One of my favourite parts of Scripture is Psalm 34, especially verses 1-3: “I will bless the LORD at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together” (KJV). In the Living Bible version these verses read, “I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of His glories and grace. I will boast of all His kindness to me. Let all who are discouraged take heart. Let us praise the Lord together and exalt His name.”
My fascination with this Psalm lies partly in David’s determination to bless (praise, salute) the Lord no matter what. That is not always an easy thing to do. So many times we allow our emotions to influence our praise, but here we see the Psalmist making the conscious decision that he would bless the Lord at all times; the two important phrases being “I will” and “at all times.” We cannot always trust our emotions because they are not reliable. Just because we feel a certain way doesn’t mean that what we feel is true. There are times when it feels like we are passing through endless valleys and that God is nowhere to be found, but that does not mean He is not there or that He doesn’t care. In these challenging situations, we can still resolve to praise the Lord. This is not easy to do. Personally I have not always been able to do it. There are times I feel God is unfair or has gone silent when I needed Him the most. During these times praising Him is the last thing I want to do, yet to praise or not to praise is a decision that we make. When and how often we praise are also decisions that we make. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nothing external to you have any power over you,” and once we realize this, we will also realize that there is nothing, or no one, that can stop our praise but ourselves. It is no wonder then that David’s opening words to Psalm 34, I will bless the Lord, reflected a personal decision that was independent of whatever was happening to and/or around him.
We cannot afford to be “situational praisers.” True worshippers see praise as a sacrifice, an offering to God for who He is; a celebration of His attributes. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, David wrote, “Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in His sanctuary: praise Him in the firmament of His power. Praise Him for His mighty acts: praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet: praise Him with the psaltery and harp. Praise Him with the timbrel and dance: praise Him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise Him upon the loud cymbals: praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 150).
I am with David. “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the LORD’s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3), so come and “magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” Even though we may not always feel like it. Praise ye the Lord!