READ THE TEXT: Psalm 150 (ESV)
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in the sanctuary; praise him in the heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him for his excellent greatness!
Praise him with the trumpet; praise him with the lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
This Psalm, the last Psalm in the Biblical collection, is a fitting conclusion to what we often refer to as the Book of Psalms. This Psalm is a call for sincere and exuberant praise to the Lord God.
We will discover, as we view this Psalm, three truths concerning praise that will challenge us to praise the Lord, especially when we gather with God’s people. It is important to stress the fact that “praise the Lord” is not just a phrase, it is a command and expectation for God’s people.
Of course, it should be a delight as well, and not simply a duty asked of us.
The call to praise is directed towards God’s people, it includes the heaves, and it ends by addressing “everything that has breath.” Ultimately, the reader of this Psalm is to join in with all those who are to offer rightful praise to the One True God, the Lord God of Israel. Such praise should be our delight and a “default’ attitude and activity in our lives. At the same time, it is something we must do in the light of Who God is. And as New Testament believers it is appropriate to direct our praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and similarly to praise the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We praise God in keeping with how He has revealed Himself to us. Due to God’s revelation in Christ, our understanding of God potentially has grown due to the further revelation we have received. But, the call to praise is the same.
We may make the mistake of thinking that praise is something we do when we are feeling great. At such times, “things” to praise God for may come to mind more easily. But, the Lord God is worthy of our praise at all times, and this psalm provides clear and specific reasons for that praise.
This Psalm points to 1) the mighty deeds of the Lord and 2) the excellent greatness of our Lord as two fundamental reasons to break forth in jubilant worship. How often these two themes, the wonderful works of the Lord and the glorious character of the Lord are referred to in the Psalms as the motivations for adoration! Such worship should recount who the Lord is and what He has done in creation and redemption. It is interesting to view these two dimensions of divine activity (creation and redemption) in Revelation chapters four and five. God is praised for His creation (4:11). Later, a new song is sung, a song of redemption (5:9-10). In the same chapters, we called to praise God and the Lamb for who they are. So, the attributes and activities of the One True God are great subjects for adoring active worship.
Praising God for who He is and what He has done has the potential to keep us “busy in praise” for a long time! The focus of our praise should guide us in the attitude and atmosphere of our praise. In other words, our praise should be in keeping with who the Lord is and what He has done. This reminds me of a New Testament parallel (Romans 12:1). The Apostle Paul calls us to authentic or reasonable sacrificial worship in the light of the mercies of God in Christ. I think it is a valid application to state that our worship of the Lord should come from hearts and lives that are surrendered to the Lord. The use of the word “bodies” in Romans 12:1 suggests our whole beings should be surrendered. It also suggests that this sacrificial worship should be the fitting community response of God’s people, not just the response of a few individuals. The people of God have reasons to praise, to offer thanks, to worship, to adore their God. Worship should be to Him (our Lord) and be about Him (our Lord). And the corporate worship of God’s people should lead to sacrificial worshipful living day by day.
The key English phrase in the ESV translation throughout these verses is “praise Him with……..” This is more than a boring list of musical instruments, it is an expression of the means, the ways, the helps available to praise the Lord meaningfully, audibly, physically, and communally. The concern of this psalm is not solitude and quiet. Solitude and silence have their place and role, but the psalmist is calling for intense active loud communal praise to the great God of mighty works. It is almost as if our own voices are not enough. These instruments and dance are ways to extend and amplify the praise that is due the Lord. Obviously, the resources for worship are diverse and distinct. But, just as important is the sense of inclusiveness suggested by these means of worship. Just as “everything” that has breath [should] praise the Lord, so every legitimate sound and movement can be used to “make much” of the Lord and His wonderful works. So, our worship should be exclusively directed to the Lord in a way that is appropriate. At the same time, our worship can be inclusive of all means that truly magnify the Lord and proclaim who He is and what He has done. These means should aid the people of God in authentic worship.
This Psalm presents a mandate for the Lord’s people. We need to offer sincere and intense praise to the Lord. This mandate needs to be remembered not only when we are alone with the Lord, but especially when we gather with God’s people. At such times, we need to let the call of this psalm motivate us to authentic, sincere, intense, communal praise. It is a wonderful thought that when we do this lovingly and obediently, we are joining with all of God’s people, and all of the heavens in this privileged activity of praise. And so the collection of psalms concludes on this note. I picture in my imagination a group of worshippers walking away into the distance. And even as they go further and further into the distance, you can still hear their exuberant praise to our God.
May praise be a consistent characteristic of our lives.