For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
Why should we praise the Lord? Why is this necessary? Why is it good?
There are many reasons to praise the Lord. Scripture repeatedly calls us to do it, so we praise God out of simple obedience. Moreover, praising the Lord often impacts our own souls. We might begin to praise God with heavy hearts, for example, but as we praise, we experience the lifting of our burdens and the joy of the Lord. So, we can choose to praise the Lord because of the benefit it brings us. We might also praise God because it builds Christian community. When the people of God gather, focusing their minds and hearts on the Lord, offering their love, praise, and surrender to the Lord, they are bound together in a Spirit-created unity. So, a good reason for praising God is that it fosters the community of God’s people.
Psalm 96:4 offers another reason for praising the Lord, a bedrock reason based on God’s own nature: “For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise.” This translation captures the essence of this thought, though missing the poetic balance of the classic King James Version: “For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised.” The Hebrew of this verse could be translated literally, “For great [is] the Lord and very much to be praised.”
Psalm 96:4 explains why we should “Declare [the Lord’s] glory among the nations, his marvelous works among the peoples” (96:3). We should praise God, proclaiming his wonders to all people, because the Lord is great. Praise is a response to his superlative character, which is expressed in wondrous works. Even as a brilliant sunset calls forth praise, so it is with God, many times over.
The more we reflect on God’s greatness, the more we will be impelled to praise him. Moreover, we will find that our praise, however inadequate it might be, will increasingly reflect God’s nature. Because he is great, so our praise will be great. It makes no sense to be stingy in honoring one who is utterly worthy of all honor and praise.
As important as verbal and sung praise is in our worship, remember that God is worthy not just of praise but of the offering of our whole lives. As it says in Ephesians 1:11, we exist for the praise of God’s glory. Romans 12:1 reminds us that this involves offering our bodies to God, giving him all that we are, not only when we gather with God’s people for worship, but also as we scatter into the world for work. In all we do, we have the opportunity to honor the greatness of God.
Something to Think About:
What helps you to praise God?
How does the greatness of God impact your worship?
How might Psalm 96:4 impact our corporate and private worship?
Something to Do:
The next time you gather for corporate worship, intentionally take time to consider God’s greatness. Let your praise be a response to the greatness of God.
O Lord, how great you are! How worthy of praise!
We see your greatness in the astounding majesty of your creation. How great you are!
We see your greatness in the history of your salvation. How great you are!
We see your greatness in the amazing narrative of Scripture. How great you are!
We see your greatness in the ways you have made yourself known to us throughout our lives. How great you are!
We see your greatness in your tenderness and patience, in your grace and mercy, in your forgiveness and love. How great you are!
We see your greatness most of all in Jesus Christ, who humbled himself and gave himself for us… and for the redemption of all creation. How great you are!
All praise, glory, and honor be to you, O Lord, for you are great, and worthy of all praise. Amen.