Psalm 150 (ESV)
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!
Yesterday we saw that Psalm 91 encourages us to dwell and shelter in the Lord. According to these verses, what might we be taking refuge from?
Given all that’s going on in the world today, why might people take a special interest in Psalm 91?
Jake Potter, author
As we continue to look at Psalm 150, we come to the middle section of the psalm, verses 3-5, where there is a series of commands regarding praising God, using various musical instruments and dancing. Psalm 150’s list is culturally informed, listing a wide variety of instruments available in the ancient near east. There are some really interesting instruments listed here, like the shofar (often translated as “trumpet” in Psalm 150) which can still be seen and heard as it was thousands of years ago.
You could focus on the distinctions among the instruments. Some instruments like the shofar were for sacred occasions. Others were for celebrations, while others were for common use. You could also focus on the variety among the types of instruments. Psalm 150 lists woodwinds, horns, strings, percussion, and dance. But these distinctions are not truly the point. Like in verses one and two, verses three through five establish a universal nature of praise. All of creation praises God for all he is and all he has done, using every possible musical expression.
To get more personal, this passage has been a huge influence and encouragement in my life. Ever since I was a teenager, I have always been drawn to the loud, aggressive worship of Christian metal. It influenced me so much that I went on to form my own Christian metal band, and I still make heavy worship music to this day. I think it is so cool that we worship a God who wants all kinds of worship – loud, soft, fast, or slow. It includes everything ranging from classical songs, to hymns on a piano, gospel with a choir, drums and electric guitar of contemporary worship, the beats of Christian hip-hop and rap, or the double bass and down-tuned distortion of heavy metal. And it doesn’t stop there! God desires all the varieties of worship from around the world, from the Canaan hymns of the underground Chinese church to the energetic dance of African praise songs.
I remember when I was growing up, church had endless debates regarding worship. From arguing over hymns or contemporary worship, to including instruments like drums and guitar, people had very strong opinions. So often churches become overrun with endless debates about musical styles in worship, yet Psalm 150 serves as a harbinger of peace that shows how God desires it all. Ethnodoxologist Ron Man perhaps summarizes this best:
“Like any art form, Christian worship allows for much creative expression, but within defined parameters. The Bible provides for those parameters, as well as that freedom… ‘Man looks at the outward appearance; but the Lord looks at the heart’ (1 Sam 16:7 NASB). We squabble about so many little things related to worship, but God is looking for people who will worship him in spirit and truth. The externals are not nearly as important to him as they are to us! God is not as worried about which songs you sing as he is about you ‘making melody with your heart to the Lord’ (Eph 5:19 NASB). In today’s raging worship debates we desperately need to see that there are biblical constants and principles that we can really agree on. And then we need to have the grace and maturity to allow for the flexibility that God seems to allow for… We must learn to give grace to other churches choosing to apply principles differently to their situations.”
 Man, Ron. “The Bridge: Worship Between Bible and Culture” in Worship and Mission for the Global Church: An Ethnodoxology Handbook
As we respond to Psalm 150 today, I would like to challenge us to expose ourselves to worship that we normally wouldn’t listen to. This could include a different musical style or even different languages. Instead of focusing on how different it is, listen for the same heart of worship that resounds with different believers from around the world.