveness and mercy.
- Seeking justice
- Give thanks—have gratitude—for all that God has done for us.
In this 6-week series, we hope to pass on some of these things so that we all can learn how to pray and draw nearer to our great God. And find rich satisfaction and hope in him.
For centuries, the Christian church has adopted the Psalms to be its prayer book.
One author said,
“Immersing ourselves in the Psalms and turning them into prayers teaches our hearts the ‘grammar’ of prayer.”
The Psalm give us beautiful, God-inspired prayers that instruct us how and what to pray in accord with God’s character and will.”
There is no situation or emotion a human being can experience that is not reflected somewhere in the Psalms.
Another author said,
“The Psalms arouse our emotions, direct our wills, and stimulate our imaginations.”
Someone else said,
“The Psalms are a mirror of our souls.”
We read the Psalms and pray them, and we find ourselves looking at them like we look in a mirror. We can see ourselves. We can see inside us…our fears and needs. Our anger and confusion. Our discouragement and depression. Our longings and joys. We go to the psalms to be honest with God.
Here is our purpose for this series. This is where we want to take you:
…to teach us to pray…using the Psalms as heaven-sent, human-felt language to honestly and openly express our souls to God. Talking to God in all our wide-ranging emotions.
The end result is to know God more intimately, trust him more deeply in truth, and line up the beliefs and emotions of our souls with him.
Today we will focus on one psalm that is entirely about praise. Learning to praise God. Most Psalms have some element of praise.
Psalm 145 today is filled beginning to end with praise for God.
Turn to Psalm 145. [page 524]
As I stated earlier, we all know how to praise something. We do it somewhat naturally. Reflexively.
- This is not about personality. Some of us are more expressive than others. That’s not what I’m talking about.
- Regardless of personality, we all know something about praise.
So the ultimate question is, whom or what do we praise? Do we praise God, the Maker of heaven and earth? Do we know him well enough that praise comes out?
David, the author of Psalm 145, is going to teach us how to praise God and what to praise him for.
1 I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
The words “extol, bless, and praise” are all synonyms of the same thing. We are worshiping, cheering, applauding, honoring, and being in awe of our God and King. We recognize how great he is. He has a greatness (vastness, “bigness”, that is unsearchable. That has no end. And we have to say something. It seems praise is not complete until we say something.
In sports, fans clamor and argue about greatness. What team is the greatest? What quarterback? We love to compare.
But all such earthly things are so limited in their greatness. They are actually rather pathetically “UN-great” when compared to God. Usually our view of God is WAY too small, and that is why we don’t praise him much.
Exodus 15:11 NIV “Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”
Moses and Israel sang this in a song after God delivered them from slavery in Egypt.
God is great. He is mighty and powerful and infinite. He spoke the heavens and the earth into existence by a mere word. He can move mountains and crush nations. As we see this and believe it, we will praise him. We will speak it and sing it.
Now back to Psalm 145. David switches from just him praising God to US praising him. The congregation. The community of faith. The generations.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
He is going to think about the greatness and the great deeds of God.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
This is fascinating to me. And very important. Hear this. Are you listening?? Praising God is not limited to the vertical. i.e., it is not limited to praying directly to God.
Here David speaks of the importance of the community. The congregation of God’s people. They are to speak to one another about God. And when they do, they are praising him.
A week and a half ago I counseled with a couple people about a very difficult situation they are in. Just two days ago they emailed me. In the email they told me some good work that God had been doing in numerous lives since we had met. I was overjoyed at God’s kindness and wisdom for helping these dear people. I couldn’t reply fast enough to tell of my joy for them. The Lord was very good to them. Like in verse 4, we “commend” God’s works to each other. We are to rejoice in God together.
You see, when we are aware of God and we hear of his great works, we can’t help but praise him. We WANT to speak OF him.
So here David speaks of God’s “works.” His “mighty acts.” His “wondrous works.” His “awesome deeds.”
What are these? David really doesn’t get specific here. He doesn’t give us a list of God’s great works.
So what do we do? Well, one answer is quite simple: We simply put some effort into LOOKING for and DWELLING on what God has done.
- We look at the Scriptures.
- We look at our own lives, both individually and collectively.
God is at work. So we have to deliberately spend time at it. David said in vs. 5, “on your wondrous works I will meditate.”
