A couple of years ago when I settled in my office area with my coworkers, one of the first items I brought was a picture of my wife to put on my desk. When I see that picture, I never think about the photographer or the type of paper used for the picture. I think about my wife. Images do not exist for their own sake; their purpose is to point others to the worth of the original.
As I conclude this series on the Psalms, the book of Psalms ends by reminding us of the duties that arise from the fact that God created us in His image (Genesis 1:28). The purpose of our lives is to point to His worth, and a vital way we show His worth is by speaking and singing about who He is. While many of the earlier psalms depict the psalmists struggling with their enemies, their own personal sin, or a sense that God is hiding His face, psalms of praise dominate the final section of the book.
The last five psalms begin with a command to praise the Lord: “Hallelujah!” Although Psalm 145 doesn’t begin with this same command, the psalmist, nonetheless, commits to exalting the Lord every day forever (1-2). The reasons the psalmist gives to praise the Lord are His greatness, His works, His authority, and His compassion. This psalm is the last acrostic psalm of the book, which means the psalmist began each verse with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. As one writer has said, it’s as if he wants to ensure that he is using every sound of his mouth to praise the Lord.
Verses 3, 5, and 11 highlight the Lord’s greatness or majesty, which, as verse 3 states, is “unsearchable.” The old Coverdale translation says, “There is no end of His greatness.” That limitless greatness is worth praising and meditating on (5). The second reason to praise God in this psalm is His works. God is great and has done great works (4-6, 9-10, 12). In other words, His works flow out of His character. Old Testament believers would praise God for the way He miraculously redeemed them from Egypt, conquered the Canaanites, and overcame their enemies repeatedly. We Christians have the resurrection of Jesus and the Holy Spirit as additional reasons for praise.
Third, the psalmist praises God for His kingdom or rule (11-13). Although David was a king, he recognized God’s ultimate kingship (2). Daniel quotes verse 13 twice in his book (Daniel 4:3, 34). Christians have an even greater reason to praise God as we think about the way His kingdom has come in Jesus (Mark 1:15). Through repentance and faith, we have entered that reign, and we know that one day everyone will acknowledge His kingship, even as He judges those who remain in sin (Psalm 145:20).
God’s compassion is a fourth reason to praise Him. Verse 8 contains a refrain that occurs so often in the Old Testament that we could almost consider it a creed: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 145:8, ESV). For a few examples, see Exodus 34:6, Nehemiah 9:17, and Psalm 103:8. God is compassionate toward all by providing for their needs (Psalm 145:9, 15-16), but He especially shows His compassion to the downcast who call on Him, fear Him, and love Him (14, 18-20).
Like a picture, we can point to the worth of the Original through our consistent praise of Him. Psalm 145 ensures that we do not lack reasons to fulfill our life’s purpose.