Two things have taken serious hit here in US – the two parts of sermon title. Great efforts across the board to make all days of the week the same, then argue over who has dibs on Sunday – “my day to do as I want” or “everybody takes their turn working Sunday just like any other day”. Not just businesses or workplace that have taken over the day. Sports, entertainment, education (hunter safety, e.g.) lay claim to all seven days, often concentrating on Saturday/Sunday.
Second issue – less tolerance each day for public expressions of Christian faith. Pressure takes many different forms: court action, threats by activist organizations, ridicule, burdensome regulations (Good News Club) – those who wish to share their faith in God publicly discouraged from doing so. Prevailing attitude that is expressed: matters of faith are private and should be kept that way… if you are a Christian.
Church hasn’t always responded well to the pressures. Has often taken extreme position – defending a good principle but in ways that are not Christ-like; on the other hand, trying to accommodate all sides and losing the high ground. Both errors come from wrong use of God’s Word – trying to make it say something God never intended or not not acting according to what God really did say.
WSC Q 58. What is required in the Fourth Commandment?
A: The Fourth Commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath unto himself.
Q 28. A. The will of God, that some stated time should be set apart for his worship was written with the rest of the commandments, upon man’s heart at his first creation; and God’s resting from all his works on the first seventh day; his blessing and sanctifying it, Gen. 2:1-3, were sufficient evidences of his will to mankind, that they should observe every seventh day thereafter, till God should be pleased to alter it. James Fisher, Shorter Catechism Explained
Certainly appropriate then that this psalm should be entitled: “A Psalm or Song for the Sabbath-day.” Brief instruction accompanied by beautiful example of what God’s people should do on the Lord’s Day.
A. praise for God’s works of creation and providence v.1-5
what – give thanks (1a), sing praise (1b), proclaim (2a), sing for joy (4a)
proper worship begins with focus on God – his being and his character: especially his steadfast love and faithfulness
altar of incense covered in gold – sacrifice is necessary, praise is better: Heb. 13:15 “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
Luther spoke well when he said, “Come, let us sing a Psalm, and drive away the devil.”
why – it is good (1a), answered prayer (v.4a – cp Ps. 90:15), God majesty deserves it (5)
if man’s chief end to glorify God, praise is good means to that end; is good for us because of where it directs our thoughts and emotions; is good for others to hear and be encouraged by it
prayed in Ps. 90 that God would make us glad; he did, need to acknowledge answer to request
God deserves all praise continually because of who he is and what he has done; is worthy of all praise from all his creatures, not just the redeemed and the angels
when – morning and night (2b)
praise should span the day, the default setting of God’s people; more likely to be our habit when conscious of living coram deo
meditating on God and his word, actively looking for evidence of God at work heightens awareness of God’s presence
how – with voice and instrument (3)
if we are to “love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength”, all of our being should be engaged in worship – both intellect and emotion should fuel expression
both singing and saying: singing those songs that have good theology, sound doctrine; saying in prayer and amen’s and to each other what is true and glorifying of God
where – wherever God’s works are evident (4b)
shouldn’t save up praise for Sunday morning; that should be a repeat so others can praise, too
B. praise for God’s wisdom toward the wicked v.6-9
sinful man naturally moves away from God
“A senseless man” (v.6) → “a fool” (v.6) → “the wicked” (v.7) → “workers of iniquity” (v.7) → “Your enemies” (v.8)
their lives gravitate downward, not upward
“they do not know” (v.6) → “do not understand” (v.6) → “spring up like grass” (v.7) → “flourish and then destroyed forever” (v.7)
these two progressions taken together verified by evidence in world history and present culture
only thing that has changed course of history for better on large scale is not man’s evolution but God’s redemption
is God’s great wisdom seen in redemption accomplished and applied to individuals that changed people from “one of them (wicked)” to “one of us (righteous)”
immersed in the evidence, they still reject God
Paul labors point Rom 1:18-20 evidence of God is plain, clearly seen, all around and within every human being
is not for lack of revelation or evidence that people reject truth about God, reject his authority
cannot reduce God to their level / definition (8)
“saying it’s so doesn’t make it so”; man can say and do what he likes, even denying or mocking the existence of any transcendent God; God remains the sovereign Lord over all his creation
cannot resist God’s final judgment (9)
as hard as it is to do so, must rejoice in God’s perfect final judgment; if God is going to deal with evil and injustice at all, must deal with it all….justly
if we want God to deal with the really bad guys, should praise him when he does; also when he takes care of all his enemies
NOTE: even if man does absolutely nothing evil, failure to do good that God requires makes him culpable. Also important – our praising God for his justice is just that, praising God for his perfection; not gloating in any sort of vengeful way over the fate of the lost.
