I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 117
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD (NIV).
Psalm 17 is the shortest of all the psalms. It reminds me of tabasco sauce. It’s concentrated; you don’t need much to set your mouth on fire.
What’s so great—so powerful—about Psalm 117 you ask? Well in 29 short words, it sums up the call and global appeal of the entire Bible.
Let’s consider this opening sentence: Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. This call to worship is for all people; it’s universal. The message of the Bible is for all people. It’s not limited to a single nation, race or people group.
This call for universal praise is unusual because it draws all humanity into a common faith in the LORD. The Jewish faith was and is a very exclusive religion. This is the faith of the chosen people—God’s chosen people. They did not choose Him, but rather they were uniquely selected by God to bear His name before the nations of the world. Throughout the Old Testament we have a clear sense that God was dealing with his own special people, and they were to walk separate from the nations. They received God’s laws and were the guardians of His word. They were instructed not to intermarry with other nations, nor be polluted by them and their idol worship. The worshippers of Yahweh were an exclusive group, a unique people, but they were not evangelistic. They kept the message to themselves.
But here in Psalm 117 the constricted, exclusive God of the Old Testament appears to break out of His narrow nationalist cocoon. We see that He is in reality a God for all nations, not just for the descendants of Abraham. Here we catch a glimpse of the big picture—the global perspective. All the nations of the earth are to praise Him. The longstanding intent of the God Israel is that every people group should know his ways and experience His salvation.
But why should all nations praise the LORD? The second verse of this miniature psalm provides the answer. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD
endures forever. Where did the LORD demonstrate His great love for us? We see God’s love most vividly on the cross. There the Son of God poured out His blood to redeem men and women, boys and girls, from every nation under heaven. There love flowed down in a crimson stream. There God fulfilled His Abrahamic promise. “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8). There the prophecy of John the Baptist was achieved. “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Concentrated within the shortest Psalm is enough truth to set the world on fire.
Response: Father God, I just want to praise you. Thank you for your great love and faithfulness as revealed by Jesus on the cross. I love you, Lord Jesus. I am grateful that you love encompasses all. Amen.
Your Turn: Why is racism run contrary to anyone who claims to love God?
Reading: Psalm 94
Take notice, you senseless ones among the people;
you fools, when will you become wise?
Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?
Does he who formed the eye not see?
Does he who disciplines nations not punish?
Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
The LORD knows all human plans;
he knows that they are futile.
Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD,
the one you teach from your law;
you grant them relief from days of trouble,
till a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the LORD will not reject his people;
he will never forsake his inheritance.
Judgment will again be founded on righteousness,
and all the upright in heart will follow it (NIV).
Do I like discipline? Hardly. Do I like self-discipline? Not really. Discipline sounds difficult or unpleasant. Self-discipline and self-denial are twin brothers. I don’t like either of them. They are two tough customers that demand that I change, but I don’t like change. My flesh—my stubborn sinful nature—resists change.
On the other hand, do I like the fruits of self-discipline? Absolutely. Self-discipline pays huge dividends. In any field of endeavor, in due time self-discipline will bring rewards. Athletes succeed because of self-discipline. Fortunes are accumulated through self-discipline. But those same fortunes can be frittered away through a lack of discipline. Strength of character does not develop naturally; it develops through adversity and self-discipline.
Discipline comes in two forms, internally or externally. Both are needed if we are to become people of the cross. Son though he was, he [Jesus] learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Hebrews 5:8-9). If Jesus learned obedience through the discipline of suffering, should we not expect to experience the same?
Here in Psalm 94 we learn that the LORD disciplines nations. The following admonition reminds us of the vital role that discipline plays in the life of the believer: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all (Hebrews 12:5-8).
Response: LORD God, I confess that I need your discipline. I want to become like your Son, Jesus. Help me to learn from the difficult experiences of life. I want to live my life as your obedient child. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you appreciate God’s discipline? Are you enjoying the fruit of self-discipline?
Reading: Psalm 82
A song. A psalm of Asaph.
God presides in the great assembly;
he renders judgment among the “gods”:
“How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
“The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
“I said, ‘You are “gods”;
you are all sons of the Most High.’
But you will die like mere mortals;
you will fall like every other ruler.”
Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
for all the nations are your inheritance (NIV).
How high is the pedestal you are standing on? Are you standing taller than the fellow beside you?
Most of us would answer that we are not standing on a pedestal, but is that the truth. If we are honest with ourselves, I think we all can admit that we have looked down on others at times. We have considered ourselves superior to most of our peers.
Here in Psalm 82, God sets us on a pedestal. He calls us gods. This is a rather backhanded compliment, because after calling us gods, the Most High calls us to account. And what must we account for? We need to account for how we treat the weak and the poor among us. Here are the actions the LORD expects from us: Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Are we doing these things? Far too often I spend my time jacking up my pedestal—trying to get a bit of elevation over the fellow beside me. I’m too busy to help someone else who has fallen off their pedestal or the poor clod who can’t find one to stand on. You have to pity these folks—the ones who don’t have a pedestal. How can they hold their head up if they’re superior to no one?
Paul, the apostle, writes, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12).
God will have the final say with mortals like me. This “god” needs to learn to serve in humility.
Response: LORD, you are the Most High. Help me to stop comparing myself with others. All I have comes from you. Today I want to get off my pedestal and help someone else. Show me how, Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you compare yourself with others? Are you polishing your pedestal?
Reading: Psalm 67
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us—
so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples with equity
and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
The land yields its harvest;
God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still,
so that all the ends of the earth will fear him (NIV).
This is perhaps the most evangelical of all the psalms. By that I mean there is good news in this psalm, and the good news of God’s loving-kindness, which is found here, is not to be kept to oneself. It is to be taken to the whole world. Twice within this short psalm the psalmist declares, “May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.”
Like any loving parent, God draws pleasure from blessing his children. But is there a divine motivation that extends beyond the family of God. As the opening verse of this psalm makes clear, God desires to bless us, so that his ways and his salvation may be known all over this world.
So then, Psalm 67 should be our prayer, not only for us, but for the world. That includes the world that does not know Jesus. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
In other words, God’s blessing is not to be selfishly hoarded. It is to extend around the world and beyond the family of God. Is God in fact, blessing us abundantly, so that we may in turn bless others? Is he blessing us, so that we may make his salvation known among all nations? That certainly would appear to be the plan according to Psalm 67.
There is a great harvest day that is still coming on the earth. It is not a harvest of wheat, corn or rice, but a harvest of souls that will be swept into the Kingdom of God. If this psalm is to be believed, it is a harvest that is propelled and swelled by our joyous praise.
Is your thanksgiving for God’s blessing extending beyond the borders of your family?
Response: LORD God, I thank you for all the blessings you have showered on my life. Most of all I thank you for my salvation through Jesus Christ. Show me how I can extend your blessing to others. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you taken the message of God’s salvation across international borders? How?