Let all that live join in the orchestra of praise to God (Psalms 150) March 31
With Psalm 150, the fifth and final concluding Hallelujah Psalm, we come to the end of the book of Psalms. As in Psalm 148, the word "praise" ( hallel ) is used here 13 times. Yet this psalm more closely follows the pattern of only the first part of Psalm 148. In this case we see, within the framing Hallelujahs at the beginning and end, 10 imperative calls to praise God (150:1-5) followed by a single summary call to praise in the jussive subjunctive mood-that is, in the form of "let them" (see verse 6). As these calls are brief and without expressive praise, the entire psalm has the form of an extended doxology (a doxology being a brief expression of praise). Recall that Books I through IV of the Psalter each end with a short doxology evidently added to the last psalm in each book (see 41:13; 72:18-19; 89:52; 106:48). Now at the end of Book V, the entirety of Psalm 150 appears to perform the same function-and it may have been composed specifically to close the Psalter.
Though brief, Psalm 150 encompasses many elements of the book of Psalms. As the Zondervan NIV Study Bible comments in its introductory note on the song, "This final call to praise moves powerfully by stages from place [verse 1] to themes [verse 2] to orchestra [verses 3-4] to choir [verse 6], framed with Hallelujahs."
Verse 1 tells us where God should be praised-in His sanctuary and in His mighty firmament. The sanctuary is God's temple, meaning His physical temple in Jerusalem and also His spiritual temple on earth, His Church, as well as His heavenly temple. The "firmament" here signifies heaven or the sky (see Genesis 1:6-8), and the meaning in this case is probably the entire, vast universe.
Verse 2 of Psalm 150 tells us why God should be praised-"for His mighty acts" (for what He does) and "for His excellent greatness" (for who and what He is).
Verses 3-5 tell us "how God should be praised-with the whole orchestra (eight instruments: wind, string, percussion), with dancing aptly placed at the middle" ( Zondervan, note on verses 3-5)-recalling the celebratory elements of the previous psalm (compare 149:3). Perhaps the idea here is simply to joyfully praise God with whatever we have to praise Him.
And finally, verse 6 of Psalm 150 tells us who should praise God-the choir of all that have life and breath. As The Nelson Study Bible remarks on this verse: "The very breath that God gives us should be used to praise Him. As long as we live we should praise our Creator (146:1,2). By His breath God created all things (33:6), and by our breath we should adore Him. The Book of Psalms begins with God's blessing on the righteous (1:1) and concludes with all of creation blessing its loving Creator."
In all that we think, in all that we say, in all that we do, let it be to the praise of our great and loving God, our Almighty Maker and Savior and King, the infinite and majestic Lord of all creation. And let us all sing with joyful hearts, Hallelujah! Praise the Lord.