Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Hello again, I'm Bill Wright. Today Don continues teaching God's people God's Word from our current series titled A Chorus of Praise. Let's join Don with part two of a message titled Ingrateful Praise from Psalm 147 here on the Truth Pulpit. Why praise God?
He cares about his discouraged people. Why praise God? In His greatness, He sustains His creation. Look at verses 4 and 5. Verses 4 and 5. You just see the contrast between His kindness and His condescension in verse 3. He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. Then it rockets out to His transcendent greatness in verse 4.
He counts the number of the stars. He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength.
His understanding is infinite. This is a great God, and the call of worship is to acknowledge one who is greater than you, in essence, and to respond in worship as a result. We don't worship men. We don't worship saints. We certainly don't worship Mary, because they're all of like human flesh. Even angels we don't worship. In the book of Revelation, John fell down at the angels who were bringing the revelation to him, and the angel said to him, don't do that.
Don't do that. Worship God instead. And so we praise him for his grace. We praise him for his greatness, and in his greatness, in his greatness, he meets the needs of the weak in order to help them. Look at verse 6 with me. The Lord supports the afflicted.
He brings down the wicked to the ground. Are you a sinner here weighed down with guilt? God will hear your prayer for mercy. Are you crushed under the weight of life's load?
Are you facing an immediately uncertain future? Scripture bids you to call upon this great God who looks upon the afflicted with kindness and meets them in their need. Those who trust the Lord in affliction will find that he is faithful to them, but by contrast, those who resist him, those who rebel against him, who harden their hearts against Christ, against the gospel, and harden their hearts against even the people of God, what happens to them? They meet with the justice of God.
Verse 6, he brings down the wicked to the ground. And so, beloved, in this first section, in this call to praise, we are beckoned to honor God with our worship, and we are warned at the end there against refusing the call. Come and join in the worship. Come and join in the grace of God. Come and receive the grace of God, and he will pour it out upon you abundantly, even in your lowliness, Scripture says. Just be warned that to reject that call is to invite the other aspects of the attributes of God against you.
Don't refuse the call. Well, that brings us to our second section, the call to sing, the call to sing. And here the psalmist in verse 7 leads us into a musical expression of the required praise. Psalm 147, verse 7, sing to the Lord with thanksgiving.
Sing praises to our God on the lyre. And as we contemplate the broad subject of praise, you know, I can remember as a young Christian, you know, I didn't understand praise. I didn't know, you know, well, Lord, I praise you. Yeah, yeah, I certainly praise you, oh God. I didn't know how to go beyond that. I was a spiritual infant.
I was a baby. I didn't understand the different aspects, you might say, of praise. Well, one of the things that you see here in verse 7 is that a central part of praise is expressing gratitude to God. Sing to the Lord, look at it there in verse 7, sing to the Lord with thanksgiving and express gratitude to God as a central core aspect of your praise. We remember the acts of God and we praise Him.
Those revealed in Scripture, those that we've seen in the outworking in the church, those that we've seen in the outworking of our own lives. We look at how God has blessed us and we thank Him for it. We remember His acts and we praise Him.
We remember His attributes and we praise Him. God, you are the sovereign God of the universe. You know the stars by name. The billions of galaxies are known and you have a catalog of them eternally present in your mind. And you know the name of every star, every supernova, every black hole.
And you know the courses of all of them and we've barely scratched the surface of understanding them in our human efforts at astronomy. Lord, I recognize that and I ascribe glory to you. I thank you for that. I ascribe glory to you for Christ. I ascribe glory to you for the cross where my redemption was won. I ascribe glory to you for the shed blood of my Lord. I ascribe glory to you for the work of the Holy Spirit in drawing me to Christ, coming and indwelling me and sanctifying me, setting me apart for your purposes. Oh God, I praise you for that. I praise you that the Spirit is a down payment showing that you will certainly complete the salvation that you've begun in me. God, I'm so grateful for that. I'm so grateful that in your holiness you chose not to judge me but by grace to save me in the Lord Jesus Christ. What can I do but be thankful and grateful and I praise you and ascribe greatness to my God as a result of that?
Let it all sink in, beloved. Life is difficult. Life is uncertain. But don't you see that the things of which we're talking here transcend all of that? These are things of eternal value, eternal glory. These are eternal things that cannot be taken away from us.
