You've found the truth pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm Bill Wright, and as Don continues to teach God's people God's word, he presents part one of a message titled, In Grateful Praise, from our current series, A Chorus of Praise.
Let's join Don now. What I want to do at the start here is to just show you the structure of this psalm, because it sets the stage for entering into the fullness of its message. This psalm has three rounds of praise that are clearly identified in the structure.
You can see it at the beginning of verse one, at verse seven, and at verse 12. Verse one, you see, Praise the Lord, for it is good to sing praises to our God. In verse seven, you see, Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving. Sing praises to our God. In verse 12, it says, Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem.
Praise your God, O Zion. And so the three sections of the psalm are clearly marked out in terms of a unique and distinct call to praise as the psalm progresses throughout its message. Now along with that, and I love these structural things about the psalms, I will miss them when we are done with the psalms. Each of those three sections ends with a contrast.
Each of the three sections contrasts mutually exclusive people. So that you see in verse six, the end of the first section of the psalm, you see a contrast between what the Lord does with different groups. It says, The Lord supports the afflicted. He brings down the wicked to the ground. He shows mercy, in other words, to the hurting. He brings down, he brings judgment upon the wicked. That's the end of the first section.
The second section has a different kind of contrast. In verses 10 and 11, it says that God does not delight in the strength of the horse. He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord favors those who fear him, those who wait for his loving kindness. And so there's a contrast between those who rely on man, who rely on their own strength, and those who consciously and dependently fear God and trust in him, come what may. And then the psalm ends on another contrast, verses 19 and 20, where we read, He declares his words to Jacob, his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any nation, and as for his ordinances, they have not known them. Praise the Lord. And so there's a contrast between Israel and all the other nations. And so there's this call to praise at the start of each section, and then there's a contrast at the end of each section.
And the effect of that is very personal in its application to you. The opening praise and the closing contrast presents you with a choice in terms of the way that you will live and the way that you will respond. Will you praise God with those who fear him? Will you honor God in response to his revealed glory?
Or will you go the way of the world? Will you choose a path of judgment, a path of self-reliance, and a path of abandonment ultimately by God? In other words, you could put it this way, the message of this psalm is whose side are you on? And so the psalm leads us through these things in a compelling examination of the glory and the praise of God. And so to title these three sections, I'll title this first section, the call to praise. The call to praise.
And the opening verse sets the theme for the entire psalm in verse one. Praise the Lord, for it is good to sing praises to our God, for it is pleasant and praise is becoming. The opening word in Hebrew is literally hallelujah. Praise Yah, the shortened version of the name Yahweh.
And as we've seen often in these concluding psalms, the word for explains and emphasizes why we should honor the call to praise God. The command is praise the Lord. And he doesn't simply leave it there, he explains why you should enter into that praise, why you should obey and honor the call. And he says it's a good thing to sing praise to God. It honors him.
It's reviving to our own souls. It ascribes proper glory to the creator and redeemer. And so we're called to praise God.
He gives us incentives to obey. It will be good for you and it will give glory to God if you follow my lead, the psalmist's lead in honoring God in this way. This is an especially appropriate psalm for us to be considering together, because this psalm particularly emphasizes corporate worship, corporate worship, someone who thinks that he can live the Christian life on his own, someone who thinks that he can go out and, you know, worship God from his deer stand and hunt deers and commune with nature, and that's his act of worship. We've talked about that so often that that's not biblical Christianity at all, but in particular a psalm like this shows how impossible that approach is to the call of the Bible to praise God. This psalm emphasizes corporate worship. Look at verse 1 again and notice the plural pronouns that we see here. In verse 1 we read, it is good to sing praises to our God. In verse 5, great is our Lord.
Verse 7, sing praises to our God. So there's this corporate dynamic. We are in this together. We are to do this together, not in isolation. And so there is a great value in being in person with the people of God as you are able to do so, to be in person with the people of God to enter into this aspect of it. You know, when you join personally corporate worship, two things are happening. By your very presence, if nothing else, by your presence you are ministering to the people of God by saying with your presence, I'm here with you.
I share in your desires. We share a like common faith. That is a critical aspect of it. And as Paul says in other places of scripture, the apostle Paul he says, I want us to be encouraged together. You by my faith and my faith by yours. And so when you are here, it's an encouragement to me that you are each here and it is each time I see you. It's a great encouragement to me. And I trust that as you are with other believers and you see other Christians and you join together in the singing of praises to God and joining together under the teaching of God's word that others are encouraging you.
