You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live for ever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.
One scholar has written that previous generations have found it too easy to proclaim "the fear of the Lord," and that we find it too hard. The lectionary verses for this psalm provide us with a creative tension between God's awesome power and God's tender care. Given that God is both powerful, striking fear in the hearts of followers and tender, offering compassion and love, how should we respond?
John Calvin suggests that praising and glorifying God through service are very appropriate responses. Surely a good way to respond to God's multi-faceted revelation is to respond in a variety of ways. God's faithfulness to people prompts people's faithfulness to God. Lent is a very good time to practice those habits of praise and service without rushing, something harder to accomplish in Advent, with a push to have Christmas arrive! Today, think for a moment about your spiritual practice: are you better at service in God's name or praise? How can you practice both? How will you, today?
"Sing praise to God, who reigns above, the God of all creation; the God of power, the God of love, the God of our salvation. With healing balm our souls God fills, and every faithless murmur still, to God all praise and glory."
(from the hymn "Sing Praise to God", Johann J. Schuttz)