This psalm is a call for both praise and obedience. This is a natural pairing of ideas. When we come to know the God of creation and his fidelity toward us, his compassion, his kindness and his infinite capacity for forgiveness, it is natural to obey his will, as a matter of thanksgiving. Indeed, when we come to know God, we are naturally moved to praise him for our life, for his mercy, for the goodness and beauty that he surrounds us with every day.
In the humility of faith we recognize that we are created by God. All that we have, our very life, our intellects, our wills, the loved ones in our lives. Everything is pure gift from God. This humble recognition causes in us a desire to praise him for his great love and generosity. Of course, his great love for us, a love so profound that he gave himself to us in Jesus, deserves our most humble praise. If you think about it, praise, though it seems almost too simple, is our soul’s greatest expression of thanks.
Obedience, on the other hand, is a matter of our intellect’s and our free wills. This is where the rubber meets the road for each of us in our daily lives. God made us free. That freedom is absolute. He does not, and will never, tamper with it, or take it away. We are given our intellects so that we can come to know what is right and what is wrong. This process begins in childhood, but continues throughout the rest if our lives. Experience is a great part of this process. We not only have the capacity to learn, but also to reflect on our experiences. Each growing insight helps to better form our consciences. The better informed our consciences, the better we are able to use our free wills to obey God’s will, to choose the good more and more often and to avoid evil.
David understands the connection between praise and obedience. It is easy to be obedient to the One who is praiseworthy, the Creator of all that is, the One who has loved us with a love beyond our greatest dreams, the One who has died for us and opened the gates to paradise to us again, the One who remains with us now in his Holy Spirit, guiding, teaching, and defending us daily. We, too, sing our praise to God, not just in our prayers, but with our obedient attention to his commandments, loving him and one another through our actions and our words in our daily lives.
Lord, we praise you and give you thanks for your great love and mercy toward us. Help us to grow in faith and strengthen us with the courage to live it out in our daily lives. We pray these things believing in the power of your holy name, Jesus. Amen!
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