Sermon June 21, 2020

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1450

June 21, 2020 Psalm 145.1-21

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

“Great Is the Lord”

 

 145.1I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. 2Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. 3Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

 4One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. 5On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. 6They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. 7They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

 8The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

 10All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! 11They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, 12to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

 [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.] 14The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.

 15The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. 16You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

 17The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. 18The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. 20The Lord preserves all who love him,

but all the wicked he will destroy.

 21My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

 

 

  • Great Is the Lord (1-3)

 

Today is Father’s day. It is typically the day that neckties, or better yet, bowties are given and received; I’m sure there will be meals prepared, cakes baked, songs sung, celebrations with fireworks and parades...have I gone way overboard!? Happy Father’s day to all dads. If you are like me you visualize fatherhood from all kinds of directions, from having a father to being one, from seeing how others have been faithful fathers to how father’s are portrayed in the world good or bad. But the primary vision of father for believers is that of our Heavenly Father. God is our Father! The Bible reveals a great deal about God the Father, and in our Psalm for today, and in many other places in Scripture, we understand that there is so much that is not known about God.

As with every Sunday, we gather to worship our Heavenly Father. I have selected this Psalm, 145, to lift up the greatness of God our Father. I’ve seen people asking where are the voices of Christians and Pastors and people who have yet to speak out about events and movements in our country and last Sunday I spoke about one response to things that happen in our world, that is, that we strengthen our faith and strengthen our witness to Jesus Christ. Today I want to offer another response to the world. Today I just want to offer another biblical passage as something else we can do as a witness to the world. Yes there may be many things we could do and perhaps should do, but I just want to offer a modest proposal today and that is that we worship God the Father.

Let’s take a look at the power of God’s Word for the church. In the first three verses all the action is about praise and thanks. I will extol, I will bless, I will praise. Extol means to lift up and praise, to glorify and exalt. Blessing the Lord is about praise as well. It is an expression that includes thanksgiving within praise. Praise is simply a synonym for all these words that seek to worship God. Such praise and adoration is befitting because God is great. God is awesome. The main reason given in verse 3 is that God’s greatness is unsearchable. That does not mean that we cannot search out God’s greatness, we indeed do that with every reading of the Bible, but it does mean that we cannot know all there is to know about God the Father.

And yet, the Psalm invites us to extol and bless and praise because God is great and because God is unsearchable. God is like no other god. God is incommensurate, that is, no one and nothing else compares to God. This is the God we worship, the God we can know and is yet unknown, the God with us and yet beyond us. The God who redeems and judges and acts in ways consistent and faithful and will fulfill all His purposes and keep all His promises. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.

 

  • Generation to Generation (4-7; 21)

 

In verses 4-7 and 21 the Psalm declares that God’s greatness will be proclaimed by him and by every generation to come. We are given the task of telling the next generation of God’s mighty acts, to speak of His majesty and goodness and righteousness. Why is this so important? All we have to do is see how things have progressed in our own society when God is not praised and not extolled and not worshiped. Generations who do not know God fall to their own destruction and destroy everything around them and wallow in their sin. They disrespect parents, fail to keep Sabbath, and despise all who seek after God. So the Psalm expresses the great need in our world to pass on the Good News of God. One generation to another...they shall declare Gd’s mighty acts. The reason we declare is to make God known. We make God known and watch the Holy Spirit work in people’s lives. And we know that one day there will be a day that the apostle Paul speaks of, that one day every knee will bow to God’s Son...9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2.9-11).

So we are charged with the task of meditating on God’s deeds and singing of His righteousness so that people will come to know God and His only Son Jesus, that they may honor God and knee before Him in worship. This is another call for us, live in Christ, give witness to Jesus, worship God the Father, and make known all God’s works from generation to generation. Great is the Lord and greatly to be declared.

 

  • The Lord is… (8-9; 13b-14; 17-20a)

 

Why are we to worship and what are we to tell the next generation? I want us to see why God is great from the proclamations throughout this Psalm. We will be examining verses 8-9; second half of 13b and verse 14; then 17- first part of 20. Let’s start with verses 8-9.

