Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary;

praise him in his mighty heavens!

Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!

Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!

Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! – Psalm 150

“What do you do for fun?” This is a common question when you are trying to get to know someone. It is an even more common question when you are first attending college. I and a group of new students at bible college were asked this question by some of the older students while riding the “L” train in Chicago. While each new student listed off all that they did for fun the question eventually came to me.

As a young zealous believer, I unashamedly and boisterously answered, “Read the Bible, sing worship songs, and go to church!” To which the older students with a little rudeness and no shortage of condescension responded, “No, really what do you do for fun, not some spiritual answer?”

I was amazed, I was bewildered, I mean I was at bible college to learn about how to share God with others among others who intended to do the same. Sadly, I was more insulted, and more accurately I was furious.

I had been at community college for a year and a half, a believer for only two and half years, and I had lived alone for over a year of that. I had stopped watching TV, movies, and playing video games. Instead, I spent almost all my alone time at home reading the Bible and singing worship songs.

I had been getting the sheet music from after worship services and sang songs while walking or taking the train the nearly 800 miles I had traveled without a car a month. Listening and singing worship songs was what drove me and kept me going.

And church, I started going to church one service then I went to two. Then I stayed for both morning services cleaned the church and helped set up for Youth Ministry at night. Then I was a small group leader for three out of four services, two on Saturday and one on Sunday so that I could still go to church. I was an Awana leader on Wednesday. I set up the stage, ran lights, and the projector for college ministry.

I was in a college small group through church and was involve in Campus Christian Fellowship. For a Semester I was even at church and a home for battered women serving dinner on Fridays. My best friend became that because when we hung out we brought every conversation back to the Lord and what we were learning about Him.

Everything I did revolved around the Word, worship, and the community of faith. Yet, that was not allowed to be fun at Bible College. A few times people intending to insult me were frustrated that I brought God and His Word up in every conversation.

Everything does revolve around God. He is the focal point for all of creation. All we can aim to do is recognize who He is and what He is doing in our lives and through all of creation and praise Him for it!

A.W. Tozer made a important comment during his discussion about the Pursuit of God:

“Everything is made to center upon the initial act of “accepting” Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared by the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him.”[1]

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!

Take a brief moment and think about what it looks like to praise the Lord. Understand this action is not a simple suggestion, instead this is an imperative. Praise the Lord is a command. The book of Psalms opens with a simple premise, delight in the Law of the Lord, and the Lord watches over those who are righteous. God is the focus of the psalms. He is the focal point for which all psalms relate.

This may seem obvious because it is the Word of God, but you are the children of God. You who believe in what Christ did by dying on the cross have been made a new creation in order that the world can know of and see who God is. Your life is to be centralized on God.

God is not meant to be a part of what defines you. He is to be what defines you, nothing else matters. Yes! Nothing in your life has lasting value if it is not focused around God. Let’s repeat and understand this. Praising God is the most important thing in your life. If you are not praising, loving, and honoring God everything else is a waste.

So, stop for a moment and ask yourself, how has my week, my morning, my life been defined by the praise of the Lord?

Psalm 150 concludes a series of heart wrenching, spirit lifting, and anger filled psalms. At the end of the day, at the end of the circumstances of life, at the end of the moment or life long journey the command is praise the Lord. How have you praised the Lord?

The sanctuary is you who believe. Think on the great difference between the time when this psalm was written and now. For the Israelites they needed to go the city of Jerusalem and the Temple to come into the presence of God. Yes, that was the journey to the sanctuary and it was displayed throughout the entirety of the Psalms, the desperate desire to be intimately close to the presence of God.

Whether it was the people of God before the exile boasting of the strength of the God of Zion or the people of God brutally exiled desiring to see the glimpse of the horizon that displayed the Temple and glory of the Lord. The sanctuary was sacred.

And, for the Israelites that were able to see the glory and splendor of the Temple they were still separated from the King of kings ultimately. The Temple had sections that were dedicated to the Lord. The people could enter the temple, the priests could enter the holy place but even the High Priest, set apart from the people to represent the people in the presence of God, was only allowed to enter the Holy of Holy where the Ark and the presence of the Lord dwelt once a year to petition through sacrifice for forgiveness.

How desperately different did the King of kings make things. You who have believed and in so doing received the Holy Spirit have become the sanctuary so treasured and highly sought to remain in. You are the sanctuary. Praise Him oh people of God, oh you sanctuary of the most high Praise Him!

Recognize you are made for more. You are now made to be more than simply a sounding board for the praise of God you are meant to be that place where the praise of God is meant. And, to not miss this point God is to be praised everywhere. He is great, He is mighty, He is the definition of awesome. The book of Psalms, the Word of God, you, and creation testify to His splendor His awesomeness! Praise Him in His sanctuary. Praise Him the fantastic part of the mighty heavens.

The heavens where God also is, praise Him there. There is no place either great or small in which God should not be praised. The heavenly realm the place where spirits dwell. The place by His side that we long to be. Praise Him all who see and know of His greatness.

How simple would it be to simply say praise Him. Praise Him for what?

Praise Him For What He Has Done!

Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise Him for making you. Praise Him for making all of creation. Praise Him for creating you with such intricate purpose. Praise Him for the detail He takes in a blade of grass that is here for a moment. Praise Him for the dust that flies through the sky, the rain that falls, the wind that both comforts and destroys. Praise Him for the sun that heats the day and can cause so much pain, you that burn know what I’m talking about.

Praise God for the awesomeness of God. We have a God who made and sustains all that we see. You go outside, you go on a mountain, you go out into “creation” to see the glory of God. Don’t be blind look right in front of you. Did you see?

Yes, you can see. If you are blind you can hear. If you are blind and can not see you can feel. You can touch you can experience. You can think. As Descartes puts it, “I think therefore I am!” Yes praise Him for that simple thing.

