PRAISE IS CALLED FOR
Lord, Your magnificence defies limitation.
Read PSALM 150
1 Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
If you walked into the kind of worship service depicted by this psalm, would you be ready to grab a tambourine or grab an excuse to go to the bathroom?
A while back, my wife and I spent a weekend in London. On Sunday morning I got up early(ish) and joined about 30 others in the choir stalls of St. Paul’s Cathedral for a somber but beautiful service, with readings and prayers but no singing. Joined by my wife, we then went off to Tottenham Court Road to join a crowd of hundreds at Hillsong Church, where the place was rocking. Each was a great service, and there is a place for both—but Psalm 150 appears more like the latter. There is a time for enthusiastic, high-energy, full-throated celebration. Quiet reflection is not easy when trumpets are tooting, cymbals are clashing, and people are up dancing! Yes, it can be superficial and we can be carried away with the emotion and commotion, but where the focus is proper, like in this psalm—note the repeated “praise him”—it is entirely appropriate for our worship to overflow in loud and extravagant praise.
Finding a reason to worship is easy. God is great. He dwells in his “sanctuary” (1)—either a reference like “who art in heaven” or to his holiness, as we imagine the temple or tabernacle with the Holy of Holies where God dwells in his utter distinctiveness. That we can draw near to such a God generates punching-the-air-type excitement. He is not only different from all else and beautiful in perfection, but also he has acted in power. These acts are not defined. His mighty heavens show forth the work and fact of his creation, his acts will be what he has done for his people in redemption, providential care, and discipline. Every clash of the cymbal recalls an act of God on our behalf, and every dance move a statement that our bodies belong to him. Go on, praise him with everything you’ve got!
How do you react to this? Whatever your immediate reaction, what do you learn from it?
Lord, Your people venerate Your greatness with joy and gratitude as we remind ourselves of just who it is we are celebrating!