Psalm 150

Psalm 150

From Sorrow to Praise

Using the Psalms to Move Closer to God

By Seth Rodriquez

Psalm 150 is the perfect psalm to read when life is going great. In six short verses, we are called to “Praise the Lord” no less than thirteen times! It is a flood of excitement and praise!

But what about when you’re struggling? When you’re experiencing trials, a psalm like this can feel like salt in a wound. What if you don’t feel like praising God? Is that OK? Or do you need to put on a fake smile and pretend? The answer becomes clear when you look at the entire book of Psalms and where Psalm 150 fits into that collection.

The book of Psalms is a compilation of songs gathered from various authors and life experiences, purposefully arranged in a particular order. It is actually a compilation of five separate “books” or collections. You may have never noticed, but your Bible actually shows you where each of these collections begin. If you turn to Psalm 1 and look above the first verse, you will see the words “Book One.” If you turn to Psalm 42, you will see the words “Book Two.” Book Three starts at Psalm 73, Book Four at Psalm 90, and Book Five at Psalm 107.

In addition to these titles, verses at the end of each collection mark the conclusion of that “book.” To use a sewing analogy, these verses function as seams that stitch together the five collections. Notice how the first four books end with similar verses:

  • End of Book One: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.” (Psalm 41:13)
  • End of Book Two: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!” (Psalm 72:18–19)
  • End of Book Three: “Blessed be the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.” (Psalm 89:52)
  • End of Book Four: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, ‘Amen!’ Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 106:48)

These endings were intentionally placed here by whoever compiled the book of Psalms. Naturally, we should look for a similar conclusion at the end of Book Five, but this last collection is different. Instead of just one verse, we get five whole songs (Psalms 146 to 150) that call us to “Praise the Lord!” Notice how each of these songs begin:

  • “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! …” (Psalm 146:1)
  • “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God …” (Psalm 147:1)
  • “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens …” (Psalm 148:1)
  • “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song …” (Psalm 149:1)
  • “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary …” (Psalm 150:1)

Not only are we called to “Praise the Lord!” at the beginning of each of these songs, we are also called to “Praise the Lord!” at the end of each song (Psalm 146:10; 147:20; 148:14; 149:9; & 150:6). 

Looking at the big picture, these last five psalms are the climax to the whole book of Psalms. Over the course of 150 songs, the entire collection has been building to this moment: “Praise the Lord!!!”

And that is where we find comfort.

Is every song in the book like Psalm 150? Does God expect us always to be super-excited to praise him? No. Definitely not. Just look at the wide variety of topics covered in the entire collection: laments, thanksgiving, praise, grief, joy, quiet trust, cries for help … The book is a buffet line of emotions and experiences!

Actually, if you catalog the types of songs found in each book, you discover an encouraging trend. Early in the Psalms (especially in Books One and Two) you find a high number of “lament psalms”: songs to sing when life is going horribly wrong. Yet as you move through the book, more and more space is devoted to “praise psalms”: celebrations of God’s deliverance, love, and power. So the book starts with believers crying out in pain and anguish, but gradually moves to praise as God answers their prayers. As the community of God moves through the book and through history, it becomes more and more clear where everything is headed … God wins the victory and saves his people!

So as the conclusion to the book of Psalms, it’s no wonder Psalm 150 is a flood of excitement and praise … but it’s OK if you’re not there right now. God wants us to come to him in every season of life. Instead of the words “Praise the Lord!” maybe you need to pray: 

  • “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” (Psalm 13:1) 

Or maybe you need to be encouraged with the words: 

  • “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13)

Or maybe you need to say: 

  • “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

Just start wherever you are emotionally and move closer to God. Eventually, as you lift your eyes to Jesus, remembering all that he has done for you in the past and all he has promised to do for you in the future, then you find yourself declaring with God’s people:

  • “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!” (Psalm 150:1)

 


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