Psalm 145 – Praising God for Who He Is and What He Does
This psalm is titled A Praise of David. Though Psalms 17 and 86 were also called A Prayer of David, this is the only one titled APraise of David, and it is a high point of praise. “Psalm 145 is indeed a monumental praise psalm, a fit summary of all David had learned about God during a long lifetime of following hard after the Almighty.” (James Montgomery Boice)
Psalm 145 is the last psalm attributed to David in the collection of psalms, and it is the last of the nine psalms using some kind of acrostic pattern (9, 10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, and 145). Five of these acrostic psalms are attributed to David.
“In Jewish practice this psalm was recited twice in the morning and once in the evening service. The Talmud commends all who repeat it three times a day as having a share in the world to come.” (Willem VanGemeren)
A. Learning to praise God.
1. (1-3) Learning from David’s example of a heart fully given to praise.
I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.
a. I will extol You, my God, O King: To extol is to praise, to lift high, to exalt. David honored and promoted the name of God in the most personal of ways:
· He did it with a direct address (You).
· He did it with a personal reference (my God).
· He did it with a surrendered heart (O King).
· He did it unendingly (forever and ever…every day).
i. “In the opening sentences He is addressed as ‘My Elohim, O King,’ and afterwards always as Jehovah (nine times).” (Morgan)
ii. O King: “This is a significant statement from the mouth of Israel’s king, for it acknowledges that although David may have been king of the elect nation of Israel, God is nevertheless the King of kings and therefore David’s king too.” (Boice)
iii. Every day I will bless You: “To bless God is to praise him with a personal affection for him, and a wishing well to him; this is a growingly easy exercise as we advance in experience and grow in grace.” (Spurgeon)
iv. “Observe that David is firmly resolved to praise God. My text has four ‘I wills’ in it. Frequently it is foolish for us poor mortals to say ‘I will,’ because our will is so feeble and fickle; but when we resolve upon the praise of God, we may say, ‘I will,’ and ‘I will,’ and ‘I will,’ and ‘I will.’” (Spurgeon)
b. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: David piled praise upon praise, declaring God’s greatness and great worthiness to be praised. We get the feeling that David felt it would be dishonorable to withhold his praise to God or to give Him half-hearted praise.
2. (4-7) Passing the praise of God from one generation to another.
One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
And I will declare Your greatness.
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
And shall sing of Your righteousness.
a. One generation shall praise Your works to another: David looked for God’s people to encourage each other in praise. An older generation might inspire a younger generation to praise by remembering God’s mighty acts in the past. A young generation might stir praise in an older generation by declaring the fresh and new things God was doing.
i. “God’s praises are many, and man’s life short, and one generation succeedeth another: let them relate God’s wonderful works one to another, and so perpetuate his praises to all posterity.” (Trapp)
ii. “The generations shall herein unite: together they shall make up an extraordinary history. Each generation shall contribute its chapter, and all the generations together shall compose a volume of matchless character.” (Spurgeon)
b. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works: Praise comes not only from emotion, but from careful thought – from careful meditation. David meditated not only on the great things God did (His wondrous works), but he also paid attention to God’s glorious splendor. The idea is of the glory and wonder of who God actually is.
i. “It seems, then, dear friends, that David studied the character and doings of God, and thus praised him; knowledge should lead our song. The more we know of God the more acceptably shall we bless him through Jesus Christ.” (Spurgeon)
ii. When we think of the aspects of God’s glorious splendor – His majesty, His wisdom, His constant presence, His complete knowledge, His unlimited power, His loving and wise plan and purpose – all this should stir up praise within us.
iii. When we think of God’s wondrous works – His works of planning, His works of creation, His works of providence, His works of rescue, His works of salvation now and in the age to come – all this should stir up praise within us.
iv. “Here are [assorted] words heaped together, to intimate that no words were sufficient to express it.” (Poole)
v. The glorious splendor of Your majesty: “The flashing brightness with which, when gathered, as it were, in a radiant mass, they shine out, like a great globe of fire.” (Maclaren)
c. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness: To give emphasis, David repeated the idea of praising God for who He is and for what He has done. Repeating the idea a third time, we remember the demonstration of God’s great goodness in what He does, and we declare that He Himself is full of righteousness in who He is.
