A Garment of Praise

Jesus claimed the prophet’s words as His own. On that Sabbath day in the synagogue, the carpenter from Nazareth read the words from Isaiah 61 and declared that in Him they were fulfilled (Luke 4:18-19). As He sat down, many still saw Him just as Mary’s boy. But by His declaration that morning, He was standing up and claiming to be the LORD’s anointed, the Messiah.

As such, He had come to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives (Isa. 61:1). What’s more, beyond the proclamation business, He would be in the comfort business (Isa. 61:2-3). For those who mourned, He promised He would exchange their covering of ashes with a crown of beauty. He would ease the pain of their mourning by applying the oil of gladness. And He would cover their fainting spirit of heaviness with a garment of praise.

Psalm 103 is such a garment.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and forget not all His benefits.

(Psalm 103:1-2 ESV)

How good is our God to provide such garments of praise? A covering of remembrance that causes us to rejoice? How we need to put these clothes on from time to time, especially when those times occur in deep, deep valleys.

It has become so evident to me how easy we can miss out on the blessings of the day because we are consumed with the uncertainties of tomorrow. How easy it is to allow the sadness of what might have been to rob us of the joy of what has been. To let the disappointment of expectations not met to silence the thanksgiving for all the blessings known which we could never have imagined.

And so, to hover over a song like Psalm 103 is like putting on a garment of praise.

To be reminded of iniquities forgiven, diseases healed, and a life redeemed from the pit. To rejoice afresh in the reality that He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor has He repaid us according to our iniquities–instead, He  has loved us with a steadfast love as high as the heavens are above the earth.

To read again that, as a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those He has called to be His own. That with tender affection He knows their dust-formed frame and understands the frailty of their lives. And that, though our days on earth may be as the grass, His unfailing love will be ours to experience and enjoy from everlasting to everlasting.

How can we not turn our eyes upon Jesus as we clothe yourselves with such truth? As we taste and see again for the first time that the Lord is good? Such a garment compels us to look unto the Author of our faith and respond afresh with “Thank you.”

Beyond the joy of having been saved from the penalty of sin in the past and rescued from the power of sin in the present, praise can’t help but flow from our lips as our redemption draws near and we anticipate deliverance from the very presence of sin in the future. And such anticipation of being in His holy presence, and knowing fully what it is to have life everlasting, can only bring about adoration.

The living water of the word has a way of priming the pump of worship.

And worship has a way of renewing the weary. Anticipation, a way of easing the burden. Adoration, a way of displacing the clouds. The garment of praise, a way of lifting the spirit of heaviness.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless His holy name!

Because of His amazing grace. All for His everlasting glory.


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