Praise God

Published by DonDavidson on

When I was a baby Christian, during my college days, a friend of mine and I enjoyed going to a little chapel across from the university campus, where we would praise God loudly and joyfully. It was just fun.

The Psalm writers loved to praise God. In three of the most common English translations, the word “praise” appears more often in the Psalms than in all of the other Old Testament books combined:

         New American Standard Bible – Psalms: 154, all other O.T. Books: 83

         New International Version – Psalms: 182, all other O.T. books: 125

         Contemporary English Version – Psalms: 221, all other O.T. books: 168

The first line in each of the last five Psalms—Psalms 146 through 150—is “Praise the Lord.”

People praise the Lord for a lot of different things in the Old Testament. In Genesis 29:35, Jacob’s wife, Leah, praised the Lord when she gave birth to her fourth son, Judah. When God delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh’s army, Moses and the Israelites sang a song of praise and thanksgiving (Exodus 15). The prophetess Deborah and the general Barak sang a song of praise to God to celebrate the Israelites’ victory over Jabin, king of the Canaanites (Judges 5).

When David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, he held a great celebration. As part of that celebration, 1 Chronicles 16:4 says that David “appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to celebrate and to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel.” King Solomon made this a regular duty of some of the Levites after the Temple was built. Imagine—their whole job was to thank and praise the Lord!

Joel 2:26 stands for the very sensible proposition that we should praise God for prosperity:

You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied,
And you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
Then My people will never be put to shame.

It’s pretty easy to praise God when life is going well—when you have enough money to pay the bills; when you have plenty to eat; when your life isn’t going off the rails. But a real test of faith is whether you can praise God when doing so is difficult.

When Paul and Silas were in Philippi, Paul cast an evil spirit out of a slave girl who was making money for her owners by fortune telling. When the spirit left her, she could no longer foretell the future, and her owners got very upset. At their urging, Paul and Silas were unjustly arrested, beaten, and imprisoned. So what do we find them doing at midnight? Acts 16:25 says they “were praying and singing hymns of praise to God.”

What an example for us.

In 1910, Rudyard Kipling published the poem, “If,” the first stanza of which is:  

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise. . . .

The central idea of Kipling’s poem is that a mature person has to learn to deal with adversity without letting it destroy their values and morals. Similarly, the spiritually mature Christian must learn to deal with adversity without letting it destroy their faith or diminish their love.

I’m no Rudyard Kipling, but here is my short version of “If” for Christians:

If you can praise the Lord when things look bleak

When it feels like God has turned His back

If you can keep your faith when you feel weak

Then a place in Heaven you’ll never lack.

Praise God.


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