i. “The psalmist enjoins all God’s people to share in the extension of God’s kingdom by private meditation, discussion, and public speaking about God’s mighty acts.” (VanGemeren)
ii. I will declare Your greatness: “All men are enamoured of greatness. Then they must seek it in God, and get it from God. David did both. All history shows the creature aspiring after this glory. Ahasuerus, Astyages, Cyrus, Cambyses, Nebuchadnezzar, were all called the great. Alexander the Great, when he came to the Ganges, ordered his statue to be made of more than life size, that posterity might believe him to have been of nobler stature. In Christ alone does man attain the greatness his heart yearns for – the glory of perfect goodness.” (Le Blanc, cited in Spurgeon)
iii. They shall utter the memory: “The Hebrew word has something to do with bubbling up: it means they shall overflow, they shall gush with the memory of thy great goodness.” (Spurgeon)
B. Declaring and praising the greatness of God.
1. (8-9) The memory and present experience of God’s goodness.
The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.
The LORD is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works.
a. The LORD is gracious and full of compassion: David echoed the self-description of Yahweh to Moses: The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth (Exodus 34:6).
i. “But greatness, majesty, splendour, are not the Divinest parts of the Divine nature, as this singer had learned. These are but the fringes of the central glory. Therefore the song rises from greatness to celebrate better things, the moral attributes of Jehovah.” (Maclaren)
b. The LORD is good to all: David expressed the idea sometimes called common grace – that God spreads some of His goodness to all humanity. Jesus said, He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
i. Is good to all: “…not to Israel only, but to all mankind, whose hearts he fills with food and gladness, as it is said, Acts 14:17.” (Poole)
c. His tender mercies are over all His works: David saw the beautiful care of God pressed upon all that He did. All creation and all the wise plan of God were demonstrations of the greatness and goodness of God.
i. “The original word for ‘his tender mercies’…signifies the ‘womb.’ The ‘mercies’ of God toward men are, therefore, represented by this word, to be like those of a mother towards the child of her ‘womb.’” (Horne)
2. (10-13) All creation declares God’s praise.
All Your works shall praise You, O LORD,
And Your saints shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom,
And talk of Your power,
To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts,
And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
a. All Your works shall praise You, O LORD: Creation itself praises God, and does so out of grateful duty. Yet even more than the rivers and hills praising God (Psalm 98:8), God’s people (Your saints) shoud gratefully praise and bless the LORD.
b. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom: This is a wonderful subject for the speech of God’s people. There are many things we talk about, but all too little do we speak of the glory of God’s kingdom and of His great power.
i. And talk of Your power: “The recipients of His grace should be the messengers of His grace.” (Maclaren)
c. To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom: David again sensed the responsibility of God’s people to tell the wider world the greatness of what God has done (His mighty acts) and who our King is (the glorious majesty of His kingdom).
i. “As the State cannot teach these holy histories the people of God must take care to do it themselves. The work must be done for every age, for men have short memories in reference to their God, and the doings of his power.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “I consider that one of the great lacks of the Church, nowadays, is not so much Christian preaching as Christian talking – not so much Christian prayer in the prayer-meeting, as Christian conversation in the parlor. How little do we hear concerning Christ!” (Spurgeon)
d. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom: One reason why praise should continue forever (as in verse 2) is because God’s kingdom will last forever. His dominion is unending, lasting throughout all generations.
i. “Men come and go like shadows on the wall, but God reigneth eternally. We distinguish kings as they succeed each other by calling them first and second; but this King is Jehovah, the First and the Last.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom: “These words are engraven on the door of a mosque in Damascus, which was formerly a Christian church. Originally they were plastered over by stucco; but this has dropped away, and the words stand out clearly defined. They seem to be contradicted by centuries of Mohammedanism; but they are essentially true.” (Meyer)
iii. Derek Kidner noted that in the acrostic arrangement of this psalm, “One letter of the alphabet (nun) is lacking from the standard Hebrew text; but most of the ancient translations and now a text from Qumran (11Q Ps) supply the missing verse, which [the Revised Standard Version] and subsequent translations include at the end of verse 13.”
3. (14-16) The kindness of God to those in need.
The LORD upholds all who fall,
And raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
And You give them their food in due season.
