We recently studied the passage from Luke 17 where Jesus healed ten lepers and only one came back to thank him. In that devotional, we were reminded to give thanks to God in all seasons and for all things, and never take what we have, who we are, and what our future holds for granted. Some of you commented that it was a much-needed reminder. One commenter said she got “pinged”. When that happens, I hope you know that it isn’t me doing the pinging!
Today, we will practice offering God the thanksgiving he deserves. This eloquent psalm focuses on all the reasons to thank God. We thank him for his works. We thank him for his righteousness. We thank him for the company of our congregation. We thank him for food, wonderful deeds, grace, mercy, power, our heritage … everything. Are you having a bad day/week/year? Read this one aloud. Twice.
Psalm 111 is an acrostic psalm, which means that each line of the psalm starts with a letter in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. Acrostic psalms were written to help people memorize them, much as elementary school kids do when they learn the song about the state capitals in alphabetic order. I know adults who can still sing the State Capitals song. Can you?
I can’t imagine the skill it would take to write a piece of poetry like this and ensure that every verse started with a specific letter in the alphabet. We should endeavor to memorize it for that very reason.
Psalm 111 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)
Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Giving thanks with our whole heart is something God deserves from us. Charles Spurgeon put it this way: “God cannot be acceptably praised with a divided heart, neither should we attempt so to dishonor him; for our whole heart is little enough for his glory, and there can be no reason why it should not all be lifted up in his praise.” Wise words.
2 Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of honor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant.
God’s covenant with his people is a pledge to give protection, provision, and blessing. When the psalmist says that God is mindful of his covenant and that he has commanded his covenant to last forever, he reassures the reader that God’s promises last forever. As modern Christian readers, we know that God’s covenant was fulfilled on the cross when he sent his only son for the salvation of the world. Through Jesus, we received a new covenant. Thank God!
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the heritage of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever.
I always prefer to understand the word “fear” in these passages as “reverential trust.” This word is not meant to imply quaking and trembling in terror before a powerful entity, but rather it portrays a picture of a respectful reverence that acknowledges God’s power and might and our insignificance. Only by grace may we approach the throne. But approach it, we may.
Holy and AWESOME is his name!
Was not liking the word fear and was trying to think of a different word. Thank you for using “reverential trust”. I feel better using it. It implies the love and provision God has for us .
I agree! Thank you, Neta!