Summary: With the exception of Amazing Grace, no song is more universally loved worldwide than How Great Thou Art. Interestingly, the great hymn follows similar themes as Psalm 145:1-9. This sermons examines how truly great God is from this great psalm.
How Great Thou Art
November 17, 2013
TEXT: Psalm 145:1-9 – “I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. 2 Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. 3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. 4 One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. 5 I will speak of the glorious honor of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. 6 And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness. 7 They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. 8 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. 9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
The only song that rivals Amazing Grace in popularity among Christians around the globe is How Great Thou Art. It was originally penned by a Swedish preacher named Carl Boberg as a three-verse poem entitled “O Store Gud,” in 1886. It was later set to music and spread throughout the churches in Sweden.
Boberg’s inspiration for the song came when he witnessed a violent midday thunderstorm on Sweden’s coast that was both terrifying and awe-inspiring. But soon after the storm, he heard the sweet songs of the birds in nearby trees. One author said Boberg’s experience prompted him to “fall on his knees in humble adoration of his mighty God.”
In some ways, the flow of the original three-verse poem reflects the themes of Psalm 145. Like the song, the writer of this psalm talks about God’s might on the one hand, then extols God’s loving attributes on the other.
I originally meant to preach the whole Psalm, but verses 1-9 provide the main themes and the rest of the psalm simply expand on the basic themes presented in verses 1-9. So we’ll restrict ourselves today to just verse 1-9.
Before we look at what this psalm teaches us about God, let’s consider some intro information.
• First, note that DAVID IS THE AUTHOR of this psalm. – It’s titled, “David’s Psalm of praise,” an appropriate title for it consists solely of praise to God.
• Second, the psalm is INTERESTING IN ITS STRUCTURE. It’s an alphabetical acrostic, meaning that David begins each verse with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Sometimes preachers are made fun of for their acrostics or alliteration, but scholars believe this was a devise to aid Hebrew readers of this psalm in memorization. By the way, David’s attempt to use all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet didn’t quit pan out: there’s one missing, perhaps because he couldn’t find a suitable word that started with that letter, or maybe God’s just checking to see if we’d notice.
David begins the psalm with a statement of intention: He says in verse 1-2, “I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. 2 Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.”
I see four things about David praise:
• First of all, his praise was PERSONAL. He addresses his praise to “MY God.” If you know God as your Savior, you have a personal relationship with Him. You’re on a personal, first-name basis with the King of the Universe.
• Second, David’s praise was PURPOSEFUL praise. “I WILL extol thee…I WILL bless thy name…I WILL praise thy name…” We have a natural tendency to be negative and not be praiseful in our lives. The way to overcome this sinful tendency is to regularly, intentionally, by plan, resolve to praise God every day.
• Third, it was PERPETUAL praise – In these two verses David said he would do two things for ever and ever: bless His name and praise His name. This is what I call “long-range planning.” David knew he would go to heaven and he tells God He’s going to praise Him for all eternity—for ever and ever.
• Finally, David’s praise was PERSISTENT praise – In verse 2 he says, “EVERY DAY will I bless thee…” Not just in eternity, way out yonder in heaven SOME day. No, he resolved to glorify God EVERY DAY while on this EARTH too. You know, we wouldn’t be so down-in-the-dumps and discouraged and mealy-mouthed and negative if we purposed in our hearts to make a habit of lifting up and blessing and praising God every single day of our lives!
So David says, “Lord I’m flat gonna’ praise you.” For what?—Basically, David’s praise falls into two broad themes: