(1) HALLELUJAH! Praise God in his sanctuary! Praise him in his mighty heavens! (2) Praise him for his mighty works! Praise him for his surpassing greatness! (3) Praise him with the blast of the ram’s horn! Praise him with the harp and the lyre! (4) Praise him with tambourine and dance! Praise him with strings and pipe! (5) Praise him with the sound of cymbals! Praise him with the loud clashing cymbals! (6) Let everything that breathes praise Yahweh! HALLELUJAH!
This final psalm in the Psalter is distinguished by its thirteen repetitions of the word “praise,” each occurrence followed either by a name for God or a pronoun referring to him. The psalm answers four important questions regarding our praise: Where? Why? How? and Who? In essence, this psalm could be labeled “the four dimensions of praise” since it provides us with a full-orbed summary of what praising God should look like and what it should include. What a fitting ending for the Book of Psalms is this outburst of praise!
The full-orbed praise of God:
I. WHERE? Everywhere both inside and outside (1)
II. WHY? For his mighty works and his personal greatness (2)
III. HOW? With every kind of musical instrument (3-5)
IV. WHO? Every living creature that breathes (6)
Everyone, everywhere should praise God with every means at our disposal for everything he is and all he has done for us.
The closest we come to a biblical example of the exuberant worship this psalm describes is found in 2 Samuel 6 when David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. We read there, “So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets” (2 Sam. 6:12-15).
So unrestrained, spontaneous, and noisy was the worship of God on that occasion that Michal, David’s wife, expressed her disapproval. We read: “When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and observed, ‘How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would’” (2 Sam. 6:20). David angrily defended his behavior which had violated his wife’s sense of royal propriety with these words: “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel – I will celebrate before the Lord” (2 Sam 6:21). In other words, what others think does not matter. Only the Lord’s opinion is of consequence.
As we finish this yearlong study of the Psalms, each of us is faced with a searching question, perhaps not articulated in Psalm 150 but strongly implied nonetheless. It is the question former Mayor Ed Koch of New York City used to ask his constituents: “How’m I doin’?” To rephrase this slightly, we should regularly ask ourselves, "How we are doing with the responsibility we have for joyfully praising the Lord?" The following check list can help us determine if we are growing in our understanding and ability to praise our great God as we should.
- WHERE: Do we praise God only when we are with other believers in church on Sunday or do we live our whole lives as expressions of praise to God wherever we go and whatever we do (everywhere, both inside and outside)?
- WHY: Are we expressing adoration and gratitude to God for all that he is and all that he does for us? Are his glory and greatness the focus of our thoughts continually or do we praise him only when convenient or on special occasions?
- HOW: Is our praise of God spontaneous, unselfconscious, and enthusiastic, or do we find ourselves constantly wondering what others think about how we appear or how we sound?
- WHO: Are we doing everything in our power to offer God the sincere, heartfelt praises that his glorious person deserves?
As we continue to study and meditate on the Psalms in the years ahead, our goal should be to offer Yahweh an ever more meaningful and deeply felt “sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Heb. 13:15).