Do you want to know God better? Do you want to become more thankful? According to the Bible, the answer is simple: study.
Psalm 111 puts it clearly: a) worship God with thankfulness, b) study his works, and c) follow God’s words if you want to know God and find wisdom and understanding.
#1: Worship God with thankfulness
The psalmist starts by inviting us to join him in thanking and worshiping God. This worship is deeply personal and wholehearted: “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart” (verse 1). He then vows to express his thanksgiving “in the company of the upright, in the congregation.” This indicates an ever-increasing movement from small groups to larger groups.
That raises three sets of questions for me:
- Do I worship God when I’m alone? Daily? Regularly?
- Do I worship God wholeheartedly? Not just on Sunday?
- Do I worship God publicly without concern for how others view me?
If you’re like me, those questions cause me to squirm. I can’t unequivocally say “yes” to all those questions. I wonder why that is?
The cause and the remedy are found in the rest of Psalm 111.
#2: Study God’s works and words
We often don’t worship God deeply because we don’t understand God’s works or his words. But we think we do.
Verse 2 uses a form of the word darash (דָּרַשׁ , pronounced daw-rash’) which translates as ponder or study:
“Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.”Ps. 111:2 ESV
This verse is posted above the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University. It rightly communicates the desire of scientists to study all the works of the Lord in creation. As Christians, we could easily post this verse in our studies to inspire our desire to study ALL of God’s works.
What are those works? Psalm 111 enumerates at least four.
Four things to study
First, there’s the work of creation.
The world reveals God’s majesty and splendor (verse 3). Whether it’s the farthest galaxy or the smallest micron, God made it all with attention to detail and exquisite beauty. Personally, I find that nature reminds me of God’s creative works more than anything else. Creation provides many reasons to be thankful. On Day 10 of this challenge, we discussed four.
Second, there are God’s daily works of provision (vs. 5).
God is known through scripture as Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides. Jesus reminded us to pray for our daily bread. Those who delight in God study all the ways he provides for us and then we return thanks.
As I work on my finances each week, I’m amazed to see the ways God provides in unexpected ways that were planned by God long before I needed them. I praise God for his constant care and provision. These are all reasons to pause and give thanks regularly.
Third, we study God’s works of salvation (see verse 9).
As part of his covenant promise, he redeemed Israel from Egypt. As part of the new covenant inaugurated by Jesus, God redeemed us from sin and death (Romans 8:2).
He has paid a full ransom for his people.Ps. 111:9 NLT
He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever.
What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!
#4: Finally, we study God’s future work.
In verse 6 the psalmist remembers how God conquered the nations to provide Israel the promised land. This foreshadows the greater conquest Jesus is accomplishing as he prepares heaven as our eternal home where there will be no more sin, sickness, crying, or death.
Speaking of eternity, the word forever or versions of it show up a lot in this passage. For example, God’s works and covenant last forever (vs. 8 & 9). His care is constant and unending (v. 5). And God’s works will be remembered forever (v. 4).
That means our study of God’s works, his words, and his ways is limitless. We cannot exhaust what there is to be learned about God, which means our praise is endless.
The Apostle John said all the books in the world can’t contain the works Jesus performed in three short years (John 21:25). Imagine how long it will take to write down everything he’s done just in your lifetime. Multiply that times billions of Christians across all the generations and we’ll be reading and learning about God forever!
#3: Study leads to works
As we spend more time studying God’s ways and responding through worship, we will feel compelled to respond with works worthy of our Savior. We will strangely desire to serve others and bless them with no desire for our own benefit. When you see this happen, stop and give thanks.
Spend time studying God’s word or his works this week. Take your gratitude journal with you and write down five things for which you can thank God. Express it to him as if for the first time. Write down how it makes you feel.
Father, I praise you as the Unlimited, Eternal, and Matchless God. Thank you for showing me part of who you are through creation, your provision, redemption, and your word. Forgive me for thinking I’ve got you figured out. Give me an eternal curiosity and fill me with endless thanks for all the ways you love me. I will sing, “Hallelujah” in the midst of the congregation today and every day. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.