Rarely if ever do I stay up to watch any of the late night shows on t.v. anymore. When I was younger much younger I would try at least for the first thirty minutes, now I am fighting to stay up until 10:00pm I do that only because if I don’t I know I will be up at 3:30am struggling to go back to sleep.
And even though I have never been a huge David Letterman fan, he was always a little too far out there for me in some of his antics, I did like his Top 10 list. He would always have something that would make me laugh.
For that reason and that reason alone, I guess I will miss the David Letterman show. No more top ten lists.
So in honor of that fact or maybe because I just couldn’t come up with a better title for today’s sermon, I want to give the top ten reasons to praise God.
If it’s not your top ten, that’s ok, they are still very good reasons we should give our praise to God.
Starting at # 10 We Praise God because he heals the brokenhearted and binds their wounds. What does this mean? When we talk about the broken-hearted are we talking about those who have been jilted by their spouse or significant other? Or is there more to this?
The New Interpreter’s Bible tells us that Psalm 147 is linked to Psalm 146 148, and 149. They are like a collection of songs that are meant to be sung together. If we hear the words of Psalm 146 we can get a sense of this connection and thus begin to understand just what the psalmist means when he praises God for healing the broken hearted and binding up their wounds.
Psalm 146 begins like this: Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord O my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life. I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. But blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob. The maker of heaven and earth. … the Lord remains faithful forever.
Here is where it really begins to get personal. He upholds the cause of the oppressed, and gives food to the hungry. He sets the prisoner free, and gives sight to the blind.
Scholars have studied these words and they have been able to determine based on the content and subject matter along with other general knowledge, that these praises were written either during Israel’s time in exhile of following it.
A post Exilic Psalm makes much since here as they have come through a great ordeal and are either returning home or they have made it back to their home of Jerusalem.
The brokenhearted are those who have been torn away from their homeland, their way of life, their customs and for a period of time they are not certain of their fate. Only to find that, miracle of miracles, something that only God can do, they have been able to go back home.
They return to family and friends, to customs and a culture they are familiar with. There is no time to be bitter, you are just glad to be back, grateful to be alive. Often times today, when people come through something traumatic, the first thing or the second thing they want to do is sue or get revenge. Sometimes we just need to stop and give praise God, that things were not worse.
#9 God knows the universe and counts and names the stars. This reason to praise God is not just about God’s infinite ability to create and number beyond anyone’s ability to count. What this suggests to we, who worship God is that God is infinitely personal with all of His Creation. God is not an assembly line manufacturer, but rather God is one who takes his time in creation and lets what he creates come from the depths of his soul. So no matter what it is, whether it is the stars in the heavens, the planets that rotate around them, the moon, the life he creates and breathes into each and everyone of us, he knows us, He knows us by name. YOU are not forgotten by God. If God creates and names the stars, then God knows you.
#8 Our Lord is great and strong. Again we see the hint of a post exilic people returning home, and their city Jerusalem, once destroyed and the temple brought to ruins is well on its way to being rebuilt. This is no small undertaking. That their captor would allow them to do this, revealed Not only God’s great power and strength but knowledge and wisdom.
#7 His understanding has no limit. Though this word is not used until we get to the New Testament, what Ps. 147 is articulating here is that God is incarnate. That is, God has come into the realm which He has created, He knows us, he protects us, he chastises us, but then he restores us, Such knowledge is too vast for anyone’s understanding. This is saying that the incarnation of God in his Word was already a reality, it was only a matter of time before that incarnation became a physical reality.
#6 He helps the Poor, or he sustains the humble. Not only is God out there dealing with matters of the universe that would overwhelm the best and brightest among us, but God also tends to the needs and the prayers of the poor, the humble in spirit. As I said before, it is because this is a God who knows intimately his people, his creation. And by his word, God is already stepping into history to bring about justice, and hope, fairness, and equality. He steps in by the prophets and later personally as the Son of God to intervene on the behalf of the poor, the outcast, the forgotten, the sinner. God forgets no one.
#5 He throws down the wicked. As I said ,God forgets no one. Not only does he care for and raise up those who live their lives in deep misery, but he holds accountable those who condone and act with such evil intentions as to do harm to others without provocation. He humbles the proud who take advantage of the poor, and those who get no voice. In the psalmist’ day, it was the widow, the orphan, the alien or foreigner. And today it is much the same in many places around the world, but you could add the weak, the innocent. God defends such people.
Sometimes we have to look not at a person’s ideology but at their plight for justice and basic human rights to determine whether or not God is on their side. God truly does speak through our conscience of fair-play and honest integrity when we stand up for such people, and when we do that, we are praising God.
#4 God covers the skies with clouds and makes rain for the earth. You know, most of the time we love warm sunny days, But if every day were warm and sunny, life would soon begin to wither away literally. I for one love the occasional rainy day, the thunderstorm that rolls across the sky and the rain that refreshes the earth and my soul as well. Water is a fundamental need for our bodies, our nutrition. In some ways this reason to praise God should be closer to #1. But never the less, we thank God for the water that refreshes our lives.
#3 & 2. Well, as they say, one thing leads to another. And the last reason to praise God leads us to the next two. # 3 & #2. Because of that rain, God is able to give life to everything else as well. As the psalm says, the mountains turn green with vegetation, and gives life to the animals of the earth. We praise God that he provides what we need to sustain our lives physically and spiritually.
And the # 1 reason to praise God is. Drum roll please…. God treasures those who honor him. Even though we are tested and refined as we persevere through the challenges that confront us in life.
We know that we can trust God to see us through, to be right there by our side, because he loves us. God does not forsake us and when we cry out, God is sure to answer. Last week we lifted Erin and her friend up in prayer as they were involved in a car accident.
When I picked her up and asked her how she was doing, the first thing she said was, I learned a couple of things. 1st Seat belts really do save lives. 2nd There really is a God. 3rd thank God for Jersey Walls. When their car was hit and knocked out of control, She could honestly say that Jesus took the wheel. No one in their car was hurt. And for that we praise God.
The truth is we all matter to God, but we must come to learn that by trusting and being tested and refined by fire. That is the only way we can experience God’s guidance and grace. The question that remains for us is this. How much do we treasure God? How much are we willing to honor Him?
If nothing else, remember this, While David Letterman may have brought us a nightly top ten list of one thing or another that we may soon forget, as he fades away into T.V. history. (That’s a little Television Pun). We never can forget our reasons to praise God, who from the foundations of this earth, provides all that we need to sustain and nurture our lives as well as our spirits.
Now let us praise God as we remember Him through Christ our Lord and the giving of Himself to us.