Everybody likes to be praised. Even God! When we receive a “well done” or “good job” or “you’re amazing,” our spirits rise. We need this regular encouragement to keep pushing forward. Unlike us, God doesn’t need a steady stream of affirmation to buoy his divine energy and emotions. Rather, praise is 100% normal and natural when things are how they were created to be. In “A Word About Praising,” an essay in his short book, Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis put it well in this profound statement:
The most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything—had strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour.
I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless . . . shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it.
The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses [Romeo praising Juliet and vice versa], readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game—praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. . . .
Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. . . . I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it:
“Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?”
The Psalms are telling everyone to praise God, doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.
This week, we feature Psalm 148 in worship. This Psalm tells everything and everybody to praise God. Not because God is needy or in doubt of his own goodness. No! Rather, praise closes the loop between giver and receiver, and for a shining moment, gives us a glimpse of reality as it is supposed to be.
Psalm 148 instructs both everything ABOVE to praise God (angels, stars, sun, moon etc…) as well as prompting all things HERE BELOW to do the same (sea creatures, mountains, lightning, and hail, young men and women, old and children). For everything to be as God intended, and to fulfill our own nature, we must praise the Lord.
I believe most adults would rather be praised by a child (kid or grandkid) than by a work colleague or fellow adult. Nothing is so delightful as hearing, “You’re the best, Dad!” Praise is especially precious when it comes from below. In God’s case, that’s us! To offer praise from here below is exactly our part! To that end, we’ll end this week’s worship service with a song called, “Hallelujah Here Below.” You can click that link to listen and learn ahead of time so that our singing and praise might be even stronger.
A final thought: As you prepare for Sunday worship, come ready to praise God both for who God is (perhaps there is a precious part of God’s character to you these days) and for what he is doing or has done for you. I’m so glad to be in this with you.
– Pastor Gregg