Sunday School Lessons

Proper Scoping of Praise

While discussing projects at work, my colleagues and I will sometimes talk about “scope”.  Scope defines the boundaries of a project, including what it will contain, and what it will not contain.  Without a clear understanding of what is “in scope”, a project might fail to deliver on its requirements, falling short of what it was supposed to achieve.  Without a clear understanding of what is not in scope, though, projects grow and consume time and money that should be spent on more important things (usually putting budget and delivery at risk).

Let’s take a look at the “scope” of praise for the psalmist in the following verses:

It is good to praise the LORD
and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.
Psalms 92:1‭-‬3 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/psa.92.1-3.NIV

Although it takes many forms, music has been a part of human expression for a long time, and we find plenty of examples of it in the Bible.  The praise in this section isn’t describing something for our own enjoyment or entertainment, though, but rather praise for God.

Let’s ask a few questions about the “scope” of praise, along with some proposed answers from my notes (although you’re welcome to share more of your own answers in the comments).

  • What does it mean to praise God?
    • Recognize who He is (including His name, as described in these verses).
    • Appreciate His attributes (His characteristics), like love (or goodness) and faithfulness in these verses.
    • Thank Him for what He has done.
  • Do we have to be singing to praise God?
    • No.  Speaking and prayer can also praise Him, for instance.
  • Does all singing of religious songs inherently praise God?
    • Probably not, since not every religious song is necessarily directed to God, and not every heart of those who sing these songs is directing them to Him.
  • When and where can we praise God?  Just on Sunday mornings at church?
    • In fact, we can praise Him anywhere and any time.
    • In this passage, we can praise God both morning and night.  I’m pretty sure that we can praise Him any other time of the day, too.

As we can see, if we were to define praise too narrowly, we would miss out on more that we could be doing to praise God.  On the other hand, if we don’t understand what is “out of scope” for praise to God, we might think that we’re giving Him glory when we’re actually missing the mark.

I think that it’s also important to understand why we should praise God.  So, let me ask this: Would you say that God has done and continues to do great things in your life?  (Hopefully, you can say yes!)

That seems to be what the psalmist is doing here in verses 4-5.  God is being given credit for His works.  A commentator suggested that the psalmist was celebrating a triumph over enemies (as we see later in this psalm), but we can praise God for the “big things” (like His creation and His salvation) as well as the “little things” (like having a stoplight turn green at the right time, or not getting spotted when we make a mistake), and everything in-between.

For what it’s worth, the NASB breaks the paragraph between these two verses, but the entire psalm holds together as a while, so I’m not too worried about which is “most correct”.  Still, it is interesting to see verse 4 as the reason why “It is good to praise the LORD…” (v1), and to read verse 5 as a lead-in to the next section.  Again, understanding the entirety of this psalm is important.

Are you praising God with the right “scope” today?  Don’t limit yourself to narrow definitions of ways that we can praise Him, but don’t fill your time with too much that is “out of scope” for a life that glorifies Him, either.  After all, our “budget” and “due date” for this life are fixed, so we must prioritize accordingly.


From Sunday School lesson prepared for October 30, 2022

References:

  • The Lookout, October 30, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.
  • The College Press NIV Commentary, Psalms, Volume 2, Walter D. Zorn, © 2004, College Press Publishing Co., Joplin, MO.

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