Summary: Some thoughts about praising God as found in Psalm 150
Sermon by Donald R. Hart – Antioch Christian Church, Pittsburg, Missouri – March 11, 2007
(All Scripture quoted is from the NIV unless otherwise noted)
Text: Psalm 150:1-6
Recently I preached upon Grace Defined and Peace Defined and now I want to talk about Praise Defined. That is exactly what is outlined in the 150th Psalm – it gives us a complete definition of the kind of praise that glorifies Almighty God. It outlines for us the what, why, how and who of praise. The one thing it doesn’t tell us is the “when” to praise and I believe that the writer just assumes that praise for the Lord will be a continual part of our life.
It is obvious that praise is not to be a one time endeavor. That would be like the woman who asked her husband why he doesn’t tell her that he loves her. To which he responds, “Well I told you I loved you when we got married and if anything changes I’ll let you know.” We understand that in a loving relationship people express their love for one another on a regular basis.
Furthermore, we know that praising God is not to be reserved only for special occasions, such as Christmas and Easter. Both of those events are certainly a time of celebration and an opportunity for thanking God for what He has done for us. We are very much aware that God is blessing us every day of our lives for He gives us life, strength, joys and provisions too numerous to count and thus is worthy of our praise every day.
The really neat thing is that we do not have to praise the Lord in order to get the blessings we receive – they just come to us on a regular basis. And they come to us even when we do not deserve to receive anything from Him.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:45 that “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Some scholars have compared this Psalm with the Doxology which we sing each Sunday at the conclusion of our offering time. It is well to note that at both the beginning and the end it gives the exhortation “Praise the Lord”. Today in this message I want to talk about praising the Lord from the ideas found in this 150th Psalm. Please understand that I will in no way really be able to define it as it should be defined, but let us look at some things about praising God.
I. WHAT IS PRAISE?
There are some people who believe that praise is the same thing as flattery, but they are two different things entirely. Flattery is usually done in order to receive some kind of a reciprocal response. Praise is in reality the expression of appreciation for an attribute or an action by someone. Webster says “praise” is “To express approval of or admiration for…” or “To extol or glorify (e.g. a deity or hero)”. He also gives some synonyms for “praise” such as “Acclaim, Applaud, Commend, and Laud”.
In our culture we often use the terms “Worship Leader”, “Praise Team”, or “You will be led in worship by…” Let me tell you that no one can lead you into worship – they may lead a service or a segment of praise songs and/or choruses, but true praise only comes from within an individual himself. What they do in such a service may be an aid to your praise and help direct your praise, but it cannot generate your worship for you. Your worship is the response from what you are feeling within your own heart and spirit.
I hate to admit this, but I have been in praise services and I was NOT praising. Singing the words, yes, but enjoying God, no! It may have been resistance from the way the worship was being led or it may have been from my own troubling thoughts at the time or sometimes a combination of both.
On the other hand, I have been in services when during a certain song or chorus, tears of gratitude began flowing from my eyes and I became oblivious of any distractions around me – my focus was upon the majesty of the Heavenly Father and of Him alone.
To boil it down, praise is the expression of gratitude to God by word or deed from within an individual.
II. WHERE ARE WE TO PRAISE?
The psalmist gives us two locations – His sanctuary and in His mighty heavens – let’s talk about these.
A. IN HIS SANCTUARY
Some may think that this is referring to the time when we come to church. It does certainly include that time and location, but the Lord’s sanctuary far more vast than any single church building or church buildings.