It is Good To Thank the Lord

A Lord's Day meditation on how the psalmist instructs us to prepare our hearts to worship the Lord by considering His Name, His attributes, and His works.

It is Good To Thank the Lord

In the book of Psalms, Psalm 92 is unique in that it is the only psalm with the inscription "a song for the Sabbath."  It is important to note the preposition is for and not on the Sabbath. In other words, this psalm is not dealing with the theological and biblical reasons for the Lord having ordained a day of rest for His people in the Old Testament. Rather, it is dealing with what the people of God should consider as they take rest from all worldly activities for public and private worship of the Lord. Though it can be sung and read on all days, it is particularly apt for the day set apart for the Lord. Although the New Testament Church is no longer bound by the Sabbath, there is still a day consecrated for the weekly remembrance of the Lord Jesus particularly by breaking the bread, namely, the Lord's Day. Hence this psalm is thus very instructive for believers in Christ to prepare for the Lord's day.

As for an outline of this psalm, the psalmist is calling the people of God to meditate on three realities : (1) The fitness of praising God (v.1-5) (2) The folly of the wicked (v.6-9) and (3) The fruitfulness of the righteous (v.10-15). To summarise this flow of thought, the psalmist begins by speaking about the fitness of thanking and praising God in light of His revelation. There is a glory of God that comes with His revelation that moves God's people to duly thank Him. However the wicked are blind to this glory of God. This blindness to the glory of God is precisely the essence of their  foolishness. For their negligence and trifling of God, divine destruction is coming upon them. In contrast, the righteous flourish and are fruitful, confirming by their perseverance the uprightness and faithfulness of the Lord in whom they trust. So the psalmist is calling God's people to attend to the chief business of the Lord's day–praising the LORD by meditating on the glory of God, while being mindful of the folly of the wicked in neglecting this glory, and the future blessing of the righteous in worshiping this glorious God. The whole psalm is thus a strong incentive to take the greatness of God revealed to us with utmost seriousness and praise Him.

As to the greatness of God that the psalmist considers in the first five verses, it can be classified as follows :

  1. Consider His Name (v.1)

In the first verse as he speaks about the goodness of thanking the Lord, he uses two names of the Lord. First is יְהוָֹה (LORD), the proper covenant name of our sovereign God. It is not a title, but the name of our God and is used more than any other name for God in the Bible (6,220 times). Second is עֶלְיוֹן (Most High), a name that speaks of the exaltation and preeminence of our God.

Following the example of the psalmist, all our meditation of God should begin with who He has revealed Himself to be - the great, majestic and only true God, matchless in power and glory. The greatness of our God is primarily essential of Him. In other words, our Lord is in and of Himself great. He did not achieve greatness by doing something great. Rather, He does great things because He Himself is great. Thus we should begin with who He is in and of Himself. Here the names of God are so helpful in guiding our meditation of His holy essence.

2. Consider His Attributes (v.2)

The psalmist goes on to speak about considering the חֵסֵד (loving-kindness)  and אֱמוּנָה (faithfulness) of the Lord. Here he makes the transition to the manifold perfections of our Lord, commonly known as His attributes. Meditation on these specific perfections of the Lord helps us to see the transcendence of our Lord, instilling in us both awe and fear. Seeing these distinctions between the Creator and the creature are so crucial to keep us from coming to God in a trivial manner. Weightiness is the chief property of biblical worship and a prayerful meditation on the attributes of our God is the antidote to all frivolous and superficial attempts at worship.

Moreover, a worshipful meditation of these essential qualities of our Lord should so consume us that it is a whole-day affair for us–from dawn till dusk. Historically, some have argued from the time references in this verse that it is fitting to have two worship services on the Lord's day, morning and evening. Even if it is debatable, the principle here is highly beneficial–To start all days, but especially the Lord's day by considering the steadfast love we have in our Lord and then ending the day by recounting the manifold ways that same love was faithful to us. Praise is thus both prospective and retrospective for the psalmist.

3. Consider His Works (v.4-5)

Finally, he calls our attention to consider the works of the Lord. The Lord is not only matchless and holy in His being, but has moved all those perfections to bless us by His great deeds. Recounting and remembering His works is thus another means by which we see the greatness of His power, His wisdom, and His grace.  In connection with Sabbath, there are two great works of the Lord that are to be chiefly considered by God's people in the Old Testament. This is evident if one compares the two passages of the Pentateuch where the giving of the ten commandments is recorded. In Exodus, the Lord says that God's people should keep the Sabbath because of His resting from the work of the old creation (Ex.20:11). But in Deuteronomy, the Lord gives another motive for keeping the Sabbath, the work of redemption He accomplished for them (Deut. 5:15). For believers under the New Covenant also, the work of inaugurating the new creation (1 Cor.15:20, 23) and true redemption (Rom. 4:25), accomplished by the resurrection of our Lord is the reason why we keep the Lord's day on the first day of the week. Though the day of the week changes from the Old Covenant to the New, the principle remains the same: to rest one day in seven and consider with delight the great works of the Lord–both creative and redemptive.

The psalmist is also not merely considering these works as facts. He says these works have made him glad. True meditation on the works of our Lord should always yield joy. Cold and clinical study of God, irrespective of doctrinal purity is sacrilegious. For the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ should always evoke fresh wonder and joy in our hearts. The perfection of His accomplishments, the uniqueness of His Personhood, the wisdom of His design, the holiness of His being, the humility of His sufferings, the eternality of His triumph, all should never be dealt with a glib familiarity, but forever with fearful joy. We having tasted His redemption and awaiting the fullness of new creation, the Spirit of the Lord desires for us to gladly praise our Lord.

In conclusion, here is another helpful thought to prepare ourselves for the Lord's day. In this age, the Lord's day is a foretaste of the age to come. Then we shall endlessly praise Him. The meditations of our heart and confessions of our mouth shall then forever be our Lord alone–His essence, His perfections, and His accomplishments. There we shall do it all by sight, now we do it by faith in God's holy Word. Taking the Word of God seriously is, therefore, the only means to inflame our hearts for worship.

Let us, therefore, follow the psalmist, consider the Name, the attributes, and works of our Lord as revealed in His Word, and be moved by His grace to delightful and joyful praise to our God. Amen.