Do We Praise God For Who He Is, Or Merely What He Does?

God’s generous gift of faith is a great benefit to us in many ways. It reveals both the God of action and deeds to us, but it also gives us an insight into the nature of God. Our ever-deepening faith strengthens us and it gives us more and more reasons for great joy. Psalm 145 is a powerful poem of praise to God, a glorious exhaltation.

It is one thing to recognize and to praise the deeds of the Lord, but it is even more important to recognize the nature of God from which all of these deeds arise. The psalmist begins this beautiful prayer of praise by extolling God’s name, then he speaks of how God’s greatness is unfathomable, then of God’s mighty works and deeds. The psalmist meditates on these things with awe and wonder. Then he begins to recognize that deeper reality, that these things are the products of the very nature of God himself. What is that nature?

The words describing God’s nature seem to begin to tumble from the psalmist as he recounts them. The first word is “goodness,” followed immediately with the word, “righteousness.” These appear in verse 7, then in the very next verse we get more words describing the nature of God. We see that the psalmist has recognized that God is “gracious and compassionate,” and then that he is, “slow to anger and rich in love.” What a powerful and important insight this is. This psalm gives us the chance to contemplate something much more important than the mighty deeds of God. It gives us the opportunity to meditate on the mystery of who God is and why he acts toward us the way he does. It is his “Nature,” the very core of his being that is contemplated here, albeit, in the limited capacities of our finite humanity. For, these insights are mere hints as to the fullness of God’s nature. God’s greatness will not be fully known to us until, God willing, we are forever in his loving presence.

We are called here to meditate on the fact that it is out of God’s nature that all that is good, true, and beautiful comes to be. It is this “Nature,” that is, the image and likeness of God in which we were made, yet, because of sin, we fall short of too often. The nature of God was revealed to us in the flesh in his Only Begotten Son, Jesus, the Christ. It is this “Nature” that we are called to imitate in our own lives here on earth. The psalmist is expressing this insight here in this psalm with profound joy. He cannot contain himself. He is literally “jumping for joy” here with his words.

“The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” (verse 9) It is clear that the psalmist wants to share this understanding of God with everyone. And here we have today’s verse: “The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.” This is a fact. This is the truth. The Lord is perfectly faithful to every promise he has made to us. And he loves all that he has made with an infinite, limitless, unconditional love. We are loved! What joy! This is the tone of the psalm. This is the revelation of a happy truth. And this love is near to us at all times. When we come to this realization in faith, what else can we do but sing our praises. “Let every creature praise his holy name forever and ever.” Amen! (verse 21)

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.