It’s amazing how people educate other people. If you’re an educator, whether you’re working with small children, teenagers in high school, university students, or even adult learners, there are numerous methods available to you. You have a rich reservoir of delivery mechanisms to help people learn, understand, and remember difficult ideas and concepts.
One of the most significant methods educators often use involves putting difficult ideas, concepts, or even new vocabulary to music. Music often helps us understand concepts, remember them, and integrate them into our overall understanding. This is how, for example, we might teach a child the seven continents of the world, i.e., by putting the names of the continents into a song. We do the same with the oceans, to help us learn their names. We even do the same when we’re learning vocabulary for a new language.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I became a Christian, the language-centered on praising God was very new to me! I needed new vocabulary and God supplied it in Scripture. So, my hope and prayer for you, is that as you’ve come through Pathway Start – particularly, Signs of Your Guide and Meeting Your Guide – you’ve given your life to Christ. Our prayer is that you’re now trusting Christ – the One who died for your forgiveness and rose to give you new life. Our prayer is that your heart is now free to worship Him and to praise Him through Christ. The good news is that He has given you a new language to sing to Him; He has given you a new vocabulary to praise Him – and this vocabulary is found throughout scripture, but perhaps most clearly in God’s praise book, the book of Psalms.
Praising God in Psalm 145
The Psalms by nature are poetic and melodic. They’re songs to be sung and praises to be offered to God. There are all kinds of psalms, expressing in a variety of ways our heartfelt trust in God. The psalms are the vocab that our renewed hearts long for!
There are lament psalms and pure praise psalms. There are thanksgiving psalms and wisdom psalms. There are psalms best sung in celebration with others and psalms well-suited to private devotion. There are psalms that celebrate God’s kingship and His newly installed king, and psalms that predict a future coming King, the Lord Jesus. The former are called royal psalms, the latter is often referred to as messianic psalms. The psalms give us a rich and celebratory vocabulary – perhaps new to you, just as it was new to me – which we can learn and use to worship, praise, and honor the Lord. I’d like to take a moment now and make just a few comments on Psalm 145.
Psalm 145 is a praise psalm. It is filled to the brim with “praise vocabulary”, heartfelt expressions worthy of the Lord. The psalmist (author) praises the great King of heaven who rescues people like you and me. Verse three proclaims the greatness of God: “The LORD is great and certainly worthy of praise! No one can fathom his greatness!”
The psalmist continues, praising God for His character: His kindness, justice, mercy, and ultimately for His loyal love. He praises God who never gives up on us. This vocabulary may be new to you and me, but it is straightforward, easy to memorize, and teaches us the beauty and fittingness of worshiping God acceptably (cf. Heb 13:15; 1 Peter 2:9). God has rightly given us this new language so that we might return to Him the praise due to His great name. Our hearts delight in praising God and find their true home when they exult in His majesty, employing the very vocabulary He has loaned us to do so.
Notice how Psalm 145 begins and ends: it begins by praising God’s name and ends by praising God’s name. The name of God refers to God’s reputation, His majestic and holy character, His glory – all that He is! All of Scripture gives us vocabulary to praise God’s name, to praise Him for who He truly is, and His mighty works and deeds for people: He is our Rock (Ps 18:2) and Strength (Ps 46:1). He is our Savior (Ps 18:2) and Rescuer (Ps 143:9)! He is our powerful Deliverer (Ps 116:13), a Strong Tower (Ps 59:18), and a Mighty Fortress (Ps 46:11)! He is our King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16), our Refuge (Ps 46:1), and Hiding Place in times of trouble (Ps 32:7). As the psalmist proclaims in Psalm145, He is near to those who cry out to Him sincerely, with a genuine heart (v. 18).
Yes, as Christians, we long for vocabulary to praise God, to praise Him on the Pathway, whether we’re passing through difficult times or whether we’re enjoying a season of peace. In either case, God will give us a new language of praise through the Psalms, all one-hundred-fifty of them. Indeed, all Scripture sets us on a Pathway of praise, furnishing a brand new vocabulary for doing discipleship with Christ as He leads the way.