When I lead worship I tend to begin with a prayer of approach and adoration, before moving into a contemplative period of confession. As we do this, I encourage the congregation to consider that ‘we have come before the bright throne of God, and in His light our shadows fall all the more darkly behind us’. There is, I think, something of this in today’s Psalm.
The Psalmist begins by magnifying God’s deeds: they are ‘unsurpassed’ and abounding in grace, far beyond the things of earth; then s/he moves on to consider the pride and ambitions which risk ‘tak[ing] the praise from You [God], who gives us all’. How often have we been so caught up in our own abilities or achievements that we have failed to notice God’s far greater deeds? Only the other week I was talking to a friend about an impressive piece of driving I had recently performed and, mid-sentence, realised I was rather forgetting the even greater achievement on God’s part of creating the landscape through which I drove! So often considering our own achievements risks making us unaware of God’s.
The Psalmist naturally then leads on to humility, praying that we may be helped to ‘follow You [God] in all Your ways’. Barely a day goes by where I don’t wish I was able to ‘see Thee [God] more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly, day by day’. It is a prayer that I suspect I will be praying for the rest of my life but, like the Psalmist, I trust and pray that the ending will bring me to a place where we can ‘know ourselves and sing Your [God’s] praise.’
Holy God, On this day of rest and praise, help me to embrace Your love so that I can know You better than I know myself. Give me the grace to see You in all things, and to worship You for Your great love and grace, in the power of Jesus’ Name. Amen
Michael RJ Topple is an ordinand at the Scottish College, Glasgow