Psalms Readings – Week 20

Rev. Ben Lovell   -  

May 16 – Psalm 146

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.

This psalm, along with all the psalms in the final section of 146-150, begins and ends with “Praise the Lord” which is the Hebrew word Hallelujah. These psalms also emphasize many of the themes we have already seen through the whole book.   

The psalmist begins with a personal vow to praise God all of his life. Then he calls on his audience not to trust in human beings, even leaders, because they cannot ultimately save. They will eventually die and so will their plans with them. 

Instead, we find one of the many “blesseds” of the Psalms where we will find true joy if we acknowledge that our help and hope is in the Lord who made heaven and earth. In contrast to humans who die, God remains faithful forever. He is always there for us. 

God watches over and provides for the oppressed and hungry. He sets prisoners free and gives sight to the blind. He lifts up those who are overwhelmed with life. He cares for those who have no one else to care for them, including, the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. God loves those who are in a right relationship with Him but is at work against the efforts of those who do evil. 

The psalmist gives us a beautiful description of God and why we should put all our trust in Him. We can be confident that the Lord rules over all forever so we should always be found praising the Lord!

Memory Verse: Psalm 147:3, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Question(s) to Consider: What does this psalm tell you about God? How does it inspire you to offer praise to God? 

May 17 – Psalm 147

Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.
The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.

He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle  and for the young ravens when they call.

10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

12 Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;  praise your God, Zion.

13 He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders  and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.

15 He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.  Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

19 He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel.
20 He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws. Praise the Lord.

After an opening declaration to praise the Lord, Psalm 147 alternates between celebrating the Lord’s particular care for his people and his general kindness toward all creation. The God of all the earth is the same God who acts on behalf of his people, the Creator God is Israel’s God.

The Lord is in the gathering business. He loves to bring those who have been separated from Him back home again. In fact, he heals those who have become brokenhearted. They have been crushed by the circumstances of life. As a caring physician, PA, NP, nurse or medic does, so does God carefully treat the wounds of His people. God intimately knows and cares for His people. 

The next verse speaks of God’s unimaginable vastness. “He determines the number of stars and calls each by name.” Recently, it was reported that NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has established a new benchmark: detecting the light of a star that existed within the first billion years after the universe’s birth – the farthest individual star ever seen to date. The newly detected star is so far away that its light has taken 12.9 billion years to reach Earth. The research team estimates that it is at least 50 times the mass of our Sun and millions of times as bright, rivaling the most massive stars known. It has been given the name, Earendel, which means “morning star” in Old English.

The name of the star reminds me what Jesus said, 

Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

Because this psalm speaks over and over the majesty of God in creation and His loving care for His people, we have abundant reasons to offer praise to the Lord.   

Memory Verse: Psalm 147:3, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Question(s) to Consider: How does this psalm make you feel about God? What affirmation about God’s character does it offer that causes you to offer wholehearted praise to Him?  

May 18 – Psalm 148

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, all the armies of heaven!
Praise him, sun and moon!
Praise him, all you twinkling stars!
Praise him, skies above!
Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!
Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,
for he issued his command, and they came into being.
He set them in place forever and ever.
His decree will never be revoked.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you creatures of the ocean depths,
fire and hail, snow and clouds,
wind and weather that obey him,
mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all livestock,
small scurrying animals and birds,
11 kings of the earth and all people,
rulers and judges of the earth,
12 young men and young women,
old men and children.

13 Let them all praise the name of the Lord.
For his name is very great;
his glory towers over the earth and heaven!
14 He has made his people strong,
honoring his faithful ones—
the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the Lord!

This psalm has two sections. Verses 1-6 call on heaven and verses 7-14 call on earth to offer their praise to the Lord. It pictures creation as a two-part choir, with praise beginning in the heavens and then the response comes from all that is on the earth.

The psalmist lists in detail the many aspects of the heavens, including the stars and moon, the angels, and the armies of heaven. In verses 5-6, he tells them they should give praise because at God’s command they came into being, and He has put them into their place for all of time. 

In the same way, he goes into detail to catalog the many created aspects of earth, including the weather, trees, animals, birds, kings, and people of all ages and stature. They are to give praise because the name of God is great and His glory towers over all creation. Because of the Lord’s presence He makes His people strong, even bringing honor to those who are faithful to Him. 

May we join with all of heaven and all of earth in lifting up our praise to the Lord today! 

