Our key verse begins, “The Lord shall reign forever.” The Lord exercises the function of a royal Ruler, as the ordained King of kings and Lord of lords. His reign is eternal and omnipotent. Thus, all rulers of this earth are but ministers responsible to God and his righteous and moral law. In comparison, the Lord is the supreme King. His law and rule are supreme. Rev. Samuel Rutherford in his book, Lex Rex, compares the rule of the human kings to that of God. He writes that the prince is the “minister of God for the good of the subject.” Rutherford continues, “Now certain it is, God only, unequivocally and essentially as God, is the judge, and God only and essentially king, and all men in relation to him are mere ministers, servants, legates, deputies; and in relation to him, equivocally and improperly, judges or kings, and mere created and breathing shadows of the power of the King of kings.”
In God’s presence, we are asked the question, “What is the chief end of man?” Our answer rings out with praise, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” (S.C. 1). In the presence of the Triune God, we are to sing our eternal hallelujahs to our Lord.
From the depths of the Psalmist’s heart comes a manifesto, an edict, so to speak, that declares that his life will acclaim the praise of his Lord. “Praise the Lord!” is his cry. In these two verses, the Psalmist uses the term ‘praise’ four times. His voice, his soul, and his whole being will praise the Lord. How long will he do this? He will do it forever! As long as he has his being. If we know that we have eternal and abundant life in Christ, now and for eternity, then we know how long we are to praise our Lord.
What does it mean to “praise the Lord!”? The word, Praise, ‘Halal,’ means ‘to shine,’ to celebrate, to glorify. We are to give glory to God, not allowing anything, by word or deed, to hinder the radiant love and grace of God to shine forth. The Psalmist exclaims that he will “sing praises!” To “sing praises” means to celebrate or sing songs, as in poetry, or to make music. Something has happened to the heart of the child of God. From his soul issues the joy and praise of this new grace and love that he has received from the hand of his Creator and Redeemer. The Lord has laid hold upon us, and we have in turn embraced him in love. Our mind, soul, and heart proclaim the covenant of grace that is ours in Christ.
However, we are reminded that we are not to give glory to God in the sense we can add to glory that is God’s. Nor will he share this glory with anyone: “My glory I will not give to another” (Isa. 48:11). Isaiah continues, “Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.” Thomas Watson (Body of Divinity) wrote: “We glorify God, when we are God-admirers; admire his attributes, which are the glistering charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of prices is hid; the noble effects of his power and wisdom in making the world, which is called ‘the work of his fingers.’ Psa. 8:3. To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this rock only.”
We are to praise him in Zion! We are to praise him in and from the congregation. As a congregation, we are to “Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion! Declare his deeds among the people” (Psa. 9:11). We are to praise our Lord as long as we live, while we have our being. “Therefore by him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name” (Heb. 13:15).
Praise and happiness comes from the object of our trust. ‘Trust’ is a word we have come across before, as in Psalm 125:1: “Those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abides forever.” This word, ‘trust,’ expresses our attachment to another, the one in whom we secure ourselves, that we might find the best support. Of the 181 uses in the Old Testament, 50 are found in the Psalms. This word gives credence to this statement of our Lord Jesus: “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (Luke 12:29–31).
We see in the words of Jesus the two objects of faith or trust, of which each of us must choose, one or the other. As the Psalmist wrote, “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.” But “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” The world around us attaches itself to men. Either:
To put our trust in princes is like attaching ourselves to a wooden idol. An idol cannot walk, nor can it give help of any kind. The prince upon whom man depends is just a child of another man, in whom there is no help. For his spirit will depart from his body, as will our spirits. His body will return to the dust of earth, and “In that very day his plans will perish.” No man can leave a legacy, a name for himself; for another man will rise up, and the previous prince will be but a name in a history book, or on the shelf of a museum named after him.
There is only one attachment that provides all the good we need on this earth, and for eternity. This attachment reveals the happiness of the person who has put his trust in the Triune God of Israel, Jacob, and Zion, “whose hope is in the Lord his God.” This is the God who does not die but lives. He leaves not a legacy, but carries out his covenant promise. God’s Scriptures reveal a living King who cares for his own: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his mercy” (Psa. 33:18). “I am the Good Shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by my own” (Jesus, John 10:14). “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knows those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7).
Happiness springs from our attachment to that which we love the most, upon whom or what we have placed our trust and faith. “He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he” (Prov. 16:20). These words of Christ express our utter trust or dependence upon our Lord: “Blessed (how inwardly happy) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).
Who is the object of our trust; whom do we embrace, attach ourselves to, without reservation? Faith, in and of itself, is useless, unless the object of that faith is able to do what it promises. The object of our faith or trust is the Lord, the Triune God Himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our happiness and hope are rightfully placed in the object of our faith, Christ Jesus, our King and Savior. Nine works of grace are listed to confirm our faith in Christ alone. These nine activities of the Triune God reveal his covenant love toward us as his people. The Lord, our Sovereign King and Savior:
Zion’s eternal King is the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. There is no other Sovereign. When we praise the Lord, we are exalting his name, declaring his attributes and works to his glory and honor among his people, and to the world around us. When we invite others to fellowship with us, our witness is that our fellowship is with Christ, the Spirit, and our Father in heaven. We declare with the prophet: “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isa.26:1–4)
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