Psalm 150

We have seen many different reasons for praising God in the past 149 Psalms. The word “praise” is repeated in Psalm 150, thirteen times, and this word is different from “worship”. The Jews were to teach and show the world WHO the true, one and only God is. The Jews were also to exemplify to the world, the type of worship God was worthy of. Today, Christians are now in that position, because of Israel’s rejection & role they filled in the death of Christ. But to praise God, is something anyone can do, and indeed might do without even knowing it. Creation can praise God when a tree is in full bloom, but being totally unaware of this, means creation can not worship God, only humanity has this capacity. You might be surprised to learn that both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, the original words used for translating “Praise” and “Worship” are NEVER interchanged as synonyms when the context is referencing God’s praise or worship. Only one word in the New Testament Koine Greek is translated as a synonym for praise and also used as a word for worship, and it is not in either case, in reference to God’s praise or worship, it’s actually in both cases used in reference to men praising or worshiping each other, Luke 14:10 (worship KJV) and in John 9:24 (praise KJV). All other cases of Greek and Hebrew words for praise and worship are never translated as synonyms. Why? Because Praise is more generic and Worship is always unique in humbling yourself in adoration and/or reverence to God, whereas, Praise exalts God and loves and thanks Him, it isn’t necessarily a reverent, humbling experience.

v1, Inside and outside the Temple, Praise is desired. 

v2, For what God does and who God is, Praise is due.

v3, Both in public (trumpets), and/or in private (strings), Praise is good.

v4, Both excitedly (dance) and/or calmly (strings) Praise is beautiful.

v5, Both distinct tones of clarity, and/or sounds of brash & loud beats, Praise is appropriate.

v6, If life is present, praise is purposeful.

But not all of the above fits appropriately into Christian public “worship”, see 1st Corinthians 14:40, however, everything above does have an acceptable place within the context of personal praise, remember “ALWAYS…CONSTANTLY…IN EVERYTHING…”, 1st Ths. 5:16-18. By God’s provision of everything good & praiseworthy, “we exist for the praise of his glory”, Eph. 1:6.

The word praise is even used in a grammatical play on words by the Apostle Paul, he uses praise in describing who and who is not a Jew, Romans 2:29, but the pun is lost if you don’t know the background. In Genesis 29, when Leah gives birth to a son of Jacob she said, “Now will I praise the Lord: therefore she called his name Judah.” In Genesis 49, Jacob upon his death bed gathers his sons and says: “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.” The Hebrew word for “praise” transliterates into yadah! The Hebrew word for “Judah”, transliterates into yehudah. The pronunciations of both praise and Judah are very similar. Judah originates from another word which means to thank or to give thanks, which is the basis for praise. Understanding that Judah, from which the word Jew is derived, means praise sheds additional light and places more emphasis on Paul’s statement in Romans 2:29. Placing extra emphasis on what is being said is the entire point of using a pun! So a spiritual Jew is real today as the “PRAISER” of God, Rom. 2:29 & 15:11, Php. 3:3, Gal. 6:16

Psalm 148 & 149

148:8, May alarm some people, but Christ could face the real possibility of storms and still fall asleep, however his disciples had to grow into this kind of faith, Matthew 8:24-27.

148:11-12, From the strongest to the weakest of human beings, our praise is of equal worth to our Creator. Why? Because our praise comes from the same heart, that has the same Creator and he pours out the same love into all hearts redeemed by the same blood, See Galatians 3:28, Romans 5:5

148:13-14, Israel, as God’s faithful ones, have their own unique role in praising God because they know God’s name; they are “close to him” and can tell God’s story, which is another form of praise. But they can never separate themselves from the whole nonhuman creation; they can only join the praise it has already been giving, See Psalm 33:5, and remember Paul understood this continues, read Romans 8:19-23.
149:3-6, From a Christian perspective, our Savior never desired, or desires to praise our Father with instruments, nor swords, but there is a sense in which God is worthy of our praise in ALL of our accomplishments, because without him we would be nothing. The all encompassing providence of God is claimed in John 1:3, and in some mysterious aspect, factually God in Christ gives everything it’s consistency, Colossians 1:6-17. Richard Jones wrote a song on this point: entitled “God of Concrete”

Lord of science, Lord of art,
God of map and graph and chart,
Lord of physics and research,
God of scripture and the church,
Lord of sequence and design,
All the world of truth is thine.

God of concrete, God of steel,
God of piston and of wheel,
God of pylon, God of steam,
God of girder and of beam,
God of atom, God of mine,
All the world of power is thine.

