A Bible Lesson on Psalm 145

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

This is a Bible lesson on a passage outside the current ISSL schedule, Psalm 145.  It is the last of the Psalms of David in the canon.  It is, so to speak, David’s last will and testament.  For what it’s worth, it’s an acrostic Psalm (the last of them).  Lines begin with consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  Some translations don’t have verse 13b, because it isn’t in some manuscripts, but it IS in the Septuagint and some important manuscripts and without it, there’s a letter missing from the alphabet.  hat seems like pretty good reason to assume that it should be there.  Appropriately, David’s last words in the canon are words of praise.

Psalm 145:1 A Song of Praise. Of David. I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.

David says that he will “extol,” “bless,” and “praise” his God and king.  David is king over Israel, but recognizes that he is subject to the one great true King of the universe.  In fact, at its heart, this is what true praise of God is, honest recognition and affirmation of the way things really are.  It is honest recognition and affirmation of who God really is.  Even well-meaning Christian people in our time feel as if they need to be “creative” in their concoction of words of “praise” to God, as if it is something that we manufacture.  That’s not so.  Real praise of God is humble and joyful recognition and affirmation of the truth about God revealed in the Scriptures.  We think about “praise” of humans in terms of figuring out what are their good points and needing to emphasize those and gloss over their faults.  But God is not a human.  His praise is something else.  It is, again, humble affirmation of the absolutely good and perfect truth about His nature and His works.

David says that his adoration and praise of God is both constant and extending throughout all eternity.  It’s every day.  It’s forever and forever.  Life in this fallen world should teach us to wonder at the prospect of an eternity where all is right, all is as it should be.  Joy at that prospect should pour forth from us in constant and grateful verbal recognition of the “name” i.e. person and great nature of our Creator and Sustainer.

3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

David admits that anything he can comprehend or express is but a shadow or fraction of the full truth.  The beauty of God is far beyond our complete comprehension or description.  Great is the I AM/Yahweh/Jehovah.  Our place is only to recognize Him for who He is.

4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

David has a frame of reference that says he’s not only personally going to eternally affirm the beauty of the I AM, but he’s part of a great line of those who have recounted and will for all eternity recount what is true about God.  We know about God because of what He says about Himself in the Scriptures.  And those things become concrete to us as we reflect on and recount how He has acted.  If I don’t value the testimony of those who have gone before, I don’t have the whole picture.

5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

David says he constantly mulls over the excellence of God’s person and the evidence of that in all that he knows of what God has done.  This is no spasmodic pursuit on David’s part.  It is his constant frame of reference.  Everything he says, thinks, and does is in the context of who the I AM has revealed Himself to be.

6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.

“They shall speak.”  Again, a heart that is truly captured by the goodness of God is not one that just takes those truths out and plays with them for an hour or two per week and then otherwise goes on as if there were some other sane frame of reference.  Generations of those who know the God of the Bible speak to successive generations of who He is and what He has done.

7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

David could only see ahead to Christ in shadows.  But he knew that God is both completely kind and gracious to us and completely righteous/upright.  We that have come after him have more complete revelation.  If David and his forbearers were to pour forth the fame of God’s abundant goodness, how much more should we.

8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

At Sinai there was

Exodus 33:18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”

19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

Then the Lord responded

Exodus 34:6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

Who is God?  The God of the Bible is the LORD, Yahweh/Jehovah/the I AM/the self-existent One.  What is His nature?  He’s merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  That He’s all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present is perhaps not surprising.  That He’s merciful and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, we never would have guessed and never could have adequately understood outside the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf!

9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

The LORD is good to all, all humans, both those who love Him and those who hate Him, and to all the rest of His creation as well.  He cares for all.  His kindness is evident everywhere one looks.

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!

Paul speaks of all creation waiting anxiously for end times and God’s final setting of all things right

Romans 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope

21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

The extent to which this “giving thanks” (really, more accurately, “declaring Him”)  by creation is both literal as well as figurative, we don’t know.  We do know that through all eternity, those humans who have been redeemed by God’s great mercy will sing about His excellence and His kindness towards us.

11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,

12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Again, for anyone who knows Him, praise is not something that has to be contrived or forced or manufactured.  It is simply the natural declaration of who He is and what He has done, by those whose are grateful for His mercy.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]

David spoke in verse 9 about the universal nature of God’s rule and reign.  It is also a permanent rule and reign.  God was, is, and is to come.  Every human that will ever live will benefit from that good rule and reign, whether he or she chooses to submit to that rule or not.  God’s revealed nature is both constant and kind.

14 The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.

15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.

16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

David sees God actively at work at all times in His creation on behalf of His creatures.  He upholds all.  He raises up all.  The eyes of all look to Him.  He satisfies the desire of every living thing, and

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.

God, as the only source of morality in the universe, is of course, morally right in what He does.  But the intent here in verse 17 is that David sees Him acting justly, and kindly towards those who need His care and mercy.

 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

The I AM is all-present.  It is not in this sense that David talks about Him being near in verse 17.  Instead, he is testifying that He does not ignore those who call on Him.  He’s near in the sense of paying attention to and responding to and interacting with those who call upon Him, to those who call upon Him in truth.  God is not obligated to those who refuse the light they’ve been given about His nature and His deeds, but

19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.

The I AM is the Savior of those who come to Him humbly.  To presume to come any other way is an affront to the great King.  We understand that in human relationships.  We don’t presume to approach great people in a familiar, arrogant kind of way.  How much more is it appropriate/necessary that we revere the Holy One.

20 The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

Verse 19 tells us to come to God with reverence.  Verse 20 tells us to come with love.  Those things are inseparable in Biblical theology.  If one is lacking, we aren’t worshiping the true God, but rather one of our own making.  And those who hate God, He will eventually cast out.  How could it be otherwise?  Post-moderns don’t like that, but what would be the alternative?

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Amen.  That’s David’s “last word.”  May it be ours as well.

Here is a .pdf of this lesson.

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

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