Category Archives: Psalm

Songs and God’s Word

Open Bible on Table with Hymn Tune: How Firm a Foundation

This is the second post from my Theological Index of Music for Worship

Below is a list of psalm settings, hymns, and spiritual songs that teach on the doctrine of Scripture: Special Revelation. The songs are arranged under 17 theological statements, including one for which I have not yet found related songs  

If you have additional suggestions for songs related to the doctrine of Scripture that should be included in the index, please comment or send me a message.

Note: The songs are listed below by title and author. For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the page for Songs and God’s Word in the Theological Index of Music for Worship online. I will be updating the online Index with more songs and topics in the days ahead as I receive recommendations. 

If you missed the first post, you can read it here: Songs and God’s Creation.

Songs and God’s Word: Special Revelation 

1.  God’s Word is divine revelation, given by inspiration of God—it is God breathed

  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Holy Bible, Book Divine (John Burton)
  • How Precious Is the Book Divine (John Fawcett) 
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • With Grateful Heart My Thanks I Bring—Psalm 138 (The Psalter, 1912) 

2. God’s Word is our final rule of faith and life—it is our final authority

  • How Firm a Foundation (Rippon’s Selection of Hymns) 
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 

3. God’s Word is infallible—it is incapable of error or failing

  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Standing on the Promises (R. Kelso Carter)

4. God’s Word is inerrant—it is without error or failing

  • Ancient Words (Lynn DeShazo) 
  • Most Perfect Is the Law of God—Psalm 19:7–11 and 119:97 (The Psalter 1912)
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) Ken Puls Music 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

5. God’s Word is complete—nothing is ever to be added to Scripture

  • How Firm a Foundation (Rippon’s Selection of Hymns) 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Sufficient Is the Word of God (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

6. God’s Word is all-sufficient—it teaches all that is necessary for salvation and life eternal

  • God in the Gospel of His Son (Benjamin Beddome / Thomas Cotterill)
  • Sufficient Is the Word of God (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • With Grateful Heart My Thanks I Bring—Psalm 138 (The Psalter, 1912)

7. God’s Word is efficacious—it accomplished God’s purposes and does not return void 

  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word (Ken Puls / Drew Hodge) • Ken Puls Music / Desert Springs 
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

8. God’s Word is perspicuous—it is sufficiently clear upon essential matters of faith and practice

  • Most Perfect Is the Law of God—Psalm 19:7–11 and 119:97 (The Psalter 1912)
  • Sufficient Is the Word of God (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Vast the Riches of God’s Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

9. God’s Word must be illumined by the Spirit of God if we are to rightly understand and apply it

  • Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (Tobias Clausnitzer / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Break Thou the Bread of Life (Mary Lathbury)
  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak (Francis Havergal)
  • Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word (Ken Puls / Drew Hodge) • Ken Puls Music / Desert Springs 
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth—Psalm 119:33–40 (The Psalter 1912)
  • The Spirit Breathes upon the Word (William Cowper)
  • Vast the Riches of God’s Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

10. God’s Word is its own best interpreter—the infallible rule for interpreting Scripture is Scripture itself

11. God’s Word is profitable for doctrine, corrections, reproof, and instruction in righteousness

  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Holy Bible, Book Divine (John Burton)
  • How Precious Is the Book Divine (John Fawcett)
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth—Psalm 119:33–40 (The Psalter 1912)
  • Twas God that Made the Ocean (George B. Bubier)
  • Two Voices Cry Out to Be Heard (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Wonderful Words of Life (Sing Them Over Again to Me) (Philip Bliss)

12. God’s Word is Christ-centered—Scripture (the written Word) points us to Christ (the incarnate Word)

  • Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (Tobias Clausnitzer / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Break Thou the Bread of Life (Mary Lathbury)
  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Holy Bible, Book Divine (John Burton)
  • Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word (Ken Puls / Drew Hodge) • Ken Puls Music / Desert Springs 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Standing on the Promises (R. Kelso Carter)
  • Twas God that Made the Ocean (George B. Bubier)
  • Two Voices Cry Out to Be Heard (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)
  • Vast the Riches of God’s Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Wonderful Words of Life (Sing Them Over Again to Me) (Philip Bliss)
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)

