Why Does God Desire Our Praise?
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Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD.—Psalm 68:41
Consummation of joy
C. S. Lewis saw that praising God is the consummation of joy in God. Therefore, when God is pursuing—even demanding—our praise, he is pursuing the consummation of our joy. This may feel at first counter-intuitive—that when we are small and feel insignificant, while God is great and central, at those very moments we reach our highest joy. But it’s not counter to our deepest sense of where joy comes from.
Joy is not in thinking highly of ourselves. Joy reaches its height in moments of self-forgetfulness in the presence of beauty and greatness.—John Piper
Think about the things you really love. Praise comes escaping from your lips before you can even think about it. As [C. S.] Lewis puts it, “the world rings with praise.”
Think about a book you recently read you just loved. The words fell off the page like brilliant jewels, and the story captured you from the first page to the last. You can’t wait to sing its praises. You can barely stand not to talk about it, and refer your friends to it.
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy,” Lewis continues, “because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”—Amanda Hill
Joy in relationship
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!—Psalm 100:1, 42
The Lord honors your coming into His presence with praise and thanksgiving. The Lord loves praise: the High and the Holy One dwells in the praises of His people.3 The fragrance of the Lord is in the perfume of the praises of His children. He likes to smell our praises and our prayers like the fragrance of flowers.
He made all things to glorify Him, and all things were created to praise the Lord. Like a sea of sound, God’s wonderful creation just throbs and pulsates so beautifully in living sound. “All nature sings of Christ our King!” It’s like the very rocks crying out to the Lord, singing His praises. Even the meanest and ugliest little creatures can praise the Lord and sing praises to Jesus. Even the lowliest, most despised creatures can lift up their voice in song. His whole creation praises Him; they all sing His praises!
Even the frogs praise Him. When they all get together, they make a beautiful joyful noise! So even if you’re just a frog, you can do your best for the Lord. Even if you feel like you’re ugly and small and despised, you can still glorify God!
So even if you think you can’t sing, you can lift your voice and praise the Lord! If you can only croak for Jesus, you can at least make a joyful noise unto the Lord! “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord! Praise ye the Lord!”4—David Brandt Berg
Worship doesn’t have to be the static recitation of qualities and facts about God, but can be a deliberate and personal relationship with God—and a relationship is naturally more appealing than mandating formalities.
On a lesser scale, I can compare it to praising my wife. Talking about how great she is is nice, and it’s moderately pleasing for both of us. But, it is profoundly more satisfying to speak, even sing, my praises to her. Why talk about her when I can talk with her? Why settle for merely acknowledging the truth when I can live it interactively?
Worship is most naturally relational; it should be the personal and relational recognition of God’s unique glory. And it can be done in everything properly ordered to glorify the Creator. I testify to God’s generous provision by drinking my morning orange juice. I testify to His marvelous creative order when my body heals from a cut. I witness to His gracious love when I forgive other people as He has forgiven me.
Understanding worship like this, it only makes sense to worship God. Why worship God?! Why wouldn’t I!—John Ferrer
Who gets the credit?
It was not their own strong arm that gave them victory. It was your right hand and strong arm and the blinding light from your face that helped them, for you loved them.—Psalm 44:35
The challenge is that God is vain because He desires praise. The irony is, that if praise is rational at all, virtually all of it goes properly to God, even the things that we want to take credit for. Because He is the source, to quote James 1, “He is the source of every good and perfect gift.”
If praise is properly deserved, then … it is properly obligatory. In other words, it is not only proper for God to receive praise, we owe it to Him. And in fact, we owe praise to God for the things that we think we ought to be praised for. In fact, what we are doing is we are stealing His credit and taking it for our own…
It’s no wonder then when you reflect on this that the Psalmist writes in Psalm 150:2, “Praise Him for His mighty deeds, praise Him according to His excellent greatness.” We praise God for what He does. We praise Him for who He is. We ascribe worth to Him.—Greg Koukl
Is God a megalomaniac ... the transcendent Egotist? Of course not. In the truest sense, this is an arrogant and irresponsible question. How can God be other than he is in his perfection? But in another sense, the question is helpful, for it directs our thinking to the essence of God’s glory and resets our theological framework. God shows his love for us in the display of his glory and in his jealous concern for his own name and reputation. Our greatest joy is found in beholding his glory and in glorifying the triune God for all eternity.
Fallen creatures, blinded by sin, cannot see that to rob God of his glory is to rob ourselves of true joy. It takes the grace of God to make that known to us, and, incredibly enough, God glorifies himself in making himself known to sinners and in saving them through Christ’s perfect atonement for sin. For now, we see the glory of God most perfectly displayed in the cross of Christ.—R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.—Psalm 22:3
This is God’s work, and if this thing be of God, no man can stand against it. It is not dependent on any man or even any group of us. Don’t for one moment give yourself the credit for one little thing you’ve done, or say, “Look how big we are, and look how we’re growing!” God is the one who is doing all this, and all we have to do is follow Jesus. Amen? Praise the Lord.
He cannot fail. He cannot deny Himself. Even though we are faithless, yet He remaineth faithful.6 He cannot break His word; He is going to see it through. God is going to carry us through. He has begun a good work in us, and He’s going to complete it to the end.7 … Don’t think you have to complete it. Don’t think, “Well, I know God started this thing, but now we’re going to have to finish it.”
God is the one who wants to get the glory and God is the only one who can do it. Then He wants you to praise and thank Him and glorify Him because He did it. Because if you could do it, you could pat yourself on the back for it and say, “Well, look what we’ve done. Look how great we are. Look how wonderful we’re doing.” Watch out when you talk like that; you’re headed for trouble. You’d better keep saying, “Wow, look what God has done! Look what the Lord is doing. Look how great He’s working.”
Give God all the credit all the time at every turn for every little thing, and He will never fail to continue to prosper you, empower you, protect you, keep you, multiply you, and do all things just like He did for the early church.—David Brandt Berg
Published on Anchor October 2016. Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
Music by John Listen.