"Great is the Lord" by Lynne McCarthy
Observe This Psalm publicly extols the Lord for His great name (…in the council of the upright and the assembly.(1)) and for His works and wondrous deeds, everlasting righteousness, truth, graciousness in providing redemption for his people; … holy and awesome is his name (9) and his true integrity (faithful and just (7a). It’s our eulogy (in the sense of “good word”) to Him for what He does, what and who He is – past, present, future tenses all gathered into His greatness and majesty.
Verse 10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. This quotation is from Proverbs 1:7, repeated in 9:10. The psalm ends with yet another burst of praise – eternal!
Interpret The Psalm describes God in all His goodness, the great King with whom we are privileged to relate. He is a worker, there’s no doubt – just read Genesis’ account of the beginning of everything! He makes things that please Him, and we are one of those, rather amazing to consider that He was very pleased at this particular piece of handiwork! As we grow closer to Him we come to recognize His righteousness (which He has made us to be), compassion and graciousness (which we do well to emulate), and He is the God of truth – true truth, His truth! He keeps His promises – how many are there in Scripture? Integrity is embedded in His character. What is so sadly lacking in the world is completely manifest in Him.
Apply We can’t enter into this good, splendid King’s presence casually. The last verse is a warning, perhaps even a rebuke. Hard as it is to be in awe of anything in this culture that admires the banal and tawdry, if we learn to regard awe of God as one of His good gifts, we are then truly fitted to worship Him – in awe. This might be a good word to us when we drift into church services late (although sometimes it can't be helped!), oblivious to the prelude, drift off during the sermon (despite morning coffee), race out at the end of the service without acknowledging our brothers and sisters and pastor -- His provision of fellowship, love and continuing worship.
We learn awe as we move closer to Him. We can always ask Him to remind us that He is to be held in awe, so we give Him thanks through the week, anytime and often.
Responding to His loving presence with praiseful awe, we just might find that we are becoming like Him. To quote Tim Keller, “We become like the things we love most.” (The Songs of Jesus, p.292). We can hardly do better than that!
Ask Lord, what does it mean to be in awe of You? Would you reveal this to me as I determine to praise and worship you because You are so, so good?
Pray Holy God, we have glimpses from time to time of Your awesomeness. May these glimpses become clearer sight of Who you are in all Your glory and yet humility in coming to us. Thank you, Father, for the wonder of You that You have shown us in Jesus. Increase by Your grace our desire to be in union with You and one another, “lost in wonder, love and praise.”
Benjamin Tucker - Psalm 111
Michael Card - O Give the Lord
Scottish Psalter - Praise Him
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.