Psalm 100 and Psalm 137 show how praise is a barometer for where the believer stands with God.
Psalm 100:1 There is a coming to God with rejoicing. V 4 and there is to be thankfulness in His presence. As believers, we are aware in an acute fashion of who God is and who we are in relation to Him. There is a humbling in His presence as when Moses removed his shoes in the presence of the burning bush. And out of that humbling should come praise. But it’s not automatic and it’s not always easy, sometimes even impossible.
Psalm 137:1-3 The Israelite’s had been carried away to Babylon and had been requested to perform songs of praise in the presence of their captors. V 4-6 They could not, even though they remembered all the blessing they had known. They remembered God’s greatness and goodness but now they were aware that they were away from it all.
There are three cases where one cannot praise God:
- The believer is not in a place to praise due to oppression, as in Psalm 137.
- The believer has kept himself from praise by a lack of faith. This is like having clogged plumbing that water cannot run through. Fretting, fear, inability to see God for who He is clogs up our spiritual plumbing. Even if we come into God’s presence, that “clog” says that either God is not good or not on our side, and praise does not flow as it ought. The ones carried away to Babylon remembered the covenant but they knew it had been broken and they could not sing songs of praise.
What is praise that can get “clogged”? Praise is declaring that God has been good to “me” in a personal way. It must be personal. No other statement is praise. Praise is love and joy because of God’s personal graciousness to the believer, that God has shown mercy through the Lord Jesus to “me”. This kind of praise can flow in all kinds of circumstances when faith is active, as for Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail. When faith fails, praise gets “clogged”.
- There are times when God stops up praise. According to the 1689 Confession, there are times when God is pleased to withdraw fellowship. When that happens what is the believer to do? Act as if everything is ok? No. The response is in Psalm 137 and Psalm 42. The believer is to remember and to see God’s goodness by faith, knowing that God will bring back His presence and will restore praise.