The Power of Praise

“Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable.”

Psalm 145:3

Praise-a fairly simple word but at times, most challenging to speak and nearly impossible to do.  But it was David’s go-to through many of the trials he endured.  In fact, the book of Psalms is filled with scriptures of praise!  Don’t get me wrong there are many passages in Psalms where David is crying out to the Lord in great desperation but a lot of those same passages start or end with powerful praises also.  In fact, I want to challenge you to look up each Psalm and see for yourself just how much David praised God.  I am going to challenge myself as well. There are 150 Psalms and I will get through each one but in order to not turn this into a chapter book, I will do a series of posts over the next month covering 10 Psalms in each post searching for David’s accolades to God. So get ready to get your praise on!

Psalm 1-There’s no direct mention of praise in the first chapter but it does start out on a thankful note when David talks about how we are blessed when we delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on His teachings day and night.  Knowing how God blesses us is worthy of praising Him and having a thankful heart!

Psalm 2-This chapter starts out a bit scornful, but through it, David reminds us to worship the Lord (worship is a form of praise), serve the Lord and rejoice (another word for you guessed it-praise!)  David also ends this chapter with a mention that we are blessed when we take refuge in God.  Remember that focusing on our blessings is an act of thankfulness.

Psalm 3-Let the drama begin!  Verse one opens with “O Lord, how my enemies have increased! Many are rising up against me…”  Now I have read the Bible in its entirety and I have studied David’s life before.  But I’m not a scholar on every Psalm to know exactly what was going on in David’s life when he wrote each one.  I can guess this from Psalm 3-David had a few people who were TICKED OFF at him and he was feeling quite helpless.  But in verse 3 he reminds himself (as we also need to do) that God is a shield for him.  He confesses that he sleeps safely because God is watching over him.  He ends this chapter in verse 8 with, “Salvation belongs to the Lord; May Your blessing be upon Your people.”  Speaking God’s truth in the midst of helplessness, reminding yourself Who God is and how MIGHTY He is, that’s a form of worship and in an essence-a form of praise.  For those who disagree-ask yourself this; when you’re listing quality attributes or characteristics of someone to that person, are you not offering them praise?  Well it’s the same with God.  We don’t have to just say “thank you” for it to be considered praising our Heavenly Father.

Psalm 4-David gets direct with God and says, “Answer me when I call…”  He also gets direct with his enemies (“How long will you love worthless things and seek deception and lies.”) His prayer in this one gets even more direct with God when in verse 6 David says, “…Lift up the light of Your face upon us, O Lord.”  (Did anyone else notice he didn’t say “please”?)  But again, David ends this passage with “You have put joy in my heart…in peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety and confident trust.”  I have to stop right here and point something out that just popped out at me…David ends this passage with “confident trust.”  I’ve gotta be real with you and admit those two words are a HUGE struggle for me.  Anyone else out there wrestle with this or am I the only doubter in the bunch?  Ha-I am confident (no pun intended) there are a few of you who share the same struggle.  I pray this passage and especially those two words inspire us doubters that praise works best when we confidently trust in the Lord.

Psalm 5-In this chapter David is seeking God’s revenge on those who do evil.  It’s reassuring to know that the man after God’s own heart prayed some vengeful prayers.  But again-he didn’t stay stuck in that thought process.  He ends with declaring God’s favor upon himself by saying, “…O Lord, bless the righteous man…surround him with favor as with a shield.” In spite of the fear David wrestled with, the turmoil he was enduring, David knew God’s protection and favor and he declared it over himself and his land.

Psalm 6-When you read the beginning of this chapter you may think as I did, “David has cracked-the pressure has sunk him deep into despair.” At one point, it almost sounds as if he’s saying, “God where are you?  Can you hear me?  Are you even listening?”  I’m thinking he definitely entertained doubt in this chapter.  But even in his admission of weakness, he finds enough strength to declare that God has heard his weeping, God has heard his prayer and that God received his prayer.  That last part is super powerful.  It’s not enough for us to believe God hears our prayers.  We need to believe He receives them as in He has accepted them and will act on them.  This doesn’t mean He says “Yes” to every request we make.  This just means we know that God listens and moves according to His will when we pray.

