“The ABCs of Praising God”
April 26, 2015
One morning this week I was about to leave home for my office and I was thinking through my day and remembered that I had scheduled a meeting for later that afternoon and had forgotten to tell someone else whom I’d asked to be there about the meeting. So I quickly sent him a text:
I forgot to email you yesterday that we have an appointment today at 4:00 with _____. Does that still work for you?
And in a classic response he quickly texted back:
Hey — you forgot you remembered!! I got the email yesterday about 11:00 a.m. See you this afternoon.
My poor memory and brain. I immediately thought about one of the first members of this church, Muriel Clifton, who has now been with the Lord many years; she used to say to me when I’d ask her a question about some distant event, “I have the best forgetter.” I’m starting to feel that way, too.
Now if our failing memory only results in a miss-sent email or text, or perhaps a missed meeting, or the failure to pick up bananas from the grocery on the way home, that’s not really a particularly significant problem. However, there are some things we dare not forget to do. We must not fail to do some things; or better said, there are some things we must remember. And that principle not only informed the content of the last psalm David wrote (Psalm 145), but also informed the way in which he wrote it.
Recognizing the style in which this psalm was written will help us understand its meaning & purpose:
- The book of psalms was the “hymnal” for Jews when they went to worship in the temple.
- However, while the hymns were written down, copies were very rare and no one would have had a copy of the Scriptures (including the hymn book of Psalms) to take home to read during the week. So if they were going to remember what was read, they had to memorize it during the worship service.
- So occasionally, the hymn writers would use particular devices to help the worshippers remember the songs they were singing; one of those devices was to write and acrostic poem, making each line begin with the successive letters of the alphabet (e.g., Pss. 9-10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119). And that is what David has done here (with the exception of the letter nun after verse 13).
And David also emphasizes his message by repeating the theme in the first, middle, and last verses of the psalm (vv. 1, 10, 21). David is suggesting a progression to the praise of God:
- I will bless Your name forever and ever (v. 1)
- Your godly ones shall bless You (v. 10)
- All flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever (v. 21)
So with the use of the acrostic style and the emphasis on praise, one writer has suggested, “Praise is the fitting note on which to begin and end, the A and Z of good psalmody.” [Leslie Allen] Or, as I put it in the sermon title, here we have the ABCs of praising God.
We can say that the theme of this psalm is that:
Praise is always the joyful duty of the follower of God.
In this psalm, the songwriter David identifies four reasons to always praise God:
- Praise God (Always): He is Grand (vv. 1-6)
- Praise God: He is Good (vv. 7-9)
- Praise God: He is Governor (vv. 10-13)
- Praise God: He is Gracious (vv. 14-21)
Download the rest of this sermon on Psalm 145.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.