Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. (Psalm 150: 6)
I love how God will often reveal a wealth of insight in a few simple lines. Over the last few days, the subject of praise has been much on my mind – I think we all have those times when something seems to roll around in our thoughts, constantly present just behind the requirements of life, and different Scriptures emerge here and there, each one adding something to the process.
Something emerged with clarity in the early hours of this morning, and I’d like to share the profound simplicity of it. Much has been written on the subject of praise. Many sermons have been delivered, and there is a wealth of study in the Bible, enough to keep us busy for a long while. But this truth emerges as a solid, enduring definition that does not exclude the others. It seems, rather, to transform them into a practical way to keep praise with us and in us at all times.
There are all kinds of praise – noisy, vocal praise, even shouting out praise, singing praise, dancing, rejoicing, whispered, prayed, lifting of hands…the list goes on. But there is another kind, and this verse captures it beautifully in two words: ‘has breath.’ As I pondered this, I realised something. Breath can be literal, but it is also a type for the life-breathed Spirit of God at creation. This isn’t just about the lungs and the physical process of breathing to sustain life. It includes everything that has the Creator contained within it. Which, of course, includes pretty much everything.
While we do need to keep in mind that man has been appointed to a special role within creation, and was created a little differently for this very reason – that purpose being to fellowship with, to worship and praise God in special relationship – this verse nevertheless points out a very relevant and practical truth regarding praise to the Creator. It is essentially saying that everything in creation should live in praise. It is showing us that the simplest and most natural form of praise is that everything lives according to the purpose for which it was created, and in so doing is constantly praising the Creator, who is also the one who sustains creation according to His will.
It reminds us to look at the ‘natural world’ as an example of praise. An owl lives as an owl. It doesn’t attempt to live as a duck. Likewise, we never see a deer attempting to live as a leopard, or an elephant as an albatross. They all have within them a ‘blueprint’ of their plan and purpose, and live according to that in the most natural way. Everything they do thus points back to the Creator and the perfection of His creation. It is as if the natural world were a reflection of the perfect work and will of God, and this is, by its very nature, constant praise.
What a wonderful truth. It enables us to live in constant praise, a simple, abiding attitude that permeates our entire being and endures in us as a manifestation of God, a mirror for the world to see Him. Our vocal praise, our ‘praise activity,’ is in addition to this, for it is good to praise the Lord alone or with others with voice, instruments an actions. But this is the foundation – to live our lives with Him as the focus, according to the will and perfect plan He has for us. It’s the whole plan for mankind, but also the individual plan He has for every believer.
To enable us, He has given His Word and His Spirit so that we may fellowship with Him and learn His will. He teaches us, and we in turn ‘live the praise’ that will testify of Him. Perhaps the simplest and ultimate form of praise is, then, to live lives in surrender to His will. That, in essence, is the example given us in creation – not only to speak praise or display it in action, but to live it. We can, in this way, be praise – constantly, day by day, moment by moment, eternally praising Him simply by breathing. What a wonderful, encouraging truth.
Thank You, Lord, that You teach us in the simplest and often the most unexpected of ways. Thank You for showing us that our surrender has purpose beyond ourselves, that it’s a way to manifest Your perfect will in even our smallest moments. Help us to live for You, in You, by You, so that we may be constant praise to Your Holy name.