Psalm 150: the WHY, WHO and HOW of Praise

The psalter of the Scriptures closes with its 150th installment--and it is a high note if there ever was one! Short, simple, and to the point, the call to action is "Hallelujah," or "Praise the Lord!" So what does that praise look like?


WHY praise God: The opening of this song (Psalm 150:1-2) invites us to consider God's position (higher than us), God's work (His mighty deeds as the all-powerful sustainer), and God's nature (His excellent greatness, that is, His "God-ness"). Why does God deserve my praise today? Because His ways are higher than my ways, He has done incredible things for His people--including me--and He is the only object truly worthy of praise at all.


WHO praises God: This song only gives one prerequisite that one must meet in order to offer worship to God Almighty, that the worshiper has breath in their lungs (Psalm 150:6). Why is that? Because God Himself provides the breath to sustain life (see Genesis 2:7). In fact, many Hebrew scholars suggest that the proper name of God, "YHWH" (represented in our English Bibles as "the LORD," all caps), is not pronounced "Yahweh" as we usually say, but more so resembles the sound of breathing--inhale (Y-H) and exhale (W-H). When we breathe, the name of God is on our tongues and lips. 


HOW we praise God: Simply breathing is not in and of itself true praise. This psalm explains what reasonable worship looked like under God's old covenant with the nation of Israel (Psalm 150:3-5). Consider how fervently, how energetically and passionately Israel would have played their instruments and danced for their God! Do we bring that same kind of attitude and passion to our worship today? Today, the covenant inaugurated by Jesus' blood shows us that our reasonable worship is a whole-life sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). Is the instrument of my heart making a genuine melody when I sing to Him and to my brothers and sisters in Christ (Ephesians 5:19)? The question we should ask of Psalm 150 isn't "Should Christians today worship with instruments," though that question certainly merits careful study and consideration. Rather, when I see how ancient Israel praised God, I must ask myself, "Do I bring that same energy and commitment to my praise of God, both in the assembly on Sundays and in every moment of every day?"