Good to Praise God

Posted: April 4, 2012 in Psalms

Psalms 90-92, “Good to Praise God”

It may seem like an easy question to answer: is there ever a bad time to praise God?  Most of us probably cringe at even the thought of it.  “Of course not!  It’s always good to praise God!  He’s worthy of our praise!”  And we can say “amen!” J  Yet if we’re being honest with ourselves, at least at how it applies to our actions, we might think that there are some times better to praise God than others.  There are those times of deep worship and thanks when it comes naturally to us to praise the Lord…and then there are those times of deep longing and anguish when praising God comes a little bit more difficult.

Yet our initial answer is still true: it is ALWAYS good to praise God.  The psalmists run the gamut tonight from being in the midst of God’s anger & discipline, to exhorting people to run to the protection of God, to simply thanking God for His works.  But all of them rightly praise God.  It is good to do so…our Lord is absolutely worthy of our praise, no matter what.

Psalm 90 (NKJV) – God vs. Man: the need for mercy
A Prayer Of Moses the Man of God.

  • First & potentially only psalm from Moses in the psalter.  Moses had composed songs at other times (most famously when God triumphed over Egypt at the Red Sea – “the horse and the rider He has thrown into the sea…” Exo 15), but only Psalm 90 is in the book of Psalms.  Notably, this isn’t a song of victory, but of repentance.  Quite possibly it was composed during the years of wandering in the wilderness as Moses remembered the relationship that the nation once enjoyed with God & the promises (at that point) yet to be fulfilled.  There is a pang of regret for sin, as well as a longing for restoration.  As Moses looked unto God, he could not help but compare the faithfulness of God to the faithlessness of Man.
  • God’s everlasting majesty (vss. 1-6)

1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

  • God had always been their provision and their shelter.  It was only one generation that was dying out in the wilderness, but even prior to the time of the Exodus, God had been the provision and protection of His people.  Beyond Moses – beyond Jacob – beyond Abraham – even all the way to Adam. …
  • How long has God been glorified?  From everlasting!  Before all creation was ever created, the Creator God was already present.  God is “from everlasting to everlasting.”  Remember that when God first revealed Himself to Moses, He revealed Himself in the burning bush as the “I AM” – the ever-existent One.  God is eternally ever-present – totally self-sufficient apart from His creation. …
  • Why does Moses praise God for God’s everlasting eternity?  Because who better to trust for protection & provision, than the God who has always existed?  God is the One who has existed before any threat and will outlast them all!

3 You turn man to destruction, And say, “Return, O children of men.”

  • Men are no match for God.  They come out and turn back at His command.  (As is made evident in the events of the Babylonian captivity & will be evident again during the war of Gog & Magog.)

4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night. 5 You carry them away like a flood; They are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up: 6 In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers.

  • Comparing God & Man: length of life.  God is eternal – He is beyond time.  Time has no reference to the eternal God.
  • Not so with Man; Man is the opposite.  For humans, life is brief & fleeting.
  • Man’s mortality and sinfulness (vss. 7-12)

7 For we have been consumed by Your anger, And by Your wrath we are terrified. 8 You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.

  • One reason life is fleeting?  The wrath of God.  The Hebrews had experienced this first hand as an entire generation was handed a death sentence due to their sin and rebellion against God.  It wasn’t merely a possibility that everyone over the age of 18 was going to die over 40 years of wandering (as if perhaps some folks with good genes might make it through); everyone was going to die, excepting Caleb & Joshua.  Every time someone else dropped in the wilderness would have been another stark reminder of the wrath of God.
    • Even beyond the Hebrews, this is true of every human.  Why do we die?  The wages of sin is death.  Adam sinned in the garden, and human beings have been dropping like flies ever since.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  God’s intent for human beings, made in His image, was for us to live forever.  Yet because of sin, we all taste death – and because of grace, we all have the invitation to taste everlasting life, as well!
  • God sees our sin!  What seem to be secret to us are always revealed to the All-knowing God.  There is nothing that is secret in His sight.  We engage in sin behind closed doors, in remote places, or in hushed tones, but none of that is hidden from God.  He knows all & sees all.  David thought he was sinning with Bathsheba in secret, and God promised him that what David had done in secret, God would do out in the open (2 Sam 12:12).  It is indeed a sobering thing to know that God sees every action we take!  Let that knowledge steer you far from sin.