13. God’s Word is life-giving and powerful, able to defeat the powers of darkness.

  • A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Martin Luther / Frederick Hedge)
  • Ancient Words (Lynn DeShazo) 
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 
  • The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord—Psalm 19(Isaac Watts)
  • The Spirit Breathes upon the Word (William Cowper)
  • Twas God that Made the Ocean (George B. Bubier)
  • Two Voices Cry Out to Be Heard (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Wonderful Words of Life (Sing Them Over Again to Me) (Philip Bliss)
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)

14. God’s Word is a message for all peoples to be proclaimed in every tongue.

  • Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak (Francis Havergal)
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord—Psalm 19(Isaac Watts)
  • The Spirit Breathes upon the Word (William Cowper)
  • Wonderful Words of Life (Sing Them Over Again to Me) (Philip Bliss)
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)

15. God’s Word is the Sword of the Spirit, arming us for spiritual battle.

  • Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word (Ken Puls / Drew Hodge) • Ken Puls Music / Desert Springs 
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Standing on the Promises (R. Kelso Carter)
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Your Word Is Like a Garden Lord (Edwin Hodder)

16. God’s Word is our light and guide for how we are live and walk in this world.

  • Ancient Words (Lynn DeShazo) 
  • Every Promise (Keith Getty / Stuart Townend) 
  • God in the Gospel of His Son (Benjamin Beddome / Thomas Cotterill)
  • Holy Bible, Book Divine (John Burton)
  • How Precious Is the Book Divine (John Fawcett)
  • How Shall the Young Direct Their Ways? —Psalm 119:9–16 (The Psalter 1912)
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Sufficient Is the Word of God (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord—Psalm 19(Isaac Watts)
  • The Spirit Breathes upon the Word (William Cowper)
  • Two Voices Cry Out to Be Heard (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Vast the Riches of God’s Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)
  • Your Word Is Like a Garden Lord (Edwin Hodder)

17. God’s Word stands forever—it is eternal.

  • Every Promise (Keith Getty / Stuart Townend) 
  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • God in the Gospel of His Son (Benjamin Beddome / Thomas Cotterill)
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)

The next post in the series will be Songs and The Trinity—One God in Three Persons.

For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the Theological Index of Music and Worship online:

Entry for “Songs and God’s Word”

TOC forIndex—Theology and Song

Hallelujah Praise Jehovah

Mountain Lake

Psalm 146 reminds us to put our hope and trust in God alone.

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
While I live I will praise the Lord;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Do not put your trust in princes,
Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
His spirit departs, he returns to his earth;
In that very day his plans perish.
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them;
Who keeps truth forever,
Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and widow;
But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.
The Lord shall reign forever—
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 146:1–10, NKJV)

Below is one of my favorite psalm settings of Psalm 146 from The Psalter, 1912.

Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
O my soul, Jehovah praise;
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.
Put no confidence in princes,
Nor for help on man depend;
He shall die to dust returning,
And his purposes shall end.

Happy is the man that chooses
Israel’s God to be his aid;
He is blessed whose hope of blessing
On the Lord his God is stayed.
Heav’n and earth the Lord created,
Seas and all that they contain;
He delivers from oppression,
Righteousness He will maintain.

Food He daily gives the hungry,
Sets the mourning pris’ner free,
Raises those bowed down with anguish,
Makes the sightless eyes to see.
Well Jehovah loves the righteous,
And the stranger He befriends,
Helps the fatherless and widow,
Judgment on the wicked sends.

