READING: Psalms 148-150, 1 Corinthians 15:29-58
“Praise the Lord.”
It was a hot day in Africa. My students and I had traveled there to do mission work for several days, and we were meeting the nationals who led local churches. They were kind, polite, humble . . . and seriously committed to praising the Lord. Granted, they said, “Praise the Lord” so often (always followed by a distinctly accented “amen”) that it caught most of us off guard. In some cultures, in fact, simply verbalizing these words of praise is considered a means by which one secures God’s blessings – kind of like a mantra. What we learned about these believers, though, was that they seemed to mean the words every time they said them. They had been through much turmoil as believers, and they’d learned about the sovereign hand of God in their lives. They knew how to praise God even when life was not easy.
To be honest, some of our team picked up the habit of praising the Lord, but not always with the heartfelt passion of our African friends. It just seemed easy to tack on “Praise the Lord” and its corresponding “Amen” to about every sentence. The words rolled off our tongues but not so much out of our hearts. Later, we talked about that honest assessment – and committed ourselves to be a genuinely praising people each day.
I thought about that experience today as I read the last three songs in the book of Psalms. Combined with psalms 146 and 147, this ending section of the book resounds with praise. Listen to the first verses of each psalm, and join the chorus:
- “Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul” (Psalm 146:1).
- “Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” (Psalm 147:1).
- “Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above” (Psalm 148:1).
- “Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people” (Psalm 149:1).
- “Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens” (Psalm 150:1).
The heavens praise Him, and His people praise Him. Creation itself honors Him. Men and women, young and old sing His worth. They worship Him with singing, with instruments, with dancing, with rejoicing. His power, His greatness, His justice, and His care evoke man’s praise. Thus, we should not be surprised that the psalmist concludes this book with this fitting admonition: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6). Indeed, I can hear my African friends as I read those final words: “Praise the Lord. Amen.”
- Continue praising God as you did yesterday. Sing your favorite praise songs throughout the day – regardless of what you face.
- Pray for believers who praise Him today despite the price they pay for following Him.
PRAYER: “Lord, I praise You.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Proverbs 1-2, 1 Corinthians 16