BREAKTHROUGH IN FOCUS

 

Week of January 6, 2008

 

Bible Verses:Psalm 145:1-21.

 

Biblical Truth: We gain a biblical perspective in our faith when we focus on Godís power, character, and provision.

 

Focus on Godís Power:Psalm 145:1-7.

 

[1]I will extol You, my God, O King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever. [2]Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. [3]Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. [4]One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. [5]On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate. [6]Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, and I will tell of Your greatness. [7]They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness and will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.†††† [NASU]

 

Psalm 145 is the last of Davidís psalms as well as the last acrostic psalm in the Psalter. An acrostic psalm is one in which each verse begins with one of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet in sequence. As in this case, most Hebrew texts lack a verse for the letter ďnunĒ, which is why the psalm has only twenty-one verses instead of twenty-two.

 

[1-2]David begins this psalm by an opening statement in which he salutes Jehovah as his God the King. This is a significant statement from the mouth of Israelís king, for it acknowledges that although David may have been king of the elect nation of Israel, God is nevertheless the King of kings and therefore Davidís king too. What does this ultimate King deserve? What can we give Him when we come into His presence? It was usual to bring kings gifts, but there is no mere thing that we can give God that God does not possess already. Everything is already His. The only thing we can give is our praise, or worship. The nearly parallel lines of these two verses make three statements. (1) I will extol you. Praise is worship; it is acknowledging God to be what He truly is: the sovereign, holy, just, righteous, merciful, awesome, and majestic God we discover Him to be in Scripture. Worship is not coming to God to get things from Him, though we are free to do that too. It is not even confessing our sins or pleading for grace, though these flow from worship naturally. It is acknowledging God to be God. Indeed, it is doing precisely what David does in the remainder of this composition. (2) Every day I will bless You. David is not going to praise God merely on the Sabbath, though that day is explicitly set aside for that purpose. Rather, he is going to praise God every day. (3) I will bless Your name forever. Forever and ever means more than merely until I die. It means forever, indicating Davidís belief he would be worshiping God in heaven even after his worship on earth was ended. What should we praise God for? In this psalm David praises God for His greatness [3-7], His grace [8-13a], His faithfulness [13b-16], and His righteousness [17-20].

 

[3-7] Great is the Lord. Verse 3 starts by extolling God for being great. David is thinking here of the greatness of God displayed in His mighty works. The following verses make his intent clear. The word group works, acts occurs four times. The greatest of Godís works are His salvation works. In the case of Israel, these were always understood to involve Godís power in delivering Israel from slavery in Egypt and bringing them into their own land. For us, above all else, Godís salvation works are His work of saving us from sin through Christís atonement. David ends this stanza by writing of Godís abundant goodness and righteousness. Both goodness and righteousness were preserved and displayed in the death of Jesus. In Jesusí death God showed Himself to be both good and righteous in saving sinners. Neither of these attributes of God is seen in nature. In this stanza David also speaks of one generation shall praise Your works to another [4]. This statement does not mean merely that the stories of Godís past acts will be passed on by the redeemed community, though that is true, but that each generation of believers will add to that old story the account of what God also has done with them. God continues to act for us and in us. Our recognition of this truth and our confession of it are part of the praise we offer God.

 

God is great also in the sense that He is immense or omnipresent and in the fact that He is more important than anything else. He is so great that man cannot begin to search out the extent of His greatness, so important that we cannot begin to imagine how utterly we depend on Him. In portraying God as great, David wrote of His majesty, which he described as glorious and splendid [5]. Majesty conveys the ideas of splendor and vigor. When majesty describes God or His acts, it refers to the light and glory that He wears as King. David writes of the glorious splendor of Godís majesty. Each of those words multiplies the effect of the word ďmajesty,Ē as if by itself it could not convey the whole idea he had in mind. Glorious refers to abundance and honor. Splendor refers to an ornament that signifies the honor or dignity of one who wears it. What a picture this gives us of Davidís conception of the great God his King. God is righteous which denotes rectitude, or rightness judged by the perfect standard of Godís Law. Godís righteousness is like the mighty mountains, His justice like the great deep [Psalm 36:6]. He is immovable and unfathomable, so that He is beyond reproach or even accusation.

 

Focus on Godís Character:Psalm 145:8-13.

