Praise the Lord!

By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.

These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.

Psalm 147:1-20

 


Introduction

Praise the Lord! Recently, I read, “There was a little old lady who would come out every morning on the steps of her front porch, raise her arms to the sky and shout, ‘Praise the Lord!’

Well, one day an atheist moved into the house next door.  Over time, he became irritated at the little old lady.  So every morning he would step out onto his front porch and yell after her, ‘There is no Lord!’

Time passes with the two of them carrying on this way every day.  Then one morning in the middle of winter, the little old lady stepped onto her front porch and shouted, ‘Praise the Lord!  Lord, I have no food and I am starving.  Please provide for me, oh Lord!’

The next morning, she stepped onto her porch and there were two huge bags of groceries sitting there.  ‘Praise the Lord!’ she cried out.  ‘He has provided groceries for me!’

The atheist jumped out of the hedges and shouted, ‘There is no Lord.  I bought those groceries!’

The little old lady threw her arms into the air and shouted, ‘Praise the Lord!  He has provided me with groceries and He made the devil pay for them!’”[1]

From the Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary we read, “Psalm 147 moves its focus in three broad strokes from the stars to the afflicted, from all of nature to those persons who fear God, and from all the nations to Israel’s special favor.  Hundreds of billions of stars are known to exist in the Milky Way galaxy, which is regarded as but a speck in the star clusters of the known universe (147:4).”[2]

Dr. A. G. Clarke (1887-     ) shares the following comment on Psalm 147, “Note the mingling of divine majesty, divine might and divine mercy.”[3]

We read in Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!”

Rev. W. [Y]. Fullerton (1857-1932), minister of Melbourne Hall, founded by Dr. F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) and Home Secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society, Leicester, England, explains, “A Puritan writer says there are some things good and not pleasant, and there are some things pleasant and not good, but there is one thing both good and pleasant, and that is for brethren to dwell together in unity.  To which I would only add they should unite in praise.  Praise is the instinct of the regenerate soul.  What is natural is always pleasant.  If your joys abound, praise God.  It will shed a glow on the mountain, put a bloom on the grape, add moss to your rose.  If sorrow is your portion, praise; however ill your lot you can find something to evoke thanksgiving.”[4]

The Puritan mentioned by Rev. Fullerton is William Secker, whom we have no record of his birth, died in 1681.  As Cherokee-American cowboy, humorist, Will Rogers (1879-1935), said, “In the early days of the Indian Territory, there were no such things as birth certificates.  You being there was certificate enough.”[5] The exact wording of William Secker’s quote is as follows, “There are some things good but not pleasant, as sorrow and affliction.  Sin is pleasant, but unprofitable; and sorrow is profitable, but unpleasant.  As waters are purest when they are in motion, so saints are generally holiest when in affliction.”[6]

To praise the Lord benefits the believer. It is good!  Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) explains, “It is good because it is right; good because it is acceptable with God, beneficial to ourselves, and stimulating to our fellows.  The goodness of an exercise is good argument with good men for its continual practice.”[7]

Praising the Lord is good because God commands it.  His commandments are not evil.  Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) explains, “Remember, God’s commands are not for our punishment, but for our welfare.  Even though eight of the Ten Commandments are negative, there is a positive implied in each one.  What God is saying is this: ‘give Me first place in your life.’  He loves you, so every time God says, ‘Thou shalt not,’ He’s really saying, ‘Don’t harm yourself.’  And every time God says, ‘Thou shalt,’ He’s saying, ‘Help yourself to happiness.’”[8]

To praise the Lord becomes the believer. It is becoming for the believer.  Praising the Lord is “pleasant”.  As someone explains that it gives “a sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment.”  It is not irksome to the believer.  It is not burdensome.

To praise the Lord befits the believer. It is befitting for the believer.  Praising the Lord is beautiful.  It is right.  Some translate it “how right”.  To encompass the shades of meaning it could be translated as “comely, fitting, suitable, seemly, or attractive.”

Rev. Henry Smith (1550?-1591), known as “England’s Silver-Tongued Preacher[9], comments, “David, to persuade all men to thankfulness, saith, It is a good and pleasant thing to be thankful.  If he had said no more but “good”, all which love goodness are bound to be thankful; but when he saith not only “good”, but “pleasant” too, all which love pleasure are bound to be thankful; and therefore, as Peter’s mother-in-law, so soon as Christ healed her of a fever, rose up immediately to minister unto him (Matthew 8:15), so we, so soon as Christ hath done anything for us, should rise up immediately to serve him.”[10]

With the psalmist may we, “Serve the Lord with gladness; / Come before His presence with singing.  Know that the Lord, He is God; / It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; / We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, / And into His courts with praise” (Psalm 100:1b-4a).

