Psalm 61 is a prayer of David, a prayer in which the shepherd-king seeks the presence and the protection of God. David longs to find refuge in God’s tent forever (61:4) and he pours out his vows before the LORD (61:5). The psalm concludes with verse 8:
So, I will ever sing praises to Your name,
As I perform my vows day after day.
As I meditated on this psalm, I began to see verse 8 as a model plea for every believer. David speaks of the privilege of “ever singing praises” to God and then he tells of our daily duty to “perform our vows.” Herein lie the twin disciplines of the Christian life: the discipline of praise and the discipline of obedience. Surely two of the distinguishing marks of the transformed life of the believer is the ongoing praise to God that is lifted up from joyful lips and the walk of holy obedience to the commandments of God.
First, then, the life of the Christian should be marked by praise. This praise should flow from the Christian regardless of circumstances and irrespective of mood. Praise is commanded by the Scriptures and is modeled by all the godly ones. The Lord has rescued us from our just condemnation and has now raised us up with Christ and has seated us with Him at His table in heaven. Our sins have been separated from us as far as the east is from the west and we have been cleansed by the blood of the Lord Jesus. By the power of the Holy Spirit we have been filled with joy and therefore, we bear the fruit of joy. Our praise for our great God should be loud and long, and it need not be based on what the Lord has done for us, for simply praising the Lord for who He is would last a lifetime. The greatness of His creation and of His holiness and the magnificence of His grace and mercy and power and wisdom and knowledge are worthy of unending praise. So, the life of the believer should be marked by evident praise to the King of kings. “O LORD, open my lips that my mouth may declare Your praise (Psalm 51:15).” “So, I will ever sing praises to Your name.”
But second, the life of the Christian is distinct because of evident obedience. Here David speaks of “vows,” but the vows of the believer are to obey Christ in all that we say and do. When we came to Christ, we vowed to follow Him forever, and so we made an eternal commitment to obedience. Our obedience flows out of a Spirit-wrought hunger and thirst for righteousness. Our greatest desire is to be pleasing to the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:9) and we know that the obedience of those who were once rebels and slaves of sin is a fragrant aroma, well-pleasing to the One who has set us free. And so, our day by day obedience and our faithful pursuit of holiness should shine like a bright light in a dark place so that God would be glorified. Our goal is that our hatred of sin and our love of righteousness would result in rapid rejection of temptation and in steadfastly setting our mind on truth. We “buffet our body and make it our slave” (1 Corinthians 9:27) so that our obedience would be complete (2 Corinthians 10:6). So the believer willfully disciplines himself or herself in order to keep our vow of holiness. “As I perform my vows day after day.”
Therefore, let us, with the psalmist, pursue these twin disciplines of praise and obedience so that we may glorify our great God and Savior.
SDG rmb 6/15/2019