This week ends our period of reflection and exploration of the Psalms. As we have seen through our study this summer the Psalms address many of the human feelings, concerns, and needs of their writers. David, Solomon, Asaph, and others unknown shared their uncertainty, anxiety, sadness, determination, hope, and joy. Throughout the humanness and admission of weaknesses that we have read about, an overriding recognition of God, who He is, and how He is the center of all emerges. This week I would like to share the final Psalm, Psalm 150, which is a summary reaction to the previous 149.
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with 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!
(Psalm 150, ESV)
The first thing that jumps out to me is that the first and last lines in the Psalm are the same: “Praise the Lord!” The transliterated Hebrew words of these lines are “Hallelu Yah!” Sound familiar? We are used to hearing “hallelujah” in many hymns and expressions of praise, but don’t often realize how the term is used by writers in the Old Testament. Psalm 150 begins with that thought, and then recognizes reasons to praise God: He lives in His sanctuary, He owns the heavens, He has performed mighty deeds, and in summary equals excellent greatness. Specific occasions of these qualities of God, and many more recognitions of His greatness appear throughout the Psalms.
The next few following verses list ways in which He can be praised. The list isn’t all inclusive of course—it generally seems to be focused on the worship experience: to praise Him with the instruments typically used in temple worship, with dance, and with breath (of course, breath can mean both speaking and singing, which also would have been included in temple worship). The Psalm then ends with a final “Hallelu Yah!”
Seeing the opening and closing verse in English brought to mind a song I have not considered for a long time. Fittingly it is called “Praise the Lord.” It was performed by The Imperials, featuring the voice of Russ Taff. It is from a time when I was much younger. Some of the young whippersnapper readers of this message might not be familiar with it, so I thought I would share it. It still brings a strong message that reminds me God is greater and stronger than any problems we might face. Praise the Lord!
Take heart and be encouraged!