ADVENT DAY THREE
"I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing praises to You before the gods.
I will bow down toward Your holy temple
And give thanks to Your name
for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word
according to all Your name."
Some attribute this Psalm to King David who was called from the sheepfolds,
"the prophet having set down what God had in mercy done for him in calling him from
following ewes, etc. and making him king, and performing his promises to him."
These verses to me have the dust of the sheepfold upon them, the dust of the hay in the stable. First of all, worshipping God, as those shepherds who knelt humbling before him in the manger bed, required giving thanks with all their heart. It requires all our heart: no divided heart, no divided loyalties will do. Just as receiving a helpless infant requires all the kindling of a mother's heart, without which something would be terribly wrong, so worshipping our Lord, we must receive Him with a whole heart as a necessary proof of our exceeding love.
The shepherds with the stank of the sheepfolds, who were on the bottom rung of social status, whose reputation like gypsies was that they would steal whatever was not nailed down, were not even allowed in the temple to worship. Like David the shepherd boy, they would sing praises with the angels under the stars, under the star, for what God had done, praises in spite of King Herod's rage.
Some think that this Psalm was written when David was firmly seated upon his throne, while some think it was sung with the hint of the names of Haggai and Zechariah, as a form of thanksgiving for their deliverance from all their enemies, and their ultimate settlement in their own land, after ...Darius had married Esther. (Adam Clarke)
As Matthew Henry says, "Heaven is God's holy temple, and thitherward we must lift up our eyes in all our addresses to God, our Father in heaven." In the time that this was written, "the priests alone went into the temple; the people, at the nearest, did but worship towards it, and that they might do at a distance. Christ is our temple, and towards him we must look as Mediator between us and God, in all our praises of Him."
This week my face was turned to a television special of country music. I don't watch must television, a little news and a smattering of P.B.S. specials with a little of the season's Hallmark Christmas movies thrown in. Yet, for the very first time we watched the CMA Country Christmas. I enjoyed it because it was so politically incorrect in that the true Christmas carols were sung unapologetically mixed in with contemporary songs of the season. With their viewing audiences, Christ is proclaimed as these verses say, "I will sing praises to You before the gods." I am not their judge, but I think it is safe to say that not all their lives represent glowing Christian examples, yet the praises of God came boldly and beautifully from their lips nevertheless. It's enough to give a little laugh in my heart how our Lord is still worshipped as though the world is kneeling yet in the dust of the stable before a manger bed.
As Mary sang, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour," (Luke 1:46 & 47) so the world breaks out in joyous song. Here is a poem that remind us of the humble worship from David the shepherd boy to the shepherds on the hillside gives to our King, to what should escape from our hearts and mouths in praise...
"See amid the winter's snow,
Born for us on earth below,
See the tender Lamb appears,
Promised from eternal years.
Hail, thou ever blessed morn!
Hail, redemption's happy morn!
Sing through all Jerusalem,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies;
He, who throned in height sublime,
Sits amid the cherubim.
Say, ye holy shepherds, say,
What your joyful news to-day;
Wherefore have ye left your sheep
On the lonely mountain steep?
'As we watched at dead of night,
Lo, we saw a wondrous light;
Angels singing peace on earth,
Told us of a Saviour's birth.'
Sacred Infant, all divine,
What a tender love was Thine;
Thus to come from highest bliss
Down to such a world as this.
Teach, O teach us, Holy Child,
By Thy face so meek and mild,
Teach us to resemble Thee,
In Thy sweet humility."
E. Caswall (1814-1878)
"And give thanks for your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word according to Your name...
You made me bold with strength in my soul."
"In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God...
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us,
and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father,
full of grace and truth."
(John 1:1 & 1:14)
This truth given through the lovingkindness and tender mercies of our Lord makes us bold with strength in our souls, to magnify His word, His name. This boldness is a gift of the Holy Spirit,
the infilling with His power to strengthen us in our very souls. This is why His Word is so very dear to me, and I am not afraid to speak boldly its truth.
Get up, ye lowly shepherd,
Go tell it on the mountains!