Praise and Joy


Praising God is the highest form of prayer. Psalm 145 is a profoundly beautiful prayer of praise to the greatness and the goodness of God. The impetus to praise God so, is one of humility. Like the psalmist here, when we praise God, we do not do it out of a fear of an arbitrary and punishing God. Rather, our praise arises out of a humble recognition that God in his infinite greatness and perfect goodness, loves us and cares for us intimately and personally. Our praise, then, is a prayer of wonder and awe, and we cannot help ourselves from lifting up our hands and our voices in praise of God.

The psalmist’s joy is uncontainable here. “I will bless your name forever. Every day I will bless you; I will praise your name forever and ever.” (verses 1-2) He goes on to enumerate God’s works, and his mighty acts, which have been revealed to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear the majesty and the splendor of God. The greatness and the goodness of God is so far above any human capacity, that we cannot help but be moved to both meditate on his works and to tell others about them. When we come to know God in this way, how can we contain our wonder and awe?

Almost every line in this psalm is charged with joy. There is unrelenting wonder and awe in God’s creation, in his works on behalf of his children. And even more stunning is the recognition that this greatness and this infinite goodness willingly makes itself known to each of us intimately, and personally. Who are we to deserve such kindness? How is it possible that infinite greatness and eternal goodness would make itself known to us so generously, with such personal and loving concern? But, there it is! He treats us with unending compassion and unlimited mercy. In Jesus we see the power and the glory, the unbelievable mercy and kindness of the God of the universe come close enough to us to be touched.

And the reason for our joyful praise is in the recognition that God has not only made himself manifest to us in Jesus, but that throughout the Holy Scriptures he has shown himself to be “trustworthy in all his promises and faithful in all he does.” (verse 13) We know this because we have seen his mercy time and time again in the Holy Scriptures and, more importantly, we have experienced it personally in our own lives. “The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.” Yes, we have fallen and we have felt his merciful hands bending down to pick us up. We have found new courage and strength in his forgiveness and his grace. Yes, we have reason to praise God with joyous hearts. God is great! And God is eternally good.

Lord, we share the psalmist’s joy and join our hearts, our minds, and our voices in praise of you and your glorious works. We are in awe, knowing that you love us as your own. We wish to give you thanks by honoring your goodness with our own daily lives. We pray joyfully in Jesus’ name. Amen! And Amen!

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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.
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