From our text found in Psalm 147:1-20 we read, “Praise the Lord!  For it is good to sing praises to our God; / For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.  The Lord builds up Jerusalem; / He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.  He heals the brokenhearted / And binds up their wounds.  He counts the number of the stars; / He calls them all by name.  Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; / His understanding is infinite.  The Lord lifts up the humble; / He casts the wicked down to the ground.  Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; / Sing praises on the harp to our God, / Who covers the heavens with clouds, / Who prepares rain for the earth, / Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.  He gives to the beast its food, / And to the young ravens that cry.  He does not delight in the strength of the horse; / He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.  The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, / In those who hope in His mercy.  Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!  Praise your God, O Zion!  For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; / He has blessed your children within you.  He makes peace in your borders, / And fills you with the finest wheat.  He sends out His command to the earth; / His word runs very swiftly.  He gives snow like wool; / He scatters the frost like ashes; / He casts out His hail like morsels; / Who can stand before His cold?  He sends out His word and melts them; / He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow.  He declares His word to Jacob, / His statutes and His judgments to Israel.  He has not dealt thus with any nation; / And as for His judgments, they have not known them.  Praise the Lord!”

Allow me to share three things from our text.

I. Praise the Lord, He understands His people.  The wisdom of His purpose causes us to praise Him.  (Psalm 147:1-6)

Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) prayed, “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand. . .”             While it is important to understand, it is important to be understood.  All of us have felt the pain of being misunderstood.  To know someone understands is very important.

From Psalm 147:1-6 we read, “Praise the Lord!  For it is good to sing praises to our God; / For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.  The Lord builds up Jerusalem; / He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.  He heals the brokenhearted / And binds up their wounds.  He counts the number of the stars; / He calls them all by name.  Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; / His understanding is infinite.  The Lord lifts up the humble; / He casts the wicked down to the ground.”

Remember, the One who mends broken hearts marshals heavenly bodies.  We read in Psalm 147:3-4, “He heals the brokenhearted / And binds up their wounds.  He counts the number of the stars; / He calls them all by name.”

David also writes in Psalm 103:13-14, “As a father pities his children, / So the Lord pities those who fear Him.  For He knows our frame; / He remembers that we are dust.”  There is some debate as to whether God allows more to be put on us than we can bear.  Sometimes it seems things are greater than we can bear.  It is at these times we become aware of our need of the Lord’s intervention.  Paul the Apostle recounts, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The Creator understands His creation.  Man is the crown of God’s creation.  He made them male and female from the beginning.  God knows and understands why He made women differently from men.  This is according to God’s plan and man cannot improve upon it.  Paul the Apostle shares the cautionary account in Romans 1:18-32 for anyone who might think otherwise.

 

II. Praise the Lord, He underwrites His people.  The wealth of His provision causes us to praise Him.  (Psalm 147:7-11)

Rev. William Gurnall (1617-1679) “Take heart, therefore, O ye saints, and be strong; your cause is good; God himself espouseth your quarrel [underwrites your battle], who hath appointed you his own Son, general in the field, called ‘the Captain of your salvation,’ Heb. ii.  He shall lead you on with courage, and bring you off with honour.  He lived and died for you; he will live and die with you; for mercy and tenderness to his soldiers, none like him.”[11]

Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) asks, “‘Who is keeping you in God’s hand?’  When I talk about eternal security, inevitably I will hear, ‘Well, maybe your sins can’t take you out of the hand of God, but Satan can.’

In all due respect, I respond, ‘Pardon me.  But that is foolishness.  If Satan could take you out of the hand of God, why hasn’t he done it yet?  Hasn’t he been nice to you?  That would be a strange doctrine.  You’re going to heaven by the grace of the devil!’

God saves us.  God keeps us.  What has been settled in eternity can never be undone by the ways of men or the schemes of the devil.”[12]

In Psalm 147:7-11 we read, “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; / Sing praises on the harp to our God, / Who covers the heavens with clouds, / Who prepares rain for the earth, / Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.  He gives to the beast its food, / And to the young ravens that cry.  He does not delight in the strength of the horse; / He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.  The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, / In those who hope in His mercy.”

