1 Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! 2 Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. 3 Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You. 4 All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.” Selah (Psalm 66:1–4, NKJV)
Singing is a “joyful shout” to God (James 5:13). All the earth has reason to raise its voice in honor and praise of God’s mighty name. Singing is not whispering, humming, or whistling. It is a full-hearted expression of joyful praise to God. The Scriptures teach Christians to speak to one another “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19). While doing so, we should never forget we are speaking to God with our songs of praise and worship (Ps. 66:3). (1) Worshipful singing is not entertainment. Christ’s New Testament says nothing of choirs performing for an audience. Instead, everyone sings to one another (Eph. 5:19). Worshipful singing is with the spirit and understanding (1 Cor. 14:15). It is not timid and half-hearted. We sing praises to God’s greatness, His righteousness, mercy, love, truth, and justice with fully engaged minds. “For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding” (Ps. 47:7). (3) Worshipful singing in the assembly of the saints is a moment of teaching and admonition (Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12). Christians blend their hearts of faith in united songs of praise which instruct, strengthen, and warn us to follow the Lord faithfully. Even as the earth is taught to sing to the Lord, His people lead the way in joyful praise.
16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:16–18, NKJV).
After elaborating on prayer’s motive, method, and manner in Matthew 6:5-15, Jesus returns to the motives of personal piety in today’s passage. Fasting often accompanied prayer. Like prayer, hypocrites used fasting as their chance to be praised by others for their voluntary deprivation and affliction of the soul. While not commanded under the new covenant, fasting was (is) a period of intense spiritual devotion. It was associated with recognizing one’s sin with godly sorrow and repentance (Nineveh, Jonah 3:5-10; Luke 11:32; Saul, Acts 9:9-11). The broader principle Jesus taught applies to every action of self-sacrifice. Instead of bragging and displaying religious practices to be praised by others, we aim to please the eyes of our heavenly Father. The reward of human praise momentarily feeds pride and fades quickly. But attentive, faithful service to the Lord will be evident and eternally rewarded. When we love the praise of men more than the praise of God, we confess ourselves, not Christ (John 12:42-43). So, go about your daily service to the Lord without regard for whether others see you. The Father sees you, and that is enough.
3 The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!” 5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. 6 The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. 7 Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you” (Psalm 116:3–7, NKJV).
Hebrew tradition ascribes Psalm 116 to Hezekiah upon his deliverance from death by Yahweh (Isa. 38). Others view it as a psalm of thanksgiving on the occasion of some other imminent peril (Spence, Pulpit Commentary, Psalms III, 70). Three attributes are ascribed to the Lord in thankful praise of His salvation from the “trouble and sorrow” of death and despair (v. 3). (1) God is gracious (v. 5). His “throne of grace” is ever accessible to our pleas for help in times of need (Heb. 4:15-16). (2) God is righteous (v. 5). He has promised to hear and answer our prayers (1 John 3:22; 5:14-15). He is upright to keep His word. (3) God is merciful (v. 5). His compassion compels Him to protect and secure us in our time of danger and doubt (Matt. 11:28-30; Heb. 13:5-6). Christians learn to cast our anxious cares upon the Lord because we know He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:6-7). God still hears us and delivers our souls from the sorrow, despair, and terror of sin and death. Our souls rest in God’s character. He will deliver us from every evil work (Phil. 4:6-7; 2 Tim. 4:17-18). “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57). Let us rest in God and praise Him, for He has dealt bountifully with us in Christ Jesus (Ps. 116:7).
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1–5, NKJV)
David calls upon his soul to kneel before the Lord God with thankful praise and salutation of His holiness and His merciful treatment. God’s benefits (His treatment) toward Israel foreshadowed His unceasing care for His church. His benefits toward us are boundless, deserving our grateful acknowledgment with all that is within us. He gives us the “every spiritual blessing” in Christ, beginning with the forgiveness of our iniquities (Eph. 1:3, 7; 2:1-7). God also cares about our physical welfare, providing healing and comfort for the ailing and weak (Jas. 5:14). God protects us from many dangers as we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt. 6:31-33; Rom. 8:31-39). Even as He feeds the birds, He certainly provides our daily bread (Matt. 6:26, 11). May we be strengthened daily by the calm assurance that our heavenly Father rules His world. His providence enriches our lives, calling for our undivided allegiance, gratitude, and praise.
1 Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! 2 For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117:1–2, NKJV)
The Holy Spirit chose to include this brief psalm to glorify God for His mercy toward Gentiles in Christ (Rom. 15:9, 11). This psalm calls on all the earth’s inhabitants (both Gentiles and Jews) to unite in celebratory praise and adoration of God for His mercy and His truth. God’s merciful kindness for us is an expression of His steadfast love. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to redeem us from sin’s death (Jno. 3:16; 1 Jno. 3:9-10). God’s mercy, not meritorious works of righteousness, saves us (Tit. 3:5; Rom. 9:30-33; 10:3). God’s truth is ever faithful, guiding our feet in the paths of righteousness (Psa. 23:3; 119:105). We must always remember that we praise God because of His mercy and His truth. From the throne of God, “Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed” (Psa. 84:10). Praise the Lord!