9 For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. 10 The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

  • Expanding on the idea of Man’s mortality.  70-80 years is nothing compared with the eternity of God…it’s not even a blink of an eye!  And even over the course of 8 decades, what is the result of life?  Everyone finishes the same way, with ceasing of breath & heart & brain.  Death is certain for every man & we “fly away” to face the judgment of God.

11 Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. 12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

  • God is worthy to be feared!  When we understand the power of God (that He is an all-consuming fire in His holiness) – when we understand the sinfulness of our sin – when we understand the power of God’s wrath – these are things that ought to drive us to the proper fear and reverence and respect of God.
  • Once we realize the fear of God, we’re also to realize our own mortality.  Know that you will answer to God for judgment, and then act accordingly…that’s wisdom.
  • Prayer for mercy (vss. 13-17)

13 Return, O LORD! How long? And have compassion on Your servants. 14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! 15 Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, The years in which we have seen evil.

  • KJV has an interesting translation of vs 13: “Return, O LORD, how long? And let it repent thee concerning thy servants.”  This can be a bit misleading, considering that God does not change His nature or repent from any action.  In fact, God directly revealed this about Himself through the pagan prophet Balaam: Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" []  God is absolutely true to every single thing He has said He will do.  He is faithful to every promise & will never lie, nor repent (change His mind & direction) from His word.  That said, the KJV translators weren’t necessarily wrong, though their historical context & language usage is a bit different than ours today.  By translating this “let it repent Thee,” they’re basically saying the same thing as the NKJV or ESV (which says “have pity on your servants!”).  IOW, “God, change the way You’re acting towards Your people.  You have acted in Your anger, now act in Your kindness & compassion.”  Moses was praying for the mercy of God, which the Hebrews desperately needed.
  • We need God’s mercy!  We need it as some people encourage voting: early & often! J  Every child of God ought to be grateful for God’s discipline, in that it is a sign of God’s great love for us as our Heavenly Father.  Yet no child of God desires to stay in God’s discipline forever.  The earlier we can taste of the mercies & kindness of God, the better!
  • Because of God’s mercy (His “chesed”), we can rejoice!  We can even rejoice after the discipline of God, because we know His mercies have never left us.

16 Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children. 17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.

  • What is Moses looking for in the mercies of God?  Moses is looking for:
    • The work of God: the things that God had done in the lives of the Hebrews.  God had sustained them every day through the manna, and led them every day with the shekinah glory of God.  Moses knows that a proper attitude of praise will come when our eyes are fixed upon the work of God.
    • The glory of God.  In Moses’ day, people saw the visible glory of God – which was supposed to be a constant reminder of Who was in their midst & Who it was that led them.  Unfortunately, people took it for granted – they needed to have a renewed vision of the glory of God.
    • The beauty of God: the favor & loveliness of God.  Moses knew that the people needed to experience the beautiful favor of God.  Not only that people would see the loveliness of God Himself, but that they would experience that through wonderful relationship.
  • The result from this?  The people would experience the strength of God once again!  The people who were wasting away as grass that was cut down would be strengthened by the mighty hand of Almighty God.  What makes the difference?  The mercies of God!

 

Psalm 91 (NKJV) – Protection of the Privileged

  • Personal protection from God (vss. 1-2)

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

  • Summary of the psalm – speaking of the protection of God.  Notice two things: (1) Who is protecting, (2) who is protected.
  • Who is the One protecting?  God!  The psalmist uses all sorts of titles in referring to God:
    • The Most High: the lofty supreme One
    • The Almighty: the all-powerful & sufficient One
    • The LORD: the ever existent One
    • My God: the knowable Divine One.  God alone in all the universe.
  • Who is the one being protected?  The psalmist: “my God, in Him will I trust.”  The psalmist will certainly encourage the reader to believe, but this is something of which he has personally tasted & has experience.  The psalmist knows how God will protect His people, because the psalmist has been the recipient of that protection.
  • The protection of God (vss. 3-13)

