Praising His Faithfulness

November 3, 2019 Preacher: Luis A. Cardenas Series: Psalms

Topic: English Passage: Psalm 105:1-45

The final line of psalm 105 says, “Praise the Lord!” Praise the Lord. Some translations will write what the Hebrew says, which is “Hallelujah!”

Hallelujah is not simply an expression of joy or praise; it’s a command. It’s a call. “Hallelu” is a command, calling us to praise, and then the ending “Yah” is the shortened form of Yahweh, which is God’s covenant name, similar to “I AM.” He is the eternal Lord, and we are being called to praise Him.

Now, what does it mean to praise the Lord? I think in our culture, that’s not an immediately easy question to answer. People go around saying “Praise the Lord!” for any little thing. But what does that phrase actually mean?

To some degree we all sort of intuit the meaning, but if you’re asked for a definition, it’s not easy to come up with a good, simple one.

We all sort of understand that we can praise God poorly or inadequately, and we can praise God sincerely. We can praise God better.

Praising God isn’t like a basketball hoop, where you can miss or score, or almost miss or almost score. Praise is maybe more like a light bulb. The light can be off, that’s for sure, and it can be on. And once it’s on, the light can be dim, or it can shine brightly.

In heaven, our praise will be at its brightest. We will be giving God perfect praise. On earth, our praise is tainted by our weaknesses, and yet, God receives it, because we’re accepted through the sacrifice of Jesus.

That’s the starting point for true worship. That’s when the light bulb turns on—when you repent of your sin and trust in Christ alone. That’s how you become part of God’s family. You recognize that you can’t come to God on your own, but because of Jesus’ death on your behalf, and because you have placed your faith in Him and committed your life to serve the resurrected Lord, God now accepts you.

John 1:12 says: “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” He accepts you because your sin is now covered by the sacrifice of Christ. You’re forgiven. You’re united to Him. Colossians 1 says you are transferred from the domain of darkness into His kingdom.

Apart from Christ, Ephesians 2 says, you’re dead in your sins. You’re an enemy of God. You’re on the same side as Satan, and you don’t even know it. So, how could someone in that position possibly offer to God acceptable praise? They can’t. You cannot worship God properly if you are not united to Christ and seeking to live for His glory.

So, coming to Christ is a requirement for true worship. But what exactly is true worship? I’m going to give you a definition upfront, which includes some components, and as we look a little more closely at this psalm, we’ll see how those elements are included.

What is true worship? True worship is when the connection between the nature of God in Himself and the work of God in history spill over into your own life. The connection between the nature of God in Himself and the work of God in history spills over into your own life.

If you want, you can make a little diagram about that in your notes. I’ll put it up on the screen so you can see it. It’s basically an upside-down capital T. One the one side you have the nature of God in Himself. Those are His attributes, what God is like.

On the other side is the work of God in history. That is what God has done or what He will do. That’s talking about His activity, His actions.

So, you draw a line connecting God’s attributes to God’s activity. And then, from the middle of that line, you draw a line going up through a person. And what comes out is praise, adoration. If you notice, in the diagram, the line is going through the person’s mind. Praise is not primarily emotional, though it will definitely include the emotions.

Praise is cognitive. Worship, first of all, is intellectual. It’s from the mind. What makes music Christian is not the melody; it’s the lyrics. As you sing in worship, your mind should be engaged in what you’re saying. And if you don’t understand what we’re saying, ask somebody. There’s no shame in that.

I remember singing a song in the Spanish service one, and there was one particular word that kept being repeated, but I had no idea what it meant. I’d never heard the word before. So when it was all over, I came up to preach, and I asked them, “What’s that word mean? Where does it come from?” And they explained it to me, and they gave me the Bible verses that used it. Well, that definitely enhances my worship in that song. I had a much better idea of what it was saying.

That’s like what Paul says in First Corinthians 14: “I would rather speak five words with my mind… than ten thousand words in a tongue without the same understanding.”

So, worship, or praise, starts in the mind, and then it spills out into the rest of you, emotions and actions and words. That’s praise. That’s biblical, true praise. That’s adoration.

And in order to get a better understanding of these components, think about what happens if you remove one.

First, let’s say you only focus on God’s attributes. What happens then? Well, your praise is going to be lopsided. You might praise God because He’s powerful or just or loving, or whatever, but if there’s no support for that, it’s somewhat hollow. There’s no tangible expression or proof of that. Do you get what I’m saying? There no connecting point to reality. That’s what happens if you remove the activity of God.

