Psalm 150 – Let All Things Praise the LORD
Each of the five books of the Psalms closes with a doxology (Psalm 41:13, 72:18-19, 89:52, 106:48). This entire Psalm can be seen as a doxology that not only closes the fifth and final volume of the collected Psalms, but also closes the entire Book of Psalms.
Psalm 150 contains no argument, no real teaching, no real explanation. It is an eloquent, passionate cry to all creation to give Yahweh the praise due to Him.
“The psalm is more than an artistic close of the Psalter: it is a prophecy of the last result of the devout life, and, in its unclouded sunniness, as well as in its universality, it proclaims the certain end of the weary years for the individual and for the world.” (Alexander Maclaren)
A. Unlimited praise to the God who is unlimited in His greatness.
1. (1) In every place, praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
a. Praise the LORD! This last of the five ending psalms shares the same beginning and ending line as the previous four. Yahweh is praised, and His people are encouraged, exhorted to praise Him. There is no crisis or enemy in view; this is pure praise.
b. Praise God in His sanctuary: The sanctuary of God is a most fitting place for His praise. It is a place set apart for His honor, and in special recognition of God’s presence. If Yahweh is to be praised anywhere, it should be in His sanctuary.
i. In light of the New Covenant, we realize that God’s sanctuary is not fixed to a particular building in Jerusalem.
· Jesus serves His people in a sanctuary in the heavens (Hebrews 8:1-2).
· Jesus makes His sanctuary among His people collectively (2 Corinthians 6:16).
· Jesus makes His sanctuary in the individual believer (1 Corinthians 3:16).
· Ultimately Jesus Himself will be the sanctuary of God among His people (Revelation 21:22).
ii. Praise God in His sanctuary: “In many places we have the compound word halelu-yah, praise ye Jehovah; but this is the first place in which we find halelu-el, praise God, or the strong God.” (Clarke)
c. Praise Him in His mighty firmament: The wide expanse of sky, with all it might in storms and weather, is also a fitting place for God’s praise. Since the firmament stretches from horizon to horizon, it tells us that God should be placed in every place under the sky.
i. “His glory fills the universe; his praise must do no less.” (Kidner)
ii. In His mighty firmament: “Through the whole expanse, to the utmost limits of his power. As rakia is the firmament of vast expanse that surrounds the globe, and probably that in which all the celestial bodies of the solar system are included, it may have that meaning here. Praise him whose power and goodness extend through all worlds; and let the inhabitants of all those worlds share in the grand chorus, that it may be universal.” (Clarke)
2. (2) For every reason, praise the LORD.
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
a. Praise Him for His mighty acts: This is reason to praise God in every place. He has done great and powerful things, and none greater than what Jesus accomplished at the cross and the empty tomb. The singer of Psalm 150 had only shadowy knowledge of it, but the ultimate demonstration of God’s power would come in the resurrection of Jesus (Ephesians 1:19-20). For this and all His mighty acts, we should praise Him.
i. “‘His mighty deeds’ might be rendered ‘His heroic [or, valiant] acts.’ The reference is to His deliverance of His people as a signal manifestation of prowess or conquering might.” (Maclaren)
ii. “‘Mighty’ were the ‘acts’ which God wrought for Israel; and ‘great’ was the Holy One in the midst of his ancient people; but mightier acts did he perform in Christ Jesus, for the redemption of the world.” (Horne)
b. Praise Him according to His excellent greatness: It is right to praise God for the mighty things He does; there is perhaps something greater in praising Him for who He is, in all the excellence of His greatness. It is a greatness that surpasses all else in the entire universe, excellent above all.
i. His excellent greatness: “Or, Greatness of greatness; which yet can never be done, but must be endeavoured.” (Trapp)
3. (3-5) With every expression, praise the LORD.
