This upcoming Sunday, November 10, 2019, at 6PM at the Central Holland Campus, our worship team from the Water’s Edge Network (WEN) will record their first live album. We are so excited for the evening, and we hope you can all join us. Featuring original songs written out of personal encounters with God, centered on the wonder of God’s work in Christ, these songs encourage us to sing of His grace joyfully.
As we prepare for our worship night, I want to share what God is doing in my own heart. I’m currently writing these words from Cambodia, the final leg of my SE Asia trip to our two international campuses. I make this trip once a year, and every time I come, God ministers to my spirit.
In processing what God was saying to me, I was led this morning to Psalm 145. Verses 4-7 say:
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works— and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
I love this Psalm. I read these verses this morning, as I reflected on yesterday. The people I met had little in terms of earthly possessions but demonstrated a richness of spirit that deeply humbled me. I’ve never been to a tomb city before (houses built on and around tombs), and the sight crushed me. I know that I am incredibly blessed to be able to travel the world but seeing poverty like this breaks me every time I experience it.
What I felt yesterday wasn’t the joy of seeing the world, but the renewed conviction to do all I can to help people experience the rule and reign of God that exists perfectly in heaven, touch this part of the world, too. When seemingly insurmountable challenges cause me to feel helpless, I make it a point to remind myself of the greatness of God.
Turning to Psalm 145 is fast becoming a frequent habit of mine. When I read the Psalm this morning, I was thousands of miles from the place I last read it, and the situations that led me back to this Psalm couldn’t have been more different. Yet, this Psalm ministered to me both times. This morning, verse 15 blessed me. “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.” As apparent as the poverty was, the believers in Pastor Phanna’s church, who live in tomb city, have not lacked for food, clothes, and shelter. Phanna is not content with stopping at that. He’s planted a site right across from tomb city and continues to seek ways of tackling the giants of injustice, oppression, sickness, and illiteracy so prevalent in that community. Seeing that man’s commitment caused me to bless God in a whole new way as I saw how God had blessed people through him.
I love Psalm 145. No matter what I’m experiencing, this Psalm leads me from concern, helplessness, and even a degree of hopelessness at times, to passionate worship that causes me to bless God with others (145:21). The end of our visit to the tomb city coincided with a time of prayer that was so precious that it defied our surroundings.
Psalm 145 in Context
It is effortless for me to understand why this Psalm appears more in the Jewish Prayer Book than any other Psalm. Said to be the last of David’s Psalms, and the only Psalm specifically titled, “A Praise of David,” this Psalm was considered so significant that it was to be recited twice in the morning and once in the evening by Jews. God’s people needed reminding that no matter the circumstance, the Lord truly is the king whose rule and reign is uncontested.
When you dig into the Psalm, there are so many things to love. I mention three here.
I love how personal it is.
The author begins the Psalm by declaring his commitment to worship (‘I’) in verses 1 and 2 (also vv. 5, 6, and “my”’ in v. 21). It’s the personal nature of David’s worship that lays the foundation for the content in the rest of the Psalm. The Psalm is essentially an expression of what God was saying to David as the king worshipped. The depth of praise in this Psalm is so personal that it impacted more than the mind.
Nancy Declaissé-Walford notes how Psalm 145 has several acoustic characteristics that give it a high lyrical quality. When read in Hebrew, there are repetitions of sounds and words which, given their strategic placement, influence both the sound and the rhyme. This observation is significant because, “The acoustic qualities of Psalm 145 move the reader through the words, phrases, and lines of the psalm, impacting not just the eye and the ear but the very being of the one reciting its words.” 
David penned the literary structure of this Psalm in such a way as to move the worshipper from praise focused solely on mind, ear, and eye, to touch the worshipper’s very being.
That’s why I love this Psalm!
Authentic worship, if it’s Biblical, should do this today. In the WEN, we encourage our churches to pursue praise that moves beyond the eye and the ear to touch the very being of the one who worships.
Note, too, that this Psalm began as part of David’s worship. From there, it became a traditional expression of God’s peoples’ worship. In the WEN, we commit to contemporary worship, a commitment that has nothing to do with style. It’s a soundtrack of what God is saying to His church. The songs we sing in our worship on weekends, whether original to us or written by others, began as expressions of personal devotion. From there, it moved to touch a whole array of people.
What began as personal worship for David, ends in verse 21 with the corporate worship of the gathered people of God. In the same way, we desire for the rhymes and sounds that began in the hearts of lead worshippers in our churches to touch us to the point where our praise will go beyond eye and ear to move the very being of those singing the words. When worship is personal, that’s what it does!
Second, I love how passionate it is.
David uses the words all and every excessively in this Psalm. So much in fact, that there is a reason for him doing so.
All and every are overused words in my household. In an argument, I’ve heard one of my kids say to a sibling, “You do this all the time.” Used this way, the word all likely conveys an emotional reality more than an objective reality. But perception is real.