What happens if you remove His attributes? That’s the flip side. You might praise God for creation, or for sending Jesus, or for protection, but if you don’t connect that to an attribute, if you don’t think about what that tells you about God, then it becomes primarily an expression of how you feel. You like what God has done, but you’re not actually thinking about God Himself. It’s probably more focused on you than Him. You don’t want to do that in worship. Don’t ignore God’s attributes and don’t ignore His actions.

Thirdly, even if you understand God’s attributes, and you connect them to some activity of His in history, it won’t be true worship until that spills out into your life in some way—in your thoughts and your words and your emotions and your actions. It can’t just be theoretical or intellectual. It starts there, but it can’t stay there. Otherwise, that’s not praise. I’m not sure what to call it, but that’s just some kind of appreciation.

Real praise, the best praise, the best worship, is all three of these elements put together—divine attributes are connected to divine activity and the result is personal or corporate adoration.

If you study the psalms, and if you study the doxologies in the New Testament, the expression of praise, you’ll see that’s the case. All of these elements are coming together. And that’s exactly what we see in Psalm 105.

Sometimes a psalm or a doxology starts at the bottom and works its way up. So we’re given God’s attributes and actions, we’re told what He’s like and what He’s done, and then we see how we can respond to that.

Psalm 105, though, goes at it the other way around. It starts with our response. And then, it moves to the basis for that. It tells us why we should praise.

What does praise look like in our lives? How do we express it? We get an answer to that in the first six verses. This is the call to praise, the call to adoration. Let’s read them again, and I want you to pay special attention to the verbs, the commands. What is this psalm telling us to do? [Psalm 105:1-6]

Each of those verbs is a facet of worship, an element of our praise to God.

And what you get in verses 1 and 2 are commands that have to do with your mouth, with your words.

Verse 1 says we should give Him thanks. The idea behind that word is to proclaim. We should be speaking about God’s activity and God’s attributes to others. Verse 1 also says we should “call upon His name.” That means say it loudly. This is calling for loud praise.

Verse 2 talks about singing, and the words there include, not just your voice, but musical accompaniment, which is what worship in the Temple included. And as you might have noticed, it’s what our worship today includes.

The people of God have been singing ever since God called us together. And we are commanded to sing. And notice, it doesn’t say there, “if you have a nice voice.” It just says “sing.” Open your mouth and declare His praise.

If you are committed to serving God, I hope you’re singing during our congregational worship. And if you don’t normally sing, you need to consider why that is, because it could simply be an act of disobedience. God tells us to sing to Him. It’s an act of obedience and it’s an act of unity and encouragement with those around you.

There’s an old story about a man who came up to the pastor after the service, and he says to him: “Pastor, I want to thank you for that very wonderful message. It touched me so much. But the music today just didn’t impact me very much at all. It’s really not my kind of music.”

And the pastor replied with, “Oh well, I appreciate your encouragement about the sermon. I’m glad it impacted you. But as far as the music, I think you’re somewhat mistaken, because, you see, the music wasn’t for you. It was for God.” And that’s exactly right.

The music isn’t some warm-up for the sermon. It’s not some kind of tool to fill up the time. It’s a chance for us corporately to worship God in a way that He has called us to.

How does music worship God? What kind of music does God like? The end of verse 2 tells us. It says we tell of His wondrous works.

The best songs we can possibly sing for worship are not automatically the songs with the best beat or the best melody. You need to know that. And that’s especially true in our age where most music, and even mainstream Christian music, is going to be driven by commercialism. They need songs that sell. And the songs that sell the best in the Christian markets are the songs that mention God, but are ultimately more about myself, than about Him.

Think about that when you listen to a Christian song. Does it “tell of His wondrous works”? Does it point you to what the Bible says God has done? Does it direct your attention to clear descriptions of His attributes and His actions? Is it clear? Is it concrete?

Verses 1 and 2 are talking about praising God with your mouth, but added to that, verses 3-5 talk about the engagement of your mind. You worship with your mouth and you worship with your mind. Look at the verbs in those verses.

Verse 3 says “glory,” which carries the idea of bragging or bosting. But you’re not bragging about yourself, you’re boasting in who God is. And it’s a joyful boasting. The end of verse 3 says “rejoice.”

