Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.
Book of Common Prayer, Holy Eucharist
It is right to praise God; it is a good and joyful thing. It is so, regardless of our condition, for it is outer directed, totally selfless, wells up from our inner spirit, demonstrates humility, and is a form of prayer. And though praise may be described by many adverbs, that it is right, good, and a joyful thing is more than sufficient.
Let us begin to identify why it is right, good, and joyful. The last verse of the last Psalm is an interesting place to begin.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
Here we not only include ourselves but all breathing things, all that is alive in creation. When we consider all the animals, sea creatures and even insects, the list is immense. And that is the point—there is no limit to who and what may and should praise God.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
We not only praise God for where He is and what He is but with all manner of instruments.
Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Psalm 148 extends and amplifies the scope of praise from the heavens to the earth, from celestial objects to ocean depths, from mere mortals to kings, princes, and rulers, with the splendor of the Lord exalted above all:
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and women,
old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
How do we, who are weak, compare in strength to the Lord? We don’t, and that is why we praise Him for protecting us from those who rely on their strength to rule the weak. Our great and mighty Lord does not take pleasure in those who are strong (for they have no need for Him), but in us in our weakness and humility who desperately need Him.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
The Lord sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
In fact, He upholds all who fall and will lift up all who are bowed down, who cry.
The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
We are important yet insignificant—a contradiction.
Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.
But, we gain our significance because we were created by Him, and so we praise Him for our being.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
(All scripture New International Version Bible)