Today’s Lectio Divina: Psalm 150. (MsgB)
Praise God in His holy house of worship, praise Him under the open skies;
Praise Him for His acts of power, praise Him for His magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet, praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise Him with castanets and dance, praise Him with banjo and flute;
Praise Him with cymbals and a big bass drum, praise Him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
And now, the curtain falls.
149 Psalms have preceded the one we read here today. I wonder who in the world had the impossible job of picking which masterpiece was going to be the last one recorded in the book?
As we’ve been discussing over the last few blogs, the final five psalms (Psalm 146-150) are called the Concluding Hallel. Hebrew scholars gave them that title because of their overwhelming emphasis on the Hebrew command we term in English, hallelujah.
Many of our English Bibles use the phrase, “praise the Lord,” or “praise ye, the Lord,” when translating the two Hebrew words that come together to make the word hallelujah. Quite honestly, that expression is, in my mind, way too weak and certainly, way too religious.
Hallelujah, as we’ve discussed earlier actually means to give God a joyous praise, or an expression of worship that borders on the wild side. Hallelujah is no whisper that holds back in order to please others. Hallelujah is not a quiet, pious piece of milk toast. It’s a rock-n-roll, lift your tankard, raise-the-roof kind of praise that just won’t quiet down just because someone in authority says there’s too much noise waking us up!
Thus far, in the Concluding Hallel, we’ve discovered a number of good reasons to hallelujah to our God. Let’s review…
Hallelujah Reason #1 (Psalm 146): God is large and in charge;
Hallelujah Reason #2 (Psalm 147): It’s a good, beautiful, and fitting thing to do.
Hallelujah Reason #3 (Psalm 148): God is our Creator.
Hallelujah Reason #4 (Psalm 149): God delights in our praise.
Hallelujah, as sung in Psalm 150, is a jazzy blast on a brassy trumpet. A strumming of warm strings in an orchestra hall. Hallelujah is a castanet-driven hat dance south of the border or a banjo-banging hootenanny round a campfire in the mountains. Hallelujah is a flute or clarinet playing melodies from heaven. Hallelujah is a marching band with sousaphones, cymbals, a big bass drum, and seventy-six trombones. Hallelujah is fiddles at a square dance and mandolins on the river.
In closing, let me unpack a couple more very ancient hallelujah words.
The singing or chanting of the Psalms, an art form done now for thousands of years, is known as psalmody, and is common in Jewish and Christian worship. The English word psalm is derived actually from the Greek (psalmoi), perhaps originally meaning “music of the lyre” or “songs sung to a harp.” Another form of this Greek word (psallein) means to “play upon a stringed instrument” or to “make music in any fashion.”
So there you have it my friends. To sing the Psalms is to be given permission to make music in any fashion. And hallelujah, the joyous psalms of God, is kinda like Nike shoes.
Hallelujah Reason #5 (Psalm 150): Just do it.
Regardless of the place you’re at. Regardless of the instrument you have available.
Just do it.
Pittsburgh. Peoria. Iowa or Idaho. Just do it.
Bolivia. Bulgaria. Russia or the good old USA. Just do it.
In happy times. In sad times. In times of certainty and in times of doubt. Just do it.
Go ahead. Grab a tuba. A harmonica. A piano. A harp. A comb with wax paper will do in a pinch. Gosh, even a Jew’s harp will work, for heaven’s sake!
Just do it, my friends. Hallelujah. Just do it.
My prayer: Hallelujah, God, my Father. Forever and ever. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Hallelujah: Just do it. Why not?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I have taken a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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