Psalm 7-David is still struggling with despair and appears pretty weak at the beginning of this chapter.  He even starts thinking maybe God is punishing him.  So he asks God to judge him and if he has sinned to then allow his enemies to crush David into dust.  David was a true warrior-but I think he also wore his heart on his sleeve and felt emotions on an extremely deep level.  He again though stands on God’s truth reminding himself that God is the judge of the people, not man and that although God may punish those who do evil, God shields and defends the righteous.  Then suddenly it’s as if David gets a bit of boldness and he starts describing God’s almighty wrath as if God was Chuck Norris kicking arse and taking names later! In the ends, David writes, “I will give thanks to the Lord…and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.”  David’s choice to praise God is consistent no matter what he is feeling or experiencing.

Psalm 8-This chapter starts and ends with the same exact phrase, “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic and glorious and excellent is Your name in all the earth!”  This chapter is only 9 verses but filled with affirmation to God and a declaration of who God is.  David even humbles himself when he writes, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?”  David is so much in awe of God that he struggles with comprehending God’s favor over him.

Psalm 9-David again begins this chapter with thanksgiving and praise.  Reading this one I picture David standing on a palace balcony or perhaps at the edge of cliff near the cave he hid in from Saul and I can see him confidently declaring God’s victory over his circumstances, reminding himself that God will conquer his enemies.  In a few of the verses he speaks of calamity that will fall upon the wicked but he describes the stability of the Lord when he says, “But the Lord will remain and sit enthroned forever;…” (Vs 7).  He again reminds himself of God’s protection in verse 9 when he writes, “The Lord also will be a refuge and a stronghold for the oppressed…”  It’s as if David is saying, “You may have a tornado of trouble swirling around you but God is not moved by any of it-He is in control and He is your protector and shelter from this wicked storm!”  Now that’s confident trust.  Am I right?  Oh and he uses those same two words in verse 10 when he declares that he will put his “Confident trust” in God for God does not abandon those who seek Him.  Wow!  That verse alone just made me want to lift my hands up in worship and cry out, “Thank you Abba!”

Psalm 10-Holy bipolar Batman!  And no, I am not making fun of bipolar people.  But when you leave chapter 9 with the mindset that David has increase his faith and then read “Why do you stand so far away, O Lord?  Why do you hide in times of trouble?” in the beginning of chapter 10 you may ask yourself, “What just happened here?”  At least I did.  If David was coming out of the pit of despair in chapter 9, he quickly dove right back in in chapter 10.  This chapter is full of questions and grumbles that I am confident a lot of us can relate to.  David’s not taking a “poor me” stance though-this chapter is more of a “Look at how disgusting my enemies are” stance.  Throughout it I think he either gets bold with God or he cries out in frustration because he writes, “Arise O Lord! O God, life up your hand in judgement and do not forget the suffering.” But then he reminds himself of this, “You have seen it (referring to acts of evil he previously described), you have noted [it],” and “you are the helper of the fatherless.”  Now I don’t know if David was orphaned at this point or if he used the word “fatherless” to simply describe either being absent from his father or lacking that influence in his life.  Regardless, he starts pulling himself back out of the pit by declaring that God hears the desire of the humble and the oppressed, that he strengthens hearts and that he does incline His ear to hear.  He also ends this chapter with verse 18 which reads, “To vindicate and obtain justice for the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth will no longer terrify them.”  Even in his deepest moments of hopelessness, David not only remembered but matter of factly stated that God. Is. Our. Vindicator.

I don’t know what season you’re in but I can tell you what season I’m in…I’m at a crossroads and I am full of despair.  I’ve prayed for deliverance for what seems like years and seeing very little movement from God.  In fact, at times, it’s as if God, like in chapter 10, is “far away and hiding in times of trouble.”  I have prayed for peace, wisdom, strength-all the things you’re supposed to ask for during this kind of season but still struggle with anxiousness and feeling so bogged down that I’m exhausted and scatterbrained.  I cry Every. Single. Day. When I’m not crying, I’m fighting back tears and pouring myself into my work or house cleaning simply to feel some sense of control.  What I’m not doing is handling this season like David did.  And that is coming to an end today.  These first ten Psalms have really turned my focus off my circumstances and back on God where they should’ve been all along.  If you’re in a similar season, my prayer is that you battle your enemies like David did-through prayer, standing on God’s truth and believing in the unbelievable power of praise!

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