Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! / Morning by morning new mercies I see; / All I have needed Thy hand hath provided – / Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!*
*Thomas Chisholm, 1866-1960, ‘Great is Thy faithfulness’
Praise the Lord.
I will extol the Lord with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
2 Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures for ever.
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant for ever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are established for ever and ever,
enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant for ever –
holy and awesome is his name.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.
What a wonderful psalm to read after exploring Jacob’s story. The human beings in the story are flawed and untrustworthy, but the Lord is gracious and compassionate, providing for his people, remembering his covenant, showing his power, and giving them the lands of other nations.
Read through the psalm again, noting the number of times the psalmist uses the phrases ‘for ever’ and ‘eternal’. Because God is eternal – he is not subject to the world’s changing philosophies and cultures. He remains steadfast and true. The aspects of his character that he revealed to Jacob thousands of years ago are the same today. Which of the statements about God in this psalm stand out for you today?
In the western world in the twentyfirst century, it seems that wisdom has been lost. Popular culture espouses numerous contradictory values. Verse 10 reminds us that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’. How we need to pray for our countries for people to follow God’s precepts!
This psalm is an acrostic poem, with each line beginning with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Why not try writing your own acrostic poem, praising God for the things he has done for you and the blessings he has poured into your life?
Deeper Bible study
You might like to pray: ‘Don’t let me settle for the shallows of mere religious compliance. Fill me with the joyful fear that comes as we seek your face.’1
This psalm forms a pair with psalm 112, the first focusing on the Lord, the next on his people. That has got to be the right way round! Jesus teaches us to begin prayer by acknowledging ‘Our Father in heaven’,2 his transcendence and his nearness guiding and shaping the rest of our thoughts. So, ‘Praise the Lord’ (v 1) is the place to start. The rest of the psalm explains why – fixing our eyes on his provision, his promises, his power, his faithfulness and justice, his redemption. It’s a psalm to work through slowly, stopping at each verse to ponder and wonder at the Lord who is willing to be called, ‘Our Father’.
Praising the Lord aright means being wholehearted and public about it. It is something that the psalmist is going to do in front of others, seeking out others to share his enthusiastic appreciation of the Lord. Our enthusiasm can be expressed in many styles (quiet but genuine; loud but truth-filled). However, ‘with all my heart’ (v 1) does not leave any room for lukewarmness. The route to warming up our hearts is to ponder the Lord’s works (v 2), gaining insight by the power of the Holy Spirit to take delight in his righteousness, grace and compassion. We need the Spirit to give us the wisdom to distinguish God at work.3 Then we can be proper historians, reading history and seeing God’s gracious work in the provision of manna in the wilderness, the conquering of the Promised Land and, prior to that, in God’s giving his people unique laws and redeeming them from Egyptian bondage (vs 5–7). Today, we may revel in their equivalents in the greater work of Christ in the new covenant, which brings better promises to us. It is entirely appropriate that we fear this God who judges our work as our father.4
Rather than just chat about the weather over coffee (!), who might you ‘extol the Lord’ (v 1) before today?
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Job 31,32; Psalms 86,87
Pray for Scripture Union
Scripture Union Spain asks us to pray for the development of the ‘MusicArt’ project. Pray that as they look to the longer-term future, God will open doors to perform their new musical in many more cities in Spain, so that many people can hear the good news of Jesus.