February 15, 2019 • Life for Leaders
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
Have you ever woken up on a Sunday morning and thought, “Why do I have to go to church today?” The coziness of your bed, the vision of a relaxed morning, the thought of lingering over the newspaper or a good book with a cup of coffee . . . all of these can induce one to skip Sunday worship. What would be the harm? Why does it matter so much to praise the Lord, anyway?
Psalm 135 answers this question in the most basic way. It repeatedly summons us to praise the Lord. Verse 3 gives us a fundamental reason why such praise is right: “for the LORD is good.” The Hebrew of this verse refers not just to “God” but to “the LORD,” using the shortened form of his special name. Yahweh is the name of God revealed to Moses, the name associated with God’s covenant with Israel, with his compassion and mercy (Exodus 34:6). The Lord is known to be good because he has revealed his character to Israel, both in words and in deeds.
The English word “good” translates the Hebrew word tob. Tob has a broad range of meanings, just like our English word “good.” Tob can mean “pleasing,” “beautiful,” “delightful,” “beneficial,” and “morally correct.” All of these senses fit the Lord. He is absolutely righteous in his nature, doing only that which is ethically right. His works benefit us, whether the blessings are of nature or of his special grace. The author of beauty is himself beautiful. The more we meditate upon him, the more we take delight in his presence.
So we should praise the Lord because his matchless goodness calls forth praise. It’s rather like when you read a great book or see a great movie. You just have to tell somebody! The more you know God, the more you experience him, the more you are moved to proclaim his goodness.
Why go to church when you’d rather enjoy a relaxed Sunday morning? Because God is good. Because he is worthy of all praise. And because, in the act of praising God, we experience him and his goodness in a fresh and transforming way.
Something to Think About:
What motivates you to go to church on a day when you’re tempted to do otherwise?
How have you experienced the goodness of God?
How are you tasting his goodness right now?
Something to Do:
First of all, here’s something obvious: go to church this weekend! But, rather than just going through the motions, take time before and during the worship service to remember God’s goodness. Let the goodness of God motivate your praise this weekend.
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him. Amen!
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” by Joachim Neander, 1860. English translation by Catherine Winkworth, 1863. Public domain.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Advent Reflection: Why Do We Praise the Lord?
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.