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
a. Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet: The Psalmist looked at an orchestra of God’s people and conducted their music in praise to God. There was to be no instrument left out. Brass, string, wind, and percussion must all join in the praise of a God so great.
i. There was good reason to mention the trumpet first in this long list. “The sound of trumpet is associated with the grandest and most solemn events, such as the giving of the law, the proclamation of jubilee, the coronation of Jewish kings, and the raging of war. It is to be thought of in reference to the coming of our Lord in his second advent and the raising of the dead.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Adam Clarke described what he believed each musical instrument here mentioned to be.
· Trumpet: “Sophar, from its noble, cheering, and majestic sound.”
· Lute: “Nebel; the nabla, a hollow stringed instrument; perhaps like the guitar.”
· Harp: “Kinnor, another stringed instrument, played on with the hands or fingers.”
· Timbrel: “Toph, drum, tabret, or tomtom, or tympanum of the ancients; a skin stretched over a broad hoop; perhaps something like the tambarine.”
· Dance: “Machol, the pipe… It never means dance; see note on Psalm 149:3.”
· Stringed instruments: “Minnim. This literally signifies strings put in order; perhaps a triangular kind of hollow instrument on which the strings were regularly placed, growing shorter and shorter till they came to a point.”
· Flutes: “Ugab. Very likely the syrinx or mouth organ; Pan’s pipe; both of the ancients and moderns.”
· Loud cymbals: “Tseltselim. Two hollow plates of brass, which, being struck together, produced a sharp clanging sound.”
· Clashing cymbals: “What the high-sounding cymbals meant I know not; unless those of a larger make, struck above the head, and consequently emitting a louder sound.”
iii. “The list of instruments is not meant to be comprehensive, though it may be. We do not know what instruments the ancient Jews had. The point is actually that everything you have can be used to worship God.” (Boice)
iv. The broad list of musical instruments tells us that God wants every class and group of people to praise Him, because these instruments were normally played by different types of people. “The horn was the curved ‘Shophar,’ blown by the priests; harp and psaltery were played by the Levites, timbrels were struck by women; and dancing, playing on stringed instruments and pipes and cymbals, were not reserved for the Levites.” (Maclaren)
b. Praise Him with loud cymbals: The individual instruments must play with strength and celebration, and the collection of them together fills the room with sound. This was not halting or hesitant praise, because the love and goodness of God is not halting or hesitant toward us in any way.
i. “Let’s be done with worship that is always weak and unexciting. If you cannot sing loudly and make loud music to praise the God who has redeemed you in Jesus Christ and is preparing you for heaven, perhaps it is because you do not really know God or the gospel at all. If you do know him, hallelujah.” (Boice)
4. (6) With every available breath, praise the LORD.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD!
a. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD: This is a remarkably fitting conclusion to this Psalm and to the entire Book of Psalms. Everything that breathes should give its praise to the One who gave it breath. Every breath is the gift of God and praise is the worthy return we make for that gift.
i. Derek Kidner noted that the literal phrase is, “Let all breath praise the Lord.” John Trapp wrote, “Or, Let every breath praise the Lord… We have all as much reason to praise God as we have need to draw breath.”
ii. “The word nesamah [has breath] denotes all living creatures, endowed with life by the Creator (Genesis 1:24–25; 7:21–22), but always in distinction from the Creator.” (VanGemeren)
iii. “The one condition of praise is the possession of breath, that is to say, life received from Him must return in praise to Him.” (Morgan)
iv. Revelation 5:13 tells us that this will happen: And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
b. Praise the LORD! The last line of the Psalter could be nothing else than Hallelujah! Yahweh is to be praised and honored, and will be so among His people and all creation.
i. “The psalter begins with ‘Blessed,’ and ends with ‘Hallelujah.’” (Meyer)
ii. “Your life may resemble the psalter with its varying moods, its light and shadow, its sob and smile; but it will end with hallelujahs, if only you will keep true to the will and way and work of the Most Holy.” (Meyer)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission