This psalm was surely one of the more popular worship songs in the Hebrew hymnal. It was sung in one of the most memorable worship experiences in Jewish history, when David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (see 1 Chronicles 16:8-22). It includes a call to worship the Lord in the ways we would expect: offering prayers of thanksgiving (v.1), singing songs of praise (v.2), speaking the holy name of the Lord (v.3), and spending time in His presence (v.4).
But the focus of the psalm is a call to worship in an unexpected way: remembering and retelling the history of how God helped His people in the past. Have you ever thought of that being a way to worship? Verse 5 encourages us to remember the miracles God has performed on behalf of His chosen people, and in our remembering we will find that God has done amazing things for us, too. That kind of worship inspires greater faith!
Verses 7-15 remind us that God made a promise to Abraham, a covenant of blessing — and He was faithful to keep that covenant. In the same way, God will be faithful to keep the promises He has made to you, including the promises of His unfailing presence, His protection, the filling of His Spirit, and His continuing grace.
Verses 16-22 recall the amazing story of Joseph, whose roller-coaster life was all for the glory of the God who was in control of everything that happened to him. Remembering Joseph’s story helps us when we feel that we are being mistreated or tested, or when we feel that God has forgotten us. God has a plan, and in the end we will see that He never wastes a hurt. He uses every bend and bump in the road of life to lead us to a place of blessing.
Verses 23-38 summarize the story of the Egyptian captivity and amazing exodus of the Israelites in which God performed miracles to set them free. That should remind us of the miracle of redemption in Christ that brings us out of sin’s bondage and into freedom in Christ. Hallelujah!
The closing stanza of the psalm, verses 39-45, tell how God provided for His people once they were free. He guided them with the cloud and fire. He dropped food from heaven’s table and gave them water from a desert rock. He gave them a homeland, a place to call their own in which they could live out their faith and from which they could be a blessing to the world. Similarly, God provides all our needs: guidance, spiritual sustenance, and a home for our souls. What a reason to worship! Amen?