It's the Right Thing To Do

In the 147th Psalm, the Psalmist exhorts his readers to praise the Lord because it’s the right thing to do.


Psalm 147:1 (ESV) - Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.


That’s not the only reason to praise the Lord. It’s not even the best reason to praise the Lord. But it’s a good reason to praise the Lord, and it’s enough of a reason for you to praise the Lord at any given moment of time.


Of course, it’s always better to praise the Lord because you want to than simply because you ought to.  But praising the Lord because you ought to is always better than not praising the Lord because you don’t want to.  Why?


There are a number of reasons, I think.  First, as the psalmist tells us, it’s appropriate to praise God with song.  It’s fitting whether you feel like it or not. It’s appropriate because God is worth every ounce of praise you could ever render him. 


You may object: “What if I’m mad at God about something and don’t feel like praising and thanking him? Does that not make my praise into a lie?”  Or possibly, “It’s hypocritical to praise the Lord if you don’t really mean it or if you’re simply doing it because you have to do it.”  There is a lot of truth to these objections.  But the solution is not to continue in the disobedience of thanklessness but to initiate praise with repentance. 


Second, my outward praise of God may have some positive effect on those around me, and my outward refusal to praise may contribute to another’s hard heartedness.  A parent should change his or her baby’s diaper simply because needs to be changed regardless of whether or not they are in the mood to change that diaper.  It would be better for sure to change a diaper out of love rather than out of a desire to save yourself the unpleasant experience of loud crying all night long from diaper rash.  But it’s better for the little one to have a clean diaper regardless.


A third reason is because many times one’s emotions eventually catches up to one’s right actions.  There is little to no eternal reward for me if I praise God simply so that others might see me praising God and consequently think highly of me.  But praising God so that I might see myself praising God and see my spirits lifted in the process is a good and wholesome thing.  If I have to wait until my motives are perfect before I ever praise the Lord, I will be waiting a long time.  Right feelings often follow right actions. Sometimes a pleasant act produces a pleasant experience.  There have been many times in my own life that I've been cold to the cross and the redeeming grace of God. But a few minutes of intentional, maybe even forced praise has moved me to a repentant and warmed love for the Savior.


I want to encourage you, no matter whether you feel like it or not, to praise the Lord today, tomorrow, this Sunday, and every day.  It is good for you, good for others to see, and God is worth whatever praise you could or would give him.  These are not the best reasons; this psalm provides some of the better reasons to praise the Lord later on. But they are good reasons, and because of them, it’s always the right thing to do.