I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. (ESV)
Psalms nine and ten are companion pieces, telling two sides of what God does in his world to bring about the ultimate victory of his plan in Jesus the Messiah. (In fact, some versions, following the ancient Septuagint, combine them into one Psalm.) Both sides are just as real, and we need to hear both to be spiritually balanced. David, who experienced suffering and triumph, was used by God to write these psalms and to teach us to sing about both sides of reality. The Lord Jesus walked this same path (Philippians 2: 6-11). Today, we’ll listen to how Psalm Nine opens.
Before David talks about God’s rule in the world, he presents four active attitudes that we express in our relationship with the Lord of all. That might sound a bit redundant, but we must realize our responsibility to God. To follow the Lord requires us to follow him with praise and worship. In a broken world this will not simply happen. Many times we will feel far from desiring to praise our God and Father. The brokenness around us, which we can see every day, will seem too horrible. But hope (confident anticipation in God’s promises) will enable us to see more than the immediate situation we and others we love are in. Then we can act and praise.
- Thankfulness heads the four active attitudes. When we do not thank the Lord for the many blessings he continually gives, it is a sign that our part of our relationship with God is faltering. One of the core issues of those in rebellion against God is a lack of thankfulness to the Creator (Romans 1:21, 25). Those who delight in God and his mercies willingly thank him for who he is and what he does for his people. Thanksgiving should be more than an item from a list about how to pray. It ought to flow from our hearts, the core of who we are.
- Testimony follows thankfulness. When we appreciate God’s blessings from our hearts, we will want others to know. We will tell or recount them to others. “Wonderful deeds” translates a Hebrew word that is frequently used for the redemptive miracles that the Lord did for his people. For the people of God before Christ came, they would recount all God to make a people, including the events of the exodus and the giving of the Promised Land. For new covenant people, we can recount not only Christ’s miracles but the four core events of the good news: Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. All four transform us, and so we should tell others about them.
- Next is joy in the Lord. While it is easy to rejoice in circumstances, David sings about being glad because of the Lord himself. This is part of any healthy relationship. If you are in a friendship, you do not merely rejoice in the benefits of that friendship, but also in your friend. You enjoy being with your friend simply because he or she is your friend. If your joy is only in the pleasant circumstances God sends you, what will you do when your situation is suffering? Since David’s joy was in the Lord himself, he could exult in the Lord at all times.
- Finally, David encourages artistic expression in praise. Specifically, he tells the Lord that he will sing praise to God’s name (a frequent way of speaking of God personally). Some people have been given beautiful voices, which are nice for the rest of us to listen to. And we ought to try to sing our best. But the point is to sing to the Lord. This is becoming a lost art in many churches, where people are entertained by a “praise team”. Surely, there is no problem with having people with skill lead others in singing, but today many are silent while a few up front sing. But the Lord desires to hear your voice joining in the overflowing joy of all he is and has done in our Lord and Savior.
Praise does not make the ugliness of a broken world disappear. It does not lessen suffering. But it is a very important part of our relationship with the Lord of all. May we all praise the Lord!
Grace and peace, David