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This sermon is based on Psalms 103 and expresses the appropriateness of giving praise to the Lord at all times, but especially during the season when our nation recognizes a national day of Thanksgiving. In the Psalm, David provides an appeal for personal praise; a sampling of God’s attributes; and an exhortation for universal praise.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of attending a class at Grove City College called “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.” It truly gave me a much larger, different and better perspective on the topic of “missions” than I previously had. I think it was the very first class in which the instructor reminded us that our primary purpose in life is to glorify God. We are expected and instructed to offer Him all our adoration and praise.
That instructor is also the one who first introduced me to “Cat and Dog Theology!”
A cat says: “You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, I must be God.”
A dog says: “You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, You must be God.”
Cat theology – What can I get or benefit from God? Dog theology – How can I honor/bless/direct praise to God? “Dogs” worship God primarily for Who He is. “Cats” worship God primarily for what He’s done for them.
There was another instructor later in the course who made the statement, “God deserves to be worshiped by every person in the world.”
During this time of the year we are encouraged to express our thanks to God as we celebrate the National Day of Thanksgiving. It is fitting and right for us to give thanks to the Lord for all the daily blessings He provides for us, but we must always realize that God is worthy to be praised and worshiped even if He didn’t give us so many wonderful blessings. Why? Because worship is all about Him, not us.
So today, I want to direct our attention to a Psalm that gives us some clear admonitions about offering praise to the Lord. I have referred to this Psalm as “A Hymn of Praise.” You may know that many of the Psalms were sung by the ancient Jews during sacrifices at the temple. In fact, King David organized teams of musicians to take turns providing music at the temple. So I think it is very appropriate to call this Psalm “A Hymn of Praise.”
What does King David have to say regarding the matter of giving praise to the Lord?
David provides an appeal for personal praise; a sampling of God’s attributes; and an exhortation for universal praise.
Let’s review the verses of the Psalm to discover what David has to say about these matters.
I. An Appeal for Personal Praise (vv. 1-5)
“Bless” – The Hebrew word used here stems from the word for “knee” and is believed to be linked to the usual custom of kneeling to receive a blessing.
(The Treasury of David, Charles Spurgeon) - You have often heard, that when God is said to bless men, and they on the other hand are excited to bless him, the word is taken in two very different senses. God is the only fountain of being and happiness, from which all good ever flows; and hence he is said to bless his creatures when he bestows mercies and favors upon them, gives them any endowments of body and mind, delivers them from evils, and is the source of their present comforts and future hopes. But in this sense, you will see there is no possibility of any creature [to bless] God; for … his infinite and unblemished perfection renders him incapable of receiving any higher excellency, or improvement in happiness; …. To bless God, then, is, … to acknowledge those divine excellencies, which render him the best and greatest of beings, the only object worthy of the highest adoration: it is to give him the praise of all those glorious attributes which adorn his nature, and are so conspicuously manifested in his works and ways.
A. Praise shall come from the “soul.”
1. “Soul” – “represents the whole man” (Keil & Delitzsch). That aspect which joins the spirit and body thus representing the whole person.
2. “All that is within me” – (NIV) “my inmost being.” (BDB; TWOT) “inward part(s).”
(Keil and Delitzsch Commentary) The [inward parts] is choice expression for the heart, which is called …the reins, the liver, etc.; for according to the scriptural conception (Psychology, S. 266; tr. p. 313) these organs of the cavities of the breast and abdomen serve not merely for the bodily life, but also the psycho-spiritual life.
(Expositor's Bible Commentary, Revised) …he has nothing else in mind than a full commitment to the act of giving thanks. There is no thought of a separation between “soul” and “inmost being” (lit., “my inner parts”) or between “soul” and “body,” because in Hebraic thought the worshiper praises the Lord with his or her entire being.
Therefore, though the words “soul” and “inmost being” or “all that is within me” are used, the point clearly is that we are to direct praise to the Lord with every aspect and fiber of our whole being.
B. Praise shall be directed to the Lord.
1. Lord (YaHWeH) This is the same word that God used to reveal Himself to Moses, “I Am that I Am.” The All-Present One; The All-Sufficient One…
As I stated at the beginning of the message, the Lord deserves the adoration, worship and praise of every living creature in the world.
