The Paradigm of Praise (Psalm 145)
Topic: Praise Passage: Psalm 145
Summer in the Psalms
Grace Community Church
July 18, 2021
The Paradigm of Praise (Psalm 145)
If you have your Bible, turn with me to Psalm 145.
I was watching a video called Is Genesis History and they were explaining the importance of paradigms and it got me thinking. One definition of paradigm is the framework through which we interpret things. An example they used is the Grand Canyon. An evolutionist looks at the Grand Canyon and says, “look what a little water over a lot of time can do!” A creationist looks at the Grand Canyon and says, “look what a lot of water over a short period of time can do!” Same evidence, different framework for interpreting that evidence. Paradigm.
We all have paradigms. None of us examine facts in a vacuum. We bring assumptions, biases, perspectives, and even personality tendencies into how we interpret those facts. Paradigms.
Sometimes paradigms aren’t a matter of right or wrong, just different. An optimist sees through a “glass half full” paradigm. A pessimist sees through a “glass half empty” paradigm. Same glass. Same level of fullness. Both are right but they interpret what they see differently due to their framework being different.
Sometimes our paradigms are wrong and therefore our conclusions are wrong. A man began to suspect that his wife was growing deaf. One day he walked into the room and found her looking the other way, so he decided to test his theory and whispered, can you hear me? Nothing. So he got a little closer, can you hear me? Still nothing. He got a little closer and whispered, can you hear me now? Again nothing. Finally he was right behind her, and spoke in a half-whisper, can you hear me now? And his wife answered, for the fourth time, yes!
It’s healthy for us to examine our paradigms every now and then. Is our framework for interpreting life biblical? Is it honest? Is it humble? And, most important, is our paradigm God-centered? I’ve titled this message The Paradigm of Praise because we can’t go wrong when we look at life through a framework that says, God is good. God is worthy of my praise. Come what may I will praise the Lord!
That is clearly David’s paradigm as he writes Psalm 145. Let’s work our way through it a portion at a time.
I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
David resolves to praise the Lord (I will extol you). Not, “if I feel like it I will praise you” or “when things are going good I will praise you”, but I will praise you every day for ever and ever. David resolves that he will praise God every single day forever and ever. Apparently “forever” wasn’t strong enough so he adds “and ever”. Forever and ever!
Verses 1-2 tells us what David is resolved to do, verses 3-21 tell us why. Why should we praise
God? Why should we, like David, resolve to interpret our lives through the paradigm of praise?
- God’s greatness
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
David underlines God’s greatness by saying it three times in one verse. God created us to praise Him for eternity, but won’t we begin to get bored after a few thousand years? No, God’s greatness is so great, it is unsearchable. We will spend eternity exploring new aspects of God’s greatness and never come to the end of it. God will always surprise and amaze us with new revelations of His greatness!
4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
Praise isn’t meant to stop with us! God wants us to light the fuse of the next generation so that they also see the greatness of God and the power of His mighty acts and give Him praise! Our mission as the church (and our goal as parents) is to pass on the praise of God to the next generation so they pass on the praise of God to the next generation!
David then begins to unpack some of that “unsearchable greatness” for which we praise God.
- God’s great splendor
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. Vv 5-7
Splendor speaks of grandeur and bigness. The other night I was driving home and lightning was lighting up the sky in constant and brilliant flashes and I felt in awe of its power and size. It was splendorous and a little bit scary! It was big! But God’s splendor is so much bigger.
Psalm 19:1 says, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. The word declare means to recount. It’s an accounting word that means to number the glory of God. The heavens count out the glory of God.
Our planet is part of a galaxy called the Milky Way which consists of maybe 400 billion stars and is estimated to be 100,000 light years across. Scientists now estimate there to be about 2 trillion galaxies in the universe, each containing hundreds of billions of stars.
To us the universe seems infinite. To God, it’s the work of His fingertips, just a small accounting of the splendor of Him who spoke it into existence. Praise God’s great splendor! His grandeur!
- God’s great goodness
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. 10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! Vv. 8-10
David realizes it’s not just God’s size and power that are infinitely great. His heart is infinitely great too because His heart is infinitely good. Sometimes we think of God as an angry God, smoldering with wrath that’s just waiting for a reason to let us have it!