It has to encourage you when you see the same people being faithful and being with you week after week after week. And you have this sense of strength that you draw upon. I'm not in this by myself. I'm in this with my brothers and sisters in Christ and we draw upon that together. And as we draw upon that mutual encouragement, we join our voices together and vertically lift them up to the glory of God and with gladness corporately, not just individually, but together we praise God together and we are glad to do so. The first person singular pronouns, I, my, me, sometimes they're prominent in other Psalms, not in this one.
They do not appear at all. By contrast, beloved, there are 44 distinct references to God in Psalm 147. In a Psalm with 20 verses, there are 44 references to God himself. And so you see that there is this overriding central focus on God and his character. And the surrounding halo of that, you might say, is corporate worship, looking in on that glory and expanding out in praise to God.
And so what's happening here is a practical matter. And how does this help you walk the Christian life in your own personal life? Understand this, beloved, and keeping in mind that introduction that I read from The Truth War a few minutes ago, this Psalm in a particular and in a powerful way calls you away from self. It calls you away from a contemplation of your inner feelings. It calls you out of that self-centered introspection that we so often easily fall into.
How am I feeling today? And what's happening with me? It calls us away from all of that to have a vertical focus, to look up. This Psalm, as it were, it leads you by taking you by the chin and lifting your chin up so that you are looking up into the glory of heaven itself. And so in this Psalm, with the structure, with the pronouns, with everything that we've said so far, this Psalm does this to you. It says to you, set yourself aside.
Remember God and honor him. Beloved, honoring God and praising him is not first and foremost about how you feel. It is about who God is.
It's about his character. It doesn't start with the way that you feel about God. Praise starts with his character, his attributes, his perfections. Here on this side of the cross, here in the New Testament era, here as born-again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, our praise does not start with our circumstances or how we feel inside at all.
It's so critical to understand, and it's so critical to moving beyond that spiritual infancy and approaching and to move in the direction of spiritual maturity. Our praise starts with a remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ, who he is in his person, he who is God incarnate, fully God, fully man, two natures united in one person. That is the glory of Christ and the glory of Christ seen in his incarnation, the glory of Christ seen in his perfect life, the glory of Christ seen in his redeeming work on the cross, where he offered himself as a substitute to pay the penalty of our many, many, many sins. The glory of Christ seen in his burial and soon thereafter his resurrection, the glory of Christ seen in his ascension into heaven as witnesses looked on and saw him received into the clouds, the glory of Christ interceding for us in his session at the right hand of God even as we speak. Even as we speak, beloved, it's a wonderful thought to realize that even as we are here gathered together praising God through the preaching of his word, Christ is at the right hand of God representing us as our high priest and interceding for us to make sure that at no moment would our salvation be lost.
It's glorious to contemplate that, beloved, to a redeemed heart sets off the sparks that light the fire of praise. And we respond to that truth with praise independent of how we feel in the moment, independent of what is happening in our lives or in the lives of our loved ones at any given time. We praise God because he is worthy of praise and therefore it is good for us to praise him. And so we praise this God because he is great as seen in his power and creation. We praise this God because he is gracious as seen in the Lord Jesus Christ and in our redemption. He is gracious as seen in the way that he providentially cares for his creation and cares for us.
You don't have to speak about these things very long before you're just lost in the wonder of it. And the glory of God drives out the preoccupations of earth. As the hymn writer said, the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and his grace. This particular psalm was likely written after Israel returned from their 70-year exile. If you look at verses 2 and 3, you see suggestions of that. The Lord builds up Jerusalem.
He gathers the outcasts of Israel. You remember that they were taken away in exile as judgment upon their sin. God had mercy on them while they were in a distant land and brought them back to their homeland. Yes, Jerusalem was broken down, the walls were broken, and there was a lot of repair work and a rebuilding of the temple that needed to be done. But God brought them back. He did not ultimately and completely and finally abandon them. They underwent a time of discipline and then God brought them back, evidence of his power and grace, even by working in the heart of a secular king in order to grant them the permission and the ability to go back.
Look over at 2 Chronicles for just a moment. We're skipping over so many details, but 2 Chronicles 36 verse 22, which was the launch point of the return from exile, 2 Chronicles 36 verse 22, now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom and also put it in writing saying, thus says Cyrus, king of Persia, the Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him and let him go up. A secular king granted them permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild their city.
