Psalm 111 (NRSV)
1 Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2 Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of honor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the heritage of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever.
I am a checklist person. I have one for almost everything – one for my projects, one for my family, one for my prayers. As I work through my lists, I continuously re-evaluate what my priority is on that particular day. Sound familiar?
It is not surprising that when I read Psalm 111, I am filled with peace. As a checklist person, I appreciate it as a template I can use daily. Right away, the first “to-do” item listed in verse 1 is “Praise the Lord!” Not only is it the first item, it is also mentioned at the end. Praising our amazing God gives me a reality check and reminds me of my place in this world. It is about identifying WHO he is. If you need help with this, just keep reading. This entire psalm is sprinkled with descriptions of him and his works – great (verse 2), full of honor and majesty (verse 3), gracious and merciful (verse 4), faithful, just, and trustworthy (verse 7).
In verse 2, we are told to give thanks, and it is not a quick, “Thanks!”, as if someone handed me a tissue. It is giving thanks to him with my whole heart in public. Gentle reminders of his covenant with us (verses 5 and 9), his faithfulness to us (verses 7 and 8), and how it is everlasting are all here in this psalm.
There is one phrase that gets my attention every time I read the Bible. For me, it puts everything in perspective—fear of the Lord. It is brought up twice in this Psalm (verse 5 and 10). At first, it did not make sense to me. Fearing a God who loves us? It was confusing. Eventually, I learned that “fear” could be interchanged with “respect”, and it changed everything. When I find myself trying to control everything, thinking I need to complete my whole checklist, I ask myself, “Do I fear him? Do I respect him and all that he stands for?” Often, I do not and need to re-prioritize what is really most important. How about you? Are you fearing the Lord?
Father God, as we try to get through the turmoil of the brokenness, we pray for discernment to know and remember our place in this world. May we put you as our priority no matter how many things are weighing on our minds and our hearts. And when we do that, Lord, please fill us up with your peace.