Psalm 111 - Whole-hearted thanks

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever...
Psalm 111:1-2, 7-8a (NRSV)
4th Sunday after Epiphany, Year B
Proper 15, Year B, Sunday between August 14 and August 20
Proper 23, Year C, Sunday between October 9 and October 15

This psalm lets the believer declare their "attitude of gratitude" for God's majesty and great works.

Take note that this psalm is spoken in the company of the congregation. The palms are not extemporaneous prayers, but are literary compositions, meant to be re-read and shared. It is believed that most if not all were sung in worship.

Psalm 111 serves as a mini-catechism for the faith of Israel, and can serve as well for those who stand in the Judaic tradition.
  • Great are the works of the Lord.
  • God's righteousness endures forever.
  • The Lord is gracious and merciful.
  • Key points of God's history with the people are alluded to: saving deeds (exodus), providing food (manna), establishing a heritage (Abraham).
  • God is is ever mindful of his covenant.
And the psalm concludes with language used to commend obedient study of the Lord's words and ways. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever."

This is, however, a song for insiders. You really have to know the story for the faith-claims to resonate.

But if that story is yours, it becomes easier to sing it like you mean it, full-throated, aware that you are touching the majesty which the psalm claims. In worship, we often need a litte warm up to get going, we do not always start the service in tune (musically or spiritually). So it helps to declare our intention, as a guidepost to where we are about to go: "I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart."

Gratitude Appreciation Thanks Thankful Grateful, (CC0 1.0).


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