Now, as they did that and as you read in the book of Nehemiah, there were many difficult and discouraging challenges for the returning exiles. What a psalm like this did for them in their day. It does for us in our day. It calls them out of the discouragement. It says, look beyond the present circumstances. Look beyond the challenges that you face. Look beyond the uncertainty of life and who knows what tomorrow will bring. You don't know what your life will be like tomorrow. And I know that some of you have felt that in urgent, pressing ways even in very recent days, seeing life turn for some people that you care about suddenly and unexpectedly. I get that.
I get that. What Psalm 147 does, it says look beyond that. Don't let that define the way that you think about life and respond to it. Look up, look up to this God who is worthy of praise and honor him from your heart. Why praise God? People get discouraged and they want to withdraw from praise. Well, why should I praise God when my life is so very difficult like this? When I am suffering as I am, when I've been betrayed as I have been.
So many people, I wish I could just plant this in their ears. So many people living in long-term bitterness that is just so sad to see, so unnecessary, so bitter and just throwing their life away out of anger at whatever it is that has cast them down. Not us, not we, not the people of God. We respond differently beloved. We understand that we can praise God especially because he cares about his discouraged people. When he sees us in our affliction, he cares.
It matters to him. He views us gently and bids us to come to his gentle and humble character as Christ explains in Matthew chapter 11. God helps his people in their trouble as shown by the way that he dealt with the Jews as they returned from exile and protected them from those that wanted to destroy them.
As shown by the fact that God showed mercy to you when you cried out to him in repentance in the midst of your sin, in the depths of your depravity, being conscious in your mind and you cried out, God have mercy on me, the sinner, Lord Jesus save me, come into my life, I deserve to be judged, save me. And as I've asked you many times when you cried out to Christ like that, how did he respond? Did he swat you away? Did he say nope, too late for you?
What did he do? Did he remind you of the many times that you had lived as the hypocrite? Did he remind you and reject you because your sins were so great? Say I don't save sinners like you, you're too bad. Is that how Christ responded to you? Is it how he responded to me? No.
No, what did he do? He whistled for the servants as it were to bring the best robes, to bring the ring and put it on your finger, to kill the fattened calf because the son had come home. The Holy Spirit had brought one of the elect to Christ and Christ gladly received him to the glory of God the Father. Listen, we can never exhaust describing the glory of Christ and the grace that he has on sinners.
And we need to come back and remind ourselves of this again and again and let it inform our praise in the most difficult and challenging of times. God is gracious to his people in their trouble. And beloved, the point of this Psalm and all of that to say this is the fact that God is kind like that. God is patient like that. God is gracious like that.
He is merciful like that. Demands and calls for our praise. And we gratefully, gladly, and eagerly respond, yes, oh God, I praise you. I join with the people of God in honoring your name and I consider it a privilege to do so.
Let everything else go, Father. My mind is preoccupied with your glory and I ascribe greatness to my God. And in the context of this Psalm, you know, and looking out at however many people are here today and more over the live stream, the question is how are you going to respond to that choice? How will you respond in the midst of that?
Will you continue to cater to your introspection? Continue to wallow in self-pity as so many do? Oh, it's so sad to see. You don't know how it breaks a pastor's heart to hear of people that could be living in the glory of praise to God and choosing a different attitude of regret and bitterness instead.
You have no idea how sad that is. The question is for you, forget about them, what will it be for you as you go through life? What will it be for you? Will you say yes, I'll follow this call to praise?
Or will you go on your own way and disgrace and dishonor the God who has been good to you in Christ? That's Don Green with part one of a message called Ingrateful Praise, part of our series A Chorus of Praise here on The Truth Pulpit. Now before we go, here again is Don with a closing thought. Friends, I'm so grateful that you have joined us for The Truth Pulpit here today, and I just wanted to explain a little bit about the format and invite you to another resource. Our daily broadcast, this 26-minute format, is an edited version of full-length pulpit messages that I've given in the past. What we also have is a podcast that gives our full-length sermons on Sundays and Tuesdays, and you can register to receive those full-length sermons in your regular podcast device. You can go for the link to register at thetruthpulpit.com. Look for the podcast titled Don's Truth Community Church Sermons at thetruthpulpit.com. And now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time as Don teaches God's people God's Word in The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-08 04:53:36 / 2023-03-08 05:01:34 / 8