Topic: The Preeminence Of Praise
TEXT: Psalms 145 to 150
Praise, more than anything else, is characteristic of the book of psalms. It is a subject that enjoys greater mention in the 150-chapter book. It is interesting and instructive to observe that while the preceding five chapters of the book are full of prayers, the text for this lesson and its concluding chapters are mainly devoted to praises. In the preceding chapters, David, as a result of turbulent situations and life-threatening experiences, cried out to God in prayer for divine assistance. In the present text, the psalmist’s focus or emphasis is on praise. This implies that prayer and praise almost always go together. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God”. The interrelatedness between prayer and praise teaches us, one, that we should not be so overwhelmed with our needs to the point we forget to praise God for His marvellous works among us. Two, our attitude in prayers would lack scriptural balance without corresponding moments of praise. Finally, those who often resort to prayers with no obligation to praise God will soon discover that they are guilty of ingratitude to the One who “…maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Surely, God is good to Israel and to all that are of a clean heart (Psalm 73:1). From the psalms under consideration, it is obvious that our God is praiseworthy. His awesome personality, attributes, incomparable love towards humanity and never-failing faithfulness to all creatures serve as stimulants to praise Him. Without doubt, this awareness led the psalmist to exclaim in our text: “Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever” (Psalm 145:2). David’s action was in conformity with the biblical expectation that: “surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name…” (Psalm 140:13). Believers should make praise prominent in their lives, worship and service to God. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). We are to praise God conscientiously, convincingly and consistently because He is glorious, gracious and good to us at all times and under all circumstances. Heaven-bound saints are expected to praise God when: one, things are in order or out of order; two, their prayers have been answered or are yet to be answered; three, they are loved, respected and appreciated or hated, misunderstood and persecuted; four, there is success and breakthrough or otherwise; five, they are facing challenges or not in their marriage, business, academics or ministry; six, they are strong and healthy or infirm; and seven, whether they are in the mood or not to do so. That means we must praise God in season and out of season; our praise should be habitual, day and night.
REASONS FOR PERSONAL AND PUBLIC PRAISE TO GOD (Psalms 145:1-21; 146:1-10; 147:1-20; 22:3; 68:19; 103:2; 136:1-3; Exodus 34:6; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2: 14; Colossians 1:14,20-23; Ephesians 1: 7; 1 Corinthians 1:13)
“The psalmist as an individual and Israel as a nation had reasons for allowing the lamp or candle of praise to burn continually in their lives. God’s mighty works of creation, excellent greatness, daily provisions and divine protection, His formation of Israel as a nation and deliverances from powerful enemy nations provoked them to persistent, wholehearted and result-oriented praise to God.
In our own time and dispensation as believers, we have reasons to make heaven-honouring praise our lifetime experience. The following, among other reasons, should be noted. First, the preeminent God delights in and inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). True believers therefore should not den Him that which is due to Him by failing to offer joyful praise. Second, the believer is to praise God for who He is — great, glorious, mighty, wonderful, terrible and righteous (Psalm 145:1- 7). “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3). “Third, “The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy” (Psalm 145:8). Fourth, believers are to praise God for His concluded work of creation that reveals His power, greatness and royal majesty. Fifth, He raises again those who are fallen and opens His hands to satisfy the needy (Psalm 145:14,16,19; 146:8,9). Sixth, we are to praise God for His plan of redemption that brought about our spiritual regeneration, translation and transformation. It is the accomplished work of Christ on the cross at Calvary that makes possible our basic Christian experiences of salvation, sanctification and the Holy Spirit baptism. Seventh, praise should occupy a central place in our lives as we worship and serve God because He freely gives us the grace to live the Christian life, fulfilling our calling as “the light of the world” and “salt of the earth”. Eighth, He also gives us our daily bread, heals us when we are sick and gives us victory and deliverance from powerful enemies (Psalm 147:3; Jeremiah 31:11). He equally answers our prayers, protects, promotes, preserves and prospers us. Those who think and feel that God has done nothing for them worthy of their praise should remember the psalmist’s declaration, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation” (Psalm 68: 19). Ninth, praise is a pleasant experience both to the believer and to our God. “Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely” (Psalm 147:1).
RESPONDING TO THE UNIVERSAL CALL TO PRAISE GOD (Psalms 148:1-14; 100:4; 113:1; 117:1; Hebrews 13: 15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3: 16)
There is a universal call to all, especially the redeemed, to offer praise to God. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). It is unfortunate that this universal call to praise is ignored by many professing Christians. Some believers take the subject of praise for granted and relegate it to an insignificant position or get involved in it in a nominal, casual, slothful and indifferent manner. We must not only respond to the call to praise God but also give it a prominent place in our worship and service. A renowned preacher and writer once remarked that, “When a man sets out to praise God, all his faculty, power, talents and every agency through which he can give expression to his appreciation of God, should be employed . Extolling the greatness of God to the high heavens is not optional, lousy, elective or discretionary. Truth is, it should be the towering pattern in prayer at all times. The great God of heaven deserves honour that befits His majesty and sovereignty. A Bible commentator puts it this way, “great praise for a great God, doing great things; and high praises for a high God, doing high things”. We are to praise God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19,20)
REQUIREMENTS FOR EFFECTIVE AND ACCEPTABLE PRAISE TO GOD (Psalms 149:1-9; 150:1-6; 29:2; 2 Chronicles 20:21,22).
Every creation is called upon to praise the Lord. Thus, the entirety of animate creation is called into the vocation of singing praise to God. This is in view of the fact that His tender mercies are over all His works. “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD …go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Psalm 150:6; Isaiah 55:12). Although in a general sense, everyone and everything that breathes is called upon to show gratitude to the Creator and Governor of the universe, the saints are particularly called upon to do so. .Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints” (Psalm 149:1). The Lord takes especial interest and pleasure in His people because their praises spring forth from cleansed, purged and purified hearts. Scriptural requirement of holiness for acceptable praise and worship applies to all people irrespective of their denominational affiliation. “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2). Holiness and the fear of God are therefore necessary requirements for effective and acceptable personal and public praise. This implies that in our individual lives, homes and places of worship, the atmosphere of scriptural holiness must be maintained if our praise and worship will be acknowledged and rewarded by our Maker to whom they are offered. Also, various musical instruments highlighted in our text such as string instruments, organs, cymbals, timbrel, harp, etc., can be used to enhance our personal and public worship. However, there should be moderation in the way these instruments are deployed to avoid descending into sensual music. “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:4,5). The “sacred dance” of joy in our text cannot be the same with the frivolous, fleshly and lustful dances, which some so-called worshippers engage in. Believers are reminded to be sober and vigilant as they await the coming of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
True worship demands sincerity of heart, devotion to God and abstinence from evil. God demands our praise at all times. Believers, therefore, are strongly admonished to cultivate the habit of praising God always no matter what happens or fails to happen.