Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!
AS WE BEGIN our look at verse one of this psalm of praise, let’s jump to the last verse: “Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!” (v. 22). In that closing line, we find summed up the idea that our soul is the source of true praise. We are to praise the Lord at all times, in any circumstance, and in any situation, whether we’re happy or sad or angry or tired. God is always good and deserving of our praise. He knows all things, and He sees beyond our circumstances to the future. He knows our thoughts—the good, the bad, and the ugly, and He is always deserving of our praise.
Is there any place in the universe where the Lord does not have dominion or where His works do not prevail? Doesn’t this lead us to the conclusion that the Lord is worthy of our praise? There’s no one and nothing greater than, or who even comes close to, our God. His name is “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Our praise for the Lord must be genuine, and as we make our way through the rest of this psalm of praise, I hope that our hearts will be enlarged more and more to understand not only the beauty of our Lord and His worthiness to be praised but also the fact that when we praise Him in sincerity, we are lifted above our circumstances. Yes, our praise may be insincere at times. Perhaps we’re caught up in the moment rather than in the glory of the Lord. It may be that we’re moved by the music or by the crowd around us. And sometimes we may feel that it’s impossible to praise the Lord at all in our present circumstances, because our hearts are downcast, or because we feel ugly and mean inside. Here is the key that we need to remember: Praise from the soul is not governed by circumstance.
If we’re told to praise the Lord in all His works and in all of His dominion, then we’re to praise Him everywhere all the time. There may or may not be music associated with our praise. Praising wisely doesn’t require music or a particular time or setting, because there’s a communion of our eternal soul with the eternal God whenever we praise Him!
It isn’t always possible to praise the Lord for everything that happens, but we’re to praise Him through everything. Look at Job. From the very depths of despair, in his confusion and anguish over his devastating circumstances, Job was able to lift himself momentarily from his misery and cry out, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26). That is praise, exhibiting hope and faith in His Lord, regardless of his anguish.
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