And if you have Christ, you have everything, even if earthly things and other matters come and go. And because of that, we thank God and we express our gratitude as a part of our worship. And the psalmist here says to express it musically. Now as he goes on, the psalmist returns to a focus on God's work in creation. Look at verse 8, where we read that this is the God who, verse 8, covers the heavens with clouds, who provides rain for the earth, who makes grass to grow on the mountains. He gives to the beast its food and to the young ravens which cry. The range of God's work in creation is just stunning. He establishes clouds in the sky that provide rain for us.
The rain brings food by which the animals eat. You see the goodness of God in the way that he cares for the most inconsequential aspects from a human perspective, the most inconsequential aspects of creation. Jesus said, Are not two sparrows sold for a cent?
And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your father, but the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Who is this God who holds galaxies in place and yet has his eye on the sparrow? And if his eye is on the sparrow, beloved, don't you think that his eye is on you as well in your need?
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me. How can you not praise a God like that? How can the glories of God be laid before a man, before a woman from Scripture, with such clarity in the written revealed word and a man not respond in praise? Don't you see that the refusal to praise God is a great, great sin against his glory? This is no passing matter to tread on the blood of Christ, to reject the gospel offered in grace, offered in sincerity to all men, offered in love and seeking your best well-being. To reject that is the greatest of sins. To engage in false religion is the greatest of sins and a violation of the first four commandments.
This is no passing matter. This God is to be praised. And as the psalmist goes on, this psalm, I pause over it because it just pulsates.
It just pulsates with the glory of God and with these lofty themes. Having stated the glory of God as he cares for creation in the heavens and on the ground, he goes on and he makes a statement about how God views human strength compared to a tender heart before him. Verses 10 and 11. We see that God does not delight in military power or in athletic power. Verse 10, he does not delight in the strength of the horse, which was even until recent times critical in military battle. 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. Beloved, the things that impress the people of the world, strong, mighty men, the things that seem great in terms, think of great military equipment and jet planes and all of that, strong armies, great athletes with great human accomplishments running sub-four-minute miles and all of these things. Understand this, beloved.
Those things get all kinds of headlines and recognition in the minds of carnal men, in the minds of the media. View those from the perspective of understanding that those things are inconsequential to God. He does not care about that at all.
He's not impressed about it. Nations are a drop in the bucket to him. And so external human strength and power is meaningless to him. What God favors is taught to us in 1 Samuel 16. The Lord looks on the heart. The Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. The Spirit of God searches, as it were. The Lord seeks those who will be his true worshipers. And the second contrast, contrast between the strength of man and those who fear God close the second section of the psalm. Men delight in physical appearance and physical accomplishments.
God delights in spiritually-minded people who fear and trust him, even if they are unknown to men. Men delight in athletic accomplishments. Tens of thousands of people will go to meaningless athletic events. And I'm not saying don't watch sports. I'm saying two things.
One, keep them in their proper perspective. And to parents, and as you are contemplating, those of you that have young children, set your priorities accordingly. Yes, you can drive your children and set your children into all kinds of athletic pursuits and fill their minds with those priorities and run your whole family life around an athletic calendar. But understand the perspective of God on it. God does not take delight in the legs of a man. So sad to watch families structure their life around children's athletics to the neglect of their souls, to neglect of the honor of God, to neglect of cultivating the fear of God in the hearts of their children.
Trophies are eventually just going to be put in a box and thrown away, and I'm just pleading with you to set your priorities right in your mind and help your children know what the priorities are. God delights in spiritually-minded people to hear Him. The fear of the Lord, Psalm 19, verse 9 says, endures forever.
So parents, I ask you, what priorities will you instill in the hearts of your kids as you raise them? Well, thirdly, a call for Israel. The psalmist in this third and final section calls on the people of God in his day to praise Him. Look at verse 12. Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem. Praise your God, O Zion. Zion being a poetic name for Jerusalem. Praise God, O Israel, he says to the people of his day, because God has given security and provision to you, and these are signs of His grace.
Look at verses 13 and 14. God has strengthened the bars of your gates. He has blessed your sons within you. He makes peace in your borders. He satisfies you with the finest of wheat. God protects you.
God provides for you, Jerusalem. Therefore, praise Him. Look at what He has done for you.
Look at what He is doing. Look at what He has promised, and go beyond the recognition of it and respond from your heart to honor Him with your gratitude and with your praise. And as God undertook the care of the nation, they were to praise Him and to recognize the preeminence and the priority of His word. Verse 15. He sends forth His command to the earth.
His word runs very swiftly. And now, again in a wonderful way, bringing to a climax everything about this psalm, here in verse 15, He's introduced God's word, and that word, God's word, becomes a theme for the entire closing section of it. Verse 18. He sends forth His word. Verse 19.