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
O my soul, Jehovah praise;
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.
Over all God reigns forever,
Through all ages He is King;
Unto Him, your God, O Zion,
Joyful hallelujahs sing.
“Hallelujah Praise Jehovah” 

Words from Psalm 146, The Psalter, 1912
Tune: RIPLEY (8.7.8.7.D.)
Music arranged from Gregorian Chant by Lowell Mason, 1839
©Public Domain

Download free sheet music (PDF) for this hymn, including guitar chord charts, an arrangement of the hymn tune RIPLEY for classical guitar, and an arrangement for the tune for instrumental ensemble.

More Hymns from History

Songs and God’s Creation

Open Bible and hymn near an ocean at sunset

This is the first of what I hope to be many posts exploring the connection between music for worship and the study of theology. Below is a list of psalm settings, hymns, and spiritual songs that teach on the doctrine of creation: natural revelation. The songs are arranged under 16 theological statements, including 5 statements for which I have not yet found related songs.  

If you have additional suggestions for songs related to the doctrine of creation that should be included in the index, please comment or send me a message.

Note: The songs are listed below by title and author. For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the page for “Songs and God’s Creation” in Theology and Song: A Theological Index of Music for Worship online. I will be updating the online Index with more songs and topics in the days ahead as I receive recommendations. 

Songs and God’s Creation: Natural Revelation 

1. Creation affirms that there is a Creator—God created heaven and earth

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful (Cecil F Alexander)
  • Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne—Psalm 100 (Isaac Watts / John Wesley)
  • God, the Lord, a King Remaineth—Psalm 93 (John Keble)
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Thomas Obediah Chisholm)
  • Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah—Psalm 146 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Hast Thou Not Known, Hast Thou Not Heard (Isaac Watts)
  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • The Spacious Firmament on High (Joseph Addison)
  • This Is My Father’s World (Maltbie Babcock)
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)
  • With Glory Clad, With Strength Arrayed—Psalm 93 (Tate and Brady’s New Version)
  • Wondrous King, All-Glorious (Joachim Neander / William Schaefer)

2. Creation glorifies God—all things exist for His glory and praise

  • All Creatures of Our God and King (St. Francis of Assisi / William H Draper)
  • All Glory to You (Steve and Vikki Cook) • Sovereign Grace Music
  • All People That on Earth Do Dwell—Psalm 100 (William Kethe / Thomas Ken)
  • All that I Am I Owe to Thee—Psalm 134:14–24 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne—Psalm 100 (Isaac Watts / John Wesley)
  • Behold Our God (Ryan, Jonathan & Meghan Baird / Stephen Altrogge) • Sovereign Grace Music
  • Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim—Psalm 135 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • For the Beauty of the Earth (Folliott Sandford Pierpoint)
  • From All That Dwell Below the Skies—Psalm 117 (Isaac Watts)
  • God, the Lord, a King Remaineth—Psalm 93 (John Keble)
  • Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah—Psalm 146 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Prudentius / J. Neale / H. Baker)
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Joachim Neander / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above (Jonann Schütz / Francis Cox)
  • The Spacious Firmament on High (Joseph Addison)
  • This Is My Father’s World (Maltbie Babcock)
  • With Songs and Honors Sounding Loud—Psalm 147 (Isaac Watts)
  • Wondrous King, All-Glorious (Joachim Neander / William Schaefer)

3. Creation testifies of God’s wisdom and design

  • All that I Am I Owe to Thee—Psalm 134:14–24 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Hast Thou Not Known, Hast Thou Not Heard (Isaac Watts)
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Joachim Neander / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

4. The testimony of creation is insufficient for knowing the way of salvation.

  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

5. The testimony of creation leaves man inexcusable

  •  

6. God delights in creation—all things were made for His pleasure

  • All Glory to You (Steve and Vikki Cook) • Sovereign Grace Music
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

7. God made all of creation and pronounced it good

  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)

8. The world was spoken into existence by God’s Word.

  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Prudentius / J. Neale / H. Baker)
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