Verse 4 says: seek the Lord. Seek His strength. Seek His presence continually.

Well, guess what? God’s not hiding from you, right? God’s not playing some divine hide-and-seek game with us. So what’s this saying? It’s saying remind yourself of His presence. Remind yourself of what He’s done. Remind yourself that He’s with you

That’s the idea behind verse 5: Remember. Remember His wondrous works. Remember His miracles. Remember His judgments.

And for the Jews, that wasn’t a call primarily to think about what God had done for them individually. It was a call for them to meditate on what God had done for them as a people, as a nation. They were, as verse 6 says “the offspring of Abraham, the children of Jacob, His chosen ones.”

Well, in order to inform their worship, in order to facilitate them remembering, the majority of this psalm recounts the history of Israel. That’s why this is also classified as a historical psalm.

If you have read through the opening books of the Bible, you will, to a greater degree, appreciate it what it says here. And if you haven’t read those first few books of the Bible, or if the stories aren’t very familiar to you, this is an encouragement to go back and do that.

The average Jew would have known those stories very intimately. And not just the details about the individual stories, but the sweeping story of it all.

When does the story of Israel begin? When does God decide to bless one nation? That story begins in Genesis chapter 12 with Abraham.

Before that point, we had creation, and the fall into sin, and the worldwide flood, and then the beginning of the nations. But then, as history continues, we come to a man named Abram. And God will eventually change his name to Abraham.

Abram means “exalted father,” but Abraham means “father of a multitude.” God told Abraham: “I want you to leave your families land and go to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation. I will bless you. And I will bless anyone who blesses you. And if anyone opposes you, I will curse them. And through you, I will bring a blessing to the earth.”

That is what we refer to as the Abrahamic Covenant. It’s a promise God made to Abraham. And it’s the promise God repeated to Abraham’s children. They’ll be a great nation. They’ll be a blessing to others. And they will receive a Promised Land. That’s the beginning of God’s relationship with Israel.

That’s the historical event that the psalmist wants us to be thinking about. And just so you know, God made that promise when Abraham was 75 years old, and he and his wife didn’t even have a child. But God kept His promise.

Look at Psalm 105, verses 7-11. [Psalm 105:7-11]

God promised His people a land. And He kept repeated that promise to Abraham’s children.

Now, normally, the people who take land are already a nation, or have some kind of military force. But Abraham didn’t have that. It was just him and his extended family. But God kept watch over them. Look at verses 12-15. [Psalm 105:12-15]

You might remember the story of Abraham in Egypt, or Abraham rescuing his nephew Lot. God was watching over the people of His promise. He preserved them, because He was faithful to His covenant.

Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac had twin sons named Esau and Jacob. Jacob went on to have 12 sons in all. And the most well-known of those sons was named Joseph. You can start reading more about him in Genesis 37.

Joseph was hated by his brothers, and they sold him as a slave. And eventually he ended up in Egypt. And while what they did was wrong, we know that God had a purpose. Joseph went to Egypt first, and God blessed him there so that when a famine struck the land, they could have a place to go and survive. It was all part of God’s plan. It was all part of God being faithful to His promise and blessing and preserving His people.

That’s how the story of Genesis ends, with Joseph’s tragedy turning into salvation for his family. Look at how the psalmist describes it inverses 16-22. [Psalm 105:16-22]

Now, when the book of Exodus begins we realize that Israel has multiplied in Egypt. They went from about 70 people to more like 2 million. God was faithful to his promise. God multiplied them. But that wasn’t the end.

The Egyptians began to hate the Israelites. And they turned them into slaves. And so, when Israel called out for salvation, God raised up a new leader for them—Moses. And under the leadership of Moses and his brother Aaron, God sent disastrous plagues on the nation. They weren’t simply a way for God to be mean to the Egyptians; they were a way for God to demonstrate His absolute power, even over the greatest kingdom on the earth at that time. Ad you can read that story in Exodus chapters 1-12. This psalm summarizes it for us in verses 23-38. [Psalm 105:23-38]

The Egyptians were so terrified of the Israelites that when they left, they gave them all their silver and gold. They didn’t have to steal it or anything, God did it, because He made a promise to His people. He would bless them. He would make them into a great nation.

So, once they grew, and they came out of Egypt, God gave them His law, and He set them on their journey toward the Land He had promised them, the Land He had showed to Abraham.

