1 Come, let’s sing out loud to the Lord!
Let’s raise a joyful shout to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let’s come before him with thanks!
Let’s shout songs of joy to him!
3 The Lord is a great God,
the great king over all other gods.
4 The earth’s depths are in his hands;
the mountain heights belong to him;
5 the sea, which he made, is his
along with the dry ground,
which his own hands formed.
6 Come, let’s worship and bow down!
Let’s kneel before the Lord, our maker!
7 He is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
the sheep in his hands.
If only you would listen to his voice right now!
8 When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each held a harp and gold bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 They took up a new song, saying,
“You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals,
because you were slain,
and by your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation.
10 You made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they will rule on earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard the sound of many angels surrounding the throne, the living creatures, and the elders. They numbered in the millions—thousands upon thousands. 12 They said in a loud voice,
“Worthy is the slaughtered Lamb
to receive power, wealth, wisdom, and might,
and honor, glory, and blessing.”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea—I heard everything everywhere say,
“Blessing, honor, glory, and power
belong to the one seated on the throne
and to the Lamb
forever and always.”
Israel’s understanding that they worshiped the one God developed over time. At times, they adapted language from the cultures around them, as in Psalm 95:3. They sometimes called all supernatural beings “gods.” (The New Testament and most Christians call them “angels.”) But God was the great person they worshiped and thanked, the “great king over all other gods.” In their Temple, the smaller altar burned incense continually. Revelation 5 picked up on Psalm 141:2 in saying the fragrant smoke constantly ascending was a sign of prayer connecting God’s people with God.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the promise that your ears are always open to my prayers (Psalm 34:15; 1 Peter 3:12). Help me to make this practice a constant part of my walk with you. Amen.
Today’s passages about the Israelites and the angels shouting out God’s praises were striking to me. On the one hand, it seems so familiar. These are the passages we see frequently in the Bible, and the thoughts we sing in church on Sundays. Truth be told, when I initially saw these passages, I was a little bored. I mean, I know this stuff is in the Bible. I’ve read tons of passages like these.
The striking thing about today’s passage wasn’t its familiarity, but how, outside of these Bible passages and songs on Sundays, these thoughts rarely mirror my own thoughts in my day-to-day life. It’s probably because of my familiarity with these passages that I so rarely stop to ponder the magnificence of God simply being God. In these passages, we’re shown a God so amazing that all of creation can’t help but sing his praises; and yet, my everyday conversations with God more closely resemble a light chat at the breakfast table about how I think my day will go.
Please don’t hear that God doesn’t want your small talk. God wants to hear all of your thoughts, great and small. What I find in my own life is that I have no problem giving my small thoughts to God, but I often struggle to make room and time in my life for big thoughts for God. That’s part of why Sunday mornings are so important for me, is that they remind me of the bigness of God, but those thoughts are often missing from my everyday life.
This week, try to create space in your life to simply dwell on the greatness of God. It’s one of those things that we’re all so familiar with in theory that it’s hard to approach it in practice with a degree of freshness and authenticity, but try to make room for it. It’s something I admittedly really struggle with, but it’s also something I know will improve my spiritual life and relationship with God.
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