9. The world was created by God ex nihilio (out of nothing).

  •  

10. The world continues to be upheld and sustained by God

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful (Cecil F Alexander)
  • Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim—Psalm 135 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Thomas Obediah Chisholm)
  • Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah—Psalm 146 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Hast Thou Not Known, Hast Thou Not Heard (Isaac Watts)
  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above (Jonann Schütz / Francis Cox)
  • With Glory Clad, With Strength Arrayed—Psalm 93 (Tate and Brady’s New Version)
  • With Songs and Honors Sounding Loud—Psalm 147 (Isaac Watts)

11. God creates all people—He is the One who gives and sustains all life.

  • All People That on Earth Do Dwell—Psalm 100 (William Kethe / Thomas Ken)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Joachim Neander / Catherine Winkworth)

12. God created man (male and female) out of the dust of the earth 

  • Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne—Psalm 100 (Isaac Watts / John Wesley)

13. Man was breathed into a living being by God.

14. God made man (male and female) in His own image

  •  

15. God gave man dominion over all other living things on the earth.

  •  

16. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

  • Today We Gather in This Place (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

_______________

The next post in the series will be “Songs and God’s Word: Special Revelation.”

For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the Theological Index of Music and Worship online:

Entry for “Songs and God’s Creation”

TOC for Index: Theology and Song

Theology and Song

Guitar and Hymnal

Music and theology have always been closely entwined. Theology (in the broadest sense) encompasses what we understand to be true about God, His Word, and the world He has made. Music, as it comes alongside theology, helps the church say and celebrate in song what it believes and affirms to be true. 

God’s people have been writing music for thousands of years. Beginning with the rich wellspring of the psalms, music has served the church to carry the voice of God’s people in praise, prayer, and proclamation. Within the many settings of psalms, and numerous hymns and spiritual songs is an opulent banquet of truth. For those who are willing to search, there are many savory delights to be found.

Unfortunately many churches miss out on this feast of song. Some shy away from doctrinally rich lyrics and prefer instead those that are lighter and more subjective. Some, despite Paul’s paradigm in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, exhorting the church to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, impose a more narrow interpretation: “only the psalms,” “only the old hymns that have stood the test of time,” or “only what is new, contemporary, and speaks to me today.” Some are content to sing a limited number of favorites. Others select music based on emotional appeal or a catchy melody, rather than theological soundness.

In this new series, Theology and Song, I hope to encourage pastors and musicians to think theologically about music in worship. Each post will focus on a specific theological topic and will feature a portion of my Theological Index of Church Music

I began the Index 26 years ago (in 1993) as a project for one of my PhD seminars when I was at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The index listed 350 psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and arranged them according to the theological truths that they highlight. It proved especially valuable in ministry for planning worship and selecting music that would underscore the sermon. You can read more about the Index in an earlier article: “Selecting Music for Worship—Know Theology.”

As I post this series on my blog, I will be updating and expanding the Index so I can make it available on my website as a resource for worship leaders. My list of songs will certainly not be exhaustive. I’ll be asking for your suggestions and adding songs (as well as more topics) to the Index in the days ahead.

Here is list of some of the upcoming topics: [updated]

Songs and God’s Creation (Natural Revelation)
Songs and God’s Word (Special Revelation)
Songs and the Trinity (One God in Three Persons)
Songs and Knowing God (God’s knowability and Incomprehensibility)
Songs and God’s Presence (God’s Immanence and Transcendence)
Songs and God’s Sovereignty
Songs and God’s Decrees
Songs and God’s Will

TOC for Index: Theology and Song

Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth

Open God's Word

If we are to know truth, we must abide in God’s Word. If we are to follow Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), we must know and obey God’s Word. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32).

But truth is not something we can comprehend on our own. One thing we must always do when we open God’s Word, is pray that His Spirit would illumine our understanding and help us rightly apply truth. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that without the Spirit, we cannot understand the Word. To those who are dead in sin and have no spiritual life, the truth of God’s Word, in fact, appears to be foolishness. Any time we read the Bible, or hear it taught and preached, we should pray that God would teach us, give us understanding, and help us walk in truth.

