“Praise The Lord”
1Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! 2I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long. 3Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. 4When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish. 5Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, 6who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; 7who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; 8the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. 9The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 10The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord! (NRSV)
raise is adoration of God that always leads us to joy. When we Praise we experience the euphoric Joy of the Lord.
Praise is a major part of our spiritual development for it is mentioned so much in Scripture. Today’s text is the first of five Psalms of Praise called the “Hallelujah Psalms.” These make up the five last poems of the 150 Psalms. All five begin with a dramatic “Praise the Lord!”
As is often times the case we turn Praise over to our music department. Much of the Praise in our worship is led by music. This is fine for it was that same way in Old Testament times. Praise of God lends itself to music. The best way to encourage our congregation to praise God is to lead them in music. Music is poetry put to a musical score and it plays on our heart strings. At least that is the way it was done in Bible times. The choirs and bands would begin the praise and the people would join and there would be a connection between God and the worshippers. mini concert. And as it happens, our Lectionary leads the Pastor to preach on this great experience of “Praising the Lord.” Praise is adoration of God that always leads us to joy. When we Praise we experience the Joy of the Lord. These Psalms of Praise are made to put them to music and sing them.
I remember well the children’s Vacation Bible School happy song that was entitled by its first line. “Praise Ye the Lord Hallelujah, Praise Ye the Lord Hallelujah, Praise Ye the Lord Hallelujah, Praise Ye the Lord!” If you will sing that happy tune 100 times every day at V.B.S. you will never forget it. A prison chaplain shared the story of a young man who was condemned to die by lethal injection and while he was being strapped onto the death gurney, he was quietly singing this happy tune of re-discovered faith in Christ.
C.S. Lewis had a hard time finding a word that adequately catches the concept of Christian Joy, so he chose the German word, “Sehnsucht.” When my German nephew pronounces this word that has great feeling and deep meaning, he has to shake his head vehemently and might even spit a bit, as he robustly says Sehnsucht! It takes the idea of joy further into a desire and longing. Clive Staples Lewis first experienced joy as a child looking out of his bedroom window at the beautiful snow covered mountains north of Belfast. He did not know why but he was gripped in his heart by a powerful sense of what he later learned was God. He was Praising God without knowing His name.
Lots of people drive by our church every day who are seeking an experience that they can not identify. They are drawn to something that they do not understand. Our job as believers is to say something like, “Well silly you, it is the Holy Spirit, seeking a place in your heart.” Who could turn that down? The Almighty One who flung the stars into their places wants to be your friend and to give you great joy, Sehnsucht! God’s joy beyond joy.
Perhaps Praise is stressed so much in the Bible because it is this process of Praise that so often brings us to our knees. It is Praise, and the joy that it brings, that opens up our hearts so that we might know true Joy.
Actually there is no other source of Joy that is eternal.
This is what propels us forward with blind hopefulness and abundant Joy. We know that things will end well and that the journey should be one of Praise with resulting Joy unspeakable and full of Glory.
Whenever we have an assurance of the Happy Ending, we can whiz through life with deep joy, Sehnsucht!
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor