There’s no doubt about it: What we prize, we praise. Whether we’re talking about our spouse, our children, our favorite sports team, our favorite restaurant or our God it’s true. It cannot be said that we ever can praise Got too much, but it surely is possible to praise Him too little. And that’s something the people of God should seriously contemplate. The old commentator Matthew Henry said, “In thanking God, we fasten upon His favors to us; in praising and adoring God, we fasten upon His perfections in Himself.” In considering the awesome nature of God’s character and attributes, the only appropriate response is praise!
In Psalm 34 David finds himself in the land of the Philistines (See 1 Samuel 21-22 for the background). He has fled from Saul who wanted to kill him to the land of the Philistines – talk about finding oneself between the proverbial “rock and a hard place!” Perhaps it seemed to David that things could not have gone much worse, but that is not how Psalm 34 begins. He does not begin this psalm with “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow.” It begins with, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Here’s 4 observations regarding the principle of praise from this passage.
Observe the “Who?” of Praise. The “LORD” is to be praised. David mentions the “LORD” (Yahweh) sixteen times in this chapter alone because what we prize, we praise. Further, the passage says “I” will praise Him. People may praise God all around us but no one can praise the LORD for us. There must be a personal resolve and determination to praise God. Our minds should be made up. There needs to be more “sanctified stubbornness” here. Even if no one else praises the LORD, I will. That’s David’s attitude. And it should be ours too.
Observe the “What?” of Praise. David says he will “bless” and “praise” the LORD. The word “bless” carries with it the idea of positively responding by extolling and adoring. “Praise” has to do with words and actions that reflect homage and glory. Taken together praise has to do with positively responding to God by extolling and adoring Him with words and actions that reflect the homage and glory due Him. David simply can’t say enough about the great God he serves. What we prize, we praise.
Observe the “When?” of Praise. Psalm 34:1 says “at all times” and “continually.” Scripture could not be any clearer. Matthew 26:30 speaks of Jesus and His apostles singing a hymn of praise just prior to His being taken away to be tried and crucified. Acts 16:25 records Paul and Silas singing God’s praise after being beaten and placed in stocks. We can and should praise God on occasions that might seem unusual or unexpected. There is something for which to praise God before, during and after trials. There is something to praise God for during times of darkness and during times of light.
Observe the “How?” / “Where” of Praise. The psalm specifically stresses “in my mouth.” It does not say the heart or the soul although without question the praise of God should be there. Why does he specify “in my mouth?” What we prize, we praise! We simply must express and articulate God’s praise with our mouth precisely because it’s bubbling up from our heart and soul.
Times may be hard and difficult. We may feel tempted to have mouths full of negativism, complaints and criticisms. We sometimes may be tempted to give God the “silent treatment.” How much better it is to sincerely have mouths full of God’s praise! What David knew in his time of difficulty can help sustain us too.