Summary: The psalmist, David, commands himself to give praise to the Lord and we should too, in every circumstance.
Today you get a linguistics lesson. Those of you who come here all the time know that I don’t stand up here and pontificate on Greek participles and Hebrew verbs every week. First I’m not smart enough, second it’s boring. But today you’re going to hear about Hebrew verbs, because it’s essential to what the Scripture is saying to us this morning.
In English we have what we call the imperative mood. This is how drill sergeants form sentences: "Do pushups!" "Run!"
And it’s also how parents form sentences: "Eat your Broccoli!"
And even how wives sometimes form sentences: "Pick up your underwear!"
The thing these all have in common is the person being addressed. In English the imperative mood is only found in 2d person. "You do this or that."
One of the things that makes the Hebrew language interesting is that the imperative mood can also be used in the first person. For example I can give myself a command to "Do Pushups" or "Run" or Pickup my underwear" of course I never would, but you get the point.
Now it’s not that we English speakers don’t understand the concept of first person imperative, we do this all the time--especially when we’re trying to convince ourselves to do something: hold a girls hand for the first time, bungi jump, go on a diet, etc.
We give ourselves commands, it’s just that the language doesn’t support it. Well the Hebrew language does. And heres where the language lesson intersects our text: In the 103d Psalm David repeatedly gives himself an order, What is the order? "Praise the Lord."
I’d like to suggest that this is an example that we need to follow. Oh I don’t doubt that we give the Lord thanks--this week in fact we set aside special time to do so. But if David is using the first person imperative here, perhaps he’s at a place where he doesn’t necessarily feel like thanking or praising the Lord. He says to himself, "do it anyway"
Whether we feel like it or not we need to tell ourselves to praise the Lord. There’s the sermon right there. In every circumstance praise the Lord. Now what I’d like to do is apply it to three circumstances of our lives.
This isn’t the way I normally form a sermon outline, and I’ll admit that this morning’s outline doesn’t necessarily flow from the text. But I felt pretty strongly as I worked on the outline that the Lord was saying to do it this way, and I’ve already given away the bottom line of what I believe the text is saying to us. So let’s look at three circumstances where we need to put it into practice.
I will praise the Lord when times are...
When life is not a bowl of cherries, when difficulty and doubts loom nearby, we need to remember that we serve a God, as verse 4 says...
v. 4 ...who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you
with love and compassion,
When we find it hard to identify the hand of God working in our life we need to remember as verse 6 says...
v. 6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
When are souls ring hollow within us and we feel as though there is no one who knows or cares, we need to command ourselves to remember as verse 11 says..
v. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
Great is his love for those who fear him;
"In 1636, amid the darkness of the Thirty Years’ War, a German pastor, Martin Rinkart, is said to have buried five thousand of his parishioners in one year, and average of fifteen a day. His parish was ravaged by war, death, and economic disaster. In the heart of that darkness, with the cries of fear outside his window, he sat down and wrote this table grace for his children:
Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things has done,
In whom His world rejoices.
Who, from our mother’s arms,
Hath led us on our way
With countless gifts of love
And still is ours today.
Here was a man who knew thanksgiving comes from love of God, not from outward circumstances. [Don Maddox]
Some of you here today have said good-bye recently to loved ones who are now serving their country far from home, you need to follow David’s example today and say "Praise the Lord, O my soul!" Some of you have recently lost those near to you, either through death or other difficult circumstances, you need to learn to say "Praise the Lord O my soul" Others of you are facing turmoil of other kinds, in your jobs, in your families, in school, wherever trouble lies around you, if you would define the circumstances of your life as hard you need to say to yourself "Praise the Lord, O my soul!"