PSALM 150 OVERVIEW.
We have now reached the last summit of the mountain chain of Psalms. It rises high into the clear azure, and its brow is bathed in the sunlight of the eternal world of worship, it is a rapture. The poet prophet is full of inspiration and enthusiasm. He slays not to argue, to teach, to explain; but cries with burning words, "Praise him, Praise him, Praise ye the LORD."
Verse 1. Praise ye the LORD. Hallelujah! The exhortation is to all things in earth or in heaven. Should they not all declare the glory of him for whose glory they are, and were created? Jehovah, the one God, should be the one object of adoration. To give the least particle of his honour to another is shameful treason; to refuse to render it to him is heartless robbery.
Praise God in his sanctuary. Praise El, or the strong one, in his holy place. See how power is mentioned with holiness in this change of names. Praise begins at home. "In God's own house pronounce his praise." The holy place should be filled with praise, even as of old the high priest filled the sanctum sanctorum with the smoke of sweet smelling incense. In his church below and in his courts above hallelujahs should be continually presented. In the person of Jesus God finds a holy dwelling or sanctuary, and there he is greatly to be praised. He may also be said to dwell in holiness, for all his ways are right and good; for this we ought to extol him with heart and with voice. Whenever we assemble for holy purposes our main work should be to present praises unto the Lord our God.
Praise him in the firmament of his power. It is a blessed thing that in our God holiness and power are united. Power without righteousness would be oppression, and righteousness without power would be too weak for usefulness; but put the two together in an infinite degree and we have God. What an expanse we have in the boundless firmament of divine power! Let it all be filled with praise. Let the heavens, so great and strong, echo with the praise of the thrice holy Jehovah, while the sanctuaries of earth magnify the Almighty One.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. Each of the last five Psalms begins and ends with Hallelujah! Praise ye the Lord. And each Psalm increases in praise, love, and joy, unto the last, which is praise celebrating its ecstasy. The elect soul, the heir of God, becomes "eaten up" with the love of God. He begins every sentence with Hallelujah; and his sentences are very short, for he is in haste to utter his next Hallelujah, and his next, and his next. He is as one out of breath with enthusiasm, or as one on tiptoe, in the act of rising from earth to heaven. The greatest number of words between any two Hallelujahs is four, and that only once: in every other instance, between one Hallelujah and another there are but two words. It is as though the soul gave utterance to its whole life and feeling in the one word, Hallelujah! The words, "Praise ye the Lord!" or "Praise him!" "Praise him!" "Praise him!" are reiterated no fewer than twelve times in a short Psalm of six short verses. --John Pulsford, in "Quiet Hours", 1857.
Whole Psalm. And now, in the last Psalm of all, we see an echo to the first Psalm. The first Psalm began with "Blessed", and it ended with "Blessed", -- "Blessed are all they that meditate on God's law and do it." Such was the theme of the first Psalm; and now the fruit of that blessedness is shown in this Psalm, which begins and ends with Hallelujah. -- Christopher Wordsworth.
Whole Psalm. In his Cours de Littrature, the celebrated Lamartine, probably regarding the last four Psalms (the Hallelujah Psalms) as one whole (as Hengstenberg also does) thus speaks: -- "The last Psalm ends with a chorus to the praise of God, in which the poet calls on all people, all instruments of sacred music, all the elements, and all the stars to join. Sublime finale of that opera of sixty years sung by the shepherd, the hero, the king, and the old man! In this closing Psalm we see the almost inarticulate enthusiasm of the lyric poet; so rapidly do the words press to his lips, floating upwards towards God, their source, like the smoke of a great fire of the soul waited by the tempest! Here we see David, or rather the human heart itself with all its God given notes of grief, joy, tears, and adoration -- poetry sanctified to its highest expression; a vase of perfume broken on the step of the temple, and shedding abroad its odours from the heart of David to the heart of all humanity! Hebrew, Christian, or even Mohammedan, every religion, every complaint, every prayer has taken from this vase, shed on the heights of Jerusalem, wherewith to give forth their accents. The little shepherd has become the master of the sacred choir of the Universe. There is not a worship on earth which prays not with his words, or sings not with his voice. A chord of his harp is to be found in all choirs, resounding everywhere and for ever in unison with the echoes of Horeb and Engedi! David is the Psalmist of eternity; what a destiny -- what a power hath poetry when inspired by God! As for myself, when my spirit is excited, or devotional, or sad, and seeks for an echo to its enthusiasm, its devotion or its melancholy, I do not open Pindar or Horace, or Hafiz, those purely Academic poets: neither do I find within myself murmurings to express my emotion. I open the Book of Psalms, and there I find words which seem to issue from the soul of the ages, and which penetrate even to the heart of all generations. Happy the bard who has thus become the eternal hymn, the personified prayer and complaint of all humanity! If we look back to that remote age when such songs resounded over the world; if we consider that while the lyric poetry of all the most cultivated nations only sang of wine, love, blood, and the victories of coursers at the games of Elidus, we are seized with profound astonishment at the mystic accents of the shepherd prophet, who speaks to God the Creator as one friend to another, who understands and praises his great works, admires his justice, implores his mercy, and becomes, as it were, an anticipative echo of the evangelic poetry, speaking the soft words of Christ before his coming. Prophet or not, as he may be considered by Christian or sceptic, none can deny in the poet kin an inspiration granted to no other man. Read Greek or Latin poetry after a Psalm, and see how pale it looks." --William Swan Plumer.
