Psalm 9: In Praise of What?

I don’t know about you, but for me God’s works often seem trapped on paper and bound in leather. On the pages of Genesis 1 we find the creation of the universe, and in Genesis 8 we find the flood of judgement. The important Abrahamic covenant is found in Genesis 12, and the exodus from Egypt, the many plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea are found in, well, obviously, Exodus! And the list goes on. I look throughout scriptures and find one great deed of God after another for which I can cite book, chapter, and verse. But when I am done reading about them, I close the nice leather-bound pages and place it on a shelf before I go about my day, rarely thinking about them again, and almost never talking about them. They are wonderful deeds, all of them, but why are they not more than just words on a page to me? Why do I not sing praise of them? And why do I not tell others?

Recently the Cleveland Cavaliers, my hometown professional basketball team, just won the NBA championship. This was a notable event for a number of reasons: first, Cleveland hasn’t won a major championship since just after the dawn of time, secondly, they came back from being down 1-3 in the finals, something no team had ever done, and thirdly, they did this while playing against a team that set the all-time record for wins in a season and who just so happened to have the reigning MVP on their squad! It was certainly cause for rejoicing, and Cleveland did just that! By some estimates, over ONE MILLION people showed up in Cleveland a few days later to celebrate. People flew from all over the country to stand in the hot sunlight just for the opportunity to catch a brief glimpse of one of the players riding by seated on a convertible or some other sort of transport. For the next few days it was nearly impossible to turn on the television, listen to the radio, or scan the internet without seeing or hearing something about the win and the celebration! It’s been a few weeks now since all of this, but it’s still part of most every conversation for we who live in or around what is now being called, “Believeland.”

The point of bringing up the Cavaliers is not to diminish the joy and excitement associated that event, or others like it. On the contrary, I think such events provide tangible examples of what it means to sing praise. But lets not allow the moment to pass, I think we can learn something from it. At the very least we can ask the question, why don’t we get excited, in a similar manner, about what the Lord is doing? I don’t mean just those things printed on paper and bound in leather, I mean the things that he is currently doing. When was the last time we threw a party for something that God had done for us? When did we invite friends over to celebrate the return of a prodigal? When have we proclaimed anywhere, so others could hear, the mighty works of God done today? When have we spoken of his righteousness, his justice, or his mercy? When have we praised his protection, his comfort, or his love?

Maybe the reason we don’t praise any current work of God is that there is none to praise. I mean, maybe he stopped doing things for us a long time ago. Maybe his work was done on the cross and he left everything under our control ever since. Maybe he is waiting to see what we will now do. Maybe…well…maybe that type of thinking is wrong.

Don’t we (Christians) believe that God is at work around us all the time? Don’t we think that his plan for redemption is still on-going in the lives of people? Don’t we think that he is still providing for us, protecting us, and guiding us? If so, if he is still doing all this, then maybe we don’t see it anymore because our eyes are too focused on other things making the obvious work of God disappear into the background. Maybe our silence is due to spiritually blind eyes. Maybe. But I think there are moments when we do see his work, yet we raise our eyebrows a bit and mutter to ourselves, “of course, he’s supposed to do that.” How is it that we have allowed ourselves to see God’s great works with indifference?

For those days when we don’t see anything, I wonder how we can get new eyes to see his work? For those days when we shrug our shoulders, I wonder how we can get a new heart that allows us to rejoice? And for those rare times when we do see him working, I wonder if we can throw caution to the wind and praise God without regard for what others might think? I know over a million people did that for the Cavaliers. I wonder if I can do it for God?

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