No person can compare with the Lord. He cares about us and cares for us. He is the almighty God and the gracious Redeemer, and He is worthy of our complete trust. It is only appropriate that we, like the psalmists, determine that our praise of Him will be continual and unending.
Our Invisible, Invincible God
As we come to Psalm 144, David’s enemies are making his life miserable once again. He cries out to the Lord here in verses 7-8:
Rescue me and deliver me from the many [flood] waters, from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
The “right hand” symbolizes power. In ancient days it was typically the hand that held the sword or knife, which represented the power to hurt or even kill someone.
Shaking someone’s right hand was a practice that began in Greece 500 years before the birth of Christ, and it became a symbol of peace. By extending your right hand, you were showing someone you were not holding a weapon in your hand. I have read that the shaking motion was practiced to shake out a knife somebody might be hiding up his sleeve. The handshake became a common greeting of friendship that communicated peace.
Well, centuries before the handshake custom began, David is pointing out here that the right hand of his enemies is not peaceful at all. He says in verse 8 that their “right hand is a right hand of falsehood.” In other words, they have a weapon hidden up their sleeve. In this case, it is a weapon of words—deceitful words about David.
The context of this psalm may be the return of David to the throne soon after his son Absalom attempted to kill him and take the throne away. David is back now, but he is surrounded by political intrigue and secret enemies within the palace. People might be shaking his hand, so to speak, but they are not to be trusted.
David does the only thing anybody can in this kind of situation—he prays, saying, “Stretch out your hand from on high . . . and deliver me” (verse 7). The implication is that this would be God’s right hand, the hand of power that can deliver David from his enemies.
Now with that we come to Psalm 145. This is the last of the nine acrostic psalms collected in the book of Psalms. You might remember that an acrostic psalm uses a consecutive letter from the Hebrew alphabet to begin each verse or stanza. In English, that would mean the first verse begins with the letter a, the next verse with the letter b, and so on. This poetic device was more than likely used to help people memorize these psalms.
Psalm 145 also begins the final psalms of praise. These last few psalms are like one “grand doxology” for the whole book—like singing the doxology at the end of a worship service: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
One author writes that the entire book of Psalms has been “driving [us] toward praise [and praise is] its final destination. We are now at the gate of that destination.”
There are multiple words in Psalm 145 for praising God. The word “extol” means to talk about how great God is. When David says here in verse 1 “I will extol you, my God and King,” he is saying, “I am going to talk about how great You are!”
There is also the word “bless,” which means to speak well of God for His generosity. David writes in verse 2, “I will bless . . . your name forever and ever.”
Another word we find here is “praise,” or “praised,” which refers to glorifying God for His attributes. Verse 3 says, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.”
There are still more words of praise piled one on top of another in this doxology. David speaks of commending, meditating, speaking, pouring forth, singing aloud, giving thanks. A total of sixteen times in this psalm David finds a way to praise the Lord.
Why? Note the reasons for praise:
The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. . . . You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing . . . The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; He also hears their cry and saves them. (verses 14, 16, 18-
Beloved, David’s words in this psalm are now 3000 years old. But they are just as true today as the day he wrote them. And that is because the God he is praising has not changed. He is still worthy of all our praise.
What actions does God take in response to your praise? What does the Psalmist commit himself to do or be? To what degree have you made this same commitment?
Now as we sail along in our wisdom journey into Psalm 146, praise is still the wind in the sails of the psalmist. He writes, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live” (verses 1-2).
Then he delivers a warning in the next two verses:
Put not your trust in princes . . . in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
Despite this warning, it seems people are constantly looking for that one person who will lead them out of their collective misery. I have lived long enough to know that while God appoints His candidates to their political offices, I can’t put my hope in any officeholder.
The psalmist writes in verse 5, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.” Look what He can do, the writer says:
The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. (verses 7-9)
There is nobody in power today who can do any of that. No human being—regardless of credentials or lofty campaign speeches—is any match for the God of Jacob.
And let me tell you, the God of Jacob has never been elected to office, and He is not up for re-election. His office is eternal—He is the sovereign King of the universe.
And as you might expect, Psalm 147 is filled with praise to God. You will notice in this psalm the author mentions Jerusalem, as well as Zion, which is another name for Jerusalem, the city where the Lord’s temple was located.
Now just because Jerusalem might be a long way from where you live and the temple is no longer standing, that doesn’t mean this psalm is out of date. There is a new Jerusalem coming in the future, and it is described for us in Revelation 21. It is the place where Christ will reign one day. This city of God, the Father’s house of gold, will become the eternal home of every true believer, Jew and Gentile. The psalmist seems to be pointing us to that glorious day here in verse 2: “The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.”
Note, though, that when reasons to worship God are given, the psalmist uses the present tense. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (verse 3). “[He] lifts up the humble” (verse 6). “He prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills” (verse 8). And so it continues through the psalm.
This reminds us that we have many reasons to praise God today if we just look around. Praise Him for His saving grace and even for that rain shower you had the other day—which meant you had to mow the lawn.
Right now, today, in the midst of your crisis, under the weight of your burdens, as you experience some painful loss, God is present with you. He might be invisible, but He is invincible. His plans for you and His promises to you will all be realized one day.