Praise Affords a Respite and Gives Insight

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” is a lovely line of praise that we have been tracing through the history of Israel. In fact, in Scripture its expression punctuates some of the highest moments of the nation’s experience. We have already reviewed four occasions in Scripture when this phrase was repeated, and have considered that praise excites us to the service of the Lord, praise unites us in the worship of the Lord, praise ignites the Lord to work on our behalf, and praise delights us in the joys and sorrows of life. The hermeneutical rule of four things dividing into three and one holds true as David, Solomon and Jehoshaphat’s days are separated from Zerubbabel’s by the captivity. And yet, a fifth occurrence arises that is far different still, just as the book of the Acts is distinct from John and the Synoptic Gospels. Please consider with me the time when it is God Himself who whispers to His suffering prophet, “Praise the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for His mercy endures forever” (Jer 33:11).[1] In this consideration let us learn the lesson that praise not only affords a respite in suffering, but also provides an insight into the bright future before us.

Like John the Baptist, many believers have been called to be faithful in a difficult sphere of service. But very few have witnessed the descent of a nation into damnation and known the dearth, detention, depression and deportation that Jeremiah experienced over the duration of his faithful course. He prophesied truthfully for five decades as the world around him scorned his testimony and heeded false messages of peace and hope. The men of his hometown of Anathoth sought to kill him, and he lived his years without a wife or children. False prophets attacked and mocked him. Throughout his years of service there was very little fruit or fellowship to buoy his spirit save in connection with Baruch and Ebed-melech. The kings he sought to instruct with prophecy imprisoned him in miry pits and in the court of the prison. Even in his final days Jeremiah was unwillingly taken away to Egypt by those who continued to ignore the instruction of the Lord. To this lonely man the Lord spoke the words that David first declared in such joyous praise:

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Again there shall be heard in this place – of which you say, “It is desolate, without man and without beast” – in the cities of Judah, in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say: “Praise the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for His mercy endures forever” – and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord’” (Jer 33:10-11).

Jeremiah found comfort in the certain promises of God. We have already considered the shouts of joy and tears of sorrow that rang out in Zerubbabel’s time in partial fulfillment of what the Lord had promised to David and Jeremiah. But there is a future and complete fulfillment coming when the Lord Himself will reign in Jerusalem and the voice of gladness and sacrifice of praise will be known in the house of the Lord. However, for us who make up the body of Christ, there is no lack of mutual comfort. In fact, following a heavenly union with Christ after the Rapture, His Bride will look to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in the Millennium when indeed the voice of the Bridegroom and the Bride will be manifest in the New Jerusalem.[2]

However, Jeremiah was not only directed to look forward, to enjoy comfort in the insight of future prophetic fulfillment. Indeed, in the midst of the prophet’s sorrowful suffering, the Lord offered a respite in the consideration of the greatness of his God. If you dispute this, consider again Jeremiah’s greatest and most famous words: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam 3:22-26 KJV). Jeremiah wrote this as he viewed the horror of his nation’s capital being burned to the ground and its people put to the sword. Far from being unaffected by the suffering, he rather poured out the sorrows of his soul in five lamentations. Incredibly, right in the middle of these funeral dirges for Israel we find Jeremiah’s words of praise for his God. No doubt he had not forgotten the God who whispered to him, “Praise the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for His mercy endures forever.”

Praise is primarily for the Lord and for His glory, so perhaps it is selfish to consider the manifold benefits to us who praise. We, who have been created, regenerated and are soon to be raptured, need no added motivation to worship. But does it not further speak to the goodness and the mercy of our God that in simply carrying out what is our duty and responsibility we should be further blessed? Indeed, in praising Him we are excited to service, united to His person, delighted in His beauty, and given insight and respite while in this earthly scene. Are any words more fitting than to join with David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Zerubbabel and Jeremiah in proclaiming, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever!”?

[1] Bible quotations in this article are from the NKJV unless otherwise noted.

[2] For a further consideration of this great subject, please see “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb” by Mark Sweetnam in the January 2017 issue of Truth & Tidings.