I need Sundays. I need spiritual gymnasium time. I need subjects that get me out of the way, that remove me from the center of a make-believe world where I reign as king. I need God-saturated Psalms that un-self me. From the first step of the Jesus-following life, I need a concentrated focus on King Jesus. Psalm 150 points out the perfect path. It reminds me of this formational truth, this transformational focus–the Christian life is about Him, not about me. Psalm 150 is formation’s triumph. Here is today’s prayer and the final amen of the Psalter.
1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
Four questions can be laid over Psalm 150. First question: Who is the subject of praise? Look at the way this Psalmist answers that question: “Him”—9 times; “His”—4 times; “God”—1 time; and “LORD”—three times. Again, as with all the Psalms housed from 146 to 150 that celebrate the triumph of God returning Israel from Babylonian captivity, this last one starts and closes with “Praise the LORD” (150:1 and 6)! He alone is worthy of praise.
Second question: Where is praise of God to be given? The answer offered is “in his sanctuary” and “in his mighty heavens” (150:1)! Hebrew parallelism is in play here. The same thought is being conveyed in both locations. The writer is not thinking of the Jerusalem temple as the sanctuary, but of God’s heavenly grand residence. Sanctuary and heavens are pictures of the same Divine palace. From the viewpoint of the Psalmist, the reply of where praise is to be given is that of the throne room of God. Praise is to go directly to His presence.
Third question: Why is praise of God to be given? Two answers, with similar implications, are offered. God is be given praise for “his mighty deeds” and for “his excellent greatness” (150:2)! God’s force, power and strength should prompt our praise. God’s eminence, majesty and importance should ignite our praise.
Fourth question: How is praise of God to be given? “With trumpet sound,” “with lute and harp,” “with tambourine and dance,” “with strings and pipe,” “with sounding cymbals,” and “with loud clashing cymbals” (150:3-5)! What instrument of praise is the sound of your soul? Your own voice, mouth, hands, eyes, and feet are your trumpet, lute, harp, tambourine, strings, pipe and cymbals. Play it loudly. Play it passionately. Just play it all to His glorious praise. Thirteen times in this last Psalm the author of this prayer inserts the word “praise.” It is the word for raving about God, for boasting of God, for commending celebration of God, for exalting God, and cheering God as the One who makes our formation His greatest triumph. Praise realigns us. It resets our spiritual global positioning system. The Christian life is most assuredly about Him and most certainly not about us. This life is not about our favorite movie star. It is not about our favorite athlete. It is not about our chosen political party’s leader. This life is about the Triune God.
Charles Spurgeon’s reflection on Psalm 150 is needed in our self-absorbed culture. He wrote: “To give the least particle of his honor to another is shameful treason; to refuse to render it to him is heartless robbery” (Treasury of David, 7:463, 2011). I, like you, must guard myself against becoming a traitor of praise and a robber of adoration. Praise and adoration belong to our Lord and Savior alone. The Psalms repeatedly remind me of what John says of the Lamb in Revelation: “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure…I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star. The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price…He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 19:6-8; 22:16-17 and 22:20)!
Who, where, why, and how are all answered in Him! Praise the LORD! Keep praying until that great day comes. Remember the words of Ambrose regarding the Psalms: “In it there is a complete gymnasium for the soul, a stadium for all the virtues, equipped for ever kind of exercise…” The grace of Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be upon us.