Memory Verse: Psalm 147:3, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Question(s) to Consider: Will you join all creation in celebrating God’s greatness and glory through your words and through your lifestyle? 

May 19 – Psalm 149

Praise the Lord.

Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.

Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
and sing for joy on their beds.

May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,
to inflict vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters,
their nobles with shackles of iron,
to carry out the sentence written against them—
this is the glory of all his faithful people. Praise the Lord.

This psalm begins with a call to praise. The faithful receive the victory that reveals the Lord delights in them. It concludes with the glory that God’s people will share in the governing of God’s kingdom, especially, in enlisting His people into His army to punish the nations. When God’s faithful people praise him, they enter the battle on the Lord’s side, so they must be properly armed for their task. According to the New Testament, followers of Jesus will participate in the judgment which this foreshadows.

Psalm 149, especially verses 6-9, parallels Psalm 2 in several ways. The main difference between this psalm is that God’s people accomplish the tasks of God’s anointed king in Psalm 2. When we read them together, these two psalms reveal the close connection between the anointed king and his people. God’s anointed king represents his people, and the people reflect the Godly anointed king.

As followers of Christ, this is also true as Jesus represents us, and we represent the King of kings. 

Six times in the psalms and once in Isaiah, we are commanded to sing a new song to the Lord. No where in the Bible does it tell us to sing old songs to the Lord! Even in Revelation where we witness heaven’s magnificent worship, there are thousands upon thousands of angels and others singing a “new song” before the throne of the Lamb of God. 

To honor the Lord and His word, our worship should not become stale and confined only to the ritual and routine of familiar songs and prayers, as magnificent as they are. If we are growing in our faith and deeper in love with Jesus, we should have hearts constantly filed with fresh praise for His fresh acts of love displayed each day. 

Memory Verse: Psalm 147:3, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Question(s) to Consider: Are you surprised that faithful followers of Jesus will join God in the final judgment of the world? What new songs are you listening to in your personal worship? 

May 20 – Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

This psalm answers all the journalist’s questions. 

What are we to do? Praise the Lord

Where are we to do so? In his sanctuary and in the mighty heavens. 

Why are we to do so? For His acts of power and His surpassing greatness. 

How are we to do so? With the sounding of the trumpet, with harp and lyre, with timbrel and dancing, with strings and pipe, with resounding cymbals. 

Who is to do so? Everything that has breath. 

What a fitting way to end the Psalms with such a full-throated call to praise. Does your effort of praise reflect what this psalm calls us to do? It is to be expressed with high energy to reflect the majestic beauty and glory of our God. Every breathing creature is to be included in this symphony of blessing to the Lord. 

May our voices joyfully and loudly enter the chorus of all creation as we express our abundant appreciation and deepest love for who our Lord is and what He has done. 

Memory Verse: Psalm 147:3, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Question(s) to Consider: Does this psalm encourage you to enter your personal and public worship times any differently? If so, what will you do? 

May 21 – Psalms in Review

As we have journeyed through the Psalms for nearly 5 months, what have you learned about God?

About yourself? 

About our faith in general? 

About what we are to do? 

Are there any learnings that have surprised you? 

Do you sense you have grown closer to Jesus and have become a man or a woman after the heart of God? 

I have enjoyed the discipline of reading and writing about each psalm. It has slowed me down so that I would not rush through them but would take the time to consider the various messages each psalm offers. I have enjoyed seeing how some of the Psalms have been intentionally structured to give us a center point to alert us to the main point. 

I have appreciated the richness of God’s description. I love the contrast of God being exalted on high over all of creation and yet stooping down to lift up the poor and needy which we all have been at one time or another. 

I love that King David described himself on many occasions as poor and needy. I am choosing to describe myself to God as I know I need the help of heaven each and every day to be faithful and to serve well. 

I have been surprised to see the number of times the Psalms have spoken about giving praise and witness to God so that all the nations, all the people of the world, will have opportunity to know and worship the one true God. I did not realize how many of the Psalms were filled with an evangelistic message. 

Many of the Psalms have given me the words to pray when I did not have the words to say. 

The Psalms are more than documents to be studied but to be used in our personal and community worship to express our praise, to confess our sin, to lament our situation, and to ask God to bring about His never-failing love and holy justice to the world. 

Memory Verse: Psalm 147:3, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Question(s) to Consider: What will you do to keep up the pursuit of becoming a man or a woman after the heart of God?