C. praise for God’s grace and goodness toward the righteous v.10-15
unlike wicked who depend on self, righteous depend on God; in return they
are raised up, empowered, and refreshed (10)
stood up on our feet, pointed in right direction, given power to prevail over our enemies: sin and Satan
are given sight – able to see God at work (11)
“My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies; my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants” ESV
replay of godly man’s picture from Psalm 1
flourish like the palm tree / produce fruit (12a / 14a)
lives a long life and is fruitful right up until death; no picture of stunted growth with ugly fruit here
grow like a cedar / always green (12b / 14c)
maintain vitality and usefulness; provided beauty and fragrance for Solomon’s temple, God’s people should do same – praise God he enables us to do so
planted in the house of the LORD / full of sap (13a / 14b)
fresh and vigorous, drawing health from surroundings; kind of soil in which tree is planted has great impact on quality of fruit
flourish in the courts of our God (13b)
not a grudging fruitfulness but joyful living in God’s presence and surrounded by his people
final word of praise (15)
here’s the ultimate purpose of why God showers such grace and provision on his people: that they would praise him
the best work we can do: declare in word, thought, deed that God is holy
God always does what is just and right because that is who he is – it’s his nature
God is firm foundation and protection for his people because he is unchanging
God is totally without fault, sin or defect – perfectly holy in all his being
How do you approach Sundays? Do you think of it as a day in which you have to go to church, but the duties of which you try to get over as soon as possible so you can spend the rest of the time with your family or get on to other more enjoyable things? Or do you think of it as a precious day given to you by God in which you can learn about him and so praise him? Is Sunday a trial or a treat? Is it a delight or a deadly duty? — James Montgomery Boice, Psalms, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 2:754
And what about the rest of the week? What is your default setting? To give God the praise he deserves? or something else?
Orel Herschiser pitched an unbelievable 1988 season for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Following a complete game shutout in August, he pitched multiple shutout innings and hurled five more complete games through the end of the regular season. He did not allow his opponents to score an earned run in 59 consecutive innings.
When the Dodgers faced the New York Mets in the National League play-offs, Orel continued to dominate hitters, leading the Dodgers to victory by pitching more than 24 innings, crowned by a complete game shutout in the final game! In the World Series his complete game victory over the Oakland A’s in game five clinched the series for the Dodgers. No wonder Orel was awarded the Cy Young award and two MVP awards, one for the National League play-offs and the other for the World Series.
During the play-offs the TV cameras zoomed in on this legend in the making. They caught Orel in the dugout between innings singing softly to himself. Unable to make out the tune, the announcers merely commented that Orel’s record certainly gave him something to sing about.
Johnny Carson replayed that tape on the “Tonight Show” a few days later when Orel appeared. Johnny asked him what song he had been singing during the game and if Orel would sing it again right then and there. The audience roared its approval over Orel’s embarrassed reluctance.
So on national TV, Orel softly sang the tune TV crews had barely caught on tape:
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow. / Praise Him all creatures here below; / Praise Him above ye heavenly host, / Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.”
Orel Herschiser was simply doing what Christians do — praising God for everything that he’d achieved.