Praise is More than Simple Words

When God created the earth and men to live upon it and enjoy it, He gave them two commands: They were not to eat the fruit of one single tree (Genesis 2:16) and they were to care for the environment into which they had been placed (Genesis 2:15).

Psalm 65 begins with the invitation to praise God as the psalmist writes: “Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled” (65:1).

How does praise await God?

When Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit of that single tree, they brought down on themselves, and every generation since theirs, the judgment of God. God had options at this point. The one He chose would astound the world: He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the debt that mankind owed because of sin. Though David did not know it at the time, he spoke prophetically of the Messiah when he wrote: “O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come. When we were overwhelmed by sins, you atoned for our transgression. Blessed is the man you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.” (65:2-4)

Praise awaits God for the salvation He provided by sending His Son to put on skin and allow Himself to be nailed to a cross for us.

We blew the first command and God showed us the way back through Jesus.

We also blew the second command, and God continually shows us the way back from that travesty.

When sin entered the world all creation was negatively affected. Everything began to spoil and die. Nature has a cycle of birth, decay and death because of sin. But everyone knows that mankind has done a pretty efficient job of hurrying that process along. Our garbage alone tells the tale—waste that pollutes and destroys what God asked us to protect. We kill for fun that which He gave life to for our pleasure. Greedily, we dig for the riches of the earth and leave behind the death of a habitat and of the creatures supported by it. And the list goes on.

The latter part of Psalm 65 is a reminder of that second command. It is a picture of what God does and what He expects that we will continue as the appointed caretakers of the earth He has given us. Earth, seas and sky are all mentioned in verses 5 through 13. Here are some excerpts:

You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you ordained it…The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain…” (65:9, 12, 13). The food on our tables, or anything else we enjoy, is only produced because He's looking after business. That's praiseworthy.

The reminder of the command that we have in Genesis is found in “you care for the land…you enrich it abundantly…” Just because we, as believers, know that there will be a new earth one day doesn’t give us permission to help destroy the old one. We are instructed to be as He is (1 Peter 1:16). He continues to care for the earth, to invest in it, as we should.

Psalm 65:5 says: “You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior.” He answered our sin by sending a Saviour. He answered our neglect by continuing to provide for us despite it. For those things He awaits praise. But praise is not just an outflow of words, it is an overflow of deeds. We must accept His forgiveness. We must return to caring for what He has created for our sustenance and pleasure. These are actions that answer the grace that He has shown to us.

These are the vows that we need to fulfill (65:1). This is the praise that waits to be given.

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