Six Ways to Praise God (Psalm 105)



Psalm 105 describes 6 ways to praise God
  1. Thank him (vs 1)
  2. “Call on his name” declare who God is to God
  3. Declare his works to everyone (vs 1b, 2b)
  4. Sing to God
  5. Seek him
  6. Remember him
(The six ways are based on general concepts that appear to be the same, not on verbal form). While all six of these elements are important, Psalm 105 is principally concerned about the sixth way - remembering what God has done. It is on the basis of remembering that the other five acts of worship are done.
First, the Psalm remembers the covenant God made with Abraham that he then reaffirmed with Isaac (his son) and Jacob (Isaac’s son, Abraham’s grandson) (Ps 105:7-11). Then it proceeds to consider the wanderings of Abraham, Issac, Jacob and their families as they sought the promises of God’s covenant (Ps 105:12-15). Then the life of Joseph is summarized, being presented as an act of God’s faithfulness to prepare Jacob’s sons (future Israel) for the famine (Ps 105:16-22) (see Gen 37, 39-47). Next, the psalmist turns his attention to the activities of Moses and Aaron leading to the Ten Plagues  (see Exo 4-12:32). Finally, the psalmist briefly describes the events of The Exodus including the plundering of Egypt (Exo 12:33-36), the pillars of fire and clouds (Exo 13:17-22), manna and quail (Exo 17) and the provision of water in the desert at Meribah (Exo 17:1-7)
    
For those of us familiar with the contents of Genesis and Exodus all of these events in Israel’s past are familiar. However, it is easy to not recognize the important national significance these events had for Israel. This psalm makes it clear- its not simply remembering what God has done, but its the act of God’s own remembrance of his promise. 
  The covenant that Yahweh makes with Abraham is the foundation for all of these historical events and is the centerpiece of Psalm 105’s remembrance. The covenant is found in Genesis 15 (and 17),
“Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. So shall your offspring be….. I am the LORD (Yahweh) who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land [Canaan] to possess….Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions…..To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites
It is critical to understand the covenant to understand how God was faithful to Israel (otherwise, what are they remembering?). 
The act of remembrance in Psalm 105 begins in the first stanza, 
“He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded….” 105:8
The psalmist praises God through remembering God’s own remembrance of the covenant he made to Abraham. The whole theme of the psalm is God’s faithfulness for the covenant to happen this is evidenced in multiple places such as (but not limited to)
“He [God] allowed no one to oppress them [the Israelite forefathers]; rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”- vs 14-15
And 
“When he [God] summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, he had sent a mana head of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave” vs 16-17
Everything that happens in the psalm from the Ten Plagues to the Exodus are all attributed as God’s acts as we see above. 
All of these things are done with a purpose in mind, 
“So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen one with singing. And he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil, that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws. Praise the LORD [Yahweh]”
The reason that Yahweh remembered his covenant and did all of this for Israel was so that the Israelites would obey him and praise him. The very purpose of God’s love in our lives and those who have gone before is so that we may worship him.  The six acts of praising God brought forth in the first stanza are all in reflection of God’s faithfulness in the past, creating a basis for praising and trusting him in the present AND in the future. 
Israel remembered their national history and celebrated, in the same way that those of us living in the United States remember the great presidencies of Washington and Lincoln, or the courage of freedom advocates like Martin Luther King Jr, Susan B. Anthony and many others.
What God has done in your life that has proven his faithfulness? If you can’t think of anything, think of what he did for Israel and what he did as Jesus the God-Man. 
Now that you remember, be sure to thank him, call on his name, declare his works to others, sing to him and seek him. 


 Exegetical Note

I originally discovered this psalm in 1 Chronicles 16, where Psalm 105:1-15 was quoted in 1 Chr 16: 8-22 thinking it was one poem. After checking cross-references, I realized 1 Chronicles 16 is  a canto, according to several commentaries. This means that lines are quoted from several poems and combined making it appear as one poem. Originally this post was going to be on seeking God in light of David bringing back the Ark of the Covenant- the context of 1 Chronicles 16. The first part of Psalm 105 is probably quoted there as general praise not specific to the occasion of the Ark returning to Israel. Therefore, it wouldn’t have been exegetically responsible for me to write the post as if the original intent of Psalm 105 was for the Ark of the Covenant’s return to Israel. All this being said, some would argue that 1 Chronicles 16 could still be considered one composition. 

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