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What reasons do you have to praise God?
Psalm 1471 Praise the LORD.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him! 2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel. 3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds. 4 He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name. 5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit. 6 The LORD sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground. 7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make music to our God on the harp. 8 He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills. 9 He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call. 10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of a man; 11 the LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love. 12 Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion, 13 for he strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your people within you. 14 He grants peace to your borders
and satisfies you with the finest of wheat. 15 He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly. 16 He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes. 17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast? 18 He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow. 19 He has revealed his word to Jacob,
his laws and decrees to Israel. 20 He has done this for no other nation;
they do not know his laws.
Praise the LORD.
Praising God is good (v 1). And the psalmist gives reasons for our hearts to find God good. They alternate between the global and general, and the local and personal.
Praise God for his creation. He established the far reaches of the universe (v 4), brings forth life on earth (v 8), feeds the animals (v 9), and governs the seasons (vs 15–18). We often take these things for granted. They seem to happen automatically. If we’re city dwellers, we may never even see the stars or notice God’s intimate care for all he has made. But they point to his generosity, creativity, power, and care. To miss them is to miss reasons to praise him!
Praise God for his care. God loves all creation, but his particular delight is in his people. This psalm is written to a downtrodden people, probably to exiles returning from Babylon (v 2, see Nehemiah 12:27). God knows what his people go through. And he binds up their hearts (v 3). He doesn’t love them because they’re self-sufficient, but because they depend on him and trust in his love (vs 10,11).
But the climax of the psalm is in verses 19 and 20, where the singer praises God for his relationship with them. They are descendants of Jacob – a swindler, liar and coward. But God chose them, and revealed himself to them and made them his (v 20).Mark Ellis
Use the words and patterns of this psalm to give thanks to God for creation, his care, and his Word.
If someone asked you for a good recipe for a meal on a wintry evening, what would you recommend? If you were asked for a psalm for a winter’s night, would you have one? This psalm is a great Bible passage for such an occasion; it may even have been composed at night (v 4), while the weather was far from pleasant (vs 15–18). The encouragements to praise the Lord, found in verses 1, 7, 12 and 20, work like a refrain, splitting the psalm into three sections. Each one, however, calls us to do the same thing. We are to use our knowledge of creation to encourage us in our walk with God.
Verses 2–6 remind us that the God who orders the stars and calls them each by name (v 4) uses this great power (v 5) to care for his people, healing the broken-hearted and binding up their wounds (v 3). He sustains the humble (v 6). As more and more solar systems in the universe are discovered, this truth becomes no less true but much more wonderful! Verses 8–11 emphasise that the God who sends the rain and provides for the animals takes a special interest in his people, those who fear him and trust in his unfailing love (v 11). He is not impressed by military might or human strength and neither should we be (v 10). The final section in verses 13–19 show us that just as the various weathers, snow, frost, hail and wind, respond to his command (vs 15–18), so his people need to be obedient to his word that he has revealed to them (v 19) and, ultimately, to the Word that the New Testament will reveal to us in all his glory! It really is good, pleasant and fitting to praise such a God.Gordon Cooke
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