Praise Yah!


Priase Yah! 

Scripture: Psalm 111

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

Our psalm this morning is a psalm of praise and thanksgiving. It was composed to be remembered. Each of the 22 lines in this psalm begin with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. We call these alphabet or ABC poems; the technical name is abecedarian poems. This psalm was composed in that fashion, so that you would know it. This psalm wasn’t originally read, it was spoken or recited. It likely was written down until after it found circulation and usage in ancient Israelite devotional life.

This is a psalm of celebration. In English we translate the first line as Praise the Lord. In Hebrew this would be Hallelujah!

This psalm is part of a section in the Psalms which focus on Hallelujah. Praise Yaw, which is an abbreviation of the divine name, Yahweh. If you see the words Praise the Lord translated in the Old Testament, the Hebrew is probably Hallelujah. We see clear evidence that this is a psalm of celebration and praise.

The Book of Psalms are broken down into five sections. Psalm 111 is in the fifth section. Tradition says that David is the author of all the psalms. It is believed that David did write many of the psalms, but not all of them. 72 psalms are attributed to David. When we read the Psalms, specifically the one we have today, we find that they are being written in the post-exilic period. Meaning David can’t have been the author.

The Psalms are decidedly human in nature. They aren’t meant to reflect divine words that God has spoken. Rather they are reflective of how individuals experienced God. They illustrate how ancient Israelites understood their lives in relationship to God. Psalm 111 is believed to be from the post-exilic period.

Psalm 111 relays the many things that the writer gives thanks to God for. The psalm is a celebration of what God has done and how we as people might respond. The words of God are great. God is full of honour and majesty, gracious and merciful, faithful and just. The praise of God should endure forever.

What does it mean to ensure that the praise of God endures forever? Commentator Stan Mast writes, “If we stop to think about it, we do know what it means to extol the attributes of God as revealed in his works on our behalf. We extol the virtues of god-like figures in our society all the time. We praise sports stars for their hitting abilities, for their jump shots, for their speed. We praise entertainment figures for their beauty, for their acting ability, for their voices, for their performances. We even praise preachers once in a while for a good sermon, for compassionate pastoral work, for their leadership ability. We know how to praise mere humans for their performance. We just need to pay more attention to God’s performance in Christ and become as avid in our devotion to Jesus as we are in our adulation of our human heroes.” (Stan Mast –

Maybe we lose sight of God. The words of God get lost in the shuffle of our busy modern lives. We find ourselves taking less time to just sit and experience how magnificent creation is. We don’t see God show up when we sit down to watch the game. We don’t see God cross the silver screen when we watch a movie. We don’t hear God when we listen to music and often the sounds of nature are drowned out by modern life.

Do we not see, hear, or otherwise experience God because God isn’t present? Is it us or God? The psalmist indicates that God is present in all things, provides for all things and is worthy of praise. We should also seek out opportunities to express our love and admiration for all that God has done and continues to do in creation.

Commentator Scott Hoezee writes, “They say that those who do not remember or learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. If so, perhaps the opposite is also true: those who remember, celebrate, and rehearse the past realize that the present moment is also infused with the goodness and faithfulness of God. But we see this best when we accurately remember how God has revealed Godself to us and brings all that to remembrance … May we take that responsibility with all the due reverence and seriousness it entails.” (Scott Hoezee –

How has God revealed Godself in creation? Through Christ and the Holy Spirit. If we look at the life of Jesus and our gospel reading today from Mark. We find a Jesus who isn’t interested in dominance or publicity. His goal is releasing chains, not binding them. He works on behalf of God’s children, not for his own aims. Mark opens this passage with the people talking about the authority of Jesus and ends with those same people spreading the word about that same authority.

Psalm 111 also speaks to God’s authority in the world. Great are God’s works, full of honour and majesty are God’s works, God has shown the people the power of God’s works, the work of God’s hands are faithful and just.

Psalm 111 reminds us that the things that God has done in the world are worthy not just of being remembered, but of praise. The manner in which the poem was first written exemplifies this, allowed it to become embedded in the culture of the people which has allowed it to endure over the centuries. Similarly God uses ministers, teachers, and prophets to bring to light the things that are important to God. To remind us of the things that matter.

What psalm 111 reminds us to pay attention to the things around us. A permanent reminder that God is good and that God is present in our lives. Amen.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.

St. Andrew’s supports the gathering of community agencies, providing space for the Affordable Housing Committee. Rev. Ellis’ voice is key in advocating for improvements in awareness, empathy and action on key determinants such as housing, income and food security. 

Kristina Nairn

Public Health Nurse, HKPR Health Unit

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