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. 4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

  • God delivers from the enemy: “the snare of the fowler.”  The people that can be seen.
  • God delivers from tragedy: “from the perilous pestilence.”  The circumstances that cannot be seen.
  • How does God protect His own?  God gives:
    • Loving protection.  As a bird protects his/her own babies.  There is a covering and sheltering with God.  He would take the attack before allowing it to come to us.
    • Faithful protection.  God’s truth is our shield.  We hide ourselves behind the promises of the word of God, and we know that our defense will be strong!
    • Assured protection. Made especially clear in vss. 5-6…

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

  • The person who belongs to God has no reason to fear the things of the world…our protection is absolutely assured in God.
  • If God is for us, who can be against us?

7 A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. 8 Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked.

  • God’s protection is true in the face of overwhelming odds.  The illustration changes from that of a bird to a battlefield.  Thousands of soldiers are falling on every side & people are being killed left & right.  Yet the man/woman of God stands strong in the midst of the attack.

9 Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, 10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;

  • The reason for the strength?  The LORD is our refuge!  Whomever the psalmist was writing to had also made the personal decision to follow the Lord, and the psalmist can say with assurance that both he & his reader will be protected by God.
  • Question: Is this really true?  Will the person who fears & trusts the Lord REALLY escape all evil & plague?  Obviously there have been many men and women of God who have suffered deeply through the centuries.  In fact, it would be safe to say that ALL of the men & women of God have suffered differently at different times…it’s something that is common to all of us.  Moses suffered the slings & arrows of the complaining people.  David suffered the unjust persecution of his king & the betrayal of his son.  The book of Acts details the sufferings that the disciples endured, and of course Jesus suffered immensely.  How then can the author write of the man/woman of God: “No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling”?  This is absolutely true on a few levels:
    • It’s true in principle.  As a whole, evil will not befall the person who is not out looking for it & engaging it.  The man or woman who seeks to follow Christ will not easily trip into the consequences of sin because he/she won’t be engaging in sin.  Obviously those who truly seek after the Lord will suffer persecution, but the principle of God’s people abstaining from evil will show that God’s people won’t endure a plague due to their own sin.
    • It’s true in God’s sovereignty.  We can say with absolute certainty that there is not a single thing that will happen to us that has not been allowed by God.  Certainly every child of God faces suffering of some sort, but evil does not by “chance” befall us, or come about by random happenstance.  God guards us from that which He does not allow, and we can have absolute assurance of that fact.
    • It’s true in eternity.  Ultimately, when looking at everlasting life, we can say with certainty that no evil will befall us.  What is 70-80 years in light of eternity?  For those who are in Christ, safely abiding in His presence & protection, our salvation is solidly assured and secure!  No evil will befall us there – the devil cannot snatch us out of the hand of God.

11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. 13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

  • These verses ought to sound familiar, in that this is what the devil referenced with Jesus during His wilderness temptations.  Matthew 4:5–7, "(5) Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, (6) and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” (7) Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ”" []  You’ll notice that the devil left out some of the quotation – a very important portion: “…To keep you in all your ways.”  Certainly it was true that if the Son of God happened to trip off of a cliff outside of the will and timing of God, that God would have sent angels to bear up Jesus to protect Him until the day of the cross.  Yet that wasn’t the context & intent of the verse being quoted.  The angels of God were sung to be sent to the people of God to keep them in the ways that they were supposed to be going.  God has His plans for His people, and He will help us do what needs to be done to see them through.  God will give His people victory over every potential evil in that the glory of God may be known among all the world.  The devil didn’t exactly like that part (especially that the serpent would be trampled underfoot!), and left that out to Jesus.  Jesus saw right through the misdirection & chastised Satan with the Bible (in its proper context) that we should not tempt the Lord our God.
  • The basic idea is that we’re to be submitted to the will of God, and God will protect us.  Some people have the idea that because God knows the number of our days that we can hold a pistol to their head & God will stop the bullet from killing them.  That’s not being submitted to the will of God; that’s testing the will of God – something which we’re specifically forbidden from doing.  God knows the number of our days; we don’t.  He may know something we don’t: primarily that our days will end when we pull the trigger to a loaded gun.
  • That said, we CAN be assured of God’s protection as we walk within His will.  We need not even fear the day of our death, in that God knows exactly when we will die & how we will die.  Thus we can walk with confidence until that day, submitting ourselves to the Lord’s hand, and striving to glorify Him with every waking breath until we get there.
  • The promise of God (vss. 14-16)

