The blog Fresh Read is working through a study of The Psalms and provides some excellent online devotional commentary. Here are two recent posts, one dealing with Psalm 146 and the other with the first verse of Psalm 147. Click the title for each to link directly and locate other entries.
Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, O my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live
Psalm 146:1-2 (NIV_84)
Hallelujah is a Hebrew word. It is a verb that calls us to Praise the Lord. It is possible in Hebrew to have verbs for an individual or for a group. This word is for a group. It means, “Let us, together, praise the Lord.”
While Israel lived in tents, before they entered the Promised Land. They would put the Tent of God in the middle of all their tents. Each tribe was arranged around the tent of worship. God was at the center of their community. (Numbers 2)
When they enter the Promised Land they put the tent of worship in one place. Later Solomon built a temple in Jerusalem. The people would come from all over to worship God in this one place. They worshiped together in Jerusalem. (Psalm 48)
Worshiping God is something that we do together. Hallelujah is a command. It calls us to get together, and to worship God together. You could watch a church meeting on TV or on the Computer. You could stay at home with a cup of tea and be part of a church service. You could go to TV church in my pajamas. It would be much easier when it snows here in Wisconsin?
“Hallelujah” is a call to meet together. His people honor the Lord when they meet together. They show that God loves many people and many kinds of people when we meet together. They give each other encouragement when they meet together and say “Welcome.” And when they say, “Praise the Lord.”
It is also important to praise the Lord alone.
In verse 1 the Psalmist speaks to his own soul. He says, “Praise the Lord, O my soul.”
In verse 2 he says, “I will praise the Lord as long as I live.”
These verses are for the individual. The bible has stories about how God looks on the heart, not on the outside. David was chosen to be king, even though he was the youngest in his family, because his heart was strong for the Lord. Isaiah spoke in warning of those whose lips offered praise, but their hearts were not in it. (Is 29:13)
It is important to Praise God together. It is also important to praise God from the heart.
There is balance in the pronouns.
Praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
We gather to praise the Lord together. Have you ever wondered why? Maybe it is a tradition – your parents and their parents did this. But there are better reasons than simple repetition and tradition.
This psalm says that praising the Lord is good, pleasant and fitting.
It is good in many ways. Only the ungrateful do not give thanks for a gift. We all think it good to thanks our parents, to thank a vet, to thank a neighbor who lends a hand. It is good because there is not harm in it, not sin. It is good because Praise realigns our hearts from despair or doubt – when we praise we remember what God has done.
It is pleasant. Isn’t it delightful to hear good music? Don’t you enjoy singing a great old hymn, even if you have more enthusiasm than skill? God desires that our walk with him is delightful and pleasant. We are not called to be grim, sour legalists. We are called to live in delight.
It is fitting. Sooner or later you will run into someone who says that this is all a waste of time. Why are we here praising God when we could be doing something useful? During the Civil War the army wanted to close churches and turn them into hospitals. Lincoln stopped this idea because he said that a nation has to have a place to pray, especially in times of distress and danger.
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