This is how God instructs us to pray in His Word. The book of Psalms serves as the Bible’s inspired songbook, providing us divinely prescribed instruction on how we must sing and pray and worship the Lord. In Psalm 119:33–40 the psalmist prays:

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.
Establish Your word to Your servant,
Who is devoted to fearing You.
Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your judgments are good.
Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me in Your righteousness.
(Psalm 119:33–40, NKJV)

The following setting of this portion of Psalm 119 is from The Psalter, 1912. Take time to read (and sing) the words. And make this your prayer as you look to God’s Word and seek to walk in its light.

Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth

“Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end” (Psalm 119:33).

  1. Teach me O Lord Thy way of truth,
    And from it I will not depart;
    That I may steadfastly obey,
    Give me an understanding heart.
  2. In Thy commandments make me walk,
    For in Thy law my joy shall be;
    Give me a heart that loves Thy will,
    From discontent and envy free.
  3. Turn Thou mine eyes from vanity,
    And cause me in Thy ways to tread;
    O let Thy servant prove Thy Word,
    And thus to godly fear be led.
  4. Turn Thou away reproach and fear;
    Thy righteous judgments I confess;
    To know Thy precepts I desire;
    Revive me in Thy righteousness.

“Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth”
Words from Psalm 119:33–40, The Psalter, 1912
Tune: CROSLAND (L.M.)
Music by Tom Wells, 2001
Words ©Public Domain
Music ©2001 Tom Wells (Used by Permission)

Tom Wells (Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas) composed an excellent tune for this setting of Psalm 119:33–40. Download free sheet music (PDF), including a guitar chord chart, an arrangement of the hymn tune CROSLAND for classical guitar.

More Hymns from History

More hymns arranged for Classical Guitar

 

Magnify the Lord with Me!

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
(Psalm 34:1–3)

Magnify the Lord

The first three verses of Psalm 34 are an invitation—a call to worship. In verse one David expresses his own commitment to praise God.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
(Psalms 34:1)

God is worthy of all praise—worthy of unending praise. David desires that God’s praise be continually on his lips—at all times, whether it be in enemy territory or in the courts of God’s temple with His people.

In verse two David calls upon the humble to hear him and rejoice with him as he lifts his praise.

My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
(Psalm 34:2)

His words are good news to the humble. For those whom God has brought low, for those who see themselves in peril and needy of a way of escape, David knows where to point them for hope and strength.

In verse three he invites those who hear him to join his praise, that God would be magnified.

Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
(Psalm 34:3)

This psalm, like many in the book of Psalms, begins as personal praise and then spreads as it is shared and joined by others. What was individual devotion is now sung by many as corporate worship. David is not content to praise God by himself for his deliverance—he wants the people of God to join him. He wants the Lord to be magnified.

As we help and encourage others to look to God and acknowledge God and praise Him; as we share what God has done for us to encourage the hearts of others to look to Him and trust in Him, He is magnified—not in the sense that we add to God or make Him appear large or great (as a microscope would take a small thing and make it look large), but rather we take who God is and what He has done and bring it close to others, so they can see it and know it and rejoice in it (as a telescope would take a large and magnificent object and bring it into focus so all can enjoy and marvel in viewing it up close).

David wants to take the deliverance he has experienced by the grace and mercy of God, and bring it close to the people of God so that they can see it and rejoice with him in an overflow of praise and thanksgiving.

Read more from this sermon on Psalm 34 entitled “Taste and See!”

Find More Sermons and Articles

Out of Zion

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
(Psalms 14:7)

Church and town at Sunrise

Verse 7 of Psalm 14 represents a crucial turning point. The psalm began as a meditation, that quickly turned to a lament, but now is a petition, looking forward to a time of praise and rejoicing.

David considers the hopeless of man left to himself. He mediates on the depravity and corruption of man, and realizes that if anyone can be saved, it must be through God’s grace and life-giving power.
But notice from where God’s salvation is to come: out of Zion!

