Psalm 150 (the start of worship)
Apr 14, 2017 // By:Dave // No Comment
Psalm 150 is the very last one recorded in our bible. It begins with “Praise the Lord…” (Halal YHWH) and ends with “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord”.
Breath = 5972  נְשָׁמָה, nᵉšāmāh, n.f. [5971; 10494]. breath, blast of breath; by extension: life, life force, spirit.
Easton’s Bible Commentary offers:
“The word neshamah denotes all living creatures, endowed with life by the Creator (Gen 1:24-25; 7:21-22), but always in distinction from the Creator (cf. Isa 2:22;…”
As a song writer, performer, and worship leader, I am quite mindful of the specific words used in lyrics as well as being mindful of what they mean and communicate to the congregation; whether is is objective worship (singing about God) or directed worship (singing to God).
Psalm 150 is objective worship. It is singing about God and is presented as imperative command (implied doer of the action is the reader or listener … 2nd person … i.e. “YOU, praise the Lord!”)
The writer is saying that the giver of the breath of life is to be praised by all things to which He has given this breath of life. They owe to Him alone their very existance and being. There is no mention in this psalm that this the praise is to result from Him giving us good things or taking care of us (these can actually result in a “self-focused” worship where appreciation is only given when He does things that we happen to subjectively approve of or enjoy). There IS justification for the worship given, however, on a much higher plane … for Who HE IS.
It starts with the imperative directed right to the very sanctuary of God (in the heavens) Psalm 150:1
The source of praise for God is the presence of God Himself and everything within that heavenly realm. As God’s ultimate joy is glorifying Himself (not because He “needs” anything including worship, but because worship, ascribing worth, to God (Himself) is the correct response to His very existance. This expected response to the presence, even the existance of the Creator, is the foundation of the entire psalm.
As John Piper explains:
“The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever.
The reason this may sound strange is that we are more accustomed to think about our duty than God’s design. And when we do ask about God’s design, we are too prone to describe it with ourselves at the center of God’s affections. We may say, for example, that His design is to redeem the world. Or to save sinners. Or to restore creation. Or the like.
But God’s saving designs are penultimate, not ultimate. Redemption, salvation, and restoration are not God’s ultimate goal. These He performs for the sake of something greater: namely, the enjoyment He has in glorifying Himself. . . .” a
It continues in the next very by citing to attributes of God:
- His mighty deeds (power)
- His excellent greatness (majesty)
One need only refer to the Genesis account of creation, and then look at John 1: 1-3 for a reminder that everything that exists came into being through the creative power of this same God (not a single thing that exists came into being outside of our God).
I cant even make a cup of coffee the same way twice ! This is the God who throws out galaxies (filled with million of stars and celestial bodies in numbers we can’t begin to wrap our brains around). We cant even comprehend the numbers of what we can see with our little telescopes and HE has created far more than we can observe.
So… if we cannot full observe, comprehend, or understand a mere creation of God, how can we claim to understand that God Himself who is above and outside this creation which is beyond comprehension or measure ?
Now you have a starting point to accept (not understand) His majesty as well.
This is a majesty that has existed eternally (and remains whether each of us accepts, denies or ignores it)
“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
What the psalmist is pointing out is that everything with breath “should” use it’s very existance to praise and worship Him. The non-selfaware parts of creation, (animals) do so by simply existing. They have no choice in the matter any more than a painting on a wall shows off the skill of the painter. The angels worship Him (and the record of angelic rebellion to deny this worship ended badly for the rebel) (Gen 3:15, Isaiah 14:12-21, Ezek 28:11-19, Rev 20:1-3) as well as the angels that followed this rebellious angel (2 Pet 2:4, Jude 6)
Which brings us to the last known part of living creation, US. we, unlike the animals, are different than the animals created in the same six day period in Genesis. We are given a will and a choice to decide whether to recognize His power and majesty or reject it for the short time we are on this planet. (eventually each human being will recognize (Rom 14:11, Phil 2:10-11) their creator for Who is IS, but many wait to long since the time to make the choice is on this side of eternity) John 3:18-19, Heb 9:27
Psalm 150: 3-5 contains a list of instruments to be used. (from what I can tell, it looks like everything available is acceptable). trumpets, harp, lyre, tamborine, dancing, stringed instruments, pipe, cymbals … we see brass, string, and percussion instruments of the time period, even physical expression of the human body (dancing) … Singing is not listed but is implied throughout the psalty (so the point is to notice that all instruments are called into play not merely the normal ones used in Hebrew worship). Nothing is left out, nothing is excluded from being expected to join in the recognition and worship of the one true Creator of All.
Giving praise and worship to our Creator is the “right” thing to do when one discovers who and what He is. Rom 12:1 reminds us of this simple fact.
What reasonable act of worship can you give to God today? It is not a reciprocatory response to Him giving you things you like or want, it IS the only intelligent response to knowing He IS !
a Piper, John (2011). Desiring God, Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Kindle Locations 411-423)
εν διακονια τω θεω, Dave Cadieux