Read Psalm 150.
Today is a special day. After 64 Sundays of modified services—12 where we had streaming only, 52 where we met in a divided format—we’re now back together in one gathering of our congregation.
Some people here you’ve never seen before—or not in a long time.
The elders feel this is really the beginning of a new season. Mike’s prayer, “Lord, let it not be a return status quo. Let it be a new season. Not just getting back to normal. Let it be the beginning a season of mission and growth and pressing in to what God has for us.” Yes!
As we launch into this new season our text is Psalm 150, the burst of praise at the end of the book of Psalms. In this series on “A Heart for God,” this Psalm expresses the heart cry of a heart for God. A heart for God overflows in praise.
Praise is something that wants to be EXPRESSED. Praise isn’t satisfied to think on the worth of something. Praise wants to sing of it, tell of it, tell others about it.
The word “worship” is sometimes a quiet reverance…bowing down to something infinitely great. And sometimes bowing down is silent.
But praise is different. Praise can’t really be silent and still be praise. Praise is expressing the greatness and beauty and excellence of something. When we’re praising God, expressing his greatness and beauty and excellence.
And praise is a big deal. Because as Daniel Block says,
People are what they sing.
Daniel Block, For the Glory of God
There’s a lot of singing we’ve done in our lives where the words didn’t take root. They didn’t shape us. That’s good news. So the many of us who about ten years ago had, “What Does the Fox Say?” running around in our heads can rest easy.
A couple of you are thinking, “Why did you mention that! It’s never going to get out of my head!”
When it comes to the singing of God’s people down through the centuries, our singing shapes us. “People are what they sing.” Praise doesn’t just express what’s in our heart, it SHAPES what’s in our heart.
If you’re not a Christian there are a couple of ways to think about this sermon. One is to better understand what Christians are doing when they gather to “praise the Lord.” Why is it that just about every church you enter will have a portion of their service given to expressed praise? This Psalm touches on that.
But there’s another question to consider: What is it that I worship? What do I praise? What are the things I think are great and excellent and beautiful and worthy of praise? The question for you is, “Yeah, but are they really?”
The Psalmist is calling us to express the excellence, the beauty, and the greatness of the true God and no one else.
The takeaway: Above all and above all things, Praise the Lord!
Sermon: (1) Praise the LORD and No Other! (150:1); (2) Praise the LORD for Who He Truly Is! (150:2); (3) Praise the LORD With Your Instrument and Your Voice! (150:3–6)
You’ll notice my exclamation points. In this Psalm one of the tests of an accurate translation is this: Does it use exclamation points? It must!
The burden of this psalm isn’t hard to discern: “Praise the LORD!” The Hebrew here is hallelu-jah. It is two words: “hallelu” and then “yah.” “Hallelu” is a command. It is saying, “Praise!” And then “yah” is short for “YHWH.” The Psalmist is saying, “Praise YHWH!” “Praise the LORD!”
The last five Psalms begin and end with this phrase, hallelu-YAH, “Praise the LORD!” We call them the Hallelujah Psalms.
This phrase, “Praise the LORD!” isn’t just a statement of excitement. Something good happens you say, “Praise the LORD,” because you’re thankful.
It is a more intentional and urgent command.
Praising “YHWH” is no token name for God. It is God’s special name. Revealed to Israel through the person of Moses. It was Moses who was told God’s special name. When God told Moses to go to Egypt and lead the people to the promised land, Moses said, “Whom shall I say has sent me?”
God said, “Tell them “I AM WHO I AM” has sent me” (Exod 3:14). In Hebrew that’s effectively YHWH.
The Psalmist saying, “Praise the LORD!” isn’t just a call to praise the Creator of all and Judge of all. He saying, Praise the one who came to us. Who delivered us. Who revealed himself to us in a special way. Who heard our cries for those four-hundred years of slavery in Egypt. Who crushed the Egyptians and delivered us. Praise that God! He alone is worthy of such praise.
That reminds us that ALL PRAISE IS PERSONAL. You praise the things you value personally.
Then our psalmist worship leader tells us where we’re to worship him: “in his sanctuary…in his mighty heavens.”
“In his sanctuary”:
But because of who our God is—praising him here isn’t enough!
“Praise him In his mighty heavens.”
The Psalmist looks to the skies and imagines the worship service going on there. He calls all those beings around the throne of God to worship the one seated on that throne:
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! (Ps 148:2)
Our worship on earth is a dim reflection of that worship going on in heaven where God is.
Already we’re seeing how great our God is. There’s no one like him. No one worthy of such praise.
Point two: Praise the LORD for Who He Truly Is—Ps 150:2.
If you’re going to worship the true God it’s important to worship him for who he truly is.
The Psalmist is concise: “for his mighty deeds…according to his excellent greatness.”
“His Mighty Deeds” = What he’s done
His mighty deeds in salvation history that reveal our God:
His mighty deeds in the Bible given to remind us he can do this now:
And then there’s one of his greatest mighty deeds.
So, yes! “Praise him for his mighty deeds!” (Ps 150:2)
And then, “Praise him according to his excellent greatness!” (Ps 150:2)
The Hebrew here takes two nouns and puts them together to communicate a single idea: “Abundance/many” + “greatness.” When you consider his greatness, it is abundant, overwhelming, off the charts, too vast to calculate! It is a “surpassing greatness” (NET, NIV, NRSV)… “unequaled greatness” (NLT)… “excellent greatness” (ESV, NASB95, NKJV).
