1 How good it is to praise you, LORD Most High, And to make music to your holy name, 2 To sing about your love when morning comes And every night your faithfulness proclaim. 3 With music of the lyre my praise will sound And to the harp’s sweet melody resound.
4 For by your deeds you make me glad, O LORD; With joy I praise the works done by your hand. 5 How great your acts, how deep your thoughts, O LORD! 6 Fools do not know, they cannot understand, 7 That though the wicked flourish like the grass Yet to eternal ruin they will pass.
8 But LORD, you are exalted evermore. 9 Surely your enemies will be struck dead. 10 You made me stronger than an untamed ox, And you have poured fine oils upon my head. 11 My eyes have seen my wicked foes’ defeat; My ears have heard the sound of their retreat.
12 The righteous ones will flourish like the palm And grow like cedar trees in Lebanon, 13 For, planted in God’s house, they flourish still 14 And, fresh and fruitful, to old age go on. 15 They say, “The LORD excels in uprightness— My Rock, in whom there is no wickedness.”
The tune Song 1 is suggested for this Psalm – you can hear it here.
It would be very easy to read Psalm 92 as saying that God does wonderful things if you’re good. However, many of us know in our lives that this isn’t true: goodness does not always proposer, and it can seem very much as if the wicked are rewarded. If you don’t believe me, read Psalm 73 or the book of Job.
In fact, this is a glorious celebration of the life of faith as something organic and growing, like cedars bearing cones even into old age, and palm trees kept green and vigorous by the sap the Lord supplies. The cedar can mean an individual, who is wise if they offer their thanks and praise to God. The harsher verses point out a detailed contrast between the wise and the wicked and their respective fates. In particular, the brief sprouting (‘like grass’) of the latter is compared to the stability of a life entrusted to the ‘steadfast love’ of the Lord, ‘my rock’.
So, nothing can stop us praising God, whoever we are. When God is good to us, we can respond naturally, day or night. And formal praise is not all we do: when God is good, and we respond, we can respond by becoming more who we truly are, flourishing and bearing fruit, urged on in our journey by Christ.
Give us the music of your praise, Lord, morning, noon and night, that our lives may be fruitful and our lips confess you as the true and only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Rev’d Michael Hopkins is minister of Elstead URC and The Spire Church, Farnham (a Methodist and United Reformed Church), and Clerk of the General Assembly.