Praise Him for His mighty deeds. Praise Him for your wife. Praise Him for your husband. Praise Him for your parents that have defined you. Praise Him for the friends you have. Praise Him for what opportunities He has given you! Yes! And, praise Him for the opportunities He has in His power taken away from you.

How foolish would we be to praise Him only for the great parts of our lives and not praise Him for how He has molded us through the tragedy. Tragedy and hardship in the psalms that makes the motif of “God is my refuge” the second most utilized refrain. God is my refuge! We needed a refuge! We need a refuge and He is great!

Use What You Have to Make God’s Greatness Heard!

Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!

Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!

Praise him with sounding cymbals;  praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

It is important to recognize that in this section the instruments are meant to be heard and they finalize with an emphatic note of clarity. Cymbals are normally understood to be loud, but the emphasis on the volume level shows how important it is that the act of praising God be heard and not hidden.

“The praise of God is not simply contemplation, confession, and prostration—it is also music, and so engages the mind, voice, body, and heart. It captures the emotions and the brain, both left and right brain.”[2]

       We are to be loud about our praise, we are to be eloquent about our praise, detailed like the hard and lyre, we are to pierce through the other noises like a trumpet. We are to dance. Yes, dance for the Lord.

       Now many of you may know the story of when David danced for the Lord. It was so shameful that His wife rebuked Him for being so provocative.

When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. – 2 Samuel 6:13-15

       The most revealing part of this is when David is rebuked for said lude behavior David responded, “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” David’s only concern was that the greatness and the choices of God be praised. How remarkable would our praise be if we were able to praise God together in such a way that we unashamedly praised God with every ounce of our strength?

       The cymbal (simple) truth is that we often miss a very important truth. We are not meant to not worry about what others think. Read that again, we are meant to worship in a way that is concerned about what others think. We are to worship God so that everyone can see that He is our everything.

       We are not to pretend that no one is around, no, we are to praise in such a loud way about how great our God is that those around can’t help but join in. We are to praise God loudly. David Crowder a fantastic worship leader quotes Psalm 98:4 where it says, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!” (ESV), and then in the King James Version he points out, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: Make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.”

       It is time for our praises to be so loud and so apparent that everything that has breath wants to join in our praise of God. How you be louder, more apparent, and even a little distracting about your love for God?

       Yes, distracting. I understand making waves is dangerous. I understand being to loud will cause you to be seen in a light that you might not want, but it is not about your light or life. Praising God is about His light and another’s life. It is all about Making God known and seen through your love, through your life, and through your praise of Him.

       Maybe this is your time in God’s Word. Maybe this means you bring up what God is encouraging you in through His Word. Maybe being louder about praising God is found in you finding ways to talk about who He is in every conversation. Use every breathe and every action to give thanks to the Lord (Col. 3:17)! In so doing who knows you may inspire others to sing along.

It is your words, your actions, your level of interest that will excite someone to see and know Christ or be swayed to believe that their passions, desires, and felt needs supersede the greatness of God.

       I appreciate playing Christian music in the background or having signs about Him in your house and desk. But, are talking about Him loudly? Are you exuberantly excited about who He is and what He is doing every day, in every conversation, with every person. Doing all this in hopes that everything that has breath might praise the Lord.

Inspire all to praise Him.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord!

The most emphatic part about this refrain is that of universal praise. “Let everything” there is no limit on who should praise the Lord. There is no later, the pronouncement is about now. Today! Let everything, let everyone, let the praise of the Lord be for everyone everywhere! Do not let your lack of praise be the reason others do not have the opportunity to praise the God you know. 

As Hubbard puts it, “No one is to be barred from the worship of God, though we must be mindful this verse is an invitation, not a statement.”[3] This is an impertitive invitation. You are to praise the Lord. Everything that breathes is to praise the Lord. The opening of Psalms introduces and emphasis's one of the two major themes for all of Psalms, that God is holy and we are called to live in holiness. Psalm 150 concludes the other major theme of Psalms, that of praising the Lord. You are to be holy and praise the Lord for His holiness.

Make God's greatness known. Take advantage of the opportunity to be the one that causes others to see, to know, and to understand the greatness of the King of kings the Lord of all. Be the reason someone sees the greatness of God. Be the reason someone praises the Lord with their whole life. Be the light that breaks through the darkness so that others might praise the Lord.

But, be the example of what it means to praise the Lord. If praising the Lord does not define you, than change that. You are to praise the Lord, the question now is...will you? 

Simply put, Praise Him. How can we not praise God? At the end of the day it is not about what we completed or accomplished. At the end of the day, our life, our present and potential circumstances can and should be set aside for the purpose of praising God. Many of the psalms we study and have went through relate back to real life situations, but this psalm is all about simply praising God and praising God loudly.

This psalm is not meant to be heartless, it is not intended to diminish the circumstances or the person who is called to sing it. Rather, this psalm points out a very important thing. God is worthy to be and praised loudly. Praise who He is. Praise what He has done. Praise Him loudly so that all can hear!

Inspire all to praise Him. That is a purpose in our praise. We aim to proclaim who He is not simply because God can hear and we want Him to see and hear, we praise God so that the whole of creation can know Him and join in the praise!

 

[1] A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Wing Spread Publishers,1993) , 16.

[2] Robert L. Jr. Hubbard and Robert K. Johnston, “Foreword,” in Psalms, ed. W. Ward Gasque, Robert L. Hubbard Jr., and Robert K. Johnston, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012), 519.

[3] Robert L. Jr. Hubbard and Robert K. Johnston, “Foreword,” in Psalms, ed. W. Ward Gasque, Robert L. Hubbard Jr., and Robert K. Johnston, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012), 519.