Psalm 145:1-21 The Greatest God
Wayne Gretzky has earned his nickname, the Great Gretzky. Over a seventeen-year career, he has rewritten the National Hockey League record book.
The Edmonton Oiler, Los Angeles King, St. Louis Blue, and New York Ranger superstar has won the League’s Hart Trophy as Most Valuable Player nine times. He set the record for most goals with 92 in 1982. The Great One also holds the highest number of NHL scoring titles with nine.
In 1994, the center nailed goal number 802 to surpass former Detroit Red Wing Gordie Howe. It came on a power play in the second period against the Vancouver Canucks and tied the game at 2–2.
Teammate Luc Robitaille brought the puck into the Vancouver zone. He passed to Gretzky, who fed Marty McSorley streaking down the right side. McSorley drove for the net, but the Vancouver goalie came out to cut down the angle.
McSorley managed a cross pass to the Great One, and Gretzky fired the puck into a wide-open net. The record-breaking goal sent the Kings celebration onto the ice, and the crowd roared. Play stopped to show a highlight film from the careers of Howe and Gretzky.
Wayne Gretzky proved that day and on many others that he was worthy of praise. But even a great hockey player like Wayne Gretzky cannot compare with God. No one matches the Lord’s strength and power.1
What is the greatest about God?
For the past few weeks, I have preached a series I have entitled: “The Greatest.” We have looked at “The Greatest Glory” from Psalm 8, “The Greatest Mission” from Matthew 9:35-38, “The Greatest Future Is Yet to Come” from Psalm 126:1-6, and last week we looked at “The Greatest Challenge For Our Nation” from Psalm 33:1-22. I want to end this series by looking at “The Greatest God” from Psalm 145:1-21.
David makes the claim that he will submit to God. David, the king of Israel, submits himself to God as his king. He praises God in this psalm. David begins and ends this psalm with praise. In the middle, David describes why He is praising God. He wants people to know that His God is the greatest. He describes FIVE different qualities that make God, not just a great God, but the greatest God.
FIVE QUALITIES THAT MAKE GOD THE GREATEST
1. His great works (Psalm 145:3-6)
“Yahweh is great and is highly praised; His greatness is unsearchable. One generation will declare Your works to the next and will proclaim Your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:3–4, HCSB)
“They will proclaim the power of Your awe-inspiring acts, and I will declare Your greatness.” (Psalm 145:6, HCSB)
God reveals how great He truly is by the works He does. We can’t even search how great His greatness is.
In an attempt to express the inexpressible, a Christian businessman kept this motto on his desk: “How great must be the God we need! How much greater is our God than our greatest need!
John Wesley captured that same truth in a different way. “Give me a worm that can understand a man,” he wrote, “and I will give you a man who can understand God.” And in Psalm 145:3, David said of God, “His greatness is unsearchable.”2
We don’t have a good enough search engine to search all of the wonderful works God has done. Google can’t catalogue all that God has accomplished.
2. His great goodness (Psalm 145:7)
“They will give a testimony of Your great goodness and will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.” (Psalm 145:7, HCSB)
His great works come out of His great goodness. God is great because God is good. When people testify about the works that God has done, they are revealing how good has done. We don’t talk about the bad things that God has done when we praise Him. It’s always the good things. God is the greatest because He is good to me.
Maybe you’re like I was and find it hard to believe that God feels that way about you—that he’s really good, generous, waiting, smiling, and that he wants to do something good for you. That is a very foreign concept for many of us who for whatever reasons—family, background, religious baggage—have come to intuitively believe that God is always down on us, asking us to do something very hard without having our best interests in mind.
Our distorted perception produces a god who looks like a menacing policeman with radar vision and no sense of humor, tapping his nightstick while he waits for us to make a mistake. Or he’s like the angry parent who is always critical, no matter how well we do on our report card, always insisting that we could have done better. Those images that have infiltrated our minds keep us from trusting him. Aren’t we ready for a better picture—particularly if it’s true?
We can see the true picture. This God whose goodness I have been describing has actually demonstrated this part of his nature to us. He has given us proofs to demolish the wrong ideas that you and I have built up in our minds.3
If I can see that God is the greatest because of His goodness, I can also see that God is the greatest because of His great love.
3. His great love (Psalm 145:8-9)
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love. The Lord is good to everyone; His compassion rests on all He has made.” (Psalm 145:8–9, HCSB)
God shows that He is good not just by His great works, but also by His love. He is good to everyone, showing compassion, and grace.
If you look at these five qualities, they form what I call a chiastic structure. It’s like peeling away the layers of an onion. The outer layer is made up of God’s works and faithfulness. The secondary layer is made up of God’s goodness and God’s kingdom or rule. The third and innermost layer is made up of God’s love. You peel away God’s works, rule, faithfulness, and His goodness and you see that the core is made up of God’s love.
4. His great kingdom (Psalm 145:10-13)
“All You have made will thank You, Lord; the godly will praise You. They will speak of the glory of Your kingdom and will declare Your might, informing all people of Your mighty acts and of the glorious splendor of Your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; Your rule is for all generations. The Lord is faithful in all His words and gracious in all His actions.” (Psalm 145:10–13, HCSB)
God’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. His rule will last forever. His kingdom refers to His reign and power over His people. God is great because ultimately, everyone will fall under His rule. We fall under His care today. Some defy His rule, even though God takes the time to care for them. But in the end, everyone will submit to His rule. God’s works point to God’s goodness. The goodness points to the kind of love God has for the people under His rule. That is the kind of kingdom He rules. God is not a despot. He is not a tyrant. He is not a maniac. God is a great ruler of a great kingdom.