 

[8]The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. [9]The LORD is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works. [10]All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, and Your godly ones shall bless You. [11]They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and talk of Your power; [12]To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts and the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. [13]Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.†††† [NASU]

 

[8-9]It was probably his reference to Godís goodness in verse 7 that led the psalmist to deal with Godís grace, compassion, patience, and rich love in these verses. Verse 8 is a nearly perfect echo of Godís revelation of Himself to Moses at Mount Sinai, recorded in Exodus 34:6. This verse is the one most often quoted in the Old Testament, and with good reason, for it speaks of mercy, and mercy is the amazing, utterly surprising thing about God. Certainly God is almighty and all-wise and all-knowing; God could not be God without being all those important things, and more. We can expect them, but not mercy! The unexpected thing is that God should be gracious to those who have spurned His rightful authority and even murdered His Son when He came to earth to save us from our sins. In the Exodus account, Moses had asked to see Godís glory, meaning that he wanted to see Him face-to-face in His splendor. God said that He would not be able to show Moses His face; no one can see Godís face and live, but God would proclaim His name to Moses. The essence of this revelation is the meaning of Godís name. His name is Jehovah (Yahweh), which means ďI am who I amĒ [Exodus 3:14]. If we go beyond the mere definition of Godís name to ask, But what is ďI amĒ like? The answer is, The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin [Exodus 34:6-7]. David celebrates Godís mercy in verses 8-9. Just as the previous stanza of the psalm emphasized Godís greatness by repeating words having to do with greatness (works, acts), these two verses emphasizes mercy by using gracious, merciful, slow to anger, lovingkindness, good.

 

[10-13]The other aspect of Godís greatness that David lauded is His might or power. He predicted that Godís people would speak of the glory of Your kingdom and talk of Your power [11]. This word for power refers to strength or valor. God Himself is the paradigm of strength, demonstrating His power in the creation and government of the world. With His strength the mighty God overcomes the enemies of His people, delivers them from danger, and establishes His kingdom. As the King is mighty so are His deeds, and so David takes it upon himself to tell of them, for he wants all men to know of them [12]. That is the chief theme of Psalm 145: that all might know of the coming kingdom, a kingdom that outshines all the kingdoms of men, with a King who outshines all kings. The glorious, splendid, majestic King [5] will have a glorious, splendid kingdom [12].

 

Focus on Godís Provision:Psalm 145:14-21.

 

[14]The LORD sustains all who fall and raises up all who are bowed down. [15]The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due time. [16]You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. [17]The LORD is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds. [18]The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. [19]He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. [20]The LORD keeps all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy. [21]My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.††† [NASU]

 

The next section of Psalm 145 deals with Godís faithfulness to His promises. How does God demonstrate His faithfulness? He does it by keeping His promises and by caring for His creation. When we fall, He lifts us up. When we are bowed down by distress, He restores us. When we are hungry, He provides food. When we look to Him with our hands open, empty and held out, He satisfies us with good things. God promises to give us Himself if we come to Him through Christ. Then He also meets every other right desire we may have. The last of these four praise stanzas refers to God being righteous: The Lord is righteous in all His ways [17]. Righteous here does not mean morally upright, though God is that. He is the only true source of morality. It means rather that God is upright, or just, in responding to those who have needs and call on Him, those who are in peril and seek salvation. When verse 18 says that God is near to all who call upon Him, it means that He answers their prayers. Verse 19 says that He also will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him Ö and will save them. Verse 20 adds, The Lord keeps all who love Him. In other words, throughout our entire lives God shows Himself to be a good, caring, saving, and persevering God. In verse 20, for the first time in this psalm, the wicked come into the picture. Up to this point the psalm has been one unending chorus of praise, but this verse, much like Psalm 1:6, reminds us that our praise must still be offered in a sinful world. We are not in heaven yet, though we will be.

 

The last verse of Psalm 145 is the last word we have from David in the Bible. It is his last will and testament. If he had said nothing else in his long life, these words would be a fine legacy for future generations. In it he praises God and invites others to praise God also. At the close of his song of praise David writes, all flesh will bless His holy name [21]. Holy is yet another term emphasizing the truthfulness or purity of God. The Hebrew word emphasizes sacredness, separation from anything that would defile or profane. Godís holiness is closely related to His majesty. It is also related to His greatness. His holiness, power, righteousness, love, and faithfulness are all bound up in the work of salvation. When Godís word or promise is described as holy, it is to emphasize its inviolability. His holiness guarantees His immutable faithfulness to His promises.

 

Questions for Discussion:

 

1.†††††††† What does David mean by the greatness of God?

 

2.†††††††† What is Godís mercy and why is it unexpected?

 

3.†††††††† In verses 14-21, how does David describe Godís faithfulness?

 

4.†††††††† Spend time this week thinking about how this psalm teaches us to praise and worship God.

 

References:

Psalms of Promise, E. Calvin Beisner, P & R Publishing.

Psalms 107-150, James Montgomery Boice, Baker.