In the coming week we will be reading through the final five psalms of the Psalter (Psalms 146—150). The final five psalms all begin and end with the same imperative: the Hebrew words, Hallelu–jah! That is, “Praise the LORD!” The end of prayer is praise. All prayer, pursued far enough, becomes praise. Any prayer, no matter how desperate its origin, no matter how angry and fearful the experience it traverses, ends up in praise. It does not always get there quickly or easily—the trip can take a lifetime—but the end is always praise. All prayers, by definition, are directed to God, and this aim brings them, finally into the presence of God where “everything that has breath praises the LORD.” Below are gospel reflections from the last two Psalms: Psalms 149 and 150.
In Psalm 149 two aspects of the praise of God are highlighted. First, the people of God who express praise to their God should do so with great passion, intensity, zeal, and emotion. That they sing a “new song” (v. 1) indicates awareness of fresh bestowments of God’s blessing, for which they now offer enthusiastic praise. They are to be glad and rejoice, to dance and exult (vv. 2–5), showing the depth of their heart’s delight in bringing praise to their great, gracious, and saving God. For indeed, “the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation” (v. 4). There is no place, then, for apathy or merely formalistic worship. No, this God is worthy of heart-felt praise and joyous singing!
Second, cause for the praise of God is shown in the coming judgment that God’s people will execute on the nations. Verse 6 is the hinge of these two themes: “Let the high praises of God be in their throats [strong, emotional praise of God] and two–edged swords in their hands [preparedness for retributive judgment]” (v. 6). Amazingly, then, the praise of God here is associated with the day, not only when God will judge the wicked of the nations, but when he will execute this judgment through his own people. That God has designed this judgment to be carried out in this fashion is an “honor” for his people and a basis for praising him (v. 9).
The good news of salvation that God’s people receive, then, implies also the corresponding harsh news of judgment for all who reject God and his ways. God is exalted in saving those who deserve judgment (his people) and in bringing that very judgment on others who oppose his purposes, oppress his people, and reject his offer of mercy. Let us look to Christ, at whose cross God’s judgment was poured out for all who trust in Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
In Psalm 150 the psalmist ends with a portrayal of the people of God involved in joyous worship of the One who alone deserves the fullest and most glorious expression of praise that can possibly be offered. This praise is corporate, for it finds expression in his sanctuary, but immediately we see that it cannot be contained there for it expands into the highest heavens as well (v. 1). And the praise of God is not only for his “mighty deeds” but also for his “excellent greatness” (v. 2)—that is, for both the works and the worth, the outward actions and inward character, of God. Because of the greatness of God, every rightful manner of expression of his praise should be employed. Bring forth the trumpets, the lute, and the harp; the tambourine, the strings, and the pipes; the loud and sounding cymbals; and all with the joyous dancing of God’s people (vv. 3–5). Indeed, “let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” (v. 6).
What a fitting conclusion to the Psalter. God, who is great and glorious, who has acted over and again for the welfare and salvation of his people, is indeed infinitely worthy. He must be the object of his people’s deepest affections and their highest adoration. We praise the Lord today supremely for what he has done to deliver his people through Jesus Christ. Rescued from ourselves through the grace won for us by Christ, our hearts are moved to do what the psalmist says: Praise the Lord!
* Adapted from ESV® Gospel Transformation Bible.
This Week’s Bible Reading Schedule:
|Monday: Psalm 146||☐||Thursday: Psalm 149||☐|
|Tuesday: Psalm 147||☐||Friday: Psalm 150||☐|
|Wednesday: Psalm 148||☐||Saturday: 1 Thes 1||☐|