A Psalm of Praise

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and of great kindness.
The Lord is loving to everyone and his compassion is over all his works.
All your works praise you, O Lord, and your faithful servants bless you.
They make known the glory of your kingdom and speak of your power;
That the peoples may know of your power and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your dominion endures throughout all ages.
The Lord is faithful in all his words and merciful in all his deeds.
The Lord upholds all those who fall; he lifts up those who are bowed down.
The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season.
You open wide your hand and satisfy the needs of every living creature.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving in all his works.
The Lord is near to those who call upon him, to all who call upon him faithfully. (Psalm 145:8–19 NRSV)

In my NIV Bible, Psalm 145 has the title “A psalm of praise. Of David.” My understanding is that Psalm 145 is unique in this way. In verses 8–19, we are given an incredible picture of who God is. He is described as great but also as good and compassionate and kind and gracious. A God that works this greatness, goodness, compassion, kindness, and graciousness to a people who, in contrast, are very needy. In this psalm, we are told God specifically makes himself known and reaches out to provide food and help and support to people like you and me. When I walk through these verses, I am struck by how different I am from God. Many times we wrongly consider God as simply a lot like us, just bigger and smarter.

The psalmist is not under that delusion.

And neither is God.

One of my favorite quotes is from Anne Lamott: “The difference between God and you is that God never thinks he’s you.”

The characteristics of God that Psalm 145 describes manifest themselves in many ways. These days of Lent remind us of the greatest example of who God is and how God has reached out to us. It is about the brokenness of my life and the sin that wrecks havoc in my view of myself and in my view of others. This brokenness is a lack of peace. It is about a need to find the wholeness, or peace, we can only find in God. The many needs of my life are intimately connected to the greatest need of my life that God answered in Jesus. Jesus, as God’s son, came to this earth to bring us the way to God. It is through Jesus as my Savior that my sins are forgiven. Not only are my sins forgiven, but I can be formed by God into the image of Jesus Christ. I can walk with God and into God’s purpose and will for my life, but we can also walk together as a people of God.

This world still gives us many reminders of the consequences of sin. We are still on this side of heaven. We still deal with reminders in our own choices and in the choices of others that sin is still something that impacts our decisions. The same God who is great, good, compassionate, kind, and gracious meets us and brings us forgiveness and brings us hope and life. We can walk in praise today: we know God’s peace. The beauty of God’s peace is that it does not stay static in us, but it expresses itself by seeking the peace and wholeness in the lives of others. May your life reflect who God is and what God is doing. May your life be a psalm of praise of God.
Harry Kelm is the NAB executive director.