– by Dennis Loots
Praise to God for His Faithfulness and Justice
“Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honourable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonderful works to be remembered. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. He has given food to those who fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant. He has declared to His people the power of His works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of His hands are verity and justice; all His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome is His Name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” – Psalm 111
The Christian life consists of blessings and battles, and we can anticipate both in the years ahead of us. I trust that there will be more blessings than battles, but anyone who believes that there won’t be battles, on a personal, national, or international level, is deceived.
One of my favourite writers is A. W. Tozer; who wrote an amazing book called “The Knowledge Of The Holy”. Throughout this book, he does a study of the attributes of God. He starts the book by saying that ‘what we believe to be true about God is the most important thing about us.’
As Christians, we are approaching more and more battles in the world, and are faced with many vital issues that confront us; there is no escaping this. Our personal battles often come in the form of relationships, money, family, jobs, health, and many more. However, even when there are overwhelming and demanding battles, what we believe to be true about God determines our response to these things.
So many people in the world today don’t even believe that there is a God, or at least He is irrelevant. The Psalms are a very honest struggle with the realities of life, and how God relates to those realities. Psalms is an act of worship, but worship that is set in life’s struggles and challenges. As you read the Psalms, you discover personal crises, natural calamities, and struggles with depression. There is fear, there are enemies that threaten, there is death, sin, and personal failure. All these are addressed by the Psalmists, David and others, in the context of worship and faith in God, and how He relates to these things.
Psalm 111 is one of those Psalms that struggles with the realities of life – ask yourself what you can take from this Psalm. What do you need to be reminded of as you face life’s blessings and battles?
The Psalmist gives recognition to the greatness of God. In the realties of his struggles, he is saying the he believes God to be sufficient and able:
“I will praise the Lord with my whole heart,
In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.
The works of the Lord are great,
Studied by all who have pleasure in them.
His work is honourable and glorious,
And His righteousness endures forever.”
He is saying that one of the functions of being amongst God’s people is to remind one another of the greatness of God. When someone is feeling down, remind them! God is great. God is able. God is sufficient. He is a great God. We don’t have to unnecessarily fear. Our dependence on God is not on some little god who is insufficient and unable, but on a God who is great, majestic, and able to do all things.
How do we deal with the things that will happen in the times to come, both good and challenging? How are we going to deal with the blessings and the battles? When we look at the scene just politically around the world, you see that there is a crisis of major proportion developing. We need to recognise that through all this, our God is great, almighty, and able.
One of my favourite messages from Scripture is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the book of Daniel. The king Nebuchadnezzar and his advisors put Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego under pressure by threatening them, saying that if they did not bow down to the golden idol that he had set up, they would be thrown into the furnace. They refused to bow down, as they would bow down to no one but the living God. They were called to the king, and had the following response:
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image that you have set up.” – Daniel 3: 16-18
There are so many Christians around the world who are persecuted and mistreated, simply because they believe in the Name of Jesus.
We need to remind one another that God is sufficient, He is able, and His arm is not short. There will be much to challenge us, many circumstances to bring doubts, even mockers who will scoff at us, but in the end every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.
The first thing that the Psalmist does in the assembly of the righteous is encourage them to remind one another of the greatness of God. The second thing that he does is recognise and declare the faithfulness of God. God is a god of wonderful character, He loves His people, He is faithful, and we can trust Him. His greatness is not some theory that we argue about and have theological discussions about, His greatness functions in the realities of our lives.
“He has made His wonderful works to be remembered.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion.
He has given food to those who fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant.
He has declared to His people the power of His works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of His hands are verity and justice; all His precepts are sure.
They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.”
We can depend on the fact that our Father knows what is going on in our lives, and He will be faithful. He celebrates a number of ways in which we can trust God that He will be faithful. In verse four he reminds us that God is gracious. We are all going to need the grace of God in the times to come. God is faithful; He will give us all that we need. Thankfully God does not treat us as our sins deserve. Even in the realities of our failures and our shortcomings, we can depend on the grace of God.
Stop looking back in regret. Stop looking around in fear. Stop looking within in guilt. Look up, and trust our gracious God.
I love the word ‘lavish’, that is found in Scripture all the time. Lavish means to bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities. God, who has lavished His grace on us in the past, will continue to lavish his grace on us in the future.
“He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has lavished His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” – Ephesians 1:7-8
None of us would be around today if it weren’t for the lavish grace of God. We can be assured that God will lavish His grace on those who trust in Him.
The second way that he says God is faithful, is that he says God is compassionate. He knows how we feel, and He knows what we are going through. Some of us are struggling with very serious issues, be it health issues, relational issues, financial issues, or anything of the sort. Whatever the issue may be, God is compassionate and He knows how we are feeling. We are assured in the Scriptures repeatedly that we have, at the right hand of God, an intercessor and a mediator who knows what we are going through, and He has gone through it as well.
“But you, Oh Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15
God’s compassion for His children will not change in the years ahead. Sin has not just been forgiven and forgotten, but it is redeemed. And the Christian message is that on the Cross, Jesus paid the price. He laid down His life for our sins, so that all who trust in Him are forgiven. God will forgive us, not because we are worthy, but because of the price that has already been paid on the Cross. God will faithfully provide redemption.
Those who trust in the Lord will have their needs provided for. Many of us are extremely blessed, and do not need to worry where our next meal will come from. Some of us even need to cut down – we have so much. But for a lot of people, this is a struggle every day. All of us have some areas in our lives where we need God’s provision. Read this wonderful promise:
“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” – Psalm 37:25
He will keep us to the end. Our salvation is not some ‘hit and miss’ jumble, but is a covenant. God has entered into a covenant with us. And as we go about our days, the enemy will come and accuse, for he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. We are reminded throughout all of this, that we are adopted into His family. He has made us members of His household. He has given us the right to call us His children, and to call Him our Father. He has given us His Spirit as a deposit to guarantee what is to come. He has promised us that nothing will ever cut us from His hand. Our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. And through all of our struggles that will come, He will keep us. No confidence in the flesh, but confidence in the grace of God.
In this Psalm you will discover that there is a ‘required’ response from us. One of the great sins of Scripture is the sin of presumption. Presumption is always disastrous. When Israel presumed that they could do as they liked, and that God would just be gracious, their outcome was disastrous. The consequences are still left today. And so while grace is free, it is not cheap.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”
This is our part, to fear the Lord. Fearing the Lord is not some terror where you sit in the corner and are scared of punishment, but fearing the Lord is about respect, honour, reverence, and recognition of His greatness. It is about bringing ourselves into submission, and saying ‘Lord, whatever the world may throw at me, I am going to serve You, because You are sufficient.’ In the times to come, there will be many battles and blessings. We are going to need His presence, and we are going to need His grace. When human folly increases more and more, God’s people are going to confess and encourage one another with these words:
Our God is sufficient, and He is able. He loves us, and will take care of us.