Praise the Lord!

(Ps. 111)

Mike Johnson

Psalm 111:1 says, “Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.”

This verse starts out by exclaiming, “Praise the Lord!”  This expression is sometimes regarded as the title of this Psalm.  With certainty, it can at least be regarded as the keynote phrase.  Please note some important concepts in this verse regarding the praising God.

First, the Psalmist said, “he would praise the Lord.”  By saying “he” would praise the Lord, he is taking the lead and is not simply telling others to do so.  By praising God himself, he is setting a good example which meant his admonition would have even more impact.  It is appropriate for us to praise God.  He is our Creator and our sustainer.  Acts 17:28 says, “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.'”

Next, he said he would praise God with his whole heart.  Worshiping and praising God should never be done in a half-hearted, insincere way.  We must worship, praise, and serve God with our whole heart.  Psalm 86:12 says, “I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forevermore.” Deuteronomy 10:12 points out, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,” On one occasion, a lawyer asked Jesus a question (testing Him). He wanted to know which commandment was the greatest. Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”  (Note also John 4:24, Mt. 15:8-9.)

Barnes, in his commentary, has a very good explanation of what it means to praise God with the whole heart.  Please note the following.

With undivided affections; holding back nothing. I will allow nothing to be in my heart that would interfere with the fullness of praise; no coldness or dividedness of affection; no love for other things that would deaden my love for God; no suspicion respecting him that would chill my ardor; no unbelief that would drag me down to earth, while the language of my lips ascended to God. (from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Biblesoft, Inc.)

It is important for us to worship, serve, and praise the Lord, but, we must be sincere— a half-hearted effort is no good.

In the later part of the verse, the psalmist pointed out where this would be done by saying, “In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.”  It is so important for us to assemble with “righteous” people so we can praise and worship God.  In another place (Ps. 122:1) the psalmist said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.'”  Assembling is commanded, and while assembling we praise God and receive encouragement from others (Heb. 10:25).  From our text, we also learn that assembling is a quality of the upright, or the righteous. Sadly, many do not share the same enthusiasm as the Psalmist for assembling, not understanding the importance of it.

In conclusion, it is important for us to personally praise God and not just tell others to. Further, we must praise God with our whole heart, and we are to praise Him in the assembly of the upright.