 

III. Praise the Lord, He underpins His people.  The working of His power causes us to praise Him.  (Psalm 147:12-20)

To “underpin” is “To support by some solid foundation.  To place something underneath for support.”[13] At this point, the hymn titled, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” comes to mind.  Anthony J. Showalter (1858-1924) composed the music and collaborated with Elisha A. Hoffman (1839-1929) on the lyrics.[14] Robert J. Morgan explains, “Showalter said that he received letters from two of his former pupils saying that their wives had died.  When writing letters of consolation, Showalter was inspired by the phrase in the Book of Deuteronomy 33:27 ‘The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’.”[15]

From Psalm 147:12-20 we read, “Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!  Praise your God, O Zion!  For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; / He has blessed your children within you.  He makes peace in your borders, / And fills you with the finest wheat.  He sends out His command to the earth; / His word runs very swiftly.  He gives snow like wool; / He scatters the frost like ashes; / He casts out His hail like morsels; / Who can stand before His cold?  He sends out His word and melts them; / He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow.  He declares His word to Jacob, / His statutes and His judgments to Israel.  He has not dealt thus with any nation; / And as for His judgments, they have not known them.  Praise the Lord!”  Here, we see God’s work for His people and God’s word to His people.

Conclusion

Dr. Andrew Alexander Bonar (1810-1892) comments, “The God of Israel, what he has done, what he does, what he can do—this is the ‘Hallelujah’ note of his song.  So happy is the theme, that in Psalms 147:1 we find a contribution for it levied on Psalms 33:1 92:1 135:3; each must furnish its quota of testimony to the desirableness of giving praise to such a God.”[16]

Allow me to share the scripture cited by Dr. Bonar.  From Psalm 33:1 we read, “Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!  For praise from the upright is beautiful.”  In Psalm 92:1 we read, “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, / And to sing praises to Your name / O Most High.”  The psalmist also writes in Psalm 135:3, “Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; / Sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant.”

Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon exhorts, “We who dwell in this land of privileges ought to be as grateful as ancient Israel.  As a family we have been highly favoured, and let us, one and all, unite in praising the Lord.  From all that dwell below the skies / Let the Creator’s praise arise; / Let the Redeemer’s name be sung / Through every land, by every tongue.  Eternal are thy mercies, Lord; / Eternal truth attends thy word: / Thy praise shall sound from shore to shore / Till suns shall rise and set no more.”[17]

Praise the Lord, He understands His people.  The wisdom of His purpose causes us to praise Him.

Praise the Lord, He underwrites His people.  The wealth of His provision causes us to praise Him.

Praise the Lord, He underpins His people.  The working of His power causes us to praise Him.

Praise the Lord!


[1]Preaching Daily Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com , (Richmond, VA: Salem Web Network, 2012), via e-mail 11/16/12

 

[2]Robert B. Hughes and J. Carl Laney, Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2001), p. 277

 

[3]A.G. Clarke, Analytical Studies in the Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1979), p. 356

 

[4]The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell, Psalm 147:1-11, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, n. d. [originally published 1887]), Available from: http://ibiblestudies.com/auth/fullerton/master_motives_to_praise.htm Accessed: 11/16/12

 

[5]Available from:  http://quotationsbook.com/quote/23836/ Accessed: 11/17/12

 

[6]A Puritan Golden Treasury, Available from: http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/Affliction-Quotes/page-4.shtml Accessed: 11/17/12

 

[7]Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. VII, (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1886), p. 428

 

[8]Adrian Rogers, Ten Secrets for a Successful Family: A Perfect 10 for Homes That Win (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1998), p. 37

 

[9]Ronald B. Jenkins, Henry Smith: England’s Silver-Tongued Preacher, (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1983), p. 4

 

[10]Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. VII, (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1886), p. 428

 

[11]Rev. William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour: Or, A Treatise on the Saint’s War with the Devil: Wherein A Discovery is Made of the Policy, Power, Wickedness, and Strategems, Made Use of by That Enemy of God and His People, (London: William Tegg, 1862), p. 6

 

[12]Adrian Roger, Love Worth Finding, “Who is Keeping You in God’s Hand?”, November 16, 2012, Available from: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/loveworthfinding/ Accessed: 11/16/12

 

[13]Available from: http://www.morewords.com/word/underpin/  Accessed: 11/15/12

 

[14]Anthony J. Showalter and Elisha A. Hoffman, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”, (1877), Available from: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/l/o/lotearms.htm Accessed: 11/15/12

 

[15]Robert J. Morgan, Near to the Heart of God: Meditations on 366 Best-Loved Hymns (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2010), p. 122

 

[16]Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. VII, (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1886), p. 428

 

[17]Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Interpreter: Or, Scripture for Family Worship, p. 624 Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

 

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com

http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Biblical-Preaching-Giving-Bible/dp/1594577684

http://www.wordsearchbible.com/products/Sound_Biblical_Preaching_1476.html

http://www.webspawner.com/users/franklinlkirksey / fkirksey@bellsouth.net / (251) 626-6210

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