I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever…My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever. (Psalm 145:1-2, 21)
“A Pandemic of Praise”
Most of us have learned a new word over the past year-and-a-half—or at least we have started hearing and using it more. The word is pandemic, and we’ve employed it to describe the world-wide ravages of a new novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. It’s a Latin word, left pretty much untranslated, and its literal meaning actually has nothing at all to do with viruses or illness or death. In Latin, pan means “all” and demos means “people.” And so, a pan-demic occurrence is something universal and indiscriminate; something that affects “all people” everywhere.
In Psalm 145, King David offers us a description of “pandemic praise.” Or, if you want to stick with Latin, a “pan-doxology.”
Like so many of David’s songs, he begins with his own personal praise. David pledges to praise God and extol God’s name “every day,” and “forever and ever” (vs. 1-2). It’s a pretty bold commitment! But then he goes on to describe the corporate praise of God’s people, “one generation to another” (vs. 4). Together in one glorious song, God’s power and goodness and righteousness are not only acknowledged by David and his community, they are continually contemplated and proclaimed…endlessly celebrated and sung (vs. 5-7).
The Lord is worthy of all this praise and worship because he is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love” (vs. 8). But the truly amazing thing to David is that God’s love is pandemic. The word “all” is used sixteen time in the next twelve verses to describe the FOCUS of God’s affections (all people, all creation, all generations), the SCOPE of God’s greatness (all His promise, all He does, all His ways), and the PURPOSE of God’s mission (“so that all people may know” Him, vs. 12).
And because God’s love is pandemic, God’s praises need to be pandemic too, “Let every creature praise His holy name forever and ever! (vs. 21) Imagine–every person, every tribe, every generation, every creature constantly and continually praising God forever and ever—a never-ending pandemic of praise! David is certainly not describing our present reality, is he? He must be imagining a different time, or a different place…or some very different world!
I find it interesting that the ancient Hebrew King David spoke didn’t have a future tense. There isn’t technically a sense of “past, present and future” time in his song. The two ancient Hebrew tenses are perfect and imperfect—not related to time as much as they are to action and completion. (I’ve told you before how I am fascinated by words and language!) In other words, David isn’t describing a pandemic of praise that “will happen” someday in the future. Instead, he is describing a present reality that has not yet come to pass—has not yet been made complete.
Some Christian theologians use the phrase “already and not yet” to describe this truth. When Jesus came down to earth he ushered in a new “kingdom” (Luke 17:21), where God’s love is supreme and God’s praise is pandemic. The cross changed everything, forever! That is our current reality already, but it is not yet complete. One day, Paul says, “every knee will bow…and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). One day, “when the times reach their fulfillment…all things in heaven and on earth” will be brought together in unity under Christ (Ephesians 1:10). Even when we can’t see it, this is the present and future reality for us who have the hope of Christ!
Things aren’t all as they should be, but all things shall be as they could be. As Thomas Kelly’s great 19-century hymn says it, “Then we shall be where we would be, then we shall be what we should be; things that are not now, nor could be, soon shall be our own.” (Praise the Savior, Ye Who Know Him). It’s not just that everyone else needs to get their act together, God’s “not yet” world needs to be an “already” reality in our lives.
Instead of wishing for the reality of God’s kingdom someday, we can experience God’s pandemic love today! We can receive His goodness, we can share his grace and compassion; we can drink from his Living Water, and we can offer his life-changing gift to everyone everywhere. Together, let’s join David’s great pandemic of praise—today…every day…forever and ever! Stay thirsty, my friends!