Psalm 111: A Primer of Praise

Posted on September 14, 2020

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By David Ettinger

Him, Not Us
Periodically, I love devoting my prayer time to God alone, uttering no personal request whatsoever. I believe God deserves a time exclusively given to Him where His children turn the focus off of themselves and direct it solely on Him.

Psalm 111, attributed to David, does this, and is the perfect primer on how to praise God!

Godward Perspective
One great aspect of this short gem is that the words “I” and “my” appear but once, and only to state the Psalm’s purpose. Verse 1 reads: “Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart, In the company of the upright and in the assembly.”

David’s only “me”-type verse comes by way of proclamation, that being his intention of praising God publicly.

What God Has Done
Verses 2-3 read: “Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them. Splendid and majestic is His work, And His righteousness endures forever.”

The first way to praise God is to acknowledge the things He has done, His “works.” These include His acts of creation – the earth, sky, bodies of water, planets, in fact, all the universe. Acknowledging God as the creator of all things is to give Him the acclaim He so warrants in a world which discredits, mocks, and denies God.

We are not only to acknowledge His mighty works, but to recognize they are “splendid and majestic.” The Lord never does anything haphazardly, but in glorious perfection.

glorious dawn

God’s Attributes
Another way to praise God is to laud His attributes. Verses 4-6 say: “He has made His wonders to be remembered; The Lord is gracious and compassionate. He has given food to those who fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever. He has made known to His people the power of His works, In giving them the heritage of the nations.”

Back in verse 3, we read of God’s righteousness; our Lord always does what’s right. In verse 4, we read that He is “gracious” – that is, kind and generous – and “compassionate.” The Lord is a giving God, and one who has tender mercy upon those who are His (and even those who aren’t). One way He exhibits this is by providing us our daily food.

The end of verse 5 and all of verse 6 speak of God’s “covenant.” This refers specifically to Israel, and most likely to the Abrahamic Covenant. However, the Abrahamic Covenant has far-reaching benefits to those of faith, hence a universal blessing to all of God’s children.

Also, references to God as a covenant-keeper speak of His honesty and integrity: our God is one who makes promises and keeps them – every time!

How the Lord “Operates”
Another way to praise God is to recognize how He “operates,” how He does things. We read in verses 7-8: “The works of His hands are truth and justice; All His precepts are sure. They are upheld forever and ever; They are performed in truth and uprightness.”

truth

How does the Lord “operate?” The answer: “in truth and uprightness,” in short, with integrity. The Lord is integrity personified, the very “works of His hands” being “truth and justice.” There is not one false note in God; He is truth, honesty, righteousness, and purity all at once.

To proclaim these attributes is to give God praise.

Revering His Name
Another way to praise God is to affirm the very greatness of His name. David writes in verse 9: “He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name.”

The name for God used in this psalm is the Hebrew word “Yahweh,” which was introduced in Exodus 3:14 and means “I AM WHO I AM,” and shortened to “I AM.” To refer to God as “Yahweh” – which speaks of His eternal existence – is another way to praise God.

Beautiful Summary
David beautifully sums up Psalm 111 this way: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.”

The word “fear” in Hebrew often refers to reverence and awe. The proper way to live out our praise of God is to revere Him and hold Him in highest esteem for all that He has done and is.

Indeed, Psalm 111 is a wonderful primer of praise for the believer, the perfect instruction manual for how to extol our glorious and wonderful Father with our hearts, minds, and lips![1]

[1] Consider “reciting” Psalm 111 to God, but put it in the first person. For instance, you can read verse 1 this way: “I praise Your name, LORD! I will give thanks to you with all my heart, In the company of the upright and in the assembly,” and go from there.