Here are just a few of God’s great works. His awesome deeds:
- Creation. God spoke this world into existence with a mere word. And this world and the heavens speaks of God’s glory. Psalm 19 (by David) says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.”
Who can remain unmoved by the stunning night stars or majestic mountains?
- Joseph. God took the evil of ten brothers toward Joseph and turned it on its head for good, to save many lives. Gen 50:20. God’s power, wisdom, and love leaves us speechless.
- Red Sea. God rescued his people from cruel bondage in Egypt in a mighty deliverance and act of justice. God’s justice and heart of redemption is praiseworthy.
- Jesus Christ. And the greatest of all God’s works: he sent his Son into the world to live, die, rise, and ascend, with a promise to return. We rejoice, for we owe our very lives to him.
- God’s nearness. Then because of Christ, God is nearer to us now than we could ever dream of. He seals the believer in Christ with the Holy Spirit. This is stunning. God is in me!!! And we are adopted as sons and daughters of Almighty God.
- In addition to the biblical stories, we each have our own set of “God stories,” how he has rescued, strengthened, forgiven, saved, and provided for us. These are our own testimonies, worthy to be declared to one another.
So….each of us has some work to do. Like verse 5 tells us: “on God’s wondrous works, I will meditate.” We must THINK about God’s works. Read about them. Talk about them. Write them down. The guy at the football game the row in front of you? He’s not cheering or yelling or even clapping. Why not? Something is missing.
If you and I are not praising Almighty God for his marvelous works, something is wrong. We are missing something.
We haven’t studied. We’re not meditating. We’re not talking with one another.
Perhaps unconfessed sin is clouding our view of God. We’re deceived. We simply don’t see God as he is. We are walking in unbelief.
We can learn from Psalm 145 how to praise and what to praise God for.
Such “works” and “mighty acts” and “awesome deeds” we should know and meditate on that we might then tell the next generation. This is our responsibility and our joy.
Ancient Jewish practice was to recite this psalm twice in the morning and once in the evening service. Think of that. They built into their lives…even their daily schedules…to pray and sing praises to their God.
Now David takes what I think is an abrupt transition. He has so far spoken of God’s might and power and glory. The vastness of God. God’s transcendence. But now he is going to speak of God’s tender love.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
Such tenderness of God. What a stunning contrast, that someone so mighty could be so tender! His kingship and greatness is terrifying, but paired with such kindness is remarkable. Typically among humans, someone who is powerful is brutal, and someone who is kind is weak. But God powerful and kind. Strong and loving.
This is why David said in vs. 3, “Great is the Lord… His greatness is unsearchable.” We will never meet anyone like the Lord.
As a young believer, I strongly grasped the greatness of God in his justice and holiness and power, but I was much slower to grasp his kindness and mercy. As the years have gone on, I have grown in my depth of understanding in both.
Now in vs. 10-13, David again talks about God’s greatness. His eternal, glorious kingdom.
And everyone…all of God’s people… the saints… should speak of God’s great glory and power and eternality.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
David is saying that everyone everywhere should give thanks to and praise God.
Everyone… not just the pastors… not just the parents… not just those who are older…. But everyone ought to speak of God the King. His power, mighty deeds. His kingdom which has a glorious, brilliant splendor: it’s beautiful beyond description. His kingdom is eternal. And all of us who believe in his Son, Jesus, will be in that eternal kingdom.
Read Revelation 21 and 22 for a stunning picture of the future kingdom.
God is stunning and glorious.
Now David will plunge headfirst into the tender provision and kindness of God. God’s tenderness like in vs. 8-9, but much more detailed and personal.
13b [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]
This 2nd part of vs. 13 is debatable if it was part of David’s original psalm. Some ancient manuscripts have it. Most do not.
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
The eyes of all people look to their Creator God to feed them. Jesus told us that our heavenly Father feeds even the birds of the air (Matt 6:26). Then he asks rhetorically, “Are you not of more value than they?”
If meditating on the tender mercies of God is part of our daily habits, our faith will be strengthened. When heavy trials come, we will remember more quickly how caring and intimate the Lord is. Such a provider.
David goes on praising God in glorious terms.
16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
God has an open hand. Not a close fist. He brings satisfaction to all.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.
