I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 68
Sing to God,
you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
to him who rides across the highest heavens,
the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power
and strength to his people.
Praise be to God! (NIV).
Psalm 68 ends with a call for us to sing. Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth, sing praise to the Lord, to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens, who thunders with mighty voice.
Have you noticed how important singing and music are to our celebration of Christ’s birth? Take music and song out of Christmas and there is little left. In many ways carols define the season and add sparkle and joy. And so it should be. Heaven saw fit to announce the Saviour’s birth through song. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:13-14).
God sent an angel choir to celebrate the birth of His only begotten Son. And earlier during her pregnancy, at the home of Elizabeth, Mary burst out with what is commonly called the Magnificat or Mary’s Song. See Luke 1: 46-56. Yes, in the darkest month of the year we can rejoice with the songs of Christ’s birth.
So yes we should sing praise to the Lord, to him who rides across the highest heavens. He sent his star to guide the way for the magi. One glorious night the heavens joined in to declare the glory of heaven’s Son, who had come to earth to be born among men—men and animals.
What a grand descent! From the highest heavens to a lowly stable. That’s the glory of Christmas. God transferred His sanctuary—His dwelling place—from heaven to earth—from heaven’s throne room to a stable. Now we can join with the psalmist and the shepherds with these words of praise:
You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!
Response: LORD God, thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you for coming in frail human flesh—flesh like our own. Thank you because now we can know you as one of us—God with us. Amen.
Your Turn: How important are music and song to you? Do they lead to heartfelt worship?
Reading: Psalm 33
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm (NIV).
Have you ever considered the creative power of words? Words change the world. They bring order out of chaos. Words shine the light of day into the darkness of this world. From the very beginning words have been imbued with divine power. The psalmist reminds us, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”
But it’s not only God’s words that have this vast power. Our words—human words, whether spoken written or thought have enormous power too. Adam’s first job assignment was to speak words—to name the animals. Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals (Genesis 2: 19-20).
Strangely, God didn’t do what every parent does. He didn’t tell Adam what the animals were called. Adam told God their names. By so doing, God vested mankind with the power of language. Life is what we call it.
Our words describe the world and give meaning to it. Through our words we bring order and make sense of the world around us. As a writer I am continually processing and attempting to make sense of this chaotic thing called life. I do it with words. From the beginning of time, by divine command that’s what we are called to do. We are to speak order into chaos—speak accuracy and clarity into this world’s muddled reality.
With our words we shine the light of truth onto a situation. With words we write laws, administer justice and design government. With words we woo and romance and vow our love to one another. Our words create imaginary realms into which we can travel—words that transport. With our words we have the power to elevate the human spirit, or crush someone to the point of suicide.
Finally, there is something innately prophetic about our words. What we think, speak and write is potent. It has within in it the latent ability to become reality. Therefore, we need to guard our lips. See James 3:1-12. The psalmist reminds us not only of the power of the word of the LORD, but also our own words. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
Response: LORD God, help me give careful consideration to my words. Today, may my words, whether written spoken or thought, be a creative force for good in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Your Turn: How has God used your words for good lately? Are your words bringing order out of chaos?
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. 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. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you had a transcendent moment—a God moment? How did that happen?
Reading: Psalm 148
Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and women,
old men and children (NIV).
Psalm 148 began with a call for praise for the LORD from the angels, who are heaven’s messengers, from the heavenly hosts and all the heavenly bodies. In today’s reading, the psalmist expands this call for praise to all the creatures of the earth, the elements of nature, wind, cloud and ocean depths, and finally to all humanity.
There is a logical progression in this call for thunderous praise. The call begins with what is distant, the galaxies and the heavenly beings, and then it descends to the earth, and finally it touches humanity. It becomes personal. We are called to praise God. Will you join the swelling chorus?
John, the beloved, gives us a picture of what heaven’s praise party looks like.
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:11-12).
Our Lord taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9b-10).
Surely, it is the will of God that He be praised and worshipped on earth just as He is around His throne in heaven. The purpose of God’s Kingdom—the Kingdom that Jesus came to establish—is to bring heaven to earth. God did not remain distant. In the person of Jesus, He came to dwell among us. He brought and is presently bringing the will of God to the earth through the Holy Spirit. For that Jesus is to be praised. Let all of creation praise Him—praise Him from the earth, because from it we were formed. Let the praise for our Lord ascend from you and me.
Response: LORD God, let your Holy Spirit be active among us. Help us to love and serve you and those around us. Help me to bring a little bit of heaven—a little bit of your will to the earth today. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you picture heaven? What does a little bit of heaven on earth look like to you?
Reading: Psalm 104
Praise the LORD, my soul.
LORD my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.
He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.
You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth (NIV).
All of Psalm 104 is a poetic ode in praise of God’s creation. Like the previous psalm it begins and ends by calling us to praise the LORD.
The psalmist begins his description of creation at the beginning. By that I mean he begins with the LORD in the heavens. He is the source point. It’s a very fitting start since the LORD called into being all of creation—all that we can see, hear and examine. In the creation account we read, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2). But here we read a more detailed—a more poetic description: The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
The God of the heavens separates the waters of sky and earth. He establishes the boundaries of the oceans. These are the events of the second and third day in the Genesis account, but here they are portrayed as a seamless whole. In all this, the LORD is the actor, the mover, the sole performer. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.
And what a performance this is! It has no equal and no precedent. Land, sky and sea are His handiwork and do His bidding. They respond to the Master Builder, and so should we.
Response: LORD God, you are very great! I kneel before you, my awesome God! I praise you for your creation. It is magnificent because you are more than magnificent. All praise belongs to you. Amen.
Your Turn: Is there a particular aspect of creation that you are drawn to or enjoy, for example the stars, the oceans or the animal kingdom?