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Delight in God, He is the only one worthy of all our praise (Psalm 111)

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

You know that I take delight in many things. I love my wife and children and some days I can find myself just being so thankful for the family that God has given me. The answered prayer that comes to mind when I think about Larissa, Josie, Mitch and Luke is incredible. But friends if this doesn’t cause me to delight in God, and his goodness. Well, something is wrong.

Now I am going to use the word delight many times in today’s talk, and frankly I make no apologies for that. However, before we go any further I want to ensure that we are all on a similar page with this word. The Oxford dictionary says that delight is great pleasure or happiness. I want to say that when the Bible talks about delighting in God’s law or delighting in His works.  I think that great pleasure and happiness are in view, but so is lasting Joy. It makes sense. God is the creator and sustainer of all things, so delighting in him and His works must be better than delighting in anything else. No one else is God, everything else that we delight in will cease, will fade, will die. John Piper speaks of God being the most admirable person and reality in the universe. Delighting in God makes sense.

The book of psalms is the hymnbook of God’s people. In Psalm 111 we are reminded of the works of God. We are reminded of His greatness. We are reminded to delight in Him. For in delighting in him we will listen to him, we will follow him, and our delight will increase.

Friends we need reminding of God’s greatness all the time. We need to be reading God’s word every day, for we are so quick to forget. So quick to let God take a back seat in our lives. We are so quick to find our pleasure and happiness in anything else but God. I pray that today we remember that God is who we should be rightfully delighting in.

This psalm was written to be remembered. It is an alphabetic acrostic psalm. That means that in Hebrew each line begins with the next letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. This psalm is not alone, there are a total of nine psalms out of the 150 that follow this pattern. I am sure that there are many good reasons for this poetic device, and I appreciate what John Trapp says.

“The great art used in the composure of this and some other psalms (after the order of the Hebrew alphabet) serveth both to set forth their excellence and for the help of memory.” (John Trapp)

The Psalms do a wonderful job in encouraging the reader to praise God for who He is and what He has done. Psalm 111 is a magnificent example of this.

Verse 1 starts with the word Hallelujah.

1 Praise the Lord.

The psalmist calls on God’s people to praise the Lord. We started todays’ service with a song called Praise the Lord. We sing this song often.

Let’s just have a look at the first verse. The song starts like this:

Praise the Lord, Oh praise His name

From the heights of heav’n He reigns

Seated in the highest place

Surrounded by unending praise

Praise Him for His mighty deeds

Awesome in His majesty

Praise Him now with trumpet sound

Lift your voice and dance around

 

This song could almost have been written in response to today’s psalm. But I really use the song because of the first line. We are starting with the same Hallelujah that Psalm 111 starts with. In essence we are speaking to each other when we do this. We are saying to each other, let’s praise the Lord together. We are also speaking to ourselves. We are reminding ourselves to praise God.

The writer of Psalm 111 calls everyone to praise the Lord. There is a sense of call and response here and straightaway the writer says, ‘I will’.  He says that he will praise the Lord with all of his heart in the second part of verse 1.

I will extol the Lord with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

It is not just with some of our heart, it is not just with what I want to call our Sunday heart that we praise God. It is with all of our heart. The idea that I see here is holding nothing back from praising God with all that we are, with all that we have. Is this us on a Sunday morning? Perhaps the bigger question is whether this is us on a Monday morning?

There are two words here from the Hebrew translated council and assembly. They denote different sized groups. A smaller more intimate group of believers and a larger group. Whichever place the psalmist finds himself he will praise the Lord with all of his heart.

He praises the Lord because God is more than worthy. Have a look at verses 2 & 3.

God’s works are more than worthy of our delight

Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.

We are to study God’s works. Now as Kidner says in the Psalms the Lord’s works are sometimes his deeds as in verse 3. But here in verse 2 the works are what God has made.

Every work of God is great. Spurgeon sums it up well when he says:

“In design, in size, in number, in excellence, all the works of the Lord are great. Even the little things of God are great.” (Spurgeon)

We know of the works of God in one sense because we live in His creation. As Romans 1:19-R20

19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

What God has made we can see, and we can understand by reading God’s word the Bible. As we look at the works of God we Delight in God’s works, we delight in our creator, sustainer and redeemer leads us to want to know Him more. God has given us the way to know him more. He has given us the Bible. You can start to read the Bible out of a feeling of obligation, but that won’t last. You can read the Bible because you want to tick a box and say I’ve done it. But friends that mindset won’t see you grow in Christ either.

No, the psalmist hits the nail on the head here. If we delight in God and His works then we will read, ponder and study them. From Genesis to Revelation, we see God’s incredible works. Beginning with God making the earth and the heavens out of nothing in Genesis 1.

We should delight in all that God has made for it is God who has done these great works.

I think this is why I am so enthralled by sunsets. For Sunsets point to the one who made them. Sunsets are an incredible work of God that come from his work in creating the heavens and the earth. The way the setting sun interacts with the clouds and the colours that change before our very eyes. Sunsets also remind me that God has made the days and the seasons. That another day that God has made is coming to a close. Yet, there will be another day tomorrow.

