I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 96
Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness (NIV).
When I think of the word, ascribe, I immediately picture a long, grey-bearded man with a quill pen in his hand scratching words onto a scroll. That’s a scribe. I suppose this scribe could be busy ascribing. I wonder just what he could be ascribing? Well, according to the author of Psalm 96, my imaginary scribe could be ascribing glory and strength to the LORD.
In all seriousness ascribing means crediting or attributing certain character qualities to a person. The LORD certainly is strong and glorious. Along with those attributes, we could also add the words loving, faithful, merciful, just and holy. The LORD is all those things and more. For all these character qualities the LORD is worthy of praise.
Sometimes I don’t see something until it smacks me in the face. I can be blind to that missing shirt hanging in the closet or across the back of a chair. It takes someone else, usually my wife, to point out what should be plainly obvious. In the same way I can be blind to the kind gestures of a friend or colleague. It takes someone else to point them out—to ascribe them—by drawing my attention to them.
Are you missing something? Have you become blind to the beautiful character qualities of your spouse, your children or your workmates? Maybe you need to do some ascribing? Before it’s too late, let them know the good qualities you see in their lives. You won’t regret speaking words of affirmation to the ones you love. As for the LORD, He will be honored if we carry through with the words of the psalmist: Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
Response: LORD God, I want to see your glory and strength. I acknowledge your attributes. You are magnificent, holy, merciful and just. Thank you for your judgments. They are righteous. Amen.
Your Turn: Is there someone whose good character you need to ascribe or affirm?
Reading: Psalm 19
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth (NIV).
When was the last time you went for a walk beneath a canopy of stars? Now, I’m not talking about catching a fleeting glimpse of a dozen or so stars, obscured by the incessant glare of city street lights. I’m talking about walking beneath a canopy of stars, visible in their myriads, stretching from horizon to horizon. Now that’s a truly awe inspiring experience!
That’s where David begins this Psalm. He begins it beneath the stars. He begins it beneath a sky so big it reduces any who behold it to a mere speck of insignificance—a speck below the glorious vastness above. Can you see him standing there—the youthful shepherd, on the Judean hillside, gazing into the face of eternity?
And eternity is talking. The sky is talking to him. What is it saying? Can you hear its words? David can. He hears it pouring forth speech. And it’s not just the night sky that’s talking to him. The heavens are speaking continually, day and night. This is an endless conversation heard around the world.
You see the sky speaks in a language understood by all. Who has not stopped and stood in wonder at the sight of a dazzling sunset, marvelled at the shafts of light beaming down from behind a thunderhead, been amazed by the appearance of a rainbow, or perhaps you have seen the aurora whirl and dance across the northern sky?
These experiences are universal. They are available to all, on every continent, in every nation, to every language and people group. The sky is talking. Are you listening? Do you understand the words?
Response: Heavenly Father, help me hear your voice speaking to me in nature. Open my eyes and my ears to the glory of your creation. You are more wonderful than I can imagine. I praise you for all your marvelous works. Amen.
Your Turn: Does God speak to you through the beauty of nature? Have you paused recently to wonder at the majesty of His creation?
Reading: Psalm 8
For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.
LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth (NIV).
There’s something exquisitely beautiful about this psalm. Yes, in it we see the glory of the heavens, the sun, moon and stars—the vast array of heavenly bodies. But there’s more to it than that. This psalm is more than a pretty poetic picture of the heavens.
It’s about perspective. In the grand scheme of things David grasps his true size—his insignificance. Beneath a canopy of stars, he has a transcendent moment—a God moment. He realizes the immensity of God. In the material realm you and I are just a transitory flicker across the face of time. That’s why David asks, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”
In the vastness of the universe, what am I but a speck. Why would God even consider me? But He does! That’s the wonder of this psalm, and the wonder of our God. He is mindful of you and your concerns. God has crowned human beings—you and I—with glory and honor. What an awesome privilege; what an enormous responsibility! When did that happen you might ask?
Well, it happened at creation. God placed humankind as the rulers of all creation. That’s a huge responsibility, a responsibility we have often failed to fulfill. But God reaffirmed His love and commitment to us at the cross. Jesus considered you so significant that he bled and died for you. Now that’s significance—eternal significance in the face of God’s own Son.
Response: Heavenly Father, Creator of the universe, thank you for considering me. Thank you for being mindful of my daily concerns. I bring them to you, my majestic, all-encompassing Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you had a transcendent moment—a God moment? How did that happen?
Reading: Psalm 29
A psalm of David.
Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders,
the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the LORD shakes the desert;
the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever.
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace (NIV).
In Psalm 29 we see and hear the LORD, the God of the storm. There is an evocative poetic style to this psalm that helps the reader to picture the fury of the approaching tempest. But we not only see the flashes of lightning and the power of the wind, we also hear the booming thunder as it shakes the desert. The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
Nine times the psalmist repeats the phrase the voice of the LORD. In this psalm, the voice of the LORD is a very active force. The voice of the LORD thunders, breaks, strikes, shakes, twists and strips. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic.
The voice of the LORD spoke the world into existence, set the planets in their orbits, and scattered the starry hosts across the heavens. A thunderstorm sweeping down from Lebanon is as nothing to Him.
But the LORD of the storm is also the LORD of peace. One day on the Sea of Galilee Jesus our Lord brought peace to the storm. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm (Mark 4:37-39).
Response: You are the LORD of the storm and the LORD of peace. When storms arise in my life help me to trust you completely. Lord Jesus, grant me peace in the midst of the storm. Amen.
Your Turn: Jesus says to us, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). Are you hearing him?
Reading: Psalm 26
LORD, I love the house where you live,
the place where your glory dwells.
Do not take away my soul along with sinners,
my life with those who are bloodthirsty,
in whose hands are wicked schemes,
whose right hands are full of bribes.
I lead a blameless life;
deliver me and be merciful to me.
My feet stand on level ground;
in the great congregation I will praise the LORD (NIV).
In America, Canada and much of the western world, people have been abandoning the house of God in droves. In the most recent census survey, by far the largest growth has been among those who identify themselves as having no religion. This move to “no religion” is most pronounced among our young people. There are many factors that have led to this decline. Perhaps a hard look in the mirror is needed for us to see what we are doing wrong. Jesus attracted people. Why are his followers today repelling people?
David had a completely different attitude toward the house of God. Hear the cry of his heart, “LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.”
No one had to drag David to the LORD’s house. He was eager to meet with God there. Really, that’s the secret. If God is in the house—if His glory is present—it will be hard to keep people away. The question we need to be asking ourselves is, “Is God in the house? Is His glory dwelling here among us?”
If God is truly, tangibly present among you, look out! The transformational power of God will overwhelm individuals and ignite the congregation. I have seen it happen and there is no experience quite like it.
I live in expectation of His appearing among us. The living Christ visits His church. Are you anticipating His coming? Have you set the table for Him? Have you prepared your heart and your mind? Have you put out the welcome mat?
All too often church has become program maintenance. The focus is entirely wrong. Church in its most vibrant form is God dwelling among us—God breathing upon us. That was the Book of Acts Church. That’s the church I love. When we have found that place—when we experience the LORD of that place—we will join David in declaring, “My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.”
Response: Come, Lord Jesus, dwell among. This is my confession: “LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.” Lord come and dwell in my local congregation. Manifest your presence there, so that many will see it and be changed by your Spirit. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you love the house of God? Why or Why not? Is God showing up at your church? What are you doing to make the place ready for Him?