Links Daily Devotional

Targeted Praise

Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. (Psalm 96:9, NIV)

Sometimes you just stand back and give credit where credit’s due—as when Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn wins three LPGA events in a row. No need to break this down. You’re doing everything right when you’re on a streak like this. The 20-year-old is off this week, so her next effort will be at a major. I like her chances.

In other contexts, though, particularly if you occupy a managerial role (sometimes called “parent”!), you’ll need to be more specific with your affirmations, acknowledging excellence in particular tasks and characteristics. This takes intentional observation and a willingness to speak forthrightly.

No man can be holy in the way God is holy, and it is this unparalleled perfection that drew the awe of the psalmist.Either way, praise is a good thing, something we should recognize as valuable in the world God has made. And the way we recognize this is to see how praise is given to God in Scripture, especially among the psalmists. We see a fine example of this in Psalm 96.

This psalm opens with a familiar line: “Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.” It’s a call to creativity, to be actively about the business of finding good things to sing, and say, of our God, who is “great…and most worthy of praise.”

Then the psalmist gets specific.

There is praise for God’s splendor and majesty. We may say these are references to creation, which in the locale of Jerusalem would include steep mountains and valleys, the winds of the desert and the light and shadows of the sun.

There is praise for God’s strength and glory as displayed in his sanctuary. The temple of the Lord was the grandest structure in the ancient world, and its dressed stone and cedar framework lined with the gold of the nations showed the beauty of God’s provision for his own place of worship.

There is praise for God’s holiness, wherein his completely righteous and just ways reside as the hallmark of his character. No man can be holy in the way God is holy, and it is this unparalleled perfection that drew the awe of the psalmist.

We can certainly praise God generally. Everything about him, melded into one, makes him eminently praiseworthy. But we can also grow lazy in such generalizations. We’ll do well to take the way of the psalmists—being observant and effusive—bringing fresh praise to the Lord each day.

Jeff Hopper
June 1, 2016
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