Topic: Exhortation To Praise God (STS 7 March 2021)
MEMORY VERSE: “O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved” (Psalm 66:8,9).
TEXT: Psalms 64 to 68
The Psalms generally extol the power, glory and majesty of God for who He is and what He has done. A greater portion of the Psalms for this lesson focuses on praise of God’s immutable attributes of compassion and omnipotence to intervene in ugly human situations to deliver and meet needs in answer to the prayer of His people. For instance, the Lord aborted the plot of the wicked to shoot down the righteous suddenly in answer to prayer for preservation (Psalm 64). Also captured in the text are divine provisions through nature (Psalm 65), reminiscences of God’s past deliverances and mercies (Psalm 66), the hope of Christ’s future government and reign on the earth (Psalm 67) and attributes of God as Conqueror, Father, Judge, Guide, King, Enabler and Sustainer (Psalm 68). These enhance as well as enrich prayer of thanksgiving and praise.
CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S FAITHFULNESS TO ANSWER PRAYER AND DECLARATION OF HIS WORKS (Psalms 64:1-10; 65:2,5; 66:5,16-20; 67:1,2; 68:1,2,14,21,30; 121:3-8; 2 Timothy 4:18; Lamentations 3:22,23; Deuteronomy 7:9; Matthew 24:35; 1 John 5:14,15)
Our text begins with a supplication to God for preservation from fear of the wicked and “workers of iniquity”, who secretly plot a sudden attack to shoot down “the perfect”. Fearless and united in this “evil matter”, they actually utter or decree “bitter words” like “arrows” against the righteous in the secret and conspire without fear to lay snares for him, while deluding themselves that no one sees them. Unperturbed, the psalmist prayed with confidence that God, the omniscient, who watches over the righteous and neither sleeps nor slumbers, will defend the righteous and demobilise the wicked. “The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him. The LORD will not leave him in his hand…” (Psalm 37:32,33). Recall that Balak secretly hired Balaam to curse the children of Israel, but God rose to their defence by warning the soothsayer that “Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel… He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him…” (Numbers 23:23,21). Everyone who is righteous enjoys this peculiar privilege. God is committed to preserving the righteous from evil (Psalm 121:3-8; 2 Timothy 4:18). Though the Israelites were not aware of this evil plot against them, God turned the curse into blessing for them (Deuteronomy 23:5). Truth is, it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed by the secret plot of the wicked; He aborts the plots of the wicked against His children (Lamentations 3:22,23).
Question 1: Explain the unique privilege and confidence of the righteous in prayer.
Thus, for known and unknown interventions of God in our lives, families and church, we should declare His works and glorify Him. We should not allow daily struggles or constant life demands, unfulfilled or delayed expectations and dreams, and painful life blows or losses becloud our minds and make us weary, cold and unwilling to praise Him. God is faithful in acting according to His word, even when we do not understand or know (Deuteronomy 7:9; Matthew 24:35). The unchanging principle and commitment of God to protect, preserve and deliver the righteous from evil emboldens the psalmist to state with assurance that His intervention will make all men “fear, and shall declare the work of God… The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory”. Besides, the assurance that God “hears prayer” should make “all flesh” come to Him. But the present-day counterparts of Baal worshippers who are praying to dead idols and gods of their making will be disappointed in times of trouble. The psalmist calls everyone to reminisce on the mighty works of God. “Come and see the works of God… He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him” (Psalm 66:5). He alludes to the exodus of the children of Israel that happened when they cried to Him. Aside congregational prayer, the psalmist testifies that God answers personal petitions. “Come and hear… and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. I cried unto him with my mouth… If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: But verily God hath heard me… Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me” (Psalm 66:16- 20). God expects us to praise Him and testify of His goodness to others with a heart that is free from inbred sin. Christ told a man He healed of insanity to “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” (Mark 5:19). He expressed this expectation of gratitude concerning the nine lepers He cleansed who did not return to give God glory (Luke 17:12-18).
The goal of answered prayer of mercy, blessing and favour from God should be “That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth” (Psalm 67:2,4). The psalmist is here inspired to talk about the conversion of Gentile nations and predict the future glorious reign of Christ. Even the psalmist’s prayer, “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered… Rebuke the company of spearmen… till every one submit himself with pieces of silver: scatter thou the people that delight in war” (Psalm 68:1,30) is meant to secure a peaceful atmosphere and environment for the will of God to be done among men. Thus, prayer must accord with God’s word and will to receive answer from heaven and result in praise and testimony (1 John 5:14,15).
