Psalm 111 is a stairway of praise that starts at the ground level and works its way up, step by step, to the very throne of God.
Praise the LORD.
I will extol the LORD with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
 Praise the Lord.
Ok. The Psalms use this phrase all the time… and for good reason!
I will extol the Lord with all my heart
To extol is to praise, but even higher. It’s more than just praise. It’s superpraise. Whereas the first praise is halal, which means “to shine”, the second praise/extol is yadah, which means “to shoot, to cast, to laud”. To do this kind of praiseshooting requires a dedication of our whole heart.
in the council of the upright
The “Council of the Upright” sounds like “The Citizens of Temperance” or “The DoGoodery Brigade” but it actually refers to a group of familiar friends who also happen to be on the level, sorta like a small group that pursues God alongside you. You know… it’s good for friends to praise God with each other. When a friend of mine gives God glory as we’re talking about life and whatnot, I feel a certain connection with them, like we’re siblings, which, in the Kingdom of God, we are.
…and in the assembly.
“The assembly” is a congregation/gathering of people in worship. In a church like the one I pastor, there’s no way for everyone to know everyone else. Not only are we spread across multiple services, we almost always have a visitor with us, which means at least one unfamiliar face in each assembly. That’s why having a group of friends who pursue God with each other is so critical, since spiritual formation happens within the context of authentic community. However I don’t need to know you to be encouraged by your praise.
We shine: God’s light through us — it’s not our doing, it’s His!
We shoot: Tossing glory to God with our hands raised, our hearts raised, our voices raised — total abandon!
Together: with others, some we know and many we don’t — we need each other!
With our whole hearts: not accidentally but with joyful intention — the freedom of praise and celebration!