Spurgeon said of this Psalm “Nothing can be more sublime this side of heaven than the singing of this noble Psalm by a vast congregation.” This psalm is a short song of praise to our God and thus deserves to be sung by the congregation. Therefore there have been at least 2 hymns written based on these words:
- Isaac Watts wrote “before Jehovah’s awful throne.”
- William Kethe wrote “all people that on earth do dwell.”
The words of this lovely psalm demand our singing. It is a psalm with just 2 verses but they are full of great truths about our God that can do nothing but make us sing praises to Him. It is a little bit like going to a concert where the singer saves his or her best known anthemic song until last. For Pink Floyd it would be “Comfortably numb” and that is just how it leaves the audience; comfortably numb and awe inspired at what they have just seen and heard, it is magnificent to the Floyd fan in every way! It only takes a couple of readings of this psalm to see what an amazing anthem of praise it is, the content is breath taking.
The Psalm consists of 2 stanzas or verses.
- 1-3 “Praise Him because He is God.”
- 4-5 “Praise Him because He is good.”
Praise Him because He is God:
The AV tells us to make a joyful noise and the NIV to shout for joy. The first thing that we learn from the psalms when it comes to worship is that exuberance is allowed before God. Before we take this to some crazy extreme it is good at times to redress a balance that has been lost in much of modern evangelical worship. We have been so brow beaten by the fun and games type of worship that is so prevalent that we have lost sight at times of the joy of the Lord in our worship services. It is not wrong as we see from scripture to be joyful before the Lord; it is what we ought to be. We will come to the reason in a minute but when we think of heaven joy seems to be the underlying theme. But the Psalmist continues when he says that we are to worship the Lord with gladness and to come before Him with joyful songs. We cannot deny that the psalm is speaking more than simply an attitude of mind but a mind-set that is glad to be a worshiper. It is an imperative as to how God’s people should be, it is not something that is whipped up by music or sentimentality but it is what we ought to be as believers. We should be glad to be worshipers of God but the Psalmist does not leave us in limbo, in verse 3 he tells us why we should be like this. The basic reason is because the Lord is God. Our worship, our gladness, our exuberance and joyful songs are all conditional. The condition is that the object of our worship is God Himself. We are urged to know that the Lord is God. That might seem to go without saying but the Psalmist is addressing Israel who knew it to be a fact just as we do but at times we need to remind ourselves that God is our Lord. The One who we worship is God in heaven and therefore we must consider what He has done. He has made us, He is the creator God and the amazing thing is that we belong to Him. We are His; that in itself is the greatest miracle of all time! We poor sinners have been saved by grace and now we belong to God. He no longer disowns us, is no longer ashamed of us and no longer rejects us. We are His and there is even more: we are His people! It is interesting listening to people from different places around the world. They are very proud to belong to their nation. As Christians we have the greater privilege of being in God’s nation than we have in belonging to any worldly nation. If you think about it; to be British is simply fate of birth but to be Christian is by the choice of God Almighty. He has chosen us; we are His and just as sheep belong to and are cared for by a shepherd so we belong to the Good Shepherd, the Bonus Pastor as the Romanians would say. He leads His sheep perfectly. We read Psalm 23 at this point just to remind ourselves as to what it means to be the sheep of God’s pasture.
When we consider this then we will bleat for joy to the Lord, we will gladly follow Him and do just what He wants, we will worship Him with songs that not only remind us of who He is but which are also acceptable to Him as praise from our hearts.
But there is more, we must:
Praise Him because He is good:
Look at verses 4-5, we are to enter into His presence with thanksgiving. The gates speak of entrance into the temple. The temple is simply the place where God met with His people. Some say that this is the church, it is not the building but it is the people that are the church. God promises to meet with His people and so when we come together we should come with thanksgiving. I wonder what your motives might be for coming together, is it purely with thanksgiving? But the Psalmist moves on from the gates into His courts; that is into the very place where the Holiness of God is exposed to His people. It is beyond the gates, it is not looking in from the outside it is entering right into the presence of Almighty God. This is exactly what we are doing right now; the Lord Jesus has promised to meet especially with His people as we gather together. We are right now in His very courts. Are we here praising Him alone? Are we giving thanks to Him and praising His name or are there all sorts of other issues crowding out your praise that God both deserves and desires?
The Psalmist continues by telling us why we should praise our God. Not only because He is God but also because He is good. I often wonder at the resolve of some of the religious people that I have known, they are happy to praise something that they believe to be a god but who is not. But the god that they believe in it seems to me is never good. He is often harsh, hard and unforgiving; he can offer no hope or help! He simply makes demands and dictates. The demands are too lofty to attain and the dictates impossible to obey.
But what of our God?
The Psalmist tells us that He is good, He is perfect is another way of putting it, He is never wrong, He never makes mistakes, He never needs to apologise. He is altogether good and there is more He loves! His love is directed at the unlovely and for all recipients of His love it is eternal. It endures forever. His love is directed at us eternally. And more than that He is faithful for all generations’ right until the end of the world. At no time will He not be loving and faithful to His people.
Who are His people?
We have already said it we are! The church are the eternal people of God and therefore He desires that we worship Him aright and with joy and great happiness.
The Psalm makes 7 imperatives:
- Shout for joy to the Lord.
- Worship the Lord.
- Come into His presence.
- Enter into His gates.
- Enter into His courts.
- Give thanks.
- Praise His name.
1. All people that on earth do dwell, sing to the Lord with cheerful voice. Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell; come ye before him and rejoice. 2. Know that the Lord is God indeed; without our aid he did us make; we are his folk, he doth us feed, and for his sheep he doth us take. 3. O enter then his gates with praise; approach with joy his courts unto; praise, laud, and bless his name always, for it is seemly so to do. 4. For why! the Lord our God is good; his mercy is forever sure; his truth at all times firmly stood, and shall from age to age endure.