Read: Psalm 150:1; Hebrews 12:22 – 24; Ephesians 2:19 – 22; 1 Corinthians 3:16 – 17
Psalm 150 contains ten exhortations to praise the Lord. The Psalm begins with an exhortation to praise God in His sanctuary, the place where God’s throne is located, where the angels and saints are gathered around Him.
Think About It: How do the Scripture references in the suggested readings for this section help to explain how I can praise the Lord in His sanctuary from my location here on earth?
Prayer: Lord, help me to be aware of the Your awesome presence around me and even within me. I praise You from Your sanctuary!
Read: Psalm 150:1; Psalm 56:9 – 13; Matthew 5:45; Philemon 4 – 7
Psalm 150:1 exhorts us to praise the Lord in His mighty firmament. (Some translations say “mighty heavens.”) Jewish commentaries describe the firmament as the intermediary heavens through which all of God’s other blessings pass before they come down to earth.
Think About It: How do the Scripture references in the suggested readings for this section explain the channels through which God’s blessings flow to His creation? How have I experienced the channels of God’s blessing in my life? How can I be a channel for God’s blessing, a kind of “firmament,” for someone else?
Prayer: Praise the Lord for those who have blessed me; Lord, make me a blessing!
Read: Psalm 150:2; Deuteronomy 3:24; Romans 1:20; Hebrews 1:3; Joshua 10:12;
Romans 8:28 – 39
Psalm 150:2 instructs us in a single phrase for what we are to praise God: His mighty deeds. Psalm 150:1 contained two levels of God’s creation: His sanctuary (the highest heavens), and the firmament (the intermediary heaven). Psalm 150:2 brings us “down to earth” where God has revealed His mighty deeds to men by creating and sustaining the earth and in His complete mastery over the forces of nature.
Think About It: The most awesome of all God’s mighty deeds are those things He did to bring about my salvation. What are some of those mighty deeds of salvation, according to Romans 8:28 – 39?
Prayer: Praise God for His mighty deeds!
Read: Psalm 150:2 – 3; Psalm 33:6; Amos 3:6
Beginning with the second phrase of Psalm 150:2 and continuing through Psalm 150:6, the psalmist instructs us how to praise God. Psalm 150:2 instructs us to praise God in proportion to His excellent greatness, in other words, with the highest level of commitment, sincerity, enthusiasm, and skill that we can muster. The psalmist goes on to name nine musical instruments that are to be used in God’s praise. Each of these instruments is spiritually symbolic. The shofar or trumpet in Psalm 150:3 was used to assemble the people, to warn them, to call them to battle, to announce the year of jubilee, to celebrate victory, and in Temple worship. When the people heard it, their first reaction would be alarm. This teaches that worship must involve a readiness to praise God in times of crisis and that our praise must be accompanied with a readiness for obedient action.
The neivel was a lute of ten strings, which for Jews related the instrument to the Ten Commandments and also to God’s ten decrees of creation:
- “There shall be light, and there was light.” 2. “There shall be a firmament between the waters, and it shall divide between water and water.” 3. “The waters below the firmament shall be gathered into one place.” 4. “The earth shall sprout vegetation.” 5. “There shall be luminaries in the sky.” 6. “The waters shall teem with living creatures.” 7. “The earth shall bring forth living creatures… in their species.” 8. “I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the earth.” 9. “We shall make man with Our image, of Our likeness.” 10. “It is not good that man is alone. I will make him a helper to match him.” The lute therefore reminds God’s people to praise Him for, and in terms of, His general and special revelation.
The kinor, is a harp; kinor means “like a flame,” suggesting the fiery passions that the music of the kinor could raise. However, the kinor could also produce soothing sounds. This reminds us that we should praise God with the full range of our emotions: in passionate intensity, in quietness and calm.
Think About It: Reflecting on my worship experiences, am I ready to praise God in times of crisis? Does my worship lead to obedient action? Do I praise God for His creation, and for His Word, in worship? Am I willing to allow myself, and others, the expression of a full range of emotions in worship?
Prayer: Lord, I offer the worship of will, mind, and heart!
Read: Psalm 150:4; 1 Chronicles 16:29, 29:2
Psalm 150:4 mentions four instruments with which we are to praise God: the tof, exactly like our modern tambourine; machol, although it means “dance,” was the name given to a flute with a mournful sound used to accompany the dance; minim, an instrument of many parts capable of many sounds (like an organ), with the potential for harmony; ugav, a flute known for its capacity to make sweet melody.
Think About It: What directions and insights regarding worship might be associated with the use of each one of the four instruments mentioned in Psalm 150:4?
Prayer: Lord, I offer you worship that is mournful over my sin, joyful over my salvation, in harmony in the company of God’s people, and saturated with the sweet beauty of holiness.
Read: Psalm 150:5; 1 Chronicles 16:42; 2 Corinthians 11:30, 12:9 – 10
Psalm 150:5 instructs us praise God with tziltzelei shama—with loud cymbals. According to the Mishnah, in the Temple orchestra there were never less than two trumpets and nine harps, with no limit on how many more might participate, but there was never more than one pair of loud cymbals. Psalm 150:5 tells us to praise God with tziltzelei teruah – with castanets. Teruah means “broken,” a good description of the clacking of the castanet.
Think About It: What application to worship might be made from the use of loud cymbals and from the limitation on the number of cymbals in the Temple orchestra? What application might be made from the “broken” sound of the castanets (2 Corinthians 11:30; 12:9 – 10)? How can my brokenness become part of worship?
Prayer: Lord, may I always offer you the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart.
Read: Psalm 150:6; Psalm 145:21; Psalm 146:1
The last exhortation of Psalm 150, and therefore of the entire book of Psalms, refers to the praise offered not merely by breath, but by the spirit, or so the Jewish commentators understood. Even the most skillfully offered praise is only lip-service unless it issues from our spirit. Psalm 150 closes the Book of Psalms just as a great symphony closes with a thunderous climax of sound; melody, harmony, and percussion all together in glorious praise. The Psalm reverberates like a great pipe organ with all the stops pulled out. Psalm 150 is not the end of psalms, it is their summary. It is also the beginning, the archetype, of the songs of eternity.
Think About It: Summarize the teaching about worship in Psalm 150 in a brief paragraph. How does this psalm help me to worship God “according to His excellent greatness”?
Prayer: Lord, by Your Spirit may I always “pull out all the stops” in worship.