Why? Why does God deserve both my reverent praise and my deeds of devotion?
Is praise and devotion merely religious duty and ceremonial ritual to be performed on cue every Thanksgiving season, and every Lord’s day each week?
Or is there more? Dutiful praise can hardly be worth anything. Whatever it is, it is certainly not worship. Worship of God rises from hearts moved to do so.
Another way of asking the question: why is it that we find ourselves dull toward praising God and reluctant to devote our strength to Him? What are we missing? Romans 1—when they knew God, they glorified not as God. The wrath of God revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
Praise and devotion that honors God rises from the human heart for good reason. If I am paying attention to all God is and all He does, my praise and devotion will follow.
My problem—so much else tries to push God out of my focus. My godlessness of heart cripples my praise. My blindness to His worth halts my devotion.
Psalm 65 directs our attention to why we give God praise and devotion. It has been called a harvest hymn, but what it turns our hearts toward God’s praise not just at harvest time, but lifelong.
I. Praise God for His Grace! (2-4)
You hear prayer—to you shall all flesh come.
We all know what it’s like to have a desire to share something with someone else only to have that person tune us out. I know for me, it makes me stop mid-sentence with a “never mind.”
Do you sometimes feel that way with God? Perhaps you have prayed to Him in your distress, but could not escape the gnawing feeling that He was not listening and you are talking to the ceiling. There are times the Psalmist cries out that the heavens seem like brass and that God is far off.
Contrast that feeling with those times you have a keen sense of His attentive listening. In His grace He lifts the cover on reality to let you see His answer to your prayer—like a flash of light in your darkness to confirm to your soul that God is there and that He actually cares for you. That is heart-stirring. That creates awe in our souls, to think that the God of heaven and earth would listen to our prayer. Not just ours. All flesh.
God is far more attentive to us than human beings are to God.
You atone for our transgressions—when iniquities prevail against me
The blood of animals could never wash away human sin, only the blood of the God-man Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God, takes away the sin of the world.
We could never even come into God’s presence otherwise. As we are we are unfit for worship, unfit for fellowship with God, fit only for His blazing wrath against our rebellion and our twistedness. Our very nature has to be transformed.
You choose and bring near individuals to take up residence in your courts.
God makes the first move to rescue twisted rebels, atone for their sin, and bring them into close fellowship with Him.
Such people are blessed (Psalm 1; the Beatitudes)—happy, enviable position by virtue of relationship.
Who could ever deserve to make a home in God’s courts? The King of Heaven welcomes us home—makes His home ours!
What is the result? We shall be satisfied! The world is driven by unsatisfied desire—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life. It is never satisfied, never at rest, never at peace—like the turbulent sea. Yet, we find rest in God (Psalm 16:11).
God is the God of grace. Grace displayed in restoring us to what we lost in Eden.
Our response is a heart response of humility, love, and satisfaction.
II. Praise God for His Power! (5-8)
These awesome deeds of righteousness are from a God who rescues. He is the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas. Our Savior is the Creator—mightier and more secure than the mighty mountains—He is the one who made them firm. He is mightier than the roaring sea because he stills them.
He doesn’t just rule over nature, but humanity—rules history, stills the raging sea of earth’s people (Daniel 7).
Our response is seen in verse 8—so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. People everywhere on the planet see the Creator’s handiwork in nature and cannot but be awed by it. They have to ascribe glory to Someone or something for it—even atheists will praise Mother Nature or evolution. People also perceive that there is some inexplicable force exercising power over the peoples of the earth—rise and fall of nations, of kings, of individuals, unpredictable yet instructive nature of history. God Himself is the Lord of History, governing with absolute power over all the peoples. He who can still the stormy sea with a word can cause all the peoples to be stilled in awe.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
Sunrise and sunset are the most breathtaking times of day, full of color and drama—speaks to us of beauty, power, change. We witness it and enjoy it but we cannot control it. God does.
Our response is one of secure hope, reverent awe, and loud joy. Have you practiced loud joy today? If not, you should!
III. Praise God for His Provision! (9-13)
We are not an agrarian society anymore, but God can still bring a nation to its knees just by shutting off the water supply. Our occasional droughts remind us of our constant dependence on God for water, crops, life itself.
Every growing thing, every harvest is a gift from God’s hand. The water is His water. The pastures, hills, meadows, valleys—full of crops and flocks—shout and sing for joy (Isaiah 55:10-13). The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. We eat and drink because He provides. Every living thing looks to Him for survival.
Do you take advantage of the privilege of prayer to the God who listens?
Have you come to Christ who makes atonement for your twisted rebellion?
Will you be welcomed home by God?
Where’s your ultimate hope of rescue?
Are you awed with God’s creative power and sovereign rule over all people?
Does every day’s beginning and end make you want to shout with joy?
Have you come to realize that the entire earth, including you, utterly depends on God to supply your needs?
Do you not have reason for great joy at His lavish supply?