3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (1 Peter 4:3–4, NKJV)
Jesus taught that seeking the praise of men at the expense of truth produces spiritual grief: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Lk. 6:26). Seeking praise from peers tempts us to compromise truth for the sake of approval. Today’s passage also reminds us we are not defined by what others say about us. Here we have evil people speaking evil things about Christians who are not sinning, but who are doing the will of God (1 Pet. 4:1-2). We cannot expect people in the world to always think well of us. When they do not, it does not necessarily mean we have done something wrong in God’s sight. Jesus was hated without a cause, and He explained that will also happen to His disciples (Jno. 15:25, 18-20). We will be spoken against when we separate ourselves from worldly people and their excessive sins. It is unrighteous to judge a Christian guilty and reproachable merely because a worldly person has something evil to say against him or her. God’s approval is our goal. Therefore, “who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed” (1 Pet. 3:13-14).
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:4–5, NKJV)
Psalm 100 is a psalm of thanksgiving unto God. All the earth is pictured as serving the Lord with gladness, and coming “before His presence with singing” (Psa. 100:1-2). God is due the service of worshipful praise because He is our Sovereign, our Creator, and our Sustainer (Psa. 100:3-4). The blessings that come to us from Almighty God also inform and persuade our thankful worship of Him. Three of God’s character traits, from which our blessings flow, are highlighted as reasons for giving Him thanks. 1) His goodness. In His beauty, God showers good blessings on us all (Acts 14:17). 2) His mercy. God is unfailing in His kindness and ever vigilant to show mercy “to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exo. 20:6). 3) His truth. Unfailing in its power to purify us, God’s word of truth endures forever (Jno. 17:17; 1 Pet. 1:22-25). God’s goodness, mercy, and truth compel us to “enter His gates with thanksgiving” with joyful praise. May we always give God thankful praise for who He is and for what He does for us.
2 Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! 3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! 4 Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! 5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals! (Psalm 150:2–5, NKJV)
The question is posed, “Why shouldn’t we use instrumental music to worship God today? After all, they were used by Israel in the Old Testament.” Yes, they were. Scripture says king Hezekiah “stationed Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, they were commanded “according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for thus was the commandment of the Lord by His prophets” (2 Chronicles 29:25). But, we do not live under the authority of the old covenant. We hear and follow Christ for our approved worship, not Moses and the prophets (Matthew 17:1-5; Hebrews 1:1-2). We would not think of binding the Levitical rituals of worship, including animal sacrifices, today. Yet, king Hezekiah did along with the instruments he set in place (2 Chronicles 29:26-36). If Hezekiah’s trumpets and stringed instruments are allowed in worship today, then so are his animal sacrifices and associated offerings. We are content with the musical worship Christ revealed and approved in the new covenant. It repeatedly says to sing praises to God, but never to play praises (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). That’s enough.
1 The Lord reigns; Let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; Let the earth be moved! 2 The Lord is great in Zion, and He is high above all the peoples. 3 Let them praise Your great and awesome name— He is holy. (Psalm 99:1–3, NKJV)
We are given multiple reasons in this passage to reverently praise and worship God. Let us recognize them and allow them to inform and invigorate our worship. 1) The Lord reigns in glory. His sovereign rule over men, nations, the world, and the universe is reason enough for all the nations of the earth to tremble before Him. 2) The Lord dwells in mercy. Between the cherubim refers to the mercy seat atop the ark in the Most Holy Place, a figure of heaven itself. We worship God both to honor and to seek His mercy. 3) The Lord is great in His kingdom. God is exalted in greatness in Zion, and His kingdom excels all the kingdoms of men (Psalm 2; Hebrews 12:22-23). 4) The Lord is holy. Though we have sinned against God, in Christ we are redeemed and granted the honor of being God’s people. As Moses sang, so we also join the refrain, “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)
And it will be said in that day: “Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9, NKJV)
The day of which Isaiah speaks is the great day of spiritual feasting for all people in the mountain of the Lord (Isaiah 25:6; 55:1-7). It is the day of redemption, the time of Messiah’s sovereign reign (Isaiah 2:1-4). It is the day of salvation that now exists in the kingdom of God, the church which Jesus built (Matthew 16:18-19). We rejoice in the day of salvation made by the Lord (Psalm 118:22-24). Today’s verse foretells the celebratory praise of salvation given to God by the redeemed – those who inhabit His holy mountain (Isaiah 11:9; 56:7). These “have waited for Him” and His salvation. We will share in future glory with Jesus when we continue to trust God and do not falter (Colossians 3:1-3). We are full of joyful expectation; therefore, we will wait on the Lord for the salvation He faithfully gives us in Christ (Isaiah 40:27-31). While we wait for the Lord we “rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,” confident that we will receive the goal of our faith, even the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:8-9). The prophet’s expectant praise of God by His people is fulfilled by the church as Christians worship Him “in spirit and truth” for the great salvation He has given us in the Son (John 4:23-24; Acts 2:40-42, 46-47; 1 John 5:11-13).