“Bless the Lord O my soul….” (Psalm 103:1; 104:1; 143:1)
These pep talks between self and its soul are needful at times. The soul face down in the dust, the inward places in such turmoil that not much blessing or praise can be found tucked away anywhere.
Hope was once described as “a psychological necessity if people are to envision any future… even if there are no rational grounds for it.” (Tyndale) ‘Faint, trembling, desperate, phantom,’ are words that have been associated with hope. Abraham, father of all hope, believed against all hope yet came through the other side.
Does “hope in God” need to come before the soul can praise or bless Him? Is hope in God the motivation the soul needs before it can sing praise to God? Does hope in God provide the fuel which allows God’s praise to flow continually in my mouth?” (Psalm 146)
I’d like to say all that is within me has blessed His holy Name this week thus far, yet I cannot. There have been more moments where what is going on around us and this world seem greater than God’s greatness. I have not forgotten all His benefits, but I have been continually reminded of what is lacking, what was lost and remains lost and does not want to be found.
“Praise the Lord!” meant nothing to me as a new follower of Jesus. As I heard folks at the first Church I attended utter their exclamation at what seemed like almost everything, three words used with such familiarity and frequency I figured I was missing out on something significant. I had no idea what that was. “Praise” and “the Lord” took years to reveal themselves to me. It took God’s steadfast love, mercy and grace to open my eyes to see all my soul had sought praise from and had learned to bow down to in complete adoration. This remains a work still in progress.
It is with thanks the Lord has not dealt with me according to my sins, nor has He repaid me according to my iniquity. When His anger would have been the appropriate response towards my thoughts, actions and desires, instead He revealed His Word of truth and Father’s heart of love, though at times His steadfast love shook the very foundations of all I had believed to be true and trustworthy. His was a slow and steady love which illuminated all which did not align with the truth of His Word. Idols hinder the heart’s ability to praise God. I cannot praise Him as Lord if I am praising other lords. I cannot bless His Name if I am seeking the blessing of other names, including my own.
“Our understandings are so bad that they understand not their own badness; our wills, which are the queens of our souls, become the vessels of sin; our memory, good only to draw straws and treasure up trifles of no moment; our consciences, through errors in our own understanding, sometimes accusing us when we are innocent, sometimes acquitting us when we are guilty; our affections all disaffected and out of order. We love what we should hate and hate where we should love; we fear where no fear is, and fear not where we ought to fear; and all our affections either mistake their object, or exceed their due measure.” – Thomas Fuller.
Lord, Your steadfast love is strong enough to endure our soul’s tendency to wander from You. You know our frame needs firsthand experience of Your mercy, steadfast love and compassion. Lord, as are our Great Physician You know the cure for what ails our soul. Your steadfast love, and Father’s heart of compassion sets free the soul so that joy can come not only in the morning, but all day long.
“Spiritually we are daily under His care, and He visits us, as the surgeon does his patient; healing each malady as it arises. No disease of our soul baffles His skill. Soul-satisfaction calls for soul praise. All wrongs shall be righted, all the oppressed shall be avenged. Justice may at times leave the courts of man, but it abides upon the tribunal of God. God alone can reveal Himself.” – Charles Spurgeon
Bless the Lord O my soul for You enable us to praise You as Lord! You have redeemed my life from the pit and crowned me with Your steadfast love and mercy. The good You satisfy me with renews unlike anything the world can offer. You alone work righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed, even when I am unable to see or understand how You are doing this. You do not deal with me according to my sins nor have You repaid me according to my iniquities. The vast measure of Your love towards those who fear You remains hard to comprehend. Your Father’s heart of compassion towards those who fear You is endless and relentless, from ever lasting to everlasting. In this Your glorious Name I pray Jesus, amen.
“Because of Him, through Him, and to Him, are all the things that pertain to my existence, health, comfort, knowledge, dignity, safety, progress, power, and usefulness. The breath that I am commanded and enabled to modulate in praise, neither comes nor goes without a most surprising exhibition of the condescension, kindness, wisdom, power, and presence of Him whom I am to praise. Praise Him so far as you know Him; and He will make known to you more of His glory.” – George Bowen, 1873.