What is Zion?

David could have prayed that salvation would come from hand of God. He could have said that salvation would come from the promised Messiah. And this would be true. But he expands his statement at the end of the psalm, praying that salvation will come out of Zion.

This is more than a reference to the physical city of Jerusalem, where Christ would be crucified and accomplish in time and space the salvation of God’s people. Zion is also used in Scripture as reference to the people of God.

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion.
(Psalms 65:1)

God’s purpose in salvation includes its being fulfilled and accomplished by Christ-but also its application and proclamation in us! God is the One who saves. Notice—

Verse 7 continues: “When the LORD restores…”

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
(Psalms 14:7)

It is the Lord who restores! But God uses means to accomplish His salvation. As God saves, we respond with joy and gladness-joy and gladness that compel us to share the good news of salvation with others. It is our joy and responsibility to spread the Gospel—out of Zion, knowing with confidence that God will work-His Word will go out and will not return void.

He has established us here as a church in this community for a purpose. I encourage you to think from this mindset—out of Zion. God has put us here to make Him known. Every friend, every acquaintance, every relationship is in your life for you to magnify Jesus Christ.

Read more from this sermon on Psalm 14 entitled “Out of Zion”

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Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So!

Autumn Trees

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so…
(Psalm 107: 1–2)

Psalm 107 teaches us that we are to give thanks to the Lord. And we are to do so in the hearing of others: Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! In each stanza we see people in various afflictions and trials. And each time the Lord brings deliverance, each time we see His hand at work, we see an exhortation to give thanks.

In light of God’s glory manifest in His work in us, we are to speak and sing and pray His praise. We are to encourage one another by giving thanks for what God has done and what He has promised to do. God intends that our words and our prayers strengthen those who are weak and feeble among us, that they might hear and have faith and persevere in prayer and hope.

The word that is translated “thanks” here in Psalm 107 is the Hebrew word yadah. Literally it means “to publically confess or acknowledge.” Thanksgiving in the Hebrew understanding of the term was not a private affair. It was always public—making known what God has done. The verb yadah simply means to declare or recognize a fact, whether that fact is good or bad. When it is used in the context of sinful human beings, the verb denotes the acknowledgment of a person’s character, most often in the context of confessing or acknowledging sin. When it is focused upon the glory and splendor of God however, it denotes the giving of thanks—a grateful acknowledgement and public confession of the greatness of God.

Having an attitude of thankfulness was not just for the Old Testament or worship in the temple. We see it in the New Testament as well, especially in the ministry of Paul.

Listen to what he writes to the churches:

To the church at Corinth:

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:4).

To the church at Ephesus:

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers (Ephesians 1:15–16).

To the church at Colossae:

giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light (Colossians 1:12).

To the church at Thessalonica

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers (1 Thessalonians 1:2).

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

And remember, these were churches that were experiencing many problems and troubles. Paul writes long letters explaining how they are to live and serve together as sinners saved by grace. And yet when Paul thinks of them, he give thanks. He recognizes that each assembly is a miracle of the power of the gospel, a display of God’s glory in changed lives. Here were people who had been in darkness, worshipping idols and false gods, and now they are serving Christ and giving glory to God. The transformation of their lives is amazing!

We need to keep this in mind as well—as we live and serve here at Grace—as we remember and think of one another. We are a testimony to the saving power of the gospel and we have every reason to give thanks.

Paul instructs the churches—including us:

[give] thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20).

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17).

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Let me encourage you to take time to give thanks. Think about God’s work in your life and in the lives of brothers and sisters here in the church. Where you see evidence of God’s grace and mercy—Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.

[This excerpt is from a Sermon on Psalm 107 entitled “Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So.” You can read the full Sermon  here.]

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A Song Book That Begins With Words of Wisdom

The Book of Psalms

The Book of Psalms is an important collection of songs in Scripture for the worship of God. These songs are commanded to be sung by God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments.

