Shout his praise!
- Give praise, you servants of the Lord,
O praise the name of the Lord.
- Blessed be the name of the Lord,
from this time forth and for evermore.
- From the rising of the sun to its setting
let the name of the Lord be praised.
- The Lord is high above all nations
and his glory above the heavens.
- Who is like the Lord our God, that has his throne so high,
yet humbles himself to behold the things of heaven and earth?
- He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ashes,
- To set them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
- He gives the barren woman a place in the house
and makes her a joyful mother of children. Alleluia.
I’ve got a diagram on my wall which depicts the Psalms, grouped by subject, and by size. The Psalms of praise are in yellow, one of the smallest coloured clusters, and this Psalm, 113, with its 8 verses, is hard to spot.
Of our 150 Psalms, only 24 express praise, with another 13 focussing on thanksgiving. By contrast, 32 are filled with lament, and another 12 cry for vindication. Why so little praise? Why so much lament?
It seems to be natural for us to talk about the bad stuff, and even (just occasionally!) moan about it. When we ask, “How are you”, the reply comes back, “not so bad”, “can’t complain”. We might get something as cautiously positive as “I’m fine”. But we’re Brits, so that’s about as good as it gets!
If asked to write our own Psalm, we could write 80 lines of lament, but 8 lines of praise is a big ask.
And that’s when we’re not in the middle of a global pandemic, locked down, unable to see family and friends without jumping through hoops to make sure we don’t raise the risk of infection too high, when we’re not grieving the loss of friends or family who should have had more years than they had.
Yet we know, don’t we, that there are blessings all around us – so much to be thankful for. There is good out there, if we can manage to raise our eyes from the mud and mess that seems to swirl around our feet.
We know too, that when we do manage to begin praising God, it lifts our focus, and life seems better. Singing a song of praise may be very difficult to do when our world is full of darkness, but if we can manage even to mouth a few words, our hearts are lifted and we begin to get a new perspective. The old exhortation to “Count your blessings” may be cheesy, but it works!
A friend of mine battles depression, but years ago she began a jar of thanks. At the end of each day she’d write one thing she was thankful for on a slip of paper and put it in the jar.
Each year she starts a new jar – she now has a whole shelf full of jars of thanks and praise. When her head drops, or the next piece of bad news appears, that shelf is there to remind her of God’s faithfulness.
How are you doing today? Did you wake this morning in a mood of praise, or one of worry?
However you’re feeling, why not start this day in praise, and asking God to keep our heart and eyes open to his awesome presence today. So that, at the end of the day, we might have a whole bundle of virtual notes of gratefulness to put in our virtual jars of thanks.
Why not read, or even shout out, these eight short Psalm verses again. For, “Who is like the Lord our God, that has his throne so high, yet humbles himself to behold the things of heaven and earth? Blessed be the name of the Lord, from this time forth and for evermore. Alleluia!”
Reflection by Frances Shoesmith
Hub Leader (North East Hub)