Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
A Song or Psalm of David. O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.The Life of Praise
I. Unselfishness of Praise.—To praise is more unselfish than even to pray and thank. You will not expect me to underrate or minimize the need of prayer. But yet though to pray is according to the will of God, there is an element or selfishness in prayer. We are asking something for ourselves, or for others, for those we love; we are in the attitude of receivers when we pray rather than that of givers. You will not expect me to minimize the need and glory of thanksgiving, and yet even when we thank, even thanks contain an element of self; it is for something that you have received that you render thanks. I have no doubt that you—or many of you—do praise God, but do you realize at all the greatness, patience, and generosity of God? In order to praise aright we must take in more and more the greatness and the generosity and the patience of the God whom we praise.
II. The Greatness of God.—Think of His greatness, even from the point of view of nature. To engineer twenty million blazing suns through space from day to day with perfect order and perfect quiet, to have nature not only working like machinery, but sleeping like a picture the whole time, and while He does it, to paint, at the same time, the beauty of the smallest shell upon the seashore. Or think of God's wonderful generosity. Why are we alive at all? Why are we enjoying the glories of this summer morning? Just because of the generosity of God.
III. The Highest Act of Worship.—Praise is the highest act of worship because it demands the exercise of every faculty that we have. There in praise must be the reverent attitude of the body, the devotion and loyalty of the mind, the emotion of the heart, and the bowing down of the heroic, yet subject spirit. When we come to church and give our praise it is the will, the royal and yet subject will that brings us, the will that is royal because it is the image of God—a free, personal spirit as God is a free, personal Spirit, and ye are subject to God. Then once again praise is the highest act of Christian worship because it joins more completely than anything else to the life and the worship of heaven. Many, or most of you, have lost some and, perhaps, many whom you have loved; and we all have naturally a poignant feeling when we have lost some one dear to us, especially some one whom we regarded as cut off in his prime. Now nothing can so bridge over that, nothing can make us so at one with the world to come that when we are summoned to die there is no shock to break as living a life of praise. Meditate upon God's greatness, His generosity; and then when your call comes, not only will you be able to say of your patient, tired body, 'I will lay me down in peace and take my rest,' but looking up, you will say with the Psalmist, 'O God, my heart is ready, my heart is ready; I will sing and give praise with the best member that I have'.
—Bishop A. Winnington-Ingram, Christian World Pulpit, vol. LXVII. p. 107.
References.—CVIII. 12.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 242. CVIII.—International Critical Commentary, vol. ii. p. 364. CIX. 4.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 15. CIX. 5.—C. G. Finney, Penny Pulpit, No. 1703, p. 663.
Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.
For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;
That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.
God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.
Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;
Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.
Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?
Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off? and wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts?
Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.