4 Who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 5 who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. —Psalm 103:4-5
PUTTING ALL of the thoughts of the previous few days together, we can understand better why we can say that praise is recognition of God’s mercy and grace. We live in an age where most people’s sense of entitlement is robbing society of its sense of good and evil. I read an article about how a man had been shot while robbing a Family Dollar Store and survived. His family was considering bringing a lawsuit against the concealed-carry-permit holder who had defended the shoppers and store clerks from potential harm and even death. The family of the criminal claimed that the man should have minded his own business and just walked out of the store when he saw the robbery in progress!
Many people view God the same way, thinking that because He’s good, He should give them whatever they want and then just look the other way when they do wrong. We’ll see in the days ahead that the Lord is slow to anger, but this doesn’t mean He isn’t angry over the sinfulness of mankind. The prophet Jeremiah lived and wrote during a time and in a nation much like ours in the United States, with no fear of the Lord, even though they once had had that fear. He wrote: “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam 3:20-26).
If we are going to bless the Lord—as Jeremiah did, and as David himself did in the opening of this psalm—“with all that is within” us—then we need to be certain that we understand what praise truly is. Praise isn’t just a response to good things happening in our lives or in the lives of others, although it’s appropriate that we praise Him when they do. It’s also an offering to God no matter how things are going. We shouldn’t praise the Lord only when He blesses us with good things and then remain silent when we’re hurting or going through hard times. Praise acknowledges that God is omnipotent and sovereign over all creation all the time, and in love and respect, we bow down to Him in that.
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!” (Psalm 68:29). To praise God means that we also recognize that the Almighty and Sovereign Lord hasn’t dealt with us as we deserve, but in fact, He has done the exact opposite. He has loaded us with benefits! This is the wisdom of praise—praise from the very depths of our souls, with all that is within us, to the powerful and sovereign God of the universe who hasn’t given us what we do deserve and who has loaded our lives with good things that we don’t deserve. We must remember this and move past our petty whining that God gives His good things to others—to the rich, the well-known, the successful—and leaves the scraps for us. God is no respecter of persons. Money means nothing to Him. We can’t buy His help, nor can we shame Him into helping us. We must seek to praise Him through all things.
Friends, there’s a fine line between true and false praise, and true praise is much deeper than emotion-based experientialism. No matter what life may bring our way, God is always God and worthy of our praise. This is the wisdom of praise, and we would do well to learn its ways.
Excerpt from “Beside Still Waters” now available on Amazon.