Sing when you're Winning (and at all other Times Too)

This is the last in the short series which I called "Songs of Experience" (stealing the title from William Blake via Roy Clements) looking at some of the Psalms that speak into the darker side of human emotion, an area that we often avoid talking about as Christians. I should have published this at the end of June, but where I am currently based things don't get quieter in the summer -  and I am slowly running out of steam... Anyway, in this last one we look at things on the sunnier side of the street.

When I first prepared the material on this final Psalm in this short series entitled "Songs of Experience" I called it "Count your blessings" taken from the old gospel standard which tells us to:
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”
But let me make a confession… while I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments of that song, I absolutely detest it… But this modern song with the same title by Karl Broadie is a vast improvement.

It comes at things from the same angle as Psalm 103 but doesn't quite have the same poetic profundity… The whole Psalm is a self-invocation to praise God, based on the Psalmist's experience of God's goodness and the self-revelation of God.
Key to it is the contrast between the transitory nature of human existence and the immortal faithfulness of God... The Psalmist betrays no assurance of life beyond the grave, but the knowledge that God will continue to watch over his descendants is sufficient for him. So if that is true for the Psalmist, how much more true should it be of Christians in the light of Christ's resurrection.
The Psalm finishes with an invitation to the angels in heaven to praise God, before in closing, once again instructing his own soul to praise him… This has echoes of the refrain in Psalm 42 & 43, the first Psalm with which we started this short series, written against a background of depression, which says
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and  my God.
Psalms 42:5-6 (ANIV)
Like in the Karl Broadie song where he tells us to count our blessings not our troubles, the Psalmist reminds us that songs of praise and thanks are not just for when things are going well… but that if we adopt an “attitude of gratitude” when things are going well it may help us to ride out the times of trouble. But all too often we take our Father’s gifts for granted…
Let's seriously think what we have to be thankful for… and give thanks to the giver...

O my soul, praise the source of all good things;
Praise his holy name from the centre of your being.
O my soul, praise the source of all good things;
And don’t forget a single solitary blessing.
He erases all error and offense
He heals all illness and infirmity,
He raises you out of the grave
And dresses you with love and compassion.
He satisfies your hunger with the finest of fare
So that your strength is restored and you can soar like the eagle.
The Lord works makes all things right and just
He upholds the oppressed.
He revealed his ways to Moses,
He showed his people what he was able to do.
The Lord is full of compassion and grace,
He’s not easily angered and he’s overflowing with love.
He doesn’t constantly point the finger,
nor does he nurse his anger for ever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins truly deserve,
nor does he pay us back for all our wrongs.
Can you jump up and touch the sky?
That’s how much higher his love is than ours.
Can you reach to the other side of the earth?
That’s how far he has separated our sins from us.
As parents passionately care for their children,
That’s how the Lord feels about those who fear him.
He knows us inside out,
he knows that we are dust.
Compared with him men and women live little longer than grass,
like wildflowers in the meadow;
the summer wind blows away their blossom
and you would never know they were there.
But God’s love is for ever and ever
Eternally sustaining those who fear him,
And making everything right for their children's children
As they walk with him and keep his covenant commands.
The Lord’s throne is firmly established in heaven,
And his kingdom claims dominion over all the earth.
Praise the Lord, you angels above,
You servants of God, quick to hear and spread his word.
Praise the Lord, you heavenly hosts,
You servants of God who obey his will.
Praise the Lord, all of creation,
All his kingdom praise the Lord;
And may it begin with me –
O my soul, praise the source of all good things;
Psalm 103



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