Psalms for Families: Devotions for All Ages, Psalm 145

Psalms for Families, by Robert J. Keeley and Laura Keeley, is a devotional book for the entire family designed to help parents explore the riches of the book of Psalms with their children and teens. These devotionals will help parents learn more about the psalms as they teach their children about praise, prayer, and lament. This book contains four devotionals on each of our selected psalms as well as notes for adults that provide additional information and background.

Introduction and Full Series

Devotional 1, Devotional 2, Devotional 3, Devotional 4, Notes for Adults

Psalm 145

A psalm of praise. Of David.

I will exalt you, my God the King;
    I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
    and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts.

They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
    and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
    and I will proclaim your great deeds.

They celebrate your abundant goodness
    and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, Lord;
    your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
    and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
    and faithful in all he does.
14 The Lord upholds all who fall
    and lifts up all who are bowed down
.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy
.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
    Let every creature praise his holy name
    for ever and ever.

Prayer

Lord God, Ruler of everything,
We praise you for all the wonderful things you have done! You made everything in the world. Even if we looked through the biggest telescope we could find, and we still wouldn’t be able to see anything that wasn’t made by you. You are bigger than we can imagine, yet you watch over us with love. We praise you for your great love for us. Amen.

 Psalm 145 Repreated Praise

Psalm 145
Devotional 1: Repeated Praise

Read Psalm 145:1-3:

1 I will exalt you, my God the King;
   I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you
   and extol your name for ever and ever.

3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
   his greatness no one can fathom.

Did you notice that there are many repeated words in these first three verses? The word praise shows up in every verse! Read Psalm145:1-3 again, and listen for other repeated words. These repeated words give you a good idea of what this psalm is about.

This is, indeed, a psalm of praise, but these first verses have some unusual words in them: exalt, extol, worthy, and fathom. To exalt means to lift someone up high. Extol is another word for praise, and worthy means that something is well deserved. Fathom is is a word we use to describe what someone is doing when they’re trying very hard to understand something. So what is the writer trying to say here with all these unusual words?

If we were going to use simpler language for these verses, we might write:

I will lift you up high, my God and King.
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord. He deserves lots of praise;
He is so great that no one can understand how great he is.

Have you ever enjoyed something so much that you kept talking about it? Maybe it was a really good movie or a baseball or soccer game Maybe you had lots of fun with a friend. If you kept talking about it over and over again, your friends or family might say, “OK, we get it—it was great! You can stop talking about it now!” 

Do you think that is what’s happening in the first three verses of this psalm? The writer keeps talking about how great God is and how much praise he wants to give to God. He keeps going on and on about it. He doesn’t praise God for doing anything specific—he’ll do that in later verses. In these three verses he just praises God for who God is.

Enter the Psalm: Today (or tomorrow), stop and praise God three times. Don’t think about specific things that God has done. Just praise God for being a great, awesome God. If you repeat some words in your praise, that’s OK! Maybe you know some songs that you could sing to praise God too.

Psalm 145 ABC

Psalm 145
Devotional 2: ABC             

Read Psalm 145:3-9:

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts.

They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
    and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
    and I will proclaim your great deeds.

They celebrate your abundant goodness
    and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.

Psalm 145 is a psalm of praise. It is also an ABC (acrostic) psalm, because each verse (starting with verse 3) begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. We can’t see or hear that because we’re reading in English and the psalm was written in Hebrew. But in English an acrostic poem might start like this:

Almighty God, you are great!
Blessed be your name in all the earth.
Creatures great and small praise you.

Maybe the writer decided to write an acrostic psalm to make it easy to remember. Maybe he wrote it this way because he was enjoying playing with language. Either way, it’s fun to see how this writer took a well-known pattern of using the alphabet to make a poem about praising God!

The author took delight in the language and spelled out the ways to praise God from A to Z. Using all the letters in the alphabet is another way to show that we praise God completely, from beginning to the end. 

Enter the Psalm: Write an acrostic praise psalm. Instead of using the letters ABC, use the letters in a word like “psalm” or “praise.” Your psalm could begin like this:

People all around the world praise our great God.
R . . . .
A . . . .

Psalm 145 From One Generation to the Next

Psalm 145
Devotional 3: From One Generation to the Next

In Joshua 3 and 4 we read about how the Israelites were ready to enter the promised land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. During that time, almost all of the people who left Egypt had died, even their leader, Moses. Only two people—Joshua (who was their new leader), and Caleb—were left from the original group. There was no one else living who had been a slave in Egypt, who had experienced the plagues, or who had witnessed God parting the Red Sea. This new group of people needed to be reminded that God was present with them and with Joshua, just as he had been with Moses.

One day while they were traveling, the people stood on the banks of the Jordan River, wondering how they were going to get across. The Jordan River was at flood stage, so it was very deep. Going across was not like putting your toes in a puddle. It was more like stepping into a deep, rushing wave pool. But Joshua told the priests to pick up the ark of the covenant and step into the river. The priests and the ark were going to get wet unless something remarkable happened. And it did! When the priests took a step into the river, God stopped the water. The priests with the ark stood in the middle of the riverbed while the people crossed on dry ground. Amazing!

