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Something More Than
A Lick Of The Tongue
"Praise is to rise from the depths of the whole person(the 'heart'), something more than what Bunyan called 'a lick of the tongue'. 'The works of the Lord', what Paul calls 'the multitude of His tender mercies' are the motive..." - Commentary On The Psalms
"A man who loves God will have real pleasure in studying His works as well as His word; and it is as proper to find pleasure in the one as in the other - as proper to wish to find the knowledge which the one imparts as that which the other bestows. One great error among the friends of God is the neglect to study His works." - Barnes' Notes
In Psalm 111:1, David stated - "Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation."
He resolved to praise and adore God Himself - now...always...heartily and earnestly...with sincere affection...with a heart on fire...without division and distraction...with love, skill, enthusiasm, and zeal... holding back nothing...allowing nothing in his heart that would possibly hinder his fullness of praise...while rejecting all coldness or love for other things that would deaden his love for Him.
This is what is meant by "praising the LORD with the whole heart." David did it - in private as well as in the public assembly.
What stirred such passion for God?
Psalm 111 reveals that it was "the works of the LORD" - His mighty miracles, wonders, and deeds of mercy and grace - which caused his heartfelt thanks.
In Psalm 111:2, he declared - "The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein."
In Psalm 111:3, he continued - "His work is honorable and glorious: and His righteousness endureth for ever."
In Psalm 111:7, he added - "The works of His hands are verity and judgment..."
"The works of the LORD are great" - They are marvelous...magnificent...awe-inspiring... surprising... vast in magnitude and great in number, wisdom, and goodness.
"His work is honorable and glorious" - All that He has done and continues to do in creation, providence, and redemption is honorable, majestic, and glorious - bringing great glory to His name.
"The works of His hands are verity and judgment" - All His acts are done in fulfillment of His promises...to establish, confirm, and defend the truth...done so that truth will be promoted...are expressive of what is true and right... maintain the principles of justice - never vindicating or sustaining the wrong - such as injustice, fraud, deceit, ambition, oppression, murder, or licentiousness.
Psalm 111:2 tells us that they are to be "sought out of all them" who truly love God and are thankful - "that have pleasure therein." These seekers are those who find great delight and pleasure in meditating and dwelling upon...investigating...as well as examining the proofs and evidence of His existence, power, and many attributes as found in His works. They consider them worthy of serious study and research.
The Scripture tells us that - "He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered..."(Psalm 111:4). Hence, these humble and diligent seekers take serious notice of them - never forgetting them - keeping them always fresh in their minds at all times.
Resultantly, they walk in great Faith and the Fear of the Lord as they face the various and sundry circumstances of life.
Because they intensely study the works of the Lord, they see that "His righteousness endureth for ever" (Psalm 111:3). They understand that all that He does is right, just, and holy. He orderly rules over His creation...is unchangeable in all of His ways...loyal to His covenant...and always committed to the redemption or deliverance of His children. Never is unrighteousness found in Him.
He "is gracious and full of compassion"(Psalm 111:4). He gives "meat unto them that fear Him"(Psalm 111:5) and is "ever...mindful of His covenant"(Psalm 111:5). This is all evident in His mighty acts to the children of men.
He supplies the needs of His people - giving them food convenient for them. Oftentimes, He enriches them through the "wealth of the sinner"(Proverbs 13:22) or the spoils of victory. He never forgets His promises. He is forever Faithful!
No matter what the circumstances - as He did for Israel - He continues to do so for His people - He "sends redemption" their way and "commands His covenant for ever."(Psalm 111:9). He "commands deliverance"(Psalm 44:4) or ordains "help from above" to see them through unto victory. It is His utmost desire to "show His people the power of His works" and to "give them the heritage of the heathen"(Psalm 111:6).
What is the overall outcome for those who study and take great delight in the "works of the LORD"? Wisdom, knowledge, success, prudence, discernment, obedience, a fear of the Lord, as well as continual, undivided praise. Psalm 111:10 confirms this fact - "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth for ever."
Let's bring this teaching down to where we live.
As we look upon the Church today, we cannot help but notice that fullness of praise - which is aflame with undivided affection - is - for the most part - missing in our congregations. Nowadays, the "people of God" have to be "pumped up" or coerced into offering even a "sacrifice of praise"(Hebrews 13:15). Likewise, what is oftentimes evident in our congregations is a flippancy towards those things which are sacred, beautiful, and majestic. The reverence for God is simply missing.
A man by the name of Ruskin made this remark - "The greatest irreverence towards God...is to banish Him from our thoughts."
David praised God with his whole heart. How was he able to do that? By keeping his focus on His mighty works, miracles, and wonders. He saw Him for Who He was - a "gracious" God - "full of compassion" - One Who always keeps His promises and supplies every need of His children.
Why is the love for God so cold in the hearts of many today? Is it because their thoughts are preoccupied with the pursuit after worldly things?
Why is their no power evident in our services nor the awful dread of offending such a Supreme Being? Has the Church become like the world in reflecting on "the works of her own hands" rather the "works of His hands"?
It seems as though Romans 1:21-22, and 25 ring true for many today who are professing to be Christians - "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools...Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen."
God brought judgment on those in Jeremiah's day who failed to remember His great works and fear Him as the One True God - "And I will utter My judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken Me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands"(Jeremiah 1:16).
Also, we see that His anger was kindled against Israel - as depicted in Acts 7:41 - "And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands."
Which "works" are you "rejoicing" in today - yours or the Lord's?
Your answer will be found in the quality of your praise as well as the level of your discernment and dread of offending God.
We close with a final quote from Barnes' Notes - "Memory can never be better employed than in treasuring up the truths which the Creator teaches in His providential dealings with us, and in His word. How much better would it be for man if he labored more to 'remember' these things; if He sought to forget many of those things which He is so careful now to retain in his recollection."
Who can forget the wonders that God performs?
May God Bless His Word.