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David's Commentaries

Psalm 150 ‘Let everything that hath breath praise Jehovah.’

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 This Week’s Focus Passage: Psalm 150

‘Let everything that hath breath praise Jehovah.’

    We must admit, most likely every one of us, that we have all heard from time to time over the years, someone—perhaps a co-worker, a neighbor, a friend, even one among our own family—in a fit of enthusiasm, maybe joy, shouting aloud this word; ‘Hallelujah.’ But very sadly, making use of the expression is somewhat, great or small, a way of ignorance; ignorance as to the true meaning of that glorious  fact. Apart from one occasion in the book of the prophecy of Jeremiah, the Psalms are the only place where ‘Praise ye Jah,’ or, ‘Praise ye Jehovah,’ is to be discovered. And it is to be discovered twenty-four times in our Psalter, and the reader must wait until arriving at the 104th Psalm for the first occasion, where the writer of this psalm has inscribed these words inspired by God the Holy Spirit for our instruction:

Let sinners be consumed out of the earth. And let the wicked be no more. Bless Jehovah, O my soul. Praise ye Jehovah. 

It is then beautifully sprinkled through the ensuing songs, twenty-three times until arriving at Psalm 150, where the Psalter completes itself with the marvelous 150th, and its final employment of Praise ye Jehovah. We wish to provide the exception from Jeremiah which was mentioned above, namely Jeremiah 20:13, primarily for its likely interest, but also that it might be compared with the usages in the Psalter: 

Sing unto Jehovah, Praise ye Jehovah; for he hath delivered the soul of the needy from the hand of evil-doers.

The expression of praise being, as in the psalms, made use of in the thanksgiving toward Jehovah God for His mercies which are new every morning, so great is His faithfulness to His promises given to His people through Jesus Christ. Do we not join our own hearts and tongues to both Jeremiah and the writer of the psalms when the words of the following chorus are sounded out in our assembly?

NO STORM CAN SHAKE MY INMOST CALM

WHILE TO THAT REFUGE CLINGING

SINCE CHRIST IS LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING?

Are we not, perhaps when we sing these Hallelujahs, singing with Asaph, Heman, Ethan, Moses, and others such as Jeremiah, along with that great multitude in the vision given John and recorded for us in Revelation 19:1, 3, 4, 6, that sang “Hallelujah; Salvation, and glory, and glory, belong to our God”? One writer has particularly well written of these things, when he asserted of this blessedness, that, “The saints shall rest from their labors, but not from their praises.” Hallelujah! 

Psalm 150 is the last Psalm of the Psalter. It is also the fifth Psalm of a grouping of five psalms which have often and understandably been referred to as the ‘Hallelujah Psalms.’ Each one of these five psalms, from psalm 146 through 150, both begin and end with the spirited exclamation, “Praise ye Jehovah,” which may be rendered simply, “Hallelujah.” The word ‘hallelujah’ is derived from the combining of the words and Name into one, if we may so say. This is an adoring exclamation for the children of God to utter into His ears; Hallel, ‘praise ye,’ and directed toward Jah, the I AM THAT I AM. Praise ye Jah; praise unto the sacred Name, the Name of which our Father is so jealous to guard in His commandments: 

Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain [for vanity, or in falsehood]; for Jehovah will not hold guiltless that taketh his name in vain [for vanity, in falsehood, suggested in our opening paragraph].

Hallel has been defined by wordsmiths as, “clear sounding; to shine; to make a show; to boast; to commend; to celebrate; to praise. It occurs as a short doxology; i.e. hymn of praise.” Furthermore, “the word is usually explained, to make illustrious, glorious, to celebrate, &c.” We should celebrate the Name of God; we should strive and seek to glorify the Name; to make it illustrious; i.e, distinguished, famous, outstanding.

Is this not what our God, through the psalmist, is calling upon us to do? And should we not delight to be called upon so to do? David has put this very succinctly in yet another psalm, Psalm 69:30, when he wrote, and I would add, exhorted us to follow:

I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify him with thanksgiving. And it will please Jehovah better than an ox, or a bullock that hath horns and hoofs.

To repeat the concept; do we not anticipate praising God for ever and ever?

    Returning to the consideration of Psalms 146-150, one popular writer has offered this happy assessment when he said,     “We are now among the Hallelujahs. The rest of our journey lies through the Delectable Mountains. All is praise to the close of the book. the key is high-pitched: the music is upon the high-sounding cymbals. O for a heart full of joyful gratitude, that we may run, and leap, and glorify God, even as these Psalms do.” And with reference especially toward the last Psalm, he added these high aspirations of thought; “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 stays not to argue, to teach, to explain: but cries with burning words, “Praise him, Praise him, Praise ye Jehovah.”

In psalms 146-150, we may count the expression ‘Praise ye Jehovah,’ or Hallelujah, made use of eleven times. Eleven times out of the 24 uses of it in the entire psalter, and only once otherwise, namely, that to which we have earlier alluded, Jeremiah 20:13. We cannot forbear to refer to an opportunity given while an unregenerate teen-ager and being a part of a high school choir. A holiday occasion of singing the well-known Handel’s Messiah in the locally ‘famous’ Hill Auditorium on the campus of the University of Michigan, a setting having seriously out of this world acoustics; and singing the astounding and incredible, ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ by George Frideric Handel. Sixty-five years later, the memory is yet bound upon the mind; and now the heart. The amazing iteration of that lovely article of praise with all of the ‘thunder and lightning’ that musical instrumentation may engender; memory which can still, years later, move to new tears. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

 

David Farmer, elder  

Fellowship Bible Church

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