Can you name something that you love with your whole heart? Something you love unreservedly, unconditionally, with no-holds-barred? My spouse, my daughters, their husbands (my girls married UP!) and my grandchildren fit into that category for me. Oh, and my dog, even at her orneriest. Wholehearted love is easy to feel for these special people in my life. (The dog thinks she’s a person. Who am I to argue?)
Psalm 111 is a joyous celebration of wholehearted love for the Lord. It was written as an acrostic psalm, which means that each line begins with a letter in the Hebrew alphabet, written in order. It is paired with psalm 112 (also an acrostic psalm) which extols the virtue of the godly person. But today’s passage extols the virtue of a majestic and magnificent God:
Psalm 111 (Common English Bible)
Praise the Lord!
I thank the Lord with all my heart
in the company of those who do right, in the congregation.
When the psalmist says that he thanks the Lord with ALL his heart, it is a reminder to us that we cannot love God with a divided heart. We can’t worship God and worship little gods such as privilege, wealth, prosperity, status, or fame. We can’t love God and hate his people. We can’t preach the Gospel and post hateful memes. Divided hearts are not what the Lord desires.
2 The works of the Lord are magnificent;
they are treasured by all who desire them.
3 God’s deeds are majestic and glorious.
God’s righteousness stands forever.
Johannes Kepler was a 17th Century German astronomer who studied the works of the Lord. Kepler discovered the three laws of planetary motion, changing the way we understood the nature of earth, the sun, orbits, and the universe. Against great opposition, he celebrated God’s magnificent works through a telescope and brought meaning and understanding to the science community. All of his observations were credited back to God:
“It is a right, yes a duty, to search in cautious manner for the numbers, sizes, and weights, the norms for everything God has created. For He himself has let man take part in the knowledge of these things … For these secrets are not of the kind whose research should be forbidden; rather they are set before our eyes like a mirror so that by examining them we observe to some extent the goodness and wisdom of the Creator.” (From Epitome of Copernican Astronomy and Harmonies of the World)
Kepler was a scientist who treasured all the works of the Lord, and he didn’t allow the conventional wisdom of the time stop him from his research and exploration. His work proves that faith and science can coexist in harmony when the scientist loves God wholeheartedly.
4 God is famous for his wondrous works.
The Lord is full of mercy and compassion.
5 God gives food to those who honor him.
God remembers his covenant forever.
6 God proclaimed his powerful deeds to his people
and gave them what had belonged to other nations.
In addition to the stars and the planets, God’s wondrous works include mercy and compassion. When we love God with our whole heart, these things should be our work, too. His handiwork is honesty and justice: those who love the Lord pursue these things as well. Where is God calling you to be an advocate of mercy, compassion, honesty, and justice?
7 God’s handiwork is honesty and justice;
all God’s rules are trustworthy—
8 they are established always and forever:
they are fulfilled with truth and right doing.
9 God sent redemption for his people;
God commanded that his covenant last forever.
Holy and awesome is God’s name!
Today is a good day to reflect on your covenant relationship with God. If you say you love him wholeheartedly, do your words, deeds, thoughts, actions, and posts reflect that? Wisdom begins with a reverential trust of the covenant. Keeping God’s laws brings knowledge and redemption. God always does his part in keeping the covenant…are you doing yours?
10 Fear of the Lord is where wisdom begins;
sure knowledge is for all who keep God’s laws.
God’s praise lasts forever!