Praise is one of the most consistent commands found in the book of Psalms. Another name for this book is the Psalter. It is the Hebrew hymnbook. It is the only collection of songs inspired by the Holy Spirit himself and, therefore, is part of our Scriptures. The Hebrew title basically means The Book of Praises. The songs are the work of many authors, including Solomon, Moses, Asaph, Heman, Ethan, and the sons of Korah. Most prominent of all is King David, whose name appears above 73 songs.
This is understandable, since one of the first times we hear of David in Scripture it is mentioned that he is a gifted musician. Most important of all, David was a man after God’s own heart. So, when God mixes these two qualities together—a heart for God, and musical skill—you end up with a worship leader who is a blessing to God’s people. This is the David who wrote so many of the Psalms.
Some of the songs are long (Psalm 119 has 176 verses). Some are short, such as Psalm 117, which only has two verses. There are 150 songs in all, most being written during the times of David and Solomon. Many contain historical details about the circumstances the author was in when he wrote his words. But all are given to us by the Holy Spirit.
Psalms is divided into five parts. Each part ends with a doxology or note of praise to God. And there are 13 major types of songs, including doctrinal and historical songs, and hallelujah psalms (called that because they contain the word hallelujah). There are songs of thanksgiving, and songs of repentance. There are Messianic psalms, which foretell of the suffering and future glory of Messiah. There are creation psalms, and there are cries of anguish and pleading with God to judge the wicked (imprecatory psalms).
However, the overarching theme of the Hebrew songbook is praise, worship, and communion with God. That explains why most Bible scholars and commentators agree that Psalm 150 is basically the conclusion of the book. It is a wrap-up of what the book of about—praise and worship.
True praise of God flows from the true worship of God. Praise which does not flow from worship is cheap. It’s nothing more than a bunch of religious words, and God knows it. But praise that flows out of true worship brings pleasure and glory to God. It exalts Him. It magnifies God’s name and, therefore, draws the attention of others toward Him.
But…strange as it may sound…praise also blesses the one doing the praising. Praise not only lifts God up, so that others may take notice of Him. Praise lifts our mind and heart above our trials, sorrows, and the difficulty of our circumstances. Praise has a way of shifting the eyes of our hearts away from the temporal, and toward the eternal. That’s why we so often turn to the Psalms in times of need. Like all Scripture, the Psalms describe life like it is.
As a collection of songs, it is poetry. Sometimes this poetry is clean and refined. Sometimes it is raw; it is deeply personal and emotional. Sometimes it describes intoxicating joy, while other times the pain is heart-wrenching and deep. But always the language of the heart shows evidence that the writer is worshipping God.
The word worship originally was spelled “worthship.” In his little classic, How to Worship Jesus Christ, Joseph Carroll explains the history of the word worship, and its meaning as this: “to attribute worth to an object. Worship is the ‘worthship’ of the one you worship.” The quality of your worship is determined by the worth that your heart ascribes to God. If you “worship” God on Sunday, while living for your flesh Monday through Saturday, your worship is disingenuous and cheap. It demonstrates that, in your heart, you ascribe little worth to God.
But if, on Sunday, your praise and worship of God flows out of a heart and life that seek to walk with the Lord in faith and integrity, then your praise ascribes much worth to God. And so, it is authentic praise and worship that the book of Psalms calls us to practice. As the last song in the book, Psalm 150 teaches us about praise. It is the concluding application of the entire book, in two words: Praise God.
Here we are told to praise God in three ways:
- Praise God on earth and in heaven (v. 1).
- Praise God for His deeds and greatness (v. 2).
- Praise God with musical instruments and voice (vv. 3-6).
The commitment of the psalmist was this: I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being (Psalm 104:33). Is this the longing of your heart? Do you long for God like this?
You may listen to a recent sermon from Psalm 150. Search on “True Praise Flows Out of Worship” here.