He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes, and His ordinances. Beloved, understand this, that in everything that we look upon on earth and all of the earthly blessings that our Lord provides to us, the pinnacle of His blessing to us is in His revealed word. This is where God now makes Himself known, here and nowhere else in terms of direct revelation. It is here in His word, and His word is precious. And so, His word becomes the culminating climax of praise in this psalm, as the climaxing, if I can make a word like that, the climaxing grounds of praise in a psalm that has been magnificent in the breath of its call to praise Him.
God commands creation through His word. He communicates to His people through His word. His word is so precious.
It is so precious. And that's why it is so essential for us to study it, to read it, to know it, individually, privately, corporately, publicly, making it clear this is the duty of every church, whether they obey it or not, to make clear week after week that the word of God is central to worship. The priorities are all out of whack if you sing for 40 minutes repetitive choruses and stir people's emotions up and then you follow it up with a 15-minute message. That's out of whack. The word is central to worship.
The word is the place of safety and provision. Revelation is more important than your experience. God's word interprets your experience. Your experience does not interpret God's word. You do not approach God's word and say, because it must mean this because I had this experience. No, you go to the word of God and let it tell you what your experience means. If Charismatics would do that, it would end their theology.
May God hasten the day when that comes. In this emphasis on the word, He alludes to a relatively rare occurrence in the land of Israel in verses 16 to 18. He talks about winter weather. Verse 16, He gives snow like wool. He scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments.
Who can stand before His cold? He sends forth His word and melts them. He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.
In His greatness, what He's saying is God controls and directs the forces of nature. The variance, the chill remind us of His sovereignty, and all of that becomes another grounds for praise. And then He ends, as I've already alluded, on the highest note of God's provision for us. Beloved, the best provision that God has given to you is His written revelation in His word, because it is in that alone that you find the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is in that alone, in that special revelation where you find how to receive forgiveness of your sins. It is in that alone where God's character is fully expressed and the saving gospel is made known. That alone, everything that we base our eternal hope on, everything that we stake our salvation on is known in and through the written word of God and through no other means. And so this is just so abundantly precious. God has graciously and freely given it to us. And as we know that and as we read it and His word becomes more and more precious to us, this word becomes the climactic ground upon which we praise Him. Verse 19, this is the climax of the psalm. He's gone through all of these grounds of praise, a call to praise, sing to praise.
Oh, Israel prays Him. Look at Him in creation. Look at Him in His care. Look at Him in His kindness.
And where does He end? You end on the high point in a psalm like this. And the high point, verse 19, He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. Remember, in this section, He's calling Israel to praise. And the nation of Israel had the greatest privilege given to them. God revealed His word to them. Romans 3, 2 speaks about how God favored Israel by giving them His ordinances.
It draws upon the thought here in Psalm 147. And understand, He's speaking to Israel. This is a great cause for the nation of Israel to praise Him because God did this.
God chose them and did this for them. And He passed over all the other nations and did not give them that privilege. Verse 20, He has not dealt thus with any nation. Israel, you have been shown remarkable grace.
Other nations, left in darkness. As for the ordinance of God, verse 20, they have not known them. And you come to the end of the psalm. The psalmist looks back on these 20 verses.
There's only one possible conclusion. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord.
One commentator said it well. He said, The words praise the Lord are meaningless, except on the lips of those who are responding to the grace of God in a life of obedient commitment. Beloved, true worship is not about what we feel or what we get out of it. True worship is God-centered. True worship is Christ-centered.
Are our minds preoccupied with our needs or with His attributes? Beloved, that is the measure of whether our worship is worldly or whether it is done in spirit and in truth. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, with part two of a message titled Ingrateful Praise here on the Truth Pulpit.
Now before we go, here again is Don with a closing thought. Well, friend, there is nothing more encouraging to our staff here at the Truth Pulpit than to hear from people who have benefited from the ministry of God's Word through this medium. You know, maybe it's our ministry has helped you, has encouraged you, perhaps even led you to Christ in the hands of the Holy Spirit. If in any way you have benefited from our broadcast, let me just ask you to contact us and let us know that. It would be a great encouragement to everyone who makes this broadcast possible. You can email us at info at thetruthpulpit.com.
Again, that's info at thetruthpulpit.com. Let us hear from you, and be sure to include the station or the delivery device on which you listen to our broadcast. God bless you, and we'll see you next time. Now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time as Don teaches God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit.
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