Read: Psalm 150
Consider: We now turn to the final psalm, Psalm 150.
The Hebrew word הלל translated as ‘praise, in Psalm 150 occurs 13 times in only six verses, so it must be important. How do you imagine praise? For many of us living in the west it is the culturally acceptable, reserved praise we see in churches each Sunday. The Hebrew word used by the psalmist could be translated as ‘shine’, ‘boast’, ‘be boastful’, as well as ‘praise’. This gives us a breadth and depth of meaning beyond our normal understanding of what praise can and could be.
The praise envisaged in Psalm 150 is meant to be exuberant and unreserved. We are meant to be so full of God that it flows out when we praise him. It reminds me of David, in 1 Samuel 6:14, dancing before the Lord with all his might as the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not advocating that we should all dance, although this might sometimes be a natural way to praise God. What I would advocate is a freedom in praising God that is an expression of thankfulness for what God has done for us in Christ.
Psalm 150:1-2 tells us where we should praise God – ‘in his sanctuary’ and ‘in his mighty heavens’, in other words everywhere. Praise is not reserved for church. Despite this many people treat praise as synonymous with worship and they restrict this to being in church on a Sunday. The psalmist encourages us to praise God everywhere, just because of who he is (his surpassing greatness), as well as because of what he has done (his acts of power).
Moving on from why we should praise God, the psalmist encourages us to praise him using a wide range of musical instruments (trumpet, harp, lyre, tambourine, strings, pipe and cymbals). It seems to me that this list is not meant to be exhaustive, but indicative. We are to utilise whatever musical instruments are available when praising God. Praise is even possible in the absence of musical instruments.
Finally the psalmist says ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord‘. The Hebrew word for ‘breath’ used here is the same as that used in Genesis 2:7, where God breathed into man the breath of life. So this could be translated as ‘Let every living person praise the Lord’. Psalm 150 ends as it begins with the words ‘Praise the Lord’.
Is your life an act of praise towards God for who he is and what he has done. Is your praise restricted by your culture, or is it free to be expressed unreservedly as an outworking of your thankfulness for the forgiveness God achieved through Christ.
Pray: Father, may our praise for you be unreserved. May we praise you because of who you are, as well as for what you have done for us in offering us forgiveness. Amen