I knew a guy who struggled big time with rage. I saw firsthand how quickly his anger would explode into rage and burn up anyone in his way. That’s not God. God’s heart is full of grace, mercy, and love. He loves to do good to all, and He pours mercy over all His creation. What David says about God’s anger isn’t that God is full of anger, but that He is slow to anger.
God does have righteous anger slowly burning towards sin and rebellion. Jesus absorbed that anger when he hung on the cross and all who place their trust in Jesus will never feel God’s wrath. The cross speaks of great mercy, grace, and love.
And yes, it needs to be said that if you reject Jesus and hold onto your sin, you are choosing to one day face God’s anger for your sin. But God would rather you receive His love and mercy. God is infinitely great because God is infinitely good.
- God’s great kingdom
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.] vv. 11-13
Earthly kingdoms and governments ebb and flow over time. Even the best of earthly kingdoms are imperfect and the worst of earthly governments have left a devastating trail of misery, abuse, and corruption in their trail. Think of Cuba. Think of China where millions of people have disappeared. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Not true of God and His kingdom. God’s kingdom is infinite in scope: it extends everywhere and endures forever. His kingdom is infinite in power. It never ebbs and flows, it only flows and flows perfectly. Nothing is mismanaged, no one is exploited, everything is done in the best interests of the subjects of the kingdom. Everyone in God’s kingdom is perfectly happy and fulfilled and well led.
How beautiful that Jesus came to make a way for us to enter the kingdom of God. All those who trust in Christ have their citizenship transferred from Satan’s evil kingdom to God’s great
kingdom. That alone is reason to praise God every day forever and ever!!!
- God’s great care for the needy
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Vv. 14-18
This is greatness on the other end of the spectrum. From flinging out the galaxies to caring for the smallest and neediest in His creation. The God who rules the universe is the same God who will personally wipe every tear away from His people’s eyes.
He lifts up the fallen. He feeds the hungry. He draws near to those who call on Him. Don’t ever think you’re too small for God to notice. Your pain too insignificant for God to care. Call upon the Lord and believe that He hears and He cares. When we really believe this, it changes our framework in hard times. The trial might be big but the God who loves us and cares about us is bigger. Praise Him!
- God’s great salvation
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. Psalm 145:19-21
The Bible is the story of God saving His people. Jesus came to save, not to condemn. We will praise God forever and ever for saving us from our sin and from death. If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, I urge you to call on him to save you today. Christianity isn’t people being good enough for God to love them, Christianity is God loving people enough to save them. It’s the ultimate rescue. Won’t you call on Jesus right now and ask him to save you from your sin and reconcile you to God as your friend?
As we wrap up, let me share a quick thought on the importance of expressing praise. The Hebrew language had seven words we translate to praise. Psalm 145 includes four of those words. All of these words express a different way of expressing praise and all of them include our bodies. Some of us might not be naturally expressive, but it’s biblical for us to grow in expressing praise to God.
Sometimes we might express praise to God by being exuberant (halal). Sometimes we might express praise through our tears. We can praise God with a loud voice and we can praise God with an instrument. We can express praise to God by kneeling (barak) before Him in reverence. We can express praise to God by raising our hands in praise and surrender (Yadah). I heard a Presbyterian pastor once tell about a man who was walking in the city when a would-be-mugger pressed a gun to his back and said, “stick ‘em up!” The man cried out, “I can’t! I’m a Presbyterian!” Maybe raising your hands in praise isn’t something you grew up with and it’s very uncomfortable to you. I get that. But c’mon, it’s not that hard, unless you dislocated both your shoulders lifting weights. And there’s power in expressing praise to God with our bodies and it’s biblical.
Choosing the paradigm of praise means we see and interpret life through a framework that doesn’t deny the challenges we face, doesn’t deny the heartache and suffering all around us, isn’t afraid to be honest when we go through hardships and disappointments. We see those things, but we see God as bigger. Praising God isn’t about denying reality, it’s about seeing God as the biggest reality! The greatest reality!
And that changes everything! God is worthy of our praise, let’s choose the paradigm of praise.