Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord O my soul! (Psalm 146:1)
Today’s big question: what is praise?
What human being has never had a good old boast about himself? If we think about it seriously, it is a regular thing. Letting others know of our achievements is an important pastime for many. We love being cheered for, and this starts from the very beginning of our lives.
It starts in our sin nature, and we nurture our desire for cheers from the sideline. Our earliest ventures on to the sporting field are embedded into our memories with excitement, not only for the game, but also for the cheers of adoring parents. We love the pat on the back, and sadly most of us love it a little too much. Our self-boasting and prideful attitude in this sin-cursed world causes incredible problems, and it’s one of the major reasons for our disputes. Everyone wants to look good, in our own eyes as well as in the eyes of others. If that is taken away from us, we fight for its return—sometimes with great energy.
We don’t just look for reasons to boast in ourselves. We boast about anything that holds our affections. I have heard people passionately boast about cars, computers, music, and even Christian speakers or Bible translations. We tend to focus our attention where our affections lie, and just like the opening appearance of a great performer in concert, the spotlight shines, and the great expectation of applause resounds. Cheer, boast, praise.
In the Bible, we are actually told to boast every time the word “praise” appears—boasting is an element of this word. When we praise God, we are essentially boasting about Him and cheering in reverent adoration of His person and works. Unlike adoring fans at a performer’s concert, it is God who shines His glorious light into our lives, revealing that everything about Him is praiseworthy.
Praise is a response of worship. We sing boasts about the greatness of our God with purity and vigor. We proclaim His greatness to others in joy and excitement. We spread words of comfort to the afflicted as we declare His goodness and sovereignty. We can confidently boast about our God in any and all situations.
Therefore, boasting isn’t always ugly. It all depends on the direction of the boasting and the object of our affection. Psalm 146 starts with three very significant little words—“Praise the Lord!” The next four chapters take us to the end of the Psalms and each one starts with these same words. It is a glorious crescendo of praise that we will enjoy in the next several devotionals.
Today’s big idea: our praise to God is the reverent, cheerful, and boastful adoration in response to His revelation.
What to pray: as you think of praising God, ask Him to point your affections completely toward Him.