Psalm 111 NIV
1 Praise the Lord.
I will extol the Lordwith all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
2 Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the Lordis gracious and compassionate.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are established for ever and ever,
enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.
10 The fear of the Lordis the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.
Devotional from Barry Forde
Praise the Lord
I will, praise you.
One of the greatest dangers in praising God is when we think it is about us. If we are really honest, what we think of as being great praise, or amazing worship, or even ‘real worship’, is more often than not simply a reflection of who we are. My preferences, my style, what moves me, what connects with me.
Yet, the invitation to praise God has not got that much really with who I am, what I like, dislike, and it has even less to do with whether or not I am good enough to praise God, whether I am worthy enough. I will praise you. I will praise God because He is worthy. My praise is not great, or amazing or real because it reflects me, but rather because He is worthy. His works inspire awe. Everything He has done is just and faithful. Everything about His character is compassionate, generous, merciful and gracious, even when mine isn’t, especially when mine isn’t. His word is trustworthy, and his promises unbreakable, even when my words fail, and my promises are frequently broken.
He is at the centre of all our praise. When we become centred on Him, even as unworthy people, we become worthy. Why? Because we become who we worship. Whoever or whatever occupies the primary place in our lives will shape our lives. Whatever you give primary importance to this day will shape your day. Whoever occupies the primary place in your heart and affections will shape not just your heart, but your time, your actions, your decisions, your diary, your preferences, your will, your money. The whole of who you are shaped by the whole of who God is. This is real worship.
I will praise the Lord.
Yet, not on my own. The psalmist brings the whole of his heart into the company of the upright and the faithful. Maybe you’re reading or listening to this on your own. But you’re not on your own. You’re one of many others listening to this passage, this day. The psalmist knows the wisdom of bringing his praise of God into the company of others. Why?
On our own we are more vulnerable – we only have our own strength, our own wisdom, our own intellect. We only see the world through our own eyes. The problems are much bigger when we cannot call upon one another.
On our own we are more likely to be self-righteous, than wholly righteous. We need the encouragement, correction, blessing, and challenge of one another. We do this life of faith together because we need each other.
On our own may even be a form of idolatry, of self-worship. We were created to be in relationship with God and in relationship with one another. We go our own way when we try to sever the links with God, but also when we sever the links with others – even when done, seemingly, in God’s name. It’s amazing how rejecting the people of God leaves us worshipping in the house of ‘me’. All my preferences, all my tastes, all my lists of what’s right and what isn’t, what works and what doesn’t.
One of the healthiest correctives to wrongful praise is to praise in the company of others.
If we dislike their style and tastes we learn patience and kindness.
If we have fallen out with them we learn about reconciliation and forgiveness.
If we are miles apart in years, we learn from those who have walked the path before us, and those new on the way.
This is God’s gift and it breaks His heart when we justify our division by naming our preferences and tastes as being ‘real worship’.
I will praise the Lord with my whole heart… but I will do this with all his people.
I become who I worship, we become the body of Christ.
His works, character and word, shaping what we do, who we are, and how we live as His people.
To him belongs eternal praise.
Barry is a university chaplain at ‘The Hub Belfast’, serving God on campuses across the city of Belfast on behalf of the Church of Ireland and Methodist Church. He is on the Board of Summer Madness and is thankful for its role in shaping his own life and discipleship – both as a teenager, and now as the father of teenagers! He loves Jesus, Claire, his kids and Liverpool and sometimes gets the order of these mixed up.