God of tunnels, God of rail,
Lord of highway and the mail,
God of rocket and of flight
Lord of soaring satellite,
God of lightning’s striking line,
All the moving world is Thine.

God whose glory fills the earth,
Gave the universe its birth,
Loosed the Christ from His new tomb,
Saves the world from evil’s doom,
Gives all people grace divine,
All the world of love is thine.

This doesn’t bless or sanction the use of instruments in our worship to God, but it does allow us to rejoice in the talents, resources, devices and even weapons, He gives us the ability to use, for His glory!

Psalm 139

v1-6, Knowing us inside and out is called the omniscience of God for souls that trust & obey Him. This thought is terrible to those who are not at peace with God, but delightful to those who love Him. For people who are in open rebellion and distrust God, there is a different perspective God has upon them. Romans 1:21-28, states four times that God does give up on people, their sins avert God’s attention far away from them. God is love, and still provides access for them, but he will not run after them, nor even be aware of any details in their life, until they first turn toward Him, Luke 15:11-32. At the end of their life, God will say, “Depart from me…for I never knew you”, Matthew 7:23. Therefore, to be known by God is a huge, beautiful and privileged blessing.

v4, Jesus proclaimed God’s omniscience even in our prayer. Some people let this foreknowledge of God in prayer, hinder them from praying at all. See Matthew 6:8. But why do we talk to our parents that know what we are going to say before we say it?  Because we crave each others fellowship. Isaiah 65:24 says that this will be common in the life to come, “And it shall come to pass, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”  But even though God isn’t always answering immediately every time we pray today, it doesn’t mean He isn’t aware of what we’re going through. Sometimes the lessons are in the waiting itself – a testing of faith – but if we are truly one of His own, and in a sincere relationship with God, there will never be a time when our needs will go unsupplied, as David has written in Psalms 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread”.

v5, Having the Lord “place his right hand upon us” is a figure of speech that reflects a concern for our welfare and strength to do what is holy, see Revelation 1:17. There are at least 67 occurrences in the BIble of God telling his children “do not fear”.

v7-16, The experience of God being all encompassing around us and in us, is throughout the fullest extent of our cosmos, and also down to the inner molecular structure of DNA in our mother’s womb.  The omnipresent character of God enables Him to bring into effect anyone’s forgiveness and redeem them from anywhere. Even people abandoned in sin by war in a remote desert. God is able to help them, if they will diligently search for him. Acts 17:26-28.

v13-16, These words seem to be the clearest in Scripture, for defending life in the womb to be protected against abortion. It is amazing that some Jewish rabbis still today, do not believe a baby is a human being with a soul until after the baby is birthed. Human life at conception is a life worth protecting because we are made in the image of God, wherein we are still to this day a natural work of God in our mother’s womb. The apostle Paul believed God knew him and was working on him in his mother’s womb, Galatians 1:15. Which means Paul had no problem with thinking God planned his “Damascus road experience” while he was a fetus. Christians today should have the same idea and be willing to protect a pro-life position legally and publicaly.
v17-24, The safe comfort of knowing God knows us, even in the face of our enemies, reflects the Psalmists faith in the power of God. He is able to eventually eliminate any enemy, no matter how violent, deceptive or smart. This is called the omnipotence of God. His hate towards evil can engender our hate, which is not a sin, as long as we learn to separate the sin from the sinner in our minds, while our hearts detest sin & love Christ. See Revelation 2:2-6 & Luke 14:26. Pray for our enemies that God will grant them repentance from the evil we hate.

Psalm 137

In 587BC most of the nation of Judah was over-run by the Babylonians and taken to Babylon. Almost a century before this, Israel had been defeated and taken into captivity by Assyria. Prophets warned this would happen if the people of Judah didn’t stop their idolatry & repent. They were urged to repent by several prophets, but didn’t. Acceptance of other gods was their obvious sin. Eventually God used a foreign army to destroy Jerusalem and The Temple, even the ark of the covenant was lost, it looked like the end of Judah forever. (See Jeremiah 29) Prophets encouraged Jewish exiles to accept this experience as discipline from God. Their task was to settle and pray for Babylon and Babylonians, but not to become integrated. To keep their hearts fixed on the promise that God would bring the Jews back to Jerusalem was a huge task. They would need this Psalm to help them through 70 years of captivity, and forever help them remember how serious God is about keeping his word. Christians can use this Psalm for that same reason.

v1-2,  Sitting by a river is a good place for refreshment, but when you are enslaved, refreshment is hard. But with God, all things are possible, Matthew 19:25-27.