Your God is so kind. Not rude or rough. Jesus said in Luke 6:35, “God is gracious to the ungrateful and the wicked.”
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
This is such a tender passage. We should weep with joy as we read it and proclaim it. This great and awesome and majestic God and King who reigns with all power, glory, and majesty, is so tender and compassionate. He is so near and such a provider.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
we look at the entire Psalm here, notice the verbs for us, indicating our
We can’t be the guy at the football game who is just sitting on his hands, blandly watching the game. We can and must engage with God. Praise. Speak. Meditate. Declare. Given thanks. Tell. Make known.
Notice the attributes and actions of God…just in Psalm 145:
am violating all rules of good slides in a presentation by having too much on
the slide. But I want to overwhelm you
with who God is.)
Glorious splendor of his majesty
His awesome deeds are mighty
He is famous for his abundant goodness
Slow to anger
Abounding in steadfast love
His kingdom is glorious
His kingdom has a glorious splendor
His kingdom is everlasting
His name is holy
If you and I know God like this, we will be transformed. We will praise. We simply won’t stay the same.
What do we take from all this?
What do we take from all this??
If you want to learn how to pray and then to actually pray, go to the Psalms.
If you want to learn about God, who he is, what he has done, and then to celebrate and cheer and praise and sing to God, go to the Psalms.
David knew the Lord as well as anyone in the Scriptures. He walked in intimacy with God. He understood God.
We want to learn from someone like him. Psalm 145 is a heaven-sent, human-felt prayer. God gave it to us for our benefit. For understanding. For worship.
The more we see such attributes and actions of God…. And the more we meditate on them….and study and speak about….the more we will praise. And the more we praise him for what we do know and believe— even if it seems rather small— the better we will know him and the richer we will be in our souls. We will find great satisfaction in God as we praise God. Our hearts will be warmed. Our minds will be enlivened. Our tongues will be loosed.
What inhibits praise?
A variety of things can keep us from praising God as he is worthy.
Here are a few things:
- Fears—fear of people, concerned what they think if I exalt God, sing loud, raise my hands, talk to them about God.
- Worries—we are distracted from God by all the pressures in our lives.
- Laziness—we simply are not diligent to put forth the effort to know God, to study the Scriptures, to actually pray to and praise him.
- Other unrepentant sin—we holding on to our cherished sin, and we won’t give it up. We then deceive ourselves, and our view of God slowly dims, going from blurry to complete blindness.
Here is your assignment. It’s very simple.
READ Psalms 145 every day this week. Listen to it with an audio Bible app.
Perhaps read it like ancient Jewish tradition: twice in the morning and once at night. Read it and pray it. Verbatim, one verse at a time. Or paraphrase it. Learn who God is. Speak who God is. Praise God for who he is.
We won’t always feel like it. We have full schedules. We get tired.
Yesterday morning after getting dressed and making coffee, I was tired. My mind and body were numb. I did NOT feel like praising God. But I started praying through Psalm 145 out loud to the Lord. What started out as simply forcing the words out ended up where I was sincerely and energetically praising the Lord. I was strengthened and filled with joy. I was blessed to know God’s great power and his tender mercies.
I was so blessed that I found myself thinking, “To whom can I share this with? I want to tell someone about how great God is?” I thought, “Maybe I should wake my wife up out of a deep sleep to tell her about the Lord.” J
We all know how to cheer and celebrate and worship many things. Let’s seek the Lord. Let’s take David’s prayer in Psalm 145 and make it our own.
READ IT with SOMEONE ELSE.
For disciples of Jesus, an important aspect of being a disciple is to help others be disciples. In other words, we don’t keep our faith to ourselves. We pass it on.
Remember that the Psalms are like a Prayer book. The Psalms teach us the language—the grammar—of prayer. What to pray. How to pray.
To praise God with all our hearts may be the most pure, holy, satisfying action we can ever take.
Talk to other people about your great God. Like David said in vs. 4, “One generation shall commend your works to another…” Talk about the Lord to others. Your roommate. Spouse. Children. Co-workers. Tell them about God. Speak of what God is doing and what he has done.
Speak of lessons he is teaching you. Speak of his tenderness. The list of what to speak about is endless.
God has designed us for community. We are meant to share life together. And a fundamental part of that shared life is centered around God.