During my freshman year of college, I was introduced to the magical musical stylings of Shane & Shane. Soon after I first listened to some of their stuff, they released Psalms, and I was hooked. For the next several years, it’s safe to say that I listened to this album at least five time a week. I was taken by the way these two men could take God’s Word and put it to music. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world, and the Psalms from that particular album worked their way into my heart in ways I didn’t anticipate. In fact, even today when I come across a Psalm they’ve sung in my own reading, I immediately start singing the tune & marvel at how much the music makes the words stick in my brain. This is exactly what the Psalms were designed for though, right?! Of course it makes sense.
I love every single song on that Psalms album, but there is one that seems to have uniquely burrowed its way into my heart: “Psalm 145.” Here’s part what the Psalm says:
I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. Psalm 145:1-9
Verse 8 and the beginning of 9 are what really get me: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” The lyrics of the song say,
“The Lord is gracious
And slow to anger
He is rich in love
He is good to all.”
What truths! Gracious. Slow to anger. Rich in love. Good to all.
Just let those sink in for a minute .
And, it turns out, this is not the only place in the Bible the Lord is described with these very words. Take a look at Exodus 34. The first time we see these words to describe the Lord, He’s the one saying them—He describes Himself this way to Moses at a pivotal moment in Israel’s history.
Moses has already gone up to Mount Sinai once to receive the Ten Commandments, and then come down the mountain to find the people worshipping a golden calf. Now he’s back on the mountain pleading for God’s presence before tthe people do anything else. God is about to make a covenant with His people as He gives them the Ten Commandments again, but before He does, this happens:
The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation. Exodus 34:5-7
In the midst of the fallout of the people’s sin and idolatry, THIS is who the Lord proclaims Himself to be. Merciful and gracious. Slow to anger. Abounding in steadfast love.
Can you imagine how Moses’ soul must have soaked those truths in? Like rain in the desert, to know God’s kindness in that moment must have brought incredible satisfaction to his soul. His response says it all:
Moses made haste to blow low toward the earth and worship. Exodus 34:8
And shouldn’t our response be the same? Look back at Psallm 145. This is a psalm of praise! David is extolling God’s goodness, blessing His name, praising His greatness, delcaring His mighty acts, sharing truths across generations, meditating on His wonderful works, and singing of His rightesouness.
“The Lord is gracious. And slow to anger. He is rich in love. He is good to all.”
Oh friends, let us meditate on the realities of these truths, and let our response be praise!
(A couple of years ago, Shane & Shane released another album of psalms that’s just as good—listen and be encouraged! Psalms II)