Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Importance of Praise - Psalm 113

There was a preacher that was trying to sell his horse. A potential buyer came to try out the horse.  "Before you start" the preacher said," you should know that this horse has been trained to respond to certain instructions. Go is ‘praise the lord’ and stop is ‘amen.’"

So the man on the horse says "Praise the lord," and the horse starts to trot. The man again says "Praise the lord," and the horse starts to gallop. 

Suddenly he spots a cliff a few feet in front of them and the man yells "Amen!!!" The horse stops just at the edge of the cliff. The man wipes the sweat from his brow and says, "Praise the Lord."

The word praise is repeated six times in the nine verses of Psalm 113, and the phrase ‘Praise the Lord’ four times, emphasing the importance and centrality of praise in worship. 

As Christians, praising God is our primary calling in life.  As the psalmist writes ‘Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.’ (Psalm 113:2-3)

CS Lewis said “we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.” 

We should give our praise and worship to God, not only when we’re feeling good, or things are going well, but also when times are tough.  But for many that may sound like an oxymoron – how can we praise God when it feels as though everything around you is going wrong?  How can we praise God, when the doctor has delivered some bad news?  How can we praise God, when just getting through the day is as much as we can cope with?

The psalmist goes some way to answering this question, because in praise and worship we turn the attention from our own problems and difficulties, and focus instead on God, and recall all He has done, and remembering his promises, which kindles and keeps hope alive. 

The psalmist writes that the Lord is exalted over all the nations, and his glory is above the heavens, and the Lord notices his people, ‘He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap’ (113:7)  This is the God who does not abandon or forsake his people, but the God who loves and cares for each one of us. 

If we praise God, it starts to permeate other areas of our lives, and it helps draw us closer to God, and to the peace that only he can give, because worship changes us.  It fills our hearts with gratitude for what God has done for us, it reminds us of our status as the adopted sons and daughters of God, and the promise that we will never be abandoned, and that here is a God in whom we can trust. 

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