In the Old Testament they comprise the songbook of the Temple. God appointed the Levites to sing and teach the people to sing psalms to God in worship. As the people gathered in Jerusalem and brought their sacrifices, these were the songs being sung and heard in the congregation.

In the New Testament Paul sets the psalms at the forefront of church music, exhorting us in Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. The psalms speak of Christ, point us to Christ, and find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ (Luke 24:44).

When you think of the book of Psalms, and remember the purpose and use of the psalms, its beginning may at first surprise you. It might not be what you would expect.

The psalms are about our communion with God in worship.

How then would you expect such a collection of songs to begin?

What opening words do you envision?

  • A lofty song of praise?
  • A hymn exalting the attributes of God?
  • A call to God’s people to come to the Temple and enter into His presence?
  • A call to God, asking Him to hear His people as they lift their voices?

All of these are songs you will find in abundance in the Psalter, but not at the beginning.

Let’s go to the Word of God and read how the Psalms begin:

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
(Psalm 1:1–6)

God opens His hymnal with a psalm of wisdom—a psalm for teaching that portrays a striking contrast between two groups of people: the ungodly and the righteous—those who are committed to walking according to the ways of God, and those who have forsaken that way.

For the righteous, the psalm offers a promise;
For the ungodly it declares a warning.

Continue reading this sermon from  Psalm 1 entitled “Two Paths and Two Ends.”

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Above Image by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

 

Theater for God’s Glory

Theater of God's Glory

Calvin rightly called the world a “theater for the glory of God” [Institutes 1.5.8 and 1.14.20]. We are a part of this display. Our lives are to be a display and an offering for His glory. In all things we live to His praise. And that includes all things—what we do, what we say, and what we think. David prayed in Psalm 19:12-14 that he would be kept from sinning. He prayed that the words he spoke would be honoring to God. He prayed that the thoughts resounding in his heart would be pleasing to God. And not just his thoughts when he was in gathered worship with the people of God, or his words when he was singing praise, or his steps when he felt near to God, but all his thoughts and words and steps through life as he walked in the world.

We must learn to see the world this way, and live in the world this way. Our world is fallen and broken.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

Our world is at enmity against God. But God does not intend that we hide away or abandon the world. He intends for us to be salt and light. He intends for us to live as Christians—a humble and grateful people who have been rescued from sin and death. And He intends for us to live out in the world as trophies of His grace for His glory.

Sometimes we can get messed up in our thinking—if we start thinking of church as where we meet with God and serve God, and the rest of life as out in world—our jobs, our recreation, our families. We can mistakenly assume that God is only glorified when we do sacred things—things like coming to church, praying, reading our Bible, or witnessing. And God is pushed aside or drowned out when we do secular things—things like our jobs, chores around the house, school, and sports. He is pleased and draws close when we are endeavoring to do sacred things, but less pleased and distant when we turn to what is secular.

The word “secular” comes from a Latin word meaning “world.” It refers to the here and now in which we live—our immediate concerns as we live day to day.

But we must not separate the here and now from God. All of life is sacred. It all belongs to God. We cannot take a breath unless God gives it to us. He is there, with us in every situation, in every activity, in every circumstance. By His design “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

There is no separate place for God and another for the world. It’s all His—the world is His and we are His. He is at work—in every trial, in every triumph—in every joy, in every sorrow—shaping us and fashioning us for His glory. Our lives are on display. He has made the world for Himself. And He has placed us on the stage of the world to be a vessel of His grace and mercy, to be a testimony to His presence and power.

We need to see our world this way—in the spheres in which God has placed us—in our vocations, responsibilities and roles. These are but platforms on which to magnify Him—arenas in which we are called to display His glory and make Him known.

[This excerpt is from a Bible Study of Psalm 19 entitled “Theater for God’s Glory.” You can read the full Bible Study here.]

See more Sermons and Articles by Ken Puls