The congregation over which I serve as pastor recently opted into some modest building renovations to expand the main entrance of the sanctuary where we gather together on Sunday mornings. The renovation took longer than it should have and was met along the way with many questions, comments, and complaints (as is common in Small-Church World).
The renovation was nearing completion a few weeks before Resurrection Morning (a.k.a. Easter Sunday). I determined we should install a banner over the new doorway to let visitors know where the sanctuary was when they arrived in our building. I vacillated between different banner styles and colors, phrases, and sentiments. “Should it say ‘Welcome!’ or something like that?” The question prompted me to browse hundreds and hundreds of banners online in search of the right fit.
Belonging to the independent, non-denomination denomination that I do, I decided that I must “do Bible things in Bible ways” and thus use Bible words. I turned to the Psalms and selected a phrase from Psalm 150: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.” I directed the banner maker to put that verse under the words ‘Gather to Worship’ and clicked ‘order’.
The banner now serves as an important reminder for those who enter the sanctuary through the newly renovated doorway. The reminder is this: we don’t enter this place for any other reason than to worship the LORD. We’re not gathered together to have our itching ears scratched with words we want to hear. We don’t come to be entertained. This isn’t a political rally, a social club, a concert, or a weekly ritual. The church gathers together to worship the LORD.
This is what Psalm 150 urges. It starts and ends with the words Hallelu Yah or “Praise Yah.” It was years after I started walking with Christ that I realized “Hallelujah” was something more than what my childhood Sunday School teacher would shout during the pastor’s sermon. For years, it was just another churchy word, and I had zero idea it was Hebrew for Praise the LORD. Hallelujah = Hallelu Yah = Praise Yah.
Hallelu Yah—an important reminder that the church gathers together to worship the LORD.
We can break Psalm 150 down into four parts: Where? Why? How? Who? The psalmist answers all of those questions in a brief six-verse song.
Where is the LORD to be praised? Psalm 150:1 tells us: “Praise Yah! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse” (LSB). The psalm gives us two locations: in His sanctuary and in His mighty heavens. In those days, the sanctuary of the LORD was in Jerusalem; in Zion, in Royal David’s city. God’s people would travel to Jerusalem a handful of times a year, for festivals and solemn religious observances. It was in this place that the glory of the LORD resided; His presence in the Holy of Holies, mediated by the high priests. Sacrifices and worship took place in the sanctuary. We, because of Jesus, are free to worship whenever and wherever we are. This certainly does not excuse us from a corporate gathering; we still ought to gather with one another on a scheduled day with regularity to worship together. That’s non-negotiable. To praise God in His sanctuary means that God’s worshippers on earth are meeting before Him for the express purpose of praising His name, wherever they are gathered.
Why should the LORD be praised? “Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to the abundance of His greatness” (Psalm 150:2, LSB). We praise the LORD for and because of His mighty deeds and His excellent greatness. We are quick (though maybe not as quick as we should be) to praise the LORD when He saves us from circumstances, when He rescues us from ourselves, and when He’s visibly working in our lives or the lives of those we love. We’re meant to praise Him for more than this, however. If we only praise the LORD for what He’s done for us, on our behalf, we can start to relate to God like He’s Santa Claus, a magic genie, or some cosmic slot machine. We should praise the LORD because of His surpassing greatness. There’s no one like Him. Nothing compares to who He is. He is holy, perfect, gracious, patient, abounding in lovingkindness. He is good. He is sovereign. He is the Creator of all things.
How should the LORD be praised? The biggest part of Psalm 150 addresses the how. “Praise Him with trumpet blast; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with tambourine and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with resounding cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals” (Psalm 150:3-5, LSB) How should the LORD be praised? With everything we have, with everything at our disposal. Derek Kidner writes, “Every kind of instrument, percussive or melodic, gentle or forceful, is rallied here to the praise of God” (Derek Kidner, Psalm 73-150: Kidner Classic Commentaries, 242.) This verse presents the longest single list of instruments found in the Bible. In essence, praise the LORD with absolutely everything you have. The whole orchestra of God’s people and their instruments are here summoned to worship Him.
Who should praise the LORD? Psalm 150:6 concludes the psalm by answering the “who” question for us: “Let everything that has breath praise Yah. Praise Yah!” (LSB). Literally, it reads: “Let all breath praise the LORD.” Psalm 148 elaborates on this thought, calling for sea monsters and cattle and small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth, princes, young and old to praise the LORD. Every vehicle of praise and every creature capable of praise is to be employed in praising the LORD. This is our command and our commission. We who know the LORD are to praise the LORD; we are to work tirelessly and give sacrificially so that all people have the opportunity to hear the Good News about Jesus and give Him praise.
Psalm 150 begins and ends with hallelujah. Praise the LORD…Praise the LORD. Praise Yah! Praise Yah!
Where, why, how, and who—Psalm 150 answers these questions about praise. It’s helpful to think about where we should, why we should, how we should, and who should praise the LORD. May our lives be filled with hallelujahs; may we praise the LORD wherever, whenever, however, and for the many, many reasons He deserves it. May we all hallelujah.
For further reading
Barrett Case has served as Pastor of Rich Hill Christian Church in Rich Hill, MO since October 2010. Case served as preaching pastor, associate pastor, and interim pastor in churches throughout Kansas before moving to Rich Hill. He graduated from Manhattan Christian College in 2005 with a BA in Pastoral Ministry. Barrett and his wife, Meghann, were blessed to adopt four incredible children: Magal, Miracle, Patience, and Makai.
September 19, 2023
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