Word of the Month

Praising God

October 2006

The Psalms often speak of praise. I think in particular of the following verse: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalms 103:2, NIV). When children achieve good grades at school their teachers and parents usually praise them for their efforts. But it would certainly be miserly of us if we were merely to praise God for good works. Bringing laud and praise to God is something that is on a much higher level. I see three components to praising God. First of all this requires gratitude. We could not praise God if we were not truly thankful. Secondly we must adore God – we must laud and praise Him in adoration of His omnipotence, magnitude, and majesty. And thirdly – if we wish to show esteem for Him – we must also profess this praise around others. We cannot always only praise God in private. That is not true praise of God. Rather we must also profess our praise of God to the world around us. We must tell others that we honour the Eternal One for His kindness and thank Him for everything He provides for us. Perhaps we at times still have something of a deficit in this regard because we profess too little to the world around us: “Praise the Lord, O my soul!” This makes an impression on me directly and compels my soul: “Now see to it that you praise the Lord in the proper manner!” From now on, let us be praisers of God!

Then the psalmist goes on to say: “… and forget not all His benefits.” How quickly we forget everything! I am reminded of the people of Israel. They had experienced tremendous miracles, had walked through the Red Sea, had witnessed the defeat of the Egyptians—and a few days later they had already forgotten all of this. Then the Israelites complained that there was not enough to drink, not enough to eat. And finally they said: “Oh that we had died … in the land of Egypt” (cf. Exodus 16: 3). Suddenly it was as though all the difficulties, suffering, oppression, care, and sorrow they had endured in Egypt had never even happened! They had forgotten about all the miracles they had experienced. We human beings are very forgetful. For this reason let us always think about the good that God has done for us and praise Him. Let us count our many blessings …

This is the season of Thanksgiving. In this context I would like to call to mind that thankfulness is part of the true praise of God. This is not something we merely cultivate once a year when Thanksgiving Day comes around. Rather, thankfulness is a basic attitude and fundamental position of our believing hearts. It does not — as some might object — hinge upon external circumstances which could detract from our thankfulness. I have come to know many children of God who live in bitter, difficult circumstances and who have nevertheless retained a thankful disposition. On the other hand there are also those who have a good life, and yet they are still dissatisfied and do not show any sign of thankfulness. Let us always preserve a thankful disposition. Let us endeavour to maintain this fundamental tone of thankfulness. Let us be thankful praisers of God!

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)