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Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

Psalms 150

Verses 1-3

HALLELUJAH!

‘O praise God in His holiness: praise Him in the firmament of His power,’ etc.

Psalms 150:1-3; Psalms 150:6 (Prayer Book Version)

I. Consider the nature of praise.—(1) From such passages as Isaiah 6:1-3, Revelation 4:8; Revelation 14:1-3, we collect with certainty thus much: that praise is the main element of the homage of saints and angels in the eternal world. And indeed it is difficult to imagine what besides it could be. The worship which created beings render to the Almighty is divisible into two acts—prayer and praise. But from the nature of the case the spirits of the blessed can hardly be considered as having occasion for the former. With the necessities of the saints, their prayers, as far as regards themselves, must have an end; but, on the contrary, the passing away of these necessities will itself minister occasion for the commencement of an unbroken service of praise. From the simple fact that prayer is the religious exercise of those still in the flesh, and praise the employment of the redeemed from among men, we seem at once to deduce the greater nobility of praise itself. (2) The perfection of praise is not found in thanksgiving. We are to thank God not for what He has done for us, but for what He is. Praise is the travelling forth of the mind into the depths of the Divine nature; it is the folding of the mantle around us, so as to shut out the visible creation, and to be alive only to the sense of the uncreated Majesty.

II. Consider the application of music to the purposes of praise.—(1) Whatever has a tendency to withdraw the mind from care must promote in a measure the disposition required for praise. (2) All along God has recognised the principle of making religion a visible, tangible thing. Adam possessed in paradise a perfect nature, and what was his religion? Essentially a sacramental one. He was to refrain from the fruit of one tree and systematically eat of another to secure his immortality. If ever outward rites could be dispensed with, surely they might have been in paradise, with the creature so elevated and God so near; and yet even there an outward sign was made to accompany inward grace. Just in the same way with music as a help to praise. We grant that the mind which without extrinsic aid can rise to the level of this great employment is more angelic than that which must be stimulated by luxury of sound; but are we therefore to neglect a means which God has furnished of elevating the weak, and warming the cold, and carrying away, in spite of itself, the earthly heart?

—Bishop Woodford.

Illustration

‘The 84th Psalm is the Christian’s preparation before worship; the 150th is his thanksgiving after.… Having risen, as it were, by five steps, the Psalter hovers over its summit. The chorus of mankind in contact with the angelic choir becomes one cymbal of Divine praise, and a final song of victory peals out to God. The Psalter dies away, after all its depths, not as the first three books in “Amen,” not as the fourth in “Amen Hallelujah,” but in “Hallelujah.” Is this a development of the inarticulate cries of brutal wooers yelling from the branches?’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

The theme of the whole psalm is the praise of God—

‘Thirteen notes of praise in this short psalm! Count your blessings, and then you will praise too!’

Verse 6

HALLELUJAH!

‘O praise God in His holiness: praise Him in the firmament of His power,’ etc.

Psalms 150:1-3; Psalms 150:6 (Prayer Book Version)

I. Consider the nature of praise.—(1) From such passages as Isaiah 6:1-3, Revelation 4:8; Revelation 14:1-3, we collect with certainty thus much: that praise is the main element of the homage of saints and angels in the eternal world. And indeed it is difficult to imagine what besides it could be. The worship which created beings render to the Almighty is divisible into two acts—prayer and praise. But from the nature of the case the spirits of the blessed can hardly be considered as having occasion for the former. With the necessities of the saints, their prayers, as far as regards themselves, must have an end; but, on the contrary, the passing away of these necessities will itself minister occasion for the commencement of an unbroken service of praise. From the simple fact that prayer is the religious exercise of those still in the flesh, and praise the employment of the redeemed from among men, we seem at once to deduce the greater nobility of praise itself. (2) The perfection of praise is not found in thanksgiving. We are to thank God not for what He has done for us, but for what He is. Praise is the travelling forth of the mind into the depths of the Divine nature; it is the folding of the mantle around us, so as to shut out the visible creation, and to be alive only to the sense of the uncreated Majesty.

II. Consider the application of music to the purposes of praise.—(1) Whatever has a tendency to withdraw the mind from care must promote in a measure the disposition required for praise. (2) All along God has recognised the principle of making religion a visible, tangible thing. Adam possessed in paradise a perfect nature, and what was his religion? Essentially a sacramental one. He was to refrain from the fruit of one tree and systematically eat of another to secure his immortality. If ever outward rites could be dispensed with, surely they might have been in paradise, with the creature so elevated and God so near; and yet even there an outward sign was made to accompany inward grace. Just in the same way with music as a help to praise. We grant that the mind which without extrinsic aid can rise to the level of this great employment is more angelic than that which must be stimulated by luxury of sound; but are we therefore to neglect a means which God has furnished of elevating the weak, and warming the cold, and carrying away, in spite of itself, the earthly heart?

—Bishop Woodford.

Illustration

‘The 84th Psalm is the Christian’s preparation before worship; the 150th is his thanksgiving after.… Having risen, as it were, by five steps, the Psalter hovers over its summit. The chorus of mankind in contact with the angelic choir becomes one cymbal of Divine praise, and a final song of victory peals out to God. The Psalter dies away, after all its depths, not as the first three books in “Amen,” not as the fourth in “Amen Hallelujah,” but in “Hallelujah.” Is this a development of the inarticulate cries of brutal wooers yelling from the branches?’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

The theme of the whole psalm is the praise of God—

‘Thirteen notes of praise in this short psalm! Count your blessings, and then you will praise too!’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Psalms 150". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/psalms-150.html. 1876.