Praise the Lord: Notes on a sermon from Jonathan on Psalm 150

Jonathan

This Sunday, the passage was Psalm 150, and Jonathan was the speaker. Jonathan also spoke on a similar theme a few Sundays ago, so it would be good to read the notes below alongside the report of what Jonathan said about Psalm 100, and John’s reflection on Jonathan’s sermon.

Psalm 150 says this:

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Jonathan explained that the 150 Psalms in the Bible were written between 1440BC and 538BC.  The book of Psalms is a collection of songs and prayers reflecting every conceivable human emotion, and showing us how to express ourselves in words of praise and worship regardless of our inner struggles, and the circumstances we are facing.

However, although the book of Psalms is an anthology of praise and prayer, and although it is sub-divided into other collections such as ‘the prayers of David’, yet it is one book, with an introduction (Psalms 1 and 2) and ‘a clear conclusion of praise and worship to God in Psalms 146-150.’

Psalm 150 is the great, final Hallelujah at the end of the Psalms, directing us to ‘Praise the Lord’ – which is what the word ‘Hallelujah’ means. The word ‘praise’ is used eleven times in the Psalm.

This reminds us, as Jonathan said that the praise of God is central to authentic faith.

Where should God be praised?

For the Jewish people at the time the Psalms were written, the place of worship was ‘the sanctuary’ (v1)  - the Holy Place in the Temple at Jerusalem. This highlights the importance of public worship – of praising God together each time we worship.

But Jonathan reminded us that when Jesus was crucified the great curtain in the Temple was torn in two. This signifies that we can approach a holy God with confidence (as Hebrews 10:19-22) tells us.  But it also signifies that God was letting it be known that never again would God be seen as held in an enclosed space, confined in the box, tied to a particular location.

There are no limits of location to our praise. We can praise God together in church, but also in every other context of our lives – when we’re washing dishes, driving to work, sharing a meal.

When we praise – in word sung or spoken, in thought – we are adding to the chorus of praise in heaven.

Why should God be praised?

Praising God is not conditional upon our feelings, upon how life is going for us at a particular time, for example:

‘I’m in a good place! Hallelujah!’

‘My relationship with God is going great! Hallelujah!’

Jonathan continues:

It is something you have to choose to do – to choose hallelujah. [When everything’s going to plan, yes] but also when life is falling apart. When you’re hit with bad news. When everything seems to be going against you. When darkness surrounds you. When hope seems lost. When you look around at the state of the world we live in – and it’s not good, is it?  Even still, Hallelujah. Even still, praise the Lord.

Why is this, Jonathan wondered?

It’s because we are to praise God for who God is, and for what God has done, we praise God for God’s surpassing greatness and for no other reason.

It’s difficult to pray in dark days of struggle. But as Philip suggested last week that the best prayer is one word ‘Help!’, Jonathan suggested the best form of praise was just three words ‘Thank you, Lord.’

How should God be praised?

The psalm mentions lots of instruments – including the trumpet, which was used for drawing the different tribes of Israel together for worship, and the ‘pipes’ which were used in family celebrations. Overall, it’s a picture of pure joy.

The Psalm calls us to unrestrained, enthusiastic, exuberant praise.  However each of us praises the Lord, we should just go for it.

With eagerness, with zeal, with fervour you praise the Lord. Dance and make music and rejoice.

Who should praise the Lord?

Quite simply, everything that breathes (v6) – the whole of creation.

And while instruments can be helpful in worship, the instruments are not what matters. What matters is the hearts of the people who using the instruments to express themselves. What matters is our hearts as we worship, regardless of how musical or otherwise we are.

‘While you have breath in your bodies, you worship,’ said Jonathan, ‘even if nobody else around you does. Even if the music’s all out of tune, even if the person next to you can’t sing – you worship.’

Who should praise the Lord? Each one of us should!

God breathed life into us, and we should use that given breathe to say ‘Thank you!’ to our Creator.

Praise the Lord.

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