You can read about that in the second half of Exodus, and Leviticus, and Numbers. Israel was on a journey. But the spectacular thing about that journey is that God continued to provide for them and preserve them.

He led in the day with a pillar of cloud, and He led them during the night with a pillar of fire. And those not only led them, but they provided some protection as well.

And during that journey in the wilderness, even though there were about 2 million people travelling, God made sure they had enough. He sustained their clothing, and He gave them food. For bread, he gave them manna which appeared practically every morning with the dew. For meat, he gave them quail. When they needed water, He provided it from a rock. All of those were displays of God’s power, and fulfilments of God’s promise to His people.

And that’s what the psalmist has in mind in verses 39-42. [Psalm 105:39-42]

Remember, these are historical events. This is the activity of God that the psalmist wants us to think about. God guided His people. God protected His people. God preserved His people. God blessed His people.

And the final event we’re told about is that He brought His people into the land. For that, we have verses 43-44. [Psalm 105:43-44]

This is what happened under the leadership of Joshua. They entered into the land. They began to take over it. And again, Israel doesn’t get the credit for all this; God does. He did it. He provided for His people. He protected them. And He gave them the victory. Those are His actions.

And what’s the attribute they point us to? What does this psalm want us to think about in relation to God? We might say it was an expression of His power and His kindness; and it was. But more than all those things, this particular song wants us to think about God’s faithfulness. God’s faithfulness.

God keeps His promises. Go back with me again to verse 8. Notice what it says: “He remembers His covenant forever.” And if you’ve read the stories of Genesis and Exodus and through to Joshua, you’ve seen this. God continually says: “Because I made a promise to Abraham, I will bless you, I will preserve you.” He’s a faithful God.

Growing up, my dad would say that one my common expressions in the home was “Sorry, Dad. I forgot. I forget.” I meant to do something. I said I would do it, but then I got distracted, and I didn’t do it. I still do that. But instead of saying to my dad, not I say it to my wife. “Sorry, honey, I forgot.”

Well, God never says that. He keeps every single promise He’s ever made. He is faithful. He never forget. That’s why, near the end of this extended summary of Israel’s history, the psalmist repeats what he said at the beginning. [Psalm 105:42]

God remembers His promises. God is faithful.

And since God is faithful, how should we respond? Well, that’s what verse 1-6 were talking about, right? We talk about Him. We sing to Him. And there’s one more expression of praise this psalm mentions—obedience. Look at verse 45. [Psalm 105:45]

Since God is faithful, we should be faithful too. That’s part of our worship. You praise the Lord by obeying Him.

Do you see how those three elements come together? God has acted in human history. And those actions convey His attributes. And when we properly understand those things, we are to respond with the praise of our lips and the praise of our lives.

That’s Romans 12:1 and 2, which the youth are going to be learning about today. In light of all that God has done, present your body as a holy sacrifice. Serve him faithfully.

You know, after reading a psalm like this, it would be appropriate for all of us to think about our own lives, and how God has proven Himself faithful to bring us to where we are today, from a spiritual perspective and a physical perspective. None of us are self-made. God did it. And He was doing it even before we were born.

Think about how God guided and used the people that came before us: our parents, our grandparents, or, in a corporate church context, think about those who planted this church, who gave us this building. God is faithful.

And I would encourage you to share some of those stories this week with one another. Praise God together for His faithfulness in your life.

And even if there have been difficult times, like in the case of Joseph, once those have past, we can look back and possibly see how God used those times for our good, spiritually or physically, because He’s faithful.

In addition to the history of our own lives, we should also consider God’s continued faithfulness in redemption. The promise God gave to Abraham wasn’t just about a land; it was about a seed and a blessing.

And now, we know who that seed is and what kind of blessing He brought to the world. It was Jesus of Nazareth, who came to give His life as part of a New Covenant. He came to bring salvation to the world. We are on the other side of a greater story of redemption, right? Because God is faithful.

And you know what? That story isn’t finished yet. There are still promises that God had made, both to Israel and to the world, that have not been fulfilled. We’re waiting for them. But we know it’ll come to pass. Because God keeps His promises.

So, we can look back on God’s faithfulness, and we can look forward to it too. That’s what most of Revelation is about. Jesus is faithful and true. He will save His people forever.

And for that, we praise Him, because we know He’s faithful. He will bring it to pass. Amen? Hallelujah! Praise the Lord.

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