GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
FIVE PSALMS OF PRAISE TO GOD
By Keith L. Estes
Psalm 146 “Great is our God and of great power.”
The last five Psalms stand out quite conspicuously in the Psalter. Each begins and ends with Praise ye the Lord, none contains petition or lament, none contains historical allusion to any large extent, and each strikes a distinct note of praise not found in the others. That note in Psalm 146 is a personal one. It is the only one of the five containing the personal pronoun I (v. 2). Thus, the call to praise is addressed by the psalmist to himself. Though in the body of the psalm he exhorts other pious Israelites to trust in the Lord’s providential care, in the conclusion he envisions an even wider audience.
Psalm 147 “While I live will I praise the Lord.”
If the previous psalm is individualistic, this psalm forms an appropriate contrast with its emphasis on communal praise. The three sections of the psalm are clearly discernible since each is initiated with a call to praise (vv. 1, 7, 12.) and then followed by a cause for praise: (1) because the Lord delivers the oppressed (vv. 2-6); because the Lord provides for the faithful (vv. 8-11); and because the Lord especially protects Israel (vv. 13-20).
Psalm 148 “All creation to praise the Lord.”
Since nothing in heaven above or on earth below is left out in this praise psalm, it may appropriately be designated as the psalm of universal praise. Its structure is quite distinct: there are two calls to praise, each ending with a cause for praise. The psalmist first calls on the heavenly beings and the heavenly bodies to praise the Lord (vv. 1-4) because of His creative power (vv. 5, 6). Then the psalmist issues a second call to praise addressed to the earthly beings and earthly substances (vv. 7-12) because of the glory of the Lord and of His people (vv. 13, 14)
Psalm 149 “The Lord taketh pleasure in His people.”
The unique aspect of praise highlighted in this psalm is that praise is related to the kingdom of the Lord. Though the psalm begins with the normal call to praise (vv. 1-3), the cause for praise (vv. 4-9) is quite unexpected: it is because the Lord intends to establish His kingdom on the earth. This kingdom involves both the glorification of the righteous (vv. 4- 6) and the judgment of the wicked (vv. 7- 9). This aspect of judgment is apparently to be carried out by the righteous (vv. 5- 9). This passage should be taken in a prophetic sense to refer to the time when God will in fact establish His kingdom on the earth with His glorified saints right behind Him (Rev. 19: 11-21). Even in this age of grace, believers are instructed to pray “Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10), a petition that includes not only the glorification of the righteous but also the destruction of the wicked.
Psalm 150 “ Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.”
The first Psalm contains only six verses and speaks of the man who is blessed. The last psalm also contains six verses but speaks of the God who is praised. No more fitting conclusion to the book could have been written. While the other four books of the Psalms end with a brief verse or two of doxology, Psalm 150 in its entirety forms the doxology to consummate the fifth book. As the final song of praise, it appropriately answers four key questions about praise. (1) Where should God be praised? He should be praised everywhere, from His sanctuary on earth to His heavenly creation (v. 1) (2) Why should God be praised? Because of His powerful deeds on behalf of men and for His inherent greatness (v. 2). (3) How should God be praised? With every suitable instrument man can offer with his God-given creativity and artistry (vv. 3-5). (4) Who should praise God? Everything that breathes should praise Him. (v.6) Though every verse of the Psalm is cast in the form of a call to praise, the hymn is certainly prophetic of a day when every creature will in fact bow in praise to the Almighty God (Phil. 2:11); Rev. 5: 8-14)
Ref. The Annotated Study Bible, Authorized Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tenn.
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