Whole Psalm. The first and last of the Psalms have both the same number of verses, are both short and very memorable; but the scope of them is very different; the first Psalm is an elaborate instruction in our duty, to prepare us for the comforts of our devotion; this is all rapture and transport, and perhaps was penned on purpose to be the conclusion of those sacred songs, to show what is the design of them all, and that is, to assist us in praising God. --Matthew Henry.
Whole Psalm. Thirteen hallelujahs, according to the number of the tribes (Levi, Ephraim and Manasseh making three), one for each. --John Henry Michaelis, 1668-1738.
Whole Psalm. Some say this Psalm was sung by the Israelites, when they came with the first fruits into the sanctuary with the baskets on their shoulders. Thirteen times in this short Psalm is the word praise used; not on account of thirteen perfections or properties in God, as Kimchi thinks; but it is so frequently, and in every clause used, to show the vehement desire of the Psalmist that the Lord might be praised; and to express his sense of things, how worthy he is of praise; and that all ways and means to praise him should be made use of, all being little enough to set forth his honour and glory. -- John Gill.
Whole Psalm. There is an interesting association connected with this Psalm which deserves to be recorded: that in former times, when the casting of church bells was more of a religious ceremony, this Psalm was chanted by the brethren of the guild as they stood ranged around the furnace, and while the molten metal was prepared to be let off into the mould ready to receive it. One may picture these swarthy sons of the furnace with the ruddy glow of the fire upon their faces as they stand around, while their deep voices rung forth this Hymn of Praise. --Barton Bouchier.
Verse 1. Praise ye the Lord. Praise God with a strong faith; praise him with holy love and delight; praise him with an entire confidence in Christ; praise him with a believing triumph over the powers of darkness; praise him with an earnest desire towards him, and a full satisfaction in him; praise him by a universal respect to all his commands; praise him by a cheerful submission to all his disposals; praise him by rejoicing in his love, and solacing yourselves in his great goodness; praise him by promoting the interests of the kingdom of his grace; praise him by a lively hope and expectation of the kingdom of his glory. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 1. In his sanctuary. wfdqb. Many have been the notions of the commentators as to the shade of meaning here; for the word differs from the form in Psalms 20:2 fdwqm (from the sanctuary). The Vulgate adopts the plural rendering, in sanctis ejus, "in his holy places." Campensis renders it, ob insignem sanctitatem ipsius, "because of his excellent holiness." Some see under the word an allusion to the holy tabernacle of Deity, the flesh of Christ. Luther, in his German version, translates thus: in seinem Heiligthum, "in his holiness." The same harmony of comparative thought appears in the two clauses of this verse as in such passages as 1 Kings 8:13 1 Kings 8:49 Isaiah 62:15 . The place of worship where God specially hears prayer and accepts praise, and the firmament where angels fly at his command, and veil their faces in adoration, are each a sanctuary. The sanctuary is manifestly here looked at as the temple of grace, the firmament as the temple of power. So the verse proclaims both grace and glory. --Martin Geier.
Verse 1. Praise God in his sanctuary. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and the eastern versions, render it, "in his holy ones"; among his saints, in the assembly of them, where he is to be feared and praised: it may be translated, "in his Holy One", and be understood of Christ, as it is by Cocceius ... Some render it, "for" or "because of his holiness." The perfection of holiness in him; in which he is glorious and fearful in the praises of, and which appears in all his works of providence and grace. --John Gill.
Verse 1. Praise God. In many places we have the compound word, xywllx, halelujah, praise ye Jehovah; but this is the first place in which we find lawllh, halelu-el, praise God, or the strong God. Praise him who is Jehovah, the infinite and self existent Being; and praise him who is God, El, or Elohim, the great God in covenant with mankind, to bless and save them unto eternal life. --Adam Clarke.
Verse 1. < 150:1-6 gives the full praise to Jehovah in a double character, the sanctuary and the firmament of his power, for his ways which come from the firmament of his power were always according to the sanctuary in which he governed Israel, and made good the revelation of himself there. --John Nelson Darby, 1800-1882.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 1. Praise God in his sanctuary.
- In his personal holiness.
- In the person of his Son.
- In heaven.
- In the assembly of saints.
- In the silence of the heart.