by Pastor Mark Hudson
Does one need to read a devotional to comprehend this Psalm? Need? No. But hopefully this may aid you in some small measure. This Psalm, of course, ends the entire Psalter.
A W. Robert Godfrey points out, “Thirteen times the call to praise is repeated. (Learning to Love the Psalms p. 249). As we have pointed out, from Ps 146-150, each Psalms begins with “Praise the Lord!” and ends the same. As many have pointed out, we find
150:1 The ‘where’ of praise
150:2 The ‘why’ of praise
150:3-5 The ‘how’ of praise
We are to praise God wherever we are. If we are on earth, we ought to follow His designated will and worship Him in His sanctuary. And we will be joined by the angels and saints in heaven who also worship God.
In verse two, we are told why we ought praise God. We praise Him for His mighty deeds and His excellent greatness. His mighty deeds probably refers to all He has done for our salvation. This may also refer to creation and sustaining and providing (providence) for His created beings.
Then in vs. 3-5, we come to the ‘how’ of praise. Let me quote from C.S. Lewis,
“Their fingers itch for the harp (43,4), for the lute and the harp—wake up, lute and harp!—(57,9); let’s have a song, bring the tambourine, bring the “merry harp with the lute”; we’re going to sing merrily and make a cheerful noise (81, 1, 2). Noise, you may well say. Mere music is not enough. Let everyone, even the benighted gentiles, clap their hands (47, 1). Let us have clashing cymbals, not only well tuned but loud, and dances too (150, 5). Let even the remote islands (all islands were remote, for the Jews were no sailors) share the exultation (97, 1).
I am not saying that this gusto—if you like, this rowdiness—can or should be revived. Some of it cannot be revived because it is not dead but with us still. It would be idle to pretend that we Anglicans are a striking example. The Romans, the Orthodox, and the Salvation Army all, I think, have retained more of it than we. We have a terrible concern about good taste. Yet even we can still exult.“ (What Christmas Means to Me Nov 27. 1953. Private Letter).
In vs. 3-5, what are we to apply from that? We must use certain instruments? We must dance? We must be loud? I prefer to think of these commands this way: Whatever instruments you have may be used in the praise of God. Yet, the command is to “praise him” which serves as a qualifier. If you like to be quiet, praise Him in your quietness. If you play an instrument, play to praise God. But we are certainly encouraged to praise God with noise. As Kidner wrote, “His glory fills the universe; His praise must do no less” Kidner. P. 491.
Verse 6 is so simply wonderful. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” I believe moths praise God as well as the eastern moles that seem to ruin my yard, the skunks that emit smells that I recoil from as well as the red-tailed hawks I love to see. But when a human being chooses to praise God that brings Him joy. As we read in Psalms 147:11, “. . . the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him . . . .” And as John Stott writes, “Our worship is not to be confined to church services. On the contrary, while we breathe, we praise.” (John Stott Favorite Psalms p. 127).
Our dear Heavenly Father, we can never claim to know the extent of Your greatness in this life. You are so much grander than we can even imagine. But the tiny part we do know about You is marvelous beyond belief. Keep us praising You. Not in a mindless sense of tuning out the world but in terms of learning all we can, being inquisitive about the affairs of the world and yet constantly praising Your deeds and excellent greatness as we bring all our concerns to You. We love You and Praise You, the eternal Triune God that will shine for all of eternity. In Christ’s name. Amen.