C. Praise includes thanks for His benefits
1. Forgiveness of sins
Psalm 103:3 (NKJV) Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
(Tyndale Commentaries) He begins by remembering that God forgives sin. Sin creates a barrier between humanity and a holy God, but God will forgive the sin of a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17 (KJV) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.).
Psalm 103:3 (NKJV) Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
(Tyndale Commentaries) - Indeed, the connection between forgiving sin and healing may indicate that the psalmist himself is thanking God for healing him from sickness that he believed was connected to his sin (a connection made explicit in Psalm 38:3, There is no soundness in my flesh Because of Your anger, Nor any health in my bones Because of my sin.).
I’ve heard preachers use this verse to “prove” that God will heal every disease if we believe Him and trust Him. Emphasis on “all.” They say “all your diseases” is to be understood in the same way as “all your iniquities” in the first half of the verse. However, we know from comparing other Scripture and using Scripture to interpret Scripture, that God does not always heal every disease.
My answer is this: He forgives all the sins that are within His will to forgive, and He heals all diseases that are within His will to heal. According to the Bible, there is only one sin that God will not forgive – the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 103:4 (NKJV) Who redeems your life from destruction…
Redeems from the “destruction.” The NIV translates as “pit.” It is the same word sometimes translated as “grave” and “hell.”
4. Crowning of life and Satisfying desires
Psalm 103:4-5 (NKJV) … Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
(Expositor's Bible Commentary, Revised) The Lord “satisfies” and “renews.” He “satisfies” his children with all the blessings of the covenant … so as to “renew” them like an “eagle” (Isa 40:31). The eagle serves as a symbol of vigor and freedom associated with the benefits of restoration to divine favor and covenantal status.
II. A Sampling of God’s Attributes (vv. 6-19)
These verses discuss some of the attributes of God who is our object of praise. Remember, He deserves to be praised and honored for Who He is, not merely for what He does.
There are four specific attributes mentioned here, with the third one described in much more detail than the others.
A. Righteousness and Justice (v. 6)
Psalm 103:6 (NLT2) The LORD gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly.
B. Self-Revealing (v. 7)
Psalm 103:7 (NLT2) He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel.
The heathens worshiped gods and goddesses who were always shrouded and hidden in mystery, so that the worshipers were constantly “searching to find out what pleases them and what they expected.” In contrast, our God reveals His character/nature; He openly states what pleases Him; He performs deeds that reflect His nature.
C. Merciful and Gracious (vv. 8-18)
Psalm 103:8-18 (NLT2) The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. 9 He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. 10 He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. 11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. 12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. 13 The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. 14 For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. 15 Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. 16 The wind blows, and we are gone— as though we had never been here. 17 But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children 18 of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments!
D. Sovereign (v. 19)
Psalm 103:19 (NLT2) The LORD has made the heavens his throne; from there he rules over everything.
III. An Exhortation for Universal Praise (vv. 20-22)
(Matthew Henry) The Lord has a throne of his own, a throne of glory, a throne of government…. He takes [notice] of all the inhabitants, and all the affairs of this lower world, and disposes all persons and things according to the counsel of his will to his own glory; His Kingdom rules over… all kingdoms and from it there is no exempt jurisdiction.”
A. Praise must come from heavenly beings. (vv. 20-21)
1. They are called angels and hosts.
2. They possess strength unequaled on earth.
3. They obey and serve.
B. Praise must come from His works. (v. 22)
“Works” – That is, God’s creation. His works are located or evident in all places of God’s dominion or universe.
Psalm 19:1-4 (NLT2) The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. 2 Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. 3 They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. 4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
C. Praise must come from Psalmist himself.
Last phrase is a repetition of the opening lines in verses 1 & 2.
It looks as if King David, after exhorting all of God’s creatures and creation to praise the Lord, wants to make sure to include himself in that same chorus of praise.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends this season, let us all be sure to give praise, honor and adoration to the Lord.
He is worthy to be praised!
There is no one who compares to Him!
Closing Song: Let All Things Now Living