Question 2: What do believers learn from the psalmist’s declaration of“ the works of God”?
COMPELLING REASONS TO PRAISE GOD (Psalms 65:1-13; 66:1-4,6-15; 67:3,4; 68:3-35; 147:1; 1 Chronicles 29:11-13; Acts 17:28)
The psalmist acknowledges the fact that God deserves to be praised. “Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed” (Psalm 65:1). He points to the acts of God’s grace and providence as reasons to praise Him. One, God hears prayers (Psalm 65:1,2; 66:19,20); two, pardons and purges sin (Psalm 65:3); three, chooses aright those He calls to serve Him (verse 4); four, saves on land and sea (verse 5); five, displays His omnipotence in nature as the fixing of immovable mountains and stilling of the noise and waves of the sea (verses 6-8); six, quells the tumult of the people; seven, preserves the regular succession of day and night (verse 8); eight, grants adequate rainfall and provides food for man and pastures for livestock (verses 9-13); nine, exercises sovereign dominion and power in the whole creation (Psalm 66:1-7); ten, favours and preserves His people (Psalm 66:8-12). Reminiscences about God’s greatness, goodness, deliverance, guidance, victory over enemies and presence with His people underpinned the psalmist’s praise to God (Psalm 68:4-17). He was inspired in the course of praising God to speak about the future ascension of Christ (after His crucifixion and resurrection) and the salvation of the people by Him (Psalm 68:18-20); the victory which Christ would obtain over His enemies and the favours He would bestow on the Church (Psalm 68:21-28); and the enlargement of the Church by accession of Gentiles to it (Psalm 68:29-31). Believers praise God for His divine attributes, interventions, victories, favours, wondrous works, goodness, mercies and redemption from sin, Satan, the world and eternal doom in hell.
Question 3: Why should believers praise God?
Thus, we praise God for past, present and expected interventions. We also praise Him for seemingly negative situations in our lives. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Some people wonder why they should praise God despite unanswered prayers, delayed promotion, unemployment, bereavement, delayed marriage, poverty, barrenness and mishap. To such people, the Scripture clarifies that, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Question 4: Why must we praise God for adverse conditions?
The Scripture enjoins us to praise God with songs in solemn or rapturous voice, with clapping of hands and instruments of music and through testimonies of His wonderful works (Luke 19:37; Psalms 47:1; 150:4; 2 Samuel 6:5; 1 Chronicles 16:42; Exodus 15:1- 21).
CONFIRMED RESULTS OF PRAISING GOD (Psalm 67:5-7; Exodus 15:11; 2 Chronicles 20:21-25; Acts 16:25,26)
“Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him”. The Psalmist is never in doubt of the power of praises as he emphatically assures that God will cause the land to yield her increase and the trees of the field their fruits (Leviticus 26:4). This is one of the ways God blesses us in response to praises because it gladdens His heart. Besides, the Psalmist foretells the glorious estate of the Christian church, in which Jews and Gentiles should unite as a flock and sees this as God’s blessing and the prospect of it as a matter of our joy and praise. Indeed, God is fearful in praises. Praises move Him to do wonders. When we praise God, we celebrate His person and the infallibility of His word. The result is a demonstration of His power by way of mighty acts, signs and wonders in our negative situations in such a way that “all the ends of the earth shall fear him”. Praise is also a spiritual weapon. “And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten… every one helped to destroy another” (2 Chronicles 20:22,23). This truth is further proved by the outcome of Paul and Silas’ prayer and praise while in prison in Philippi. As they prayed and sang praises to God at midnight, “suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed” (Acts 16:26). By praise, prison doors are opened, chains are broken, yokes/bondages of the devil are destroyed, captives are released and enemies are vanquished.
Question 5: What are the results of praising God?
When we heartily and sincerely praise God, there shall be increased blessings, victory over enemies, deliverance and preservation from all evils, divine refreshing and care, abundance, restoration and full release of divine blessings. Great blessings and breakthroughs await those who truly and wholeheartedly praise God.
Flatimes’ Notice Board: Until you are born again, God ever abiding presence will never be with you. You must be born again to enjoy continuous victory. Please say the displayed prayer below in faith:
Lord Jesus, come into my life. I accept You as my Lord and Personal Saviour. I believe in my heart You died and rose from the dead to save me. Thank You Lord for saving me, in Jesus name Amen.
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