I’m a big fan of knowing the “Why” behind the things that are done. Why do believers pray? Ask different believers, get different answers. What most every believer agrees on is that prayer is one of the ways we communicate with God. Why does God set down the whole “Thou shalt not murder.” command? God actually explains why murder is bad in The Bible. So it comes as no surprise to me that the psalmist explains why believers should praise God. This isn’t even an exhaustive list; it’s just one of the myriad of reasons why God deserves praise.
Why should I praise God? Because His lovingkindness is better than life. Being the word nerd that I am, I went looking to see what lovingkindness was all about (especially since it’s giving spell check a fit). The Hebrew word is, apparently, a form of “checed” (חַסְדְּךָ) which is rendered as mercy, kindness, lovingkindness, goodness, or favor depending on the context in which it is used. It could be an instance of a word for which there is no singular English equivalent. That sort of thing happens rather frequently. An example would be the term “schadenfreude” which requires its own definition to be understood in English. If that’s the case — the variety of renderings with rather differently nuanced meanings seems to indicate that it is — then the word might mean something like “a form of kindness or preference prompted by love of the recipient which may not relate to any deserving on the part of the recipient.” I’m just spit-balling based on the differing ways the word is translated. I could be way off base. If anyone that reads this speaks Hebrew and wants to explain the word, I’m happy to learn. For the purposes of my thoughts this morning, I’m going to use my amalgamated definition.
God’s kindness or favor (preference) that is prompted by His love for me, regardless of how deserving (almost never) or undeserving (almost always) I might be is, indeed, better than life. Another form of “checed” is used when Jeremiah writes that [it is because of] the LORD’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, / For His compassions never fail (Lamentations 3:22). God’s love for us elicits His favor and kindness toward us and it is His kindness and that favor on which He acts. That is better than life. That is why we continue to have life, if Jeremiah’s words are any indicator.
That is one of the reasons that the psalmist was prompted to sing praises to God. The psalmist writes that his lips will praise God because God’s undeserved kindness is better than life.
In my life, I can, if I look around, readily see examples of God’s undeserved kindness in my life. My wife is better than I deserve. My daughter is better than I deserve. My home, my car, my clothes, my job, the food I eat – literally everything in my life is better than I deserve, if I am honest with myself. The fact that I live at all — a sinner saved by grace; a sinner who deserved damnation, not salvation — is better than I deserve. The list of “Better than I Deserve” is extensive and would keep me here for a large portion of eternity. Rather than sit silently while others praise God, may this undeserved kindness; this unearned preference lead me to praise God audibly and often to Him and to others. Since I have so great a reason to praise, let me praise God.