v3: Could Captors encourage Israelites to become integrated by singing foreign songs? Maybe they are trying to get the Jews to see that God and His promises are consigned to the past; and make him just a memory? This no doubt would bring back memories of the glory of Solomon’s Temple, where those songs would have had their life! But now, they were sung mournfully. It may seem horrible that God would force his children under the hands of captors to sing about Zion as it lay in ruins, but the cold hard truth is that they would survive to have children rebuild it. The very next generation saw God’s glory in the Temple sort of regenerate in Jerusalem. Remember Luke 21:6, the words of Jesus teach Christians that God’s glory in physical Jerusalem would one day be forever destroyed, and only reside in human hearts. But for our future? Where is the glory of His Temple now? Heaven.

v4-6: Having a determination not to forget Jerusalem and what it represents. (Even though it lies in ruins!) is keeping focused on God’s promises for the future. This is how Christians can do more than just survive discipline, if we sing about our future, His power can help us grow through discipline. See Hebrews 12:11.

v7-8; First it was the Edomites, then it was the Babylonians, finally the Romans. What do they have in common? God used each of these nations to discipline his children. Jews are still to this day, objects of God’s testimony to the world; Rebel against me, and the only way I can show you my love is to discipline you, to near extinction, but yet always allowing my mercy to keep you in existence! See Luke 23:27-31. Jesus could see this discipline coming to God’s children as he went to the cross. If we think it is not like God to discipline us, we are in grave error.

v9, If we read this glibly, we can only conclude that God has a morbid interest in revenge, but none of Scripture should be read at a glance. It is stunning that God would allow his name, his children and his city to be drug through the gutter like this, but the underlying fact is; Not even horror can destroy God’s holiness and ability to share his holiness with repentant children, even if our enemies become his children! Remember it was the same evil people that committed the horror of crucifying Christ and stoning Stephen, which repented and became His holy children, See Acts 6:7 & Read Romans 12:20-21.

Psalm 119

This Psalm has two outstanding characteristics about it, firstly, it’s construction is very orderly, especially when you consider it is the longest Psalm. It has 176 verses comprised of 22 stanzas of 8 lines each starting in the order of the Hebrew alphabet of 22 letters. Therefore it was used for centuries in synagogues teaching children as a school textbook. No one knows for sure, who wrote it, but it was probably Ezra. Secondly, it is the only Psalm that exalts the word of God exclusively. Other Psalms praise God’s word in a verse, but Psalm 119 is the only Psalm that praises God’s word in every verse.

The word of God is described by using 7 different words. Pointing us to His POWER.

“Law”, v1 (what is legislative)

“Testimonies”, v2 (what is verbal)

“Precepts”, v4 (what is thought or meditated upon)

“Statutes”, v5, 8. (what is enforceable)

“Commandments”, v6 (what is written)

“Judgments”, v7 (what is punitive)

“Ordinances or Regulations”, v13 (what is taught or practiced)

The psalm opens with two beatitudes. “Blessed” are those whose ways are blameless, who live according to God’s law, who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart. The author of the psalm has experienced great trouble in this life, but is also one who has come through it with a deep and passionate understanding of God’s unfailing love and compassion, v75-77. The author clings to the truths learnt from the Scriptures, which are eternal and “stand firm in the heavens” v89-91. This is the recipe for happiness, as James 5:13 points us to. The Psalm ends with a cry for help, as if he is a lost sheep, needing delivered into safety, v169-176. This conclusion is from real experience in God’s word, meeting our needs for spiritual salvation, John 10:11. These are the lessons for us in this great psalm. The Word of God is sufficient to make us wise, train us in righteousness, and equip us for every good work, 2nd Tim. 3:15-17. The Scriptures are a reflection of God’s nature, and from them we learn that we can trust His character and His plan and purposes for humanity, even when those plans include affliction and persecution. Notice these attributes of God ascribed to Scripture itself:

1. Righteousness (verses 7, 62, 75, 106, 123, 138, 144, 160, 164, 172)

2. Trustworthiness (verse 42) God’s word always educates us in grace & knowledge

3. Truthfulness (verses 43, 142, 151, 160)

4. Faithfulness (verse 86)  God’s word is always powerful to help comfort or deliver.

5. Unchangeableness (verse 89) no fluctuation in character through changes in work.

6. Eternality (verses 90,152) no fluctuation in character through time in our world.

7. Light (verse 105)

8. Purity (verse 140)

The profound truth that the Word of God is praised as all-sufficient is an expansion of Psalm 19:7-9: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. Just as Christ Himself the Logos is, John 1:1-14 & Matthew 5:43-48. He can even make us perfect in our Creators sight!