December 13, 2014

C.S. Lewis on Praise

I have probably quoted this before, but bear with me as I find the need to quote it again ... I am typing this (not copying and pasting) from the book Desiring God by John Piper. (I type it because it helps me to consider each word in the phrase.) This particular Lewis quote comes from that book, though he is not the only one who has revisited this quote. Lewis' insight on Praise in this quote has, I am sure, helped many in their understanding of the strong connection between God's love for His people and His command that they praise Him.

... the most obvious fact about praise -- whether of God or any thing -- strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness of the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check on it. The world rings with praise -- lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game -- praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least ...  
I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: "Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?" The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what in deed we can't help doing, about everything else we value.  
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. 
Like I said, this is C.S. Lewis speaking. It comes from his book Reflections on the Psalms. The portion that I quoted came from the book Desiring God. You can also read an article on this by Sam Storms on the Desiring God website, by clicking here: Praise: The Consummation of Joy.