Praise the Lord! Praise the Name of the Lord! Love the Lord with all your heart! These kinds of commands are a regular part of the Bible, and there are no passages in the Bible that seem ashamed of this fact. God commands us to praise Him.
Psa. 22:23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
Psa. 106:1 Praise the LORD!
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
However, it’s not just praise that the Word of God commands. The Bible commands God’s people to love Him as well. The following passages are not suggestions. They are commands!
Deut. 6:5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Deut. 10:12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
Josh. 23:11 Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God.
What are we to make of these commands? The unashamed biblical commands to praise and adore God are indeed the source of doubting for some. It seems to raise a question about God’s self-esteem. How is it that we are constantly being commanded to praise and adore our Creator? Does God have an insecure streak? Does he need reassurance through human praise and affection? These kinds of questions are not out of bounds for Christians. Indeed, we must ask such questions in our pursuit of Christ as our Savior and Lord. When we seek him, He promises to be found.
In response to this line of inquiry, we should note several things about God:
1. There is a very fundamental difference between God and mankind in that where mankind is not always praiseworthy, indeed we are often deserving of quite the opposite, God is in his very nature a being of infinite worth and goodness. It is never vain or self-serving for God to command praise or love for himself because He is worthy of all love and praise.
2. When we think of God’s commands to praise and adore Him, we must not think of the result of that praise and adoration as having any positive benefit for God himself. We do not add to God’s goodness or loveliness when we love Him or praise Him. We do not increase his self-sustaining joy in his own being when we tell Him of His own perfections. Rather, we are the beneficiaries of our obeying commands to praise God.
I have never heard this second point put into words better than the way that C. S. Lewis puts it in his Meditations on The Psalms. He writes:
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . . The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” (C. S. Lewis – Meditations on The Psalms)
Therefore, when we read biblical commands to love and praise God, we should understand that God commands these things out of his own love for us. It is because he wants us to have the joy that He has, that God commands our praise. He alone knows what will ultimately satisfy our souls. We should trust his judgment.
Looking forward to worshiping with you on Sunday.
In Christ Alone,