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!
Jake Potter, author
Psalm 150 is the final psalm in the book. Up to this point, there have been 149 psalms in the book ranging from praise, lament, and thanksgiving, to expressions of wisdom. There are psalms used in royal processions and those that praise of the Word of God itself. A rabbi’s footnote in the Hebrew text of Psalm 150 reads “The praise of God, the eternal creator, is finished and completed.” Commentator John Goldingay says that having arrived at the end of the book of Psalms, Psalm 150 is encouraging us to react accordingly. It’s as if those ancient Israelites who compiled the book are saying, “We have said a lot about God in all these psalms; in light of what we have said, you know all the reasons to praise God. Just do it.” This psalm is not proposing some new theological insight. But, please enjoy this loud, clashing cymbal. Praise the Lord.
Psalm 150 is not one for in-depth metaphors and complicated language or nuance, but it is poetic. Every line begins with the word “praise,” with the exception of verse 6a, where praise is moved to the end of the sentence. If you were to break down Psalm 150 into a kind of structure, you could see that verse one talks about where the praise takes place, verse two gives a reason for the praise, and the rest of the psalm is about how to express that praise with a series of direct commands.
For today, the opening verses give us insight into the heart of the final psalm. We are called to “praise God in his sanctuary, praise him in his mighty heavens.” The thing to notice is that his sanctuary is a place on earth, where heaven meets earth. Contrasted with his mighty heavens, another way to say this could be “let every corner of the universe resound with the praise of the LORD.”
But then in verse two it explains why we should give God his praise – “for his mighty deeds… according to his excellent greatness.” These are certainly summative statements, encompassing all of who God is and all of what he has done. Combined with verse one, these verses work together to show how all of creation, heaven and earth, should praise God for all he is and has done. These verses establish a universal pretense for the call to praise the Lord – it is not just for one place or one people, or for one act of God – the praise of God is a holistic endeavor that will fill the entire universe.
But interestingly, “praise God in his sanctuary” is the first full command, a subtle way of indicating that praise begins in God’s sanctuary, where heaven meets earth. I point this out because it is so important to have the correct view of where praise starts. Praise really begins with God – he comes to meet with us, and then we respond to who he is and what he has done with praise that will extend through all of creation. Ultimately, this is the heart behind Psalm 150. It starts with God, but we have a call to take action. And if praise is our calling in Psalm 150, then we have a responsibility to lift our voices, our lives, and praise the Lord.
Meditate on verses one and two of Psalm 150. Think about where God’s sanctuary is, and how unlimited his heavens are. Think about specific mighty deeds and specific ways he exudes excellent greatness. Then spend time praising God out of that meditation.