C. S. Lewis | a word about praising

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Psalm 100:3

Following the commands to praise the LORD, we now receive our reason for praising Him: He is God! What a magnificent statement! We should praise God because He is God. In his book, Reflections on the Psalms, Lewis remarks that after becoming a Christian, he had much difficulty with the idea of being commanded to praise God. It seemed to him that God was acting like a megalomaniac, demanding praise to fuel His ego. However, read how he came to understand the nature of praise:

The miserable idea that God should in any sense need, or crave for, our worship like a vain woman wanting compliments, or a vain author presenting his new books to people who never met or heard of him, is implicitly answered by the words “If I be hungry I will not tell thee” (50,12). Even if such an absurd Deity could be conceived, He would hardly come to us, the lowest of rational creatures, to gratify His appetite. I don’t want my dog to bark approval of my books. Now that I come to think of it, there are some humans whose enthusiastically favourable criticism would not much gratify me.

But the most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything—strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game—praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praise least. The good critics found something to praise in many imperfect works; the bad ones continually narrowed the list of books we might be allowed to read… Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible… I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?” The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. (93-95)

Notice the two primary points Lewis makes there: enjoyment overflows into praise and all men urge others to praise what they care about. If we truly believe that the LORD is God, will we not do exactly what this psalmist is doing? Will we not beckon others to join us in praising the glories of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ?

Biblical Worship

A Psalm for Giving Thanks (Psalm 100)

Psalms Study Guide (Week 6)

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! (Psalm 100:2)

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.  (Psalm 100:5)

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

OPENING THOUGHT

Though our present journey through the Psalms has been a short one, we have explored some of the most important psalms and their themes. For Psalm 1, we learned that there are only two types of people: the righteous and wicked, and for the righteous, everything is worship. Psalm 19 taught us that creation begs us to worship the Creator, and God’s Word reveals to us His great love and mercy. The 23rd Psalm urged us to place our absolute faith in the Good Shepherd. In Psalm 51, David gave to us an example of truly repenting to God in prayer. Lastly, Psalm 84 declared the joy of longing to be with God.

We finish our current study with the theme which people associate most with worshiping God: praise. This psalm is quite popular for its brief, but potent, call for us to worship the LORD with joy and thanksgiving. With emphatic commands, the psalmist cries for God’s people to praise Him and to serve Him with gladness.

Indeed, as much as the psalm is about praise, it is also about thankfulness to the LORD. The psalm is composed of two rounds of commands and statements. Verses 1-2 command us to worship God, and verse 3 tells us why we should do so with gladness. Verse 4 orders us to give thanks to the LORD, while verse 5 reminds us to do so because of God’s goodness. There is never a demand to worship God out of forced requirement; rather, the psalmist urges us to praise God out of overflowing thankfulness to Him!

Read verses 1-2 and discuss the following.

  • The psalmist commands us to serve the LORD with gladness. Why must we be glad when serving the LORD? Is it not enough to simply obey the LORD’s commands, or must we also be happy about it.
  • The writer also urges us to sing to the LORD as a form of worship to Him. What is the significance of singing praises to God?

Read verse 3 and discuss the following.

  • The psalm now moves from commands of action to statements of knowledge. Why is knowing God and knowing that we are His people crucial for worshiping God biblically? How does a knowledge of God lead to worship of God?

Read verse 4 and discuss the following. 

  • Here the psalm demands that we come before God in worship with thanksgiving. Why is gratitude a crucial component of worship? How does thankfulness relate to praise? Why are we called to always be thankful?

Read verse 5 and discuss the following. 

  • The psalmist ends by declaring the goodness, steadfast love, and faithfulness of God. How have you seen God’s goodness, love, and faithfulness in your life recently?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Consider the faithfulness of God toward you. Write a list of blessings that God has placed in your life, and pray thankfully to God for His grace to you.
  • Consider how you serve the LORD. Do you serve out of obligation or with gladness? Pray to the LORD for grace to serve Him with joy.