 

8The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

 

These adjectives are among the most prominent in the Old Testament and they are grouped in various places throughout. They originated in Exodus, the text we heard earlier in worship, 34.6-7 6The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

These are the attributes that have come from all that God has done. God performs acts of grace and love and mercy and patience and as those acts build in number we come to know God as gracious and merciful. It’s like describing father’s who love their children and over the years the fathers provide and protect and discipline and the children grow up and say, “my dad is generous and strong and loving.” They say that because they have seen their father act in those ways. We have seen God act in these ways time and time again. Actions lead to attributes that describe character. This is our God, gracious and merciful and filled with steadfast love. So the Psalm reveals God’s character.

 

Next up – verses 13b-14,

[The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.] 14The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.

 

These are common themes throughout the Bible. God’s faithfulness is seen everywhere especially in sending Jesus Christ to live and die and rise again that we might be saved. Over and over again we see God lifting up the fallen, exalting the humble and humbling the exalted. The Psalmist says these things because he has seen them and heard of them over and over again.

Verses 17-20a,

 

17The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. 18The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. 20The Lord preserves all who love him,

 

In this one Psalm we have all of this: The Lord is...gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is faithful, kind, upholds, raises up, righteous, near, fulfills desires, hears our cries, saves, and preserves. These are some of the descriptors of the greatness of God. This is our Heavenly Father. God has done so many great deeds that lead us to conclude all these attributes. Great is the Lord for He has done great things.

 

  • You, O Lord… (10-13a; 15-16)

 

Now, you have probably noticed that I have grouped the verses in this Psalm to fit a certain outline, God’s greatness to be worshiped, our call to tell of that greatness, and all the things that describe God. Basically these first three points are telling how great God is. The last verses I want us to note are those that directly address God. This is the praying portion or the direct address of GOd.

10All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! 11They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, 12to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

 

15The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. 16You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

 

In these verses the Psalm speaks directly to God. This is the true prayer of the Psalm, the address to God…“You, O Lord.” You, You, Your, Your...and a large part of that is about God’s kingdom. Jesus came to proclaim this coming kingdom. Glorious kingdom, everlasting kingdom. In this kingdom all eyes look to God for food, for what is needed, for complete satisfaction. The one thing that is missing in the lives of people who don’t know Jesus is the satisfaction that can only be found in Jesus. Only God can satisfy our desires, hopes, dreams, needs, and longings. All the people who are crying out for various things in the world today are most often crying out to gods who have no ears, to idols of their own making, or just screaming into the darkness. Until they turn to God and to His kingdom, they will not know any peace. Until they turn to Jesus, they will know nothing of justice or belonging or love or hope or faith.

I said earlier that this Psalm gives us at least two things to do in response to all that is going on in the world, worship and telling the next generation about God. But another crucial and perhaps the most vital thing we can do is pray. I know that to many people that sounds like a hollow pursuit. It does not take action in ways that many would like to see. It does not stop things we see happening or the virus that can infect. Yes, there are certainly things that God may call some of us to do that appear to be more concrete than prayer, but no matter what we discern in those actions, if they are not supported with prayer, they will amount to nothing. If they are not enveloped in prayer, God may or may not bless those actions taken. Great is the Lord and we must address Him today in prayer.

 

  • Great Is the Lord (1-21; 20b)

 

This Psalm, like all the Bible, lifts up the greatness of God. Good fathers have always tried to emulate God’s goodness and kindness in all the ways of being a father. We have never completely succeeded in this task because none of us are God. When our earthly fathers fail us, we know that God never fails. When our earthly fathers fall short, we know that our Heavenly Father is great and awesome and that He forgives us as fathers even while we are sinners.

There is one small detail I have yet to mention in verse 20. Within all this greatness and positive uplifting Psalm is this one phrase that takes a poke at the wicked, but all the wicked he will destroy. This is not uncommon in the Psalms that at least one verse or half a verse will warn of pending doom for those who practice evil. We might wonder why. Is it to show that God is just and will not let wickedness go unpunished? Is it so that we don’t just make God out to be a warm fuzzy? Is it simply a warning to those who oppose God? If nothing else, it is another evidence of the greatness of God.

 

Great is the Lord. May His greatness inspire us to be better fathers, better people, better pray-ers, better worshipers, and may God’s greatness be known throughout our nation and throughout the world. Amen.

 

 

 
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