The third section of "petition" in Psalm 71 is a brief line in verse 18b: "O God, do not forsake me" (we included this in the previous blog). Psalm 71 concludes with the third section of trust and praise in verses 19-24:
"Your power and your righteousness, O God,
reach the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
You will increase my honor,
and comfort me once again.
I will also praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praises to you;
my soul also, which you have rescued.
All day long my tongue will talk
of your righteous help,
for those who tried to do me harm
have been put to shame, and disgraced."
1. In this section, the psalmist praises God for several things:
a. God is powerful (end of verse 18); he has done great things (verse 19c). This demonstrates that he is "a great king over all the earth" (Psalm 47:2; see also Psalms 70:4; 95:3).
b. God is righteous (verses 19a, 24a; see also verse 15a). He rights the wrongs which wicked human beings do to those who seek to be faithful to God--see verses 20-21, 24.
c. God is incomparable. The obvious answer to the question, "O God, who is like you?" in verse 19d is "NO ONE." See Exodus 15:11; 1 Samuel 2:2; Isaiah 40:18, 25; Psalm 89:6.
d. God is faithful--verse 22b. The Bible repeatedly emphasizes this important characteristic of God--see for example, Exodus 34:6; Psalms 86:15; 89:1-2, 5, 8, 14, 24; 117:1-2.
e. God is holy--verse 22d. The title "Holy One of Israel" occurs often in the book of Isaiah--for example, Isaiah 1:4; 5:24; 10:20; see 6:3. This is very close to the idea that God is incomparable, because holiness means complete separation from what is unholy or unclean.
2. The author of Psalm 71 also praises God for reversing life's situations. The enemies of the psalmist have tried to put her/him to "shame" (verse 1), but now he declares with assurance that God will "increase" her/his "honor" (verse 21a), and states that "those who tried to harm her/him have been put to shame" (verse 24c-d). When we are experiencing terrible times, it is always a comfort to know that in God's own time and way, he will turn things upside down and "revive us again" (verse 20b).
3. The psalmist praises God with the gifts God has given her/him: the ability to sing (verse 23b), and the ability to play musical instruments--the harp and the lyre (verse 22a, c). The best way to use the gifts God has given us is to praise him.