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‘Worship … from A to Z’

Psalm 111 is a wonderful psalm for Thanksgiving. The psalmist knew that God is not theoretical, and that God matters. If you delight in God, the psalmist says, you need to study God. You need to study his works, his wonderful deeds, and when you study him, you get to see his character. His deeds are huge, and powerful, full of honor and majesty, giving power, changing nations, but they are also small and personal, providing food, basic needs and sustenance. Psalm 111 is an acrostic psalm. In the Hebrew it starts with each letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order.

The psalmist is saying why we need to praise God, why we need to be grateful to God, why we need to worship God from A to Z, the whole thing, from beginning to end, depends on God. And so he starts with I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. It starts with the individual, but it is with completeness, my whole heart, not some sort of half-hearted effort, whole heart, and the Hebrews thought the heart was the basis for everything, the seat of reason, understanding and imagination. It is your conscience, your source of emotion, and the psalmist say I will give thanks to the Lord with all that, with my whole heart.

And it’s not just in my quiet time, my personal mediation with God, it’s public — in the company of others, the company of the upright, in the congregation. And the reason is God’s work great and small, the creation of the atom, the wonder of an eclipse, the magnificence of the universe, galaxies and stars — A to Z. Providing for the smallest insect, to the greatest whale, the small vulnerable infant to the powerful political leader, A to Z. And those works include that small infant in the manger, who gave us the most important work of all; giving us redemption in his work on the cross, work of forgiveness and love. God has indeed sent his redemption to his people and God showed his mercy and his graciousness. The psalmist ends by talking about God’s precepts, given to us, established for us from A to Z, forever and ever, and to be fulfilled from A to Z with faithfulness and uprightness. Psalm 111 reminds us that we have much to be thankful for, for the A to Z of God’s work in all our lives.

Rev. Dale Brown is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian churches. His email address is dalembesq@aol.com