Archive for the ‘Psalm 145’ Category

Today we are looking at Psalm 145. This is a psalm of praise to God. In fact, it is the only Psalm with the word “praise” in its title.

Although v. 3 tells us that God’s greatness is unsearchable, that certainly doesn’t mean it can’t be talked about. Indeed this Psalm talks quite a bit about God’s greatness, and this is why I want us to look at.

Click here to read it  Psalm 145

First of all, in this Psalm . . .

God is portrayed as a great King

We see this in v. 1, which says, “my God and King” (or “my God, the King”). God is often described as a king, especially in the Psalms. And then vs. 11-13a talk about God’s “kingdom.”  God is a king who rules over a kingdom.

Now earthly kings in the ancient world were often praised for their great qualities and their great deeds, and when this Psalm speaks of God as a king, the same thing is going on.

There is much discussion of

  • God’s “works” – vs. 4, 10, 13, 17
  • God’s “mighty deeds” – vs. 12
  • God’s “wondrous works” v. 5
  • God’s “awesome deeds” – v. 6

There is also discussion of

  • God’s “majesty” – v. 5
  • God’s “glorious splendor” – vs. 5, 12
  • God’s “greatness” which is unsearchable vs. 3, 6

And there is also much said about the glory of God’s kingdom. For instance in v. 13 – “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.”

We can be thankful that we have such a great King with an everlasting kingdom, unlike the world where rulers come and go (and you never know what you are getting), and where nations rise and fall. Our king will always reign in his kingdom forever and ever!

Next we look at the true nature of God’s greatness . . .

God’s greatness is related to his mercy

Kings are those who have power and they are known for their conquests over enemies, their wealth and the territory they control. But not so here. The focus in this Psalm is squarely on God’s acts of mercy and compassion.

This is how God differs from earthly kings and rulers.

  • God is almighty and has amazing power – more than any earthly king.
  • But God’s true greatness lies in his character traits; his deeds of mercy and compassion.

Lets look at these:

1. God forgives the sins of his people. v. 8 says, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger . . ..” This is from God’s own mouth, from when God passed before Moses on the mountain. It is God’s description of himself in Exodus 34:6. It says, “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness . . ..’”

This really gets at God’s core character; God’s moral makeup. And it is repeated in many places in the Old Testament, which helps us to understand what these phrases mean.

  • “Slow to anger” means that God is slow to judge us. God is patient with us, even when we do wrong.
  • “Gracious and merciful” means that if we repent and turn from our sin, God is merciful and willing to forgive.

So, God is great in that he forgives the sins of his people.

2. God is faithful to his word to us. This is also from v. 8 and is from Exodus 34:6, the last phrase – “. . . abounding in steadfast love.” It means that God will not easily give up on us. God has made a covenant with his people and even we break our commitments to God, God is patient with us, keeping his commitments to us.

This same idea of faithfulness also shows up in v. 13b – “The Lord is faithful in all his words.” God is great in that God keeps his promises to us.

Now what we have looked at focuses on God’s covenant with his people, but v. 9 expands this out further. And this is our third description of God’s greatness . . .

3. God is merciful and good to all people. v. 9 says, “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” God, as king over the whole earth, is merciful and good to all people.

This same idea shows up in the twin phrases, God is “kind in all his works” in vs. 13b, 17.

4. God is righteous.  v. 17 says, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways.” God does what is right. This is God’s moral character and God’s greatness. And this is unlike so many earthly kings and rulers.

5. God helps those who are weak. v. 14 says, “The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” Although God is high and all powerful, God looks down on those who are weak and low and is moved in compassion to help them.

God is truly great in that God cares for the lowly.

6. God provides food for people. vs. 15-16 say, “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

Food is mentioned and we also have the phrases, the “eyes of all look to you” and  “open your hand” which in Psalm 104:27-29 refer to God providing food.

This is talking about God providing harvests year after year from the earth. In this way God provides food for all people. God is great in that he is generous and thoughtful of our needs.

7. God is near in times of trouble. v. 18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” God is not too busy or buried in bureaucracy or hidden behind handlers so that we don’t have access to him, like earthly rulers. God can hear us and come close. God is our king and also our companion.

8. Finally, God is great because God rescues people from danger. vs. 19-20a say, “He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The Lord preserves all who love him . . ..” God is attentive to those in crisis. God not only hears us but saves us and preserves us.

So this Psalm gives us many wonderful descriptions of God’s greatness, all focused on God’s character as one who is merciful, kind and compassionate.

But it also helps us to see the . . .

Proper responses to God’s greatness

We are to meditate on God’s greatness. v. 5 says, “On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” To meditate means that we keep God’s greatness before us, we think about it, we ponder it, we let it soak into us.

  • And we do this as we read the scriptures and see God’s greatness displayed before us. As we see who God is and what God has done.
  • And we do this as we gather together and hear and tell all that God is doing in our lives today.

Second, we are to offer praise to God for his greatness. vs. 1-2 say, “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.”

When we truly understand God’s greatness, how amazing God truly is – especially as it relates to his mercy and care for us – how can we not lift God up in praise “forever and ever”? If we are not praising God, it is simply because we do not understand who God is. We haven’t got it yet.

Finally, we are to tell others about our great God and king. v. 4 says, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” We testify to God’s greatness to all who will listen. We share about who God is and what God has done. And others learn to know him. Both those around us today and the generations that are up and coming – our children.

William Higgins

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