- O render thanks to God above,
The fountain of eternal love,
Whose mercies firm through ages past,
Have stood and shall forever last.
From Tate and Brady’s A New Version of the Psalms of David comes this psalm of thankgsiving, praise, and supplication. The first line leaves no doubt as to the object of our gratitude: it is God. The last three lines elaborate the goodness of God which prompts us to thank Him. This stanza is a fitting versification of Psalm 106:1, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.” It is a joyful thing to thank God. We ought to worship God who is Almighty, all-knowing, all-seeing, and created all things. But we can love to worship him for he is good.
- Who can his mighty deeds express:
Not only vast, but numberless?
What mortal eloquence can raise
His tribute of immortal praise?
These lyrics confront us with two rhetorical questions, which faithfully capture Psalm 106:2 - “Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? Who can shew forth all his praise?” There is but one answer: No one. None can his mighty deeds express, no mortal eloquence can raise his tribute of immortal praise.
- How bles’t are they, and only they
Who from his judgments never stray!
Who know the right, nor only so,
But always practice what they know.
The third verse of the song, like the third verse of the psalm, turns to our response to God. In light of God’s everlasting goodness and his mighty works, “blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.” Perhaps we would desire to rewrite the second and fourth lines of Tate and Brady’s verse to soften “never stray” and “always practice.” Certainly our flesh would desire to rewrite these lines. But the psalmist speaks of doing righteousness “at all times,” that is, with constancy. So it is better to leave these lines as they are, and pray God that we might practice them.
Those who do not stray from God’s judgments are blessed in this life, as expressed above. They are also blessed in the life to come, as expressed in verse four:
- Extend to me that favor, Lord
Thou to thy chosen dost afford.
When Thou returns’t to set them free,
Let Thy salvation visit me.
While verses one and two speak about God, this verse is the only one addressed to God himself. The psalmist wrote of seeing “the good of thy chosen” and rejoicing “in the gladness of thy nation” (Psalm 106:5). These phrases refer to Israel, though God recognized people from other nations who sought and served him. In the New Testament, the people of God are not defined by descent, but rather “whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
Rather than boldly claiming “I am among your chosen people,” this verse humbly asks God to recognize me among his chosen people when Jesus returns; it humbly asks him to save me in the eschaton.