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.

Great are the works of the Lord,
    studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
    the Lord is gracious and merciful.
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!

He has shown his people the power of his works,
    in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
    all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever,
    to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
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!

Grateful for Sunsets


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.

The works of the Lord are magnificent;
    they are treasured by all who desire them.
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.

God is famous for his wondrous works.
    The Lord is full of mercy and compassion.
God gives food to those who honor him.
    God remembers his covenant forever.
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?

God’s handiwork is honesty and justice;
    all God’s rules are trustworthy—
        they are established always and forever:
        they are fulfilled with truth and right doing.
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!

The Works of the Lord are Magnificient by Michelle Robertson