Generational Praise, Psalm 145

As a new church school year begins, the covenantal character of Psalm 145 particularly strikes me.

Instruction of covenant youth occupies a huge portion of my thoughts lately. I serve as the secretary for our church’s Youth Education Committee and we’ve been busy getting materials and instructors lined up for the church school year. 

I helped write and edit the new “Life in Christ” catechism curriculum, developed by First United Reformed Church in Chino, CA, and distributed by Reformed Fellowship in Grand Rapids, MI. Volumes of the material have been and are being shipped to United Reformed, Christian Reformed, Reformed Church in America, Orthodox Presbyterian, Orthodox Reformed, Canadian Reformed, and other churches in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Ukraine, and the Netherlands.

On Sunday, my husband and I begin our second year of teaching fourth grade catechism (our third year of teaching catechism together), and we will be using the “Life in Christ” volume I wrote, Not My Own: Discovering God’s Comfort in the Heidelberg Catechism.

So perhaps it’s understandable that my mind’s eye sees covenant youth links in Psalm 145.

David begins the psalm with magnificently stirring praise.

I will extol you, my God and King,
   and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
   and his greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:1-3, ESV).

This praise credits God with supreme sovereignty; he is the most high God and King of kings. David conveys the temporal and eternal character of praise. We are to bless God every day while we live and we certainly will bless God eternally in glory. The last verse crescendos from God is great to greatly to be praised to his unsearchable greatness. His infinite greatness far surpasses what our finite minds can imagine.

The next verse beautifully conveys the generational transmission of faith in God’s precious covenant with his people.

One generation shall commend your works to another,
   and shall declare your mighty acts (4, ESV).

Intrinsic to the transmission of faith is personal knowledge of God’s truth.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
   and on your wondrous works, I will meditate (5, ESV).

But knowing God’s truth must be accompanied by speaking God’s truth. God’s works and his people proclaim his greatness.

They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
   and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
   and shall sing aloud of your righteousness (6-7, ESV).

These verses reflect a small part of God’s greatness that we should proclaim.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
   slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all,
   and his mercy is over all that he has made (8-9, ESV).

Again we see both God’s works and his people proclaiming his praise. This compound praise joins with our call to tell the next generation about God’s mighty deeds and the glorious splendor of his kingdom.

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
   and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
   and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
   and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
   and your dominion endures throughout all generations (10-13, ESV).

The footnote for the following bracketed section explains that these two lines “are supplied by one Hebrew manuscript, Septuagint, Syriac (compare Des Sea Scroll)” (p. 912, The Literary Study Bible, ESV, General Editors, Leland Ryken & Philip Graham Ryken, Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, IL, 2007).   

   [The LORD is faithful in all his words
   and kind in all his works.]

Even though those lines appear in only one Hebrew manuscript, their content and construction are beautifully poetic.

The penultimate section of the psalm consists of single verse pearls strung on the unbreakable thread of God’s sovereign love.

The LORD upholds all who are falling
   and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
   and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
   you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways
   and kind in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
   to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
   he also hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD preserves all who love him,
   but all the wicked he will destroy (14-20, ESV).

What comfort to know that God upholds the falling and raises the bowed down! God provides everything that all creatures need in his perfect timing. The Lord is righteous and kind in all he does. He is near to those who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him, he hears their cry and saves them, and he preserves all those who love him. But he destroys all the wicked!

The more we learn about this great God, the more we will praise him and teach our children to praise him.

My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
   and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever (21, ESV).

May each of us speak the praise of the Lord wherever we are called to serve and with whatever instruments we have been giving. May our work, our singing, our speech, our writing, and our living all testify to his great name. May our children and our children’s children testify to all their generations until all flesh blesses his holy name forever and ever!

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