Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Does God Always Demand Praise?

Have you ever wondered why God frequently seems to demand that we praise Him? Is He some kind of egomaniac who seeks out praise and adulation, even though He is the one who needs absolutely nothing? That kind of self-admiration is something that we think unattractive in one of our own kind.

The Psalms are particularly troubling in this respect, for in the Psalms, we are repeatedly admonished to praise God. The Psalmists often say something like this, “God, you like praise. Do this for me and you shall have some.” It even sounds like the Psalmist is offering a bribe to God—how repulsive!! The amount of praise even seems to be important i.e., “…seven times a day do I praise thee.”

There must be a reason for this continuing demand for praise. Much of the reason lies in the fact that if we do not admire God, we shall be insensible losers; we shall have missed something beautiful and deserving of admiration. The omission of admiring God and its undesirable consequence is similar to the omission and undesirable consequence we experience when we walk by a famous painting in an art gallery and fail to appreciate its beauty—we have missed something that others have known.

Furthermore, in the act of worship, God communicates His presence to men. In our worship of God, He actually gives Himself to us in a concrete way.

It is a fact of the character of humankind that all of our enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. We praise all things we enjoy. Those who cannot praise are the malcontents of society; and they are the ones who seem to enjoy nothing. Praise seems to be the completion of our joy and appreciation of whatever the object of our joy is. We want others to appreciate the thing we appreciate. Thus, the Psalmist calls out to others to see and appreciate the thing he sees—God.

Our duty to praise God exists so that we might have the delight of knowing God, Himself. Remember, He lives in the praises of His people. We can only know Him if we frequently praise Him.

This blog post was excerpted from C.S.Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms.

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