Friday, July 31, 2015

Joining the Choir of All Creation: Learning to Pray Ps 150

Psalm 150 brings the entire Psalter to a resounding and worshipful climax. Some variation of the phrase “praise the LORD” recurs 13 times in this short hymn. God’s missional people join together with all living beings to form a choir to praise the LORD! Ps 150 provides God’s people with the who?, where?, why?, how?, and by whom? of praise.

Praise is directed to the LORD. Just as all of Psalms 146–150, Psalm 150 begins and ends with the exhortation “Praise the LORD.” The repetition is a reminder of the object of our praise and subject of our lives. The LORD is our God and we live for his praise and adoration. It is vital for us as we seek to follow Jesus and serve in his mission to stay in the worship of the LORD.

Verse 1b calls for praise throughout creation. Praise is not limited to any sanctuary whether it be the heavenly sanctuary or the temple in Jerusalem of old or even in our worship centers of today. Rather praise is appropriate across the vast expanse of God’s creation.
Verse 2 focuses on the “why” of praise. The psalm calls God’s people to worship because of what God has done and who God is. “Acts of power” refer to the mighty deeds of salvation that the LORD has done. For God’s Old Testament people, this included praising God for his work of creation, for the Exodus from Egypt, for the giving of the Law, and for faithfully sustaining Israel. These acts of salvation testify to God’s greatness. As followers of Jesus, we can add to God’s might works the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus our savior as well as for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Verses 3–5 stand at the heart of Psalm 150 and give us the most comprehensive list of musical instruments in the Psalter. It provides the “how” or “means” of worship. The portrait of worship implied here is a praising of the LORD that is vigorous and loud. It is also one that deploys a full orchestra of sounds to add beauty, harmony, and symphonic texture to the voices of worshipers. This psalm calls for worshiping God for his victory. As we saw in Ps 149: , the use of “timbrel” and “dancing” (4a) often accompanied community celebrations of great military victories (e.g., Exod 15:20 and 1 Sam 18:7). Thus, worship in the present is done in anticipating of singing refrains of God’s final victory.

Verse 6 brings Ps 150 and the entire Psalter to a final climax by issuing an invitation. It is an audacious one. The psalmist calls all creatures to praise the LORD. This points to the goal of history. The end of mission is praise.

What does this psalm teach us about worship?

How would you live your life differently if you knew that history ends in all creation praising the LORD for his victory?

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