There is a moment after watching a wonderful fireworks display or hearing a magnificent symphony or concert, or seeing a phenomenal performance, that you just want to sit in the afterglow of the experience and bask in the memory. After the four great Alleluia psalms we just read, especially Psalms 147 and 148 that explode on the pages like the grand finale at a fire-works display, Psalm 150 seems more like that afterglow. It’s simple, beautiful, and reminiscent of what went on before it. It doesn’t end with a bang, yet it also doesn’t end with a whimper. You want to hold onto that state of praise for as long as possible as the book of Psalms comes to a close.
The psalm answers four questions:
- Where do we praise God? – “Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament!” (1b) In other words, everywhere, not just in church, but everywhere on this earth.
- Why do we praise God?-“Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his exceeding greatness!” (2) Praise him because he is great and has done many great deeds. If we recall the history of the Jewish people, there are many examples of God’s saving action. If we look back at our own life, chances are we will see God’s hand as well.
- How do we praise God? – “Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with timbrel and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!” (3-5) Use everything you have to praise God.
- Who is to praise God? – “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!” (6) Everything and everybody is to praise our God, not just the priest and religious, not just people, but all living beings, birds of the air, squirrels in trees, all animals.
Each of the books of the Psalter end with a doxology – words of praise. Here, at the conclusion of the Psalms, the doxology is expanded into a jubilant hymn of six verses.
It is a fitting conclusion as it allows us to hang on for just a little longer to those jubilant, triumphant, cascading words of praise, finally rolling to an end by saying, “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.” And so our journey through the Psalms has come to an end, only to begin again, but not just yet. Let me bask in the afterglow for a while.
Alleluia! Praise the Lord!
What are some of your reasons to praise God? How has God been present in your life?