PRAISE THE LORD Psalm 150
Jerry A. Collins
The origin of the Psalm is unknown but this seems to be written as a benediction to the entire Psalter. It could have also been written earlier and then Ezra used it as the benediction (Ezra 7:10). This Psalm is a call for universal and elaborate praise for the Lord God for His greatness. It is because of the excellence of Godís work that the Psalmist calls for praise to be given to him in the sanctuary. The entire point is that everything that has breath should praise the Lord.
Between the prologue and the epilogue, the Psalm can be divided into three parts. Verse 1b and 2 form the introduction to the Psalm. Verse 1a calls for praise within Godís sanctuary, and verse 2 calls for praise for his great acts. Then, verse 3-5 call for the praise to be with musical instruments and dance. Finally, a verb change signals the climax of the Psalm in verse 6.
Who is to be Praised
Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse (v 1).
So here the Psalm begins by calling people to Praise. This proclamation occurs 13 times in this Psalm. This is followed by the word the Lord. It is the abbreviated form Yah for the sacred name of God YHWH. This word was transliterated into Jehovah and would be substituted for YHWH whenever that word was read in public or private worship. The entire collection of Psalms had enumerated much of the character and many of the feats of God. This final Psalm invites praise of this Lord with this simple expression praise the Lord. The praise is a glowing spontaneous description of who the Lord is, and what He has done. He is worthy of this praise and the devout would manifest this grand praise in all manner of expression.
Where is the Praise
Praise God in His sanctuary is a command that praise be given to God ĎEl stressing His divine powerful sovereignty. The emphasis of this praise is the almighty power of God. This praise was to be specifically given in His sanctuary which most likely would be the Temple in Jerusalem, the symbol of Godís presence and protective power over the nation. Whenever the Israelites entered the Temple, foremost on their minds should be the almighty power of their sovereign God. This would be significant since the covenant was dependent upon Godís ability to fulfil its stipulations. Without that possibility there would be no hope for the nation.
Coupled with the call for the Israelite earth dwellers to praise the Lord in His sanctuary is the parallel expression to praise Him in His mighty expanse. Expanse or firmament refers to the heavenly arena, the heavens and the skies. This command to praise is given to the heavenly hosts, whether angelic or nature itself. This constitutes an all inclusive summons for earth and heaven to both praise God in the earthly sanctuary, and in the heavenly realm. The expanse is qualified with His might or power. The idea is that this proclamation of praise is in the expanse where his mighty power is displayed. In the New Testament, the powerful ability of God is said to be displayed in nature for since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been madeÖ
(Romans 1:20). The bottom line is that creation bears testimony of itís Maker.
Application: When we praise God, it should include proclamation of the Lordís powerful ability due to His Sovereign nature.
Why is God Praised
Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness (v 2).
The substance of the praise of the Lord is expressed in two terms. The first is that our praise is for His mighty deeds or would declare His mighty acts. But this expands into praise of God for His excellent [or abundant] greatness. The power and greatness of God is worthy of praise as displayed in His marvelous work of creation, salvation, judgment, forgiveness, deliverance, and provision, so much of which is the subject of the entire Psalter. This recognition ensures
the humble dependence of His people on the Lord. Especially since it was God who had made
them, saved them, provided for them, protected them and led them in His way. So our praise of God is due to His deeds, categorized as mighty indeed! Those deeds are a showroom of Godís greatness displayed in abundance for all to see.
Application: Praising the acts of our sovereign Lord reminds us that our need of Godís powerful ability is total, not partial.
How the Praise is Given
Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre (v 3).
The Psalmist now calls for praise to be given to God with all kinds of instruments and rejoicing. The repetition of the command to praise Him is a constant reminder that all of this celebration is to be directed to Him. The praise should be with blowing the horn trumpet sound which many believe refers to the ramís horn, but later the actual trumpet. This instrument would make an initial blast to summon the people. With Harp and Lyre gives a softer sounding touch that accompanied the singing of Psalms.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe (v 4).
Additional instruments included the timbrel which may have been a type of tambourine. The other is with strings, and the pipe may have been a shepherdís flute. So there was a percussion instrument, a stringed instrument, and a wind instrument, each used in conjunction with sanctuary worship (v 1). These accompany the dancing in this call to praise with celebration! This dance is not sensual in nature, but a spontaneous celebration of the Lord in a whirling, or turning possibly in circles as part of the celebration of praise and music in the sanctuary.
Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals (v 5).
Here is the clashing sound of cymbals as if to vividly highlight the words and sounds of praise being given to God. So we have loud cymbals possibly referring to smaller instruments with a clear sound. Then we have the latter resounding cymbals with a deeper and louder longer lasting sound. One that possibly reverberated and brought climax to the praise music. The use of these instruments provided the orderly use of rhythm (meter and tempo), melody (tunefulness), and harmony (progression of chords). All of this instrumentation was to enhance their celebration of Gods greatness. Their use was clearly directed to the glory of God and never confused with pagan sounds of religious ritual. ††††
Application: Our praise of God can be accompanied by harmonious music of various instrumentation used to give honor to God.
Whatís the Extent of Praise
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! (v 6).
This is the concluding statement of this Psalm and of the entire Psalter. It all culminates with praise of the Lord from everything that has breath. The idea of breath is a term that reminds us of this provision from God for human life. The essence of life comes from God, and thus all praise is to be directed toward Him. God imparted life to humans. So every being, every person, must praise the Lord. Here is the glory of creation, namely, that God gave mankind breath, and so humans owe their breath to the Lord, making praise the primary reason we have it. So the call here is for the breath to be used this way. Which way? To Praise the Lord!
The Psalm states it repeatedly. The purpose of all creation is to do the same.
Application: Praising God is to acknowledge that He is the provider of human life who sustains all things necessary for its existence. †
∑ When we offer our praise of the Lord, we are participating in a ritual that pleases God because it approaches Him as Sovereign.
∑ Praising the Lord is the characteristic of mature believers who understand that praise is not just a responsibility, but a dynamic that develops from an understanding of the nature of God.