No one has done works like God. You can admire painters, and musicians and politicians and athletes and all sorts of people.

It is not only God’s work in creation that we delight in. We are to delight in everything that God does. His sustaining work that shows His love and care for his creation at all times. Everything that God does is perfect, and lasting. As the psalmist says his righteousness lasts forever.

Remembering God’s Wonderous Deeds

Having spoken about how if we delight in God and His works we will study them. The Psalmist now moves to speaking specifically of the wonderous Deeds of God that were seen in the Exodus, the salvation of his people out of Egypt. In verses 4-7. Now you need to read carefully the words to see the connection, we need to pay attention, however, it is there.

Read verses 4-7 with me:

He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.

He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.

In these three verses we see 5 direct links to God’s rescue and restoration of Israel.

In verse 4 we see that God has caused his wonders (his wonderful works) to be remembered. Another way of saying this is for his wonderful works to be a memorial. The Exodus out of Egypt culminated with the Passover which was then memorialised forevermore to be observed by God’s people.

Exodus 12:24-27

24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped

In the second half of verse 4 we read “The Lord is gracious and compassionate” which the psalmist has used from Exodus 34:6

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…

Now you may have noticed that the words order was changed from compassionate and gracious to gracious and compassionate. There is an easy explanation, for this fits with the Hebrew letter order throughout this acrostic psalm.  The main point is that we are to see that these are words from Exodus, from the account of God rescuing his people.

In these three verses we are meant to see and remember the exodus, God sustaining his people, God giving his people the Mosaic covenant, God’s power at work in everything he does. God’s work of bringing his people into the promised land. That meant giving them the land that others had been on. God showed his power at work over the nations.

The whole exodus story should make us stand in awe and wonder at our amazing God and his works. If it doesn’t friends go back and read about God’s faithfulness, his love for his people, his promise keeping and his great works. Read the Bible and delight in God’s works. For no one deserves to be the recipient of God’s grace. Scripture is clear. We don’t keep our side of the bargain. But God does, always. God’s works never fail. God’s works are perfect.

God’s Works are Perfect, and they tell of His Perfect Character

We’ve just looked at the outcome of the works of God. His people were rescued. They were fed, they were kept safe from enemies, they entered the promised land. They were indeed as Goldsworthy says, God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule. God had done exactly what he had said. You could say that the character of God’s works was perfect.

Look at verses 7-9

7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever,
enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.

Every work that God has done is perfect. We need to see that is because God is Holy and Perfect, that his works are holy and perfect. God’s character is on display in every action that he takes. Now once again we look at these verses firstly as talking about God’s work in redeeming Israel. He is faithful and just, and sure. Everything he does is trustworthy. There is no one like God. Not only this, but as verse 8 says God’s perfect, faithful works last forever.

We praise God’s holy name for he provided redemption for his people. With the psalmist we can say Hallelujah and Amen. Unlike the psalmist we not only see this psalm through the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel through the Mosaic covenant. We further see the ultimate fulfilment of God’s promise through his own Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We see the word forever twice in these verses.

When this psalm was written we were not God’s people. You and I sitting here were not part of the people of God. How good it is then as we read this psalm, and specifically verses 7-9 to see ourselves in this psalm. To see those of us who trust in the Lord Jesus sitting here today at Chatswood Baptist Church being able to read these words written three thousand years ago and know that God had us in mind. I just like to sit with verse 9 for a few minutes and think of the awesomeness of God saving his people from Pharoah. Redeeming them from slavery, and then with that same verse thinking we are now God’s people. He has provided redemption for us through the precious blood of his Son. We have been adopted into God’s family. Indeed, holy and awesome is the name of the Lord our God.

 Our Response

We are indeed to delight in the works of God. But not just in God’s works. We are to delight in Him. We are to give God all of our praise, our delight. We are to stand before our maker in awe and wonder. The Psalmist rightly finishes with

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.

Kidner says that the famous saying “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” is basically the motto of the wisdom literature. It is found in various forms in Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and of course here in psalms.

Kinder writes:

“At each place the context gives it a particular nuance: here it relates especially to God in His Character as Creator, Redeemer and Provider, for whom reverence will be mingled with delight, gratitude and trust.”

Psalm 111 helps us to praise God for His works in the past, it also should point us to the way He is working right now, and for what He will do in the future.

We delight in the Lord because we know about him through his word.

Reading God’s word tells us who he is, what he does and who we are. This causes us to delight in Him. This causes us to read his word more. This causes us to delight in him more. As we delight in him we are changed to be more like His Son. Therefore, we delight in Him more.

How do we delight in the works of the Lord? By studying them. By reading God’s word. In this way we will delight in God and his works. Read the Bible friends. By doing this we will delight in God and not in the world. Friends the Sunday school nursery rhyme never gets old for me.

Read you Bible pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow. We will grow to be more like Christ, and we will grow in delight of our heavenly Father.

Let’s pray.