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

  • God delivers those that love Him.  Notice the “because/therefore”…there is a cause/effect relationship here.  Obviously God is always the initiator in our relationship with Him, but it clearly shows that there is a reason that God delivers this person: the person loves God.  The person who hates God has no reason to expect God to grant him/her salvation.  There are those who shake their fists at God for their entire lives in rebellion against Him, yet still expect to go to heaven when they die.  Why would God grant such a deliverance?  To be sure, God in His grace still sent Jesus to die for us when we were still rebelling against Him in enmity against Him – but once we responded to the gospel of Christ, we set our love upon God.  Those are the ones whom God saves.
  • God delivers those that know Him.  To know God’s name is to speak of knowing God’s person – as knowing Him personally.  The person knows God well enough to know His character & has engaged in relationship with Him.  There will be many who are turned away from Christ at the Day of Judgment because Jesus never knew them – a similar idea is shown here.  Those who truly love God are those who know God (and thus are known by God).  It’s more than being able to recite a creed or answer a baptismal question; God’s salvation is only given to those who truly know & love Him through Jesus Christ.
    • Do you know God in this way?  You can!

15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”

  • God answers.  He hears our prayers, and God has promised to answer.  We have a sure audience with God when we go through Jesus Christ.
  • God accompanies.  God will never leave us nor forsake us – He will be with us during our times of trouble.
  • God honors.  Others may come against us and deride us, but our God will exalt and honor us.  We do not need to exalt ourselves – we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will be the one to lift us up.
  • God saves.  God delivers & saves!  We find our salvation in the promises and the person of our Deliverer, Jesus Christ!  What’s the proof?  The bloody cross and empty tomb!

 

Psalm 92 (NKJV) – Praising the Gracious God
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day.

  • Specifically designed for the day of rest & worship.
  • Praising God for His works (vss. 1-7)

1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; 2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night, 3 On an instrument of ten strings, On the lute, And on the harp, With harmonious sound.

  • It is good to praise God!  It’s simply the right thing to do.  There is hardly any better practice we can engage in, than praising and giving thanks to God.  If we did not do it, the rocks themselves would erupt in praise – creation longs to praise its Creator.  When we engage in heartfelt, sincere thanks & praise, we’re simply doing what we were designed to do.  There’s hardly anything more natural for us to do!
  • How do we praise God?  Simple: by using every way & means possible.  Give thanks through the spoken word – sing praises through song – declare God’s covenant mercies when you wake up in the morning – go to bed proclaiming God’s utter faithfulness – use every musical instrument at your disposal to worship Him.  Melody & harmony combine to make a joyful sound!
    • There’s a reason God uses music so much in the design of worship.  Music has a way of lifting our hearts in ways that the spoken word sometimes fails.  Never be shy in lifting your voice to God in song in your personal devotional time, or in the midst of the congregation.  We don’t need professionally trained voices to sing harmoniously; we simply need a heart devoted to God.

4 For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands. 5 O LORD, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep.

  • Praise God for His works.  Thank Him for His act of creation.  Thank Him for His works in redemption…just thinking upon the cross can fill our entire day with thoughts and words of praise unto God.  We WERE sinful beings condemned to eternal death, but the work of God transformed us to recipients of God’s blessed grace, life, forgiveness, and love!  We’ve been made the children of God through the work of God.  That is something worth praising Him for!
  • Praise God for His thoughts – they are infinite.  We can praise God for His omniscient mind.  There’s nothing in all the universe that escapes His attention.  He knows every name, every hair, every thought, every action, every possibility & contingency.  He knows the future, and He knows every detail about the past.  In in addition to this, He knows you intimately as His own!

6 A senseless man does not know, Nor does a fool understand this. 7 When the wicked spring up like grass, And when all the workers of iniquity flourish, It is that they may be destroyed forever.

