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How to Praise the Lord

God Himself can teach us. Psalm 119.164

Psalm 119.161-168 (3)

Pray Psalm 119.164.
Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous judgments.

Sing Psalm 119.163-165.
(Hymn to Joy: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee)
Lord, I hate all sin and lying but I love Your holy Law.
All throughout the day I praise You, thanking You in joy and awe.
For Your judgments all are righteous; all who love Your Law have peace.
We shall never stumble as our faith and love for You increase.

Read Psalm 119.161-168; meditate on verse 164.

1. How often did the psalmist praise the Lord?

2. What guided his praises?

Because we do not know how to pray as we ought (Rom. 8.26), we need all the instruction and help we can get. We’ve all been in the occasional prayer meeting where the leader will urge us to spend the next few moments in praise. Whereupon follows a series of prayers that sound somewhat like, “Lord, we really just praise You.” A praise song from the ‘70s urged us, “Let’s just praise the Lord, praise the Lord; let’s just lift our voice to heaven and praise the Lord.” And that was it. Surely we can find more specific words with which to exalt our glorious God and Savior?

This brief verse is packed with instructions for prayer. First, we note that the psalmist resolved to praise God “seven times a day”. This can have one of two meanings. Either he literally set aside seven times to retreat in prayer and praise to God, rather like Daniel (Dan. 6.10); or the number seven here stands for completion and is the equivalent of saying, “I praise the Lord without ceasing” (cf. 1 Thess. 5.17; see Calvin quote that follows). Either way, whether seven set times a day or all throughout the day, this amounts to more praise to God than most of us are accustomed to offer of a day. We can all improve in this.

But where do we find the words to praise the Lord? Right there in His Word, in His “righteous judgments.” The preposition עַ֝֗ל(ahl), is better translated “according to” rather than “because.” Although, if we truly understand God’s righteous judgments and marvel at the wonders of His Law, we will certainly have cause to praise Him; yet “according to” directs us to seek in those judgments, as in all God’s Word, the unfathomable depths of His goodness, wisdom, justice, truth, mercy, and love as grounds for giving specific words of praise to the Lord throughout the day.

Scripture affords abundant reasons to praise God. But we must train our mind to discover those reasons, our heart to delight in them, and our tongue to exalt and glorify God in constant praise and thanks.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments” (Ps. 119.7).

God’s righteous judgments often discipline us; but by that we know we are loved: “For whom the LORD loves He chastens…” and “whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Heb. 12.6; Prov. 3.11, 12).

The psalmist’s maturity level shines in this verse: “Seven times a day I praise You” for all the ways and times You are kind enough, through Your holy Word, and the power of the Holy Spirit, to convict me of sin and to point out all the things that please and displease You (Ps. 119.164). That is a bold prayer. And that is a mature prayer.

We will do well to follow his example and his heart for learning the judgments of God, through the guidance and instruction found in His Word. For it is: “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4.12). Also, by the way, “there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4.13). So, it only makes sense that we praise God for His righteous judgments, and we strive to learn them as well. Because learning them is the first step in doing them and in being thankful for them. “For praise from the upright is beautiful” (Ps. 33.1).

We do not praise Him because He is lenient with us; instead, we praise Him because we know that He expects us to grow and change and become more like Jesus. He always dangles that carrot out for us—that we can be sanctified, we can be changed, we can increase in holiness, and we can be revived. “…that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God” (Ezek. 11.20).

How then can we praise Him, for His righteous judgments, with our life and with our words?
“Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals; praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD!” (Ps. 150)

For reflection

1. For what do you typically give praise to the Lord?

2. What could you do to bring more praise and thanks into your daily life?

3. How would you expect giving more praise to the Lord to help you grow in love and obedience to Him?

By the adverb seven times, the Prophet means that he was continually or very often engaged in celebrating the praises of God. John Calvin (1506-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.164

Pray Psalm 119.161-163
What opportunities will you have to take a stand on God’s Word today? Commit them and all your day to the Lord, and ask Him to make His Word readily available to you throughout the day.

Sing Psalm 119.161-163.
(Hymn to Joy: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee)
Lord, I take my stand with gladness on Your holy, righteous Word.
I rejoice as with great treasure in Your holy Law, O Lord.
Princes persecute me daily; without cause they seek my harm.
Yet I stand on Your Word squarely; hold me with Your mighty arm.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Psalm 119 by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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