Here’s my point. The use of all and every plays both emotional and objective roles in this Psalm. The Psalmist portrays God’s sovereignty as absolute, and in this case, all and every reflect an objective reality central to the message David wishes to convey. Namely, Yahweh is king, not me! While the idea of God as king is expressed numerous times in the Psalms, only here and in Psalm 98:6 is God referred to as “the King.”  In spite of any perceived experience to the contrary, God’s rule and reign is absolute. God rules and reigns over ALL. Hence, verse 13: “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does.” In this sense, the words all and every describe what I’m calling an objective reality that David wants people to get.
But there’s more to it than this. The words all and every also function emotively in the sense that they are designed to inspire passionate praise. So L.C. Allen observes: “Ps 145 is a solo hymn of exuberant praise; for instance, it uses “all, every” (כל) no fewer than seventeen times. It was intended to stimulate the congregation to appreciate Yahweh’s powerful and beneficent kingship over Israel and the world at large.” 
The worship of Psalm 145 is not only deeply personal; it is also deeply passionate. It’s emotional portrayal of God’s rule and reign is intended to stimulate the reader to a profound appreciation of God’s sovereignty that would cause them to respond by “joyfully singing of his righteousness(v.7).”
Within the Water’s Edge Network, we believe that encountering a God who rules and reigns above all leads to a joyful praise typified by energy and passion. That’s reflected in the songs we sing and in the songs our team write. This weekend, we’ll not only sing songs that began as private worship experiences; they were also written, acknowledging that God truly is the king. The songs celebrate God’s nature, marvel at the Christ-event, and never tire of sharing the Gospel story.
The central message of the Psalm is reinforced through the literary brilliance of the material.
It’s too that observation that I now turn.
I love the Psalm’s focus on the message.
When I read this Psalm, phrases, concepts, and ideas jump out at me. This morning, fresh from my tomb city tour, verses 13-18 jumped off the page at me. The words evoked images of the people I met and the things I saw. I think one of the reasons this Psalm is the most read is the story it tells.
Psalm 145 is what is called an acrostic Psalm. An acrostic Psalm is one in which each verse (or a group of verses (Psalm 119) begins with one of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet in sequence. Of the significance of this structure, Adele Berlin writes, “The entire alphabet, the source of all words, is marshaled in praise of God. One cannot actually use all of the words in a language, but by using the alphabet, one uses all potential words.”  The significance of the acrostic is that it takes us directly to the central message: the kingship of God. In other words, the literary creation of this Psalm is designed to reinforce the idea of God’s greatness. Verses 14-20 describe in detail how great God is, which is the message David wishes to convey. This message of God’s greatness is so personal and so passionate that it inspires a host of people. As one reads through the Psalm, we notice an ever growing crowd of people joining in the joyful song of the king of glory. What began as the personal praise of the author at the beginning (vv. 1-2), reaches fellow believers in the middle (v.10), before including all flesh at its close (v. 21).
Recognizing this Psalm’s record for being the most cited, Declaissé-Walford asks what makes a Biblical text, or any text come to mention it, worthy of repetition? The great songs of the church began in the heart of a worshipper who encountered God’s greatness at that point in their story. Through the strategic placement of ideas, rhymes, and sounds, they penned a story contemporary to them and invited other believers to declare the greatness of the God of whom their story speaks. The success of this Psalm, says Declaissé-Walford is because, “In the repetition of words, the reciter builds a world, ‘speaks a world into being.’ In the repetition of Psalm 145, the reciter builds a world in which God is king for all time and in all generations and all flesh blesses God’s holy name for all time.” 
Are you beginning to understand why I love this Psalm? It’s so rich--so rich in fact, that this blog post is way too long! If nothing else, I hope this Psalm reminds you that praising God is your daily calling. We praise God today because every day, He blesses us with His presence.
I love this Psalm because it reminds me that God is great, and when I genuinely perceive such greatness, I know I cannot declare it in one sitting. Despite having told Him everything I perceived about His greatness today, there’s a whole load more I will need to declare tomorrow!
I hope you know how committed our WEN team is to cultivate a culture of personal, passionate, and message-rich worship. Sunday night is going to be one of those nights. We look forward to seeing you there for our live recording!
 Declaissé-Walford, N.L., “Psalm 145: All Flesh Will Bless God’s Holy Name”, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 1 (January 2012), pp. 55-66, page 61.
 So, Declaissé-Walford, “Psalm 145”, page 57.
 Allen, L. C. (2002). Psalms 101–150 (Revised) (Vol. 21, p. 373).
 So, Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 107–150: An Expositional Commentary, page 1250.
 Berlin, A. (1985), “The Rhetoric of Psalm 145,” Biblical and Related Studies, pp17-22, page 18.
 Declaissé-Walford, N.L., “Psalm 145”, page 66