Psalm 150

Psalm 150

 

A couple of years ago, a dear lady of our congregation, my apologies if I offend anyone with that phrase but I expect you have many here too, asked whether I would like any books from her late husband’s collection. He had been a Baptist Minister but her eyes were now that she couldn’t read any more.  Amongst the treasures boxed up was the complete ‘Treasury of David’ written by Charles Spurgeon in Seven Volumes.  And printed in 1890, having been as far as I can see actually signed by the man himself.

 

“We have now reached the last summit of the mountain chain of Psalms.  It rises high into the clear azure, and its brow is bathed in the sunlight of the eternal world of worship.  It is a rapture.  The poet-prophet is full of inspiration and enthusiasm.  He stays not to argue, to teach, to explain; but cries with burning words, “Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Ye the Lord”.”

 

And that is the message of this Psalm – Praise God, Hallelu – yah.  Hallelu is ancient for praise, Yah – short for Yahweh. Praise God, Hallelujah, for no reason, no argument, no teaching, no real explanation. For 149 other Psalms there have been reasons to Praise God. Whether in times of danger, times of fear, or thankfulness, o regret as we travel through Spurgeon’s mountain chain of peaks and valleys but now just… Praise Him – Hallelu yah.

 

If we were to travel back to the beginning, a very good place to start as Maria would say, we find Psalm 1 encouraging a call to obedience. Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord. On his law he meditates day and night.  It’s the Jewish Way to obey God’s law and so draw nearer through that obedience.  And from Psalm 1 to Psalm 149, it’s the shape of life we travel through – obedience, struggle, praise, relief, struggle, even more struggle, until we reach our own Psalm 150 where we are called to praise God for no reason. Where we enter an eternal world of worship.

 

From Obedience to Praise, from duty to delight.  It’s worth noting though that strong faith does indeed build from obedience to praise and not praise towards obedience. How can we praise if we do not know who we are praising? Some might say that it is only through true and full obedience that we can be free to praise.

 

Or, is it that Praise overcomes obedience? That as Christians we have moved from the Old Testament and it’s laws to the New Testament of Jesus and love first. And that there really doesn’t have to be a reason to praise – that we can and should offer an unfettered praise to a creator God. Does our praise of our risen Lord overcome our obedience to the law?

 

As Israel moved from commandment to communion throught he Psalms, the weight of duty was overridden by the delight of lyrical community with God.  As we move through a service of Holy Communion, we hear the commandments, we seek forgiveness, we participate in a common union with each other and with God through the bread and wine and then we sing a hymn of praise.

 

As a Jew, obedience was and is the base of life with God, but those who enter this glad communion with Yahweh are so in tune, so delighted in covenant with Him, so in love with Him, so eager to make a response to His Sovereignty that no explicit requirement or reason is necessary. Have you ever experienced that ‘in loveness’ with God, where all is forgiven? Praise the Lord, Hallelujah.

 

With these thoughts in mind let’s just delve into those verses, to remind ourselves of the ‘where’, the ‘why’, the ‘how’, and the ‘who’ of praise and the ‘what’ that is praise of God, himself. Hallelu Yah.

 

Where – V1 tells us the obvious in church, in his sanctuary.  But also the not so obvious – in his mighty heavens and that is everywhere.  HIS Praise is not anchored down to a synagogue, to a church, to these four walls on a Sunday morning.  If it is then we have missed the plot and it’s time to think again.  If I walk out this door this morning, God is with me and it is Him I praise in his mighty heavens. Spurgeon offers five pointers: praise God in his personal holiness, praise God in the person of his son, praise God in heaven, praise God in the assembly of saints, praise God in the silence of your heart.

 

Why – v2 God’s acts of Power, His surpassing greatness. His power to forgive, His power to make things new. Praise him reverently, according to the greatness of His being; Praise Him gratefully according to the greatness of His love; Praise Him retrospectively according to the greatness of His gifts and Praise Him prospectively according to the greatness of His promises.

 

How – v3-5 Trumpet, harp and lyre, tambourine, dancing, strings, flute and cymbals. Some take skill, but others are so simple even a baby can find a joyful noise of praise. I think the Psalmist here is saying remove all the shackles and trimmings of what you think might be praise and be unfettered in your praise.

 

And Who - v6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.  There is always much debate on the souls of animals and whether it’s only humans that can have them, and yet the Psalmist shouts Let EVERYTHING that has breath praise the LORD. And one way or another that’s most things that are alive.

 

Spurgeon closes his seven volumes with the note on this very last verse of the Psalter.  “A fitting close to the psalter, considered as a desire, or a prayer, or an exhortation.  As a desire, it realises the glory due to God, the worship ennobling to man, the disposition of heart which would make all the world into a holy brotherhood – Let everyone who is breath together praise the Lord.  As a prayer, it seeks the downfall of every superstition, the universal spread of truth, the conversion of every soul, again – Let everyone who is breath together praise the Lord.  As an exhortation it is plain, pertinent, pure in its piety, perfect in it’s charity – Simply, Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

 

“Reader, I beseech David’s God to bless thee; and I pray thee, when it is well with thee, breathe like a prayer for Thine heartily.”

 

To end, let’s read Psalm 150 together and end with a Hallelujah. (P. 634)

 

Praise the Lord, Hallelu Yah. Amen.

 


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