One of the most interesting things about the Psalms is that most of them are not purely praise. The average person, if asked what the Psalms are, would probably think that they are songs of praise to God. The Psalms are compositions of praise to God - but they are more than that. They are songs that were sung to God on a myriad of occasions involving just about every kind of emotion and situation. Psalm 9 is one of the psalms that fit this kind of description. It begins with praise to God, but then quickly turns to how God has delivered the psalmist from past situations of peril and danger - then does another turn to a prayer for God’s future deliverance. Let’s take a closer look at a Psalm that should give us great confidence in our God as the One who has delivered us - and who will deliver us because of His great mercy and compassion.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
David begins with four “I will” statements that open this song to God. This should remind us that a true heart of worship is not an emotional thing - it is a choice. We are to choose to thank God. We are to choose to tell of all God’s wonders. We are to choose to be glad and exult in God. We are to choose to sing praise to the name of God Most High. These are not options for us - to be entered into when we feel like it. They are to be regular choices for the child of God who recognizes that Jehovah is worthy to be praised at any time and in any circumstance.
David begins with giving thanks to Jehovah. Often thanksgiving for God’s blessings is a good way to start when we worship Him. Psalm 100 reminds us to enter His gates with thanksgiving - and then enter His courts with praise. Taking a few moments to consider what God has done should be enough to fill our minds with all the ways we should thank God. Take for instance the ground upon which you walk, or the air you are currently breathing. Who is responsible for that? God is, for He created it all. Then remind yourself that according to Psalm 139 you were knit together in your mother’s womb by His hand and formed by His mighty power. If this is not enough remind yourself that you’ve eaten food - or enjoyed a sunset - been amazed at the stars in the sky - or enjoyed the warmth of the sun. Yep - all by His hand and because of His provision. Then think of grander things like your salvation by His grace. The provision of righteousness through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ that has been gifted to you by God. Consider that you have a Bible in your hand or your home - something that has only existed since the printing press - and even then was often opposed and would result in punishment by an anti-God government (by the way there are still governments all over the globe who continue to see the Scriptures as dangerous - and as contraband). All these things are reasons to thank God. David also gives a qualifier in his thanks to God. It is with all his heart. This is not an exercise in “having” to say thank you to God - like you may have had to thank someone as a child being prompted by good parents. This should be an overflow of our hearts as we consider the riches of God’s kindness, goodness, and love.
David’s next step is to tell of all God’s wonders. There are the wonders of His creation - which scientists will continue to examine and will never exhaust. There are the wonders of the heavens - stars, planets, solar systems, galaxies, asteroids, supernovas, and the wonders of a universe we can’t even measure yet. There are the wonders of the human body - for we are fearfully and wonderfully made. There are the wonders of this earth with its array of animals and plants - which we have not fully catalogued. There is the wonder of God’s mighty works and the miracles He has wrought among all the peoples of the earth. And if this is not enough - there is the infinite wonder of His person and attributes. He is holy. He is good, He is kind. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He is to be feared. He is to be loved. He is to be gazed at with infinite wonder and amazement. And the list could go on as infinitely and eternally as both time and space could ever offer. Oh the wonders of His plans and purposes that could blow our minds. The wonder of a God who can know the heart of every person - their every word before it comes out of their mouth - and the motive that is behind their every action and attitude. Truly God is a God of wonders and how we should think on them and praise Him for them.
David’s third choice is to be glad and exult in God. The word glad is the Hebrew word “samah” which means to rejoice, be joyful, to be glad, even to gloat over how God is the ultimate. The word has the idea of a state of happy and agitated rejoicing. What a fascinating concept that is to consider. We are to be glad in God! We are to choose to rejoice and be joyful - to be glad and to gloat over all other things (other stuff, other false gods, other worldviews, and even other reasons to be happy and glad). We are to choose to be in a state of agitation - but not agitated toward anger or resentment or frustration. No! There should be an agitation of our minds and thoughts to where we are almost over stimulated to rejoice and be happy in God and His plans and purposes for us. There is a second word used here, “exult.” The word is “alats” or “alas” which means to be jubilant in rejoicing. Strongs Concordance says that the word means, “to jump for joy, be joyful and rejoice.” Seeing these two words reminds me that praise and worship is a choice - and when we consider God’s deliverance both past and future - we should jump for joy in a gladness based in God’s infinite goodness and superiority over all things.
The fourth and final “I will” David employs is that he chooses to sing praise to the name of the Most High. There is a single word for the phrase “sing praise” in the Hebrew. It is the word “zamar” which means to play an instrument or to sing with musical accompaniment to God using instruments like a harp, lyre, tambourine, cymbals, and even loud cymbals. The sound of singing to God with musical accompaniment on instruments is not only spoken of in the Psalms, it is commanded in many of them. The content of such songs is to praise the name of the Most High. The word “name” has the idea not just of any name, but that of a famous name. It is a name that when heard touts the fame of the one mentioned. Here it is the name of Elyon - the most High. The word indicates not just one who is high - but the very highest of all. The musical song praises Jehovah’s famous name - and sings of how He is highest of all - with none greater and all infinitely inferior to Him.
David certainly kicks off this song of praise in high gear. Yet don’t mistake his words for a mere emotional outburst that lasts only as long as the music in the service keeps playing. What David is very clear about here is that whether he is in high spirits or feeling lower than a snake belly in a wagon rut - he chooses to praise God. This is a WILLFUL thing - not just an emotional one. Thus we can learn from him that any time is a good time to “I will” some praise to God. It is a choice we are to make - and make no mistake about it - we will not regret making that choice.
Pastor John Lawrence
Psalms for Life . . . God moved on several people to write the Psalms. This is a book of songs and poems written by people who were seeking to be devoted to God as they walked though their lives. This is a collection of songs and poems that express the true, wonderful, and often raw emotions that we have as we journey through life with God. I hope you will be blessed and encouraged as you read. But more than that I hope that these expositions and writings will help you to seek Him in the midst of the life you live in this world. It will be at times comforting and encouraging, while at others it will be challenging and awkward. Regardless of where you find yourself on this spectrum as you read, it will be a reminder that God invites us into His presence to truly walk with Him, know Him, and at times, pour out emotions of joy, sorrow, frustration, anger, and everything else you can imagine. He not only invites you to do this - He delights in it too! Hope you enjoy your journey!