“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Ps 34:1-3).
Obviously the words of this verse that draw the most attention are “at all times” and “continually”. David was resolved to praise the Lord, not only in the days of prosperity and peace, but also in his days of adversity.
Praise God in Prosperity
It is much easier to praise God when you are rich than when you are in poverty or distress. However, prosperity poses a great threat to the soul of the righteous. The wise man Agur said, “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny you, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Prov. 30:8-9). This text calls attention to the danger that prosperity poses to the soul “lest I be full, and deny you, and say, Who is the Lord?”
Moses warned Israel of the danger of prosperity saying, “So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. ” (Deut. 6:10-12).
Prosperous people sometimes become too consumed in the daily affairs of life to make time to praise the Lord. The cares of this world systematically root out the praise of God.
Praise God In Poverty
No one wishes to be poor. How many of us would be able to praise God if we were poor? Paradoxically, one frequently finds the richest faith in those who have enjoyed so few of God’s temporal blessings. These people learn to depend upon and trust in God, rather than in riches. They have so little good to look forward to in this life, that they genuinely yearn for heaven. How refreshing is the experience of seeing those who have so little be so rich in faith. “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (Jam 2:5)
Paul was impressed with this among the Macedonians when he wrote:
“Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; how that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God (2 Cor. 8:1-5).
There is a special set of temptations that come to the poor. As Proverbs 30:9 indicates, the poor are tempted to steal and profane the name of the Lord. They can develop habits of greed, the same as rich people can; they can be “minded to be rich” in spite of their deep poverty (1 Tim. 6:9). David was resolved to praise God even in the days of poverty.
Praise God In Adversity
Both rich and poor face adversities of life. Sometimes men are tempted, in the face of such adversities, to become bitter, resentful, and angry toward God. The burdens are sometimes heavy and hard to bear; nevertheless, David resolved to praise God even in the face of adversity. Think of his adversities: the king of the land was trying to kill him, influential men in Saul’s court slandered him, he was forced to flee to a foreign land where his life was still in danger, and he had to wander from place to place constantly changing the place where he hid. These things came on him even though he had risked his life to fight the enemies of the Lord (such as Goliath and the Philistine army).
Having just recently escaped from Achish by pretending to be a madman, David praised God for his deliverance saying, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones: not one of them is broken” (Ps. 34:19-20).
Praise God In Sickness
Sickness comes to most every man in some form, whether great or small. One should learn to praise the Lord in sickness, just as he praises God in health. Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh” which he asked the Lord three times to remove (2 Cor. 12:1-8). When the Lord refused to remove the thorn in the flesh, saying, “My grace is sufficient to you,” Paul accepted the Lord’s decision. He learned that the thorn in the flesh was there for the good of his soul lest he become puffed up (2 Cor. 12:7). Therefore, Paul resolved, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Paul could praise God in sickness just as certainly as when he was in good health.
Conclusion: Have you learned to praise God at all times? There are difficult circumstances which the Christian faces that make it difficult to bow before the knees of an omniscient God and say, “Lord, I am in pain. I don’t know why I must go through these things. However, you know better than I do what is best for me. Therefore, I continue to worship and serve you, even in the face of this adversity.” Despite how difficult that it, this is the spirit Christians must cultivate. As Paul said, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:” (Philip 4:11)