Depths and Heights
(19) God, your righteousness (reaches) to the heights. You have done great things, God. Who is like you? (20) You who have caused me to see many troubles and evils will revive me again. From the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. (21) You will increase my honor and again comfort me. (22) Moreover, I will extol you with the harp for your faithfulness, God. I will sing praises to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. (23) My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you, and my soul, which you have redeemed. (24) And my tongue will speak of your righteousness all day long, for they are ashamed, they are confounded, those who sought my ruin.
In this final segment of Psalm 71 the psalmist begins by contrasting the “heights” where God’s righteousness reaches (vs. 19) with the “depths” out of which God has brought him (vs. 20). Three times we find the word “again” used to describe God’s restorative work. He will “revive me again...bring me up again...again comfort me” (vss. 20 & 21).
Twice the psalmist declares, “I will sing praises to you” along with the parallel phrases “extol you...shout for joy...speak of your righteousness” (vss. 22 & 23). He then mentions two instruments used to accompany his songs of praise, the harp and the lyre (vs. 22). In the final verse of the psalm we find two synonyms describing the effect news of God’s blessing him will have on his enemies, leaving them “ashamed...confounded” (vs. 24).
I. What God has done for me (19-21)
II. What I will do in response for him (22-24)
Because God has rescued me from the depths, I will praise him to the heights.
Consider the following definition of worship that captures its essential nature: “Our grateful response to God’s unmerited redemption.” And that is precisely what we see happening in this closing segment of Psalm 71 as the psalmist offers to God an outpouring of uninhibited praise using words like “extol...sing...shout...speak.” Why? He does this because of all that God has done for him in reviving him, lifting him from the depths, and comforting him, in one word, “redemption.”
Responding with joy to our redemption is something we should do in praise of God every day of our lives, a practice we should cultivate as a regular part of our normal routine. When we consider all that God has done to lift us from the depths and to carry us to the heights, we should never stop extolling him. Expressing gratitude for his overwhelming and abundant blessings is the one way we can give something back to God for all he has done for us. Let us never tire of declaring, in the words of the psalmist in verse 19, “You have done great things, God. Who is like you?”