It isn’t easy to find words to describe the glory of his being. He is great in everything that he is, and that greatness is abundant and unequaled. His holiness is a surpassingly great holiness. His love is a surpassingly great love.
To give some words to express his greatness I’ll quote from our Confession of Faith. On our website under “About Us”/“Our Beliefs.”
TFC Confession of Faith 2.1:
The Lord, our God, is one, the only living and true God. He exists in and of himself; he is infinite in being and perfection; his essence cannot be comprehended by anyone but himself; he is a perfectly pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions.
He alone has immortality, dwelling in the light no one can approach. He is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, entirely infinite, completely holy, fully wise, totally free, and absolute. He works all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and perfectly righteous will for his glory.
He is most loving, gracious, merciful, and long-suffering. He is abundant in goodness and truth and forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin. He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him and is entirely just and to be feared in his judgments. He hates all sin and will by no means clear the guilty.
Trinity Fellowship Churches Confession of Faith 2.1
When we think about Praising the LORD for Who He Truly Is, what is the takeaway?
Point three: Praise the LORD with Your Instrument and Voice!
Here we want to see HOW the Psalmist wants us to praise the LORD—Ps 150:3–6.
“With trumpet sound” = “Sound of the trumpet” or “ram’s horn.” Hebrew shofar. Play recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dkEe3ph_bU
“lute and harp” = both kinds of guitar, acoustic AND electric (!?!?). Worship pleasing to God requires both!
“Tamborine/tymbrel and dance” = reminds us that praise can be expressed with our bodies as well as our musical offerings.
“…and pipe.” Genesis 4:21. Early in the generations after Adam, in the line of Cain and not Seth. Lamech was not a good man and had two sons, Jabal and Jubal. Here’s the description of Jubal:
His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. (Gen 4:21)
All categories of instruments represented here: horns, strings, percussion—and dance!
Such elaborate instrumentation goes back to King David and the worship he instituted when he brought the ark to Jerusalem.
He took the Levitical priests and organized them into a series of worshiping ensembles.
Just to give you a taste of what he did:
“These are the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there. 32 They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting until Solomon built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they performed their service according to their order.” (1 Chr 6:31–32)
“David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.” (1 Chr 15:16)
“under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied under the direction of the king…under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the LORD” (1 Chr 25:2, 3)
You see the diversity. The prophecy. The intentionality.
And then final call of the Psalmist worship leader: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!” (Ps 150:6).
Yes, it’s all people! But AW Tozer reminds us that “every breath” includes the Creation as it lifts up its voice to praise the Lord.
A.W. Tozer and the VOICE of creation itself:
God created the flowers to be beautiful and the birds to sing so that men and women could enjoy them. The scientist, with an entirely different kind of perspective, would never admit that fact. The scientist contends that the bird sings for a totally different reason.
“It is the male bird that sings, and he sings only to attract the female so they may nest and procreate,” he tells us. “It is simply biological.”
It is at this point that I ask the scientist, “Why doesn’t the bird just squeak or groan or gurgle? Why does he have to sing and warble and harmonize as though he had been tuned to a harp?”
I think the answer is plain—it is because God made him to sing. If I were a male bird and wanted to attract a female I could turn handsprings or do any number of tricks. But why does the bird sing so beautifully?
It is because the God who made him is the Chief Musician of the universe. He is the Composer of the cosmos. He made the harp in those little throats and the feathers around them and said, “Go and sing.”
Thankfully, the birds obeyed and they have been singing and praising God ever since they were created.
A.W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship?
Your instrument and your voice—a heart expressing praise is the key! Your voice and your body expressing. That's the most important instrument to play!
If you came here this morning separated from Christ, I invite you to go to him. It’s true you have been praising things that aren’t worthy of praise and you’ve worshiped gods that don’t deserve to be called gods.
But Jesus told a woman given over to sin and a shameful that the Father in heaven is seeking worshipers. The Father invites you join in the celebration of his glory. He is seeking worshipers.
If you’re not ready, maybe the step for you is to STUDY HIM. Buy a Bible or go to a Bible online and read it. Study what it says about this great God we’re talking about and let that change your thinking about him.
Start with The Gospel of John and see what it says about this God we’re worshiping.
For the rest of us. Consider this is Psalm 150. The last one. The final word.
It comes after 149 psalmists have reflected on God’s ways and the trials that life brings and the miracles he has accomplished. 149 psalmists have expressed that even in the darkest places he is there. In the valleys of the shadow of death he is there. When every person in my life has turned against me, God is for me. It’s really a look at all of life in miniature. Just about everything we could experience is captured in those 149 psalms somehow—And so, above all and above all things, praise the Lord!
In light of who I am, who he is, what he’s done, what is the right response? Above all and above all things, praise the Lord!
Let this be true of you as well. The closer you get to the end of your life, let your praise multiply! Let them be even more passionate!
It’s true you’ve lived longer, so you’ve suffered more. But it’s also true you’ve seen God’s grace and power in that suffering. Praise him!
Don’t praise him with naïve and reckless passions. But with the deep passion of someone who knows the God they’re praising. You know even more that God remains the most glorious being there is. There is no one above him. No one greater than him. No rival to him.
Above all, and above all things, Praise the Lord!
Prayer and Song
 Block, For the Glory of God (Baker, 2014), 221.
 Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship? (Christian Publications, 1985), 61.
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