You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
a. The LORD upholds all who fall: God’s compassion is especially evident toward those who fall and fail. He does not despise or reject them; there is a sense in which He specially draws near them to hold them up. If they allow their fall to rightly humble them, God will draw near and uphold them.
i. The LORD upholds all who fall: “The phrase, all who are falling, is unusually expressive; and this timely help at an early stage is coupled with God’s power to revive lost hope and failed abilities: cf. New English Bible, ‘and straightens backs which are bent’.” (Kidner)
ii. “Many are despondent, and cannot lift up their heads in courage, or their hearts with comfort; but these he cheers. Some are bent with their daily load, and these he strengthens.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “The last portion of the psalm is marked by a frequent repetition of ‘all,’ which occurs eleven times in these verses. The singer seems to delight in the very sound of the word, which suggests to him boundless visions of the wide sweep of God’s universal mercy, and of the numberless crowd of dependents who wait on and are satisfied by Him.” (Maclaren)
b. They eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season: The humble put their expectation on God, looking to Him for their needs. They pray, give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11), and God answers their prayer in due season.
i. Most commentators connect this with the words every living thing that follow, and see that all creation is in view. “What a fine figure! The young of all animals look up to their parents for food. God is here represented as the universal Father, providing food for every living creature.” (Clarke)
ii. “He condescends to the needs of his creatures…[this shows] the beauty of Yahweh’s condescension to the needs of his people.” (VanGemeren)
c. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing: God’s care for creation extends beyond His provision for men and women. As Jesus would later say, God also cares for the birds and the grass of the field (Matthew 6:26-30). God does this with a wonderfully open hand and heart to His creation.
i. As we take in David’s amazing description of God, we see how different Yahweh (the true and living God) is compared to the idols of the nations. Those supposed gods were often angry and petulant, caring little for either humanity or creation. We are surprised and grateful for the love and care from the God who is really there.
4. (17-21) The love and righteousness of the LORD.
The LORD is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.
The LORD preserves all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD,
And all flesh shall bless His holy name
Forever and ever.
a. The LORD is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works: Throughout this psalm David has spoken much about how we should praise God for who He is and what He has done. Here again David gives us a reason to praise the LORD, recognizing the incomparable combination of being righteous and gracious.
i. Later the Apostle Paul would write about this idea, how in the person and work of Jesus, God did demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26). The combination of being both just and the justifier is much the same as being both righteous and gracious.
b. The LORD is near to all who call upon Him: God’s responsiveness to His praying people demonstrates the graciousness mentioned in the previous lines. He will fulfill the desire and hear the cry of His people.
i. “Since the Lord is so good to his creation, how much more does he care for his covenant people! This is essentially what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:25-34).” (VanGemeren)
ii. To all who call upon him in truth: “…because there is a counterfeit and false sort of worshipping, and calling upon God, which is debarred from the benefit of this promise.” (Dickson, cited in Spurgeon)
iii. He will fulfill the desires of those who fear Him: In his commenatary on this line of the psalm, John Trapp noted that Martin Luther prayed to God, “Let my will be done.” Trapp added that Luther could pray this because he also said to God, “Because my will is for Your will to be done, and nothing else.”
iv. “They who long for God will always have as much of God as they long for and are capable of receiving.” (Maclaren)
c. The LORD preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy: David gave a further example of God’s graciousness in action (preserving all who love Him), along with His righteousness in action (all the wicked He will destroy).
i. “Preserves may be a little misleading, as though it promised the godly a charmed life. ‘Watches over’ (New English Bible) is better; see again Luke 21:16-18.” (Kidner)
d. My mouth shall…bless His holy name forever and ever: We sense that David meant this as a declaration. Having written so eloquently about who God is and what He has done for His people, David’s firm decision was to use his mouth to praise and bless God again and again.
i. “Whatever others may do, I will not be silent in the praise of the Lord, whatever others may speak upon, my topic is fixed once for all: I will speak the praise of Jehovah. I am doing it, and I will do it as long as I breathe.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “So ends David’s contribution to the Psalter, on a note of praise which is wholly his own (21a), yet as wide as mankind and as unfading as eternity.” (Kidner)
iii. “The last verse of Psalm 145 is the last word we have from David in the Bible. It is his last will and testament. If he had said nothing else in his long life, these words would be a fine legacy for future generations. In it he praises God and invites others to praise God also.” (Boice)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org