  • Comparison with the wicked man.  God’s thoughts are infinite; the wicked are senseless & foolish.
  • The wicked might experience temporary success, but it is always temporary.  God’s thoughts and purposes outlast any scheme of the wicked.
  • God’s judgment is eternal.  Notice that the wicked are not merely destroyed, but they are “destroyed forever.”  There is no end to the judgment of God.  Sin is an infinite offense because it takes place against an infinite God, and God will have His eternal justice known.
  • God’s justice and victory (vss. 8-11)

8 But You, LORD, are on high forevermore. 9 For behold, Your enemies, O LORD, For behold, Your enemies shall perish; All the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.

  • God’s judgment is assured.  God’s enemies “shall perish” & “shall be scattered.”  This is not a sense of possibility, but one of certainty.  There’s no doubt that God will judge the living and the dead.  There’s no doubt that those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life will be forever cast away to horrendous punishment.  Those who think they can somehow “skate” by the judgment of God are terribly & tragically mistaken.
  • God’s glory is eternal – He is “on high forevermore.” (DA Carson) “This whole psalm ‘pivots’ on v 8, a forceful statement of the supreme exaltation of the Lord which might even be translated ‘You are exaltedness itself!’”

10 But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil. 11 My eye also has seen my desire on my enemies; My ears hear my desire on the wicked Who rise up against me.

  • The God who is exalted in turn exalts His favored people.  This is the grace of God!  Why would God ever for any reason desire to exalt people who were in rebellion against Him?  We who had spit upon His name, and sent His only begotten Son to the cross?  Yet because of Christ, we are forgiven & exalted!  Like the prodigal son, we were the ones eating the slops of the pigs, and yet we have been clothed with the robes of our Heavenly Father.  Oh the grace of God!
  • We have been chosen & empowered by Him.  This is the idea of anointing.  The anointed priest was set apart for the use of God & had the Holy Spirit come upon him for service.  The anointed king experienced something similar – especially Saul & David when Samuel anointed them with oil.  Today, we through Jesus Christ have been chosen to be set apart by Him, and anointed with the Holy Spirit.  Again, this is the wonderful grace of God.
  • We have been vindicated by Him.  The author had seen his desire upon his enemies – those who had spoken and conspired against him had been vindicated by God when God showed His justice.  Likewise for us.  One day will be witnesses when the Devil is forever cast into the lake of fire (for whom it was created).  We will be witnesses to the ultimate vindication.
  • These are the works of God for which we praise Him!
  • The blessing of the godly (vss. 12-15)

12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing,

  • The man who is grounded in God flourishes.  Growth – there is strength as the man continues to walk with God.  Worship – there is sincere praise that comes from those who have been declared righteous by Christ.  Fruit – there is an effect upon those we meet & in our own personal character as we find our nourishment in God.
  • Reminiscent of Psalm 1.  Psalm 1:1–3, "(1) Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. (3) He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper." []

15 To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

  • What do we do while we’re flourishing?  Praising God!  We declare our Covenant-Keeping God is our righteous rock of salvation!

Conclusion:
Moses needed to be reminded of the mercies of God, and thus praised God.  The author of Psalm 91 meditated upon the protection of God, and thus praised God.  The author of Psalm 92 thought about the works of God & gave God glory and praise.  Whether in the middle of God’s discipline, or while experience the flourishing blessing of God, there is always a reason to give God our praise & worship.  He is worthy of our worship!

How do you praise God tonight?  For what do you praise God tonight?  During the week in which we remember Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, we have much for which we can praise God.  Don’t hold back in your praise!  Don’t hold back in your worship & giving thanks!  Don’t hold back in sharing the good news of the work that God has done through Jesus Christ.  Part of the Hebrew idea of praise was the idea of sharing it with others.  That goes straight to the heart of the Great Commission.  We can share the wonderful works of God with those around us.  This week, people are curious to know if there’s anything to Easter besides chocolate eggs and mythical bunnies.  We alone have the news of the very real Savior, in whom we find mercy, protection, and salvation.  May we be those who tell about Him in our praise!

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