Some portions of scripture you really need to dig into to try and determine what it’s trying to say. Only after you’ve worked through the historical context . . . and have rightly placed it within the context of why it was written . . . and have worked through some difficult terminology or concepts . . . only after you’ve spent time in detailed observation are you ready to move on to interpretation. And even then, sometimes the interpretation isn’t readily apparent . . . maybe one or two or more ways to look at it . . . some controversy on how it should be understood . . . sometimes you just need to live with some ambiguity. And then . . . even after the detail work of observation . . . and wrestling with the interpretation . . . the application may not, at first, be apparent. Fortunately . . . that wasn’t the nature of my reading in the Book of Psalms this morning. Pretty easy to figure out the songwriter’s “big idea” . . .
WHAT are we to do? Praise the Lord (150:1) . . . there it is . . . Hallelujah! 13 times in 6 verses the reader is told to “Praise the LORD” or, “Praise God” or, “Praise Him.” Our boast . . . our focus . . . the activity we are commanded to perform is to praise Him who is worthy of praise. That’s what this Psalm is about . . . He is the One to whom our praise is directed. The big idea is to praise Him!
WHERE are we to do it? We are to praise Him in “his sanctuary” and in “His mighty heavens” (150:1) . . . on earth and in heaven. My call to praise Him will transcend my time here on earth. Getting practiced up in praise now will prepare me well for that time when I have opportunity to be facedown in His very presence. And as I think about the “where” . . . what a tragedy when we restrict to only happening “at church.” God forgive us for compartmentalizing our praise . . . it should happen during my morning devotions . . . it should happen when I’m driving in my car and I’ve got music on that exalts His name . . . it should happen instantaneously when I recognize a blessing . . . and yes, it should even happen when I’m going through tough times and call upon Him who is faithful. Praise’s proximity should only be limited by heaven and earth . . .
WHY are we to praise Him? For His “mighty deeds” and according to His “excellent greatness” (150:2). For what He has done and for who He is!!! Ok . . . so that sounds like quite a bit of “subject matter” to work with. If my praise is getting stale . . . repetitive . . . same old, same old . . . the problem is with me — not with the One who is to be the object of my praise. I wouldn’t need another “mighty deed” of God in my life other than the mighty act of being saved to evoke praise to Him for eternity. The cross . . . the blood . . . the Lamb of God come to atone for sin . . . oh, Praise the Lord!!! The resurrection . . . the promise of a house being built with many rooms — one for me . . . the assurance that He will come to take me to be with Him . . . eternity face-to-face . . . oh, Praise the Lord!!! And after I’ve exhausted praising Him for what He’s done (like that’s gonna happen) . . . let’s focus on who He is!!! Start listing out His “omni” attributes . . . omnipresent . . . omniscient . . . omnipotent . . . mix that with His compassion and grace and lovingkindness . . . throw in a bit of faithfulness . . . and you’ve just started to scratch the surface of our God who is God and nothing less. How weak and shallow and superficial my praise must seem sometimes. Going through the motions . . . yada yada yada. Oh, for a mind focused on the works and person of my God . . . get a group of those people together and see the roof lifted off!!! Speaking of lifting the roof off . . .
HOW is praise to happen? Half of the psalm deals with the “how” (150:3-5). In two words? Without reservation!!! Bring it on . . . trumpets . . . lutes . . . harps . . . tambourines . . . stringed instruments (ok . . . my guitar’s in . . . ) . . . flutes . . . loud cymbals . . . really loud cymbals . . . and dancing too (at least in your heart if not with your feet). How anemic my praise is sometimes. How little I sometimes bring to the table. And it’s not really up to the worship band to make it happen . . . although well tuned and well played instruments combined with spiritually tuned musicians certainly can be a catalyst for heart soaring praise. It’s about what I’m prepared to bring. “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:30) What if I determined to praise God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Oh, that I would be such a worshiper.
And finally, WHO is to do the worshiping? Everything that has breath (150:6). That would include me. To leave it up to the band . . . to leave it up to those who can play an instrument or carry a tune . . . is to be disobedient (did I mention that every time the word “praise” is used in the psalm it is in the command format?). If I’m not praising . . . then am I really breathing? If I’m not adoring then am I really tuned into the abundant life Jesus promised? If I’m not exalting Him continually then am I really focused on things above rather than things of this earth?
And I guess the unasked question here is WHEN? And I’m thinking the answer is always. On the mountain . . . in the valley . . . when He giveth . . . and when He taketh away . . . when I’m near . . . and when I’m drifting . . . when I feel like it . . . and when not so much. He is God . . . He is worthy of my praise at all times . . . in all places . . . with all my being. Praise the Lord!!!!
So what’s the big idea? . . .