5. His great faithfulness (Psalm 145:14-21)
The final way that God proves that He is the greatest is, by the way, He is faithful. No other so-called god has been faithful. God alone has shown how faithful He has been to every single person on Earth. He clearly shows that He has been faithful to people who choose to make Him their God.
Chip Ingram notes that creation demonstrates that God is faithful. He has fixed the planets and balanced the solar system. We discover far-flung galaxies and give them names, but they were there all along, carefully placed by our heavenly Father in their exact location.
The precision of creation is illustrated by ancient civilizations. Structures like ziggurats and temples were often positioned by the astronomical observations of their builders. We can still see the results: at certain intervals, often measured in years, these structures cast shadows, display the alignment of stars, or demonstrate some other universal rule. If the tilt of the earth were off by just a little, not only would these kinds of architectural tributes to an exact Creator be impossible, the world itself would be a hostile place—the north pole would be hot, the equator would be cold, and we’d all be dead.
Yet God is not just faithful in creation, He is faithful to His children. The psalmist expands on the quality of God’s greatness by describing six different ways that God is great with His faithfulness.
SIX WAYS GOD IS GREAT WITH HIS FAITHFULNESS
1. God helps (Psalm 145:14)
“The Lord helps all who fall; He raises up all who are oppressed.” (Psalm 145:14, HCSB)
God likes to help His children. Amy Baker, in her book Picture Perfect: When Life Doesn’t Line Up, states: God seems to take delight in picking people up after failure. On more than one occasion Abraham lied to important people, yet God called Abraham his friend. Moses committed murder, but God used him to free a nation of people from slavery. David committed adultery and murder, but God didn’t pull away from him. David is later called a man after God’s own heart. (Would you use people like this to make you look good? Would you give them the job of reflecting your glory?)5
When you are transparent about your failures, you promote God’s glory. Our failures allow God to display his faithful and merciful love. Failures allow God’s power to be put on display. Failures allow God to prove that he is as forgiving as he says he is. So consider being open and transparent about your failures in order to show God’s glory.
2. God provides (Psalm 145:15-16)
“All eyes look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:15–16, HCSB)
God is great because He provides. He provides in two astounding ways.
First, God provides for my basic needs (Psalm 145:15). He provides food at the proper time. This is why Jesus said that we should pray for our daily bread. We need help with our basic needs and God provides for our basic needs. God is good and shows how great He is by providing for the basics of life.
God also provides for my desires or what I want (Psalm 145:16). He satisfies my desires. He provides for my wants.
3. God relates (Psalm 145:17)
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and gracious in all His acts.” (Psalm 145:17, HCSB)
God is faithful in relating to me. God is righteous and gracious at the same time. His holiness connects with His love. God’s ultimate expression of His relationship to us is with His Son Jesus Christ. God was faithful to provide a Savior. He is just as faithful to relate to me today.
A few nights following Payne Stewart’s second PGA Open victory (less than six months before he died), friends gathered to pay tribute to the champ. The focal point of the party was a big-screen replay of the final-day TV coverage. Seeing the tape for the first time, Payne watched images of himself sinking the winning putt and moments later giving credit to God.
At the party, Stewart’s pastor, J. B. Collingsworth, noticed Payne walking away trying to hide the tears welling up in his eyes. When he faced his pastor, the tears began to flow.
Collingsworth recalls, “I put my arm around him and said, ‘Payne, I just want you to know I appreciate what God’s doing with your heart.’ He looked at me as hard as he could, tears now streaming down his face. He said, ‘J. B., I’m not going to be a Bible-thumper. I’m not going to stand up on some stump. But I want everybody to know—it’s Jesus.’ ”6
God has been gracious to you and the greatest act of His grace has been the giving of His Son.
4. God listens (Psalm 145:18)
“The Lord is near all who call out to Him, all who call out to Him with integrity.” (Psalm 145:18, HCSB)
Because God relates to you, it means that He wants to listen to you. If you call out to Him, He will listen.
5. God answers (Psalm 145:19)
“He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry for help and saves them.” (Psalm 145:19, HCSB)
God doesn’t just listen to our prayers. God answers them. He fulfills our desires if we respect Him. He hears our cries and acts.
6. God protects (Psalm 145:20)
“The Lord guards all those who love Him, but He destroys all the wicked.” (Psalm 145:20, HCSB)
Another way that God shows His faithfulness is by the way He protects. He exclusively protects His children. The people who love God get the protection of God.
Like the beginning of this psalm, David ends with a praise.
“My mouth will declare Yahweh’s praise; let every living thing praise His holy name forever and ever.” (Psalm 145:21, HCSB)
Did you notice that this verse ends with a command? One of the most powerful ways you can begin to believe and experience God’s greatness is to continually celebrate that God is great to everyone. Every good and perfect gift comes from him, even the little ones. God has given us more than we need simply for survival in this world. He has given us pleasure, beauty, and meaning. Every relationship, every job, every tree, every flower, every moment is a sign of his compassion. Every corner of your world and every part of your day can remind you of his greatness if you will only begin to look for it.7
1 John Hillman, Kathy Hillman, and Andy Pettitte, Devotions from the World of Sports (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2013).
2 Our Daily Bread, Sept.-Nov. 1997, page for November 6. From Galaxie Software, 10,000 Sermon Illustrations (Biblical Studies Press, 2002).
3 Chip Ingram, God: As He Longs for You to See Him (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2006).
4 Chip Ingram, God: As He Longs for You to See Him (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2006).
5 Amy Baker, Picture Perfect: When Life Doesn’t Line up (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2014).
6 Larry Guest, The Payne Stewart Story (Stark Books, 2000), pp. 50–51; submitted by Greg Asimakoupoulos; Naperville, Illinois. Found in: PreachingToday.com, More Perfect Illustrations: For Every Topic and Occasion (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2003), 37.