Focal Passage: Psalm 150; Jude 24-25
“Praise the Lord!” It’s both
the first and last lines of Psalm 150.
It’s the hallelu-yah that we
saw in last week’s lesson.
It’s the “Hallelujah” of our
Easter hymns (Hallelujah! Christ arose!), and the “Alleluia,” too (Christ the
Lord is risen today, Alleluia!). “Praise the Lord!”
It’s an imperative form of
the Hebrew verb halal, “to praise, to shout or sing praise,” plus the direct
object, -yah, from Yahweh, the personal name of God. “Praise the Lord!”
And if it’s an imperative,
that means it’s a command.
It’s an order.
“Praise the Lord!” Do it!
But how does one respond to
a command to praise?
How can one respond?
Must a basketball fan be
commanded to cheer when her team scores? Must a parent be ordered to clap at
his child’s piano recital?
Must a grandparent be
instructed to carry pictures of the new grandbaby in her purse?
Praise is something that
comes naturally. Either you feel it, or you don’t. And if you feel it, you do
Yet Psalm 150 commands us to
praise. It tells us whom to praise: the Lord (v. 1).
It tells us when and where
to praise: all the time, whether in church (“his sanctuary”) or out under the
stars (“his mighty firmament”).
It tells us why to praise:
because of God’s “mighty deeds” and “surpassing greatness” (v. 2).
It tells us how to praise:
with trumpet, lute (guitar? maybe even electric?), harp, tambourine, dance (in
church?), strings, pipe, and cymbals — loud, clanging, crashing ones (vv. 3-5).
It tells us who should
praise: everything that lives and breathes (v. 6). “Praise the Lord!”
But how can one be commanded
Unless perhaps the command
itself is an act of praise.
We do it all the time:
O come, let us adore Him!
Shout to the Lord, all the
earth, let us sing; power and majesty, praise to the King!
Praise Him! praise Him!
Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
The grammar may be
imperative, but these aren’t commands. They’re exclamations!
I rode my motorcycle across
the Bogue Sound bridge between Cape Carteret and Emerald Isle. Out over the
ocean, low on the horizon, lay a thundercloud, dark and menacing.
From behind the cloud the
early morning sun, its disc hidden from view, shot magnificent rays of gold
upward into the blue sky.
I didn’t say it, didn’t
shout it or sing it, but I sure thought it: “Praise the Lord!” It just came