Summary: Some thoughts about why we "say grace" before the meal.
Why we remember to say the blessing
By Pastor Andrew Chan, PBC, Vancouver, BC June 24, 2001
Sunday School Picnic Message on Psalm 113
Gonna be having food and fun soon. We’ll say the blessing on food. But have u thought about why we say the blessing. Ps.113 is a blessing that is used by Israel.
a) Begins the Egyptian Hallel “praise” (Ps.113-118)
b) Part of worship life of Israel where they would recite/sing Ps..113-4 b4 the Passover meal and then Ps.115-118 after the meal.
A. Call to Praise: v.1-3 (NIV)
"Praise the LORD. Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.
Let the name of the LORD be praised both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised."
1. Can’t miss it: it is a call to worship (see the repetition to praise)
i. See 3 fold repetition of “the name of the LORD”
God is not the “force” such as an impersonal energy felt ala Star Wars, “feel the force” but a personal spiritual being who has a name, not just an empty feeling that passes over time. Just like you are not just a generic “hey you guys”, we’d like to be dignified as human beings and referred to with our personal names. Illus: When my kids were born, the term “boy Chan” was labeled on them, and it did not stay that way very long. We protest to this generic stuff and say his name is not a generic “boy” but Michael, Jesse… Names defined a bit of who we are, and this three-fold repetition is call to revere God’s personal name which is YHWH the LORD, to remember He is God yet deeply personal.
In context of the Exodus story, Ex. 3:13-15 (NLT) read:
13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they won’t believe me. They will ask, ‘Which god are you talking about? What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
14 God replied, “I AM THE ONE WHO ALWAYS IS. Just tell them, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” 15 God also said, “Tell them, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This will be my name forever; it has always been my name, and it will be used throughout all generations.
ii. This name of the LORD is a name connected with majestic sovereignty “I AM”, promises kept “God of Abraham…”, deliverance from Egypt “has sent me to you”. This name that is worshipped has meaningful connection to past history of God’s people, today and forever.
iii. Implication: God wants to be known personally, called to worship today, not just for one generation but all generations! That is why this Psalm is recited/sung and repeated before Israel would eat the Passover. Connection with the past and will be presently felt thru’ remembering/praise the name of the LORD. The God who acted in history in the story of redemption, demonstrates God’s passionate concern for His people, His loyalty to keep His word, which informs us to continue to praise Him as he continues to work on behalf of His people. How great is His mercy to us who do deserve His undivided love… so He is to “be praised both now and forevermore.” Thus, when we "say grace" we are in the position of acknowledging God’s worth. He has acted on our behalf to draw us near to Himself. He has chosen to reveal a personal side and He desires a response from us. His desire of entering into our lives as a God who is near us, especially in the intimacy of sharing a meal together, quickly informs us this is not just a ritual to be performed mindlessly.
2. Who is called to worship?
i. “servants of the LORD” – anyone who serves God! His people!
ii. “from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets” – i.e. His people from all around the globe not just those in the Middle east or Canaan, not just in temples, buildings…
iii. Hence, Worship is to be universal not merely limited to the “gifted” such as worship teams, song-leaders, professional musicians nor even to a place.
iv. Question: do we respond to God in true praise/worship as we "say grace" in every place every where?
v. God is looking for worshippers today: John 4:20-24 (NLT)
20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”