After everyone had crossed, God told Joshua to choose twelve men, one from each tribe, to gather stones from the riverbed and place them in the middle of their camp to make a monument. So they did what God said. When the feet of the priests with the ark touched the ground of the riverbank, the waters of the river returned.

It was important for the people of Israel to remember the stories of what God had done for their parents and grandparents. God also knew that sometimes they would need to be reminded to tell those stories. Later—maybe many years later—when Israelite children would see the stones, they would ask, “What happened here?” Then their parents or other adults would tell the story of how God parted the Jordan River so the people could walk on dry ground into the promised land. 

Read Psalm 145:4-7:

4 One generation commends your works to another;
   they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
   and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
   and I will proclaim your great deeds.

7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
   and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

Just like the stones that were set up in Joshua’s time, Psalm 145 reminds us to tell each other about the great things God has done.

Enter the Psalm: Besides parting the waters of the Jordan River, name three great things that God did that are written in the Bible. What great things has God done in your family?  What great things has he done in your own life? Find a stone and write “God does great things” on it with a marker. Place the stone next to your Bible or your bed to remind you to tell other people about the great things God does in your life.

Psalm 145 Our God is Slow to Anger

Psalm 145
Devotional 4: Our God Is Slow to Anger

When I was younger and I wanted to stay in bed in the morning, my mom would come into my room and sing, “The sun is shining, oh happy day.” (The funny thing is that she would sing that every day, whether it was sunny or not.) My mother’s wake-up words were not very well known, but there are many expressions that lots of people use. You’ve probably heard some of them: “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” “Actions speak louder than words,” or “There’s no place like home.” We use these phrases because they express something that we think is true in a short, easy-to-remember way.

The Bible writers also used phrases that were well known in their day. One of those is in Psalm 145. Read Psalm 145:8-12:

8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
   slow to anger and rich in love.

9 The Lord is good to all;
   he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, Lord;
   your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
   and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
   and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Read verse 8 again. This verse (or something very, very close to it) is found eight times in the Bible. This seems to be a phrase that the people of Israel knew well and used often.

Jonah was one of the people who used this phrase. Do you remember Jonah’s story? One day God called him to go and preach to the people of Nineveh because they were doing very bad things. But Jonah didn’t want to do that. Instead, he got on a ship and tried to run away from God. That didn’t work out so well for Jonah. A terrible storm came, and the other sailors threw Jonah overboard because they thought he was causing the storm by disobeying his God. A large fish swallowed Jonah, and three days later the fish spit him up on the shore.

God saved Jonah’s life, and Jonah learned his lesson—sort of. He went to Nineveh and preached that unless the people repented from their wicked ways, the Lord would destroy the whole city and all of the people who lived there. Then Jonah sat outside the city and waited and watched for Nineveh to be destroyed. But Jonah was disappointed. The people of Nineveh were sorry for the way they behaved. They changed their ways and begged God not to destroy them. God had compassion on them, and their city was not destroyed.

You might think that Jonah would be happy because so many people were saved. But he wasn’t. He said to God “See! You didn’t destroy the city. This is why I didn’t want to come here! I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God who was slow to anger and abounding in love.” 

Even though Jonah was not happy with the outcome, the people of Nineveh certainly were. They were alive thanks to God, who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and rich in love. The God who spared Nineveh is the same God we worship; a God who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and rich in love. Aren’t you glad? 

Enter the Psalm: Today, offer a prayer of thanks to God for being a gracious and compassionate God.


Psalm 145
More—Our God Is Great (Notes for Adults)

Psalm 145 is an acrostic psalm that uses each of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order, almost like an ABC book. Today we alphabetize lots of things, but not usually our poetry. The Hebrews didn’t have books readily available, so much of their theology was memorized. Psalm 145 may have been written the way it was to make it easier to remember, since each verse starts with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet.

Psalm 145 has a two-verse introduction and a one-verse conclusion that frames the acrostic, so in the Hebrew the acrostic doesn’t actually start until verse 3. The author uses the first two verses to set up what the psalm was about—praising God—and then he begins his work, using the alphabet as a guide. In addition to the psalm being guided by the Hebrew alphabet, there is a thematic structure as well. Verses 3-7 extol the greatness, majesty, and works of the Lord. In verses 8-13a we hear about God’s characteristics: his grace, his compassion, and the everlasting nature of his kingdom. Verses 13b-16 refer to God’s faithfulness, while verses 17-20 reflect on God’s righteousness.

In the third devotional in this set we read about the Israelites crossing the Jordan River. At that time many of the people who lived in the region believed that their gods controlled their particular area of land. So a miracle of changing the way the river runs, for example, showed that God had control over the land. When God parted the waters of the Jordan River he was reminding the people of Israel of what happened when their parents left Egypt, and he was reminding them that he was still their God. God was also showing the Canaanites that the God of Israel was the true God. He was the one who really had control over the land and the water.

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