Constructing a Psalm of Praise

Westerman(This assignment was developed from “The Psalms: Structure, Content & Message”, Claus Westermann, Augsburg, 1980.  Last week we look a the psalms of individual lament, here we consider psalms of praise.  Our goal is to construct our own just in time for Thanksgiving.)  Download here – Psalm of Praise

The Individual song of Lament (we studied last week) usually ends with a promise to praise the Lord.  E.g.  Psalm 13:6

“I will sing the Lord’s praise,

For he has been good to me.”

            Psalms of Praise by individuals are common in the Psalms.  They tend to take up where the lament left off.  The Sadness is turned to Gladness.

Structure:

I. Introduction:  e.g. Psalm 30:1

“I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths..”

II. A summary of what has happened: e.g. Psalm 31:2-3

“…You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead…”

III. A testimony to God’s action: the trouble faced and the answer given. There is a sense of joy and peace because of God’s action. e.g Psalm 30:4-11

“Sing praises to the Lord, you his faithful people….”

IV.  A promise to praise  e.g. Ps 30:12

“Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”

 Assignment: Construct a Psalm of Thanksgiving (I, II and IV can be one sentence)

I.

God is Good, all the Time.

All the Time, God is Good.

II.

 

III.

 

 

IV.

Give Thanks to the Lord

A mentor from my college days used to say, “a good teacher repeats basic lessons.”

Psalm 136 (ESV)

    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who alone does great wonders,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who by understanding made the heavens,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who spread out the earth above the waters,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who made the great lights,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

the sun to rule over the day,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

the moon and stars to rule over the night,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

10  to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

11  and brought Israel out from among them,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

12  with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

13  to him who divided the Red Sea in two,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

14  and made Israel pass through the midst of it,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

15  but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

16  to him who led his people through the wilderness,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

17  to him who struck down great kings,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

18  and killed mighty kings,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

19  Sihon, king of the Amorites,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

20  and Og, king of Bashan,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

21  and gave their land as a heritage,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

22  a heritage to Israel his servant,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

23  It is he who remembered us in our low estate,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

24  and rescued us from our foes,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

25  he who gives food to all flesh,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

26  Give thanks to the God of heaven,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

The Power of Thanksgiving

It’s been busy out here is Fresh Read’s world, so here is another sermonic clip on a very interesting passage – I Timothy 4:1-5

1 Tim. 4:1-5
    Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, [2] through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, [3] who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. [4] For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, [5] for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

      Do remember the discussion of Genesis 3, with the Serpent, the Woman and Adam?  God’s original command had been freedom with one restriction.  They were free to receive from any tree, except one.  Do you remember how the Serpent turned that upside down and tried to make the one command into a total negation?

            This is a pattern.  Often it is religion or it is ethics that tell us that we live in a world of restrictions with very few freedoms.  The Bible is about the freedoms nore than the restrictions.

            Here are the steps:

            “For everything that God created is good.”   Now I know you will dispute some of that.  What about illness and death?  Those were not part of the original creation, but they entered because of sin.  The world as we know it is not the way it is supposed to be.  But still the point remains that all that is in the world was made, declared good and has a purpose.

            Even mosquitoes are good and have a purpose. I do not know that that could possibly be, but I take it by faith.

             “Nothing is to be rejected.”  We can not “reject the world” like some did.  It is God’s world.  Now, I may love the sight of lions and tigers, but I need to know that it would be imprudent to have one as a pet.  I may love rhubarb, but I need to know that the leaves are poisonous.  God created sex for marriage and marriage for sex – but not all sexual choices are healthy.  The mistake is usually made by saying “If rhubarb leaves are poison, I will reject rhubarb.”  Or, “there is so much sexual sin and suffering, sex must be bad.  Or ‘Lions might eat me, they are bad.”

             “If it is received with Thanksgiving.”  Here is the power of Thanksgiving.  My gratitude to God is a principle and a test. 

            It says that in principle that God has given to us the earth to use and enjoy, as long as we recognize him as the giver and that we are the receivers.  The world as a thing loved for itself without God becomes an idol that we worship and serve.  Money as a thing loved for itself, is a source of much evil.  Food that is served and worshipped becomes a god – when it ought to be a meal to be enjoyed.

            This is a test.  I found this question in the Expositor’s Greek Testament – “Is it a thing of such a kind that I can, without incongruity, give thanks for it.”  (EGT – IV p.22)  Let me translate that into English for you.

            “Can I honestly give thanks for this thing, in the way I want to use it, without contradiction?”   There are certain products and certain companies that I do not like, and so I can not be thankful.  It is a gut-check.  I don’t want to give you my list.  The rule is this ‘can you honestly give thanks for it, without contradiction?  If so, go ahead.

             “…because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”   When we give thanks, it is the result of having considered the Word of God.  It is the word that ells us that all things are good.  It is the word that tells us that all foods are permissible.  And by the prayer of Thanksgiving we are giving thanks to God for what he has given us.  we do sometimes speak of blessing the foot – what the bible usually demonstrates is giving thanks.  God has given us a blessing in the form of food, and we bless god by giving thanks.  In the language of the bible “blessing” and “praising” can be the very same word.   The food is already a blessing, what we do is offer thanks.

Pot Lucks with a History

Thanksgiving is a very American holiday.  It flows not from the text of the Bible but from the pen of the president.   At our place of fellowship we have a Thanksgiving eve event called “Praise & Pies” at which we do those things in order.  That is sing hymns and then eat pie.

How is that Thanksgiving?

Consider this unlikely text in Leviticus 7:11-15.    
    “And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the Lord. [12] If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. [13] With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread. [14] And from it he shall offer one loaf from each offering, as a gift to the Lord. It shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings. [15] And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not leave any of it until the morning.”

    It should be remembered that reading Leviticus is like reading an instruction manual.  No one is excited by the manual, nor should they be.  the manual helps you do something else.  Leviticus is an instruction manual for temple worship.  It has a lot of procedural information, but you have to use your imagination to see the real thing.

   The Fellowship or Peace offering could be a totally voluntary gift.  The worshipper presents an animal to be slain.  The fat laden parts are burned on the altar.  Other parts are given to the priests, and the rest is roasted and eaten by the worshipper and, we presume, his family and friends.  Solomon and Hezekiah offered thousands of these sacrifices, which sound terribly wasteful until one realizes that these were offered and eaten by the nation assembled at the Temple.  (I Kings 8:62-66; 2 Chronicles 30:24-27)

   We are talking about something like a bar-b-que or a pot luck.  There, after the offering for sin has been made, was an additional free will offering of gratitude.  The idea was to celebrate.   It was a feast, in the presence of God, with friends.

   So we see life with God goes along with a celebration in community.  all of which was done with food.

   So our church suppers, pot lucks and so forth have this back drop. 

   This Thanksgiving, give thanks, be with friends, dig in.